Leaving Cayman was not difficult. The Lord had provided a lovely beach condo for our final three weeks, and left us with plenty of time to say goodbye to those we had come to know and love. Our church gave us a nice sendoff, and we splurged on a dinner or two. Leaving Canada was a little harder. We felt our time there had really been cut short by Covid, and there were lots of things that we were not able to do. But at least we had time to see our grandchildren and two of our own children in that time.

But coming to England has posed real challenges for these veteran travelers. Our temporary rental flat that Pam had secured did allow us to clear the Covid hurdles needed to avoid quarantine, thanks again to Pam’s excellent planning and paperwork. We needed a Covid test to fly from Cayman. We got two Covid tests in America to enter Canada, and another one at the border coming in. In order to leave Canada for England we needed to get another Covid test. This time we had to drive to Toronto airport as the test window fell on a Canadian holiday. On arrival in England, we were ushered through the border with no trouble at all, and the notification that our Covid test package had arrived was in the mail slot at our rental flat. We walked around to the post office to get it and completed a further three Covid tests that week, the last basically as we were walking out of the rental.

The rental served other purposes as well. We got Pam’s hard drive upgraded to solid state so it now runs much faster. Unfortunately, the fellow who fixed it also broke both the screen connection and the camera/microphone that Pam needed for her ministry. He was able to fix the screen and we found an external camera/mic in our gear that will have to serve until a more permanent solution can be found. He offered to fix the noisy fan motor. We were polite, but gave him a hard pass on getting his hands on that computer again.

We were also able to track down an agent at a local real estate brokerage who showed us a furnished one-bedroom near the core which we took on sight. Apparently, the Brits don’t go in much for fully furnished rentals, so we had to grab what we could when we could. It is a tiny – 430 square feet – little place: one-bedroom, tiny bathroom, combined kitchen and living room, but it is right across the street from a lovely park and right beside the train station to London. The moving date of September 4 seemed impossibly far away, but our move to the manse made it doable. The signed agreement gave us a document to take to the bank to demonstrate residence.

We initiated the process of applying for a bank account almost as soon as we landed. This is far and away the most difficult to do of all the countries we have lived in. It has been three weeks since we landed, and though we made banking a priority upon landing, we still don’t have an account. Apparently, you need a utilities bill to establish proof of residence. Of course, you need a bank account to sign up for utilities. And round and round it goes. NatWest was our last attempt after five banks expressed no interest at all. There I was able to conduct the acceptance interview in the bank and a very helpful young lady scanned my documents and promised me a bank card in five days. That was nine days ago and I haven’t seen anything yet. We’ve got our fingers crossed.

Not to be deterred, we ventured out into the town and found it delightful. There were parks and town squares and lovely little laneways leading to little cloisters of houses. There is a lovely old church called St. Mary’s and a lovely park in the center of town filled with trees and flowers. And of course there are pubs everywhere. We had to go to one for the traditional Sunday carving, and were not disappointed by the mounds of vegetables, roast potatoes, and of course the Yorkshire pudding.

After a week in our rental flat, during which time I participated in our new mission’s professional development to a school in Central Asia through Zoom, we moved into the guest house that the mission maintains in a presently unoccupied manse. It was here that we were finally able to partially unpack and get ourselves somewhat sorted out until our new flat becomes available in September. We’ve being going out to the Baptist church next door, and were invited to a games night in nearby Southwater by our new colleagues at the mission.

In short, we are finding our feet. We keep telling each other that this will be the last overseas posting before we actually retire back to Canada. It is not easy to uproot at our ages, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. But we have felt the Lord’s presence throughout, and His people have been everywhere, helping us to make this move. We are certain too, that once the dust has settled, that we will find ourselves in a truly lovely part of the world, ready to serve the Lord once again with the gifts and talents He has so graciously given.