It’s our last evening in Sydney so I thought I would write a brief blog as I am not sure what internet access we will have in Thailand. We arrive late tomorrow night and stay at the Christian Guest House in Bangkok, before we travel on to Chantaburi in the east of the country (near the Laos border) on Friday, where we will be staying at the House of Grace orphanage for 5 days. As a church, St. Stephen’s supported House of Grace through our building project tithe, and we thought it would be good to go and see how this money was used, but also see how the orphanage is involved in the local community as well as caring for these Aids orphans, some of whom have Aids themselves.
A few days on the coast having a short break, will then be followed by our last days in Bangkok. I was ordained with a chap called Peter Cook who is now a vicar in Bangkok, and we are staying with him and his wife. They are going to show us around Bangkok and take us to see various ministries especially amongst the sex industry.
Sydney has been great, and whilst we haven’t really got out of the city, we seem to have packed the 10 days here with a wide variety of things. Predominantly we have been visiting places connected with Bishop Barker and his wife, and we have found out lots of information that I didn’t know about these ancestors of mine, like Jane Barker’s close connection with William Wordsworth and his family. It also used to be that the longest measure of ale you could get in New South Wales was called a ‘Bishop Barker’ – I thought that this was because he was very tall, had a shock of white (frothy) hair, and was teetotal, but have now found out that because the Australian beer was not to his taste, he used to import his favourite ale from Liverpool, where he had been vicar before coming to Sydney!
We have though also visited various places around Sydney – the northern beaches such as Manly, the Opera House, and today we were taken to lunch at a famous fish restaurant called Doyle’s on the beach at Watson Bay with amazing views across the harbour and found ourselves sitting on the table next to Yvonne Goolagong the ex-tennis player! This was followed by a quick visit to Bondi Beach, just so that we can say we have been there!
On Sunday we went to the local Anglican Church in the morning where we were very welcomed and looked after, and then in the evening to a church called C3 (City Centre Church) – a church in the northern beach area aimed mainly at the surf community – amazing razzmatazz, but good worship and a great sermon. Never been to a church where they have used dry ice during worship before, and very different to the mud hut church we worshipped at in Malawi only 3 weeks ago.
Interestingly, wherever we have been, the view of the church in the UK, especially the Anglican Church, is that it is dying and that there is no life in it. So it is good to share all that is happening in Tonbridge and to be able to tell them not to believe all that they read in the press. Yes, the wider church is facing some difficult discussions and situations, and in some areas in the UK church is not easy, but God is still very much at work and in some areas the church is growing. And we have found that in our travels, wherever we have been we have seen how God is and has been at work in many different ways, and we have met many lovely, faithful and committed Christians.
With our love and prayers