Okay, so "later tonight" on Friday turned into late Tuesday, and in looking back, I'm still not sure how that came about. I guess if you don't set time aside for things, then they really won't happen! Anyways, I now have a backlog of days, so I'll be dishing out half-sentence thoughts for the highlights of each day, or complete sentences if I feel exceptionally motivated. Here we go!
Wednesday: Went to lunch over at Cheshire Oaks in England, and got to see most of the town from the inside of a car. This place actually seemed to be one huge shopping center, and Americanized to the point of absurdity. There's nothing wrong with bastions of American stores, believe me, but the aesthetics of the thing made it seem more like an eyesore in the countryside than a reminder of home.
Thursday: Spent the day going around Chester, again in England. Went looking for car dealerships in the area but both of them had closed down, thanks in no small part to the Arabians. According to our host missionary, almost all the Japanese cars are being bought by merchants in the Middle East, so that there are virtually none coming into Britain. Interesting story that merits investigation, but I digress. With that task out of the way, we spent the morning doing a circuit of the thousand-year-old town walls, and that is truly the way to see the city. An up-close view of the aging buildings combined with sweeping views of the River Dee, Chester Castle, archaic town cathedral, and the "Roodee" (oldest racecourse in England) was a lot to take in, but we still didn't actually go to any landmarks, save for a nifty bookstore and a couple other kiosks. Also, for lunch I had my first taste of fish and chips done right, and I am convinced that it is food of the gods. Filling, savory, crisp, vinegary but not overwhelmingly so, and just done to perfection. Better comfort food than I have had anywhere in the States, and my new favorite affordable meal of choice. Great, great stuff.
Friday: Pretty uneventful, save for the indescribable joy of settling on a car. The Vauxhall Zafira will be the new Campbell vehicle of choice,;it's a little tight for an MPV (Multi-Person Vehicle) but then I would be hard-pressed to find one that's not tight for my frame. My brother, coming in at 6'5", will probably suffer a little more but we're all just excited at the prospect of having the freedom to go places, and taking the burden off Mr. Quade, our host. The car is set to arrive next Friday.
Saturday: Played basketball in the Marchwiel park, the one sport that has no influence whatsoever over here. That was the one empty spot in the place; the football field and the skate park were pretty well-populated. Met a couple kids, very amiable but not much for talking--not to the weird American, at least.
Sunday: Great day in church! Both services featured guest speakers: the one in the morning service was a little hard to follow, but Chris Cole did a tremendous job in the evening. He started in Hebrews 11 but eased into a lecture on exactly why nothing is accomplished apart from faith. God wants us to succeed through Him, but man's self-reliance needs to be set aside in order for this to happen. He did a far more eloquent job than I could ever hope to, so I'll leave the summary at that.
Monday: Little to report. Went ballin' in Marchwiel again, and cleaned in the Quade's house. Unseasonably warm, up above 80 degrees, certainly not what I expected from a country that has constant cloud cover and shares latitudes with Canada.
Tuesday: Another great service/prayer meeting. The main event was another BBC documentary, this one about the Bible's (and, by extension, God's) guiding hand on the past 400 years of history. It did a great job showing the breadth of impact that God's Word has had, but unfortunately displayed very little of the depth--this is an expected casualty of such a grand undertaking with only an hour's time to fill.
For me, the highlight of the night was actually the prayer segment. The veterans of the faith in Bethel Baptist speak to God with a frankness that I have yet to see anywhere else, and I felt almost out of place listening in on their conversation with our Creator. They embody Psalms 100:4, where it says to "[e]nter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise...." That's not yet an aspect of my spiritual life yet, to be able to cast a glance virtually anywhere and be able to Praise God for what He was wrought. My brothers and sisters at Bethel do this effortlessly, among many other things, and inspire me to do the same. This might be my favorite part about the country so far: not the castles, not the panoramic vistas from town walls, not the ornately crafted cathedrals, but what I have heard in the back room of an old chapel on a dead-end street in a small village.
I think I'm up to speed with myself now. I'm not sure I enjoy doing five days' worth of scouring my memory in one sitting. That should be motuvation enough to stay on top of this, but I will probably just end up writing as ideas and events come. Farewell for now! And to all the Welsh readers, hwyl!