Merry Christmas!

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Hello! Hope you’re enjoying the Christmas season and not feeling too stressed by it all. Here’s a little update from us…

Ben’s work is going well; he’s a ‘cafe mission worker’ in a lovely cafe owned by the Baptist Church in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. He’s finding ways of encouraging people to talk to one another, and ways to connect with the wider local community. He’s enjoying this new part of the role – it’s challenging him to think creatively in a different way!

My work is also changing: from January I’ll be supporting and mentoring a team of new community builders. This will be a new challenge, while still continuing most of the work I’m already doing with community workers in different parts of Gloucestershire and with churches.

The car seems to be doing ok at the moment, though we had a scare a couple of weeks ago with the alternator not working. We got it fixed within a few days and the car has been fine since. Never a dull moment!

For Christmas we’ve come Up North for a few days – never quite long enough to catch up with all the people we’d really like to see, but we’ve managed to have coffee/lunch with a few friends and relatives and will now spend Christmas just with my family. Then on the afternoon of Boxing Day we’ll head down to Wraysbury to see Ben’s family (hopefully arriving an hour or so before his sister and her family leave – we’d really like to see them, if we can make it there in time!), and probably stay there until New Year’s Day. This will be a lot more relaxed than being here in Harrogate because we don’t know quite so many people there, and we’re looking forward to a few days’ rest as well as spending time with his parents and brothers.

My art/jewellery/cards business is going well – I’ve been figuring out tax returns this month too, which has been quite an experience! The last two months have seen lots of jewellery sold at Christmas markets and in shops, and quite a few new card designs released. The DeeperCards Designers programme has been more successful than I could have imagined since it started in Summer, with thousands of new greetings cards being produced every month by a wide variety of talented artists, photographers and designers. It’s wonderful seeing people sharing what’s meaningful to them through art and greetings cards, as well as seeing more FSC-certified and eco-friendly cards replacing the usual shop-bought cards. (Let me know if you’d like more info…)

Ben is thoroughly enjoying his counselling course – even keeping on top of all the homework and assignments! He gets on well with the other trainees and the trainers, and loves the content. He’s finding himself putting it into practice in everyday conversations too, which has been fascinating – excellent skills to have. This level 3 course finishes in September, and he’d really like to do level 4 afterwards which would enable him to pursue it professionally. We don’t know how we’d afford the Level 4 course at this stage, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there!

The Youth Alpha course went well, and several of the youngsters expressed that they’d like to do the course again and bring friends! So we might run it slightly differently, but will find a way to make that possible in the new year. They‘re a mildly challenging but fun group of people, and it’s been great getting to know them and also hearing how the course has impacted their lives.

Lately I’ve been working on a few new writing projects as well (surprise, surprise!), including a book for Operation Restoration, the charity we worked for in Bolivia who have homes for teenagers who lived on the streets. Various staff in Bolivia are now involved, as well as the founders who are now trying to retire to England – a number of the youngsters who are in the homes or have been through the projects are sharing their stories which will be incorporated in the book, as well as stories from my own experience and others who have worked there for several years (and the founders). Exciting!!

We’re still in touch with our favourite mission agencies about the long-term future but have no concrete plans at this stage.

Not sure there’s any other news from us – but please do get in touch and tell us how you’re doing!!

Have a wonderful Christmas!

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