We came from a land far away….
We don’t know how such matches are made but the World Methodist Council selection panel deemed industrial, hilly, urban Elland a good match with agricultural, flat, mid-West Britt.
And perhaps more to the point, we don’t know how our bookish, methodical John was matched with your wiry, energetic Bernard! There couldn’t have been two less-alike ministers on the list that year.
John was 46 and had been a minister for 20 years. I was almost 40 and had worked alongside John in an unpaid capacity since our marriage. June Olsen had done likewise with Bernard. Our daughter was still at school and had taken important exams just before we started our exchange.
Preparation for living abroad for six weeks was a big job: getting our tickets and visas ahead of time; finding appropriate clothing for a much hotter climate; and, because we were swapping houses, there was a lot of cleaning and sorting to do at home. What you call a Parsonage, we call a Manse. The manse in Elland was a particularly unwieldy place to call home. For the Olsons it must have been a reminder of life before or during World War Two.
It is so easy to forget just how complicated travelling abroad was only 40 years ago, in the days before there were mobile phones and computers in every home, when all international communication was by airmail - letter, envelope, stamp - and the backstop of a possible, but hugely expensive, international phone call. There was also the need to make arrangements for travellers cheques and to order enough foreign currency to last for the duration.
And in this digital age when people casually take hundreds of photographs in a single day, in the days of buying films plus processing costs to come, we could only afford six films, with 36 frames each, which meant that in six weeks, and the experience of a lifetime in an entirely new country, we took just 216 slide photographs.