I had enjoyed a few minutes chatting to Tracy and some of the other Dubliners. Paul Evans then gave us the look, so we continued packing away all The Evidence gear and getting it into our van.
Stephen and I were back at our house in Penygroes before long. Stephen was keen, though to get around to the Apostolic Bible Centre where the Irish were staying. (More out of a desire to get his Kings crisps than to actually talk to anyone, I think).
The place seemed to be in darkness and the door was locked so we up at a few windows. After a few minutes of feeling like eejits, we headed back around the corner to our house. I was tired and wanted to get to bed, but Stephen, desperate for his Kings, said: “ye not wanting to go an chat to Tracy, she’s lovely”.
What he really meant was that he wanted to go back around and was not letting me away with it.
“Stephen we have a meeting in the morning,” I said, “we need to get a sleep”. But it was no use, he would not give up. Reluctantly and resigned I made my way out the door, up the street, around the corner and down the dark hill to the Bible Center. On the way down the dark hill, we bumped into one of the Irish team. They told us that the guys were all in the bungalow (a one storey annexe building to the rear of the main building).
So off we went, chapped the door, the door opened and when we were ushered in with all the usual Irish good-natured craic. They were delighted to see Stephen. Kevin Ellis, another Dublin student, was already there as some of his family were over visiting. There was a gang in the kitchen, so, desperate for a cup of tea – I made my way in there.
I remember it being bright and quite big. Tracy was in there chatting away to someone. I was asked a question, cannot for the life of me remember what it was, but off I went on one of my monologues. I remember Kevin coming in and trying to chat to Tracy but she shushed him and kept looking at me, I remember her eyes transfixed on me and never shifting. I was 30 years old, Id had a few girlfriends, none of them serious, and none of them had looked at me the way this Irish woman was looking at me.
Tracy introduced me to her good friend Claire. Claire had agreed to come over with her. Claire excitedly shared her plans for getting married that August, (it was the end of February). She was young, very friendly and obviously very excited about her wedding.
Claire asked if there was a pay phone anywhere as she wanted to call her fiancé, Paul. (Payphones remember them). I said there was one just along from the top of our street. The girls asked me if I would accompany them.
As Claire chatted away to Paul on the phone (it was close to midnight on a beautiful February evening() Tracy began to sing. I remember how beautiful her voice sounded as: “My Jesus, my Saviour” began to fill the Penygroes air. It was a relatively new song then. I had never heard it sung so good though and I listened intently, aware of how different my life was now compared to just a short time before. The words had never carried so much joy or meaning for me.
“I sing for joy at the work of Your hands:” sang Tracy, as I breathed out the truth of how grateful I was.
Claire finished her call and, as we made our way back to their accommodation, I asked Tracy if she would like to go for a walk. Sorry, Claire, you are not invited. I am not sure if Claire was miffed or not, but he went back indoors, and we began a long, beautiful walk down through Penygroes. We chatted about everything and nothing. We shared our hopes and fears and what Jesus was doing in our lives. It very quickly transpired that this was not Tracy’s first trip to Wales. She had been over in 1998 for a previous Dubliner’s graduation. She remembers being picked up, along with a very large contingent from Dublin on a Teen Challenge minibus and brought to their bed & breakfast.
I was with Phil Winstanley that day. My mum and sister were coming down for my graduation but would not arrive later so I went with him to the airport to pass time. Tracy had actually intended my TC Graduation in November 1998, and I had actually picked her up from the airport for it.
As we made our way down to the bottom of Waterloo Road, where it intersects with Black Lion Road, we stopped under the streetlight. We both just looked at each other and Tracy asked, “So what are we doing here? Are we going to do this?”
In answer, I pulled her into my arms and kissed her.
This POST is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.
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