Monthly Archives: May 2013

Smooth Sailing

I’m finding that trains are the best place to write. They are fairly quiet, comfortable, and are a nice little break in the midst of amazing experiences. I’m taking a bit of a risk titling this blog “Smooth Sailing” because Treena and I are only part way through our journey to Northern Ireland, but the last two days in Edinburgh have been an oasis of calm in a beautiful country. Even as I’m typing, I keep looking out the train window and whispering wow. It’s hard to describe, but the landscape is a lush green with strips of vibrant yellow tucked in between the hills and outlined by mountain crags. As the Scots would say it’s “brilliant.”

 

Train to Edinburgh

 

Pulling into the Edinburgh Waverley train station at 10:20pm and seeing familiar faces waiting for us on the platform was a beautiful sight. Heather and Adrian have the incredible gift of hospitality and my friend and I instantly felt at home. Heather had even put our names up on the door of the rooms we were staying in cutely spelled out with Scrabble tiles.

 

We enjoyed some tea and toast before heading to bed. After sleeping in a bit the next morning, we hopped on a bus back into the city’s center. During the day we saw the Sir Walter Scott Memorial, toured the Edinburgh Castle, had lunch at the Elephant House, and walked down the lovely Victoria Street. Later that evening Heather drove us to Forth Bridge, so we were able to enjoy that view as well.

 

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Sir Walter Scott Monument

Sir Walter Scott Monument

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Since starting this blog post we have taken two trains and two buses and now we are on a ferry crossing the Irish Sea. It’s still breathtakingly beautiful. The bus ride along the cost of Scotland was extra stunning. It’s going to be hard to go back to any kind of normal life after this trip. It is just so calming and inspiring being in the middle of all of this beauty.  I feel close to God seeing such diversity in landscape and culture, and it makes my heart happy. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to take this mini trip on my way out to work in Kenya because it reminds me just how big God is and how creative and amazing His creation is as well. I’m just seeing a slice, but it is mind-blowingly beautiful slice. The trip has also reminded me how incredible the body of Christ is as people have hosted us in their homes and have been willing to partner with me on this journey. God is good. He has provided each step of the way, and I’m thankful that this portion of the trip has been smooth sailing.

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An Overdose of Adventure

I was going to title this post “Let the Adventures Begin,” but since this journey began on May 23rd my friend Treena and I have had a little more adventure then even I like. Delayed flights (which resulted in missed flights) hours of  standing in line with very heavy bags, lost luggage, and so many carefully made travel plans ending up in the air.

But, as I’m typing this we are less than an hour from landing in London and since boarding our British Airways flight things have been lovely. We did make some new friends while standing in line for several hours: an au pair from Switzerland, a student from Arkansas, a lady from Spain, and a student who ironically is a freshman at the college where I graduated from. Such a small, small world. Around 10 pm, we all finally got our flights rearranged and then headed to another part of the airport to make sure that our bags would met us at the proper destination. Once that was out of the way we figured we should all grab something to eat together since most of us hadn’t eaten anything since 10 am. Our little band of travelers made our way through the JFK airport in search of the food court which we reached right as many of the venders were closing up for the night or running low on options. But after such a long day anything sounded good.

We thought about just spending the night in the airport since our flight was scheduled to leave early the next morning, but Treena’s husband called around and found us a hotel. By the time we reached the airport it was after midnight, and we needed to head back to the airport around 4 am. Needless to say it was a very short night.

So what started this mess? Things went fairly smoothly in St Louis apart from American Airlines charging me for a second bag after saying on the phone that it would be free. Our flight leaving St Louis was delayed, but not by much, and we had a long enough layover in Chicago to make up for it. Problems started popping up after we reached our gate for our flight to New York. The flight ahead of us was significantly delayed due to the plane’s PA system malfunctioning. Eventually they cancelled the flight in front of us but in the meantime our plane was left sitting at a different gate. When we did finally board, we spent a half hour on the runway before receiving news that the weather in New York city was too bad for us to receive permission to land. When our plane did finally hit the skies we had spent as much time on the runway as we did in the air. Our two hour layover was completely eaten up and our plane for London left before we were able to land.

Missing our flight to London produced a domino effect. We were bumped to a morning flight that arrived well after our flight for Munich was scheduled to leave. From Munich we had planned to travel back to London by train with a stop off in Paris. Sadly, that entire portion of the trip was now impossible. Our relatives at home spent hours looking into options to still make at least some of the Munich/Paris trip work but at such a late date flights and trains were either sold out or ridiculously expensive.

Treena and I have since learned that being “stuck” in London is not such a bad thing. Since starting to write this blog we have spent the last three days in London taking the Tube and seeing some of the city’s most beautiful sights. I must admit I did have a bit of a melt down on Saturday morning after realizing that so many of our plans had fallen through, learning that ticket refunds were out of the question for the majority of our tickets and only partial refunds for the rest, and just feeling plain tired, hungry, and exhausted due to jetlag.

Going outside made all of the difference. That and getting something to eat. People often talk about London being cold and rainy, but we were fortunate to have nice sunny days (a bit cool at times) but overall beautiful. Some of the highlights have been riding the Tube (mind the gap) Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, The Tower Bridge (formerly London Bridge) and the general friendliness of everyone that we have met along the way. We’ve also enjoyed our tea and a lovely English breakfast.IMG_6924 IMG_7209 IMG_7203 IMG_7177 IMG_7166 IMG_7161 IMG_7156 IMG_7145 IMG_7134 IMG_7122 IMG_7114 IMG_7113 IMG_7078 IMG_7074 IMG_7035 IMG_7022 IMG_7002 IMG_6999 IMG_6949

Right now my friend and I are leaving London behind as we are on a train heading to Edinburgh. People say it’s magical and from just the few pictures I’ve seen I believe it. So more to come (hopefully) unless we have more unplanned adventures.

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Fragile

I wasn’t able to go to the funeral. I’ll be in Kijabe soon but not soon enough. I thought about not going to work after finding out that my aunt had passed away, but one of the best things about working as a nanny is that holding babies can be therapeutic.

I’m tired of writing about grief. It hurts. I’m tired of stressing about what’s going to happen next. My dad left me a voice message last week telling me to call home and my first thought was, “great what happened now?”

Life is fragile so very, very fragile.

My first clear memory of Aunt Martha was after my twin sister died suddenly. She sent my cousin and me American Girl paper dolls and cookbooks. Mine was Molly and Amanda got Kirsten. For an eight year old, it was such an appropriate gift. A thoughtful way of saying, “I know things are tough for you right now, but I care.” That’s the kind of person Aunt Martha was.

She ran a guest house on the coast of Mombassa. My friend and I had planned to spend a long weekend at her house in June. We’d been messaging back and forth confirming dates and talking through travel options.

It still hasn’t completely hit me that Aunt Martha won’t been there when I get to Kenya next month. I know she is in a better place, but selfishly I still want her here. She touched so many live, brought so much joy, and was an inspiration to me and to so many other people.

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Filed under Contemplations, Grief