I woke up in Cornwall this week and thought that I was in a dream. It couldn’t be real. This land of my ancestors in southwest England had been the stuff of legend in my family and I was finally here. Despite hearing about the village of Porthleven since I was a little child, nothing could really prepare me for the breathtaking beauty that is the norm in this part of the world. The people that live here wake up to some of the most startlingly gorgeous scenery that I have ever experienced. Hedgerows practically bursting with flowers line the narrow lanes. Deep green fields dotted with sheep and cows roll over the hills right to edge of the sea. The villages are tucked neatly into the cliff sides and surround the most picturesque harbors where the boats are neatly lined up for pleasure trips or fishing ventures.
Our tour guide for the week was one of our cousins (a couple time removed) named Miriam. Before I go any further, I need to clarify – nearly everyone in Porthleven seems to be related to us. My grandmother was one of twelve children and the descendants of her parents are now like the sands on the seashore – too numerous to count. The purpose of our trip was to celebrate my parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary in a place that has meant so much to them over the years. It is the first time that Deb, myself and one of my siblings had ever been here and shame on us for taking so long to make the trip. From start to finish, the trip was a delight and it seemed like every day was better than the day before.
The Cornish love their food and we love it too. Known around the world for something called the Cornish Pasty, this meat and potato pastry is a treat that as originally developed as a quick hand held meal for the miners that worked in this area. While the mines have closed, the Pasty remains king of the local diet. Many other wonderful foods are popular in these parts including fish and chips and the “proper Sunday lunch” that must include a roast and Yorkshire Pudding. My favorite discovery of the week has been Cornish Cream that is a must on locally baked scones. I am afraid that eating here for more than a week could result in some serious damage to my waistline.
In April, this trip was nearly derailed when my mother got quite sick after some food poisoning. For several days, we wondered if we would have to cancel the whole thing. Certainly, we expected that mom would have to take it easy and be careful not to overdo it during this week. To our surprise and joy, she seems to have found something particularly healing in the air in Cornwall and has joined in on all our activities. The highlight of the week was a planned walk along a path to the “lo-bar” where a sand dune separates a fresh water lake and the sea. This involved several miles of walking and we wondered how my parents would fare. Dad had two back surgeries in the last few years and mom is still recovering from eleven days in the hospital. Saturday dawned with beautiful sunshine and my parents led the way down the scenic path to sea. They made it all the way to our designated stopping point and proved that there is something life-giving about this place.
Now that I have met so many of my relatives for the first time, one thing is for certain – I am definitely coming back. It is amazing how much love they expressed to people they had never met before. This relatively unknown place was the proving ground for the faith of my grandmother who first led people to Christ in the towns and villages surrounding Porthleven. I am deeply indebted to all that God has done in and through her and the family that reared her. What connects this vast extended family today is our faith. While not all of the relatives are born again believers, many are. Some are ministers and others have planted churches of their own. Today, I had the joy of preaching at “The Barn Fellowship” where one of my cousins decided to start a church on their farm. How exciting to join with family and friends as they worshiped with gusto and made the old hymns come alive again. May the Lord bring revival to this land of fisherman and farmers as they maintain the faith of their fathers and pray for a fresh wind and fresh fire.