25 May 2016

SAN JUAN DE GAZTELUGATXE

"Back to Basqueland" 

– invited for a special weekend of activities and also ‘farewell to the Belbins’ after 20 years of missionary service in Spain – many of those years in Basqueland.

Monday was the pastor’s ‘day off’. We too, would try to take Mondays as a day to relax, go out somewhere, do something different = disconnect before the busy week. Our flight back to Majorca was later in the day. “We’re going to pick you up after breakfast and take you to see some of Basqueland,” was the message we heard on the cell phone. We were ready – at the door of the hotel – when the two pastors arrived. What a beautiful day is was in Basqueland – sunny, not a cloud in the sky, warm. (This does happen in Basqueland!) How good it was to ride along the roads we were familiar with. “Do you remember when we came here with ………..?” “Yes, and we came to th
is town with a team from Florida to do evangelism several times.” “Oh, and this road?” – “and that café?” 

We were enjoying the scenery - the mountains and valleys of Basqueland, the little villages here and there, the ‘caseríos’ and pastures of sheep. Soon we were travelling along the coast of the Bay of Biscay. “Let’s stop here. You can take some photos. You get a great view from here!”
Then on to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – “rock of the castle”. The path took us from where we parked down and around to the look out. What a view! Many photos! (We did not walk the 230 plus steps to the ‘ermita’, the hermitage, at the top of the island mound). Many people – younger than us – were taking the challenge. We stood and watched!
After enjoying this beautiful spot we found a place for lunch in a nearby town – typical Basque fare……. Spanish tortilla, lentils, garbanzos, local fried fish, lamb chops, chicken breast with sauce. 
In the entrance to the restaurant I stopped to take photos of the information mounted on the wall. 
“Legend tells that John the Baptist touched land at this point on the coast of Basqueland, leaving his footprint in four places – on a rock, in a town, by a farmhouse and on one of the mountains. The hollows on the steps leading up to the hermitage are said to have been made when he stepped there. These steps are said to have ‘curative’ powers - if you place your feet in the same spot. Leave your hats, kerchiefs or jackets to be free from headaches; if you want to make a wish or drive away the evil spirits, you must walk to the top of the ‘ermita’ & ring the bell three times. Fishing vessels, on their way out to fish, are said to sail around the rock several times so the saint will give them good luck.”

We stood and read what was written and were incredulous. “Do people really believe this?” “Do they not know the Bible account of John the Baptist?” “Have they ever heard the message he proclaimed (& we proclaim)?"  In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.’” Do they not know that as a relatively young man he was decapitated by King Herod?”

We are saddened by the blindness of folk in Basqueland – and in all of Spain.
Continue to pray
  • that the eyes of the people in Basqueland – in Majorca – in all of Spain will be open
  • that people will begin to read God’s Word
  • that the light of the gospel of Christ might shine in their hears.

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