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Half Moon Cay (or pronounced “Key”), Bahamas was our last port. This is Holland America’s private island created by the build-up of a coral reef. Our last full day on the cruise was Saturday, March 3rd. Our ship stopped 1 ½ miles from shore, but didn’t put down anchor. The captain said the engines were holding us in position. The ship could not dock, because of shallow water, so we all took tenders to the island. I boarded a double-decker boat from the island harbor at 8:30 am. I bought some precious water and saw Karen, so I went to get my clamshell rental at 9 am and share a chair with her. We found Brenda and Ken, too. They went parasailing and rode on jet skis in the lagoon. I went to check in for my horseback riding shore excursion. I met some people from Colorado – Donna, Linda and John. We were taken to the stables in a trailer pulled by a truck. I rode Ruby, my horse, around in a circle and then we went on a trail ride in the sandy hills and then on the beach. We could see our ship very well from the shore and could see more tenders going back and forth. We saw another group of people riding horses through the ocean! It looked like fun! Our group went back to the stables to dismount. We were told to take off our shoes, sunglasses and hats so they wouldn’t end up in the ocean. Everyone was wearing swimsuits under their clothes, which we put in lockers. We waited to mount the horses with swim saddles. Everyone put on a safely life belt float, if you fell off of the horse into the ocean. My horse ran right into the ocean & loved to run through the ocean up to his shoulders! I almost fell off, holding onto a cloth ring on the saddle with my left hand, reins in my right hand and squeezing with my knees! We ran one way following the other horses and then back the other way! It was so exhilarating when a wave would hit us! The truck took us back to the harbor/beach area.
I walked to the on-shore barbeque around noon. I saw Jonathan Martin walking toward me with some friends and said hi to him. I ate a hot dog quickly and walked to get back for snorkeling check-in. I was walking behind Jonathan Martin in a wheelchair. A friend was pushing him and he got thrown out of the chair at a rough spot. He got back in the chair and I heard him ask if he could get a new driver. I passed him and asked, “Are you OK?” He had hurt his right foot. He answered, “Not yet”, as his friend wheeled him toward the first aid station. Snorkeling this afternoon was cancelled due to choppy water and low visibility. I sat on the beach with Alison in my clamshell. Karen had gone back to the ship. I went swimming in the ocean with Brenda, Ken, Judy and Gail for 15 minutes. I saw a big black and white angel fish swimming by! I went back to the ship on a tender at 2:30 pm. I had enough sun by that time and was starting to burn. I bought the new GVB T-shirt in the bookstore. It has tour dates on the back, including the Caribbean cruise and OKC on May 3rd! I went back to my room to take a shower and get ready for tonight’s concert. I wore my DavidPhelps.com T-shirt tonight.
We all decided to eat in the Lido Restaurant tonight at 5:30 pm, so we could get in line by 6 pm for the 8 pm concert. We had priority tonight and wanted to be in the front row! Brenda and Alison didn’t eat and were already in line at 5:30 pm. I ate pizza quickly with Kathi and her mom, Mary. We were in line on deck 2 at 6 pm on the left side with Brenda, Ken, Kathi and Mary. Lee, Judy and Gail were on the right side. Alison decided to go down to deck 1 on stage level. We ran down the steps from deck 2 when the doors opened at 7:30 pm. Alison sat in the 3rd seat front row center. I put my hoodie across the two seats to her left, for Karen and me, but Judy sat down in one. Alison told me to sit next to her and I saved a seat for Karen behind me in the second row. Alison and I ended up sitting together front row center! Brenda and Ken were sitting in the front row, too, just left of us. Ken set up a folding chair for Lee in the front row, to Judy’s left. David took a seat in the front row on stage right & smiled at us in the front row. We cheered for everyone as they took their places on the stage. Even though he was limping, Jonathan Martin showed us that he had been able to put his boot on over his hurt foot! But he did take his boot off during the concert. When the Martins sang, he was wearing a black sock instead of a boot on his right foot.
The concert started at 8 pm with the artists singing Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul.
Reggie and Ladye Love sang Pray, Pray, Pray. Bill asked Wes, Reggie, Gene and Ben Isaacs to sit around a microphone at the front of the stage to sing Riding Down the Canyon a cappella, like they did at the Bluegrass concert just as if they were gathered around a campfire. Mark jumped out in front of them with a cigarette lighter! HA! Bill asked him where he got the lighter. Mark said, “From Gloria.” Bill just laughed! Bill asked Ben about a small metal object in his beard and what his wife would think about it. Ben said it was braided in today, so it will be there for awhile. The Hoppers sang Jerusalem and Shoutin’ Time. They had us standing and singing along. It was shoutin’ time! By 8:15 Russ was center stage singing Jesus is the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me. The Isaacs sang Dottie Rambo’s Mama’s Teaching Angels How to Sing and Kim Hopper sang another of Dottie’s songs Hills of Home standing at her seat.
I heard the familiar opening notes, saw David take center stage with Lana Ranahan joining him to sing the spectacular I’ve Just Seen Jesus. Several people wondered who Lana was, since she works with the Gaithers behind the scenes, now. I had listened to this rendition on her Wait CD and couldn’t believe I was hearing this song live! I kept shaking my head through the whole song. It was unbelievable! My breathing quickened, my heart was almost beating out of my chest and I had tears in my eyes! What a powerhouse song these two can sing together! Oh wow! Sitting in the front row, even made this song more intense! I don’t think they had sung this song together live on stage for at least ten years! What a surprise! Of course, everyone was on their feet by the last note! We were only half way through the concert at this point.
“How do you follow that?” said Ken Davis who brought us back to reality with some jokes. Kevin and Mark had to make some comments too. Mark said at one point, “I can’t feel myself…” which made David laugh. Mark is not filtered! At 8:55 the Martins sang a great song, Drive This Train with Michael English joining them. I loved this driving song! Just before 9 pm, we all sang The Sweetest Song. Angel Band was next with Charlotte to begin the song; Michael joined her and then David. Wonderful! Buddy sang Hard Times and Gordon played and sang I Can’t Even Walk Without You Holding My Hand. Charlotte sang the beautiful Holy Ground, as only she can. At 9:30 pm, Mark sang Make it Real and the finale was the GVB singing I Believe in a Hill Called Mt. Calvary! The families of the artists joined them on stage and we sang Through it All together. The final song was again Holy Highway. This was the best concert of the week! They saved the best for last! We all still couldn’t believe that David and Lana had sung I’ve Just Seen Jesus right in front of us! We agreed that just hearing this song was worth the whole cruise! Lori came over to the edge of the stage to talk with us. She said, “Come to my house in Sept.” I said, “We will be there!”
As we walked into the Lido restaurant, we were talking and laughing. A lady in front of us said, “You’re having such a good time, I should join you!” I told her, “Sure, you can join us Phelps phans!” She said her roommate was tired and went back to their room. She said she had seen David all week around the ship, in the corners of the Lido restaurant at the aft and in the Neptune Lounge on deck 7. She had to assure him that she wasn’t following him. We ate dessert again, of course. I ate ice cream and cookies with my phriends. Jonathan and his wife, Dara Martin, and Judy Martin came over to our table to talk with us. They sat down at a table near us. As we left the restaurant at 11 pm, I asked Jonathan what had happened to his foot. He told us that he was playing basketball barefoot and peeled the skin back on the ball of his foot. He went into detail and told us how the nurse had used anti-biotic ointment, put the skin back on the wound to seal it, and bandaged it. He really needed a wheelchair to stay off of his foot. My phriend, Judy, told him to keep it elevated. He put it up and said it felt better already, it was beginning to throb. We went back to our rooms. I packed for two hours! Alison came back to the room before 1 am and I put my luggage outside of the door, ready for pickup. We had colored luggage tags that corresponded to the disembarkation times for the next morning.