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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

WE’RE HO-OME! Actually we landed on Friday evening and have been home for three whole days now. The Vicar left Devon at 2pm on Friday with our car and trailer with a couple of Pathfinders and Mac from church who’d been helping on the Task Force, following the minibus. Dreamer and I departed at 3.30pm, but rocked up at the Vicarage just twenty minutes after the rest of the crew. With holiday traffic, departure time is everything. Anyway, we’re still in recovery mode here and I thought I’d share our key techniques with you:

1. Unpack. On arrival dispatch all non-residents of your home to their respective families asap. When Dreamer and I drew up, there were still a few waifs and strays at the Vicarage. Plus we still had five Indian missionaries staying. It took us a little while after all that to unload all our luggage and decompress. But you need to get all the kit out of the car/minibus. It’s not fun realising the next day that your sleeping bag is in Tipton because you didn’t unload things properly.

2. Takeaway for tea. Or something you froze before you went away. No matter how perky you think you feel on leaving camp, you will definitely be too tired to do more than pop something in the microwave or call EatWise. Consume in front of a movie. Do not attempt conversation.

3. Sleep. As much as possible. Do not arrange to play in a golf tournament early on Saturday morning *looks hard at someone resident in the Vicarage*. One of the main leaders from our venture slept 14 hours on Friday night. This seems like a suitable amount to me. NB Golf tournament didn’t happen in the end. Too tired, obvs.

4. Reminders. Note that you will have to regulate your life without the aid of a hooter (or bell, depending on your venture’s choice of noisy reminding instrument). Set alarms to remind you to come in for tea. Don’t set a morning alarm if at all possible (see point 4 above).

5. Laundry. There will be many loads. Take your time. You are unlikely to need the multi pocketed shorts in the week to come. Unless you are super keen and have a quick turnaround for another venture. Then you deserve a medal and a laundry company calling round.

Up later this week: more reflections on venture life, including an analysis of best costumes for the last night and tried and tested techniques to get your dorm to be quiet and go to sleep. Or something like that.

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We’re off to camp in a couple of days. No, we’re not actually camping. But we call it that because it’s always been called that. Maybe because people used tents when they took young people away in the 1950s. Who knows? We’re actually off on a CPAS Pathfinder Venture – taking 76 11-14 year olds from youth groups round the country to a boarding school in Devon for a week of fun, adventure, beach trips, crafts and learning about Jesus. The whole of the Vicarage are going, even the Engineer, who is still too young to be an official Pathfinder, but will buddy along with the rest of us and join in where he can and hang out with the Task Force team (who do all the practical stuff) when he can’t.

Also round the country are about 40 leaders of all shapes and sizes getting prepared. Here in the Vicarage we have our part to play. So what essential things do we need to get done before we leave?

1. Reply to the gazillion emails about transport, bible studies, menus, equipment. The inbox tends to heat up red hot in the days before we land in Devon.

2. Concoct suitable costumes for the theme. (France this year). Personally I’m hoping that stripey t-shirts will cut it. Although I know that there will be a few people dressed as baguettes and the Eiffel Tower – the team is a pretty creative bunch. Me, not so much.

3. Prepare the Bible study for the dorm. Although miraculously this year I have done mine already *smug face*.

4. Receive, check, price up and then repack the bookstall. This will take a day or so. There are a lot of books (I just counted and I think we have ordered 251). It will involve post-it notes and patience. It’s arriving from 10ofthose tomorrow!

5. Acquire all the sweeties, craft items and other bits and bobs I have agreed to bring for our dorm times. After first checking through the email that itemises them. If I can locate the email in amongst the gazillion.

6. Sleep for as many hours as possible. Sleep is in short supply in Devon what with early morning leaders’ meetings and late night dorm patrol. My aim is to arrive there *not* completely shattered.

7. Find my shorts with the capacious pockets. And the flip flops. And a raincoat and a couple of fleeces. Doncha just love a summer holiday in the UK?

8. Fill out all the health forms. For me, for the Vicar, for the children. And possibly for the cat aswell; I’m losing track.

9. Obsessively monitor the weather forecast for Barnstaple, praying that we won’t have to book out an entire cinema for an afternoon like we had to that year that Devon was subjected to sheet rain for the almost the entire week of camp.

10. Pray for the team, the kids, the families who send them, the home churches and the Ventures team at CPAS, who all work together to provide a fantastic week of holiday and happiness that can be so important in the Christian walk for so many. My own faith came alive on a CPAS venture in 1981 and I’m praying that all our Pathfinders will grow in faith in Christ next week.

Thankfully we have people staying in the Vicarage whilst we’re away, so we don’t have to work out who’s going to feed (and clear up after) our arthritic cat. I’m leaving early on Friday with Dreamer and we’ll be with the advance troops setting everything up before the kids arrive on Saturday. Then it’s all go until we land home on the following Friday, filled with tales of faith and fun and starting the plans for next year.

We get to go to a lovely beach on camp. We make it a lot busier than this one though…

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And training, and the opportunity to preach and to lead youth work, school assemblies and Sunday services, the experience of living in a busy inner city vicarage with a messy family which includes a couple of teenagers (and a younger one), and a year or two seeing what God is up to in multi cultural West Bromwich? Anyone?

The Shropshire Lad is moving away next month to a new job and to be closer to his beloved. King is spending another year in the attic and so now we are looking for an attic mate for him. Maybe you? Or someone you know?

Our Ministry Trainee scheme has produced three ordinands to date, two of whom are now curates. Another is waiting to hear about his BAP. So it’s a great way to explore vocation in the Church of England – and our Diocesan Director of Ordinands is very friendly and helpful. But you don’t have to be thinking about ordination and others have joined us and taken the skills they’ve learnt into other fields. There are many opportunities to serve in the church – music, technology, visiting, evangelism, teaching the Bible to all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. There is great flexibility for development of existing gifts and discovery of ones you never even knew you had. And it’s lots of fun. And there is cake.

Generally our MTs attend the Midlands Ministry Training Course one day a week and there are opportunities to attend other training conferences and courses through the year. The Vicar meets with the MTs for supervision and there is also training in youth and children’s work with Dreamer, our Families and Community worker. Our church website is a bit undeveloped at the moment after it fell over a few months ago, but details of the post can be found there (and if you can do websites well that would be great too!).

And did I mention the cake?

Muffins and cheese straws NB Church hall table cloth!

Muffins and cheese straws (please excuse the church hall table cloth)

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A lovely lady came back to our house after church today with her kids. They’ve been coming along for a few weeks – we’ve known them longer – and the kids wanted to play with the Engineer so they all piled back for a bit before lunch. We’re planning the whole family to join us for a meal in a couple of weeks so that her husband can join us too. It was great to chat with her and get to know her better and before she left I asked her for her mobile number, so I could send her reminders about the activities for the kids over half term (Dreamer organises some brilliant informal drop in sessions in the afternoons most holidays now).

I’ve never properly asked her name I don’t think, but I have been calling her one thing. Just to check, I asked her how to spell it, and she gave me a different name. A lovely name, but unusual. She told me she often calls herself something else (that I’d been calling her) when she meets new people because it was more familiar to them. This made me sad – that she’d felt the need to change her name. She also said that she prefers her real name, so I’ll be using that from now on.

If we’d not had that longer time today I’d not have known her real name. A quick five minutes after church doesn’t allow us to really get to know one another. To know each other by name. We need time to get to know one another. The challenge in a busy world is to make and take that time. So that we can begin to know one another as the Lord knows his people:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1

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It’s a busy start to the academic year here in the Vicarage. I think it may be my favourite time of year, when I’m feeling all relaxed post holiday, with the last vestiges of summer sunshine lingering and the excuse for the purchase of new stationery. And there are new beginnings – new Ministry Trainees this year, new school years for the kids (and a whole new school for the Joker as he starts secondary education), new plans for church life, a feeling of potential for growth and change.

The new Ministry Trainees moved in a couple of weeks ago. We are excited about all that God will do with and through King and the Shropshire lad. They’ve already been to church services and socials, King has been on a training conference, they have moved chairs and been to the zoo with the Vicarage family (the actual zoo, not just a meal time round the dining table). This morning they experienced their first school assembly. Within a couple of months they should be leading one. There may have to be some training in action songs first. I think we have their heads spinning a little. In a good way.

The Joker began secondary school by being so fast to get to the bus home that he missed me waiting at the main entrance to school. It was a very dull journey back for me on the later bus. But we know he knows what he’s doing. Better than his mum, anyway.

And now my stationery pile beckons. I’ve been told that it’s no good just having shiny new notebooks. I think I need to write things in them.

We didn’t just bring bottles of wine back from France this summer.

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The summer term is here. How on earth did that happen? I have lots swirling round my head: the aftermath of a great week of mission events in the parish and all the follow up needed, the tax forms to do, the prospect of helping to lead in a dorm at camp for the first time in years, the anticipation of changes in September as attic lodgers shift and children move to new schools or school years. And that’s just for starters.

So I am grateful that the Lord sent this rainbow to fill our view as we travelled back from our week’s break in Scotland. I’m not sure you can see it from my photo taken on the phone from the car, but it was a TRIPLE rainbow. And we were reminded again of God’s faithfulness to his promises. And I’m posting it here to remind myself again as I start contemplating the diary and tackling the laundry….

IMG-20140426-00400

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Spotted this excellent Easter meditation yesterday, with the starting point of considering a Creme Egg (which I know that a good number of people will be doing over the next few weeks). Delivered by Dave Crofts of Christ Church Central in Sheffield. Think this might get a showing in one of our services before Easter.

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