A Day To Remember.

It’s about 03.10 as I begin to write this and I’ve been awake for a while. Outside the wind is whistling through the fir trees on the neighbour’s property. Fir cones from the trees on that land are peppering my roof and tumbling down to the yard below, one of the reasons for me being awake. Another reason, the main one, is that it is the day of our wedding anniversary and I was thinking about Cynthia. The words of that Sinatra song, One For My Baby, kept going through my head:

It’s quarter to three
There’s no one in the place ‘cept you and me
So set ’em’ up Joe
I got a little story I think you oughtta know
We’re drinking my friend
To the end of a brief episode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road
Cynthia loved listening to Frank Sinatra sing.

Well it was quarter to three, there is no one in the place ‘cept me, I got a little story I think you might like to know, I’m drinking tea my friends, to the memory of a great episode in my life, and this is one for my baby but I don’t know if there will be any more of these epistles for the road.

Today would have been the 53rd anniversary of our marriage. Maybe you’re doing the math now to work out the wedding date.  Yes you got it right, it was Jan.03 1966. I didn’t write anything on this day in 2018 or 2017 but today for some reason it feels good to be writing.

Dear Fr. Bowden, the curate who married us.

Our wedding day was a great day. It was remarkable for us in many ways. We had decided to get married in the previous October during a half term school break back in the UK. We’d motored down to Wales from Camberley in Surrey, about thirty miles west of London. We asked for our parents’ permission to marry even though we were determined to go ahead anyway. What was remarkable was not that they agreed, for they all knew we would one day be wed, but that Cynthia’s mother told us we would have to make all the arrangements ourselves as she was too ill to help with that.

Cynthia receives a call from a college friend in Australia

Cynthia never hesitated, but gave her mum a hug and got on with things immediately. She basically dragged me around in her slipstream as we booked the church with Fr. Bowden the curate at her local church. We booked the local hotel for the reception. We organized wedding cars and drivers etc. etc. By the time our weekend at home was done and we were heading back to Camberley, most of the organizing had been completed. Just a little later Cynthia went to London and hired all her wedding apparel…gown, shoes, veil and so on. It was a remarkable feat on her part.

L_R. cuz Brian Davies, Alan Jones, Geoff Tibbs, John Rees rear, Garath Hill, Lyndon Lewis, Bruce Davies, Howard Shurn, Barrie (Sammy)Davies in front.

The wedding day itself went beautifully, at least from my perspective. However, I know there wasn’t a great start to it for Cynthia as her lovely, but ailing Mum had a fall on the morning of the wedding. Nothing was going to deter her from getting to the wedding. In the end Cynth’s mum recovered and all was well.

Cynthia chats with little cousins Kieron, Sian, Elizabeth

The wedding went beautifully, the reception was great, with family and friends in attendance. After the speeches and the luncheon we  had some singing. One of my friends named John decided to give us his version of Where Have All The Flowers Gone That would have been great except John couldn’t carry a tune even if you gave him a bucket! Nevertheless, we all had a good laugh and other friends even started tossing pennies and other coins at John.  It was a really good time.

Cynthia tosses her bouquet. Elizabeth looks quite bored.

Soon it was time for us to leave as we had to get back to our little apartment in Camberley as school was starting on the Monday. We spent our wedding night, Saturday, in a posh hotel in Bristol. There was no honeymoon because of the imminent start of school the following Monday and also because we could not afford one.

Yup, we had a cake!

Our little apartment, supported by the local school district as housing costs were beyond our means, was a simple but efficient place. It was one of six in a block of apartments, all housing teachers who worked in the Camberley School district., and all in the same financial situation as us. We had no cooker, stove, range whatever you wish to call it. That came months later in the form of a belated gift from dear friends Michael and Janet. Until then, we managed with a hot plate. We even managed to cook kippers in a plastic bag in the electric kettle! We had each other and life was good.

Best man Garath. He now lives in Powell River, B.C. Canada, a ferry ride from me.

Cousin Rosaleen far right. College friends Janet, Margaret, Babs, Judy.

Bridesmaids. My cousin Angela (right) and Cynthia’s cousin Elizabeth

Outside the church

We were so happy.

Cynthia with her dad.

I could write more but I feel this is enough to satisfy what was driving me to write in the first place. I should get back to bed and try to sleep. This has been one post for my baby!

‘Bye for now and God bless.

Popcorn For Christmas

Hello family and friends,
Volunteers from the British Columbia Transplant Society delivered popcorn to the North Island Hospital, Comox Valley this morning. The popcorn is a gift to staff in the ER and ICU departments to thank them for their involvement in the retrieval of organs to be used in transplants.

Below you see pictures of the volunteers with the ER staff and below that, the ICU staff.

With the Emergency Department Staff

With the Intensive care unit staff.

The volunteers can be seen in the top picture. Sid Popham, a heart recipient 20 years ago  is standing extreme left. Kneeling we have (right) myself, representing son Tim who was working. Tim is a double heart recipient (1999 & 2014). Kneeling (middle and left) are Doug and Jacquie Martin, parents of Cieran who was tragically injured in a car accident at age 16. His organs were donated.

The visit was especially significant for Doug and Jacquie as they met a nurse who had been involved with Cieran at the time his organs were donated. The nurse was the first staff member the Martins had met who had been involved with Cieran.

Many of the staffs were reduced to tears as they never see the result of their efforts. Big hugs and high fives were in abundance. It was a wonderful time. Goodbye for now and God bless.

Please consider giving the gift of life by registering on the organ donor registry in your own country.
Here in British Columbia Canada, register on BC’s organ donor registry atransplant.bc.ca

What A Beautiful Day!

Dear family and friends…this is an unusual post for me. It contains no pictures and very little text. However, I hope it conveys the joy I feel in my heart right now.

Yesterday I attended a wedding…a very special wedding, and witnessed what I consider to be a miracle. For security reasons there are no pictures and  I won’t mention any names. Let me give you some background.

About four years ago, Cynthia and I became involved with a group trying to bring a young woman to Canada …let’s call her A. She had escaped from her homeland where she and her family were being persecuted because of their religious beliefs. At the same time, her fiancé…we’ll call him B, escaped  for the same reasons. He’d already been imprisoned because he would not deny his faith, but had been removed and put to work outside the prison as he had some special skills, useful to the local army or police. He bided his time and escaped.  During their escape, and subsequent travels in search of a country where they could be safe, they became separated. He went south, she traveled north. They were separated by thousands of miles.

After a while, A found refuge in a foreign country and also found out she was pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter C. She managed to support herself and her baby by cleaning homes and working at a day-care. Eventually A met a young Canadian woman who lives close to where I live. She was traveling abroad  and ended up working in the same daycare as A. They became friends and shared stories. The young Canadian came home and with her parents began to look for ways to bring A and C to Canada. This is where Cynthia and I became involved as part of the group helping to bring A and C here. Eventually, after more than two years, A and daughter C came to the valley. After one year of support by the group, A is now self supporting. After much searching on-line and through the media, A eventually found B and they managed to stay in contact. .

Fiancé B was working to stay alive in a very difficult situation in a different foreign country. Another church group here in the valley was looking to sponsor a refugee. Members of our group contacted the other church and suggested they try to bring over B.  The other church group agreed. They too began the long process of filling out forms and attending endless meetings. Members of our group helped where they could, though I had withdrawn somewhat after Cynthia died.

Finally, B arrived earlier this year and has rejoiced in joining A and meeting the daughter who for years he didn’t know he had. C loves her daddy.  C and he had learned a little of each , bit by bit, through Face-time and Skype after contact  had been made. B is now already working hard as a cleaner at a hospital . He also helps out with a landscaping company in the summer. He is well on the way to becoming independent of the support group.

Yesterday they were married at our local church. They were surrounded by the two groups who brought them. The atmosphere was electric, filled with love and joy. They danced their way out of the church and into the reception in the church hall, with C dancing behind them. It was a spectacle I will never forget.

My heart was filled with joy and love at seeing their happiness. These three people have been given a chance to start a new life in an amazing country. Cynthia and I did our little bit in this process, but I feel that our reward has been so much more.

Thanks be to God!

A +B +C= LOVE

‘Bye for now and God bless.

Israel and Jordan: October 2018

I was privileged to travel to Israel and Jordan with Ben, Josée and a group of friends. We were about 30 in total and the whole trip was organized by more friends, Ron and Judy Hamm, in conjunction with Immanuel Tours of Jerusalem. Our trip began on Oct. 06 and we came home Oct. 26. We were actually on the tour  from Oct. 12 to 25. Our trip would take us north from Tel Aviv through Caesarea on the coast north to the Golan heights. From there we turned south and traveled through the West Bank to Jerusalem. After Jerusalem we journeyed as far south as we could go to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba and crossed the border into Jordan. We then went north through Wadi Rum to Petra and on to the Dead Sea. After the Dead Sea the trip took us as far north as Jerash in Jordan. We then came back south to Amman and departed for home from Amman via London.

Travel-Map-Israel-Jordan

Starting the trip we flew to London and had little time before going on so we visited Windsor and saw the castle.

At Windsor Castle.

We flew from London to Tel Aviv via Zurich, Switzerland and the company, Immanuel Tours, picked us up at the airport to take us to our hotel. We arrived a few days before most of the group so we looked around on our own.

Arrival at Tel Aviv

View across Tel Aviv from our hotel room.

We visited the markets in Tel Aviv and Ben and Josée even walked down the coast to Joppa and back.

Spice merchant in the market at Tel Aviv

On Oct. 12th the tour began and took us to the site of Caesarea Maritima farther north on the coast from Tel Aviv. There we saw the site of Pontius Pilate’s coastal villa and many other Roman ruins including the amphitheatre.

The governor’s villa at Caesarea Maritima

The Amphitheatre at Caesarea Maritima

We visited northern Israel, the towns of Capernaum and Caesarea Philippi and saw outposts on the Golan Heights. We stayed at a kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We took a ride on a Gospel Boat out on the Sea of Galilee and saw so much more. We walked in the places where Jesus walked over 2000 years ago. At one point four other members of the tour and I were able to renew our baptismal vows in the River Jordan. Pastor Ted and friend Dan did the honours.

Entering the historical ruins at Capernaum

The Synagogue at Capernaum

On the Gospel Boat

Outpost at the Golan Heights

Entering the Church of the Annunciation at Nazareth

The kibbutz at Ein Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee

Leaving the baptismal site with Pastor Ted on my left and friend Dan.

En route to Jerusalem we stopped at Abraham’s place where camel rides were available. We walked down through the Garden of Gethsemane, saw sights in Jerusalem, visited the old city and saw a light and sound spectacular at the citadel of David.

Hip problems stopped me riding

Josée braved a ride

Ben and Josée with the Dome of the Rock in the right rear.

Walking down to the city via the Garden of Gethsemane

Our entry into Jerusalem through the Lions’ Gate.

After a few days in Jerusalem we motored south to Eilat, the southernmost town in Israel, on the Gulf of Aqaba. We had one night there before crossing the Jordanian border and heading to Petra, Masada, Qumran to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and on to the Dead Sea itself.

Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba at the Red Sea. Most southerly town in Israel I believe.

Crossing the border into Jordan on foot.

Red Dunes at Wadi Rum. We had a two hour jeep ride into the desert.

Spectacular scenery at Wadi Rum.

Transport is available through Al Siq (the snake) at Petra

The Treasury at Petra behind Ben and Josée

After Petra we traveled to the site of Masada which was one of the other main attractions of the tour for me. The story of Masada is amazing. I won’t share it all here as it would take too long, but it is a story worth reading. The siege of Masada was one of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring from 73 to 74 CE on and around a large hilltop in current-day Israel. The siege was chronicled by Flavius Josephus, a Jewish rebel leader captured by the Romans, in whose service he became a historian. You can read more here

The view from the top at Masada looking back to the plains below.

Ben exploring the ruins atop Masada.

The Roman built siege ramp which led to the top of Masada

Josée (right) and Debbie enjoy a mud bath at the Dead Sea.

There is so much more I could tell you about this trip. Suffice to say it was so well organized by Ron and Judy working with the company. Immanuel tours treated us marvellously for the accommodation, food and transport were all great.

If you’d like to see many more pictures of the wonderful places we visited, click here. Each slide you see is titled at the lower left corner. Enjoy and God bless!