Greetings from southeast London…
Numerous languages resound in our ears as we walk to market in nearby Lewisham center. Garb from around the world brightens the pavements– Africans, Asians, Europeans, Islanders from the Caribbean, and British, quite a blend.
Numerous languages resound in our ears as we walk to market in nearby Lewisham center. Garb from around the world brightens the pavements– Africans, Asians, Europeans, Islanders from the Caribbean, and British, quite a blend. Cliff and Chika, members of St. Michaels, from Nigeria (Chika was born here) meet us at the airport. Bella from India works at the grocer around the corner. Yvan from the Congo (mother was from Russia) is our “Personal Banker” at Barclays, Yvonne from Jamaica (member at St. Andrew’s) helps us look at computers, Cristine from Michigan (member of St. Andrew’s) has loaned us her flat while she is in the states while we await the completion of the manse refurbishment, Iqbal from Pakistan owns the second-hand furniture shop in Lewisham (he moved here 3 years ago after spending 3 years in Gaborone, Botswana, trying to make a go of it there), Ualda from Sicily lives next door, Tony at the library has lived here all his life, Julie is from China. Lots of life — parents and prams, kids and youth (school holidays started this week), young and old, folks are out walking about. Not a sleepy town here!
With our 2-wheel “jeep,” we join the throng buying eggs, veggies, and fruit. Lewisham High Street (15 minute walk from the manse) is a food market Monday to Friday, and a clothes & house ware market on weekends. The city center was bombed in WWII, and in the 1970’s a modern shopping center-mall was constructed, so everything from T-mobile to high fashion is available inside. Small businesses line the opposite side of the street offering everything electrical imaginable, or everything plastic, or everything to do with “hair beauty,” or everything linen. On the corner stands a charming old pub draped in purple flowers.
Today we wander on another 30 minutes through Blackheath into Greenwich Park. We pause at the crest of the hill, beside the Greenwich Observatory looking down toward the Queen’s House (where Elizabeth was born), across the Thames to Canary Wharf with all its modern buildings including the tallest in the UK. We meander through the Maritime Museum, finding the hole in Nelson’s coat from the fatal bullet. Then onto Greenwich Market where about 15 years ago, on a stop when travelling home to South Africa, we purchased the silver wedding rings we still wear. Greenwich Market has always sounded so exotic, and now it’s a short walk from our new home. We enjoy an Ethiopian vegetarian meal surrounded by tourists. Then walk home, leaving the tourists behind, returning to blend in with the locals of Lewisham Borough, and finally Brockley, our corner of the Borough. We’re amazed at how quickly we feel at home here, neither looking back longingly nor looking forward with fear. Surely God has placed us here, for now.
Our work at St. Andrew’s and St. Michael’s does not officially commence until 11 September, but in the meantime we will lead a service at St. Michael’s on 15 August, and there are lots of moving-in tasks to do like establishing bank accounts, getting a national Insurance Number (like Social Security), organizing furniture, registering with a doctor and national health, getting a phone, and just learning our way around by foot, bus and train.
Thandiwe comes in September for a week on her way back to Chicago from India & Nepal, and Mandla comes December 18 for 3 weeks, looking forward to that!
Ana & Tod Gobledale
Tod and Ana serve as overseas associates with the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom. They co-pastor at St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church and St. Michael’s United Church in London.