Day 27: Church, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, Dinner with Friends

We continued our second free travel weekend by doing things close to home. First we got up and went to church. Bethany and Dustin decided to join us for church since they had spent the weekend doing things near to Oxford as well. The 4 or 5 others back at the house were all still sleeping.

We went to St. Andrew’s Anglican Church again today. It’s so close by and we enjoy seeing local expressions of faith.

They were advertising “Holiday Club” in their bulletin, which is the same as our Vacation Bible School. I took a picture because I thought “Holiday Club” sounded very British.

This week they were offering Holy Communion, so we went up as a family. The Vicar handed each of us the bread individually and said, “The body of Christ, broken for you.” It was a very touching moment that he would spend the time to tell us, complete strangers, individually this sacred message. He even knelt down to Zeke’s eye-level to tell him too.

The sermon time was all a children’s sermon, where a character like Doctor Who (called “Doctor Wot”) travelled back in time to see the story of Joseph unfold. It was very funny and also very poignant. At the end of the story, Joseph declares to his brothers, “You meant it for harm, but God meant it for good.” And the Vicar made a direct connection to the story of Jesus there: something people meant for harm (crucifixion), God meant it for good.

It definitely wasn’t our familiar church experience, but it was wonderful to see Christianity alive and well in Oxford, England.

After church, we walked down the street to have brunch at Gee’s Restaurant again. Bethany and Dustin came with us.


It was really good, again!

We had a fun time talking with the students.

And the coffee was really great, too.

Then we walked back to the flat, changed clothes, and then took the bus down to city centre to purchase tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus tour.

Zeke wanted to ride on the top deck, so we did.

Zeke really enjoyed being up so high…at least at first. Then it got really hot up there. Before too long, he was saying he wanted to ride below because he was too hot. (Also in the picture below, the Ashmolean’s facade is under construction and so it looks terribly ugly!)

We got off near Christ Church to take a peek into Alice’s Shop, the shop where a little girl named Alice would buy her candy, which inspired Lewis Carroll to write about a little girl named Alice in his famous book, Alice in Wonderland.

You can see the beauty of Christ Church across the street.

We hopped back on the bus and continued on our way.

Our next stop was to get crepes from the crepe stand, “Crepes O Mania” on Broad Street, across from the Weston Library.

They were really good!

We then diverted south to meet up with Shelley’s husband’s sister who happened to be in Oxford (long story). Along the way we decided to get Ben’s Cookies again because they were so good.

Once again, Micah was asleep by the time we got there. In the picture below you can see Ben’s Cookies in the background.

Shelley met up with Kyrie, Brian’s sister, and talked to her for a bit.

Then we got back on the bus and headed for home. We were really tired.

We got home and rested for about 30 minutes before James and Erin headed out with John and Laura for dinner at a nearby pub. Shelley graciously agreed to watch the kids. She is very amazing, and no, you can’t have her, she’s my sister. So there.

We went to the Victoria and had a nice dinner.

We sat outside in the very lovely weather.

Our table was the one in the back right corner. I forgot to take photos while we were there, so I took these photos later. There were a lot of people there when we had dinner.

We came back and put the kids to bed.


Day 20: Church Service and Return to Oxford

It was an early morning, but we got up and dressed. Erin put up Micah’s hair in pigtails.

James had planned on taking the students on a hike up to Kinder Scout (tallest peak in the Peaks District) and having church there, but it was raining, so we weren’t able to do that. Instead, after breakfast we found a large room in the hostel and had our service.

James organized the students into leading the service. Multiple students led songs, read scripture, and prayed.

We also shared Communion together. The hostel sold some juice that contained grape juice, amongst other juices from concentrate. It worked.

The scriptures that James picked out for the students to read were all Psalms about God’s creation, especially the mountains and, of course, Psalm 23. The idea was that as they explored after the service, they would think about those things. Speaking of sheep and shepherds, we hiked down to the bus to put our stuff into it (had to be out of our rooms by 11:00). On the way, the sheep were just chilling out by the road.

It was cool, wet, and rainy outside.

After we put our stuff in the bus, we hiked BACK up to the hostel. Due to the weather, most of the students decided to relax inside.

Holly shared part of her Twix candy bar with Micah.

Erin played spades with the students and had a lot of fun.

Zeke and Micah played with various students and also John.

After a few hours, we packed up what was left and headed down the hill one last time to get on the bus.

On the bus, Zeke asked if he could close his curtain so he could take a nap. That’s pretty rare for him, but I guess he was just that tired. He slept for about two hours.

Micah fell asleep too. You can see in the background that we were watching The Fellowship of the Ring. It was the perfect movie for an Oxford trip, especially a bus ride that would take about 4 hours. We got through the entire movie and then watched the first 45 minutes of The Two Towers.

When Micah woke up, about two hours later, she had fun giving her stuffed animal – a wooly mammoth – a bath with a wet wipe.

Back at home, it was bedtime, so Aunt Shelley read a bedtime story to Zeke from his new book about dinosaurs.

It was quite an exhausting day.

Day 6: Church and a Short “Date”

This morning we got up and got ready for church at St. Andrews Anglican Church which is just down the street. We walked 10 minutes to arrive just minutes before it started. We also had 5 students come along with us to attend the 9:30 AM service. They were incredibly welcoming, warm, and friendly. The service was not as “high church” as I expected it to be, with a pleasant blend of liturgy and contemporary worship. It was also quite a full service with lots of parents with young children, which was encouraging, since I keep hearing about the secularization of British society and the decline of the Church. Afterward, I spoke with the priest and he actually knew about ACU due to the frequency with which our students visit on study abroad trips. He was quite friendly.

We came home, made lunch, and put the kids down for their naps. Shelley napped too while James and Erin went out and about to get some food and other things. It being the first time that we’d been alone in Oxford while out and about, we decided to get some ice cream.

After we had finished our shopping, we stopped at the Eagle and Child for a rest and a cappuccino.


On the way back home, James spotted the Oxford Computer Science department and we took a photo.

After dinner, Matilda (the daughter of the on-site coordinator) wanted to know if Zeke could come out and play. They played together on the trampoline. Micah wanted to come too. Below, from left to right: Zeke, Matilda, Micah.