Sunday, February 7, 2010

14th - 17th June Lake Junaluska

Sunday 14th June
Lake Junaluska here we come. Mid morning and we load the car and set off. The journey takes us over the mountains and through some beautiful countryside, and we arrive at our destination. Ron and Alan register us and armed with our room keys we make our way to the Terrace Hotel.
We have a rest and then take our seats in the Stuart Auditorium for the opening service. We had been warned that the auditorium can get very hot and sticky, but extra air conditioning had been installed and we were close to an exit so it was fairly comfortable.

The preacher is Revd Dr Tyrone D Gordon who is Senior Pastor at St Luke “Community” UMC in Dallas Texas. We heard some good southern preaching on the subject of ‘So you want to be a Great Church’.

Monday 15th June
Ron has to attend a staff breakfast so Pat, Alan and I go to breakfast separately.

All the sessions of the conference are broadcast on CCTV so we can watch them in our room, if we want to.

Lunch for Pat and I is at Waynesville UMC. Every year at conference there is a lunch for Spouses of ministers and this year I was invited to attend. We had a lovely meal and it was good to meet up with old friends and met new people.

We made our way back to the conference centre to get ready for the evening service which was the annual ordination service. The preacher was retired Bishop Marion M Edwards whose subject was “Finishing the Race and Keeping the Faith”.
The ordination was different and similar to ordination services in the UK. There were sixteen ordinands, each going forward as they were called for the laying on of hands by Bishop Swanson. It was a very memorable and emotive service.

Tuesday 16th June

The same procedure for breakfast as yesterday, We didn’t feel like sitting in he auditorium for another service so we went back to our room to wait for Ron. He didn’t need to attend any meeting so as soon as he arrived we set off for Waynesville and had lunch in Bistro in the town and then had a look around a few of the shops.

Revd Adam Hamilton, Senior Pastor UMC of the Resurrection in Leawood Kansas City, was taking three sessions on Leading beyond the Walls. The sessions were on Tuesday afternoon and evening and then on Wednesday morning. We watched them on CCTV in our room. Very challenging and sensible ideas.

Wednesday 17th June

The Sending Forth Service was held at 11.00a.m in the Stuart Auditorium. This was a blessing for Boo and Phyllis Hankin as they were leaving for the Sudan. It also included the fixing of appointments of new pastors in the local churches.
The preacher was Bishop Swanson and his subject was “Leading fromWithin”.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Lake Junaluska and had our photograph taken by the cross, which is the last point on the sabbatical.

We have had three months of meeting fantastic people, seeing some awesome sights, and generally having a great time. We are now off to have two weeks holiday with our Yorkshire family and also our very dear Tennessee friends.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Alan's reflections Tuesday 9th June

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Tuesday 9th June 2009

We’re almost there. My vision was to begin our great journey at an iconic Christian location and end the journey at another such place; so we started at Lindisfarne, a cradle of Christianity, in the north of England and in a few days we travel to Lake Junaluska in North Carolina for a Methodist conference. After the conference we will enjoy our stay in Tennessee with our very dear friends here and, of course, our Yorkshire family who are flying out for a holiday.

Dorothy and I will be forever indebted to a great team of people back in England who have taken on extra tasks over the sabbatical period so that we could enjoy this experience with the knowledge that everything back home is in capable hands. All the arrangements made through Thomas Cook and Imaginative Traveller have worked very well. There have been numerous occasions where communications both in language and culture have presented difficulties but nothing that couldn’t be surmounted. Dorothy’s meticulous attention to detail planning in the months leading up to the sabbatical have paid dividends over and over again.

Along the journey we have been privileged to meet many people who have offered friendship, help and hospitality. We have seen wonderful panoramas of the world, stood in places where major events in history were fashioned, experienced the different cultures and religious expressions of the countries we have visited, but it is the people we have met along the way that have made this experience so special.

As for me, I have yet to comprehend just how this sabbatical time will affect my future ministry. Our lap top computer, which has travelled with us, is loaded with enough projects to fill two sabbaticals but for the most part I have been content to listen, absorb and experience the variety of stimuli that each day has brought; from the snow of Siberia to the sultry heat of Tennessee, from chilling minutes standing in a Nazi gas chamber to the spectacular views from the rim of the Grand Canyon, from sleeping on the hard ground of the Mongolian desert to the luxury of American hotels, from endless hours waiting on trains at border crossings to the freedom of driving across America, from the warmth of Methodist hospitality to the mystery of Buddhism, from incomprehensible dining menus to real fish and chips in San Francisco – a kaleidoscope of experiences that will take who knows how long to assimilate.

I offer my deepest appreciation: to everyone who has played a part in this time, you know who you are; to the Methodist Church for making this space available; to Dorothy, my soul mate and travelling companion, to our heavenly Father who is forever with us wherever we are on this magnificent planet.


Dorothy's diary 4th - 10th June

Cades Cove in the Smokie Mountains

Thursday 4th June to Wednesday 10th June

It was drizzling as we began the journey from Memphis to Maryville. It was quite uneventful until we reached the outskirts of Maryville and the heavens opened. I was driving and we needed to call at a supermarket. Fortunately we were following a white pickup truck that seemed to be going exactly the same way so I was able to follow it.

I had to sit in the car for a few minutes until the rain eased a little.

Back in the car with Alan driving. We made our way out of town towards Ron and Pat’s.

There are no edges to the road and it is very easy to verge off as one car travelling in the opposite direction had done.

We arrived at the house and Pat was at the door to meet us. We found out later that Ron had been following a car with a California plate and guessed that it was us. He had telephoned Pat to say that he thought it was us. He was right.

Friday 5th was just a chill out day. Pat and I went down to the church to meet up with Judy, the church administrator, then did some grocery shopping.

Saturday 6th we had a shopping expedition and a visit to downtown Knoxville.

Sunday 7th. Church to meet up with old friends and meet the new pastor Amy. It was a very good service and three young people were received into membership of the church. They then helped to dispense the elements in the communion service. Pat had a meeting back at the church at 1.00p.m. so we didn’t linger but went back home for lunch and for us a quiet rest.

In the evening we went to Terry and Judy’s for a barbeque.

Monday 8th. Another day chilling out. Ron came home early to cut the grass and at 5.30p.m. we set off to go Bear hunting in Cades Cove. There were other people who had the same idea so it was quite frustrating when vehicles pulled up in front and we couldn’t get round them. We did manage to see 4 bears. I took photos but they are not very clear.

Tuesday 9th.

Alan and I went shopping. Alan needed a decent pair of trousers as Bishop Swanson and his wife Delphine were coming to dinner.

We had a lovely evening and a very good meal. Good food, stimulating conversation and very good friends.

Wednesday 10th

We had a reasonably early start. Ron and Pat were taking us to Greene County, where they came from. It was a lovely nostalgic journey and we were able to see the very rural area that they grew up in. We had lunch at the General Morgan Inn in Greeneville.

On the way back we called at the store where Pat’s sister, Sandy, works. It was closed when we arrived but Sandy was still there so we were able to have a quick conversation with her. It was raining at the time, so it was car to car.

Back to Maryville for a relaxing evening and an early night.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dorothy's diary 3rd June

Elvis has NOT left the building

Wednesday 3rd June

Alan had discovered that the Peabody Ducks walk through the lobby at 11.00a.m. so we set off at 9.30 and made our way into downtown Memphis. We found a multi storey car park close to the waterfront. It only cost $5.00 for the whole day.

It wasn’t too far from the Peabody so we had a walk to the hotel. The Duckmaster was preparing the lobby with a red carpet. People were already gathering and as we waited ‘Elvis’ arrived to serenade us.

The ducks make their appearance every day at 11.00a.m. to swim in the lobby fountain and then return via the elevator to their roof top home at 5.00p.m.

I was able to have my photo taken with ‘Elvis’.

We caught a trolley bus down Main Street to visit the Museum of Civil Rights. We took an audio tour round the Museum which was much better than our last rushed visit 6 years ago.

We have decided not to call off at Nashville on our way to Maryville, so we are going to have an early night before the 400 mile journey across Tennessee.


Dorothy's diary 1st June

Wishful thinking

Monday 1st June

We had been told that there was a large cross at the side of the I – 40. It was not a lie. The cross is huge. Encircling it is a very moving depiction of the Stations of the Cross. There was also a replica of the Shroud of Turin and a film explaining all about it, using modern medical techniques. Obviously very Catholic but nonetheless very imotive.

Later on the journey we call at Elk City and the Museum of the historic Route 66. Very interesting.

Our hotel in Shawnee is right next door to Cracker Barrel so we don’t have far to walk to get a good meal.

Dorothy's diary 29th - 31st May

Polk Street UMC Amarillo

Friday / Saturday / Sunday 29th, 20th, 31st May

We have a 320mile journey in front of us across the Arizona desert. It is a desert, there is very little colour to the scenery, but there is a little greenery in places.

Albuquerque is nothing to write home about but we are staying at the Hampton and we have a good night’s rest and breakfast before we set off for Amarillo.

We decided that a two night stop would give us a good rest before our long haul towards Tennessee.

We have managed to find Polk Street Methodist church not too far away so we visit one of the Sunday school classes, and then stay for the morning service. We are made very welcome. The words of the hymns are not familiar but the tunes were, so we were able to have a good sing. The service was being filmed for television and will be screened next week. The preacher was Marty Hamrick who was an intern at Wesley’s Chapel in London a few years ago.

After church we needed to do some laundry and found one not too far away.

With clean laundry we went back to the hotel to pack ready for the journey to Shawnee, 30miles east of Oklahoma city

Dorothy's diary 28th May

Thursday 28th May

On a lovely sunny and warm day, we set off on the 80 mile journey to the Grand Canyon.

Parts of the landscape resemble Mongolia, and we spy an old mobile home with a wooden cabin about 100 yards away from it, the Arizona version of a Mongolian Ghur.

There is only one word to describe the canyon AWESOME. It really is unbelievable, and a bit scary as it is very deep.

We spend our time visiting the viewing points and are awestruck at the vastness.

On our way back to Flagstaff we call off at a visitor centre where there is an Imax film of the Canyon. It is a good thing that we hadn’t had much for lunch. It was fantastic. We have bought a copy but haven’t had time to watch it yet. Perhaps we will get the chance when we reach Maryville.

Dorothy's diary 26th May

Red rocks at Sedona

Tuesday 26th May

We are on the road again by 9.00a.m. We have a very long drive today. Through the desert, across the Colorado river and into Arizona. In places the road is so long and straight we can’t see the end of it. I take a turn at driving as it is very straight and I don’t have to navigate through towns.

We arrive in Flagstaff at 5.30p.m and check in to our next hotel, another Hampton, very comfortable and spacious.

Wednesday 27th May

A visit to the visitor centre gives us an idea of what we can do. We have a wander around downtown for a while and then go back to the hotel. It is a good time to ring family, so we have a good talk with Rachel, Megan, Peter and also Richard.

We then set off for a 50mile trip to Sedona. The road is very steep and winding, varying from 7000ft down to 3000ft. This is where the red mountains are. Again it is very warm.

When we arrive back in Flagstaff it is a bit cooler. We visit a supermarket to buy provisions for tomorrow. We are going to the Grand Canyon and it is expected to be 71’F / 40’C

Dorothy's diary 25th May

Luxury travel at last

Monday 25th May

We got up early and checked out of the Halcyon and struggled with our luggage to the Alamo car rental place. It was very busy which seemed strange to us as it was Memorial Day and a Public Holiday. Alan sorted our car out and had opted for an upgrade to a bigger car. It will be much better for us with all our luggage and the long distance that we have to travel.

It is a white Nissan Altima, brand new, only got 2242 miles on the clock. All our luggage fits in the trunk (boot) which is great for security.

We are on our way by 9.45 and have no difficulty finding our way out of San Francisco.

Ironically it is brilliantly sunny and very warm. The roads are not too busy and we enjoy the driving.

The countryside is very dramatic, lush in places and then very arid.

We arrive in Bakersfield mid afternoon and check in to our hotel. King size bed, microwave, mini fridge, television and free wifi connection. No more slumming it for a while.

There is also a guest laundry so I can get our dirty clothes washed and dried.

Dorothy's diary 24th May

Inside Alcatraz

Sunday 24th May

We wanted to go to church but the only tour to Alcatraz was Sunday 24th at 10.30 so we booked for Alcatraz.

We managed to get a cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf and arrived early at about 9.00a.m.

Shops weren’t open but we walked round the piers and saw the California Sea Lions. Boy do they make a noise.

At Pier 33 where we needed to catch the ferry there was the usual queue and the customary photo call with a photo of Alcatraz in the background. The boat was full and the trio across the bay only took 10 minutes. A Ranger was waiting for us and giving us an overview of the island.

We went to the theatre to watch an introductory film and then set off up the hill towards the cell block. We picked up and audio guide which took us on a conducted tour of the cell block. The sounds of slamming doors was very realistic.

After the tour we called in at the shop and a lady was there signing books that she had written. She had lived on Alcatraz as a child. There were quite a few families who lived on the island. It was very safe, the worst fear for their parents was that they would fall into the water and be carried away on the strong currents.

It didn’t seem like a Sunday as back in the city, shops were just bas busy as any other day.

We went back to the hotel hoping to do some washing before setting off across America. Unfortunately someone was using both the machines, so we will have to take our dirty clothes with us.