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July 9, 2002

Subject: England Trip - Letter #02
Dear Friends,
Tuesday evening has arrived too fast for me! The morning began with a full English Breakfast at the Vicarage Hotel. That means cereal with milk. They don't know what 3% or 1% milk is. They serve real milk. The toast resembled whole wheat toast, but I think it was probably white bread when it entered the toaster. A fresh fried egg, sausage and bacon and a large assortment of jams also appeared on my plate in the breakfast room at the hotel. All was excellent.
I had a fresh apprecation for Jill's wisdom in her gift to me of a collapsable unbrella. It provided completely adequate shelter from the morning rain that blessed me all the way to the tube station. The temperature was totally to my liking - about 60 degrees F. By 10:30 it had stopped and I wished I had my sunglasses with me. They don't do much to help me back in the hotel room.
I believe that outside the Circle line of the tube (London subway system) is where you see mostly brits. They seem to stay to the left on the stairs, escaltors, and long hallways. As you go through central London, you see many who forge left, many who forge right and some that seem to take their half out of the middle. I conclude that there are many Americans here who are touring central London. Perhaps they are from the contintent. In any event, there seems to be a little different culture the farther you travel outside central London. I also notice that the atire is a bit more formal than in the US. There are virtually no adults seen anywhere in short pants - except for the occasional American. All the men, even in July, are wearing long sleeve shirts, jackets and either dress pants or jeans. The women are also more formally dressed than at home. There has been an obvious sensitivity to others and coutesy that I don't see much at home. I see strangers helping ladies with baby-buggies up the tube stairs and onto the tube. I even had two gentlemen help me when I was toting three bags from Heathrow. That was a nice cultural observation.
I arrived at Wesley's Chapel before lunch and finally met Joy Croischank who has been my contact here via email and phone. She had all my emails organized and printed out and had me meet with Peter Baugh who is the "boss" of the chapel. He is a very nice gentleman who was happy to meet me and discuss what my goals were for the trip. He set up a regular access schedule to play the Charles Wesley organ daily. Today I spend about 1.5 hours playing it. It was amazing to hear it play some of the original Ellis compositions today. It is a small chamber organ that was in Charles' residence and on which he composed many hymns that we know today. The date of manufacture is not known, but it is thought to be early 1700s around the time and very similar to one made for George F. Handel (of Messiah fame). It has only one manual and two stops - an 8' stopped principal and a 4' principal. That is essentially the same as my organ at home, although this is much lighter in touch and sound. The pipes on the facade are fake wooden pieces. They have added and external electric blower to power the instrument. The keyboard folds up and slides into the case. It has a very mellow English sound and is a joy to hear. If all goes well, I will shoot some video tape of it while I am here.
Peter had me meet the curator of the Museum of Methodism. Nora was wonderful. She is a wealth of information but unfortunately does not know much about Charles Wesley. She has put me in touch with some other sources who know more. Next week I hope to gain entrance into their archives at the museum with Mr. Michael Bendle. He is a heritige steward and has catalogued everything there with loving detail. He is out of town until next Tuesday. I have learned that Charles' journals have been poorly "edited" by the publishers to eliminate some of his criticisms of the people called Methodists. They wanted to paint his as a bit stronger supporter of the English reformation than he actually was. It seems that he was more of a conservative Anglican than was his brother John, who just parted ways on issues as he desired. I bought the only publication they had on the premises specifically written about Charles. Is was a small brochure written by a scholar who had a particular interest in Charles Wesley. I will have it read by tonight. I also went out back into the garden and visited the tomb of John Wesley. My mom and I were there a few years ago at the same spot. John was an amazingly strong person and had a huge impact on thousands of persons as he preached. It is great to pause and give thanks for those whose influence has been great on our lives. Certainly he is one of those!
I then went across the street from the chapel (City Street) and visited the Bunhill Fields. This is a cemetary for the "disenters". These were those Christians who had major differences from the Anglican Church at that point. Those graves were on "unconsecrated grounds" and therefore provided a place for such influential non-conformist Christians such as Isaac Watts (1674-1742)(great hymnwriter and Congregationalist Minister), Daniel DeFoe (Robinson Cruso author) and John Bunyon (1628-1688)(Pilgram's Progress) and also John and Chalrles's mother, Susanna Wesley (1669-1742). I saw all their graves today and was greatly impressed with the impact that they have had on generations. I found the grounds manager today and he has promised to open the fences up for me tomorrow to photograph the tombs and tombstones up close. They are normally secured behind locked gates and fences to be seen from a far only. (Christine, you have to ask to gain access. Asserviteness pays off.)
I departed the cemetary and went to what was supposed to be the burial grounds for Charles Wesley - St. Marylebone Parish Church. It is under reconstruction and I could find noone who knew any details. I have a photograph of a marker about him there, but had no new information there so far.
As I return to my hotel room, I will focus tonight on texts that I would like to set to music as I return tomorrow morning to the chapel.
I would invite you to pray for my health as I am here, if you are inclined to do so. My blood sugar has gone crazy here. The day/night change is what did me in. It was 235 this morning and 54 when I arrived at the Chapel today. Fortunately, I had planned ahead and had a sandwitch, three cookies and a can of coke when I went to the chapel, just in case I needed it. After consuming all of it and some more water, it climbed back to 80+ and then back to normal. Believe me I can tell, almost without the meter, but I had decided to take both the meter and medicine with me all day as a precaution. All is stable now, but what a PAIN!!
Thanks for tuning in and I will look forward to what is in store then.

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