Hi all! So, halfway through the second term at Redcliffe I’m becoming increasingly confident that it’s where God wants me, despite my occasional wobbles of ‘I miss Bolivia too much!’ and ‘what am I doing here?!’. The people here are amazing and I feel so blessed to be part of a community with Christ at the centre and a passion for mission as common ground. Been learning a lot from the people and having some amazing conversations through which God has been teaching me many things. Learning certainly isn’t restricted to the classroom or the books!
As my weekly placement I’ve been getting more involved with the life of my Gloucester church, St. Lawrence’s. It’s pushed me outside my comfort zone which is great, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the people and helping out with things – ranging from shredding things to playing with toddlers to wearing robes and carrying candles in services – and other interesting things in between. I’m due to preach there fairly soon.
Studies seem to be going well thus far, and the topics are interesting and practical. The lecturers continue to make lectures enjoyable – although I do miss one or two of my lecturers from last term who no longer teach me. I’m very rarely bored in College 🙂 I’ve also started selling cards in College – the staff and the student committee have said I can have a table of them on display (to sell) one day a week, and last week – the first week – raised £100! 🙂 it’s all in aid of Operation Restoration, the organisation I was working for in Bolivia last year.
God has been teaching me many things this term. About a month ago I realised that since this term I only have lectures on Wednesday and Friday mornings, I’m responsible for organising and sorting out the vast majority of my time, and I can choose what to prioritise and when. It made me wonder, what does my time revolve around? In Bolivia it had to be all about work and sleep, pretty much – work hours were intense and when not working I’d be travelling to work or preparing for work or catching up on sleep that I’d lost at work… I did do other things too, but it was in whatever time was left (if I had the energy), and so of course the priority was work. But now I’m at college and have 8 or 9 hours of lectures a week, spread over two mornings, I can order the rest of my life how I like. I was pondering this about a month ago, and wondered what should be my first priority… Studies (lots of reading homework and assignments and things)? People/social stuff? Church stuff? Fundraising? Any projects I’d want to do? ….Prayer? I asked myself what I WANTED my life to revolve around; what I wanted to set as my first priority. My answer was my relationship with God. Everything else will ultimately fade away, and the importance of everything else reduces to nothing when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ and developing relationship with Him, coming into deeper intimacy with Him and letting Him guide every part of life.
So I decided to commit to setting aside the best of my time – the part of my day when my brain is most active and when potential for productivity etc is at its peak, and dedicate that time to just being with God. The rest of my time I can be with Him and do things at the same time while still focusing on Him, but that set aside time will be just for Him to do whatever He wants, and to have my full attention. That’s where existence ends and life begins – and that’s where I want my life to flow from. I certainly haven’t managed to stick with this every day since making that decision, but I’ve learnt to not hold it as a ritualistic routine but as choosing to spend time meeting with my closest Friend – more than just that few minutes or odd hour every so often when life’s busyness allows for it. This reevaluation of priorities has proven extremely helpful for me – puts the pressure of everything else into perspective and helps me keep focused on God in the other things that I do.
Things with Ben have been absolutely wonderful, and part of me really doesn’t want anything to ever change between us 🙂 It feels like every day I appreciate him more. We haven’t really fallen out in what feels like a very long time, but have been learning how to read and respond to each other. As we talk and pray together daily about life we’ve been able to be very open about many things, which has been great. He even did something ROMANTIC for me last Tuesday, which was a pleasant surprise….! And (to anyone who might question) no, we’re not sleeping together.
Something exciting I’ve been preparing for is the return to Bolivia!! I think I mentioned this in the last post. I’m due to be working in Santa Cruz for six weeks – watch this space for further details 😀 Flights have been booked, and any donations towards the work or living costs etc would be happily accepted and appreciated, teehee!
I’ve just been on a retreat weekend with a few friends, and it was so good. I’ve had some great weekends this past six weeks but this one may have topped them all. Just having space to be with God with no other distractions or priorities or work etc, in a safe and peaceful space with four others who I really trust and who were also there just for the purpose of prayer – it was awesome. One of the things God was teaching me in the time there was the lack of need for words. Wonderful 🙂
Last night after the retreat weekend I arrived at Ben’s parents’ house, where I’m staying until tomorrow morning. It’s so lovely to see them, and I feel so blessed to be here. However, there are pretty major struggles in this village: it’s all been flooded fairly badly. Many people have had to leave their houses. The damage is awful. Please pray that it doesn’t rise again. Ben’s family have no clean running water and have to boil everything, and things like loos, showers and washing machines aren’t really functioning. The water isn’t inside their house like many others but it still affects them greatly. Please pray primarily for protection from disease caused by the flooding, but also for practicalities to be sorted out – and for God to somehow use all this for good.
Tomorrow morning I leave for Poland, to stay with the Chemin Neuf community there (see old blog posts from time in the Czech Republic) and visit my friend Dominika who now lives there. I’m very much looking forward to it and hoping I’ll be able to remember enough Polish to understand things and communicate somewhat…! Please pray that God will use me there as a blessing to the community in some way, and that He teaches me and leads me closer to Him in the time there.
Again, thanks for your support and prayers etc – and keep in touch!! I’d love to hear your updates too.