Thursday, February 28, 2013

Malta and Austria

With a busy school schedule, there hasn't been as much time for extensive travel.  Just the same, I've been able to get around a little bit.  During Christmas break I spent 4 days on the island of Malta.  It is basically the opposite of North Dakota.  The furthest you can be from the sea is about a 15 minute drive, vs. a 2 day drive in any direction.  The weather is always warm.  The landmass is 122 square miles vs. North Dakota's 69,000, with only a couple hundred thousand less people.  But in spite of its small size, a lot of history happened there:  the ruins of the oldest temple in the world are there, St. Paul was shipwrecked there and evangelized the country, and in the 1500's the entire island was given to the Knights of Malta, who fortified and protected it.  Today a large part of their commerce is the shipping industry - big cargo ships come into their port and they redistribute their contents to smaller ships.  I stayed with a Maltese friend of mine who I met while on the 30 day retreat in Omaha, NE.  His home looks into one of the biggest ports in Malta, so I enjoyed watching the ships come in and out.   
At the semester break I went up to Innsbruck, Austria to make my yearly retreat.  Since Innsbruck is literally surrounded by the Alps, I made sure to take advantage of the opportunity and went skiing twice.  (Not during the retreat!  Retreats are serious business.  Before and after.) 
God's creation is mighty diverse. Austria isn't anything like Malta, and North Dakota isn't much like either of them. All are beautiful in their own way, but North Dakota is my first love, and I'm looking forward to returning there this summer.