Answered prayers in Antigua

As we begin our unique socially distanced autumn, let’s go back in time to last winter when Jill Cannings visited Antigua as part of her work as the Diocesan Mothers’ Union President. Imagine being able to travel to the West Indies! Anyway, Jill takes up the story of her trip…

My visit to Antigua came along in an unexpected way. Seeking some winter sun and having never been to the West Indies, I thought that I had randomly chose Antigua. However, I have since become aware that God’s hand was firmly in control. The only thing I knew beforehand was that Mothers’ Union in our Diocese had a link with the Diocese of NECA, which stands for North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, and spans 12 islands.

Obviously when arranging the trip, emails from NECA were exciting but intermittent, depending on the internet. The islands are also in a hurricane path, and indeed Barbuda was devastated in 2017.

I booked my accommodation in Antigua based on the thinking that I could reach a few points of interest easily. Little did I realise I was near one of the best of the 365 beaches on the island! I was also very near Nelson’s Dockyard – a heritage centre and also the finishing point for the Atlantic Rowing Race, which provided more interest during my stay.

Jill and Ephena Matthew.

As I left England, I had limited contact details for Ephena Matthew, the NECA Diocesan President. However, prayers were answered and as I waited to board the plane at Gatwick, I got all the details I needed. It turned out that I was staying in her parish.

The day after my arrival, Ephena called round to my accommodation to welcome me. I was invited to a seafood buffet supper to meet lots of MU members, and was even asked to preach on the Sunday. I worshipped with them each week. Services lasted two hours – you have at least eight hymns and a good half hour sermon! I also went to meetings and socials, and found out how things are organised over there. As Diocesan President, Ephena hops across the 12 islands. Once a month they have a MU-supported Sunday service on the island, where members all wear their white dresses and blue jackets.

I also had plenty of time for relaxation, reading and reflecting in the sun. I returned refreshed and inspired by experiencing first-hand the worldwide work of MU, and NECA’s warm welcome, love and vibrant faith.

If you would like more information about the Mothers’ Union, contact me on jillcannings2@gmail.com.

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