This afternoon I am overwhelmed with gratefulness that the God is who comforting me right now, is comforting my family in Oklahoma. The world lost one of its sweetest souls last night, but Grandma Grigg is being rewarded in heaven more than I could ever hope to be. The Father is welcoming home a good and faithful servant.
I am also overwhelmed gratefulness for the family of God, the Church. I went to bed last night not planning on going to church this morning, but after hearing the news of my grandmother, I knew I needed to. I knew she wanted me to. The congregation of Venue 2 Church here in Swansea have been more that I could have ever asked. They wrapped me up this morning and prayed comfort over me, and poured out hearts of genuine sympathy. I felt Christ's love through them this morning.
I am also grateful for flat mates who might not agree with or understand why I believe what I do, but they get that it hurts. My only hope and mission is that I can be a light for Christ through pain and loss.
When my Granddaddy died in 2011, my father told my brothers and me that death is a Christian's greatest opportunity to live out the gospel. Christ defeated death, and it is when we know him and our earthly lives end that we get to spend eternity in Glory with the Father! I find it no coincidence that this morning we sang "So death where is your sting? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated." Death has no sting. And I believe for my grandmother that death was a relief. She wasn't able to communicate but I can imagine she was in a lot of pain, physical and emotional. But right now she is the presence of her Savior, running towards Him, singing His praises in her beautiful voice.
So yes, it hurts that she is gone. It hurts that I'm not with my family. It hurts that my daddy isn't here to wrap my in his constricting hugs that I miss so much.
But the hurt is so little compared to the joy I have knowing that Grandma Grigg is with Jesus.
Anyone who knows me knows I always make jokes about my poor athletic ability. I always tell people I'm the smart one, my brothers are the athletically gifted ones. However, I do have to brag on myself a little. I made a decision before I came to Swansea that I would join a sports club. The last thing I needed to do was become sedentary.
Well, I can't run, jump, throw things, lift heavy things, do most athletic movements so that left me with poor options. But I've always had this fascination with rowing and rowers in general. They are so athletic but in my mind it didn't seem that hard. I was right and wrong: they are athletic, and it is extremely hard.
The 7:30am workouts have been rough, and the water sessions do wear you out; but the reward has been great. I feel great with the regular activity and I've met a lot of really great people. The weekly socials make meeting people less awkward and they are just plain fun.
I love being in the same boat at the other novices (pun intended). We are all working hard to get the hang of it, and there isn't too much pressure when we look like goofs. Some the girls are really awesome and I look forward to more time with them.
I'm not sure if I'll get to race much before I leave, but that's okay! I will not regret joining. However, joining a club here has made me regret one thing: not finding a club or organization to get involved in at home. So if you get one thing out of this post, get this: no matter your age, stage of life, level of education, there is a group of people interested in the same things as you, or have the same goals as you, or the same struggles as you. They are waiting for you! It might require some extra looking but they are out there. And the fellowship you have with those people is worth the seeking.
- Dirty Mac
I found my destination wedding location and you are all invited in 20 years.
Last Thursday, two other Americans and I went hiking on the south coast of Wales just a few miles from Swansea. Although Swansea is bordered by a beautiful beach, we wanted to get away from the sounds of the city and enjoy the Welsh Coast line a little more. You are supposedly able to hike the entire coastline of Wales on the Wales Coast Path, which was established and built in 2007. It is eight section of hiking path right along the coast. If you are ever in Wales, I highly recommend you find the nearest section and hike a bit!
We started at Three Cliffs Bay which was beautiful, and at low tide there was so much beach. The short walk there from the bus stop was along cliffs and rock shores and I found the spot for my destination wedding in 20 years. We didn't actually hike down to the beach, but it was still spectacular. After looking down on the beauty for a few minutes, we decided to hop on a bus to the next bay. We had a few minutes to kill before the next bus (what else is new) we we thought we needed some cake from Three Cliffs Bay Coffee Shop. Readers, this coffee shop is reason enough to travel to Swansea. The ginger-honey-lemon cake was one of the best cakes I've ever had. And I've had a lot of cake.
We hopped on the bus to Pennard, played chicken with a tractor on a rural farm road, and finally made it to Pwlldu (Black Pool in Welsh). The beach was very secluded, and pretty difficult to access except by foot. The rocks and privacy reminded me of the opening scene of Grease with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. I restrained the urge to sing. I don't know much times I said "we're in Wales" as I let the cold water from the Bristol Channel wash over my bare feet. Some days, I still can't believe I'm here.
We decided to hike the actually coast pasta from Pwlldu to Caswell Bay, which took about 45 minutes, and wasn't necessarily a easy hike. There were even sheep guards on the trail! Caswell Bay was also amazingly beautiful. To think that these are beaches in the UK still baffles me. If you are looking for a reason to come to Wales, make it the Coast Path and the beautiful bays.
After relaxing on Caswell beach for a while, we caught a bus to Mumbles, a small community just outside of Swansea proper where we had dinner and then caught a bus back in to town. And the I slept for a very very long time. With all the hiking, plus my run that morning, I ended up with 8.4 miles walking + running according to my phone. My dogs were barking!
It was such fun to get away from the flat and the city for a day and we are so thankful for the 'Indian Summer' they are having here. Enjoy the pictures below! Also, there is a link to a little video on some shots from the day.
(the newest nick name from my Aussie friend, so say it with an accent - 'Mackah')