The beauty of Tasmania is overwhelming. I had no idea a place could be so beautiful. But I quickly learned that the real beauty I would experience over the summer was in the people I met, starting with the pastor of Sheffield Baptist Church, Ken Preece, and his Wife, Gae. From the very beginning I knew I would love them.
Ken, Gae, me, Rhonda, and Dianne at Cradle Mountain...Rhonda and Dianne were also with Ken and Gae when they came to pick Keith and me up from Launceston.
Ken had a great sense of humor. He knew how to make anyone feel at ease around him, which I needed during the entire summer. Every new situation I found myself in, no matter how nervous I was, Ken made me laugh and not take myself too seriously.
One task that was NOT included in my job description was that of leading music. I about had three strokes and two heart attacks when Ken told me that was one of the things I’d be doing. I sang, sure, but I had never led before. The first time I was asked to lead was a Sunday afternoon in a very tiny church that Ken preached at once a month or so in the rural area around Sheffield. Ken had told me the piano player was a bit hard of hearing, so I might have to speak up. He neglected to explain the fact that she was stone cold deaf. DEAF. I was nervous enough, but when I turned to her and told her what hymn to turn to, she starts playing something totally different. Then, since she couldn’t hear me yelling, yes, YELLING at her that that wasn’t the right one, I had to wave like a maniac for her to stop so I could direct her to the correct song. This happened at least twice, and hoping for some kind of reprieve, I looked at Ken on the front pew. He had the biggest smile on his face, and he was not about to come to my rescue. After church was over with and we were back in his car, he told me he was enjoying it too much to save me. As I was plotting his demise he then said that I had handled the situation beautifully. Whatever. Okay, so I didn’t kill him.
Ken’s wife Gae was the exact opposite of him. Not that she didn’t make me feel welcome or at ease, because she did both, but she did it in a much more subdued way. She was such a gentle, sweet person, but if you messed with someone she loved, watch out. I remember having a really horrible day and crying my eyes out in their living room, and Gae just came over and held my hand while I cried and Ken prayed. So sweet. And she made the best soup I’ve ever tasted. MMMMmmmmm, my mouth waters just thinking about it.
This picture pretty much sums up their personalities. I’m not sure what the body of water is here, but it’s either Bass Strait or the Indian Ocean. Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, I told Ken I wanted a picture of us on the beach just talking. So Gae stands there, looking naturally like she is carrying on a conversation. What is Ken doing? I have no idea. So much for that photo op.
Ken and Gae were just two of the people I was so privileged to meet that summer. Over the next few days, I’ll introduce you to a few more. After that, I’ll show you what I got to see while I was there. Beauty…so much beauty!