December already!

This past six weeks have been so good! Very challenging in parts, intense and difficult at times, but good – on the whole a thoroughly enjoyable semester.

When starting college here in the UK I was glad to be able to have my fingers in just the one pie – bible college stuff – and not be involved in many things all at once (which has been the story of my life for the past seven years). However, as always, that didn’t entirely work out as I’ve still been involved in numerous extra things – the vast majority of which I haven’t even mentioned in blog posts. Potentially as a result of doing too many things and having too many commitments all at once, and having a very overactive brain as part of that, I got pretty sick twice in this past few weeks – really not fun. So for next term I’m going to try to commit to cut down on what I do and what I let myself get involved in. Going to also try to prioritise rest a little more, and not see productivity as such a high priority! I’ve been really appreciating my weekly sabbath/prayer-day that I’ve managed to stick to this term, especially as its been a day of no reading whatsoever – every other day in the week involves lots of reading for study…. Without my weekly sabbath I don’t know if I’d have made it through this term without crashing from brain overload (again from doing too much) xD

Two other big things I’ve been learning this term relate to overcoming my naïveté – this has been an issue in the past, as I tend to take everything on face value and am extremely gullible, not really reading into anything and needing things to be clear and blunt and without any hidden messages or read-between-the-lines-of-a-situation-or-conversation.

The first relates to guys: I shouldn’t assume that because of Ben being in the picture all other guys now automatically see me as taken and not-an-option (though I did also make it fairly clear to pretty much everyone before I was with Ben that I wasn’t to be seen as an option and didn’t want a relationship with anyone xD). There are still to be boundaries put in place relating to friendships with guys, for example meeting for one-on-one prayer situations is not necessarily appropriate – which I hadn’t considered much, since I see people as people and don’t necessarily make such a distinction between ‘people’ and ‘MEN’. Having had one or two shocks/surprises this term i’m now more aware and much more cautious – though still trying to find the balance and not disregarding friendships altogether.

The second relates to cultural issues. I’d been told, for example, that Luganda Bibles in rural areas of Uganda are inaccessible to poor pastors there, that they can’t afford them and simply can’t get hold of them. So I started a Bibles to Uganda system which was fairly successful (several people bought Bibles for Ugandan pastors) and I’m aware that it did make a big positive difference to the lives of the pastors and their families and churches and communities – BUT in a recent conversation with a man who lived and worked there for many years I realised that actually something I should have taken into consideration is priority. Many of these incredibly poor pastors in rural areas, although they have very little, have a mobile phone – a ‘necessity’, which actually costs more than a Bible. Priority. And yes Bibles are hard to get hold of, but if you put your mind to it and are committed, you can get hold of one. Even if a pastor were to put aside a small fraction of his tiny income each week and/or something from the church offering or something, within a few months he could buy a Bible. Me sending these donations from westerners is just putting a plaster on the issue, providing something that is very much appreciated and awesome – but the need for such a ministry is not quite as necessary as I thought. If a pastor is desperate for a Bible he will find a way to get hold of one: it’s not completely inaccessible, as I’d originally been told – and believed, having taken the words on face value without looking into it or questioning it much. Similarly, when out there last year I met pastors (and heard of many others) who’d had no training and had no idea what they were preaching or how to pastor a church. I was told that training is also totally inaccessible to these poor pastors who can’t afford it. So I took this literally and took it into my own hands to fundraise like crazy and get some training out to them. The training course that happened last month was GOOD – sound and applicational teaching and active follow up etc, and I’m so glad that it happened – immense benefit to the 15 pastors who attended as well as to the ministry that ran it. But I found out last week from a different man who lived and worked there for several years that actually there are many organisations there that are very aware of this need and train pastors in rural areas, taking into consideration the extreme poverty, the prosperity gospel, the denominational divides, the issues of transport and everything else – there’s really very little need for new organisations to come along and start up the same thing from scratch, funded by westerners. I’m glad the training conference happened and it did make a huge positive difference, but I did feel let down (and felt silly for somehow not finding this out beforehand, though I did try hard for ages to find existing organisations but found very little!) because what I provided wasn’t actually happening within the context that I’d originally believed. I should have known this from the start, because of the awareness of other fairly big cultural differences which I should’ve taken into consideration, but I didn’t. I’ve since been put in touch with three amazing organisations who do this very work, with the same vision as I have and with the resources etc already in place – I trust them and have plans to link them with my contacts who are in need of such training and we can make some (albeit comparatively small) difference to this immense need. YAY!

So that’s some of the things that’ve been going on in my life in recent weeks. Alongside assignment deadlines and exams and other study-related things, and Christmas panto and other college social events, and placement with a really great church full of lovely people, and Franciscan meetings and homework for that, and learning piano, and extra Hebrew classes, and doing college worship group stuff, and doing up a couple of the student rooms in college, and (the list extends)… Life is good xD

I love being at Redcliffe. And I never get fed up of saying so! The lectures are great, the work is interesting and applicational, the lecturers (and other staff) are genuinely awesome, the other students are SO NICE – its a really amazing community to live in. I noticed this to an even greater extent when I was ill recently. And life never gets boring – there’s always something weird and wonderful going on!! This week though we had to say goodbye to almost half of our number – the Wycliffe courses ended and so the Wycliffe students returned to their regions and countries, and other countries on mission, and I don’t know if I’ll see some of them again. So sad, I really don’t like goodbyes, but we’re certainly keeping in touch. Yay for the Internet – it really is a fabulous invention!

Ben seems fine, although not dealing with assignment deadlines quite as well as he’d like to – sleeping patterns seem a bit skewed! But he’s loving being at Redcliffe. He’s also a wonderful support for me (and vice versa :D), and it’s so lovely being able to meet up and chat and pray about things on our minds etc pretty much every day. We’ve also been realising that in this country we can do DATES! We never did that in Bolivia – not really culturally allowed… So, weird though it is, we’ve been on some lovely afternoons/evenings out in the Gloucester area – just simple inexpensive things but really nice. He got me a teapot for Christmas, teehee 😀

Thanks for your prayer. I have so much to be thankful for. Please pray for my Wycliffe friends who have just left – for God to guide and support and teach them as they experience great changes in their lives in this next month or so, and that He’d remind them of His goodness every day 🙂 Also I’d appreciate prayer for my upcoming Germany trip – I’ve been asked to help with a Redcliffe stall at a missions based youth event in Offenburg and I leave Yorkshire on Christmas day to get there in time. I’m going with some seriously epic people so I’m very excited!! The four others who are also on the Redcliffe stall are amazing: two girls in their 20s (German and Hungarian) who I’m VERY fond of and who have awesome testimonies too, and two Redcliffe staff who I also like very much and am looking forward to spending more time with! I’m travelling to and from Germany with such a wonderful family (who lived in Bolivia years ago – major added bonus!!!!!!) – the parents are both Redcliffe staff and their three girls are really lovely – I very much look forward to spending time with such great people.

Now though, I’m in North Yorkshire til Christmas! It’s good to be back. Might even get a little rest at some point 😉 Not doing any study-related work for this whole holiday, which will be strange – I’m already feeling the lack of Greek vocab cards….! Life is good. If anyone from Yorkshire wants to meet up, do let me know!!

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