Monday, January 28, 2013

In England for a pre-Africa, two-week MAF training course

Merilee gets 5 gold stars
Our flight to London, England was mostly uneventful and apart from a toddler doing a trampoline routine on the seat-tray behind me and Merilee's inability to sleep sitting up, we all had a great time. Our 11 bags were peacefully doing the rounds all by themselves on the baggage claim conveyor by the time we made it through customs and the escalator maze of Heathrow airport.

We've had two relaxing days here at the Ashburnham Place conference center. We're down in the south of England, about 1.5 hours from London. Saturday was spent catching up on sleep. Today we attended a service in an old church on the property built around 1200. Quite something. Should be fun to go around the cemetery and look at some of the dates on the tombstones.

After lunch, the kids played in the play room where they'll spend some of their days with grandma. Mom is here to watch Kaitlyn and Lily because hiring childcare people here in the UK would have been more expensive than mom's flight and a lot of red tape. Besides, the kids love hanging out with grandma anyway.

The old church on the property
We took a hike in the woods and around the small lakes on the property and were back in time for high tea (supper). There is a photo of one of the dining rooms - there are 5 dining rooms of varying sizes in the place. There is also a photo of the room where we'll be spending our days with the MAF people.

We met Mark, our MAF host for the next two weeks, and it was good to put a face to a name. We start tomorrow at 10:00 right after breakfast. We've also met the others who are attending the course. It's a small group actually. Just one other couple our age, who left their kids back in the Netherlands and then two middle aged single women who are going to Uganda and Kenya to work in various roles with MAF. We'd thought there would be more families our age but we've hit it off well with everyone none-the-less.
Ashburnham Place - it used to have three stories
and a huge angled roof!

Mom is loving it. She's on cloud nine with all the history of the place - she loves that sort of stuff. I'll admit that it does give a sense of awe and respect to think of the hundreds of years (almost 900) that this place has been here and all the generations that have risen and fallen in its lifetime. The town of Battle is 5 minutes down the road – it's where the Battle of Hastings happened in 1066. We want to go have a look 'round next weekend.

Below are some other scenes from around the estate. If you're reading this and you're coming to the end of high school, you should consider coming to volunteer for a year at a place like this. You get free room and board and the place is staffed almost entirely by young people from all over the world. Most have come to learn English but it's also
The Ashburnham's sun dial
an amazing, Christ-centred environment which promotes growth and the staff all look like they're getting along well and making life-long friends. The conference centre gets about 36,000 people through in a year! So you'd meet a ton of people too. Merilee has laughed a couple times when I've suggested sending Kaitlyn here when she's done with high-school. Perhaps that's a little far off.

Ashburnham reflected in the 'broadwater'

One of the 5 dining rooms 
The room in which we have our MAF course 
The drive in from the main road
Misty morning, overlooking the stone bridge and
broad water on the drive up to the main building
One of two watch dogs on the front steps
The pasture 
The local wildlife


  1. Thanks for bringing us along on your trip!


  2. Rachel and Caroline are already planning on taking a gap year to spend at Ashburnham Place! The kids would love to see more pictures -especially of your bedrooms. They also send big 'Hellos' to Kaitlyn and Lily.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Gorgeous pictures of Ashburnham Place. :)