A Special Journey

Iona was a very special place. One of the reasons that it is so special is because it is separated from the rest of the world. You have to take three ferries to get there and a one hour drive on two islands in between the ferries. This part of being on the island makes it a special journey and a different kind of place.

Every Tuesday on the island there is a special walk. This walk is called a pilgrimage walk and was what we decided to do for the day. They told us that this pilgrimage walk was not to find Jesus where we were going, but to find him within the group on the journey. This journey was seven miles, all the way around the island. We started walking.

The group had about 50 people in it. About half of the group was a youth group from Baltimore. Everyone else was from a different place in the world. Some people were from France, Germany, South Africa, Italy, the United States, and England. Everyone in the group had a different story to tell. Before we new it Jesus was found.

Everyone started talking to each other. They started sharing of their travels and their lives. This was truly amazing. I made several friends. One of them was a woman named Julie. She is an organist in a church and is also on sabbatical. She had come to Iona as part of a group and was staying for a long time. She got along with us all in different ways we couldn’t even imagine. Alistair made friends with birders who were interested in his stories of South African birds.

Later in the hike we arrived at different spots that held stories. One was the only industry on Iona for some time. We arrived at a marble quarry. The Irish, Scottish, and English would come and take marble from this spot. It used to be extremely famous because it is some of the oldest rock upon the Earth. A famous person once stood there and said, “This is the Earth’s downfall. This is the most beautiful spot that is now shattered.” He was speaking of the fact that we put gain, economically and prosperously, in front of our own Earth. This truly shows the maximum problem created by fossil fuels and global warming. Our guide said, “The Earth deserves better treatment than this.”

We also hiked to a rock beach for lunch. We could see fibre plankton in the water casting its green glow and emitting oxygen. We were told to pick up a rock and throw it into the sea signifying what we wanted to get rid of. Wanting to throw away our greatest sins. We were also told to pick up a rock and take it with us signifying what we want to take away from this day. “Friendship and Love”.

As the day progressed it began to rain and not in little quantity. The wind picked up, the waves on the sea began to puff and swirl. The weather did not predict this but we were warned, “The wind changes at the top of a hat,” were we not? The rain came quickly and drenched us to the extent that Mom, Dad and Alistair decided to take a trail back towards the abbey because of their lack of rain gear. I decided to stay because I would feel a lack of accomplishment, even though we were about three-fourths through the hike. 2 miles to go.

We continued to walk. I met new people and new friends. I met a woman and her husband who lived in Madagascar for 10 years. They shared stories of there travels there and abroad. I did likewise. I also met the youth director who was leading the youth through their journey. He said that they had so many youth that they had to split the group in half with one half coming first and then the second half joining them as the first half goes home.

We made it to an enclosure of stones. This circle could have very well been where people came to pray and meditate. The island at the time had about five thousand people on the island. This really crowds the island because of its small size. People would need to escape from the maddening town and escape towards the subtle, yet amazing shore on the opposite side of the island. We were silent for several minutes to contemplate the sounds of wind, rain, water, and anything else that might be heard. This showed the true, maximum peace, despite the wind and rain, of Iona.

Some time later we left the spot. We continued to walk in awe. Conversation and laughter were found that soon joined song as we sang our way back to the abbey. Finally concluding with “Alleluia”. In the abbey we ended with a prayer and final song.

One of the beauties of this event was that it was a journey. A true journey with 50 people continuing to the end. 7 miles of walking in fellowship. We all made many friends by simply talking to many people. This was a beautiful thing. The leader explained this simply, “The greatest gift on Earth is the gift of friendship. This you all have been shown today. Go in Peace.”

The gift of this lives on. Julie is going to continue to be in correspondence with us.

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“The greatest gift on earth is the gift of friendship…”

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Turkey Video

This is the final product of the Turkey videos taken. I have combined many of the major events on our trip in Turkey. Enjoy… Link – Turkey

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The Iona Community

After reading about this I encourage you to learn more about the Iona Community.
The Iona Community

Our last major destination in Scotland was a small island called Iona. Iona is the known place where St. Columba brought the beginning of christianity to Scotland. To understand the island you must understand the basic history.

Long ago, St. Columba borrowed the Book of Psalms that was inscribed on parchment. He copied it word-for-word on to other pieces of parchment. When he was finished using the original, he did not give it back. This created a great deal of conflict that resulted in the death of many hundreds of people. Columba took 12 followers that were monks, just like himself, and set off for an island close to Scotland. He decided to be an evangelist and create as many christians as he killed before. He landed with his followers on Iona. He climbed to the top of some of the oldest rock known on Earth and took one last faint look at Northern Ireland. He punished himself and said he never would return to Ireland. And so he lived creating a new community, the Iona community. He introduced Christianity and the Celtic Religions to the island and built an abbey that the foundation is still used, renovated, but still used for worship. Columba did create as many Christians as people that he killed and is known all over Northern Scotland.

This is the history told to us on the island. Today the island is still small in land size and in population. There are only 125 people living on the island. Many pilgrims come to this island seeking new life. They host youth that are on a youth retreats at a place called the McLEAD Centre. They also host visitors in hotels and hostels.

The abbey still is a place of worship. Every day in the morning and evening they host anyone that wants to worship. It is a simple service that encompasses prayer, scripture, and hymns.

We spent one full day on Iona as well as a half of the day we arrived. It is secluded away from the rest of the world. It takes three ferries to arrive. The experience is wonderful though. It really is a spiritual pilgrimage.

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Edinburgh

As you heard in the update, we have successfully landed in this beautiful country of Scotland. Our flights were successful though the longest, from Johannesburg to London, was completely full. This was quite unlike our previous flight which was almost completely empty. Nevertheless, we arrived, tired, but happy in Scotland. We started first in Edinburgh. This is the city in which mom was born. Whilst her parents were teaching in the city, they became friends with two people named, Jim and Carol. We have been staying with Jim and Carol during our time in Edinburgh.

During the daytime we were out and about in the city. On the first day we hastened to do the things most required to have nice weather. Our first day was not a typical Scotland type of day but totally the opposite. This was a day of few clouds in the sky, no rain, sunshine… This was welcomed quickly by our family who is quite used to rain and wind and very cloudy days!
The day began in a way that is most liked by our family, we hiked. There is a mountain in the city called Arthur’s Seat. This was a short but nevertheless, strenuous to hike. The views were extremely rewarding. Next we walked up and down the Royal Mile which begins with Queen Elizabeth II’s Scotland home and the Parliament building. It continues for one mile up until Edinburgh Castle. In this mile you can shop until you drop, because the shops are endless. We enjoyed going into bookstores, paper weight stores, a storytelling café, souvenir shops, and to my immense dismay, clothing stores. Alistair bought four things, Mom several gifts and a jacket for herself, Dad bought a few gifts, and I bought postcards and a paperweight that I love. The storytelling café had many interesting things to look at. This center is a place that most evenings Scottish storytellers from near and far come to the center to teach stories and the act of storytelling. This interested all of us but unfortunately we only went for tea time and could not see a program.

Also during our time in Edinburgh we:

Went to Edinburgh Castle upon the request from my great-Grandma, “See as many castles as you can.” It was very interesting and we saw buildings and museums inside the stronghold.

We saw Jean Brown who is an old family friend. She greeted us warmly and gave us tea and hundred-folds of sweets. It was lovely for Mom who had known her her whole life.

We also saw the Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh which has beautiful gardens of many interesting flowers and plants. The same day we went to the Scottish Museum which is interactive and very new.

Our time in Edinburgh has been wonderful. We shall return for a few days before flying home.
Soon we shall be blogging about our time in the Highlands and on Iona.

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With Gratitude For New Friends – South Africa

We have been blessed to have many friends. Friendship is incomparable in the sense that it builds up the world. We have made many friends here in South Africa. Let us thank them…

Let us thank:

Sidwell – Who hosted us for our first few days. He took us to the apartheid museum, a musical show, a spiritual place called Freedom Park, Soweto, and took us to Sunnyside for worship on Sunday. He and his family let us stay at their home for our time in Pretoria.

Refilwe – Who tended our household needs. She insisted upon doing our laundry and cooked delicious food. She teaches 50 third graders every day! She has won many teaching awards including one stating that she is the best teacher in South Africa. She is Sidwell’s wife.

Rapsy, Ofentse, and Khathu – Who became Alistair’s new friends while we stayed with Sidwell. They showed Alistair soccer moves, let him play their video games with them, and gave a play-by-play monologue during a football (soccer) game on TV. They were wonderful hosts.

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Mesh – Came to Sidwell’s house for a BBQ and helped us plan the worship service the next day. He is a volunteer pastor at Sunnyside and specializes in lay training.

Stephen – Is a volunteer pastor at Sunnyside as well as a doctor and is working to become ordained. He welcomed us warmly into the church and worked hard to get everything set up for us.

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Pam – the wonderful organist who invited me to accompany her and play the special music with Mom.

Adri- Marie who hosted us in Cosmo City. She is one of the leading workers for Oasis and works hard to create a better community every day. She works closely with Tom and Anothi and Scotch. We pray for her work.

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Anothi – who took us to our destinations and told us about them. He had us interacting with what he was showing us. He changes lives every day because he works with the Bridge the Gap program. He is a special part of Oasis and our lives.

Scotch – Who talked and laughed with us all the time. He explained things and discussed certain parts of life in Cosmo City to us. He and Anothi are having a house built for them now. At Oasis you live with friends and neighbors to conserve housing. Unfortunately for him about half-way through our visit in Cosmo, his car was stolen. He said that they took his car, his wallet, his drivers license, and a really good book. He was most disappointed about the book!

Left – Scotch Middle – Adri- Marie Right – Anothi

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Arnie – who fed us dinner one night and told us his journey and story of starting Oasis South Africa. He changed the lives of many people through his work. He and his wife Chantal and their two daughters are about to move. We pray for them.

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Chantal – who took us to the clinic and showed us what they do. She quickly put us to work and showed us what a difference it made in the life of the people at the clinic. She is Arnie’s wife and a nurse.

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Florence – who works tirelessly at the clinic and gives people vitamins and blankets to nourish them. She also works the administration of the clinic. She put mom to work.

Josephine – who took us to pre-schools that she helps to run and had us interacting with the children by singing, dancing, and taking their pictures. They loved that!

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Lorna – who has come all the way from Scotland and is working to help children in the community who don’t go to school. She helps catch them up and get ready to go to school.

Nobuthe – She runs the Bridge the Gap program. She changes the lives of youth from the ages of 18 to 25. She teaches them conflict management, economics, managing money, and other life skills. She has brought out the best in all of these youth.

Right – Lorna Left – Nobuthle

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Reggie – who works to stop trafficking just around the corner from the office he works at. He is part of a project called Project Greenlight.

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Tom – who is a pastor and manages the Rhythm of Life for Oasis. He also works closely with Adri-Marie.

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We pray for everyone that is in Cosmo City either working or living there.

Thoko – who runs the after school daycare center in Etwatwa. She is the headmistress and a wonderful care person. She invited many neighbors and friends of hers to come and eat with us on the second night of our time in Benoni.

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Those who took place in the workshop lead. Those like Anne Marie, and Dot and our hosts at the after school center.

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Mofomotsi Diutlwilenge who came to take notes for Sidwell at the storytelling workshop. He is a pastor in a church and a very active person in the community

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Ruhlawni – Who volunteers at the after school center. She is in between school and the working life and has designated this first year to travel. She plans to go to Turkey and the Philippines.

Patrick, and his 2 boys as well as Phyllis and her friends who talked with us and visited with us at Thoko’s.

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For Trevor’s Colleagues at Northfield like:

Moira – who participated in the workshop and drove us home. She is the head of the pastoral care center. (She is on the right)

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Gavin- who is one of the four pastors.

Jackie – who is empowering Trevor to use his new iPad.!

Louisa – who is the youth director.

Fran – who drove us to Thoko’s and is the head of the missions department of Northfield.

The organist who so kindly invited me to play the communion music on Sunday during worship.

In Pietermaritzburg…

Doug and Cheri who took us out to dinner and brought Alistair and I to see amazing animals on two amazing hikes in which we saw two giraffe, several thousand empala, and many, many zebras.

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Peter Grasso – who hosted us at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary he is the chaplain and Professor of Church History.

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Jenny Grasso – who took us to lunch.

Sox – who is the dean of the seminary. We had a good conversation with him. He has a deep history.

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Shayne – who came to dinner and told us all of her animal stories. She is the widow of Ross.

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Ross – was the former president. He died before we arrived.

Philippa – a second year student.

Oz- a first year student.

Gloria – a staff member who drove mom and dad around the historic part of town.

Peter Storey – an amazing pastor who has a very deep background. He has preached many places including for several West Ohio Annual Conferences. He showed mom her calling to ministry. It was wonderful for her to meet him.

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For people like Stacey who have showed us the beauty of South Africa through wild animals. Stacey took us on a boat tour and we saw hippos and crocodiles.
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Craig – who was the owner of the cottages that took care of us while we were in St. Lucia

Paul – who was our safari guide. He picked us up at 5:00 in the morning and drove us until 1:30 in the afternoon.
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Skipper- who took us on our Whale Watching adventure. He showed us two male humpbacks and gave us a new appreciation for these creatures. His real name is Vernor and he has a PhD in Cetacean studies. For half of the year he leads these trips and the other half he spends in the Bearing Sea studying whales.

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Benoni
Trevor – who hosted us during our time in Benoni and helped us organize events and take us places. He is the reason that we went to Cosmo City or Benoni. He is a pastor at Northfield Methodist Church. He works in the community every day and writes books and preaches sermons somewhere every Sunday. He introduced to many new people and became excellent friends with us. (picture below)

Debbie, Joanie, and Mark – Trevor’s family who hosted us on Sunday and visited with us and treated us to lunch. Debbie, Joanie, and Mark are all teachers in their own way. Debbie teaches in a high school and Mark teaches in an Elementary school.

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Debbie – Who hosted us for our whole time in Benoni and treated us to all sorts of wonder in her home. She cooked us delicious meals and gave us beautiful rooms to stay in.

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Ingrid – She changed the trip for me. She was a wonderful person to talk to and just enjoy and was someone that I could process with. She was a wonderful friend.

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South Africa is a country of love and friendship. In a few days time we shall be departing from Mother Africa. We will be in awe from our wonderful experiences. We lift up the gift of love.

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Update

Friends we have safely arrived in Scotland! This is very exciting but also very tiring. We flew from Johannesburg to London Heathrow and from Heathrow to Edinburgh.
Both flights were safe and sound and now we are here resting.

More to come soon…

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A Connection With Our Earth

On our Earth there is a balance. This balance is seemingly simple but extremely complicated to behold. This balance encompasses animals and humans and plants. There are times when the system gets changed dramatically. Humans can’t interfere to make animal life better if something goes wrong. It is up to Mother Nature to change. At these times species have to change and adapt.

We are now in St. Lucia, a beautiful place on the eastern side of South Africa. This place is home to both animals and humans. Both live in a way of cooperation. The humans are focused on their life but trying as little as possible to interfere with the animals’ life. This gives both their own space. The problem is that the humans try to fix nature’s problems. These problems could seem severe when if put in God’s hands, he will fix it. Nature always finds a solution to a problem. For Example:

One afternoon we went on a Hippopautaumus and Crocodile Cruise up the St. Lucia Estuary. This is not an estuary for this used to be an estuary. An estuary is a body of water that is fed by tributary rivers. The estuary carries that water from the rivers and delivers it to the ocean. This is not an estuary because of a problem. This problem is created from drought. Drought causes the mouth of the river in the ocean to dry up and form a land area, closing off the area to the ocean. Twenty years it carried on as a lagoon (but still called an estuary). In twenty years’ time from the time of the drying up, something happened. Nature fixed itself by brewing hurricanes bigger than Hurricane Katrina. This brought gigantic amounts of rain thus flooding the lagoon once more. Now this created a link to Lake St. Lucia. It still did not connect to the ocean. This is still a problem for the natural life of the lagoon. An estuary is a mix of salt water and fresh water. The plant species relies upon that prominent mix of waters. Unfortunately all of the salt resides at the northern part of the estuary and all of the freshwater at the southern part. The middle has the suspension between fresh and salt waters. Thus, at the southern, fresh part has freshwater, marsh like plants springing up. Humans have tried to change this but this cannot be changed unless the estuary is opened up. Nature will have to come. I do believe it will.

This constant changing and mixing of resources has to have a change in the species in the immediate area. If the resources change, they will have to adapt to the different resources. They will have to change. This is not always easy. Animals will die of starvation if the food changes too drastically. This is one of the major consequences of the changes of the world.

My life has been changed in the past few days. We have had very close contact with God’s creation in the last days. It has been a real connection with our Earth. Our day in Pietermaritzburg was very special in many different ways. Alistair described them beautifully. I would like to talk about two particular encounters with God.

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On this perfectly clear, crystal sky day we decided to take two hikes. The African landscape is vastly changing and very sharp. It is full of savannah and peaks and lush rivers and rolling land. It is magnificent to behold. This was most wonderful to hike on. Our first hike began in the morning. We set off down a lane that was rugged. We saw tracks of different animals. At first I thought they were of a horse because we were hiking on a horse farm. But no, these were the tracks of Impala.
We hiked for about half of an hour and then we saw in front of us, a herd of Impala.
At first I thought they might be deer but their markings gave them a different look.

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We were quite literally only two or three feet in front of them and they seemed perfectly calm quite unlike the deer we have in the United States. These Impala continued quite lazily to feed upon grass under the short but seemingly familiar Acacia trees. We watched them for a good amount of time. They were quite amazing. They were graceful yet stiff as if waiting to see what we would do.
This did not surprise me but did really feel amazing to be just simply feet from an Impala.

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We continued up the trail a number of paces until we came upon five zebras on the trail. This time we were a number of paces away but I could still feel their heavy breathing in my bones. They stared at us but also unusually seemed uncannily relaxed as if they saw us every day. They finally continued on their journey as we did ours.

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I was amazed at this point seeing such animals that you only hear about and see in the zoo. They were so much more amazing. The way they seemed quite at peace with the world. This was because their home was protected. There were no natural predators in the area. We continued up to the top of the mountain only to see an amazing view of Pietermaritzburg. This was magnificent. It reminded me of the mountains of North Carolina. We had come at about half past 8 in the morning so there was still fog in the valleys and a sense of excitement in the forest of a new day. For every living creature, alas, this is a celebration of life.

Our second amazing trip was longer and very life changing. This time we drove for the best of half and hour down a dirt road into a lull that we were in a valley. Distracted by the thought of the beautiful scenery of tall, rounded mountains surrounding us, we conveniently forgot to read the elevation sign. The sky was still crystal clear blue and the sun was crossing the sky into the west. We drove into the park and came to the picnic area. It was packed but not in the slightest with humans. This picnic area was packed with animals, zebras and impala alike. They were clearly having a cause for quite a celebration. An area across from the picnic area had had a controlled burn and the animals were feasting off of it. They continued in their queues while we stopped the car and Alistair even got out and neared them to get good photos. They were quite relaxed and continued their life. Most didn’t even spare him a thought. We all got out and were on the same ground, quite unprotected or behind glass, as the animals. It was truly amazing. They looked at us deep within the eye for some fleeting moments and then continued. It was an amazing time to connect with these free creatures. We stayed there for what seemed like months but then finally continued.

We got out of the car at the trailhead and bounded towards the waterfall that the sign pointed to. We sauntered to it to find a cascade of water coming down in sheets hitting the lagoon promptly. We then realized just HOW high we were. We saw plants and vegetation growing and we saw snakes and lizards sunning themselves on the banks below, quite at peace with Mother Africa.
We continued through the savannah and made sure to stay on the path. We walked on for many minutes when we came to a valley. This valley was huge. It was massive and deep, lined with green trees that spread leaves for meters in different directions. For many moments it did not occur to me to look to the opposite side. I looked onto the mountains and felt immediately like the animals, at peace and reflection with the natural world, the amazing world, the ever changing world.
I focussed upon the mountain and saw a piece of artwork. There was a silhouette of a giraffe staring directly at us. Literally right at my eyes, deep within my eyes. I heard the words come to my ears,”Be still and know that I am God”. Over and over. The wind subsided and grass became still and it seemed the whole world was listening. The whole world was silent. The whole world was peaceful. The moment seemed to last for ten-thousand years when it could have been a fleeting second. I saw that there was also another giraffe that was eating from the top of the tree. The moment was beautiful.

Sometime the same day we ventured over to see the giraffes and we did and they looked at us with very large eyes and they continued eating from the trees.

Experiences like this are quite once in a lifetime. They are visions, Godsends. Visions of hopes and dreams for the world. Hopes of harmony, peace, and reconciliation.

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Worship At a Very Special Place Called Sunnyside

We were privileged to have the chance to experience a very meaningful worship experience. Sidwell is a volunteer pastor at Sunnyside Methodist Church. This church is located within the Sunnyside area of Johannesburg. This is on the side nearest to Pretoria.

The story of this amazing experience begins on Saturday.

On Saturday, Sidwell invited many of his colleagues from his church to his house. He hosted them by making food and facilitating a chance to get to know his colleagues. One of his colleagues,
Rev. Dr. Steve Hendricks, talked to us about how our part in the worship service started to play in.
We quickly realized that he was planning the worship service. When he realized that I could play the organ, he invited me to play. He was not very clear at first but at about the middle of the conversation, that he was asking me to play the whole service. He was trying to pick hymns that were familiar to me. This was a little bit overwhelming because I usually know exactly what I’m going to know far earlier then Saturday night! Steve said that the organist’s husband had recently died and they needed someone to play because she would not be at the service.
I did not at first realized what this meant for me succeeding morning.

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Sunday, June 3

In the morning, we departed for Sunnyside. We arrived to an empty sanctuary that was lovely and decorated with the stained-glass windows and the pipe-organ.

Certain amounts of nervousness was surging through me. I could hear all of my organ and piano mentors and friends saying things like, “Remember to set good stops.” “Play the hymns in the way for the congregation is most suitable.” This helped but was not great especially because I had never seen the organ, congregation, choir, music! It would be a very interesting morning.

We went to the organ and discovered it locked. This worried me more because this would give me less time to set stops and get used to it. Someone would be coming with the key.
So he showed me the hymnal which incidentally it was bigger then literally, 3 encyclopedias combined and was printed in half notes and whole notes. This did not help.
I began practicing the hymns on the piano and tried to learn all of this music. They had a different setting of the Lord’s Prayer music and different doxology and communion and choir pieces. This was not going to be easy. Throughout all of this anxiety, I found excitement for getting to play again. This was going to be great, no matter how many mistakes are made.

About 15 minutes later, Steve came in and said, slightly exasperated, “Pam is here and she can play.” This was a relief and a bit of a let down. He than said, “She wants you to accompany on the hymns and play a solo for the anthem on the piano.” This felt really good. There was no more stress but simplicity. This was a good situation.

The service began at 9:30. It was a lot like a regular service at Concord but a little less alive. Most of the white people in the church come to this service. This was the traditional Methodist service. The service began and the choir did an introit and the senior pastor did an introduction.
The service was fairly straight forward and the people were pretty much like statues sitting, looking up front. When the hymns were played they were played traditionally as fast as it takes a snail to go five feet. This was traditional but extremely simple and American worship like.

During this service Mom and I were asked to do something together as a duet. We were given five minutes to figure this out. Luckily we found the Upper Room Worship Book in another style but to our dismay, this version did not have the pieces that we wanted. We finally found the song “Walk with Me” and we used it. At the first service this was received with enthusiasm.

After the service there was a break in between. We visited with the congregation and had tea.

The second service was much more exciting because this was a service of the community. It is commonly known in a worship setting to sit and to listen to the pastor and musicians and sing the hymns. In Africa this is not tolerated. People feel that a worship service is a work of the community. The community leads the worship and sings and prays and acts with everyone as leaders, everyone as participants. This style of worship changes the life and soul of the worship enormously.

The first few minutes was singing. They sing the songs beginning with a person singing a few notes and then everyone stands up and sings. There are djembe drums and leaders of the song and there’s everyone else. They all sing in at least 16-part harmonies. This was most exciting and most moving. They all decide when to stop. It is amazing!

There was then intercessory prayer which consisted of everyone praying at once at out loud in there most comfortable language. This was strange yet almost a pentecostal moment.

Mom preached the sermon. She preached a biblical storytelling sermon that comprised of a dramatic telling of Mark 2. She told the story as if she were a character and added in details to make sure that the story made sense. This was very well received.

The last highlight of this amazing service was our duet. Mom decided that she would teach them the refrain and they would sing after each verse she sung. This was a tremendous idea because after about the 2nd verse they got out of the pews and started dancing around the sanctuary and they sang and harmonized. This created quite an amazing song! It went well with the sermon and the congregation loved it. This was my highlight!

So as you have read, this service truly was amazing. It has changed my life forever!

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London, May 31

We woke up feeling fairly rested having slept from midnight to 9 in the morning.

At eleven o’clock, we departed the hotel to meet the Underground to take to Greenpark station. This was fairly straightforward in the main. Alistair, though because he was under the age limit of “an adult”, had to run through the gates when you presented your ticket. This was not very smart becuase he was often hit by the door. This was there way of not having to print as many tickets. So when one of the rest of us put our ticket through Alistair would have to be right behind us and when the gates opened, run through them with us. The train ride took nearly one hour. This was very interesting to see some of the outscurts of the city.

We went through Green Park. We started seeing people spreading out blankets for picnic lunches, and having business meetings. This was a fun sight. We walked through the park a little bit more and then found Buckingham Palace. This was a lot of fun after seeing this on television with the Royal Wedding. We looked through the gates and saw the traditional guards and people coming out. We thought this was the Queen but it was only her guests.

We walked down the street in from of Buckingham Palace seeing all of the flags. All of these flags were in place because of the Diamond Jubilee. This happened to be the Queens’s 60th Anniversary as Queen of England. It was very interesting to see the construction happening for the event.

We then proceeded across another park to find ourselves face to face with Big Ben. This was a really neat sight to see after all of the pictures that I’ve seen before. The next more exciting thing for me to see was Westminster Abbey.

This was particularly alluring to me because of the organ. I walked in astonished at the architecture and wonder of the cathedral. I walked around the whole entire thing hoping to get a glimpse of the Organ Console. To my complete dismay, I could only hear it but not see it. The pipes were extraordinary! I saw the light reflections and the amazing shape but what I was not so happy about, was all of the statues of famous, rich, British Leaders. This was not welcome to me, especially since we were in a church. I saw the tombs that said beside them that supposedly famous kings and queens were within them but it was hard to know because there wasn’t much security around them. The whole feeling of the place had more of the feel of a museum which was kind of sad to me especially because it is such a beautiful place.

Later we had lunch and went to the British Museum. This was a lot of fun. We saw the Egypt wing. Alistair was particularly interested in this. I could hear the voice of our Turkey tour guide, Meli, saying “All of this was unrightfully stolen everywhere!” Furiously. She did not like the British Museum at all because of this.

We later rode the train back to our hotel and prepared to depart for Johannesburg. It had been a fun day.

The flight later was smooth and almost empty! We could spread out very comfortably and lie down!

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Welcome, Finally, to South Africa

“Welcome to South Africa” said the Border Officer. “Welcome to South Africa” said the pilot and flight attendants. “Welcome to South Africa” said Sidwell. “Welcome to South Africa” said the baggage claim attendant. “Welcome Home” exclaimed the Cradle of Human Kind…

With these abundance of greetings, we know we must now be in South Africa. What a wonderful feeling it was too. We were greeted by our host, Sidwell. He is a South African pastor and works for the government and he is now currently doing his Masters degree. Sidwell was very active during the anti-Apartheid movement. For more information concerning Sidwell, go to Pilgrim Perspecitves.

By the time the day was over, we knew we were welcomed into a wonderful country.

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