Just a short visit
Just 12 days ago I flew back to England for several reasons. Back in early January after praying I had felt led that these specific dates were directed. I was flying back and returning by ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao in northern Spain with my converted motorhome and goods trailer. Indeed the bible instructs us in Proverbs 3:5,6;
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” NKJV
It wasn’t just a quick trip back, there was much to do, in 9 short days. Collecting the necessary tools and materials needed for the batch of renovation work. Ranging from crosscut mitre saw tables, special pocket hole screws, grinders, side bath panels, matching thumbturn euro locks and trays of baked beans!
The hardest of them to get was obviously the baked beans in the midst of people everywhere panic buying. Many stores had limits as to what you could buy. Tesco had a limit of 5 tins or packets, bottles of the staples, beans, soup, pasta, milk etc.
I certainly wasn’t stocking up as part of panic buying it was just you can’t buy baked beans in Portugal unless you want to pay an unacceptable amount for what is just cannelini beans smothered in watered-down tomatoes. They do have a vast array of what I am sure are wonderful other beans from around the world but none of them are baked beans.
There were hastily arranged trips out to Denton for a thick pine kitchen table. Hyde on another day for a wonderful old oak bedding box. Countless jaunts to Screwfix or Toolstation, much to the bemusement and patience of my partner Joanne.
Loading the trailer took careful planning around the unpredictable weather of the North. Carrying 12 double glazed windows and 4 glazed doors all the way to Portugal amongst, tables, chairs wardrobes and another sofa bed.
I had many other things to squeeze in. A trip to see a Christian brother Adrian, whom I turn to when in need of electrical problems with the motorhome. Fellowship can come in many disguises, as we chat warmly whilst he fitted my rearview camera, my previous one was stolen.
I had the privilege of speaking at Bridges, at the Salvation Army in Rochdale. Where a hot meal is served to those that need it the most. Hungry for food, warmth, fellowship served alongside a good portion of the gospel. I did manage to get most things done though.
Against all Odds
On Saturday, the day before the sailing, I found out that the ferry company had cancelled all sailings to Santander, but they were still operating to Bilbao. It had taken 2 full days to load up the trailer and van, securing everything and I am sure I used as much rope as the Lilliputians did tying down the giant in Gullivers travels.
Anticipating that there would then be a greater demand to be on the ferry I was booked on, I decided to set off early to ensure that we were there in plenty of time in case of road closures, accidents or any problems with the van or trailer.
I only travel at a sedate speed of 45/50 mph. It’s a heavy load of about 6 tonnes combined and its an old bus at 19 years old. The way down to Portsmouth was met with normal British problems, part of the main route, the M62 was shut for roadworks and the weather decided to lash it down all the way there.
We arrived 8 hours before the ferry sailing and as soon as we had parked up the phone rang. It was the ferry company saying that the Spanish authorities were about to shut their borders and would only let in resident’s and health workers all others may have to go in quarantine. I could get a full refund though.
I am none of these, nor a resident of Portugal. I put all of my trust in the Lord and I believe that He directs me. I declined their offer. It wasn’t long before the news from Spain was escalating. Areas being under total lockdown. Heavy fines for anyone not complying, roadblocks to prevent unnecessary travel etc.
Brittany Ferries announced that they were postponing all ferries to Spain and France as of midnight. Ours was sailing at 11 pm and would be the last one. Well, I praised and thanked the Lord.
The ferry journey is a long one. 32 hours as it stops at Roscoff in Brittany for a crew change. All the talk and chatter on the ship was regarding what would happen when we get to Spain with these controls.
Would the authorities allow us to dock? Would we all have to go in quarantine for 14 days? One particular rather tall Englishman was following us around the breakfast bar barking at us. “Them Spanish police will hit you in the stomach with their truncheons on the side of the road!”, as we were trying to decide over pain au chocolate or bonne Maman tartlet.
Fear of Faith?
We either live in fear or we live in faith. I knew that there were people praying for travelling mercies for us. When some people think of that they may think of St. Christopher, the patron Saint of traveller’s. A 3rd century giant of a man, 7 and ½ feet tall.
After following what people fear, which was first the devil, he found out that the devil feared God. He decided to serve God and supposedly carried many across a deep, ravaging river. One a heavy child who claimed to be the Lord Jesus as the story goes. So many across the world pray to and wear medallions of St. Christopher for travelling mercies.
But here is the truth, as it is written in the Bible. No amount of praying to dead people whether saints or not can help in any way. These saints do not do your petitioning for you, nor can they. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who does your bidding and it is to Him you must direct your prayers. The bible says in 1 Timothy 2:5, 6a;
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”
That is as simple and as crystal clear as can be. One God, the creator God of the universe of all things. The creator of you and me. One mediator between man and God. Not St. Christopher or Mary or any other Saint whatsoever can do your bidding. Only the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross giving Himself as a ransom to the pay the penalty of our sin. Amen.
The Last Mile
We landed in Bilbao on a misty Tuesday morning. The last ferry, temporarily to arrive from England. After a quick flash of our passports, we were waved through by the authorities. We had 800 km to do in one day and if anyone has travelled through Northern Spain they will know how mountainous the region is. Some of these hills I can do in 2nd gear with the speedometer barely touching 10mph such is the incline, but the views are spectacular.
Without the sight or feel of a Spanish policeman’s truncheon, we got to the Portuguese border. Another country that was shutting the border that very day. A brief conversation to explain where we are going and a quick look at the passports we were waved on. We were greeted by beautiful sunshine and after another few hours drive arrived at the property. “Caminho da Cruz” the way of the cross, before sundown.
We have a lot to be thankful for, after 3 days of travelling, we are here safely unpacking and ready for the next trials.