Header image  
Berkeley/Los Angeles/Ireland  
    home | newsletter archive | previous newsletter

Newsletter January 2009

Snow on Glenbank Place   Last year seems a long time ago and we have chosen hope over fear

In mid December, Marda went to Oxford and London to catch up with colleagues from the Organization of Women Architects.  Blessed with five days without rain we dashed about, ate well, and had a grand time.  Upon return Ward announced he felt confined and wanted to start going into town once a week to get out.  Great!  The first time we did this on the bus, we met a lovely lady who said she was going to a nursing home to visit a former neighbor.  She visits twice a week!  We have found such care for the elderly to be commonplace.

We delivered homemade traybakes (square layered cookies baked in a tray) before Christmas to the people on our

visitation list.  Then we had a quiet Christmas with a worship service at the church, and turkey dinner and traditional Christmas pudding at the Drennan’s home.  On Boxing Day, 26 December, fellow poet Bill McKnight drove us over to Shaw’s Bridge for a short walk in the brisk air and hot coffee with mince pies in the local hotel.

After Christmas we went by train up to Downhill Hostel, where Ward read, and Marda made more plates in McCall’s studio, and took home two sets of silk long-johns!  We ate some more and relaxed with the only American we know here.  Then a few days after the New Year we boarded the bus, for an Ulster Bus company tour, and went 300 miles to Killarney passing through Moneygall, the ancestral home of one of Barack Obama’s sixteen great great great grandfathers, a Mr. Kearney.  Five days of eating and touring, without cooking or washing.

We received a beautiful book Presbyterians in Ireland for Christmas noting every church in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland.  Then I heard the statistic that Agnes Street Presbyterian four blocks away, sent 545 men to fight in World War I.  72 died.  This prompted an interest in the history of Crumlin Road Presbyterian.  Our church was blitzed in 1941 and burned to the ground including all records.  How many men did we send to World War I?  A worthy project to pursue, along with the Stothers genealogy!

During this period we wrote evaluations of our time in Belfast and did some reflection and planning.  We are satisfied that the past nine months were well spent settling in and learning the ways of the people.  After nine months of visiting, people are getting more comfortable with us.  May has come back to church.  We will continue our visiting, our cooking on Wednesdays, our prayer times together.  Marda will help launch the Boys Club.  Our new project is to start a “Tea, Talk and Pray” time at the local primary school when we return in March.  There is no “separation of church and state” although we will be respectful of other religious traditions.  We want to share stories and listen, then share poems and Psalms.  We hope a few parents or perhaps other community members will join us.

The visible and palpable hope engendered this month with the miraculous USAir water landing and with President Obama’s inauguration is invigorating.  May we all have the reserves to do what it takes to assure a blessed future for the entire world.  Our friend Bill flew to London this month to address an international group of psychiatrists as a service user and mental health worker.  He and Ward are planning a poetry laden worship service for the new year.

Please contact us to consider adding our ministry as a model to others to your church’s mission list.

We will be in Los Angeles, from February 11 to February 15, and in Berkeley from the evening of February 15 to the morning of March 6th.  We will be reachable at 510.540-7173 or cell 510.912.9085.

Email: wardstothers@cten.org
New Phone: (028) 90 291986  From US 01144.2890.291986

Print or email our newsletter   Additional photos Killarney Lakes, Conran Shop in London.