Category Archives: travel

Lockerbie–Looking Up

Lockerbie, Scotland was innocent of all wrongdoing concerning the crash of Pan Am 103, December 1988. Yet they’ve paid a huge price simply for being the site of that airliner tragedy. History was rewritten for the small town beginning that day. When we were told we were going to Lockerbie, it was with the identification statement, “You know, the place where Pan Am flight 103 went down.”

It happened on December 21, 1988, just before Christmas. Families in the U.S. eagerly awaited their college students home from their “studies abroad.” There were also many other Americans, more than 100, I believe, of the 258 on board, and folks from 21 countries in all. The flight had left from Germany and was flying at 31,000 feet preparing to begin its trans Atlantic voyage toward New York when the explosion, caused by a bomb planted in a cassette player in cargo, went off. Scraps of the plane were scattered for miles, but the cockpit and largest piece of the cabin came down in and near Lockerbie. Instantly, 270 people on the plane (passengers and crew) and 11 on the ground, were killed.

Jeff Rushton, a distributor of Christian literature with Opal Trust, as well as our guide to Lockerbie and surrounding areas, drove us to the site where the plane’s cockpit came to rest. He was very somber as he told us what it was like the day of the tragedy. We could relate now better than we could have then in 1988. It was like 9/11 in our country. Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news. He took us to where the main fuselage came down and incinerated several houses killing eleven folks on the ground. Jeff spoke respectfully and kindly of those eleven, one lady in particular whom he knew.

We visited the cemetery where many of the victims are buried. It is carefully tended with clipped sward and roses blooming. It is obvious that family members visit and place flowers on the graves, though they have to travel great distances. Jeff said some go there every year. What struck me so forcefully was the dates on so many of those stones: 1968-1988. My son’s birthday is November, 1968. He, too, at about that age, went on a studies abroad trip. But he came home. My heart aches for those parents whose children never came home.

But there’s more to Lockerbie.

Lockerbie is a small town of about 4,000. Located in Southwest Scotland, near the Annan River, it was once a center for production of lamb’s wool and still one may see thousands of sheep on green hillsides in the area. Our reason for visiting Lockerbie was that our travel leader, Harley Rollins, is on the board of Opal Trust and he needed to meet with their leaders and familiarize himself with the headquarters of this literature distribution concern.

We were guests at Somerton House, a very interesting old hotel, first built as a private home. When we asked Brian, the manager, why the large lions flanking the front door were named Livingstone and Stanley, he told us the lady who had the house built was a cousin of Livingstone, the famous British missionary to Africa. Stanley was the journalist sent by the New York Herald in 1871 to find Dr. Livingstone from whom little had been heard in six years.

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Here we are with Jeff (left back) in front of Somerton House with the lions

Brian also told us that much of Somerton’s inside woodwork is built of a rare wood called kauri from a tree in New Zealand. At the time of its building a shipwreck washed up. The ship had been loaded with kauri lumber so, suddenly, this beautiful honey-colored wood became available. It is said that the ship itself was built of kauri wood. Brian pointed out door frames in the house that exhibit an interesting curve, supposedly from first being part of a ship. Soon after the building of Somerton House, arborists discovered that the kauri tree, growing only in New Zealand, is so slow growing, it isn’t feasible to use it for lumber. Hence, the Somerton House is the only building in Scotland made of kauri wood. We enjoyed the comfort, dignity, and hospitality of Somerton House, especially the Scottish breakfast cooked to order and served with big smiles in their lovely dining room.

Lockerbie is, as I mentioned, home to Opal Trust as well as Langston Publishing. We were delighted to be able to get to know both establishments, even if for a short time. Both are busy distributing books that the lost may hear of our awesome God. Naturally, we saw many, many books which always brings me great pleasure. And we met great folks in editing staff as well as managing and operating. But I think the unit that grabbed my attention the most was the Tell-It tract publisher, towards Glasgow. In a tiny building where doors hardly have room to open and shelving is stacked with a wide variety of leaflets and small books, Robert and Ann Smith are working diligently to get “the Word” out. Their publishing equipment is topnotch and they create colorful, clear pieces that speak to all ages and all walks. There are tracts for pet owners, for parents, for the grieving and the empty nesters. There are leaflets sharing the gospel using the life stories of famous people, like John Livingstone. We were excited about all the different titles and came away with a few samples, though I think we’ve given them all away. We enjoyed meeting, too, the Smiths’ beautiful dog Mattie who roams amongst the stacks happily swishing her tail.

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Charles and Jeff talking about books

Taking a walk around Somerton House the night before we left, we were amazed that, at 10:00, the sun was still bright. No wonder the hollyhocks and peonies, the roses and hydrangeas are so vibrant.

Folks of Lockerbie are not locked into sorrowing, even though they seem so ready to offer compassion. They want to look up, to look forward, to look past that terrible day in 1988. They want the name Lockerbie to be linked with laughter and celebrations and beauty. Because of the graciousness of our hosts at Somerton House and our friendship with John Lewis and Jeff and Janet Rushton, as well as Robert and Ann Smith, we will remember Lockerbie with much affection. In fact, my picture in my mind right now is of Jeff and Janet in their bungalow den with their black lab Jessie as we enjoyed midmorning tea. Their garden just outside was beautiful, and birds were singing. Below is a picture of Jessie at the warehouse faithfully “keeping” the books. Should be the smartest dog in the kingdom!

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Lockerbie is looking up!

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Fish’n’Chips in Moffatt

We had been home for several weeks from our trip to Europe when I received a text from our Georgia traveling companions. “We’ll pick you up in twenty minutes for fish’n’chips in Moffatt.” Moffatt, Scotland, it was, a place we had all enjoyed so much along with Scottish driver friend John Lewis. I smiled as I typed in my answer: “Sounds intriguing but a bit too far.”

Moffatt was a place I’d never heard of before this trip. It was a former burgh in Dumfries and Galloway, its population 2,500. It’s on the Annan river, one of three rivers that originate within a few meters of each other, then flow three different directions. We found the little town so friendly and inviting. John showed us the statue of a bronze ram and told us its story. The sculptor, he said, unveiled his creation to a nice gathering of villagers. There was a respectful silence and then a young boy called out, “Why did ye leave the ears off?” John said the sculptor was so humiliated to have left the ears off that he committed suicide. But the village erected the ram, a fine symbol of a wool producing area.

Now, truth be told, that sculptor did not commit suicide, not then at least, because there are several pieces of his work created in later years. And as to the missing ears? The ram has curly horns, big showy horns. Who could be sure whether or not he had ears, save God alone? We liked the old ram and had our picture made with him.

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Now, to back up a mile or one hundred, we had a big day before we arrived in Moffatt. Our road trip took us from Lockerbie all the way to Edinburgh viewing breathtaking sights along the way. I’m sure John Lewis must have wondered if we’d ever seen sheep before since we exclaimed so much over them. Actually, we’ve even raised a tiny flock of woolies and hair sheep in South Georgia. But there were so many in Scotland, thousands, white against those beautiful green Scottish hills, pastures divided by stone walls or hedgerows, even some regular fences. We enjoyed also winding roads, villages, and farms, glistening streams, and then the dignity and character of old Edinburgh. John was an excellent guide who told us so much as he skillfully twisted and turned in city lanes to give us all good views of Sir Walter Scott’s memorial, government buildings, kirks, and the Castle so majestic, and maybe forbidding, high on its craggy hill.

On the way back toward Lockerbie, north of Moffatt, John pulled over at a high overlook and invited us to see the Devil’s Beef Tub, one of South Scotland’s geographic oddities. We looked way, way down into the dark depths of a valley formed by four hills. John said it was named Devil’s Beef Tub because a Scottish clan named Johnstones, also referred to by their enemies as devils, used to cross the English border centuries ago, steal cattle, and bring them to this valley to hide them. I later read more interesting tid-bits about this unusual valley, some true, some probably not.

For instance, a Covenanter in 1685 is said to have tried to outrun enemy dragoons by climbing a side of the Beef Tub. He didn’t make it, according to the story. Much more recently, a woman lost control of her vehicle and plunged 500 feet to the bottom of Devil’s Beef Tub but was not seriously injured. No word about how she got out. Supposedly, her vehicle is still there. Sir Walter Scott included a description of the valley in his novel “Red Gauntlet”: “It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.”

Scott’s description gives me a chill. Certainly, I wouldn’t want to find myself in that valley for I’m sure I could never climb out. But it was beautiful that afternoon, from the top. The dark purplish shadows didn’t seem forbidding with bright sunshine around us.

Then we arrived in Moffatt and met the bronze ram statue. That’s when someone spotted the fish’n’chips shop and we realized how hungry we were. Harley was always hungry for fish’n’chips having enjoyed them so much when he and Debi lived in England years ago.

When we walked in the shop we found it busy with locals as well as tourists, with a friendly proprietor and a staff eager to make us happy. Just the warm tasty smells made us happy.

Now you have to know a little bit about fish’n’chips to appreciate our feast that night. Of course, anyone who’s been in Britain for any length of time would have at least heard about this iconic meal. Fish’n’chips is to England what a hamburger is to USA. Before our trip, my friend Sue Nell told me “Eat some fish’n’chips for me.” So–what you get is one or two very generous portions of golden batter-fried fish (a white sweet fish) along with a pile of what we call French fries, called in Britain chips and in France frits. A bottle of vinegar will be handy so one may sprinkle however much they want over fish and chips. The fish was perfectly golden and so crusty, not greasy at all, and the chips were really wonderful. We had enjoyed fish’n’chips in Portsmouth, Deal, and West Wickham and would have one more chance near Bromley. But the Moffatt fish’n’chips were the freshest, the crispiest, the most delicious.

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After supper we wandered along the street, window shopping, and back over to see the bronze ram again before we started back to Somerton House in Lockerbie.

A lovely day with friends, not to be easily repeated, but always warmly remembered.

So, yes, I would buckle into that British car with the rest, if I could, and happily set out for fish’n’chips in Moffatt.

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Udderly Divine

Was it a pie shop, an ice cream shop, or a sandwich shop? We enjoyed some of all those, including chili and corn chowder. I guess it is a deli, a very charming one at that.

We’d never before heard of Udderly Divine. Finding it was one of those happenstances that became a special feature of our vacation conversations.

We had just left the Montezuma Castle, getting acquainted with history of cave dwellers. Not far from there was this small Arizona town called Camp Verde, in the Verde Valley. We had been enthralled by the awesome cliff homes (some of us older ones more than the very young ones!) but now we were hot and tired and thirsty, not to mention hungry. We had stopped at one restaurant already where my son Will, the scouter, had rejected it as not a friendly menu for all involved: my daughter-in-law, Christi, their three children, William Jr., Thomas, and Mattie, as well as Charles and me. He came back from checking out “Udderly Divine” with a thumbs-up but an edge of doubt in his voice. “I think everyone will like this place. But there’s only one lady running it and doing everything.”

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A hardworking restauranteur with a big smile

There was no one else there as we chose seats at two tall fifties-style chrome and black tables. The one lady greeted us with friendly confidence, explained her simple, yet complete deli menu and then retreated to let us make decisions. About then, more customers took their seats. How was she going to handle all of us? Why didn’t she have more help? Maybe someone “showed up missing,” as my brother John used to say.

By then we had discovered a spread of small, wrapped homemade pies on the counter and I knew my will power against desserts was not working. Whatever else, I would have a strawberry/rhubarb pie.

As instructed, we went to the counter to order. The seven of us requested various sandwiches–chicken salad, egg salad, grilled cheese, turkey and cheese on breads of our choice–or soups–corn chowder or chili. She then directed us to a drink box to make beverage choices.

I was struck by how clean and fresh everything looked. The black and white chessboard floor fairly sparkled. Counters and tables were chrome and black formica, some tables standard height, some taller like ours with stools to match. A back door opened to a kind of mini mall where Christi and Mattie went for a short browsing.

Other customers had given orders but in a very timely fashion we were served with graciousness by our lady whose name we now knew was Teresa. She made sure we were all happy and then went about serving others. Some of them, we could tell, were regular customers, very loyal customers. Teresa took time for a friendly conversation with each. I could imagine she has some customers in that small town who eat with her every day.

Those sandwiches were so delicious! Charles and Christi scraped the bottoms of their corn chowder dishes too. When we questioned Teresa she said she starts work about 3:30, makes pies and sandwich fillings and chowder as well as chili fresh every day. She told us in a very humble manner that even on hot summer days, like this one, her soups are always consumed. “Oh, and the pies, too,” she said. “Lots of people come in just for my pies..” As to having help, she doesn’t. She likes it that way. She’s not trying to grow a big business and she’s happy with things as they are.

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Who doesn’t like ice cream?

Several of us wanted ice cream which Teresa dipped. Others chose pies. I did share my strawberry/rhubarb pie but, oh my goodness, it was good. Tasted like Mamma’s she used to make from rhubarb grown in the corner of her garden. Teresa had baked other pies that day: blueberry, apple, peach, and pecan.

We felt like old friends by the time we left. Teresa’s happy smile was contagious and made us all have good memories of the small town of Camp Verde. In fact, as we happily babbled about how good everything was, we agreed it would have to be one of our top favorite eating places of the whole week-long trip.

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Mattie joins us for a Satisfied Customer picture!

On the “Coffee Gram,” paper placemat advertisers given to each of us, are “tons” of little sayings, interesting ads for Watkins naturals, Skyliners Hiking Club, a backhoe service, hay sales, Saturday night dances and low-cost pet vaccines. Reading it gave me a snap view of that community.

In the middle of each green placemat is a quotation from the Bible: For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus my Lord. Romans 8:38,39

 

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An English Country Garden

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One small feature of the Armstrongs’ English country garden

When I played “In An English Country Garden” as a young piano student, I didn’t imagine that I would be in such a garden some day. But recently Charles and I visited not just one English garden, but several. I’m still under the spell of roses blooming on a brick wall, of the scent of lavender, and of the graciousness of the owners of one particular English country garden.

In Georgia, USA, we’ve been blessed with acres we can landscape and maintain with large trees, shrubs, lilies and many, many flowers. In England, often, a resident has only a few feet to work with. Visiting that country this summer was such a pleasure. The gardens were vivid with green velvety grass; roses of red, peach, yellow and pink; and everywhere bright flower beds and window boxes.

We had the privilege of being invited to a garden party. Friends we were traveling with actually were honorees at this party so we were there in a special status. I was free to wander about the trim, neat garden with my iPad before the guests arrived.

I discovered a tiny trail, sort of Peter Rabbit size, which led tightly between shrubbery to a work shed. On another side of the garden was a sculpture of David and on the garden’s brick wall carefully trained roses and ivy grew. An inviting curved bench waited under a small tree for someone to alight. Tables were thoughtfully and strategically set where guests would be free to sit and enjoy the delightful little sandwiches, tea, and cake. One or two tables were set on the tiled patio where also potted roses and ferns offered joy. Everywhere there were signs our host and hostess had been busy with a grass edger, pruning shears, and much tender loving care.

Dave and Mathilda Armstrong had invited friends of Harley and Debi to come from London, Oxford, and other locations, friends with whom they had formerly worked as a team for Jesus. The afternoon was perfect for the gathering–blue skies, a hint of coolness, the scents of lavender and basil mingling with the roses, and warm inviting scents from the kitchen. Birds sang and took quick flights from tree to tree.

Of special significance at this party was a strong Christian connection between all those present. Charles and I knew only a few of the folks but we became instant friends, sharing ways God has been busy in our lives and those around us. It was amazing to hear the stories these missionaries could tell from Switzerland to Afghanistan, from Australia to Honduras. The thought occurred to me several times that this little English garden party was a foretaste of the beauty and joy we can expect in heaven.

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Vera lost not an inch in growing a beautiful path to her door.

There were other gardens as well. We spent a couple of nights in a sweet flat in West Wickham where our hostess, Vera, gave us a refuge for recovering from our trans-Atlantic flight. Approaching her red door were bright flowers along the walkway.

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The Cotswolds area of south central England was such a delight!

 

We visited the Cotswolds one day. Their little gardens are squeezed between their small stone houses and narrow village streets, absolutely charming.

In Bromley, where we were temporary residents in the home for transient missionaries called Manna House, we walked several times to the center of town a mile away. There was one garden we passed that particularly intrigued me. Flowers of red, yellow, blue and white flourished just inside a gate that was always open. A walkway curved slightly toward the door. Birds were especially vocal there and I think there must have been a feeder out back. I was tempted to tap on the door and tell the owner how much I liked their colorful garden!

One last note. Dave and Mathilda, on our last outing, took us to the lavender fields not far from their home. Not only was the blue almost hypnotizing, but we were wrapped in the scent of it. It was an unforgettable excursion made perfect with steak and mushroom pies under an umbrella at a stream-side inn.

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Can’t you just smell the lavender?!!!

The tune of “An English Country Garden” is spinning gently through my mind. Gardens and music–they go together!

 

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Volunteer at Montezuma Castle

He is 94 years old and still enjoying his job as a guide at Montezuma Castle, home of ancient cave dwellers in Arizona. We came upon him as we explored the cave dwellers’ park and were so fascinated by his stories we hung around his post way past our turn.

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Charles and Will talking to our 94 year old guide

He readily took time to explain to us what we’d see if we could climb far up the limestone cliff and enter one of the caves occupied six centuries ago by people seeking safety from marauding neighbors. Yes, we would see hieroglyphics and handprints of the women and children who plastered the walls periodically. We would see various rooms and added ledges. We would see storage areas where the folks placed their dried meats and vegetables.

This tough yet amazingly smooth-faced gentleman explained how the cave dwellers lived. The women worked the crops and kept the home caves while the men went hunting. The hunt was not over in a few days. During the weeks or months they were gone, the women had to pull the ladders up the cliffs each night to keep enemies away. The cliffs are high and sheer.

Our guide waxed very enthusiastic describing the mens’ hunt. First, they had to secure a supply of salt mined from a deposit a few miles away. Then, armed with sharp knives and some jerky from the last hunt, they would strike out to find game. They might have to walk many miles before they found anything. When they made a kill of antelope, lion, or bison, rabbit, bear, or muskrat, they had to butcher, salt and dry the meat into portions that would keep. This took weeks, even months.

He went on to tell us there were inner storage chambers which could only be entered through a hole in a cave. This is where they kept some of their supplies. Our guide himself some years ago, heard about a hieroglyphic sample in one of those underground storage rooms and proposed to fellow workers that they put him down through the hole so he could take a picture. He isn’t a very large man but even so his going down became quite difficult. His helpers were lowering him by his hands until the opening narrowed so much he had to release one hand and wiggle himself on down. He took the picture, he said, and then faced the challenge of climbing back out.

Before we could hear the end of his climbing-out story, our guide was surrounded by a new group of interested inquirers and we had to move on. We only heard a chuckle as it was implied he might have had to strip and grease himself from head to toe.

In the midst of his very in-depth explanation of early Indians’ life, this gentleman told us a little about himself. He had retired because his wife had begun falling and he felt he needed to stay close to her. Then he grinned as he pulled a small electronic device from his pocket. “I found this miracle solution to our problem. She can buzz me on this and I’ll go straight home. I think she was as pleased as I was to get me out of the house again.” He went on to tell us how he drives himself to the park and walks a good distance every day, maybe only a couple of miles as compared to five before his retirement. “These young people in their seventies,” he said, “don’t exercise enough and they get old way too young.”

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Here are some of us at the Cliffs: Charles,  Nana, Mattie, William Jr., and Thomas in hat

Our time at Montezuma Castle National Monument, part of our wonderful National Park Service, was fun for adults and children. The trees and plants were well marked so we learned names of several, or verified our speculations. Shady big sycamores made walking in the Arizona heat more pleasant. Mexican Bird of Paradise was the most colorful in bright orange, but thick growths of pink and cream, yellow and orange lantana invited butterflies to blink amongst them. There were nice sturdy benches where we could sit and gaze up at the lofty Montezuma Castle caves.

The gift shop was, of course, a must before we left. I purchased a jar of prickly pear jelly and some blue corn pancake mix with prickly pear syrup. It was fun trying them out for breakfast this morning while we remembered the cliffs–and the 94 year old man who made it all so interesting.

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Scenes in Europe

I could hardly believe it when, back in February, Harley and Debi Rollins invited us to travel to England with them. We are just back now from three weeks in England, Scotland, and France, an incredible journey for anyone, especially for us at our mature 75 years!

My mind is full of strange and lovely, grim and dark, soothing and stimulating images. Of course, Charles and I both took pictures, lots and lots of beautiful pictures. But the best ones are in my head where I can bring them up for chuckles, exclamations and reviews whenever I please, without batteries, without buttons, swipes or cyber skill.

In this short blog today I’m only going to pull out a few of those images that I see in my head. There are many more! And first of all, my biggest point of gratitude is that God was with us all the way. I’ve been on lengthy journeys before but am most definitely not a seasoned traveler. I had a few fears leading up to this trip: becoming lost from my group, losing my passport, falling on one of those mile-high airport or train depot escalators, getting locked in a bathroom, or being arrested for shoplifting because I started out the door with a postcard in my hand. None of those things happened (though a few scary moments did occur!) and I’m so thankful.

As I flip through the images in my head, I’m thrilled again at seeing English country gardens so perfectly trimmed, redolent with roses, peonies, red hot pokers, sweet Williams, hollyhocks and green, green grass. I’m smiling in the rapture of viewing 75 Claude Monet paintings in the National Gallery off Trafalgar Square. I’m laughing in eagerness as Charles and I board a boat for the Thames River cruise. We’re all four–Charles, our friends Harley and Debi Rollins with whom we travelled, and I–stunned and amazed as our driver friend Dave Armstrong unexpectedly treats us to an adventurous ride through hectic downtown London late one evening. He even drove us down the wide avenue straight towards Buckingham Palace. When he saw a helicopter about to lift from the palace grounds, he whipped into a parking space so we could watch for a minute.

Visions of Portsmouth come to view: the stony shoreline, the carefully preserved ship Victory where Lord Nelson, though winning the battle, lost his life in the battle of Trafalgar, our laughter and Christian fellowship as we enjoyed that day with Gerry and Jean Davy and their family.

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Left to right: Harley Rollins, Gerry Davy, Debi Rollins, Jean Davy, Dave Armstrong, and Charles Graham. In the background beyond the rooftops is the English Channel.

 

The coast at Deal was so exciting I almost went rolling into the sea walking on the deep layers of water-smooth rocks. And the flowers! Imagine bright wildflowers so thick a little child walking through them was almost hidden, and beyond the flowers the shore, and then waves rolling in.  Dave and Pam White, dear wonderful missionaries, welcomed us there into their sweet bungalow.

We rode to France via the Chunnel. I’d been apprehensive about going so far under tons of water for the crossing. But it was quite fun, like riding an underground car ferry, and I didn’t even have time to worry. We spent two nights in a lovely little French village called Honfleur, a day visiting memorials on Normandy Beach and enjoying the French countryside. Then Paris for one day! What can you see of Paris in one day? You can ride a double decker bus and see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the river Seine, the Louvre, bridges, busy streets, shop windows, and then even enjoy dinner afterward at a lively corner café.

Our trip to Scotland by train was a joyful experience even if I did almost get train-left. The Scottish countryside is full of surprises: high smooth green hills dotted with a thousand sheep, craggy cliffs, curves that dip down to streams, high overlooks, clusters of farm buildings ready for a cold hard winter, little cozy villages with busy markets. It was a thrill to drive into the city of Edinburgh, to see the majestic dark castle atop its “unscalable” cliff, to see the old kirks, the cobbled streets and round-abouts. John Lewis was a great driver that day and seemed to take pleasure in showing us things that had meant a lot to him, like the “three bridges” at the Firth on Forth, an estuary of several Scottish rivers, or the Devil’s Beef Tub, an amazing very deep valley where legend has it that centuries ago Scottish men stole English cattle from across the line and brought them to that valley until they could make a profit on them.

Aside from the beautiful scenery, the cathedrals, the city sights, I see the faces of wonderful new and renewed friends: Jeff and Janet Rushton (?), Robert and Ann Smith, John Lewis, all the folks at Langham Publishers, Dave and Mathilda Armstrong in Keston, Kent, and Andrew and Rachel , our hosts at Manna House in Bromley (the OM Mission House). These are all disciples of Jesus, involved in some way or another in sending Christian literature to third world countries as are the folks I mentioned in Portsmouth and Deal. It was inspiring to catch even a glimpse of their networking endeavors. It was a joy to hear Harley and Debi connecting with so many they have worked with their whole career as missionaries with Operation Mobilisation, Send the Light, and more. Many of their friendships go back to serving together on the Ship Logos in the 1970’s.

Yes, I bought postcards (and didn’t get arrested!) and souvenirs, and took tons of pictures. But when I close my eyes I can see fields of lavender, craggy cliffs, and narrow curvy cobbled village streets.

Soon, I hope to write more on what we saw and experienced, perhaps “An English Country Garden,” “Winchester Cathedral,” “Walking the White Cliffs,” “A Village Named Honfleur,” and details about  “A Cold Day on Normandy Beach.”

 

 

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Basket Weaver

She was sitting on a bench outside a busy little gift shop in Grand Cayman. Her hands gracefully wove flat rushes in and out as we talked to her. Beside her were numerous baskets she had made. I asked if I might take her picture to which she agreed, giving me a warm smile.

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I examined her baskets while Charles fished in his pocket for a tip to give her for posing for me. The baskets were so neatly made, all of the same dried pale green reeds. She told us her grandson goes to a swampy area to pick the reeds for her. All the time she talked her fingers danced in and out, in and out, creating strips she then wound together and sewed. She didn’t have to look at what she was doing–like a knitter creating a familiar pattern.

Others in our touring group were inside the shop tasting samples of rum cake and buying tins of it as well as other souvenirs. We had tasted the cake and were happy now to be talking to this beautiful island lady. I just wish we had taken more time with her. I didn’t even learn her name, nor how long she’s been weaving, nor whether she works at the same shop every day, nor just how long it takes to make a basket.

But I did learn something very important about her.

I asked her if she knew Jesus in her heart. The most radiant smile lit her face. “Oh, yes!” she said. “I couldn’t live without Him. He helps me through every day.” Charles gave her a little booklet about eternal life suggesting she might give it to someone else. She hugged it to her chest and fairly bubbled with glee.

I purchased one of her baskets and now I’m wondering to whom I’ll give it. I really want to keep it myself! Not that I need it for remembering her face!

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When we left, I wanted to hug her but knew it would be too bold and so I refrained.

Only a few minutes we spent with this bright lady on Grand Cayman whose name I do not know. But I will always remember her and I know she is my sister in Christ.

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