Well, I was hoping to do it – and have. At last I have seen the Pacific Ocean (for the first time in my little life). But what was even better was the chance to walk along the Atlantic on Saturday (in Hollywood near Miami, Florida) – left – and then walk along the Pacific yesterday in Miraflores (a suburb of Lima, Peru). I seemed to stick out like a sore thumb on the plane to Miami – it was full of Scottish retired couples going on Caribbean cruises as far as i could make out – at least I had my walking stick so I could blend in a bit. I stayed with friends in Miami, Gordon & Marilyn Woolard, who are also involved with Langham Partnership. It was lovely to walk along the beach in the Florida morning sunshine, ambling past the power-walkers and Saturday brunchers in their beach-side cafes.
Then yesterday, the lure of the Pacific, with its paragliders and Sunday afternoon strollers. Out in the bay, in the far distance, was an island on which an Alcatraz-type prison stands. It is notable for being the location of the subterranean incarceration of Óscar Ramírez, former leader of the communist Shining Path (and thus a reminder of Peru’s less happy side). Still, the sea breeze was a tonic in what can be a rather stultifying and polluted Lima atmosphere.
Before leaving Miami, though, i was able to join the Woolards at St Andrew’s Presbyterian, their local church which was celebrating 50 years. This sort of event happens the world over, and the church is friendly, down to earth and welcoming. It is not a church one has any reason to have heard of necessarily, and is all the better for that. It is simply doing what local churches should doing, as far as I could make out from my briefest of visits. Especially encouraging were the testimonies of the various members of the church, some of whom have been around more or less since it was planted. A number suffer various kinds of illness now, and thus their faith is challenged to its core – but it was very moving to hear of people still battling on and enduring. I found it very powerful, despite not having a clue who anyone was. The only slight off note was when one of the early pastors informed us how he started small at this church (presumably in his 20s, now he’s in his 70s) but now was preaching to crowds of 20,000.
All well and good, but I really don’t think we necessarily need to know that. It was encouraging to hear the next guy get up and say that he was now preaching to a few individuals in mentoring relationships. Much healthier, I felt! All power to them for the next 50 years.
Gordon drove me down Hollywood Boulevard a few times – hence the picture. But before you get confused, like one German tourist Gordon once helped out when he asked where all the movie studies and film stars were, this is Hollywood Florida (more or less a suburb of the sprawling Miami) not Hollywood California. Quite fun though.
Now, before anyone starts presuming I’m just having a jolly on Langham’s expense, swanning around the beaches of the world, am off today to the Peru Langham preaching conference. Very much looking forward to catching up with friends made this time last year – and you never know – i might be able to reconnect with my dear friend Hugo Chavez!
HAPPY GUY FAWKES DAY for all those back home!