A Great Finale!

Today we went to the Florence American Memorial Cemetery. We walked among the graves of many of the soldiers who died to free Italy from the Axis powers. The white markers stand in triumph on the free soil of the nation those soldiers came to save. Interspersed among the tombstones were markers bearing the words: A Soldier, Unknown but to God. These soldiers sacrificed everything for liberty, including their identity. We saw the statue of the lone soldier of the 91st division who stands guard over his fallen comrades. On the way out Dr. Davis looked in the records book and found that there was a man, Coy Booth, from Point Lookout buried in the cemetery. We paid our respects to him. It was incredible to honor the dead heroes of the past today.

We had free time to shop the rest of the day and explore the city known as the “cradle of the Renaissance.” All in all, today was the perfect finale for a wonderful trip. Tomorrow we’ll fly home to those we love.
Tanner, Tawner, and Nathaniel

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Florence – The Renaissance City

This morning began with a three-hour road trip from Rome to Florence. We arrived in Florence at 11:30 a.m. before going to the Uffizi Museum, which holds many incredible and beautiful works of art. After spending a few hours in the museum and exploring part of Florence, we then walked to the Accademia Museum, where we saw the David statue by Michelangelo. We spent a little while after that walking through the beautiful city and shopping some more. While we were doing this, President Davis surprised us by buying all of us t-shirts from one of the shops. Also, while we were shopping, we saw a guy who did paintings with spray paint. We got to watch him do a couple of his paintings, and we were absolutely amazed at how easy he made it look.

After our delicious dinner, some of us went to a beautiful overlook of the city of Florence. The view was absolutely breathtaking! This trip has been absolutely incredible, and it is hard to believe we only have one more full day before we leave. Tomorrow is bound to be yet another awesome day, full of great fun and experiences. Ciao!

~Amy Robinson~
~Emma Forker~

Vatican City and Surprise Visit

The day started early with a walk to Vatican City at 8 o’ clock. The trek was a couple of miles to Saint Peter’s Square, but it definitely proved to be worth the time and effort. When we walked into the Basilica, it was almost unbelievable! The sheer enormity and expanse of the building, coupled with the fabulous art and history in the bronze doors, was enough to take your breath away. Some students even chose to pay in order to climb the 551 steps up to the cupola of St. Peter’s. The view from the top was outstanding and gave a visual panorama of Rome. This site and the intricately engraved statues and gold-leaf frescos in the Basilica reflected the amazing intelligence and imagination God has given us. And we weren’t the only ones who thought so, as Michelangelo showed through his paintings in the Sistine Chapel, which was our next stop. The huge rectangular room was covered in priceless art, which conveyed so well the characters and narratives of the Bible. In the museum leading up to the chapel, there were also many masterpieces, and we saw legendary works such as Raphael’s The School of Athens and The Transfiguration.

Soon after our tour, we went to our surprise visit to Verbum Domini (the Word of The Lord), a temporary exhibit in the Vatican that hosts pieces from a billion dollars worth of Biblical artifacts and manuscripts ranging from the first century to present times. The whole concept centered around displaying how the Bible has been disseminated around (and sometimes out of) the world. We saw pages of the Gutenberg Bible, the “He” Edition of The King James Bible, and the microfilm that was sent to the moon that contained the entire Bible on two square inches. We were very grateful to get a private early tour of the exhibits, thanks to the Green family, the entrepreneurs who developed Hobby Lobby, and Cary Summers, the chief operating officer of Museum of the Bible.

After this experience, we slowly slowly ventured back to our hotel, with stops at several vendors and most especially a gelato ice cream store, where the dessert was courtesy of the ever-generous President Davis. We also got pictures with the 60 Minutes crew who were filming in the square and in the process gave College of the Ozarks a little plug, which we hope they will mention on international television.

Overall it was a great last day in Rome, and we are looking forward to the great days ahead in Florence!

-Christian Lingner and Matt Junck

Ancient Rome

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Last night we arrived in Rome and checked into our hotel. Everyone was tired and wet from our trek through Pompeii, and we all went to bed quickly. Unlike yesterday, today was warm and sunny and perfect for a long walk through the streets of Rome. After a delicious breakfast, we headed out and made our way past the Imperial Forum to the Colosseum. We stopped right outside of the gates, and Al, our tour guide, went over some of the history that took place there. The Roman Emperors used the Colosseum to distract the people from the political turmoil of that time. It was also used for entertainment-the Emperor Nero displayed his strength by having animals and Christians slaughtered. Once inside the Colosseum, we were able to visit the small museum and explore the ruins. The architectural feat in and of itself was incredible, and many restorations were taking place. It was an amazing experience that brought us a little closer to history. Once we finished that tour, we went directly over to the Palatine Hill. We also got the opportunity to see the cell where Paul and Peter were imprisoned for nine months; it was also the place where Paul wrote 2nd Timothy and Philippians. It was just one more of the historic areas where the Bible came to life, and we now have a new perspective when reading those specific passages. We continued on and took a break for lunch where we got some authentic Italian food,which was delicious. We toured a museum shortly after and saw some fascinating sculptures and works of art. We continued on through the streets of Rome and headed to the Pantheon. Al gave us a short history of the ancient building, and we found out that the walls of the Pantheon are around 22 feet thick and it is now being used as a Catholic church. Inside the structure the architecture was breathtaking. The first King of Italy and the artist Raphael are buried there. One of the things we love about Rome is that there are ice cream shops everywhere! Our tour guide took us to get “the best ice cream in Rome,” and we all got a cone; he was right, it was delicious. Tonight after a fun and delicious dinner, we walked to the Trevi Fountain. It was a beautiful sight to see, especially at night. We then walked to the Spanish steps and learned about its history. Overall we had a great day filled with lots of walking, good food, and wonderful historical sites. We can’t wait to see what is in store for tomorrow.
~Maddie and Mariah

Pompeii

Today, after what seemed to be a long ride on the ship and after driving four hours, we got to explore Pompeii, the city that was buried under twenty feet of ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted. What a masterpiece it was! We were in awe at the architecture that has been displayed here and that is still preserved after so many years. The excavations have revealed frescoes, mosaics, and other artifacts that tell the story of everyday life.
Also, when the archaeologists were digging, they discovered strange holes in the hardened lava and could not figure out what they were. So they poured a plaster mold into one of them, and what they found was very striking and sad. The plaster revealed a human body that had been lying there and had decomposed. The Pompeians had died in various positions, but they all had one common denominator: they had one hand covering their mouth and nose so as to not breathe in the toxic gases and ash. Oh, what a horrible way to die!
We then came upon the two-story house of Longus. Longus was the first of the assassins to stab Julius Caesar; he subsequently lost all of his belongings. However, on the very adventurous side, while we were walking the original stone streets of Pompeii, it began to rain and hail very hard, soaking all of us. It was quite the experience. After the rain and hail, we walked to the amphitheater and the gladiator school. We were all amazed. We have heard so much about gladiators and have read so many books in which a gladiator played the major role that to finally see where gladiators trained and fought was a dream come true.
While in the amphitheater, President Davis decided to try some karate moves. Of course, we got some pictures. Simply a priceless moment. We are now at our hotel in Rome after our three hour ride from Pompeii. Wish us luck, and we will be home soon.

Kendall, Linda, and Lexie

Delphi and departure from Greece

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imageWe began our third day in Europe with an early rise at promptly 5:30 a.m. From there we traveled a solid three hours to Delphi, but it was well worth it. Delphi, built on a mountain, had spectacular views from every angle that really took our breath away. Going from the bottom of the mountain to the top, we saw Tholos, an ancient temple, the Ampitheatre, and a stadium that once held the Delphi games. All the while we were awestruck by the surrounding mountains, valleys, and vegetation. This truly added to the experience that was already given by the ancient ruins. There was also a Delphi museum that held most of the statues and statuettes found in Delphi during excavations. These were incredible to see because many of them were in good shape and original. Leaving this beautiful place was not bad, however, because the drive ahead would be one of the most scenic in all of Greece. This two hour drive to our ferry could have been the most beautiful part of the entire trip. It included a stop at the Corinthian sea, where we took time to skip rocks, laugh in the breeze, and sink our toes into the salty water. The water itself was nearly clear, and we could see the the rocks at the bottom of the sea. Not too long after, we continued our trek to the ferry in Patras, where we are right now. We departed from this city at 6 p.m. and will be arriving in Bari, Italy at 9:30 a.m., where we will begin the second phase of our journey.

By Dalyn Hazell & Kyle Duncan

Our tour guide Maria took us to the Acropolis Museum, where we saw several models of ancient Athens, beautiful pottery, magnificent sculptures, and a stunning view of the Acropolis. Under the museum were the archaeological remains of what is believed to have been the house of a bishop in the Byzantine era.

After that we made our way to Mars Hill, observing the unique sights and sounds of Greek culture along the way. Mars Hill had an incredible view, but the historical significance was even more incredible because Paul had spoken there almost 2,000 years ago. Also on the hill we experienced part of the Greek Independence Day celebration as we watched fighter jets and helicopters fly over the Acropolis.

A key aspect of experiencing Greek culture is to visit the Plakka, Athen’s main marketplace, which includes shops, restaurants, and cafés. As we walked through the crowded area, we each branched off into groups with our chaperones and enjoyed the tastes of Athens. We were also able to barter with shopkeepers in getting some sweet souvenirs.

Last but not least we made our way to the 1896 Olympic Stadium. It was amazing to see a site where many athletes from hundreds of different countries competed over a hundred years ago. In fact some of us even took a lap around the track or stood on the podium to get a feel for the history that was evident there. Overall, it was a fantastic day full of sights that made us appreciate the history and culture of Greece. -Lansing Brown & Ben Creech
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Corinth, Mycenae & Athens

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Today our tour consisted of Corinth, Mycenae, and the Acropolis of Athens. In Corinth we went to the Temple of Apollo and the ancient ruins of Corinth. We also visited the museum at the site. One thing that stood out to us was the way Paul’s letters connected to the actual city of Corinth. It was eye-opening to see the actual town where Paul spoke to the Corinthians. We realized that Paul was not only speaking to them about God, but he was also telling them their gods did not exist. All of their temples were useless. While we were there, two other groups were visiting the site, and they were Christians, too. It was inspiring to see fellow Christians gather together to speak God’s word without shame. It was also interesting to hear the tour group from Asia singing a church hymn in their own language.

In Mycenae, we visited the supposed tomb of Agamemnon and the remains of his palace. While there we went to the cistern, and it was fascinating to see how the Mycenaeans managed to get fresh water up the hill. Then at the end of the day we visited the Acropolis; we had planned to go tomorrow but there is a national holiday, and it will probably be closed. At the Acropolis we saw the ruins of the temple to Nike, the Parthenon, and the temples of Athena and Poseidon. We enjoyed learning about the ancient culture of the Greeks, their religious habits, and the changes that Christianity brought about.

We are having a great time and learning a lot!

By Megan Briix, Melissa Davis, and Halie Smith

Safe and Sound

After a long journey, the School of the Ozarks senior class trip group safely arrived in Athens on a spectacularly beautiful Sunday afternoon. We met our guide, Al Philipp, and made our way to central Athens, where we settled in to our hotel, which is modern and comfortable.

After dinner and some quick announcements, the group went up to the rooftop patio to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Acropolis, which was dramatically illuminated.

Today we will visit Corinth, Mycenae, and Nafplion before returning to Athens for dinner and a walk to the Olympic stadium of 1896.

Student blogs to follow. SofO parents of seniors, you have some amazing kids!

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