Sabbath Day in England

Saturday, May 27, 2017
Stourport on Severn, England, United Kingdom
The thought was, we should visit one of our congregations close by since we will be in the area. And that's exactly what we did. There is no UCG congregation in Ireland, although we found out later that we do have a few members in the South of the country. We searched and found that we could travel by train to Northern Ireland, fly to the Isle of Mann, or fly to England or Scotland where we have congregations we could go and see. Last year at the Feast of Tabernacles we met a man from England named David Harris. He and I have stayed in touch through the year and I decided to ask him. He offered his home, transportation to and from the airport and church services, and of course a free tour of some places we hadn't seen before.

We had to be in front of the Royal Marine Hotel in DĂșn Laoghaire at 4:00am on the Sabbath to catch a bus into Dublin to catch an early flight to Birmingham, England to meet David . We walked a few blocks to the hotel and were greeted at the door by a very angry man. The man's drunken friend and girlfriend were in the lobby trying to calm him down. He had obviously had too much to drink as well and didn't know quite how to handle his own anger. I held the door open for him as he walked through it and punched the glass. I wasn't just being helpful. I was standing behind the door and thought I didn't want him to shove the door open while I was so close by. The commotion died down as the man and the woman crossed the parking lot and sat down under the gazebo. Between a lost shoe, a lost wallet, and at least two or three lost tempers, eventually they all settled down, the bus came, and we were out of there.

The flight was uneventful. For the first time in a long time we didn't have to take off our shoes before getting on a plane. Although the sun had greeted us in Ireland, the rains had found us again in England. David greeted us with a hug and walked us to his car . The drive to his hometown, Stourport on Severn, was cloudy and lined with green hedges that hid countrysides full of farms and homes. Like most places we visited over past weeks, the weather was fine before we arrived. The clouds did happen to open up for a few hours once we got to Stourport (the short form of Stourport on Severn), and we were able to see this little English town characterized by two rivers that meet together. The Rivers Stour and Severn once formed one of the busiest inland ports in England. The canals through town are still used by narrow canal boats that some people live on during parts of the year. David gave us a very quick but thorough tour before we rushed back to his house to dress for Sabbath services. I tried to get at least some of the details straight from what I recall and from my photos mapped out on my phone, but if you really want to know what things are, just ask David.

The clouds covered over the skies entirely and we headed off to Gloucester on country roads . Along the way, Lena and I were both pretty tired. I think she managed a few naps while I fought off sleep so I could see the little towns that we drove through, and hear more of David's interesting stories of his life. He has held many different positions in various fields in several different countries. He loves his family and also loves telling stories about them. David's history is interesting and filled with very adventurous stories to hear. I only wish we had more time to spend.

We arrived to a school in Gloucester where the congregation usually meets. We were greeted by some familiar and unfamiliar faces all with warm smiles excited to see us. Although small, the Gloucester brethren sing out and fill the room with varied voices. It is always a delight to hear congregations sing, and to have a piano player who is willing to play along. I gave the sermon, detailing some of our adventures and goings on in Malawi, and also encouraging the brethren to keep growing and learning, and doing the work that God has for us to do. Snacks followed services, and after plenty of conversation, we left for the English countryside once more.

David had shown us a nice walking area just behind his home with plenty of trails and fresh air. We were looking forward to it, but completely forgot about it once we sat down to see some photos of David's family and to hear more about him. At a certain point, neither Lena nor I could keep our eyes open. I think the change in times had finally gotten the best of us and we had yet another early morning ahead as we planned to head back to Birmingham for our flight back to Dublin.
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2017-09-23