All About Wales…not Whales

        It’s been a while since my last post, and I have quite a bit to tell. And pictures! I finally got my camera out and became a tourist.
        Now last week I was staying with an elderly couple and their dog. Ken, the husband, didn’t get out much and slept a lot, but Sylvia, Aunt Sylv she insisted on being called, was always out and about doing something. On monday we played badminton. I have never played badminton before, but it wasn’t incredibly difficult to get the hang of. I did have a lot of issues with serving however, which is very common for me when it comes to sports that requires you to hit something over a net. Now Sylvia, the lady I was playing with, is in her mid seventies, but you wouldn’t know it. She had the energy of a teenager, bobbing up and down all over the court. she was also very aggressive when it came to badminton, something I didn’t really expect. Anyways, she whopped me at badminton.
        On tuesday, we went singing. Sylvia has a singing group called Sunshine Singers. Anyone who knows me really well may laugh at this point….done? Good, we shall carry on. It’s a really great ministry. Sylvia and some other elderly folk go into all the nursing homes in the area and lead a participatory singing for the residents. It was a truly great thing, and the people there really appreciated it. However, there are two things I want to bring to your attention.
         Thing one: remember how I wrote in one of my first blogs that I was going through and pulling out all the songs with dreadful lyrics? We sang most of them when we went out. They were mixed in with a couple of old hymns. I love hymns, I really, truly do. However, most hymns have verses people have never heard of, for good reasons. But we sung every single verse of the hymns. Even the ones that had six or seven verses. It was kind of dreadful at points. I wasn’t singing, because I didn’t have any music so I was trying to follow what Sylvia was doing on the keyboard.
        Thing two: I don’t do well in nursing homes. When I was younger I had a great-grandmother with Alzheimer’s and we would go visit her in the nursing home. I still remember the smell, twelve years later. The smell of sickness and I remember seeing the brokenness of people who couldn’t remember. Who didn’t know who they were. My grandmother, who didn’t know who we were. I really hated going there. To be honest, it frightened me; I remember thinking: “This is where I’m going to end up.” The last time my mom took my siblings up to see my grandmother, I didn’t go. I could not bring myself to enter that place again. She passed away not too long after, and I haven’t gone back into a nursing home.
        As much as I hated going, and as much as it terrified me, it was a healing process. I was still holding on to memories as a kid, ones that as a kid, I couldn’t deal with. So I went and played my guitar in a nursing home, and it wasn’t as terrifying as I remembered. I didn’t enjoy it, but the people there did, and that was more important then my own discomfort. That’s an important lesson to learn, especially as Christians. Sometimes we have to do things that make us uncomfortable for the joy of others. That’s what Jesus did, so that in turn is what we are called to do. However, on thursday when she abruptly said we were going to another nursing home to play, I politely asked if I could pass. I might have been able to handle once a week, but twice was more then I could muster up the courage to handle.
        On wednesday, we went to Wales for lunch. It was a beautiful ride along the coast, and as I am staring out the window, my eyes caught a glimpse of something. My heart sped up, and I came inches from pressing my face to the window. My eyes intently scanned the rapidly moving tree lines. Then I saw it. Set back into the edge of a cliff was a castle. A big, huge, real castle. I really cannot express how excited I was. Unfortunately, we were moving too fast for me to take a picture, but not too fast for my imagination.
        If you have spent a good amount of time around me, you probably know that I have a very vivid, sometimes overactive, imagination. When I saw this castle, my imagination immediately went to work. In my mind I saw a vicious red dragon swooping down on the stone walls. I saw teeny, tiny people running along these same walls, putting out fires and throwing rocks and spears at the dragon. There were people running and screaming from the village outside the castle (which in reality was a field filled with sheep), guards were trying to keep take down the dragon, but it was too strong for them…
        This image continued on for the rest of the journey.
This is where we ate lunch.
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This is a picture of the couple I was staying with.

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        As we are out for lunch, Sylvia instructs me to order from the menu on the wall, which hosts the daily specials. It’s on a chalk board that has smudge marks on it and old chalk markings beneath the new ones. As I am looking over the menu, she says to me: “I think the markings are only there for looks. They always have the same thing on the menu.”
        I eyed the daily specials menu and said, “Do you come up here on the same day?”
        “Why yes,” She said. “We have been coming up here for years and years on Wednesday afternoons.”
        “Ah. Well then they probably have different specials on different days, but since you always come on the same day, the daily specials are always the same.”
        She looked at me for a couple seconds before going, “No, I don’t think so.”
        Deep in my heart, I was amused. So I sipped on my tea and after I placed my order, I stepped outside so I could look around a bit. I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to walk around after we ate, since Ken has a difficult time walking too far.
        And this is what I saw…
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Yes that is a John Deere tractor going down the road. I’m still home, even when I’m not.

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        After we were done eating, we did go for a little walk. Ken went and waited in the car for us. I went into this wonderful little second hand book shop. It was a literally a hole in the wall. It was marvelous. I really could have spent all day in there, but I was suppose to be catching up with Sylvia around the corner once I was done, so I had to go a little faster then I would have liked. I feel as though I missed a treasure in there. But alas, it was not to be.

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        Eventually, all these pictures and more will end up on Facebook. I just wanted to put them in my blog for now.
        When we got back from Wales on Wednesday, Sylvia and I left immediately for the church. There was children’s club at six, and I was suppose to be giving guitar lessons to rowdy youngsters. Thankfully, the guitars were all locked in the pastors office, and none of the people who had keys to the office were there that night. It really was a good thing, because the kids were really wired and I was incredibly stressed. I needed to hide from people. So I walked around the cemetery.
        I have always found cemeteries peaceful. When I was a kid, I went through a brief phase where I believed I was strange for liking cemeteries because they were suppose to be creepy. So to be normal, I pretended to find them creepy. It didn’t last long. There is something so calming about knowing that this is where we all end up. No matter who the person is, what they’ve done, good or bad, they will pass out of this world and into the next. One day, we will all be laid to rest. And by this time, all the petty things we worried about doesn’t matter. There is only a stone, set up so people will be able to find your body and remember you, that is assuming that they want to.
        Our culture is completely obsessed with immortality. From vampires, to elves, to supernatural beings and fairy tales. Anyone remember Tuck Everlasting? Before Edward was running around sparkling and living forever, a wise man told a young girl that dying is apart of life. We must pass on so that new life can come. The Tucks hated living forever. Everyone they knew and loved had passed on. It was only them.
        Cemeteries are peaceful because it is the end of a story. Whether the story was completed, or just beginning, a just ending or a tragedy, it’s still the end. The people there are gone. Their lives on earth are completed. Some will go on to be in the presence of God. Some will, by their own choice, go on into eternal suffering. But knowing that there will eventually be an end is very peaceful.
        Anyways, now that we all know too much of the inner workings of Alexa, here are some pictures of the church I work at:
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        The reason I took a picture of the tombstone above is because my great-grandparents had the same names. Walter and Gladys.
        Thursday was incredibly uneventful since I didn’t go singing at the nursing home. There was a Bible study held in their home on thursday night. They randomly stuck a guitar in my hands and told me to lead worship, afterwords I decided memorizing more worship songs was on my to do list.
        On Friday we went to another little cafe. Apparently the building use to be a train station that was converted into a little restaurant. The food was really good and afterwords we went for a walk in the surrounding forest.

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This picture reminds me of the Tomas the Tank Engine moves I use to watch with my brother when we were
kids.

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        Now imagine with me if you would, a man dressed entirely in green, a hood drawn up around his face, perched in the branches of this tree. As I mentioned before, I have a vivid imagination. I’m in England, walking through lush, green wood, taking photo’s and lagging behind. Sylvia was quite a bit ahead of me, so I started running to catch up.
        Suddenly, I was Robin Hood, running through the forest. My eyes intently scanned the road in front of me, I tried to make out any unusual sounds. (At this point and time in the real world, I saw a deer path off the real trail and followed it without thinking of where I was going.) I had to escape King John’s men. I could still hear them thundering behind me, circling around to cut me off at the river. Pausing for just a moment, I picked a decent size tree and ran to it. Hoisting myself into the branches, I leaned in against the moss, making sure I was fully hidden. Minuets later, I could hear King John’s men loudly running past. I waited until I was sure they were gone before moving. But right before I jumped down from the tree, I spotted a deer moving through the brush. Gently I lifted my bow from my back and fitted an arrow against the string. Carefully I took aim…
        At this point and time during my imagined adventure, my vegetarianism kicked in and wouldn’t let me/Robin shoot the deer; successfully knocking me back into the real world, where I was leaning against a tree and aiming an imaginary bow. Should anyone had been passing by, I would definitely been the crazy American.
        Saturday was uneventful, consisting only of worship practice. Sunday was equally so, except that I got to lead two of the songs for worship, which I was really excited about. I also returned to the dairy farm I was staying at previously Sunday night.
        I have many more stories to tell, as I have not even touched this weeks adventures. More shall come soon. Thanks for reading.

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