As I sit here on my air mattress, the cool Welsh morning air is streaming in through the opened windows, bringing us the cheery sound of the rooster out back greeting the early morning sun while other birds call greetings to each other. Some of us have already had our breakfast and performed our early morning devotions. Others are still in bed, holding on to the last vestiges of the night’s sleep, breathing deep and slow. Every so often a car speeds by outside, the road wrapped tightly around this wonderful, old stone church. Once in a while I hear the melodic clip clop of a Welsh pony making his way down the street. Down the road, along the way to the little co-op where we purchase our food, the berry bushes are alive with bees busy gathering the last of the nectar from the late blossoms still interspersed among the tiny, hard, green berries. Purple butterfly bushes adorn the roadside, roses clamber over picturesque buildings and pots of flowers grace the various homes and buildings in this part of town. Many of the houses cling to one another, sharing common walls and looking like a long loaf of stone bread with many slices.
As we walked about town, many of the folks have been so happy to see Fox, Susannah and Louise again, with exclamations ringing out and hugs for all as comparisons are made as to how long it has been, how grown up the children are now, questions as to how long we are staying, and inquiries on both sides as to what so-and-so is doing now. The people are so hospitable and kind, inviting us into their homes to use their showers, sharing their lives with us and even sending us back to our temporary home at the church with Welsh cakes and promises to see us on Sunday, which is today.
Fox is doing the sermon today for church and I caught him, late last night, after all were in bed, still up with his Bible and notes in preparation for today’s services. In this place, it is almost as though the past and the present are somehow more closely linked than in most places. In the silence, it is as though if only one could sit still enough and listen hard enough, one could hear the ringing shouts of joy and acclamation from the glory days of old when revival swept this land and chapels and churches like this one were filled to overflowing and souls were saved by the score. Oh, that revival would come again and sweep the world! In the meantime, we pray that in some manner, in our own clumsy way, God would see fit to use us in some manner to further His kingdom here in this land, among these lovely folks. Here, the Christians are looked at as a peculiar people and are a tiny minority struggling to hold on and raise Christian children in a secular country.
Fox did a lovely sermon from Acts this morning on the boldness of Peter and John. He brought out the change in Peter from the frightened man who denied Jesus before the cock crowed (as the one here is doing now) to the bold man of God who after being arrested told the high priest to his face that he would continue preaching Jesus, even after being warned not to. That is what we crave here – the boldness to speak as God would have us to.
Though few in numbers, the members sing well and with a good will, obviously enjoying the praise songs. The words are projected on the front screen (no bulletins!) with the preacher, Bill Painter, on the guitar, his lovely wife Eiryls on keyboard and one of the youth on the electric drum pads. How lovely their voices all sounded, lifted in praise and worship! Just like at First Presbyterian, part of the way into the service the children are excused and stream out for their own activities. (Have you ever noticed that for wee, little people, kids can be really loud when walking?)
During the church service the rains came down, so afterwards we had a nice time to chat with the members and the children, some of whom we will see again tomorrow at Bible Club. I was able to speak with one of the ladies who was a teacher and when I responded to her that we cannot have up pictures of Jesus in our schools and the teachers are not allowed to even put up a manger scene at Christmas, she was shocked. She had no idea it was like that in the States. I guess she thought we had more freedom of religion than we actually do there. Here the children used to have a religion class, but it was to learn about religions from around the world and they were not allowed to show any favoritism towards one faith over the others.
After lunch. Fox and the girls went on a walk in the rain to place some phone calls back home from Bill and Eiryls Painter’s home. Tom went off to the co-op to try, one more time to get phone service here. I think he is on his third phone card! Bryan went upstairs to the big hall where we are sleeping (we girls get the stage) and didn’t return. He was catching a nap while it was quiet. We are all still trying to readjust time wise. The clock may say it is noon, but our bodies know it is only seven in the morning!
In the late afternoon we were treated to a walk on a farm and stroll through the woods on a nature path. Although the rains came and went, and it was a bit cold when the wind was blowing, it was a treat to see the different varieties of chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, goats, cows and some ponies. The welsh cattle were especially interesting with their Beatles mop-top hair and long, maverick horns. Luckily they were more curious than menacing as we walked through their pasture (being very, very careful as to where we placed our feet). I will say that over twenty years of living in Florida has turned me into a flat lander. The trip up the “hill” was as good as 30 minutes on the machines at the YMCA and I was beginning to wonder if my heart or lungs would give out first!
It is now after dinner, our bellies are full of spaghetti and salad, we are washed, cleaned up and warm again. We are sitting around after dinner doing the final preparations for the start of Bible Club week. Please keep us in your prayers this week that we will leave self behind and rest in The Lord, relying on His strength and guidance. Also, please let me express the gratitude of all of us for this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
July 28, 2013