Tag Archives: angels

God Works in Mysterious Ways – Monday, we arrive.

It’s hard to believe that I haven’t written all week. Well I have but only in my journal. Tom and I are enjoying London at our leisurely pace. We get up when we naturally waken, enjoy breakfast and then we’re off – 10 a.m.  We return here after supper. Yes, we could see more but this pace suits us. Now for the last few days.

God Works in Mysterious Ways

God’s angels have literally surrounded us.  We ended up taking a taxi from the airport to our Air b&b. Not our intention of course. We started by having a caring London information agent at the airport setting up an Uber ride for us. Tom and I are obviously not suited for Uber. The first one cancelled. The second one we thought was booked wasn’t. We gave up after an hour of failure, and called a taxi. The info agent was an angel for sure, but this taxi driver must have had direct instructions from the Almighty. He had to park his unmarked cab (Mercedes) and come searching for us, as we stood their waiting for a SkyX taxi. He loaded us and all our luggage and we finally pulled out of the airport, travelling in total luxury.

Tom looked around the cab, saw no credit card signs and said, “You do take AMEX or VISA, I hope. That’s what the cab company said.”

At the next traffic light and our driver looked around at us. “You paid over the phone?”

“No.”

“I have no way of processing a card in the taxi.”

“We have no English money.”

“Can we stop at a bank?” I asked.

“Certainly.”

“We stopped at a bank fairly close to our Air B&B. I hopped out. The bank machine defeated me. I went inside and waited in line. (Always lots of lines in London). At the wicket the clerk callously said, “you have to go outside to the machine. We can’t take your cards – not any of them. Even though I was desperate for the “loo” at this point, I had the sense to say, “Is there a limit on withdrawals.”

“Yes, 300 pounds.”

I returned to the machine and requested only 300 pounds. Almost immediately the paper money spewed forth. I tore back to the car, well aware of the cost of keeping a taxi waiting in Canada.

Problem number two – we couldn’t find the Air B&B. We found the street and drove back and forth. No sign of number 19. By this time Tom and I were both desperate for the Loo.

“We’ll check at this hotel,” the driver said.

“Good,” I replied. Throwing caution to the wind, I added, “Can we go to the ‘loo’ here.”

“Certainly,” he replied. “I need to go too.”

He shepherded us into the hotel and helped us find the appropriate places. By the time I returned to the foyer, the driver had instructions.

He parked the car, unloaded us and then dragged our two biggest suitcases, with a carry on top of one, to the bottom of 25 steps. We all looked up. “I’ll help,” he said.

He took us to our building. We had no key. We called. The person who answered said, “follow the instructions in the email, I sent you.”

We had no email. We, of course, were not yet on wifi and not using our cell phone because of roaming charges. “Please send it again.”

We turned on our phone and got the email.

“You’ll be ok then,” the driver asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “How much do we owe you.” In my head I was expecting the entire 300 pounds. Uber was supposed to cost between 60 and 70 pounds from the airport. This accommodating driver sighed and said, “Would 70 pounds be okay.” I grinned and handed him 80 pounds and we thanked him profusely. We even told him he was our angel for the day.

Eventually, we got keys, got inside and said, “We’re here, in London, a dream come true.”

 

God’s Angels Saved the Day (or maybe the night)

Days 6, 7, 8

We left Johannesburg in the dark. Around six, an arc of orangy red light slid up from the horizon. The moon faded to a ghostly ball as the rising sun gradually grew into a blood red circle with a golden halo. Very quickly the light dispersed, giving us a glorious clear day.

The trip to Clarens through the flat golden farmland was lovely and uneventful except when we took a wrong turn. A little more than a half hour had passed before we realized our mistake. There was no real problem except the time it took to get back on track. As we approached Clarens (over an hour late) the road gradually started rolling up and down gentle hills.

Our guide Neels was waiting. After a pit stop we left for Lesotho. Crossing the border was a breeze. We did have to get out of the car and take our passports to be stamped. All was done without question. Neels said, “This is one of the most fluid borders in the world.”

This part of Lesotho is hilly and beautiful as is all of God’s world. Neels told us that contrary to South Africa, the people of Lesotho own their homes, even though the government owns the property. Most of the settlement  homes are built with blocks making them much more permanent. Although still tiny, one room homes, from the outside they  look much more comfortable than the tar paper shacks in the Soweto type settlements outside of Johannesburg.

Neels took us to Lesotho National Park, and the          Caves. Similar yet different from the petroglyphs near Peterborough, these cave paintings told stories of the aboriginal people who lived in the area thousands of years ago. The park officer, obviously enjoyed interpreting the paintings for us, and telling us about the caves.

He also took us inside a traditional aboriginal Lesotho home and explained the functions of many of the items we could see there. After about two hours at the park, there we were very ready for a late lunch.

Neals led us to a special restaurant, well not exactly a restaurant, called Mamohase Bed and Breakfast.  We had our lunch (actually more like dinner) prepared by the mother of our host and local guide, MoRuti. He showed us to their own family dining room table and sat down to eat with us. The food was delicious. We had fried chicken, special stewed tomatoes and onions, shredded spinach salad, pumpkin and parsnips mixed, papa (porridge made of corn meal somewhat like potatoes but much drier, and steamed bread.

Tummies full, MoRuti took us on a tour of the area. The main road was fine but the side roads? They were not just gravel roads full of pot holes, they were country tracks over rocks and boulders, not very well defined. Victor drove with great skill up and down hills, around switch backs over these sort of desert wilderness trails. We were grateful Dave had loaned us his 4-wheeled drive SUV for this excursion, although we wondered if maybe his range rover would have enjoyed the journey more.

Our tour over we headed for Clarens and our Mt Horeb Manor B&B. Night had descended and the three of us were exhausted. Neels made sure we found our bed and breakfast. On arrival our host said that a table at a local hotel restaurant had been reserved for us. Not at all hungry and desperate to relax in our room, we felt obligated to go at least for a glass of wine and something very light. The restaurant was lovely. Tom and I shared a meal of turf and serf and sipped a glass of wine. Not exactly a light meal but at least small, since we shared. Victor did not feel obligated. He returned for us and ferried us to our home for the night.

Tom and I would both recommend Neels as a guide. He’s pleasant, friendly, extremely helpful, knowledgeable. We enjoyed our day with him. (contact info below.)

Mt Horeb Manor is the best, offering luxury, more than luxury. Lit with tiny lights encircling the path and the archway we stepped into a room fit for royalty. Spacious, more than spacious, the room contained a king size bed, a love seat, comfy chair, and coffee table. The bathroom had a big jacuzzi as well.  Regretfully, we climbed into bed at 9:30 too tired to soak in the luxury.

In the morning we opened the curtains in our glassed in room, to a spectacular view of the Drakensberg Mountains glowing in the South African morning sun. Breakfast in the beautifully appointed dining room, was delicious. Mt. Horeb Manor has a resident chef. Tom had biscuits, freshly made that morning, with his amazing omelet. Of course I had rice cakes. Our omelets were loaded with mushrooms, cheese, bacon and tomatoes. There were sauces to add and a salad as well. Of course there were the usual cereal, yoghurt, juice, etc. We aren’t used to this kind of opulence but we certainly enjoyed every bite and every moment.

Breakfast over we headed to the Dakensberg Boys school for the afternoon concert. We were leaving way too early, but after our wrong turn yesterday, the three of us agreed it was wise. We drove through Golden Gate National Park, stopping to take pictures of the spectacular scenery. We stopped in Winterton for lunch. Shopping lacked interest but one of the locals suggested that we tried shopping at a mall close to the school. It was a mall, but unlike any mall at home. The individual shops with their reed roofs and stucco sides were cool in the South African sun. Still it was a tourist spot and we had fun being tourists.

At the school, we were welcomed and given a tour. When the concert started, I gave thanks to God for this opportunity. The sound, the boys expressions, the choreography – we were in the presence of  approx.. 80 of God’s angels dressed in blue and singing from their hearts. The Holy Spirit sent prickles up and down my arms and brought tears to my eyes. On my right sat a couple from Holland who come twice a year just for the choir. I understood why. These young people go on tours. They’ve been to Canada. If they ever come again we will certainly be there to welcome them.

The choir was the highlight of this little three day tour. The concert ended at dusk. When we went looking for the Cathkin Bed and Breakfast, down a very dark, rough gravel twisting side road we felt once again we were on an adventure. Our adventure turned to high stress, as we struggled to find our way in the inky black of a South African night. Finallym after consultation with a gatekeeper, we pulled into a driveway. We had arrived, we hoped. I foolishly volunteered to make sure this was the place. It wasn’t well lit. The front of the cottage had no doors. I followed a path along the side. As I rounded a curve I was blinded by a green light and stumbled. I didn’t quite fall down. As I struggled to get my balance I shifted my body away from the light and saw four shallow very wide steps. At the top was grass and a few lights illuminating sliding glass doorways to three rooms. Up ahead I saw the dark shadow of a dog coming silently towards me. As usual I panicked. I turned and retraced my steps to the car. By this time, Tom and Victor had found a sign saying we were at Cathkin Cottage. At least we were in the right place. Tom took my hand and we went back around and up the steps. At that point we were by a young woman. She identified herself as Laura and said she wasn’t the owner. The owner had left because of an emergency. She would find out what to do. Tom and I returned to Victor and the car.

In a few moments a young man, Byron appeared with Laura and a telephone. He was talking to the owner. He handed the phone to me. “You are not registered,” Leila said.

“Yes, we are,” I declared. “My son David made the reservation and paid for it.”

“ You must have the wrong day,” she said. “It’s Wednesday May 22nd. Is your reservation for next week.”

“No!” I said.

“Well, I can give you a room since you’re here.”

“I have a receipt,” I said. “It’s already paid for.”

“Alright, I’ll talk with your son. You can leave the receipt in your room.”

“Thank you,”  I handed the phone back to Byron. Once again we traipsed around, up the steps to the back of the house. Laura produced a key to room too. We dragged in our luggage. At this point Victor was feeling nervous about his accommodation. Would he be able to find it. Would his reservation be ok. The three of us were hungry as well. We had passed the Drakensberg Sun Resort just down the road. Victor wasn’t enthusiastic about coming for supper with us. He just want to get himself settled for the night at River Crossing wherever that was. Byron volunteered to drive us to the hotel, since they were going for supper there as well, so Victor left.

Byron and Laura owned a truck, a two seater. Laura sat on the transmission housing, Tom took the passenger seat, and I sat on his lap, my head bent against the windshield. I was grateful that it was only five minutes to the hotel. We enjoyed a beautiful buffet. When we called Victor, he was fine. All settled in a lovely place and already eating dinner. At the end of the meal Byron came to our table and assured us he would take us home and return for Laura.

This time I sat on the transmission housing, which was much more comfortable compared to the last trip. Byron offered to make two trips but I said, “Oh no, we’re already putting you out enough”.

At breakfast the next day, we learned that Byron and Laura were guests of Cathkin B&B, and friends of the owners daughter. They had come for Leila’s daughter’s wedding last Saturday and decided to stay a few extra days. When we arrived they had just volunteered to help.

They were certainly God’s angels for us. They couldn’t have been more helpful. We will remember them as we rock in our rocking chairs.

Cathkin B&B we will try to forget. Our room was small, and not even a little luxurious. It was more like staying a tiny motel. After the sumptuous Mt Horeb, we were obviously spoiled. When I checked the receipts for the two places, I was surprised to discover that the cost was the same. Booking on line can give you surprises. It gave us an experience, and we did have a place to stay. I’m sure the Drakensberg Sun Lodge up the road would have been triple the cost.

Breakfast was good, not as fancy as Mt. Horeb but just fine. Today we are trekking back to Johannesburg. The angel’s of the last two days? Byron, Laura, the Drakensberg choir and Neels have shown us the goodness of humankind.

If you ever are in South Africa, I would recommend a side trip to Lasotho led by Neels who is based in Clarens, the Mt. Horeb Manor Bed and Breakfast in Clarens and the Drakensberg Choir.

More pictures tomorrow.

Neels Lesotho Tour Guide:  Cell: 076 392 2605

Mamohase Bed & Breakfast hosted by Moruti

Cell:5904 7042   WhatsApp: +266 5904 7042

Mt. Horeb Manor, 139 Roos Street, Clarens, S.A.                               Phone: +27 76 392 2605

 

Arrival in Joburg – Days 3,4,5

It’s Tuesday morning. I have three days to catch up. Our flight Friday night was excellent. I know that because neither Tom nor I slept at all. This time Tom had an aisle seat, praise God, and I was right next to him. We read, watched movies. I wrote up Day 2.

We chose to be the last off the plane. It meant we had lots of time to gather our stuff and hobble down the skinny aisle. Waiting for us as we stepped off was not one wheelchair, but two. I gladly appropriated the second one and collapsed into it for a long ride. Our wheelchair angels kindly stopped for a bathroom break along the way.

Luggage came through quickly. With our baggage in hand, they wheeled us to Dave and Joanne. After big hugs all around and a Canadian money tip for our angels, (all we had at the moment. They gave us huge smiles.  Probably was more than usual when exchanged for African Rand), we loaded into the car and drove to Dave’s. The weather of course was lovely – warm and sunny. We sat and talked on their patio for about an hour, then sank into bed. I slept two hours, Tom a little more.

Once awake, Dave made us a delicious supper. This is a vegetarian household. One of the blessings in that is both Dave and Joanne are excellent cooks. We managed to stay awake until ten.

Sunday morning was great. We started with Dave’s hearty breakfast.

Back home we had searched out on Google, the closest church. Dave and Joanne were busy that morning so Dave summoned an Uber driver to ferry us to All Saints Anglican Church. As you can see from the pictures, the architecture is a little different from home and quite beautiful. Inside everything was familiar except for the rows of clear glass picture windows that looked out on their parklike grounds. Being at Sunday worship grounded us. Anastasia, their new priest is a gracious and an excellent speaker. The highlight came at the end of the service. Anastasia invited one of the more senior members of the congregation to lead us in an African praise and blessing. The people’s voices came alive as they sang.

After church, we were welcomed, loved and fed, coffee, tea  and sandwiches. At one point, I looked out the window of the spacious reception area and spied a special visitor. A spectacular peacock had come to worship.

We didn’t have to call Uber to get home, because one of the congregation offered us a ride.  We were invited back  for our second Sunday. As always happens back home,Tom was told he was needed to help with the singing.  We will see what is on the agenda. A lot will happen between now and then.

We slept Sunday afternoon and enjoyed one of my favorite meals. Jo laid out a huge wooden tray filled with cheeses and sauces and crackers and bread and fruit and …..  We watched a little tennis with her while we ate.

Jenna stopped studying long enough to join us for supper. She is in the midst of her final exams. She’s in the International Baccalaureat program and a top student. Already she’s been awarded a scholarship to come to Queen’s in Kingston next year and study Kinesiology. We are delighted to have her back in Canada.

Monday was a quiet day. Jet lag had set in,V in earnest. We slept til ten, had a slow yoghurt breakfast. In the afternoon, Tom and I walked to a strip mall to the bank machine to fill our pockets with South African Rand. Problem: Back home in Canada I had been given the names of two banks that would accept our debit card. Neither bank was represented in the four machines available. We walked back to Dave’s. A Google search revealed the friendly Scotia Bank representative had given us the names of one bank in Senegal and one in Australia. Google told us to use Absa bank in Johannesburg. By this time, Dave was home from school and drove me back to the mall. My hip has been doing a lot of complaining.

The driver, Victor, for the next day’s excursion, arrived to check out Dave’s car and get his instructions. Victor is the father of a colleague of Dave and Joanne, a Phys. Ed instructor at the International School. He is also a retired driver for government celebrities coming to South Africa.crazy tourists. We will be in good, experienced hands.

That finished, Jenna, Jo and I slipped away to shop for a grad dress for Jenna. Of course, I had a grand time with that. It’s always a pleasure to take one of my granddaughters shopping. Once the dress was chosen and purchased, we relaxed at a restaurant for supper. I had crushed sweet potato and pine nuts on a delicious tangy white sauce and vegetarian falafels with avocado dip. Totally yummy.

We returned home to pack and get to bed early. Departure this morning was 5:30 a.m.

Angels, I didn’t mention our angels. Well, Dave, Jo and Jenna are certainly filling that role. It felt as if we attended a church full of angels on Sunday, especially the generous woman who drove us home. In some ways, Tom and I were visiting angels there as well. I did bring a couple of my books as gifts.

This morning we’re driving into the sunrise. The grasses covering the land alongside the highway are dipped in gold. This 3 day adventure to Lesotho and into the Drakensberg mountains to hear the Drakensberg boys choir has begun. The air is misty. The moon is nearly full. We are truly blessed.

That’s it for this morning.

Airports and “Old Folks”

Day Two

Flying is amazing and can be tough. Assigned the middle two seats in a row of four in the centre of the plane,  we slid our sceptical bodies into place. One saving Grace was the 1/2 inch of clearance  forTom’s knees with the seat ahead. Our dreams of Tom pacing up and down the 18 inch aisles every time his hip started to complain, were the first to take flight. The youngish man, who sat on my left, smiled and said hello, as he sat down. So far, so good, I thought. He took one look at both of us and said, “Just wake me up anytime you need to  get up. I’m going home and I don’t sleep much on planes anyway.  He did get up willingly and with a smile, each time we asked. Now that’s an angel. I’m sure the quiet young man seated on Tom’s right  who slept for most of the flight, would have wakened If we had asked. Thankfully, we didn’t need to disturb him. We scouted over to my left and stood up as needed.

We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at 11:05 Frankfurt time on Friday. We had lost 6 hours in real time. Neither of us had slept for even five minutes. Maybe it was excitement about the trip or maybe not. Regardless we felt like we were about 110 years old.

Tom hobbled off the plane and sank gratefully into the wheelchair.  We piled a carry-on and a knapsack on Tom’s lap. A friendly and strong young man, pushed Tom’s wheelchair and pulled a carry-on, down the endless corridors to the elevator. I limped along beside, my knapsack secure on my back. At the elevators, our wheelchair angel, passed us on to another angel, Katie, an enthusiastic youngish woman.  She looked at our papers. “Shaking her head,” she said, “You’ve ten hours to wait! We’ll go to the wheel chair lounge.”

“But we’re flying economy,” I answered.

“No matter.” She helped us settle on the two lounge chairs, organizing our luggage.  She pointed at the corner, “There’s coffee and tea right over there.  I’ll be back to take you for supper. If you need anything just ask at the desk.”

God’s angels certainly are caring for us, I thought.   The chairs were made of plastic wood, a little hard, at least we could stretch out. We slept for about an hour. My trip to the washroom revealed the children’s corner and a small bed. It was just big enough for me to curl up. Best of all, it had a slightly soft, one  inch thick cushion on it. I slept another hour, at which point both of us woke. Once again, Katie the wheelchair angel appeared. This time she whizzed us off in a golf cart, gave us a riding tour of that part of the airport and finally, deposited us at a Bavarian restaurant.

Of course, I took pictures of both food and restaurant. The meal was good, sort of. I ordered the traditional meatloaf slice and potato salad. The slice tasted a great deal like a giant hot dog. Tom, of course, reminded me that hotdogs are skinny frankfurters. Tom fared a little better with his pig’s knuckle. The best part of the meal was a sweet mustard sauce that transformed everything.

Our meal over, we retired to the nearby movie lounge. The big soft chairs, and charging station meant we could power up our technology and connect to the internet. Several hours passed. Tom laid down on the floor to sleep with his legs up on the chair, as he does sometimes at home.  I posted yesterday’s blog and answered a few emails. I couldn’t stay awake any longer. We gathered up our luggage and started to walk back to the lounge.  In less than a minute, angel Katie appeared, her golf cart a gift from heaven.  Two solid hours of sleep in the kid’s bed helped a great deal. When I woke up, I noticed a sign: “This area is only for unattended minors.” I chuckled and thought, that might describe the state of me at the moment.

At 9:00 p.m,. Katie ushered us to the gate for our flight for Johannesburg. We flew off into the sunset. This flight was longer, but more luxurious. We even had real stainless-steel cutlery with our late night dinner. It reminded me of flying Ward Air years ago. Of course, there was wine, beer and liquor aplenty to drink. The meal was served on formica dishes, not plastic. It tasted pretty good, too. International flights are radically different from Air Canada’s domestic ones.

David will pick us up at the airport in Johannesburg. I think I’ll sleep all day Saturday. It’s not the jet lag it’s the inability to sleep. Years ago, when I was flying to New Zealand the seats were bigger and the flights weren’t full. Yes, it was forever on the plane, but I could stretch out across three seats.

More angels tonight. They lifted and lugged suitcases, brought us headphones that actually worked, and helped us work the controls on the on-board entertainment system. I watched a movie, wrote this blog, read my book and just stayed busy instead of sleeping. At that point, I had become to tired to see the angels that surrounded me.

Travelling with God’s Angels – South African Adventure

Travelling with God’s Angels

Our Adventure Has Begun

Day One: Travelling with God’s Angels.

Hi everyone, we have had quite a day, a memorable start to our trip. I’ve decided that during this trip I will keep my eyes and ears open for God’s angels. This morning God came first in grandson Tim. He stays with us, although he spends most of his time at his mom’s home, caring for the dogs. This morning Tim was with us. He lugged the two heavy suitcases out to the car. Of course the car was full of books which he had to carry inside. We heard not a word of complaint. It was almost as if we were doing Tim a favour by letting him help us. He came and went all morning.

Tim brought his sister, Ellie, for lunch. Two of our special angels to see us off. It was lovely. They took pictures. Their hugs were a great send off. Surely, God was there in them surrounding us with love.

On the way to the home of Tom’s brother, Bob, we delivered some books I had borrowed from a fellow writer. We had a wonderful conversation about writing and faith and church. We stopped much longer than we had intended. It felt like we had been God’s angels for each other. God was certainly present in our conversation.

We enjoyed our conversation with Bob on the way to the airport. We unloaded, hugged goodbye, and headed straight for Air Canada’s special care desk. We were four hours ahead of flight departure. Both Tom and Bob were amused at my need to arrive so early.

All was well until we stepped up to the desk to check our luggage. Tom reached for his passport. “Oh my God,” he said. “I’ve left my sports jacket hanging over the car seat. In the pocket is my wallet and my passport.” It would have been fairly simple if we could have called Bob who was driving our car back to his condo for a 3 week rest. Bob keeps his cell phone in his own car for emergencies only.

Without the passport, we couldn’t check our baggage and board the plane. Traffic of course was frightful at 5 p.m. and Bob took an hour and a half to drive across the city through supper time traffic to his condo. In the meantime, Tom was frantically calling Bob’s condo every five minutes . You can imagine our relief when Bob finally called to tell us he was on his way back through the traffic to bring the neglected blazer and documents.

The Air Canada agent assured us all would be well, because we had arrived at the airport so early. I just nodded and smiled. a trip that normally takes about 40 minutes. Bob’s first words when he handed Tom his jacket were ,”Brother you owe me big time.” And of course, we do. Were there angels in the midst of our turmoil Of course. The Air Canada reps who were so helpful and reassuring certainly felt like God’s angels. They couldn’t have been more understanding even as they kept shaking their heads and telling us we needed that passport.

For me, I thanked God that Bob went directly home after he dropped us at the airport. I thank God that Bob’s friend Anne made sure that Bob got the message. We had called her when we couldn’t reach Bob at home. Bob was definitely God’s angel. I’m sure it was only family loyalty and Bob’s native generosity that brought him back to the airport. Four times across the city during rush hour traffic was definitely angel work.

The wonderful Air Canada staff cheerfully coped with two upset passengers. They loaded Tom into the wheelchair and delivered us through the long journey within the airport to our loading gate with a half hour to spare.

Yes, we are not alone on this journey. It could have started out as the trip from hell. Instead, with the help of God’s angels, we have weathered the obstacles without an unkind word to each other or from anyone else. We are truly blessed.

Angels Lead Us Home

We’re at the Airport, or more precisely and formally, “Liszt Ferencz International Airport.” On boarding passes and baggage tags, is written “BUD” bound for “YYZ” (Toronto).  It’s August 26th. Tonight, we’ll be home. This is a joy filled moment.

 

The trip home today has surpassed all my expectations. This morning, the courteous and ever-helpful front desk clerk printed our boarding passes and summoned a taxi for us. He negotiated the fare to the airport in advance, allaying Tom’s fears. The cab was prompt and spotless, the driver polite and helpful. He even folded down the front seat and pulled it forward, unasked, accommodating Tom’s size thirteen feet. We spent the long ride to the airport giving thanks Tom wasn’t driving. That was joyful. We felt God’s guiding hand leading us home.

 

 

On the plane from Budapest to Amsterdam, I was entertained by a most interesting, generous and kind man. When I struggled into my seat, he very carefully cleared the seat belt to the side. Our conversation began with my thank you. He seemed to want to talk so I asked him if he was visiting in Amsterdam.

 

“I’m Dutch,” he said, “And I’m heading home to Amsterdam.”

 

We talked. Proudly he told me about Amsterdam and the places that it would be good for us to visit. In the end, he ordered from the duty free shop on the plane, a tin of special Dutch waffle biscuits and the neatest music box egg timer painted in the Delft tradition.

 

“These are for you and your husband,” he said, “a gift.”

 

He touched my heart with his generosity.

 

The plane had been late leaving Budapest, shortening our connection time. Our new friend, Eugene, led us through the maze of the vast Amsterdam airport. He made sure we had our documents verified and escorted us into the correct line up. He couldn’t have been more caring and kind. He was an angel in disguise. Meeting Eugene was a total joy-filled experience.

 

Our good God had yet another angel in store for us. When I boarded the plane for Toronto, I was pleased to discover that my seatmate this time was a lovely women from the Ukraine, who spoke very little English. We had a great time as we struggled to share info about our lives, our children and grandchildren. The stewardesses, through their access to her passport, had discovered that today was a her birthday. They, brought her a birthday surprise of lemon cake and champagne which she shared with us. I got to pay Eugene’s kindness forward as I helped her get the movie screen going and fill out the Canada Customs form we all have to fill out. She enjoyed her company even with the language barrier. It was a privilege to sit beside her.

 

We have been truly blessed by angels of joy to finish our special journey.

 

 

Thought for Today

cropped-rainbow-more-blue-pink.jpg

I Can Trust in God’s Extravagant Love.

My daily reading tells me to trust in God’s extravagant love. That sounds simple but I know it’s not. This Christmas, in our family, the fear that comes with serious illness is threatening to wipe out our joy. I know we are not alone. There are many among us who are afraid. Illness, loneliness, violence, grief – Christmas is often laced with fear.

Our precious Christmas story is filled with angels saying, “Don’t be afraid.” Over and over again in the stories of Jesus we hear his message, “Don’t be afraid.” Our faith tells us we can trust in God’s extravagant love. Yet as we journey to Bethlehem this year, many of us are afraid.

Years ago, I read these words in a tiny tattered book that has long since disappeared, “Pray as if.” At 3:00 a.m. yesterday morning I heard this message, “Listen to the angels of Christmas. “Do not be afraid. Come and experience God’s extravagant love in baby Jesus. ‘Pray as if’ you trust in God’s extravagant love”.

If fear threatens to take over your life this Christmas, I offer to you what I am doing. I am praying “as if”. I am leaning on the love and faith of friends. Some days, trusting in God’s extravagant love feels solid. Some days my faith feels based in quick sand. Still, I will continue to pray. I will pray “as if” I am without fear and wait. I can trust in God’s extravagant love. I will open my heart to God’s peace for today.

Guardian Angels Doing Their Jobs.

September 4,  Day 6

Tom's Breakfast
Tom’s Breakfast

I have to begin tonight with breakfast this morning. It was absolutely fabulous for a hotel included breakfast. We ate in the dining room decorated to match the hotel’s era with comfortable Edwardian chairs and lovely matching cream and wine table cloths. A cheerful friendly waitress, Ryell,  greeted us. We chose to sit at a table that caught the morning sunshine and faced the sparkling blue harbor. Ryell brought us water and coffee, while we filled our plates at the buffet. Here is a picture is of Tom’s meal.

Both our souls and our tummys were nourished. When we checked out we reserved the room for our return journey.

Our first stop was Trinity United Church. Rev. Randy, as well as his secretary welcomed us. We learned about the innovative cluster ministry with fully streamed Sunday worship that has been developed by Cambrian Presbytery. The home of Presbytery office is right there at Trinity. We sold copies of Dipping Your Toes as well as Spectacular Stella and A Child Speaks. I promised to make sure that Pat Gilmore from National sends more for the book display at their Presbytery meeting in September.

We left Thunder Bay feeling good, good about a beautiful city and its friendly people.  The drive to Kenora was only 5 hours including stops, a short run. When we arrived in town, we had lost the paper with the name of the hotel that we booked last night. All we could find was the confirmation number. We stopped at a Comfort Inn and offered the reservation number. No it wasn’t one of theirs. We asked for the telephone exchange and then searched back through the recents on the cell phone. We found the number and discovered we were booked into the Days Inn hotel. Sometimes cell phones are extremely helpful. A landline wouldn’t have kept that record for us.

Once again we have a lovely hotel with a gorgeous swimming pool and a water slide. I lamented that I could no longer climb all those stairs and my ears couldn’t take the underwater pressure. So I looked at the slide and imagined myself flying down. This was not a problem for Tom. We swam, exercised and enjoyed the hot tub. Once dry and dressed again we drove further into town and parked on the main street, intending to check out the restaurants for supper. We were checking the parking meter to see if we still had to pay, when a passerby called over, “Don’t put any money in that. It’s after hours.” We thanked her and then ask for a recommendation to a restaurant. She pointed us to a Greek restaurant that was not too expensive. In Kenora food in general is expensive. Since we drank water and skipped dessert, $42 plus tip paid for dinner. Tea and coffee of course are available at the hotel. The food was delicious. Our waiter helpful, friendly and willing to chat.

Where was God today. Choosing Trinity United Church was one of those God-incidences that some people call co-incidence. In fact, it feels as if a guardian angel travelled with us today, reminding us how to use a cell phone to solve a problem, sending that friendly woman to direct us to a restaurant. And of course every day we pray for safety on the highway. This is a long trip. We definitely need God’s help.

Bring on the gifts!

 

Gifts, Gifts, Gifts I love them.
Gifts, Gifts, Gifts
I love them.

Gifts gaily wrapped with colorful paper, ribbons and bows are definitely a symbol of Christmas. At our family gathering, even one gift per person mysteriously results in a mountain of gifts under the Christmas tree.

The giving of gifts at Christmas began long before Santa Claus started his journey from the North Pole. The Christian Christmas story involves “Three Wisemen or Kings” who travelled from far off places to bring gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh to the baby Jesus. Today, the gold makes sense. We know its value, but Frankincense and Myrrh?  What are they? Frankincense and myrrh are both expensive tree resins valued for their fragrance and for medicinal purposes. Frankincense was often burned to release its aroma, especially at religious occasions. Its fragrant smoke symbolized prayers rising to heaven. Myrrh was often used in burials and symbolized death. Actually all three gifts were valuable and useful. Given by strangers, they speak of security and respect, faith and leadership, compassion and caring.

I believe that we truly understand this part of our Christmas story when we give gifts that reach beyond our family and friends to our unknown neighbours here in Canada and around the world. We can know the joy of the Wisemen when we deliver baskets filled with food, warm coats and mittens, a few toys and maybe even gifts of money to those who truly need them. I like to shop in the United Church’s “Gifts with Vision” catalogue for special gifts of education, food, community wells, farm animals, and much more.

I believe the angels sing and the hallelujahs sound in heaven when we give gifts of love to our family, for sure. But when we reach out to our “neighbours” near and far, the heavens resound with God’s joy. We have truly celebrated Jesus’ birthday.

Need ideas check out www.giftswithvision.ca

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of goldfrankincense and myrrh.”  (Matthew 2:11)