Sydney Holt - Letter written on his tour to the United Kingdom and Ireland - July 16, 1985

Dear Friends far and near,

My days in green, green Ireland are fast coming to an end. I believe I left my last letter with our arrival at Carrick House, which is about 60 miles southwest of the big city of Dublin. This is no doubt the biggest old home I've been in (25 rooms), and the most ideal and beautiful convention grounds that I've ever seen. The grounds are off in the country on a 400-acre dairy and cattle farm with very large old chestnut trees and copper beech trees. This is where Irvine Pearson's father heard the Gospel in 1902 and convention has been here since 1912. Irvine was born and raised in this home. His brother Willie and wife Grace live here with their two daughters, (Iris and Gladys) and an aunt. The son and family live next door, and he runs the beef end of the business. The house is well over 200 years old with 24-inch thick walls of stone. Tom Clarke and I shared an upstairs bedroom that was 20 ft. x 20 ft. and a 12 ft. ceiling! Dining is in a metal shed, but meetings in a tent with 680 there on Sunday. Weather was lovely with showers each day. I surely had many long walks! Two of Irvine's older half sisters were in the work in the states and one died young from a disease while she was there. A cousin and wife of Tom Clarke's came Sunday a.m., so I traded him the Sunday a.m. meeting for the afternoon meeting. Another cousin and her husband came Monday evening and Tom spoke and really preached the Gospel to them! Two Catholic girls who recently attended a few Gospel meetings in Dublin were also there a day and a night. They seem very interested.

Here are just a few gem thoughts from Carrick convention:

“Our income determines our standard of living and it is the ‘in coming’ of Christ into our lives that gives us a real standard of true living.”

“The greatest gift we can give God is ourselves, and God's greatest gift to us is His Son.”

“The best guarantee for our future is to be true today.”

“Tell it as it is written, but live it as it is told.”

“If the Lord is master of our choices then He is also master of the outcome.”

After tea following the last meeting at Carrick, one of the friends drove two sisters and myself three hours north to his home at Portadown in northern Ireland. The roads are so narrow and crooked, but we traveled 70 and 75 mph, and I was very thankful when we arrived safely! I’m spending a few days with Leslie and Frances Wilson and their daughter Ruth, here in Portadown. Douglas McConnell (Australia) is also here. Frances was a Bullock and a first cousin of many of them in Minnesota. It was 1901 that Adam Hutchinson (wrote some of our hymns and died in the work in Burma in 1925) worked a mission in this area of Portadown and Mr. Bullock (about 18 years old) made his choice. He is the father of many of the Minnesota Bullocks. In 1903, Aunt Dora Holland who was in her second year in the work with Mabel Reid (who was younger in the work!) worked the mission here when the brother Frances Bullock Wilson's father professed. Mabel Reid later married a Smith and settled in the states and wrote a few of our hymns.

On our way here we had to pass trough Newry, which is just north of the border and a hot spot for IRA bombs. This same morning a van with a 1800 lb. bomb in it was defused there! So many stories of the IRA killing others. They say the reason that so many Irish are professing is that they heard it was a “fight to the finish” and they didn't want to miss it! This amused me. We always heard of the poor Irish with their pigs and chickens in their parlors, but it seems they drive late model cars and have lovely homes. However, it is true that many years back when the landlords owned most of the land, these poor peasants could not afford the taxes from adding a pig shed or chicken house. Because of this they kept the pigs and chickens in their homes!

There is a young Irish sister worker, Cathleen Atkin, (two years in the work but about 30 years old) who has an interesting testimony. Her parents were professing but Cathy was a bit wild. She made her choice when she was 17. Later she went to the University to study to be a teacher but became very troubled about the work. She asked the Lord to give her a sign if He wanted her in the work by meeting someone in the University who would make their choice and go into the work. One day she received a phone call that her mother was ill and she would need to go home and this greatly upset her. One of the girls in the dorm noticed that she was upset and asked her about it but Cathy cut her short with a short reply. This bothered Cathy all night and the next day she went to the girl's room to apologize for the way she answered her and there was a girl in the room from Denmark who was a baroness. It was this girl who became a friend to Cathy, professed and now labors in Denmark. The Queen of Denmark came here to bestow honors on this girl and give her money but she refused it and gave the Queen of Denmark her testimony. The Queen listened well. Cathy taught school 9 years and because of some misunderstanding hadn't been taken into the work. She began to wonder again if the Lord wanted her in the work and again asked for the same sign. This time it was John Prendergast, whom I wrote about last time, who had studied four years to become a priest and he noticed these two teachers in two different schools. Cathy was also on vacation in France, or perhaps Corsica, where she met a girl and invited her to Ireland at convention time. Everyone was shocked by the dress of the girl, but she is professing and hearty in France today. Unlike most, Cathy is very outgoing and seems happy in her place these days.

Downpatrick is my fourth and last convention in Ireland. It is held on a farm about 25 miles south of Belfast on the east coast. Jim Porter is a bachelor in his fifties and lives in this big two-story house alone. A mother and three daughters came on bikes. They crossed on the ferry and rode their bikes from Belfast in a real thunder storm arriving here late Friday night soaked to the skin! We have all been greatly amused by one of the elderly men who sits on the front row. He is short, heavy, bald, and has no teeth. He keeps warm with several different colored sweaters under his coat. When we are singing and come to the end of a verse, he immediately starts the next verse while everyone else is getting their breath. He sits in front of the P.A. and it picks it up! After 2 1/2 months in the U.K., one begins to learn their expressions. When they talk about the 'boot' of the car, they mean the trunk. The hood is called the 'bonnet' and the windshield is the 'wind screen.' Their house trailers are called 'caravans' and their trucks are 'lorries.' Supper (evening meal) is called 'tea' and 'supper' is the bedtime snack. Of course they drive on the left side of the read and the men's ties have their stripes running the opposite to ours! In spite of all these differences, it is wonderful to see the same spirit of God producing the same results in the lives of His people here. The meeting tent here at Downpatrick is getting old and too small so they advertised it in the paper and the first man to come look at it on Monday bought it! A church wants to use it in fund raising. This summer they plan to make a new tent which will be a first for them. July 12th is the big Orange Man day in nothern Ireland and they have been having parades and bon fires getting ready for the big event! Glad we got out before the 12th. It will be nice to be on the continent where they drive on the right side of the roads again! The way the Irish were thinking of changing over, but would do it gradually by having just the trucks change the first year!

After the last meeting in Downpatrick, Ireland, they rushed three of us 1-1/2 hour drive to Belfast airport where we met some from the other Irish convention. Four of us flew to London and the next morning I caught a flight (2 hour) to Oslo, Norway. Now I'm 9 hours ahead of California and Arizona. What a nice surprise to have David Escola, Arne Foss, and Sarah Opel, (Lisa Kettler's mom), meet my plane! It was clear and sunny as we flew over Oslo, so I got a grand view having a window seat. Warmer here than anywhere I've been so far even though it is much further north. Flowers in bloom everywhere and grain crops heading out. Interesting to see how they cure their hay on long racks in the fields. Stokke is about an hour drive south of Oslo and held on the property of the Sverres Skalleberg's. His parents first heard and believed the Truth in Alberta, Canada in 1912, but moved back to Norway about 1920. Several of the family live in homes here and have 11 large greenhouses, all automatic in the watering, heating, lighting, etc. It is a thriving business of raising flowers. The greenhouse erected this year cost around $100,000.00 U.S. money. What a nice surprise to find Harvey and Dot Casity and son here from Winslow, AZ. Also Mildred Gronley and granddaughter Erica Coleman; and Manlon and Fern Moe from Minnesota. Also, a number from different states and Canada. Not many friends in Norway, and no doubt the slowest for the Gospel of the Scandinavian countries. The meetings are held in a nice shed and headsets for those who want to listen in English or German. Even the testimonies are translated and this is nice. Convention has been on these grounds since 1947 and about 240 here and at least 50 from out of the country. It was very special to see Ken and Bodil York and their three children here. Ken is from Bakersfield and they live 4 hours south of here on the southern tip of Norway where she grew up. Their oldest son, (13 years old) professed Saturday evening and also an older woman.

Two took the step of baptism Sunday morning. It turned real stormy Sunday, and when we had the workers’ meeting in the meting shed Sunday evening (37 workers), it rained so hard on the metal roof that we had to sing a number of hymns until it let up a little. The older brother here in Norway, Hasken Ausenhus, is soon leaving for a number of conventions on the east coast of U.S. and a visit to his relatives in Canada. Johan Jergensen (Denmark) will be coming to some of our conventions on the west coast. George Ferguson sent his greetings to all. Early Monday morning five of us drove to Skone, Sweden for the next convention. It was an all day trip and ½ hour ferry ride which was special. Rained most of the way. David Escola surely looks well and does very well with the language. It was a good year for the gospel in Finland, but with Eldon Knudson on a home visit to Canada, David will be in Sweden at least until the first of the year. We had some good walks and visits together.

Must bring this to an end and in the mail today. One does get very weary listening and hearing another language spoken. Hope preps go well at Gilroy and Orick.

Your brother in Him,

Sidney Holt