Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Snidermen and the Isle of Wight

An "Isle of Wight" interview with Weston:

David: Hi Weston. We're trying to wrap up our trip blog, and that means talking about our last few days on the Isle of Wight and then what it has been like coming back home.

Weston: The Isle of Wight was such a nice place to transition from Africa to being ready to go home.
We spent many hours along the beach (Oh, man, I want to go back to the Isle of Wight now!) and went to little shops and supermarkets. 

D: How about our time at Rosie's Cottage?

W: Yes, I loved the bed there, it was so cozy under the comforter. I slept really well. And we also got to watch movies, "The Truman Show", "Interstellar" and "Big". "Interstellar" blew my mind!

D: It was pretty fantastic getting have picnics (which for us means eating dinners like curry chicken or take out fish and chips on the floor in the living room) and watching movies.

W: I would love to go back sometime. I'm so happy to finally be home.

We've been back for almost two months now, and things are going great. The transition back to school has been awesome!

D: Wow, West, that's great! What are your favorite activities at school these days?

W: Band and P.E.

D: That's good. What are your favorite activites in those subjects?

W: Awww man. Dad, no! Don't put that! Dad (cackling with embarrassed laughter, then wrestles with his dad and tries to trick him into looking away so Weston can erase these lines)--

D: So what makes you happy being back home?

W: For one thing, it finally snowed overnight and today, and Donovan and I got to go sledding with friends.

D: Yep. And we had a special family Christmas this morning because we are flying to Oregon tomorrow.

W: Yes! Today we had our family Christmas.

D: And you got a sled that to me looks like the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey which we watched recently.

W: Dad, you have to tell the story!

D: Ok, well early this morning I went and got the sled and put it in the front with its shiny black backing towards our living room window. I kept the curtains closed until the right moment, then played the Main Theme from "2001" on the stereo, and had mom and I pull them open at the big musical climax.  Unfortunately, the sled had fallen down, and you said "Oh. It's the snow. Right, that is a Christmas gift."

W: I did. And the sled works great. So, now I want to say that thanks to everyone who followed our blog and wish them a Merrrry Christmas!!

David: Giving Way

I wanted us to have a peaceful, beautiful and somewhat remote place to debrief from our experiences in Africa and transition back to life at home.  It was Jeany who discovered places for us to stay on the Isle of Wight, and it proved even better than I hoped. 

From the short ferry ride across The Solent to the rickety train of old subway carriages that rocked us along the rails to the village of Sandown, we were charmed and comforted by the slow pace of the island.

Some of my favorite times were on walks along the ocean wall to the beach front that butted against high rocky cliffs.  Jeany’s post before this one shows the golden light of a sunset at low tide. Seeing Jeany, Donovan and Weston bathed in the peachy warmth felt like God was saying a gentle “Well done.” for taking the trip.

I was relaxing into the creature comforts of familiar foods, a soft bed and a townhouse appointed with many touches of hospitality.

But at the same time my spirit was getting restless and I tried to hold it off. I could already feel the loveliness and inspiration of St. John’s, Italy, Switzerland and Germany seem like long ago. I could sense the richness of the people and places we had been in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda fading. The tropic wildness of Mbudya Island was replaced by the domesticated, sleepy neighborhood outside our window.

There was a framed picture in our place that said “A day at the beach restores the soul.” I called to God to do that for me while out on our walks along the shore. The water was talking to me of peace and gratitude, but there was also irritability, restlessness and a life-long ache close to the surface.

Back in our cozy place, I was looking out the living room window across at the huge Anglican church, and saw a street sign that said “Give Way”. The sign is for auto traffic, as the road narrows to one lane at that point and cars have to take turns for a few blocks.  At first, I thought “give way” meant give way to my anxieties and let them dislodge me from the joy and purpose in the trip. What a mean trick God! What’s with that?
    Staring distractedly at the beads of water on the diamond-shaped panes of glass in the window, it occurred to me that “Give Way” could mean to surrender to the coming transition. Letting go of the season of new experiences and perspective, trusting it would live on inside me. Letting go of the freedom of few responsibilities and re-entering the world of work and routine waiting for me back in Rosebud, rejoining the vibrant community there.  Reading it now, it sounds simplistic to me, but it did help as I continued to wrestle with conflicted thoughts and feelings.

Some restoration of the soul met me on our last day, where we hiked a well-groomed path to the tops of the white cliffs. From the top, we had a view of much of the island and the city of Portsmouth on the mainland.

The view reminded me of other high points on the trip:

The epic view we had from Signal Hill in St. John’s, looking out from one of the eastern-most places in North America to the vast blue of the Atlantic.

Being on the roof of the enormous Duomo cathedral in Milan, looking out through spires with statues of saints to the cityscape beyond.

Hiking high mountains in Switzerland near Solalex, where my spirit was quickened and stilled by the awe-inspiring expanse around me.

Standing on a large high rock outcropping with our sponsor child, David, and a group of 50 or so Ugandan relatives and community members. We could see the fertile expanse of green and brown landscape and other massive rock outcroppings in the distance near Saroti town.

Kampala: Dancing wildly with my family and friends Richard, Claire and amazing dancers at the end of a three-hour performance of traditional tribal music and dances on the night of Kampala’s 54th birthday.

Looking out from a high hill in Kampala at Lake Victoria, realizing it is the second largest lake on earth.

I was finding readiness to “give way”.

As I write this two months later, a host of other memories rises to greet me--too many to capture here before we head to a Christmas Eve service this evening and then I cram in more grading before we fly to Oregon tomorrow.

Thank you for reading these entries and supporting us in the adventures. Onward.

Three Sniders and a fourth shadow


Just Katie ;) said...


I really enjoyed looking at your travel blog posts.



Whidden4 said...

Thank you for all taking the time to distil your experiences into words; not a simple task to be sure. We have really enjoyed following your adventures and hearing about how they have changedeach of you. The best part? They will continue to change you. Hope to see you all before too long! Colleen and John