Friday, September 16, 2011

England - Days Six, Seven and Eight

More of our experiences in the U.K. for Days Six, Seven and Eight.

Day Six  -  Monday, September 5.

We slept in just a bit and were ready by 10 am for a day at the University of Surrey.  This is where Beifei attended about 8 years ago.  She came from Beijing, China, to get her Master's degree in tourism marketing and management.  This was the place she was exposed to the gospel, and where she later came to faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized.  It was a bit of nostalgia for Beifei as she showed us (Ken, me and Sondra) the places where she lived and studied.  The grounds of the campus were gorgeous as well.

We then went to the Guildford Cathedral (Church of England) and ate lunch at the Refectory cafe.  The churches there all have a very elegant but somber feel.  The ceilings are extremely high and the painted windows are bright and rich with meaning.  The view of the city from the hill that the cathedral sat on was magnificent.

Back at our host home about 3:30 pm, we rested for several hours.  At 5:30 pm, we all had dinner with Paul and Hillary.  Paul is an elder in the Guildford Park Church, where I had preached the previous day.  He had asked me specifically to come to dinner so he could ask me some questions.  We discussed the issues of church growth and congregation involvement and reaching out to build the fellowship.  It was a special time of spending time together.  Hillary gave us a commemorative mug that had the picture of Will and Kate (Duke and Duchess).  Very nice!

At 8 pm we arrived at Paul and Fran's for the Monday night Bible study.  This couple has a mission heart to reach the many students at the university.  They have hosted over 700 students, allowing them to live in their home for the time of study.  They do not charge the students any rent, only asking them to contribute to the purchase of food for the meals!  They call their house church the Destiny Foursquare Church, "A Place to Give and Receive Love."  They are so faithful and loving.

Again, a late arrival back home that night.

                                                     Ken and Beife, Galen and Sondra at the entrance to the University

                                                     The Guildford Cathedral

                                                     Paul and Hillary in their home

                                                     Paul and Fran leading the Monday evening Bible study

Day Seven  -  Tuesday, September 6.

At 8 am Sondra and I were picked up by Asator, taken to pick up Ken and Beifei and then off to the train station.  We took the train from Guildford to Reading, transferred to rode from Reading to Oxford.  We hailed a cab to go to a B & B (The Falcon Bed and Breakfast) that Beifei had reserved for us.  We hopped a bus to the City Centre, walked around for awhile before eating lunch.  We spent some time at the famous Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology there in Oxford.  Some of the exhibits were awe-inspiring because of their antiquity and beauty.

Sondra and I then jumped on a double-decker City Tour Bus, going on a 45-minute guided tour of all the colleges of Oxford and the many historic buildings in the town.  One of the most important things we did was to go to the Oxford University Store for Sondra to buy a sweatshirt there!  She loved it.  We did some more walking and then headed back to our B&B, going to a nearby convenience store for ham slices, croissants, potato chips, Snickers and Orangina soda!  Sleep came easy that night.

                                                     Getting ready to get on the train to Oxford

                                                     Getting out of the cab at our B & B location

                                                     Arrival at The Falcon Bed and Breakfast place of lodging

                                                     Looking down through the streets of Oxford

                                                     Sondra and Beifei laughing with a man who recites the history of Oxford

                                                    The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford

                                                     Galen was ready to sit on the upper deck of this Oxford City Tour Bus

                                                     One of the many historic sights in Oxford

                                                     Sondra getting ready to go buy her Oxford sweatshirt

Day Eight  -  Wednesday, September 7.

Breakfast was provided, and it was a full English breakfast!  An English breakfast usually consisted of eggs, bacon (more like large pieces of fried ham), croissants, orange marmalade, baked beans, cooked mushrooms and black pudding (pork blood and oatmeal combined and fried like a sausage patty).

Beifei had a rental car reserved at the local Avis agency in Oxford, so we went to pick it up.  The car was a nice-sized Peugeot (French-made) which was roomy and comfortable for us all.  I volunteered to drive, as I had driven over there in past years.  I just had to adjust my thinking to driving on the left side of the road, and I also had to contend with working a 5-speed stick shift with my left hand!  All in all, it was fun and exciting.  Ken had his iPad and was able to use it for navigation purposes.  What a blessing that was.

We drove to the famous Blenheim Palace, the home in which Prime Minister Winston Churchill grew up.  It was magnificent, and the grounds and many gardens were spectacular and lovely.  It was a walk back through history and elegant living.  We learned a great deal about Churchill's early days before he became such a powerful political figure during WWII.

We then drove to Cheltenham, where we would be staying for the next few days for sight-seeing in the historic Cotswold area of England west of London.  Our accomodations were at the Cheltenham Townhouse.  Again, a wonderful English breakfast was provided each morning.  Because of the lateness of the day, we ate quickly and then off to bed.  I did, however, take a bit of time to read from a mystery novel that was given to me earlier in the week by Fran.  During conversation, she learned that I like to read mystery and suspense novels as gave me a copy of "The Cat Who Robbed a Bank" to read in my spare time.  It was one of her collection of paperbacks in the "Cat Who..." series, in which a gentleman solves mysteries and murders by clues given by one of his two Siamese cats.  I read for a short while before growing tired and falling asleep.

                                                     The Blenheim Palace

                                                     Galen and Ken standing by the Peugeot rental car on Palace grounds

                                                     We stayed in the lower level rooms here at Cheltenham Townhouse

More to come!

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