Steve and Ainsley Apirana in Gravesend
During their first concert back in Europe the Apirana Circuit Riders team met an inspired youth leader in a multi-cultural melting pot in the UK.
As written by Ian...
Gravesend is an English town with ancient roots, going as far back as early stone-age settlements. For recorded history, the name Gravesham(which is the common name used by the townsfolk to this day) is found in the Domesday book of 1086, when it belonged to Odo, Earl of Kent. How the name came about is still a subject of uncertainty amongst the locals, with one bit of folklore saying it is where the London graves ended during the Plague, but there is no actual evidence to this claim. Most people agree it probably came from a Saxon farmer by the name of Gerevesend, who owned the land before it came under Kent.
The town is home to one of the oldest surviving markets in the country, with its earliest charter date being 1268. Located on the Thames is one of the oldest pubs in Kent, the Three Daws; famous for its smuggling tunnels leading directly to the river, providing a hasty means of escape for those flying under the law! Gravesham was also home to a smattering of notable figures, including author Charles Dickens, who attended and allegedly taught at a sailors church located right on the river and was used for those just coming off from their voyages.
Perhaps more interestingly, St. George’s is the final resting place of Rebecca, better known as Pocahontas. She was on her way from London to the Commonwealth of Virginia, with her husband John Rolfe and two year old son Thomas, when she became fatally ill near Gravesend. Her body was taken ashore and buried under the chancel of the parish church on the 21st of March, 1617. However in 1727 the church was destroyed by fire, so her exact resting place is unknown. Today you can find a statue of Pocahontas in front of the current church of St. George, and in recent history a group of Native American representatives from various tribes visited the grounds to issue formal acceptances of past grievances, and also to honour the memory of Princess Pocahontas.
As written by Kincsö
The leader of the youth group, Wanda Barnard who was the kindest and most people oriented person who I ever met took care of us while we stayed there. At night we slept at a very kind and an amazing host family. They were very nice and it was a pleasure to meet with them. Next day after saying goodbye to the family we went on sightseeing with Wanda. For first we visited the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara what is the one of the biggest Sikh Gurdwara in Europe.
We went into an old church what wasn't used as a church anymore but as a musicians practice room. We met with great people there who played music for us and Steve had also the possibility to try the electronic guitar. We saw a little event which was organized for the memory of the Second World War. We had so much fun that day. In the end the Bridge builders team had a picnic with Wanda, on a little hill in Gravesend where we had a great view to the town and the sea. After the picnic Wanda took us back to our car and we said goodbye to her. On the way back home we were all very tired and a little bit sad that we had to leave such a beautiful place behind. If I'd have to describe this travel in one world than I would say it was magnificent. The concert couldn't be better than it was, the kids were really lovely, and I can't be happier that I had the opportunity to meet with such a good people like Wanda and the host family. Gravesend was also an amazing place. I hope that someday I'll get back there.
What an amazing time we had with our kind, generous, knowledgeable and wise host. Wanda fed us according to our various dietary requirements, gave us a very special tour of her city (among them a visit to the very beautiful Pocahontas statue, and the Marketplace of 1263, still used today), and introduced us to her youth group where we shared a little of our music and stories and encouraged her young people to do the same. This is a thriving multicultural community which brings healing, inspiration, strength and support to young people growing up in often difficult circumstances, in a city fraught with poverty. The church community is strong in Gravesend, with the churches across the city working together several times each year to put on community events, bringing the gospel to life in a very real way.