Trekking through Snowdonia National Park of Wales

Out of our window

I wanted to get on the road, thinking that it might take more time than it did to reach Wales. We briskly swung up the M4, around and then across the Bristol Channel. Turning up the A449 we went off for the night at Ragland and found the Beaufort Inn. Jeanne loved the room with a nice view of a church out the window. After settling in we went downstairs to the dining room for supper.

The night that followed proved to be interesting. The lovely room turned out to be a challenge. Somehow the room tilted from foot to head. So, what looked like a good night’s sleep left us feeling like drunken sailors. In the morning we both awoke with the same complaint, “Didn’t you feel like you were sleeping upside down?” As we investigated we found that repairs had been made to the floor but it did slant at the foot. When we asked about it, we were given an explanation that this was a historical building and there were certain things they were not allowed to change when they remodeled the hotel. One of those things was the curvature of the floor. The floor curves.

It just isn’t so anymore!

A BREAK(fast) from the standard fare

There was a time when one would be hard pressed to find a decent meal from any kitchen in England, but that isn’t at all true anymore. Though good food might be more costly than in the United States, one can have some of the grandest meals they’ve ever eaten when they visit in the UK. At least this is my opinion. I am not talking about Fish ‘n Chips, Bangers and Mash, Shepherd’s or Kidney Pie. We sat down in the dining room at the Beaufort next to a couple just about our ages. It was her birthday and they had come back to where they had grown up and met to celebrate. In fact, the fellow told us that he had worked in this very hotel as a lad in the days when it was rundown. He never thought to see the day when the hotel would be restored to its original style. They recommended several dishes, and we ordered up. He promised we wouldn’t be disappointed and we weren’t.

In the morning we joined them for breakfast (which is always included in the room price) and for the first time, there was something beyond the “Full English Breakfast”! After four in a row, Jeanne leapt on the yogurt, fresh fruit, and berries. I took her lead and gave it a try as well.

After packing we drove out and made our way across the southern half of Snowdonia, taking pictures of the  beautiful countryside and stopping at the occasional tea room in a small village here or there. I say it in this way because there were many marvelous photo ops we passed up  simply due to the fact there was no safe place to pull off the road. In fact, it was along one of these narrow roads that I entered a bridge at the same time as a semi trailer truck, going at about sixty miles per hour. I had no choice but to drive onto the sidewalk at my left. He didn’t so much as bat an eye.

Enjoy the picture that we did manage to get.

Bere Ferres is much farther away than it looks on a map…

Finally

“Killing time.” Not something anyone should do after the age of sixty.

Jeanne had this idea of doing encouragement visits. She thought that since we were going to be in England, it would be really fun and good ministry to drop by and visit some extended family members like Elizabeth (our daughter-in-law Noemi’s sister) in Brixham along the coast then spend the night in Plymouth with a visit to Jeremy (our son-in-law’s) grandmother in the little village of Beres Ferrers. Good idea and easy enough, I thought! We had missed a connection with Elizabeth because of time constraints, so we really wanted to make this second connection if we could.

After saying our goodbyes to Suzy and James, we drove off to Plymouth where we found a nice little Bed and Breakfast, “Mia Casa” which is located only blocks from The Barbican, a famous waterfront area from which the Mayflower sailed to America.

It was raining when we arrived in Plymouth, so we spent the evening mostly in our room. Invigorated, the next morning we were up and ready, and after Jeanne’s  thrilling first encounter with “the full English breakfast,” we were out the door.  After several hours of walking and taking in the quiet Monday streets, we loaded up and raced off for Bere Ferres, only what appeared to be a “hop, skip and a jump” away. Surprise! True, it may have been less than twenty-five miles away. But there was no simple and straight way to get there. I tried the most sensible route but wound up having to back track, go across a six pound round-trip bridge twice, drive across a hedged in, single road surrounded by hedges for ten miles, to wind up where I started three hours earlier. So I made a decision! I was going to go the long way around or give up on the idea completely.

After another thirty minutes of pretty sensible driving we saw the sign: “Bere Ferres.” What a relief! We were going to make it to Jeremy’s grandma’s house after all! Here is some advice. In all of England, there may be no such a thing as a “short cut.” It pays to go the hard way.

Jeremy’s grandmother, Betty

Arriving at around noon we were surprised to find this ninety-year-old gal not at home. We had met Betty on several occasions, so, especially after this investment of time, emotions and petrol, we were pretty intent on seeing her. Now in Bere Ferrers there are no addresses. You find where you are going by the name of the cottage. Once we had asked around and found it, we went on to the pub to wait for a while.

After a half an hour or so, I suggested that we just drive on. So Jeanne wrote a note of regret that we’d missed her and we drove by to put the note in her mailbox. But this time we saw a car in the driveway! Happily, we jumped out of the car, went to the door, and were warmly received by Betty and her sister, who also lives in Bere Ferres. Once inside, we enjoyed a good visit over a cup of tea in her cheery little house. It was definitely worth the anxiety to get there.

Photos from Plymouth and “The Barbican.”

In the heart of Cornish Pasties… a Greenhouse favorite.

The Mayflower passenger comemorativ
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Shades of “Tell It Like It Is!”

Many of our older friends will remember our early days in evangelism when we bought a Winnebago, procured a small circus tent that seated about two-hundred fifty people and traveled on the weekends from Maniwaki, Quebec to Orillia Ontario preaching the gospel from town to town and farmers field to farmers field. Those were fun but complicated days. I am older now and my life has slowed down a little – at least until last weekend.
The best we can under the prevailing circumstances.

The best we can under the prevailing circumstances.

One of the problems with teaching is that your students finally grow up, take on ministries of their own and unfortunately remember the stories that you told in the classroom. Such was the case when I got an email from Stephen Bounds on the other side of Charlotte.

Young people from Child Evangelism present the gospel.

Young people from Child Evangelism present the gospel.

Stephen and his wife Julie were in my evangelism and bible classes at Bethany some six or more years ago. They now have three children, another on the way and have lived in 17 different places since they were married. Stephen wound up overseeing the Plaza Baptist Church in the north Charlotte area dubbed with the regional distinction NO-DA (North Davidson).  NO-DA has an interesting reputation. On one side of the street you have the emmerging arts community. These folks have moved in, buying the older and at one time fashionable art-deco homes, remodeling them while on the other side of the street there remains WW II tract housing where as many as twelve or more African-Americans live with their extended families in two (rather small) bedroom homes. In effect, there are two communites in economic and cultural tension.

Here an unidentified man comes forward to get literature.

Here an unidentified man comes forward to get literature.

Stephen felt that he must do something to reach out to the surrounding neighborhoods so he invited me, Jeanne, eight  area churches and ministries like Child Evangelism Fellowship to join Plaza Baptist in a festival on their parking lot. Stephen went right ahead facing down the ominous weather forcast of rain, rain and more rain. Stephen is English so this may account for his lack of concern.  The weatherman was right. Nevertheless, the churches stood their ground and in the pouring rain continued all afternoon to preach the gospel in a variety of ways from clowning and worship groups to food and clothing give-aways to Hickory Baptist Church and their 2500 grilled wieners. In the picture below, it appears that I have had my fair share of wieners.

Preaching in the rain. Not a good day for drawing.

Preaching in the rain. Not a good day for drawing.

I did what I always have done when opportunity presents itself. I did drawings of both “Zaccheus” and then later “The Rich Young Ruler” and preached the gospel. I was once asked by a seminary professor of how I preached my last sermon. He inquired, “Was it expositional or topical?” In those days I didn’t know what those words meant so I just replied with the truth, “Loudly.” I preached “loudly” and in spite of the rain I got of attention and “Amen” agreement with what I had to say. The Baptists can be faulted for many things but one thing they are clear about, they know the old-fashioned, Bible gospel when they hear it.

Jeanne trying to stay dry.

Jeanne trying to stay dry.

I am home now, at least until Jeanne is on the mend. It was great to have her with me. Just like the old days when (it is not her calling) she went with me everywhere, supporting and encouraging. I will never take her for granted again. She has been the Lord’s “help meet” and my help mate.

Jon and Amy Wonnell

It has been at least five or more years since I first met Jon and Amy in Thunder Bay at the Grassroots Church – Great Commission School. They hadn’t married yet and both were there as students.

Since then they have become a couple, moved to the Washington, D.C. area where Jon is a court reporter (one of those people who sit in front of a little contraption and type into record every word spoken throughout the proceedings). They require 250 words a minute at 98% accuracy. 

Jon and Amy have an interest in missions and discipleship minstry and just wanted to spend some time with us, asking question and getting some perspective on what their lives might look like in the not too distant future. We loved having them around and appreciated their spirtual vitality and enthusiasm to give to the Lord more than five or so hours a week.

Jeanne often quotes Spurgeon where he once said something like, “There are only two kinds of Chrisitans, those to whom God says, ‘Okay, go ahead and have it your way'”  or they say, “Have thine own way Lord.” These folks seem to be content whether they have much or little and live with open hands.

While they were here we drove about twenty miles from our home to Brattonsville where they filmed the movie, “The Patriot” starring Kevin Costner. Brattonsville is an honest to goodness Revolutionary War site where many things remain just as they were in 1780.

A Patriot family

A Patriot family

On this particular weekend they celebrate the defeat of General Huck and his Loyalist troops by the Bratton brothers and some thirty other patriots. Though a small battle, it was decisive in bringing the war to an end. The enactment was well done, complete with muskets, smoke and “Redcoats” either lying dead or in retreat.
The battle rages and Houk goes down.
The battle rages and Huck goes down.

       

The occasion provided many photographers with some very interesting images.