Thursday, February 23, 2006

Great Times & Rocky Times

Hello all,

I (Jason) am writing this blog from the Atlanta airport. Crazy, I know…we are back in the States, unannounced. Unfortunately this is due to the recent passing of my Grandfather on my Father’s side, my Pappaw. This happened Monday morning and we should arrive back home Tuesday night in time for the funeral on Wednesday…hopefully I’ll have sent this email by then. You should know that my Pappaw died peacefully in his sleep due to heart complications. His health had been declining these past few months so, although we are certainly saddened by the news, we are not shocked by it. He is survived by his wife, my Mammaw, who is as strong as she is beautiful. Keep her in your prayers.

But…there is more to tell. While we are in America for the week, last week(end) we were in Belgium. I thought I should write a little bit about our wonderful visit. We left last Thursday from Hereford and took the coach (bus) to London. We played in London for the day and got up early the next morning to head to the Eurostar (train) station. That’s right, instead of flying we took the train, through the Chunnel and on to Brussels! That was a fun experience.

We arrived in Brussels to disappointing weather, but we tried to stick it out and do what we could that first day. So, we went to a comic museum. Among other things, Belgium is famous for comics. Some of you may remember the popular cartoon “Tin-Tin” about a boy and his dog Snowy and I’m sure you all remember the “Smurfs.” Both of these are apparently products of Belgium. The hotel we stayed in was a highlight of our trip, the Art Siru Hotel. In the late 80s, artists were given free-reign to the hotel, to paint and design each room as they wished. Each room was different, and told the story of the artist with a picture of them. It was amazing! Plus, we were given an “American” buffet breakfast daily!

The next day we took a side trip to Bruges, a medieval town about an hour away by train. It has canals all through it, with many bridges (Bruges means “bridge”). It is a beautiful and picturesque city, and we enjoyed our day. We ate Belgian waffles (much sweeter and delicious!) and bought plenty of Belgian chocolate.

Our last day was spent back in Brussels with better weather this time. We wandered around for a good hour first thing, lost. Brussels is one of the most difficult cities to navigate, we found. Finally, we found all the touristy things: the Grand’ Place (main square), Hotel deVille, and Mannekin Pis (Peeing boy statue!). Good fun. Then we took the tram up to another part of town to visit the Atomium, which reopened the day before, so it was sparkly and new. This is a huge building in the shape of an atom, built in 1958 for the World’s Fair. Inside is a museum and was very interesting. All in all, it was a great trip. We hope this trip back home will be good as well. It will be really good to see everyone. However, as soon as we return home (England), we will need to drive back to London on Thursday to pick up our great friend and adopted family, Suzy Dally. We will host her in the UK for a little over a week and we are looking forward to a really good time.

I guess that is all. Everything seems like a whirlwind to us: London, Belgium, Hereford, US, and back. One thing is for sure…there’s never a dull moment for Sarah and I. We are really thankful for that at this time in our lives.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers,

Jason and Sarah

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wonderful Welsh Walks

Hello all!

We have just come home from a weekend trip to St. David's in Wales. Just thought we'd tell you about it. St. David's is about 3 hours almost directly west of us (London is 3 hours east of us). It's on the coast. My supervisor at work, Cheryl, goes there often and recommended it. It is super popular in the summer for surfers and coastal walkers, but since we went in February, it was almost deserted! We felt like we were the only ones there, it was so peaceful.

Basically, St. David's is the birthplace of St. David. So his bones are kept in a beautiful cathedral in the city. Also, this is the smallest city in Britain. Which actually doesn't mean much, cause there are a million "villages" in Britain which are much smaller. But technically, it's the smallest "city". Also, since it's on the coast, there are miles of coastal walking paths, along cliffs above the crashing ocean waves. It was so beautiful.

So, we stayed in a B&B, the only people staying there. It was nice, and smack in the middle of the city. We explored the cathedral, and also the "Bishop's Palace", right next to the cathedral. This was ruins of a palace built in the 1300s for all the Bishops of the time to live and work from. It was so amazing. We were able to walk all through the rooms and crypts, and again, we were the only people in there for the entire time we toured around it! Spooky, crawling through some of the dark corners and stairwells!

Later that day we walked St. David's Head, about 4-5 miles along the beach and cliffs. We didn't run into much this day, except beautiful scenery. The next day, we drove up a little farther to a tiny fisherman's village called Porthgain (pronounced port-gine). We walked to Aberreidi Bay, where along the 4-mile walk, we went down to a rocky beach, shared the paths with about a million stray sheep, and visited the "blue lagoon" (an old quarry). It was a nicer walk than the day before. We ended the trip with lunch at "the Sloop Inn", built in 1729 for the fishermen in Porthgain, and still serving happy customers like us!

We've got pictures from Wales on our website, you should check them out. ( Look under "pic archives" and St. David's.

We are well this week, Jason's been working a lot, but enjoying it. He has to commute by bus, which is a pain, as well as costly, so whenever he can snag my car, he does. He's getting it all day tomorrow cause I've got a work conference, so he's glad for that freedom!

We are going on a Youth Retreat Weekend this weekend with our church's youth group as sponsors. It will be the first church youth work we'll have done since Maumelle! We are excited, there will be 25 kids going, as well as our 4 good friends (2 other married couples). Should be fun. Then next weekend will be a 4 day trip to Brussels.

Keep us in your prayers, as we do for you. Keep us updated, as well, we love your encouragement, support, and love.

God bless,
Sarah and Jason Suel

Top photo: We climbed down a million steep creeky rusty stairs down to this beach...the water was freezing!

Bottom photo: A view from inside the Bishop's Palace walls to St. David's Cathedral.