A shortest Scheduled Flight in the World.

20120917-174006.jpg When Friday morning came it was off to Papa Westray. I had received a text message the night before advising me that the winds might prevent the plane from landing at Papa Westray. However It was full steam ahead on Friday morning the winds had died down. The night before there had been an 135mph gale blowing. As I was driven to the airport skies were clear. This is an unusual flight. The whole trip takes about 15 mins however it allows another two minutes to fly from Westray to Papa Westray. It's the shortest scheduled flight in the world. They actually issue you with a certificate and a wee miniature of whiskey to mark the trip. 20120917-174112.jpgAs you can imagine there is less formality on an eight sweater plane. The pilot pops round had a chat, points to the emergency exit and then it's off into the air. I was looking forward to meeting Ian MacDonald the minister who serves both of these islands. Ian has been minister here for just over 20 years. In no time the plane touched down in Westray, a man with a woollen hat and anorak opened the door jumped in the plane, he smiled put his hand out, " You must be Albert, I'm Ian, welcome to Westray." A few minutes later the seats in front of me were taken up by four Africans. These were the visitors from Malawi who were paying a visit to their partners in Orkney Presbytery. The plane in these parts acts a bit like a bus. In a few minutes it was up in the air again making the short crossing to Papa Westray. When we touched down, the first stop was a visit to the primary school which backs onto the church. I'm sure there were no more than ten children from pre school to P7 all working together in the one room. The children wee excited that special visitors were around. They welcomed us and proudly showed the Malawain's the video they had been working on the day before when they had been learning to count up to 10 in Malawian. We sang some songs together, then as a special visitor I was asked to talk about the role the Moderator plays. It's quite a challenging thing to do, when you have four year olds and eleven year olds all together, and you have to tell them what a Moderator does. I'm not sure I did all that good a job, I think I tried to tell the Children that I was a servant, that I spent my life learning how to serve God and from such service comes opportunities to serve people,all around the world. 20120917-174128.jpgThe thing is no one has servants today, well certainly not the children I was speaking with, so I realised perhaps I need to do a bit more thinking about how to convey a Moderator's job description to a four year old who is also having a ten year old listen in. Anyway, we had a good time, we sang some songs and laughed a lot. I'm learning when in doubt sing a song, is my motto, you know what, it usually works. We stood and sang a song from Africa "I'm not forgotten" the children loved it, then it was off to the church to have tea and scones with some of the parishioners. As a special treat the children had been asked to join in the celebration. It was actually quite wonderful, we all sat round a table perhaps 20 of us and ate scones and cakes and drank tea. The children were having a great time. i guess this is the advantages of rural life. A few moments later I had the privilege of presenting a long service certificate to a lady who had played the organ in the Kirk for 55 years, pretty good going, I would say. I also gave her husband a long service certificate for being an elder for 48 years. 20120917-174151.jpgThe sun was shining in the refurbished church building. The banners hanging on the walls were made as part of a community effort. One lady explained to me the intricacies of felting. The end result was and is magnificent. I discovered that there was A number of Neolithic buildings on the island as well as a very interesting Medieval stone built church. I was glad to have the opportunity to check it out before hopping on the plane again to make the short two minute hop back over to Westray. So why is is called Papa Westray? There in lies a tale. Some think it refers to a small island like lesser Westray meaning small, the more convincing explanation for me lies in the little stone built Church. Papa Westray was the seat of the Bishop that served the islands from Shetland to Orkney and it housed a monastery. It was known at the island of the fathers hence Papa Wstray. I was a little reluctant to leave this very peaceful island. I would have loved to have spent more time walking its shores and listening for the echoes of ancient monks singing their songs of praise. The plane landed and the door opened, I was back in Westray the next stop lunch at the middle school. 20120917-174218.jpg  
1 Comment

Posted By: Helmut   On: 17 Sep 2012   At: 5:50pm

Well, you are:

-a representative: You show that God and all the church are not forgetting about ven the smallest community, congregation, school…

-a messenger

-a listener

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