After a great half term break visiting Yorkshire and Northumberland I’m back to studies in Gloucester… And guess what! A week ago i believed that nobody reads my blog any more (being back in the uk and no longer doing full-time cross cultural mission and all) but have been told by four people in the past week that they still read it…! And a friend told me that he prays for me every day, which I was very moved to hear.
Half term break was good fun though work-filled: but I only got one assignment done, and ended up doing my Greek homework on the train coming back. Camping in Northumberland with family was really good, though I didn’t sleep too well… Hung out on the beach; went to see Northumbria community in which I got chance to go pray for a few hours and then help out with cleaning and the like (felt so at home!) and I saw someone I knew years ago who has now grown a beard and raises pigs; later went to visit the Franciscan friary in Alnmouth which was SO GOOD, great conversations with the monks and others, and again I got a few hours of undisturbed prayer too which was really lovely, and I got chance to ask a few questions about something I’ve been looking into for a little while now: the concept of becoming a Franciscan tertiary.
You may or may not know that for years I’ve been very interested in monastic tradition and have spent considerable time looking into it, it really attracts me- even though God seems to have made it clear on a number of occasions that He’s not calling me to be a nun (haha and Ben might have something to say about that too xD). The Franciscan movement was the one I was most taken by (also intrigued by the Benedictines despite a few questionable oddities in how they began) and I love st Francis’ teachings too. The first order of franciscan monks are very much mission focused, which again I found exciting. The second order are pretty much like regular monks and nuns but following st Francis’ teachings including his joy in mission and simplicity and humble service and priority of prayer 🙂 The third order is basically normal (non-monk) individuals who choose to set themselves apart to live in accountability under certain guidelines suited to their own lives (as an aid to living life from the place of a disciplined and healthy relationship with God and following the Bible’s teachings) and moulded around the basic monastic vows. I got to know a few people who are part of this movement and heard many stories about how much it has helped them, and all the while my supposedly objective interest was becoming gradually more personal as I became more excited about the concept and aware of how much it might help me, too. I asked many questions and wrote some letters and made some phone calls, and will soon be meeting with someone from the Gloucester group (!) to discuss things further on a personal level. Visiting the Alnmouth friary was so nice, speaking with second order monks about their lives etc, and it was a lovely place to just be with God and be refreshed too. I plan to return when next in the area. Anyway so it’d be great if you could pray for discernment for me as I pursue the path of potentially becoming a tertiary – it’s what I really would like to do, and I see nothing wrong with it, and God hasn’t yet told me to stop, but as much as I’ve prayed about it at every stage He hasn’t been giving clear answers in ways that I recognise. So i’ll push the door and see 🙂
Placements! Before the summer I’m to do a six week placement in the uk working with some Christian organisation. So, of course, I’d like to return to Bolivia and have been told that conditionally I can be an exception and can do so =] will be inquiring further about this this week, and have a uk backup plan for if it doesn’t work. Again, please pray for guidance and discernment for me, so I go where God wants me and not just where I’d like to go…!
Thanks to all who’ve supported in prayer and/or finance for the Uganda pastors training conference! It started on Sunday (two days ago) and is running for four days instead of five, with 20 pastors instead of 40, due to finance being lower than what was needed for the original plan. I’ve been sent regular updates and photos so far and it seems to be going well!! Thanks, please keep praying that God will work in mighty ways in the conference and bring lasting positive change, and that the follow up is good and that God continues to use this time long after the conference itself.
As for me, many deadlines coming up over this next six weeks, lots of reading and assignments to do… And Christmas to sort out! I’ve finished most of my abroad Christmas cards and will be sending the Latin America an East Africa ones this week, but still lots more to do. And I’m in the college Christmas panto among other things, so lots on for this next six weeks!
Again, thanks for your prayers and support. God is so good and I’m learning a lot…! Keep in touch 🙂