The Bride of Christ

This is a brief introduction to the post that follows, detailing a remarkable display titled “The Bride of Christ” celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that began in earnest on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther posted his now famous 95 theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

The post first appeared in the Grange Fellowship Interactive blog and Grace and I want to put it in our own personal blog because we should like to give the friends who follow our blog the opportunity to view the presentation.  For those who live in the UK or are visiting there, the Bride of Christ display can be seen in the historic church of St. Peter’s, located in Gloucester Road, Winchcombe, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

The presentation is the brainchild of Shiloha Levi, a local resident and gifted artist.  More details are included in the blog post.  Shiloha is married to Ben Levi, who was a member of the Grange Fellowship in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Contemporaries in the Grange will actually remember Ben as Brian Towell, his name back then.  Brian (Ben) became a believer and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ in 1966 when he attended the Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade in Earls Court Arena, West London.  Ben’s roots are Jewish and he desired to identify with those roots.  The family name was Levi and he changed his birth surname back to it.  His first names were Brian Benjamin so he simply switched to Benjamin.

Ben and Shiloha have served the Lord in different parts of the world and have been in situations in which they have personally witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit in power.

In addition to their children Isaac and Harmonie they have a son named Gabriel (Harmonie’s twin).  Gabe was born with severe cerebral palsy and is currently resident in a residential care home facility where he can receive the special care he needs.

We know you will be blessed by the pictures and text that follows.

Here comes the bride

Shiloha explains her creation:

This year is the anniversary of the Reformation when Martin Luther made a translation of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into German, so that it would be accessible to the German people.   Other countries quickly followed suit by translating the Bible into their own languages, and then with the help of the recently invented printing press, made these new translations available to ordinary people.  Now today, at least some portion of the bible has been translated into over 3000 languages.

In order to celebrate this I made a period gown. The aim of this was to create a gown that looks like something which would have been worn during the reformation, as close to 1517, as possible.

In addition, we have a number of books in various different languages, containing testimonies, for visitors to read and I am hoping to get them in even more different languages. Then our foreign visitors who come into the Church can read and connect, in their own mother tongue, with a real story written by someone whose life has been changed by God.

I am hoping this will bring solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world with the visual imagery of the church preparing herself like a bride for the coming of the bridegroom, our Lord Jesus Christ

‘And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.’    Book of Revelation, Chapter 12 v 11

Here is how Shiloha did it:

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Beryl (Morgan) Franklin – January 10th,1924-February 9th, 2017

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Beryl at a St. David’s Day celebration March 1, 2013 at the Care Home where she lived.

When I was twelve years of age and living in Port Talbot, south Wales, one of my close friends was Elizabeth, (née Jones) Dumayne, fondly known as Lib.  She had been invited to be a bridesmaid at a wedding and asked me if I would accompany her to the house of a dressmaker/seamstress who lived in Oakwood Street, located right next to James Street where I lived at that time.  That seamstress was Beryl Morgan, whom I met for the first time.  I can still vividly remember the beautiful green bridesmaid dress that she had made.  Beryl was a skilled seamstress and in great demand. She never needed a pattern and could create any made-to-measure garment from a description or photo, plus taking the measurements of the person for whom it was to be made.  After that I occasionally saw her in town and knew that she attended Margam Road Presbyterian Church.

It was when I was 17 years of age that I, together with friends Hywel Jones and Len Gibbs, obtained permission to use a little, unused hut located near Port Talbot Railway Station and Post Office in Station Road, Port Talbot. We were keen Christians and needed a place where we could hold youth meetings to which we could invite friends from school as well as out of school friends.  Hywel invited a number of young people from his church, including Beryl Morgan and that is how I came to know my future sister in law well.

We had wonderful times at those meetings singing lively choruses and hymns and it was at that time that Len and Hywel had the opportunity to start their preaching careers, particularly at our Saturday night evangelistic meetings.

My brother Calvin was an officer in the Merchant Navy but when he came home on leave, he also attended those meetings in the hut and that is where he met Beryl.  Very soon they started going out together and it was love at first sight. Incidentally, years later their son Huw followed his father’s example by falling in love at first sight with his future wife Pam.  A week or so later, they (Huw and Pam) announced their engagement and six months later they were married in Prairie Chapel, where Martin was the pastor.

However, Calvin and Beryl were not able to get married as quickly because Calvin had to complete the obligations of his contract with his marine employers which meant being away at sea for considerable lengths of time.

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Pictures of Beryl and Calvin’s wedding.

Calvin and Beryl had a wonderful relationship and a lot in common; first and foremost
was their deep personal relationship with the Lord which never wavered and became stronger every day. They shared the same passion for classical music and were extremely knowledgeable.  When they first met Calvin loved symphonies and concertos composed by the Great Masters.   Beryl loved choral works such as oratorios but both grew to appreciate all genres of music.  They did of course love hymns, worship songs and Gather style music.

They were totally non-confrontational and used to say that they had never had an
argument, which is almost impossible to believe but their children have confirmed that this was so.  Beryl used to laugh so easily and had a unique sense of humour; she was quick witted and always seemed to make humorous retorts (a talent that she passed on to her two children, Kay and Huw) and I really enjoyed the repartee.  It was a joy to be in her company.  Beryl talked freely about the Lord and was a vibrant and joyful Christian. Since living next door to us, I have spent many hours in her lovely apartment in Huw and Pam’s home just talking about the Lord and sharing His blessings with each other. She was a good conversationalist, never criticized others and generally was cheerful and positive.  Calvin and Beryl were both gentle, unassuming, humble and self-effacing but for those of us who knew them, they were invaluable.  Both in the UK and in Canada they enjoyed a gentle ministry of hospitality, counselling and helping the needy. In Abbotsford, they were involved in helping and supporting unmarried mothers.   When they were part of the Vineyard Fellowship in Langley, the congregation consisted mainly of younger people.  Calvin and Beryl were certainly older than the majority of the members of the congregation so were like Mam and Dad to many.  They were both extremely generous and did not expect anything in return.

Sadly my brother Calvin died in 1997 at home where Beryl had cared for him supported by her family.  Calvin’s premature death was a devastating blow to us all but Beryl was a shining example of serenity as she embraced the grace of the Lord and comfort of the Holy Spirit during this difficult time.  They were soul mates for sure but Calvin and they enjoyed 40 happy years together and were a testimony to all.

Beryl was blessed to be surrounded by her two children Kay and Huw, their spouses and her grandchildren.  At the time of Calvin’s death they were living in an apartment in the ground level basement of Huw and Pam’s house.  A short time later, they sold that house and purchased the house right next door to us.  The same arrangement was possible for Beryl but now, we had the blessing of having them all living next door.  Huw and Pam and their two children Meghan and Evan were a great support and encouragement to her.  Kay, Tony and their children Siobhain and Daniel visited her regularly and Kay took over the responsibility of family reunions such as Christmas.  Both her children and grandchildren brought her much joy.  She told me how comforting it was to hear the sound of their voices and their footsteps as they walked upstairs. I would like say how I appreciate Pam who was willing to share their house with her in-laws and she was a constant support to Beryl. I find Pam laid back but very loving and caring and she didn’t hesitate  in welcoming her in-laws to live in their apartment. Beryl was equally grateful for Kay and Huw and very proud of them both.

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Beryl, with her daughter Kay and son Huw – Christmas 2005.

When Beryl was in her late 80s, it was obvious that she needed full time care.  She quite suddenly lost the use of her legs and she was no longer able to take care of herself. Huw and Pam had full time jobs and  Beryl couldn’t be left alone.  Beryl understood her dilemma and broached the subject with Huw that the time had come for her to move into an extended care home. By doing this, she lovingly and mercifully removed the need for Huw to raise the matter with her, something he was very reluctant to do.  The Lord moved marvelously and Beryl was offered a place in a local care home where she would be loved and cared for by a truly wonderful staff.

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Beryl with her daughter Kay at the St. David’s Day celebration March 1, 2013.  Persons in the background are my other sister-in-law Doris and her daughter, Jane.

The initial wrench was painful but Beryl settled in and we were told that she had more visitors by far than anyone else in the facility and there were many occasions when visiting Beryl that we would find one of the nurses sitting chatting with her.  A week after arriving in The Cottage, she had her 90th birthday and on January 10th, 2017, she had her 93rd birthday.

During the past year at the Cottage we saw deterioration in her health.  She became very deaf and her eyesight also deteriorated.  She could no longer read even large print books in addition to suffering other physical problems.  However, whenever we visited her, she loved Martin reading familiar passages from the bible to her and even if she were sometimes confused, once Martin started reading, she would become lucid and alert and would recite the passage with him.  Similarly whenever we prayed with her she was no silent observer but punctuated Martin’s prayer with  “Yes Lord”, “Thank you Lord,” and multiple “amens.”  Even as her body and mind became weaker, it was such a treat to see that her spirit was intact and very much alive. We often sang hymns to her and she would immediately sing quite loudly.  Our friend Naj suggested that I sang some Welsh hymns to Beryl which she sang heartily and still remembered the Welsh words.

My late brother’s wife, our darling sister in law and one of our spiritual mentors, entered into the awesome presence of the Lord Jesus on February 9th 2017.  She loved and served Him until He called her home to the place that He had prepared for her.  Huw and Kay, Beryl and Calvin’s wonderful children, and their supportive spouses Pam and Tony were present. She had been sleeping all that day until 11.38 pm, when she opened her big beautiful blue eyes and then breathed her last breath.   We went to see her in the afternoon of the day that she died.   As she was sleeping peacefully, we told her that we loved her and thanked her for being such an important and precious member of our family.

She is now enjoying what Jesus promised, the details of which are recorded in John 14:1-3

“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, there you may be also.”

Grace (Franklin) Gouldthorpe

February 17th 2017

Important note: Let me encourage you to take the opportunity to write a comment, particularly if you knew Beryl personally and have memories to share.

 

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Canada in Winter

Many people around the world, when they think of Canada in winter, picture in their minds deep snow, bitingly cold temperatures, snow blowing into huge drifts, polar bears ambling down the main streets of towns and people dressed in very warm clothing, including long johns under warm pants (trousers), fur lined jackets, hoods and gloves.

It is that way in parts of Canada although the only place that I know of where polar bears amble down the main street is Churchill, Manitoba on the western shore of Hudson’s Bay.  Otherwise, places like Whitehorse in the Yukon, Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, Edmonton, Alberta, Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, The Pau and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Northern Ontario and even places like Montreal, Ottawa and the eastern provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland can see temperatures drop to -40° to -50°C.   That is cold for human beings and requires adaptation and great care to avoid frost bite which can happen very quickly.  It is a special breed of people that not only live in these conditions but can be heard to boast about it!  I think they have the right to boast.

There is a part of Canada that stands apart from these raw and cruel conditions.  It is found in the southwest corner of the nation, in the southwest corner of British Columbia.  It includes Vancouver, Victoria, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Fraser Valley.  As the town of Abbotsford, where we live is in the heart of the Fraser Valley, it means that we have the luxury of living in this mild, “banana” belt.  The hardy Canadians who live in the icy climes sometimes poke fun at us “softies” who live here.  That’s OK, we can take it!

From time to time, however, we get a reminder that this is still Canada and we find ourselves on the receiving end of weather that the rest of Canada would hardly blink an eye at but, for us, it causes havoc and disruption.  This winter has been such a time (you knew I was building up to say that, weren’t you?).  It started in mid-December and we are only now (mid February 2017) enjoying a milder, wetter trend that is more typical of here.  Normally at this time of the year, crocuses are in abundance, the daffodils are approaching blooming time, the wild cherry blossom is in bud, as is the Forsythia.  This year?  Nothing yet.  The weather forecasters are hesitant to tell us that the worst is over, and I don’t blame them.  We have had more snow this winter than our area has seen for many years.  In some locations, new snowfall records have been set.

I should have gone out with my camera and taken more pictures but the conditions were too bad.  Also, in spite of being two good children in November when we got our ‘flu shots, Grace and I both went down with a ‘flu virus that wasn’t covered by November’s vaccine.  Actually, I got it first and gave it to Grace.  We are over it now.  I did take some pictures of the immediate area around our house.  Here are five of them.  Enjoy them, because we may not get another winter like this one for a few years, at least that is what we are all hoping!

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Our house on a crisp, cold and windy morning (February 7, 2017). There had been a heavy snowfall overnight but the system had moved eastwards, leaving us with blue sky. The wind had blown the snow off the rhododendron bushes. The footprints in the virgin snow are mine, made as I walked across the street to take this picture.

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Looking from our front porch across the street.

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Early morning view looking east from our house. Our neighbour’s house, shown in the picture is the one that was owned and occupied by our nephew Huw and family for many years.

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View from our patio door. Note the tiny Anna’s humming bird sitting at the nectar feeder. Anna’s humming birds have been spending winter in British Columbia rather than migrating south for a number of years now. We have been feeding them for about seven winters.

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A close up of an Anna’s humming bird hovering and feeding at one of our two nectar feeders.

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Rev. James Morris – June 20, 1946 -January 2, 2017

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Rev. James Morris

Jim was among the first group of boys who began attending Bible study and fellowship meetings at our home in Chiswick, west London in the early 1960s.  These meetings began in the autumn of 1961 with four 13 year old girls, all of whom were pupils of Grace at Hammersmith County School for Girls.  The number of attendees grew but, for a while, continued to be girls only.  In time, however, boys began to attend.  As numerical growth took place the group became known as the Grange Fellowship.

Jim was invited by his best friend, David Burl.  Both of them, along with another close friend, Ben Belsham, had hearts that were open to the Lord and soon received Christ as their Lord and Saviour.  The promise of John 1:12-13 was fulfilled in their lives, “… to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

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They were nicknamed, “The Four Just Men,” L to R: Jim Garden, Jim Morris, Ben Belsham, David Burl – 1964

For these three teenage boys, there was no doubt about their commitment to the Lord Jesus and they have subsequently never faltered in their witness and service for the Lord.  Jim and Ben received and obeyed the call to full time Christian ministry; David went on to serve the Lord illustriously in the world of academia.  Ben conducted the service of celebration for the life of Jim on 27 January 2017 and David was present.

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Youthful Janet and Jim – very much in love already

Like Adam, to whom the Lord brought a wife and soulmate in Eve, the Lord brought Jim the love of his life in Janet, who was one of the original four girls in the founding of the Grange Fellowship.  My wife Grace has always been very proud of the fact that she had a role in bringing them together, with the help of David and, doubtless, the approval of the Holy Spirit!  Many of you are familiar with the story of how Grace invited Janet, Jim and David to our house one Saturday evening for a time of informal fellowship.  The agreement between Grace and David was that he would, under some pretense, leave at 9:00pm leaving Jim and Janet with us for a while longer.  It was a dark night and Jim, being the young gentleman that he was, insisted on accompanying Janet to her home in safety.  It was the beginning of their courtship and life together.

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Wedding Day – September 24, 1966

Their wedding took place on September 24, 1966, when they also became the first Grange Fellowship couple to marry.  The Lord blessed them with two fine children, Craig and Lynne.  Jim and Janet celebrated their Golden, 50th wedding anniversary in 2016.

Jim joined the staff of the Come Back to God Campaign, an evangelistic organization and trained for the ministry under its auspices.  This included studies at Adelaide College and a comprehensive, “on the job” schedule of training at Highgate and Ealing. Incidentally, Ben took the same route in training and preparation for the ministry.

Jim’s first pastorate was at Underwood Free Church in Reading, Berkshire where he was also officially ordained.  He remained there for 5 years, after which he became the pastor of Perivale Mission Church, taking over that responsibility from the Rev. Denis Paterson, the founder and director of the Come Back to God Campaign.

From Perivale Jim and Janet, and family moved north to Rochdale in Lancashire where Jim became manager of the Come Back to God Campaign Christian bookshop and also joined the pastoral team of Zion Baptist Church with Rev. Mansel Hiles.

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Jim and Janet with their children Craig and Lynne

In 1986, Jim became pastor of Fordham Baptist Church in Cambridgeshire and remained there until 2001.  It was during these years that both Craig and Lynne were married. Subsequently, their children presented Jim and Janet with 5 grandchildren.

His final move took place in 2001 when he accepted an invitation to become the pastor of Bere Regis Congregational Church in Bere Regis, Dorset.  He remained in that position until the Lord took him Home on January 2nd, 2017.

Jim loved being a pastor.  Evidence of that can be seen in the fact that he never had any intention of retiring from pastoral ministry.  When he celebrated his 65th birthday in 2011 he kept going and on his 70th birthday in June 2016, he was still “in harness” caring for God’s people and preaching the Gospel.

I have no hesitation in saying to any young man aspiring to the ministry, who wants an example of how it should be done, to take an earnest look at the life work of Rev. Jim Morris.

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An intimate moment at their 50th wedding anniversary

Before saying anything more, this is an appropriate moment to refer to the part played through the years by Janet, Jim’s soulmate and partner in the great work the Lord entrusted to them.  Jim and Janet adored each other.  They were perfectly matched and Jim would be the first to say that he could not have been such an effective servant of the Lord without Janet at his side.

Jim was a people person.  He loved others and there was no limit to the lengths he would go to help and nurture people in their spiritual journey and overcome the challenges that they faced.  He attracted people to himself and he was loved by them.  A touching and tender example of this was the case of his mother-in-law.  Her husband, Janet’s father, predeceased his wife and she, from then on confidently depended on Jim.  When she began to slip into a state of dementia, it was Jim to whom she looked more than anyone else to comfort and help her.  That care was given attentively by Jim and, of course by Janet too, until she passed away.

I remember him telling me once that he did not have the ambition to be the pastor of a large church with a multitude of people in his congregation. A smaller church in a smaller community fitted him perfectly.

Jim was a sound theologian and an excellent preacher.  Through the decades of his ministry, his congregations were blessed by his teaching and counsel.  The Holy Spirit was upon him and he spoke with authority.  People sensed this about him.

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Craig and Lynne’s opinion about their father

He fitted well into a public setting and when he spoke to a crowd of people, they listened.  He also had a great sense of humour.  There was nothing dour or depressing about his manner.  I told him that I believed that, if the Lord had not called him to ministry in the Kingdom of God, he could have succeeded very well as a stand-up comedian and entertainer.  He had a great stage presence.  On the occasions when Grace and I travelled to the UK, and there was a Grange Fellowship reunion included on the itinerary, we had no hesitation asking Jim to be the master of ceremonies at that event.  Many will recall the easy, humorous manner in which he performed this responsibility.  Who can forget him producing a packet of pills from his pocket and saying, “I think the average age of those attending this reunion is 55.  Perhaps now is the time we should be taking our pills?”  Then, taking pills out of the packet in his hand he would say, “These are my heart pills and these are for my cholesterol etc. etc.”  Vividly imprinted on my memory is the hilarious rendition by Jim, complete with costume, hat and false beard, at the 2015 reunion in Gunnersbury Baptist Church in Chiswick of Fagan’s song from the musical Oliver, “You’ve got to pick a pocket or two.”  Those of you who were there will remember and it is OK to laugh again right now.

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Jim in the Bere Regis Jubilee Parade

This brings me to a very valuable comment that I want to make regarding Jim and Janet’s ministry.  They did what Jesus did in a way that regrettably is not always seen in the work of pastors and their wives.  While some of us busy ourselves setting up programmes in our churches and invite people to come to them (nothing basically wrong in doing that), we forget and fail to do what Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”  Jim did not make this mistake.

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Jim participating in a “Strictly Come Dancing” fundraising event  (Strictly Come Dancing is known in Canada and US as Dancing with the Stars) Not sure whether the expression on Jim’s face is an indication that his shoes were too tight!

The Gospels tell of the Lord Jesus going to the people and mingling with them where they were, often to the disgust of the religious leaders of His day.  Jim and Janet did what their Saviour did and became involved in their community.  The people of Bere Regis have plenty of memories of Jim that will remind them that he was a man who loved them, a man who loved life, a man who not only wanted people to come to faith in the Lord Jesus but have fun and be happy.  Jim and Janet could be found attending and active in events that included the whole community and brought people together.

I do not know of any pastor anywhere who regularly became involved in the presentation of an annual pantomime or musical production.  Jim did more than get involved, he wrote the script, directed and played a major role in at least 9 major dramatic productions over the years.  He will be sadly missed and long remembered with affection by the people of Bere Regis, a community Jim and Janet came to love.

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Jim and Janet in one of the many pantomimes Jim wrote and produced

King David is believed to be the writer of Psalm 37 and in verse 23 he says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way.”  Jim was truly, a good man.  If he were here and heard me say that, he would hasten to add that, if that were true it was due to the manifestation of God’s grace in his life.  He would be right of course, in the way that it would be true for all of us who seek to follow the Lord Jesus as His disciples.

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At Lake Louise, Canada, September 2007

Grace and I are so grateful for some quality time that we were able to spend with Jim and Janet in 2007.  Through a Time Share to which they belonged they were able to book a stay at a very nice location near Banff, Alberta and invited us to share it with them.  It was a wonderful time of rich fellowship.  Afterwards we drove home to Abbotsford where we had more time together.  We shall not forget that special time.

Sadly, for us, we shall not have another opportunity here on earth to have good fellowship with Jim, or to sing along as he leads the singing of worship songs, strumming along on his banjo, or hear him preach, or watch and roar with laughter as we attend a performance of one of his pantomimes.  We all mourn and grieve our loss of him.  For Grace and me, his passing means another of our spiritual children has gone on ahead of us into the glorious presence of the Lord.

However, grieve though we may, that is far from being the whole story.   Writing to the believers in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul said, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”  We know by faith and the witness of the Holy Spirit that Jim is more alive now than he has ever been.  He has seen Jesus face to face, and has entered into his eternal inheritance that the Lord has prepared for him and all of God’s people.  Without any doubt in my mind, I know he was greeted on arrival in glory with enthusiastic rejoicing and heard the word of the Lord Jesus to him, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.”

It is not easy for us to imagine what eternal blessings Jim is now enjoying.  Matthew Henry (1662-1714), the Bible commentator wrote the following words as he neared the end of his life, and gave instructions that they be read at his funeral.  Let us put these words into Jim’s mouth and give him the last word.

“Would you like to know where I am?

I am at home in my Father’s house, in the mansion prepared for me there.  I am where I want to be – no longer on the stormy sea, but in God’s safe, quiet harbour.  My sowing time is done and I am reaping; my joy is as the joy of harvest.

Would you like to know how it is with me?

I am made perfect in holiness.  Grace is swallowed up in glory.

Would you like to know what I am doing?

I see God, not as through a glass darkly, but face to face.  I am engaged in the sweet enjoyment of my precious Redeemer.  I am singing hallelujahs to Him who sits upon the Throne, and I am constantly praising Him.

Would you like to know what blessed company I keep?

It is better than the best on earth.  Here are the holy angels and the spirits of just men made perfect.  I am with old acquaintances with whom I worked and prayed, and who came here before me.

Lastly, would you like to know how long this will continue?

It is a dawn that never fades!  After millions and millions of ages, it will be as fresh as it is now.

Therefore, do not weep for me!”

Martin J. Gouldthorpe

January 22, 2017

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Vacation in California – May 2016

In May we enjoyed a two week vacation in California.  In this blog post it is our intention to share some details with you and show you some pictures.

In the forty one years that we have lived in British Columbia, Canada, we have visited and enjoyed holidays in California many times.  The major reason that motivated us to make this particular trip at this time is as follows.  A long time ago (during the years immediately following the end of World War 2) I was a student/pupil in London, England at a high school named Loughborough Central School.  A contemporary of mine for part of that time was a student named Colin Mackenzie.  He was ahead of me by three years and so we did not move in the same student circle and were not friends, as such.  We were, however, in the same “house” – Faraday House.  Everybody in the school and particularly those, like me, in Faraday House knew who Colin was.  As well as being an academically bright student, he was an outstanding athlete who ran like the wind, winning every race he entered on the annual school sports day.  Faraday House won the sports shield, mainly as a result of Colin’s prowess.

Many years later an enterprising couple in the UK created a computer website and programme named, “Friends Reunited.”  Its purpose was to provide the opportunity to former British school pupils to reconnect with friends and acquaintances from their schooldays.  I registered on the Loughborough Central page and began attempting to contact others who I remembered from my Loughborough days.  Colin had registered and I sent an introductory note to which Colin graciously responded.  He did not remember me, which was not surprising.  The result was that we became firm, online friends.

I learned that Colin, after finishing school at Loughborough, had spent three years in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as an aircraft apprentice. He was awarded a cadetship to RAF Cranwell. After a few months he obtained a medical discharge and worked for a few months doing office work in London while awaiting a passage allowing him to emigrate to Canada in 1951.  After working at A.V. Roe (assembling jet engines) in Toronto, the air force beckoned again and he served as a Navigator in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for six years and then went to Acadia University in Nova Scotia and thence to Dalhousie Medical School where he trained to be a family doctor.  After interning in Saint John, New Brunswick for a year, he and his wife Thelma (a Canadian born in Nova Scotia) moved to Santa Cruz in California where he became a physician in a new family practice in Scotts Valley.  He remained a valued member of the medical profession at the family practice and local hospital in Santa Cruz for the rest of his career.  He and Thelma are now very active retirees.  They have children and grandchildren, all living and working in the Santa Cruz area.

In early May Colin telephoned one morning and said, “When are you coming to visit us?”  After researching it was agreed we would fly to San Jose on May 17 where Colin and Thelma would meet us.  For the next two weeks we would spend part of the time with them and the rest of the time touring in a rented car and visiting some other friends we have in California.

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 ready for take-off at Bellingham

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 ready for take-off at Bellingham

The most convenient way to make the return flights was to fly from the airport at Bellingham, Washington, about a 45 minute drive from home.  However our departure from Bellingham in an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 was scheduled for 6:30am which meant a very early start from home.  Our alarm clock awakened us at 2:45am and we left the house at 3:45am.  A 10 minute drive brought us to our local 24 hour per day border crossing.  Soon we were driving on empty Washington state country roads where the only signs of human life were lights and activity in the milking barns of a few dairy farms along our route.  After parking our car in the long-stay parking lot at the airport, a shuttle bus took us to the terminal building where we checked in without any problem.

Colin and Thelma's House in Santa Cruz

Colin and Thelma’s House in Santa Cruz

We had an enjoyable and efficient journey to San Jose where we were met by our friends Colin and Thelma and driven to their home in Santa Cruz, located on the coast of Monterey Bay 51 kms south of San Jose and 120 kms south of San Francisco.   It is the county seat and largest city of Santa Cruz County, California with a currently estimated population of about 269,419.  European settlement in the area dates back to the Spanish Santa Cruz Mission in 1791 and the name, Santa Cruz, means in Spanish, Holy Cross.

Thelma's Kitchen

Thelma’s Kitchen

We were spoiled by Colin and Thelma from the moment of arrival, and every moment during the next few days was packed with vacation activity as they showed us the beautiful area in which they live.  We walked through a forest of giant redwood trees where we felt humbled in the presence of these arboreal mammoths, a number of which are over one thousand years old.  We also walked along the Santa Cruz pier watching fishermen, which included a young boy or two, catching mackerel, observing sea

Colin and Thelma's House - Living Room

Colin and Thelma’s House – Living Room

lions lounging on the timber foundations of the pier and catching glimpses of dolphins playing off shore.

Colin gave us a tour of the medical clinic at Scotts Valley founded by him and two colleagues back in the 1960s.  It is still a going concern, serving the needs of the community with a larger staff of physicians.

 

Scotts Valley Medical Clinic

Scotts Valley Medical Clinic

Thelma is very gifted in a number of ways.  Hers and Colin’s home is filled with things she has designed and made, from carved wood items to lovely fabric creations, such as duvet and pillow covers, matching dust covers for kitchen items like the food processor and blender for example.  She makes most, if not all her clothing.  A conservatory is filled with lovely flowers and plants including orchids and delicate, orchid like streptocarpus plants.  I should also mention that Colin, since retiring from his medical practice has taken up the hobby of wood turning.  Examples of bowls, plates and other beautifully turned items can be seen throughout the house.

Mackenzies Chocolate Factory and Candy Store

Mackenzies Chocolate Factory and Candy Store

One of the most enjoyable memories that we have from our visit to Santa Cruz is the tour we had of a chocolate factory and The Candy Store – not just any chocolate factory but Mackenzies Chocolates, founded in 1984 by Thelma.  Colin’s very talented wife, although she did not have any experience in making chocolates, had the notion that it was something she would like to do.  The result is an amazing place with varieties of chocolates that we have never seen anywhere else.  It is now managed by their son Ian and is a true

Thelma and Colin standing by one of the Display Cabinets at the Candy Store

Thelma and Colin standing by one of the Display Cabinets at the Candy Store

Musical Instruments, Notes, Horse Shoe and even a Piglet

Musical Instruments, Notes, Horse Shoe and even a Piglet

Grace observing Ian Mackenzie at work

Grace observing Ian Mackenzie at work

Time for a coffee break! Grace, Mary Rose, Ian, Colin and Thelma.

Time for a coffee break! Grace, Mary Rose, (Ian’s wife) Ian, Colin and Thelma.

Cellphones, Shoes, Pens etc. - all made of Chocolate

Cellphones, Shoes, Pens etc. – all made of Chocolate

family business.  If you are interested in a violin, cell phone, shoes, cowboy boots, rabbits, crosses, Eiffel Tower, an aircraft, figurines such as Santa Claus et al, all made of chocolate, Mackenzies Chocolates has them and more.  Everything is available by mail order too.  “Google” Mackenzies Chocolates and you can see more of the available inventory.  Grace had the opportunity to be part of the process of creating some of the chocolates too!  When we left to come back home Thelma and Colin presented us with a big box of delicious, mixed chocolates.  We have carefully rationed ourselves and still have some left.  Wonderful!

We rented a car in Santa Cruz, a late 2016 model white Nissan Sentra and were very

Solvang 1 - a small part of Denmark in California

Solvang 1 – a small part of Denmark in California

pleased with the service it gave us.  Our original intention was to drive inland and visit Yosemite State Park but we changed our minds and went south down Highway 101 towards Los Angeles.  Colin and Thelma recommended that we visit along the way the town of Solvang.  We did so and found it delightful and fascinating.

Here is an extract from Wikipedia’s entry about the town.  “Solvang was founded in 1911 on almost 9,000 acres (3,600 ha) of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata Mexican

Solvang-3

Solvang-2

land grant, by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony far from the midwestern winters. The city is home to a number of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark in California. The architecture of many of the façades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style. There is a copy of the famous Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen, as well as one featuring the bust of famed Danish fable writer Hans Christian Andersen. A replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower or Rundetårn in the scale 1:3 was finished in 1991 and can be seen in the town center.”  We enjoyed our brief visit to Solvang which has a population of about 5,500 persons.

Shepherd's Grove Church, Garden Grove, California

Shepherd’s Grove Church, Garden Grove, California

After an overnight stay in nearby Buellton we continued our journey south to Garden Grove in south Los Angeles.  Our plan was to attend the Sunday services the following day at Shepherds Grove Church, the home of the TV programme, “The Hour of Power” that we watch every week at home.  The lead pastor there is Robert (Bobby) Schuller, the grandson of the late Dr. Robert Schuller, who founded the popular TV programme back in 1971.

 

Martin, Pastor Bobby Schuller and Grace

Martin, Pastor Bobby Schuller and Grace

It was a wonderful experience, actually being present live in the services (traditional at 9:30am and contemporary at 11:15am).  We have a high respect for the ministry of Bobby Schuller and we appreciated the opportunity later to have a good conversation with him and his wife Hannah.  The special guest that morning who was interviewed by Bobby was Alex Boye, a gifted song writer and musician

Grace with Hannah Schuller, wife of Pastor Bobby Schuller (Background: worship band warming up for the contemporary service)

Grace with Hannah Schuller, wife of Pastor Bobby Schuller (Background: worship band warming up for the contemporary service)

who writes music for the movie industry.  In the service he sang his Africanized version of the song “Let it Go,” originally

written for the movie, “Frozen” by songwriters Robert and Kirsten Lopez.  Alex is British born and grew up in Tottenham, London.  We spoke to him after the service also and I greeted him in a broad Cockney accent.  To my surprise he roared with laughter and embraced me with a huge hug!  He is a delightful man.

Grace, special guest Alex Boye and Martin

Grace, special guest Alex Boye and Martin

We visited Jack and Carolyn Williams, some long time friends who live in Long

Richard, Christine and Grace

Richard, Christine and Grace

Beach and Christine, a cousin of Grace’s, and her husband Richard, who live at Redondo Beach before we began our northward journey.  It was not a long journey that day – just to Culver City on the northern side of Los Angeles where we had booked for two nights at a nice motel.  Our reason was to fulfill what we had planned for the next two days – time at the Getty Center and Villa.

Paul Getty was one of the richest Americans ever. He was born in 1892 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father, George Getty became involved in the oil business in Oklahoma and son Paul gained his first work experience in his father’s company.  His academic education culminated in obtaining a degree at Oxford University, England in Economics and Political Science. When his father died, Paul became the chairman of the company.  Despite the fact that his father thought that his son would not be a success in business, Paul proved that he was very smart and astute.  He expanded the company’s holdings, amalgamating a number of oil and other companies into one company named simply, Getty Oil.  He is also credited with coining the phrase, “The meek shall inherit the earth, but not its mineral rights.”

Paul Getty at the age of 52.

Paul Getty at the age of 52.

In 1949 J. Paul Getty took the, or one of the biggest business gambles of his life.  He negotiated a 60 year lease from the Saudi royal family of a tract of land in Saudi Arabia, near the border with Kuwait.  The initial cost in US dollars was $9.5 million and the annual “rent” would be $1 million.  For four years Getty Oil conducted exploration and test drillings without significant success – all this at the cost of a further $30 million.  Then a drilling discovered a virtual ocean of crude which from that time on produced 16,000,000 barrels of crude a year, making Paul Getty one of the richest men in the world.  When he died in 1976 at the age of 83 his net worth was reckoned to be more than $2 billion (that would be more than $8 billion at 2016 US dollar value).

The Getty Centre

The Getty Centre

The Amphitheater at the Getty Centre

The Amphitheater at the Getty Centre

Part of the Exterior of the Getty Villa

Part of the Exterior of the Getty Villa

Paul Getty purchased a home at Pacific Palisades, north of Los Angeles where he and his family lived for some years.  However, in the 1950s he relocated to England where he purchased a mansion in the county of Surrey near Guildford.  It would be his main home for the remainder of his life.

He was an enigma.  Even though he possessed vast wealth he lived frugally and could be ruthlessly stingy.  When renovation work was being done at the Guildford, Surrey home he noticed that

Part of the Gardens at the Getty Villa.

Part of the Gardens at the Getty Villa.

the telephone bill increased, a sign that the workmen were using it for personal calls.  Paul Getty had the telephones with dials locked and he installed a coin operated telephone that the workmen could use, at a cost of course.  When his grandson, Paul Getty III was kidnapped by criminals and held for ransom, he at first refused to pay anything, saying that to do so would expose all his grandchildren as well as the children of other wealthy people to the danger of being kidnapped for ransom.  The criminals responded by severing one of the boy’s ears and forwarding it in the mail to the boy’s grandfather.  J. Paul Getty then vigorously negotiated a reduction of the ransom demand, said to have been about $17 million.  It was finally settled at  about $3.4 million..

Martin and Grace sitting by a small lily pond at the Getty Villa

Martin and Grace sitting by a small lily pond at the Getty Villa

Paul Getty was married five times and divorced five times.  He ruefully commented that his matrimonial failures were due to the fact that it is not possible to have a successful business and marriage, one must choose to have one or the other.  He also loathed having to pay money to the government.  His reason was that it was a pointless exercise as the only thing that the government would do with the money was waste it.

 

A beautiful, preserved mosaic floor from an ancient Roman villa.

A beautiful, preserved mosaic floor from an ancient Roman villa.

At the same time, J. Paul Getty left to the world a huge and wonderful collection of art and antiquities.  He began his collection during the days he lived in Malibu.  In 1953 he established the J. Paul Getty Trust.  It is the world’s wealthiest art institution and it operates the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Foundation, the Getty Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute.  The Getty Center and Villa in Malibu house much of these ancient treasures.  In his will J. Paul Getty bequeathed an enormous financial endowment to the Getty Trust for its maintenance and work.  It is the most highly endowed charitable organization in the world.  Visitors pay no entrance fee at either the Center or the Villa, just a modest parking fee for those who arrive by car.

Bust of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor of Rome AD14-37

Bust of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor of Rome AD14-37

Grace and I spent two enthralling days, first at the Center and then at the Villa.  I hope you will enjoy some of the photographs that I took there and which I have posted on this blog.  I do not know about you but when I stand in the presence of something that is thousands of years old and has a significant place in history, I have a strange, almost physical sensation.  For instance, I stood in front of the bust of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, carefully scrutinizing the facial features thinking, “This is the face of the man who was the Roman Emperor during the time of the ministry of the Lord Jesus which culminated in his crucifixion, death and victorious resurrection.  Did Tiberius, in Rome, have any idea what was happening  in distant Jerusalem – events that would change the world and history?”

While we were at the Getty Center Grace had a most interesting experience.  As you may know, she is a gifted linguist.  Currently she is working hard at becoming proficient and fluent in Spanish and is making remarkable progress.  We noticed a group of elementary age students with their teacher who was speaking to them in Spanish.  That encouraged Grace who went to the teacher, introduced herself in Spanish and explained that she was currently learning the language.  The teacher immediately called the students to gather around in a group.  She then explained to them that Grace was a teacher who was learning their language.  She then asked Grace to speak to them and tell them about herself, in Spanish of course.  Grace was taken by surprise but being the person she is, rose to the occasion.  She then took questions from the students who were interested to know more about her.  I am sorry that I do not have of picture of this encounter to share with you.

Our good friend Tim Martin, "Charlie Brown," and Grace.

Our good friend Tim Martin, “Charlie Brown,” and Grace.

From Malibu we drove north to Santa Rosa, located north of San Francisco to visit our friend of many years, Tim Martin and other friends there.  Santa Rosa was the home for many years of Charles Schultz, creator of the famous “Peanuts” cartoon strip.  Tim kindly took us to the Schultz Museum.  This completed, we returned to Santa Cruz to spend our final day or so with Colin and Thelma.

During that final day Colin encouraged me to try my hand at wood turning and suggested that, under his instruction and guidance, I attempt to make a long style rolling pin.  We went to his workshop

Martin holding the long pastry roller and storage container.

Martin holding the long pastry rolling pin and storage container.

where he kitted me out with the recommended protective clothing, including hard hat and protective face mask.  In retrospect, I wish I had had the presence of mind to have a photograph taken.  I thought I looked a bit like Neil Armstrong stepping on to the moon!  With great patience, Colin took me through the process, giving me help, as necessary along the way, particularly in the important finishing stage.  He has subsequently said he considered me a “star pupil” in my first attempt at wood turning.  He is so kind!  We certainly are very pleased to have the rolling pin and a lovely holder in which to keep it that was made by Colin and Thelma.

I mentioned earlier that Thelma and Colin gave us a large box of Mackenzies Chocolates.  The best (and only) way we can share them with you is by the following pictures.

Colin and Thelma's Gift of a Large box of Mackenzies Chocolates.

Colin and Thelma’s Gift of a Large box of Mackenzies Chocolates.

Grace's Reaction!

Grace’s Reaction!

 

 

On Tuesday May 31 our friends, Colin and Thelma, drove us back to San Jose airport for our flight home.  It was a wonderful vacation.

I thought we would give the final word to J. Paul Getty.  Although in many instances it may be true, I do not believe that it always is or inevitably will be true.  It is food for thought however.

“A lasting relationship with a woman is only possible if you are a business failure.  I hate to be a failure. I hate and regret the failure of my marriages. I would gladly give all my millions for just one lasting marital success.” (J. Paul Getty)

Credits:    Author: Martin

Information Sources:  Wikipedia, Forbes.com – Contributor Augustino Fontevecchia,  Getty Center and Villa websites

Photographs:    Martin, Alaska Airlines

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Down-Town Abby

Downtown Abbey Concert Programme

Down-Town Concert Programme

Abbotsford is situated in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, 70 kilometers east of Vancouver.  It has a population of approximately 140,000 people.  It is exquisitely located about half way along the valley which is 140 kilometers long with the town of Hope at the eastern end.  The Fraser River flows through the valley and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver.  The surrounding mountains are majestic and the highest ones are more than 7,000 feet high.  They are snowcapped from late autumn, through the winter and into early spring. These coastal mountains eventually merge into the Rockies. As a result, wherever we drive or walk in our town there is a vista of mountains. An extra blessing is Mount Baker, 11,000 feet high, in nearby Washington State, USA which is covered in snow all year round. Mount Baker from AbbotsfordShe dominates our town and much of Abbotsford enjoys her resplendent beauty. Martin is a pilot and he has taken many of our visitors in the past for a flight around Mount Baker, in fact, he has logged 56 flights around and over the summit. I never cease to be impressed and awestruck by the beauty of Mount Baker.  From MountBaker3Abbotsford to Northern California there is the chain of the Cascade Volcanos starting with Mount Baker then Rainier, Mount St Helens, Adams, Hood and Shasta.

We have had the privilege of living in Abbotsford for over 40 years.  It is often described as “the city in the country” and the raspberry capital of Canada.   Abbotsford Raspberry Capital of CanadaWithin a very short distance of our home, we can be completely in the country; our city has been very wise in tastefully creating 97 kilometers of urban trails where we can walk for lengthy periods and enjoy the beauty of wooded areas with picturesque lakes where deer and even black bears live. Canadians love the great outdoors and here in Abbotsford that is made possible because of 157 parks and trails. Within a short period of time, there is the choice of mountain-top hiking, Mill Lake with board walkdownhill skiing, water skiing, camping, hot-springs and if you are really adventurous, you can head up to Sumas Mountain with mountain bikes or sky diving.  In an hour or so you can experience white water rafting and sturgeon fishing.

Abbotsford is a multicultural city: the majority group is European Caucasians such as the Mennonites who came from Germany or Russia, the Dutch and British.  The Dutch influence can be seen in the annual, colourful tulip festival on Sumas Prairie (see pictures below – Ann King, a Mexican friend and Grace are featured in one of them).  The next MtBakerWinterlargest ethnic group in Abbotsford is South Asian with a large community of Sikhs from India, plus immigrants from Pakistan, the Orient and other parts of the world.  We have a 3% population of First Nations (our indigenous people) and over the past few decades many families have adopted Haitian and Ethiopian children. English is the primary language spoken here, with 78.7% of the population having it as their first language.  However, we are a bilingual country with French having equal status and we have a number of French Immersion Schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 which is excellent and by far the best way of becoming bilingual.DSCN1982

Abbotsford has a DSCN1984musical tradition partly due to the Mennonites who settled here in large numbers.  The Mennonites are known particularly for  their choral performances and as I taught in the Mennonite Educational Institute for a number of years, I experienced the high quality of the choral work with the purity of sound that one hears in highly ranked professional choirs. Most of the students in this school play at least one musical instrument as well as singing. Many learn to sight read music from when they are children.

From such a cultural background, emerged Dr. Calvin Dyck, who is the director and conducter of the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra.  He is a brilliant violinist and has a teaching studio with 25 students.  He is also a producer for local shows and concerts.  In 2012, Calvin was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to the community and in 2013, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities by Trinity Western University.

Arriving in Rolls Royce

Calvin and two cast members arrive in a Rolls Royce

We are so blessed to have such a man in our town and I liken him to André Rieu. Calvin has inspired so many children and teens to enjoy classical and good contemporary music.  His programmes are full of exhilarating, fun music.  He has a very enthusiastic and charismatic personality which is infectious and is reflected in the members of this orchestra.  It is gratifying to see how much these young people enjoy what they are doing and I personally think that they are worthy of performing in any concert hall.   He has also collaborated with many local performers in the very popular, local series of concerts known as Songs, Strings & Steps.   In March, 2016, Martin and I attended a performance called “Down Town Abby” – no, there are no spelling errors in this title but a very clever idea of Calvin’s.  Abbotsford is quite frequently called Abby and so because of the very popular and successful British TV production ”Downton Abbey”  came the idea to have a concert featuring some of the best of British music in one of our largest churches in Abbotsford.  It was a superb concert which left me spellbound.

Maid at Down Town Abby

A maid from Downton Abby

Those who bought tickets were encouraged to dress up a la Downton Abby era and many did.  All the ladies at the doors were dressed as parlour maids.

At the commencement of the programme, as the orchestra started playing an introduction for “God save the Queen,” the “Queen” (a look alike of course) walked majestically on to the stage accompanied by a member of the Queen’s Guards, complete with a red tunic and black bear skin head gear.

Queen and Guard

“The Queen” with her personal guard and entourage (below left).

They crossed the large stage in a dignified manner with the Queen gently waving to us and she sat down on a “throne” like chair, then about 20 young people walked on to the stage wearing jeans and white T shirts with a Union Jack flag logo.

Queen and Entourage

As that was happening, on a huge screen behind the orchestra and two other screens on either side was a picture of an enormous crowd of patriotic Brits waving union jack flags at an auspicious royal event.

Brit Singers -2

Proud Brits celebrating

Brit Singers

Brits singing

This was followed by the music of “Downton Abbey” by John Lunn and while this was being

Phantom of the Opera -3

A song from Phantom of the Opera

Mars Bringer of War

The orchestra plays “Mars – the Bringer of War” from Holst’s Planets Suite.

played, photos of the characters and scenes from the show were projected.  The programme continued with the music from a film of” Pride and Prejudice,” then Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu,” Pie Jesu Alystron and Rachel Fastand “Phantom of the Opera.” “Mars” from the Planets Suite by Holst and the Beatles’ song “Blackbird,” which was sung by a group of young people.

Wardrobe and children

Children, their teacher and the wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia)

When I arrived at the auditorium I noticed that there was a wardrobe on the stage and wondered why it was there but I found the answer to that when I saw the title of the last item before the intermission, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”  A lady sat in a red chair with 2 young lads sitting at her feet as she read part of the story of “The Chronicles of Narnia.”  Scenes from the first film that was made were shown. During the Intermission, free tea and shortbread were available, all in bone china cups.

The concert continued with “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, followed by “Palladio” by Karl Jenkins and then “Dido’s Lament” from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas which I know so well.  It is a favourite of mine because when I was in school in Port Talbot we did the whole work of Dido and Aeneas. Having spent so many hours learning all the choruses and performing it multiple times I think I could have sung all the arias too.   I actually had a small part in it as one of the witches and I still have a CD of it.  Then we had an aria from “The Phantom of the Opera” by Lloyd-Webber which was dramatic and powerful.  The phantom made a quick entrance at the beginning and slipped away and then a spotlight shone on him in the balcony. On the right of the stage were some masked couples dancing, dressed up for a ball while scenes from the film were projected on the screen.

James Bond 007 -2

James Bond and assistant in action

Themes from “007” were played as Agent 007 ran all over the auditorium leaping and trying to escape from an opponent, then from the high ceiling appeared a thick rope down which someone climbed down. The penultimate item was the Beatles’ “Penny Lane” and the choral group again excelled themselves. James Bond -1

Land of Hope and Glory

Orchestra and singers perform “Land of Hope and Glory”

The grand finale was Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance march “Land of Hope and Glory,” played with much gusto and we all of course stood up reverently and with the help of the words on the screen sang fervently with hands on our hearts à l’Américaine!!! Many of the sights of London were displayed and needless to say I was a basket case and wanted to catch the next flight to London to see you all.

I was so impressed and delighted from the opening number to the end of  this amazing concert and was so glad that I was able afterwards to tell Calvin how much I appreciated all that was done; it was such quality, creativity and talent. Calvin Dyck and his team have every reason to be proud of such an achievement. He is truly our own home spun André Rieu.

Canadian Flag

Maple leaf flag flying in the wind.

Credits: Author – Grace; Photos – Ron Peters (thanks Ron), Susan Being Snippy and Martin

 

 

 

 

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My Tribute to and Memories of my long time friend, Yvonne Williams Good (October 11, 1936-February 22, 2016)

1-Yvonne 1948

Yvonne at 12 years of age.

2.Yvonne-- 1948

Another picture of 12 year old Yvonne.

From the age of 9 months, I lived with my parents and big brother Calvin in 20, James Street, Port Talbot, South Wales. At that same time, a little girl called Yvonne used to spend quite a lot of her time with her grandparents who lived in the same street as I. Mr. and Mrs. Raikes had converted their parlour, or front room, into a grocery store which was quite common at that time. It was a fascinating place because everything such as sugar, tea, coffee, flour, and dried fruit had to be weighed and packaged according to demand and cheese had to be cut according to the required amount. This provided a wonderful opportunity to chat with the friendly grocer. Few possessed cars, and so for those who had too much to carry home in shopping bags, it was the custom that groceries could be delivered to the customer’s home. This was made possible by the use of a very large, heavy bike which sported a huge metal basket at the front.

Both my parents and Yvonne’s decided that we should attend a kindergarten situated a number of streets away from our homes at the house of a lovely lady called Miss Maines who later became my first music teacher. So Yvonne’s grandpa used to put us in this basket much to our delight and ride the bike to and from Miss Maines’ home every day. So when we were about three years of age, Yvonne and I became friends and then, when we were four we started attending the Trefelin Infants’ and Junior School until we were ten years of age.

I remember Yvonne well as she was very friendly and we were both talkative. She always used to boast that she could talk as much and faster than I which, if you know me, is completely impossible. On Friday afternoons, our teacher Miss Miles used to give us an opportunity to tell a story to the whole class, at the end of the day. This is when Yvonne showed a natural talent for narrating and acting. She used to hold us spell bound and I still remember vividly a story that she had written herself. It was brilliant.  It was called “The Cat and the Custard” which was about a little girl who was left in the care of a babysitter and at seven o’clock it was time to go bed. Once she was upstairs in bed, she couldn’t stop thinking of the jug of custard that her mother had left on the shelf in the larder. This became an obsession and she couldn’t stop thinking about the custard. Unable to fall asleep, she finally decided to creep downstairs on tip toes as quietly as possible, without drawing the attention of the baby sitter just so that she could have a few spoons full of custard. Once inside the larder, she started sampling the custard and it was so delicious that she couldn’t resist eating the whole lot. Whatever could she do now? Then she had a bright idea; she would lock the cat in the pantry hoping that her mother would blame the cat. As she went back up the stairs to bed, she heard the first step creak and it said, “Who’s been eating the custard? “ and this continued all the way upstairs. Then she saw the beautiful full moon through the window and the man in the moon said, “Who’s been eating the custard? “ She ran into her bedroom, jumped into bed and pulled the blankets over her but she could still hear the voice saying, “Who’s been eating the custard? “ Eventually, she fell asleep and the next morning, when at breakfast her mother asked her if she knew who had eaten the custard and she suggested that it might have been the cat. To her surprise, her mother replied, “But cats don’t use spoons!!” This is my abbreviated version of the story and doesn’t include Yvonne’s dramatic and suspenseful narration.

At the age of 10, all pupils had to write an entrance exam which was called the scholarship, in order to be able to attend one of two Grammar schools in Port Talbot. Out of a population of 50,000, only the top 200 pupils per year would be able to gain entrance to these schools. If anyone failed the exam the first time, it was possible to try it once more the following year. Yvonne and I were among the fortunate ones to succeed the first time. It was very unfair that a child’s whole future depended upon the result of this one exam. Yvonne and I remained friends once we were in high school but there were four of us who

14 -Grace, Cynthia, Evelyn, Yvonne

Pictures that speak for themselves. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of Joan.

were very close friends; Yvonne, Joan, Cynthia and I. We used to cycle to and from school every day and on the way home we always stopped at Nicky the Greek’s shop for an ice block (ice lollies which Nicky used to prepare every day in small glasses). Cynthia used to come to my home every evening to do our homework together and then the four of us would meet at Nicky’s. Yvonne, Joan, Cynthia, Evelyn and I met some boys when we were about 12/13 and we used to meet them at Nicky’s most evenings. There happened to be a double decker bus parked in a lane near where we all lived and as it was cold and dark in winter it was much more comfortable sitting in the bus seats upstairs. The only light that shone on the bus was the light of the lamp post. This was such fun; this was our secret place until one evening, we heard a gruff voice order us to come down demanding to know our names and addresses threatening to tell the police that we had been trespassing. Without a blink, Yvonne took control of the whole situation by making up false names and addresses for us all and then we ran off laughing hysterically. It was dark so he couldn’t see our faces easily so he would never be able to recognize us in the future.

When we were in our second year at the Sec, Trixie Thorn organized a ten day skiing holiday in the French Alps. We had the time of our lives from the moment we left Port Talbot station to go to London until our return. We travelled overnight stopping at every

3- Chamonix

School group that went on a skiing trip to Chamonix, France in December 1947. Girls in front row (L to R): Marilyn Jones, Margaret Powell, Lilian Sanderson, Grace Franklin, Yvonne Williams and Diane Lawrence.

town – it was the milk run. We were too excited to sleep, and the next day we took a train from Victoria station to Dover where we boarded a ship for the very first time in our lives and on that train we met a group of teenage boys all wearing grey suits, which was their school uniform; they came from Framlingham College which was a boarding school for boys. We were unable to continue our conversations with them because it was becoming a nightmare and we were feeling so ill. It was an hour and a half of roller coaster horror because we were all being violently sick including the seasoned sailors. Later we learned that it was the roughest crossing on record.

Once we arrived in Paris, we had to travel on another overnight train to Chamonix. The Framlingham boys were again on the same train so we invited some of them to come to our compartment once everyone was settled down to sleep. As planned they arrived but much to our surprise a little later, Trixie started going from carriage to carriage to check that we were dutifully sleeping. Yvonne was sitting right by the door and as soon as she saw Trixie, she was galvanized immediately into action and held up her blanket so that she couldn’t see the boys we had smuggled into our compartment. Yvonne’s brain always seemed to work so much faster than the average person. Trixie was an excellent French teacher but a real dragon who tolerated no nonsense and terrified us all. I dare not think what would have happened if Trixie had seen the boys. After a few hours, we thought it would be sensible if the boys returned to their compartment in case Trixie visited us again. Not long after that, our train stopped at a station but we didn’t realize what was happening. The train consisted of many compartments and they unhooked two equal numbers of compartments to make two separated trains, one was going to continue its course up one valley and then the other was intended to go up a different valley. However, we had no idea that the boys were not going to the same ski resort as us. Had the boys continued to stay in our compartment, can you imagine our embarrassment and dilemma when we arrived in Chamonix with four of five boys?

5-Chamonix

Outside the chalet in Chamonix 1947. L to R: Diane, Lilian, Yvonne (kneeling), Grace, Marilyn, Margaret. Note: long wooden skis!

4 -Chamonix

Picture taken in Geneva, Switzerland 1947. L to R: Margaret, Grace, Marilyn, Diane, Yvonne.

7- Port Talbot Station leaving for Switzerland

Second skiing trip in 1948 to Switzerland. Girls (standing): Margaret Hansen, Grace, Yvonne, (kneeling): Lilian in the middle.

8- Yvonne and Lilian Switzerland 1948

Lilian and Yvonne in Switzerland 1948.

Selwyn Davies, our English teacher in the Sec (Dyffryn) recognized Yvonne’s potential acting ability and she had a role in “Pride and Prejudice” when she played the part of Mary a studious, devout young girl, probably a geek and of course Yvonne was superb. Yvonne was intelligent but did not enjoy serious academic studies and didn’t have any real interest in school. She saw no advantage of continuing because her mind was set on becoming a hairdresser and so she left school at the age of 14 to follow her dream of being a hairdresser. As a result of this, I did not see her as frequently because I stayed on at school for another four years until I completed my A levels. Like Yvonne, I knew from the time I was in elementary school that I wanted to become a teacher and once I was in high school, my passion for French increased. I became focused on becoming a French teacher. Yvonne and I were similar in some ways; we loved people, talking, laughing, mimicking and although ADHD was not heard of in those days, I think both Yvonne and I were both hyper active and lacked concentration in school. Nevertheless, we both ended up in the careers of our choice and in marrying the best guys on the planet.

Yvonne was a total extrovert, most likable, quick witted, had a heart of gold and loved making people happy; at the same time she was honest and frank and would not be afraid of expressing her dislike of anything or anyone. She had few inhibitions and could relate to anybody. There was never a dull moment when she was present. Yvonne was a natural comedian and had some of the funniest original sayings; she was an entrepreneur and worked hard all her life as well as raising two sons. John was a very kind, gentle and marvellous husband and father. Wherever they lived, in Wales or Essex, she always made sure to have her own salon in her home. Her clients loved her and for them a weekly visit to Yvonne’s was the highlight of their week because they had 2 for the price of one – a very good hair do and a complete star studded comedy act. Yvonne was very kind to everyone and particularly senior citizens by not charging them what she deserved. My mother used to have her hair done every week at a very reasonable price until Yvonne, John and the boys moved from Wales to Essex.

13- Dovercourt salon 1988

Yvonne and Grace in the hairdressing salon in Dovercourt 1998.

I went to London to become a teacher, met my husband Martin and started teaching French and RE in London. However we frequently returned to Wales to spend all holiday times with my parents and so we always used to visit Yvonne and John and family. They too came to stay with us in London. I remember the first dinner I prepared for them and was encouraged to see how well they ate. Then Yvonne turned to me and said, with mock sarcasm, “Well I didn’t enjoy that a bit!” as she pointed to an empty plate. All through our married lives in the UK, and when we immigrated to Canada in 1975, we used to spend many days with the Goods, one of our favourite couples.

11- Good Family 1968

John and Yvonne with their sons Julian and Marcus in their Salvation Army uniforms 1968.

Martin and I had been Christians since we were young but in their early years as a married couple, Yvonne and John probably didn’t share our faith but of course we loved them and got on like a house on fire and it never created any problem between us. I can’t remember at what point John and Yvonne started attending the Salvation Army in Llansamlet where they lived in a beautiful bungalow. This added an extra dimension to our already strong friendship. They became keen, committed Christians and we were so thrilled by their genuine new found love for the Lord. As I said earlier, Yvonne was always totally honest and would not have taken this spiritual step unless she meant it with all her heart. They really enjoyed being part of the Salvation Army and were not just pew warmers. They wanted to be known as Christians and were not ashamed to wear the Salvation Army uniform of this fine denomination. Yvonne donned her bonnet and looked as pretty as a picture. It takes courage to wear a uniform which declares to all that one is a soldier for Christ in His army. For Yvonne, it was either everything or

12- Good Family 1978

John, Yvonne, Julian and Marcus 1978.

nothing; she never did things by halves. John was an enthusiastic Christian and it was evident in his whole demeanour. It is always exciting to see people coming to the Lord without being coerced but rather because they discover who Jesus is and they decide to surrender their lives to the Him. They both knew how important our faith was to us and they were certainly not opposed; we had a deep respect for each other. It was especially wonderful that their commitment of their lives to the Lord was mutual. Our conversations and fellowship with them had always been great but from this point on then we had another important ingredient in our friendship; we were not only best friends but brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yvonne with a group of Dyffryn friends - 1999 Reunion

Yvonne with a group of Dyffryn friends – 1999 Reunion

Yvonne with Christine and Grace 1999 Reunion

Yvonne with Christine and Grace 1999 Reunion

20- Yvonne -Who else

Yvonne – who else! Reunion 1998

Yvonne - naughtiest girl in the Sec!

Yvonne – naughtiest girl in the Sec!

Yvonne one and only flapper 1999 Reunion

The one and only – YVONNE!

Yvonne, Grace, Glenda and Margaret - 2003 school reunion.

Yvonne, Grace, Glenda and Margaret – 2003 school reunion.

During the late 1990s I wrote to Yvonne and suggested the idea of a Dyffryn reunion.  Her response was very positive and, together, we organised a reunion that took place in the Masonic Hall in Port Talbot in 1998.  I worked on contacting as many people as possible and Yvonne took care of the practical, on site arrangements. Yvonne threw herself, heart and soul into the spirit of the occasion and, typical of her, surprised us all with two comedic presentations. She first appeared dramatically in a Dyffryn school uniform and in the second, she dressed as a 1920s flapper and performed the Charleston!  On hearing about Yvonne’s illness and death, Lilian (Sanderson), a former school friend recalled this reunion and said, “What a sad end for such a lively person who loved life and lit up the room when she was on top form.  I will remember her at that reunion when she turned up in a gym slip, complete with pillow stuffed up the front.”  The success of this event prompted the request for another one which took place in 1999 when Len Gibbs became involved. Two more reunions took place during the early 2000s, all of which were organized by Len.

15- Yvonne and John, Dovercourt

Yvonne and John at home in Dovercourt.

During the early years after Yvonne’s dementia was diagnosed, John cared for her at home for a long time, until it became obvious that she needed 24 hour care. Reluctantly, she had to be placed in a care home where she stayed for the rest of her life. It was the very best; John visited her daily until his health deteriorated and he passed away last year. Their son Marcus has been an amazing son and he took on the responsibility to support his father in every way. He also became a hairdresser and worked with his mother in their own salon for many years. Marcus knew that Yvonne always loved to look nice; she was naturally very pretty but as a hairdresser, she made sure that her hair was always perfect. So dear Marcus went every week to the care home, washed and set her hair, put her make up on and painted her nails. John told us on the phone one day that he was so proud of Marcus and indebted to him for all he did for his mother. He was the one who checked all her clothes and when necessary went and bought anything she needed. We are grateful to Marcus for keeping us informed about his parents. We kept in touch with John by mail and phone until he died. From the moment I heard of Yvonne’s illness, I was deeply affected because I loved her very much and our friendship is the longest continual one I have experienced. It seemed cruel that someone who was so vivacious, loving, energetic with a unique sense of humour was having to experience such an existence.

It has been a very painful experience for John, Marcus and Julian to see their dearest loved one deteriorate until she only weighed 28 pounds. Whenever I have thought about her since her diagnosis, I have been reduced to tears and now I am only happy that she is completely healed, more vivacious than ever, reunited with John in a place which is totally different from this sad, unfair, problematic world. She is experiencing the most wonderful life in the place that Jesus promised to provide for all those who were His first disciples and all subsequent believers. In John 14, Jesus said. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” It is impossible for us to imagine what heaven is like and what God is preparing for us. In 1 Corinthians 2 verse 9, we are told “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him.” It’s beyond our wildest dreams and imagination where there is no sin, tears, pain, hate, greed, death, parting, suffering, injustice but only perfection.

I am so grateful to the Lord that I had Yvonne and later John and family in our lives. They enriched our lives and were such a blessing to us in innumerable ways. As Christians, death is not the end and I am excited that Martin and I will be able to spend the whole of eternity with John and Yvonne.

Grace (Franklin) Gouldthorpe

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