We are in our second week in England and it has been a wonderful mix of ministry and rediscovering generational roots. In 1843 Rob’s Great, great  Grandfather, Jabez Packer set sail from England to New Zealand. A seed was sown into the new land and a part of the harvest of that seed is returning to bless the land of his birth. On our way here to Gloucester we stopped in Dursley (the town he came from) and found out that Jabez’s father was a minister in that town, the Rev John Packer. How wonderful to have such a godly heritage.

We also discovered that my great, great, great, grandfather Joseph Brimmicombe lived in Dawlish, Devon. He was born there in 1834 then came out to NZ from there. Dawlish is about 5 miles from where we are based in Devon during this trip to England. So when we go back to Devon next week we will try and get there too.

There is something of God’s wonderful orchestration about this trip to England that has surprised us and blessed us immensely. Who knew when we accepted this assignment from God that He would plan in such wonderful treats for us. But how like Daddy to do so.

This week we also got to visit a town called Tewkesbury which is a great example of the incredible workmanship and building skills. On one hand there is Tewkesbury Abbey, an amazing example of what some would think is impractical art made for the glory of God. Towering arches, amazing carvings, three organs and of course beautifully crafted stained windows that each tell some aspect of the gospel. All this designed to show people how glorious is the God they worship. In some ways the churches and abbeys had to be very pictoral in their decoration as for many years the services in the churches were held in Latin, a language most didn’t understand. So the stained glass windows and other decoration helped tell the gospel in a way the services they attended didn’t.

Then on the other hand in the same town still stand tipsy houses and buildings built in the 14th century, with rough hewn timbers and windows that are set on an angle where they should be straight. But then I guess we would be a little tippy and worn if we were centuries old too. Ordinary houses made by ordinary people side by side with the work of incredibly gifted craftsmen as seen in the Abbey. We had a cup of tea in a delightful little tea shop called “Crumpets” in a back lane by the river with doors so low Rob almost had to bend to get in and ceiling beams blackened with age. It all reminds me of how young New Zealand is as a nation and how short a history we have.

The photos below are all of Tewkesbury, (pronounced Chooksbry by the older locals) some are of the delightful old town buildings and the others are of the Tewkesbury Abbey and it’s exquisite craftsmanship. Apparently the Abbey has the biggest Norman Tower in all of Europe.