Sydney Holt - Letter written on his tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland - May 29, 1985

Dear Ones far and near,

The train trip (4 hours) from London to Glasgow, Scotland, was most enjoyable with 10 workers and two friends and a coach almost to ourselves. Friends had packed lovely lunches for each of us and the scenery was beautiful with all the countryside so green except the fields of rape that are in full bloom and a very bright yellow. From Glasgow it was a 30-minute ride by car to the Gartocharn convention grounds which are held in an old rock quarry which the Coopers bought many years ago from a large estate for 60 pounds! Much work has been done through the years since convention was first here in 1939. They have a dining tent (separate from the kitchen at each convention grounds), meeting tent and some sleeping tents besides many small cabins, one of which I shared a room with Fred Hogan who labors in Bolivia. Lots of trees and flowers, so it was beautiful for situation. Two conventions each year are held here and we were at the second. From a nearby hill one can look for miles in every direction and see Loch Lomond (Loch means lake) which isn't very far away.

All the Scotch workers along with the visitors gathered in the meeting tent Thursday afternoon for a helpful workers' meeting. In past years, when some of the older brothers were still living, 3 or 4 of the older brothers only spoke. Now Horace Todhunter is trying to get all to have a part but it is going slowly as they don't know what brief means here! It was special to see workers I had met in Bolivia and Chile at this convention. There is something very warm and friendly about the Scottish workers and saints. What a nice surprise to have Frank and Manoly Renteria from Spain at this convention! They hope to be at Santee No. 1 and Buttonwillow No.2 as Frank has a visit home for 30 days this summer. In a year and-a-half their time in Spain will be completed and they look forward to returning somewhere in California.

In England all the sister workers wear a kind of hat (most without brims, called "turbans” when they speak in meetings, but less in Scotland and no visiting sisters are expected to wear them much to the relief of many! In England, when the meeting is left open for testimonies, they stand up in large numbers like in the states, but in Scotland only 2 or 3 at a time. All the men and boys are dressed in suits and ties all four days! It was cool here without sun until the last afternoon of the convention and the line-up (queue-up) each night of women with their hot water bottles by the hot-water tap was interesting. In the cabin where I sleep we have a little electric heater which does well, but the hot water bottle along with 5 wool blankets on my bed help! A real contrast as I think of you in Phoenix these summer months! The mailboxes in England are called “pillar boxes" and date back 100 years to the days of Queen Victoria. They are about 24" in diameter (round) and about 4-1/2 ft. tall. Looks like they are made out of cast iron and also their telephone booths made to last for time eternal! Almost everything over here is built this way.

Nice getting acquainted with Albert Gallichan from France and the workers in France are most anxious for Marian Pitcher's coming to labor in France with them in October. Meetings were most helpful and I appreciated Nona Johnson's (Sweden) part. John 19:30, "He bowed His head and gave up the Ghost." This was Jesus' final act of submission to the will of God. Bowing our ears to hear what God would say. Inclining (bowing) our hearts has to do with our affections. Bowing our face is silencing our own thoughts. Bowing our will to the will of G0d. Learning to bow so we can learn how to die.

Tuesday after the last meeting (only two) we helped them put things away and got all but the dining tent down. Wednesday five of us caught a train in Glasgow to return to London, but only John and I got off at Preston for the convention here this week. We were taken by car to the "Ashley House Farm,” (in England every home has a name which is part of their address) which used to be a dairy and cheese factory but all this was discontinued two years ago. The stone barn was built in the 1600s, but the stone house only in 1880. Walls are from 18" to 24" thick and three of us brothers share a large upstairs bedroom together. Convention has been here since 1948, but in the area much longer. More friends live in this area than any other part of England, so many go home at night. Fed 550 on Sunday and Monday was a holiday. More young people here than I've seen at any convention so far. Alsa Harvey is visiting here from Santa Cruz. Her niece who preaches in Kenya, Africa is here (Lettie Milligan). She will be coming to California when Alsa returns for the month of August and no doubt be at Gilroy and Orick. She surely waited on us faithfully. She has a brother and sister in the work in Ireland. I'm surprised at how many workers there are here with two or three from the same family. The countries represented here this week are: Zimbabwe, Bolivia, France, Kenya, So. Africa, Holland, Greece, E. Canada, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Scotland, U.S.A., Uruguay, Madagascar, Switzerland, Southern Brazil, and England. Such a blending together.

Tea is brought to our room at 6:45 a.m. but no problem as we are up at 5 if not before. They use a certain tea according to the type of water and it surely makes a difference. I counted 7 times a day we are served tea! 'Regular tea' is tea with milk. 'Black tea' is what we call 'straight tea.' Duane and Linda Forsberg are here from Modesto. They bought a van in London and are touring the British Isles before going on to the Scandinavian countries. They sold their home in Modesto and have rented a home not far from Portland, Oregon. The last day of convention turned dry and enough sun to dry the tents. One of the friends drove us by car to the next convention grounds taking us through a very scenic lake area that is a real tourist attraction. Evan McKay (Scottish worker 11 years in the work who used to be a chemistry teacher) and Magdalena Slabbert (from South Africa) were along. Three days ago Magdalena received word that Jurgens' Slabbert (her father's cousin) had passed away in South Africa. Some of you would remember the time he and Frank VanDermerve were in Southern California in a mission with Tharold in 1951-52. So many older workers have passed away in the British Isles this past year also.

Cumberland (farm name is Dockray Hall) is part of the Scottish workers' territory, although it is really about 20 miles into England and near the city of Carlisle. In 1919 Horace Todhunter's parents bought this farm, and started a convention here that year. After 50 years, Archie and Doreen Ramsay bought the place and they are milking 98 cows. The original house and the other buildings that form a big courtyard were built in 1699 and the walls are almost 24" thick and made of stone. The roof is of a flat stone (many homes have slate) which they used before slate. Most interesting to see the hand-hewn beams and rafters of every shape and size which have supported all this weight for so many years. Lots of farm buildings, so the only tent is the meeting tent. I share an upstairs bedroom in this original home (only home here) with Ken Paginton (Madagascar) and Piet Blokker (Holland). It is a very secluded farm and a beautiful road leading in lined on both sides with the hedges so neatly trimmed which are so common here. One also sees stone walls (without any mortar) dividing fields up for sheep and they have stood for several hundred years. The dining hall is in a very large hay barn where 500 can sit at once. Years ago the convention and dining were both held in this barn.

Yesterday Alexandra Kazakis (Greece) spoke from Luke 22:31,32. All wheat has to be sifted and every child of God must be sifted to enter into Heaven. Job, Daniel, his companions, and others went through this sifting. Before going into the work she worked in a raisin factory and it was her job to change the sieves. There were large, medium and small sieves. What came through the small ones was useless. Stones, leaves, stems and raisins that were discarded. Alexandra's mother professed in Greece when Alexandra was only 4 years old. For 13 years she kept true alone against much opposition. When she didn't return home from meeting, they knew she was in jail. In the divided home they could always get an "okay" from their dad to go to the movies or dance. However, after 13 years, their dad professed and, as children, they hated this because they lost the freedom they once had since now the parents were one and only one advice was given. In six months, the children professed. Alexandra's first sifting came, when at a meeting, the police came and they were all put into the prison. Eight sisters in one room without a bed, chair, and little room. The hardest was when they let them out in the exercise yard and people on the street could see her there, some who would know her.

Tomorrow one of the Scottish brothers will take me into Carlisle and I hope to tour a castle there, which will be my first. Often have to pinch myself to really believe I'm here! Hope this finds all well and encouraged in your corner where you stand for truth. You are often in my thoughts and prayers although my letters have been few.

Your brother in Him,

Sydney (Holt)