Escaping to the Country

I wonder have you ever watched Escape to the Country, well that’s exactly what I did about a year ago.  I moved here to Wales after living in the West Midlands, the hustle and bustle of an urban area, non-stop traffic with the ATC opposite, and a freight train line running in front of the house.

I told the removal man, it’s in the middle of no-where, in a forest on the top of a hill.   I don’t think he quite believed me, he had high hopes of getting fish and chips when they had finished.  I looked at him and laughed.. Silly man – I am going to live in the middle of no-where.  No fish and chips shops here.  No pub, No post office, No shop.. I really was Escaping to the country.

I will never forget the first time I slept here, the quiet kept me awake..

The birds woke me in the morning.

The dark – was black.

And there was no phone signal!

I remember the first time I saw the house – I looked out of the upstairs window and saw a chapel.  It was quite obviously not loved but to me it was a sign, I felt as though God was calling me all over again.

It was and still is a time of re-connecting with God through creation.  Going over the Eppynt I felt as though I was on top of the world.  I still drive over with the breath taking views and marvel at God’s creation.. it really is the most wonderful breath taking view.

Unless – the fog descends and you can’t see the edge of the road or it snows so hard the road becomes one with the surrounding land.  It’s then you pray hard that God will deliver you the 5 miles back home.

Driving over the Eppynt in thunder, lightening and hail is an experience too, the hail so loud you can’t hear yourself.  The magnificent purple lightening..

It’s only when you reach the bottom that you realise the damage this storm has done, creating a landslide.

I’ve done a whole cycle of seasons now each with their individual characters, and difficulties.

Seeing the sheep grazing in the green fields watching them getting fatter, and waiting for the lambs to appear.  Only to realise one day that the lambs are there no more (It’s real life – sheep have lambs to feed us).

I love seeing the Kites (bird variety) soaring high in the sky or seeing the Buzzard sitting on the fence.

I love the way the sun dances through the trees as it goes down.

How did I end up in the church in Wales?

I didn’t join a church straight away, I had been in children’s ministry and I thought I would look for a job back what I felt most comfortable doing – children’s work.

But God had other plans.

Someone I had been close to died tragically and I felt I needed to go to church.  I decided to go to a church in the nearby town… 10.00 service half an hour away.. I could do that – a bigger church I felt I would be able to sneak in the back and be invisible.

But God had other plans.

I left plenty of time, first I got caught behind sheep being move… 20 minutes later I was able to move..

Then as I travelled through the country lanes on to the main road – cows were crossing!

If you are always in a hurry – don’t move to the country.   Things happen at a different pace here.

You learn to leave plenty of time if you have an appointment, you don’t get frustrated by the sheep or the cows you just remember why you are living in the country and they are a big part of the countryside.

I arrived far too late to be invisible so I gave up.. decided well ok Lord I will go back to the church closest to me.  I opened the door to be warmly welcomed.  There was absolutely no chance of being invisible in fact quite the opposite.

So, that’s where my journey took me… to a rural church in Wales.  The last place I thought I would end up.. but actually it has been in this church I felt the call of God again pulling at me gently at first then as time went on the tugging became stronger.  12 churches – How does she do it? 12 lots of communities.  All different.  I felt God pushing me.  It’s time.  Not your time but mine.

God really is a God of surprises.

Six months on here I am Rural Life Advisor for Swansea and Brecon, and NSM to 12 churches.

Rural life is a tale of two halves;

It’s fantastic scenery, wild life, peace, beautiful picturesque churches, lovely little towns, long walks in the forestry.

It is also incredible frustrating, having very little mobile signal, not having easy access to the internet, no mains gas, electricity cuts, no shop for 5 miles (at least) no take away, getting stuck when it snows.

But would I be anywhere else? – Despite all the frustrating things I don’t want to be anywhere else.