Wow, what a day its been. No electricity, no water, Alex making several hour long journeys trying to sort it all out only to be sold defective goods. A typical day in Romania.
Workwise the storesheds are sorted out waiting for new new donations, there were 15 children at the holiday club, 8 teenagers at the mens meeting, 5 teenage girls in the girls club, and a real mix of of activities.
Continued prayer is required that tomorrows holiday club is a success, when we’re expecting at least double figures. We’re probably also going out to visit some families tomorrow as well.
How do we take today ? It has really highlighted some of the issues facing the Chalmers family, in having to cope with a lifestlye in which nothing is predictable, and the best laid plans can be jettisoned easily, and often have to be.
When I consider how ‘ordered’ my life is by comparison this puts me to shame, Its always a challenge being here but I’m so grateful, to be allowed to share in this work even in a small way.
We arrived late last night after a long days travel to what is a most preciuus village to us, Poiana in Romania.
As usual it was a wonderful welcome from Heather and Alex who always throw open their home to us. Today we start the childrens work and later this week we’ll visit families, take part in some Church gatherings and do some practical work.
Did something that I never thought I`d ever do, have cause to do or even want to do ! I went to a duck race !! Now before all the animal liberationists and welfare agencies get on to me, I must explain that it involved those of the small yellow, plastic type !
The village of Hilcote, which houses my smallest Chapel (B.Winning) hosts an annual plastic duck race on its nearby brook. The brook runs next to the rear of the Chapel and alongside the rear of the local working mens club. Consequently, both are involved and so I wanted to be there to represent the Chapel. It became a good afternoon of meeting people from the village and letting them see a `vicar` enjoying himself. As it’s the only Church presence in the village it is important to the villagers to see it being used. However it only consists of 6 elderly ladies, who still run a sunday-school (6 children) and a weekly open youth club, so I think the village appreciate what the Chapel does but I still need to find a way of getting some of these villagers involved.
Then by contrast a wedding visit to a couple in their early 60`s who have decided its time to get married. When I asked why they were bothering, he simply replied “cos, I love her !” as if I`d asked the dumbest question ever. Lovely time with them.
In amongst all this I spent my time finalising my sermon and hymns ready for tomorrow, for I have three services one of which is a harvest festival.
Finally, spent this evening completing my packing for Romania as we fly out there tomorrow night for our annual trip to a village near Constanta (Poiana). As those who have followed this blog for several years now will know the people of Poiana have become very dear to my heart. Each year we take toys, pens, pencils, paper, wooly hats, jumpers and so on. While we are there we run a holiday club, I mow the grass, the team paints the house, we deliver goods to the villagers and meet them in their own homes. Alison will be preaching on the Sunday and I will lead a Romanian mens meeting on the Wednesday.
All in all its a busy time but incredibly satisfying. Please hold us in prayer and as usual I will try to put some entries onto this blog over the next few days.
I couldn`t find many pictures of Romania but coming across this one reminded me of a previous trip. This is of the A2 the main route between Bucharest and Constanta; our car broke down on it two years ago and myself and another lad had to wait for over an hour for help. Most boring hour I`ve ever had, watching the ants crawling along the hard shoulder heading for what they thought was going to be tasty meat, US !!
Why have I shared all this with you ? Simply because I know that some of you are actually interested, but also to illustrate the hugely varied life I seem to lead : Duck races to Romania !!
Rising to a challenge by a friend on Facebook, I have been thinking about my favourite 10 bands. No doubt you will disagree with some of them, but they are all personal to me………………..
6 David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars
8 Take That
9 Rolling Stones
I could have added to the list Barclay James Harvest, The Shadows, Hot Chocolate and others but I had to narrow it down to 10 and its so hard.
So what has influenced me in making these choices ? Namely, that the majority were a part of my childhood; I grew up with some of them; I would dance along to their music in the Chapel disco and mime with a hairbrush in front of my bedroom mirror to Freddie Mercury’s vocals (what a confession !). The only obvious exception to that is the band, Take That, who only emerged on the scene in the early 90`s, but whose music is extremely engaging.
I reflect on this because it’s the same in Church life. Many of us like particular hymns but rarely for the words; it’s far more to do with associations we make. The hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus” will forever be associated with Auntie Evie and Uncle Bill, two very dear friends of mine, because it was Uncle Bills favourite. “We have an anchor” because it is the Boys Brigade hymn. Lately the hymn from the Vineyard movement “We will ride” is playing over and over in my head and it will always remind me of a commitment I made to Jesus to `ride with him`.
When it comes to making choices of hymns we would all have a different top ten, because we all have different associations and yet many of us assume that our choices are the correct ones and we write off the music of a different generation as too modern or too old, as dull and boring or too loud and fast ! Within Church life we need to become more tolerant towards All kinds of music and recognise that each type will mean something to someone.
A mechanic who worked out of his home had a dog named Mace. Mace had a bad habit of eating all the grass on the mechanic’s lawn, so the mechanic had to keep Mace inside. The grass eventually became overgrown. One day the mechanic was working on a car in the backyard and dropped his wrench, losing it in the tall grass. He couldn’t find it for the life of him, so he decided to call it a day. That night, Mace escaped from the house and ate all the grass in the backyard. The next morning the mechanic went outside and saw his wrench glinting in the sunlight. Realizing what had happened he looked toward the heavens and proclaimed, “A grazing Mace, how sweet the hound, that saved a wrench for me!”
September 11 2001 was my JFK day as it was for millions across the world. Just as many can remember where they were or what they were doing John F. Kennedy was shot, or John Lennon was shot or Princess Diana died, then on September 11 I can remember where I was and what I was doing when the news of the twin towers disaster came through.
I was working in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire that morning. I had wandered through to my study casually and rather lazily to answer the phone. On the other end of the phone was my Anglican colleague, Lindsay. She simply said “Michael, I think you`d better put the television on”. I did and like millions of people was immediately engulfed in the horror of it all. I remember that nothing else was to happen that morning as I simply sat and watched each of those towers being hit by planes, burning and then collapsing.
Watching the events again on TV in the days which followed simply seemed to intensify the horror of a world where faceless people could do such things to others that they had never met. Truly horrific. I recall in the days after the event the hope that America would not respond with violence and for a while it seemed as though the moderate voices would prevail, but then came the war on Afghanistan, then the war on Iraq, the 7/7 bombings in London, the Madrid bombings and so the string of seemingly endless violence was never coming to an end.
And here we are 10 years later in a world which seems more nervous and unsure of itself in terms of security and safety than ever before.
I wonder “did our innocence really diminish that day ?” In some ways I believe it did. No longer could we feel the peace that we had enjoyed since the 2nd World War; suddenly we viewed almost everyone with some sort of suspicion and sadly viewed our Muslim brothers and sisters with a seemingly increased, almost paranoid suspicion. And yet perhaps hope and defiance were also birthed that day too.
Watching the American remembrance this afternoon, it strikes me that hope and defiance stand tall. Firstly the hope that one day there will be true peace and atrocities like 9/11 will indeed be no more. Secondly, that defiance which says that no matter what evil does the basic goodness in the hearts of everyone will never let evil men or women truly have their day. I have looked at the ground Zero memorial and it is truly magnificent; the names of loved ones around the edges, the flowers being placed, not beside the names but quite literally `in` them; the water cascading over the edge as if it’s coming from the very names themselves and then at night those two beams of light projected so powerfully into the sky. All of this speaks of a defiance and a hope for a better future.
My prayers are with those who have lost loved ones today and in many atrocities since, with those who`se hearts still harbour evil that it may be replaced by love, and that the world may truly know the peace of Jesus Christ our Lord, who so powerfully said “LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR”.
Its been a funny few days and once again I find myself writing my blog a few days after events; my apologies once again.
Saturday saw the launch of the Mission Shaped Ministry and it was a very busy day. We had 17 people out of the 24 registered came and joined us; Loraine Mellor, the Methodist Chair of District, came along to wish us well and pray for us all. Rev Michael Mitton led two of the sessions, I led two sessions also, the welcome was given by our administrator David Fidler and a splendid lunch was provided by his wife Lesley. The participants were attentive, joined in the discussions and the venue of St. Andrews really lended itself to a positive feel.
By the end of the day we were feeling as though we had launched well and the feedback was very positive.
And then the meetings began……………………………… Monday, a good staff meeting, but then came a series of rather mundane, frustrating meetings where I came perilously close to losing the will to live. This was topped tonight by a Christians together meeting which was good in spirit but so much time was wasted in organising who`s turn it was to carry out whichever event we were discussing at the time ! The devil must have a field day at all of our grumblings and mumblings.
In the midst of all this I had a good day out on Friday, in London when Pilsley Bridge Street Church went to see “Mama Mia”; showing a tremendous amount of lycra, platform boots and corny jokes it was a brilliant production and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This was followed on Saturday night by a wonderful welcome service for our new Colleague, Alan and his family. I really feel that Alan is going to bring something special to our Circuit. On Monday night I went to the Collation and Installation of a very dear friend of ours into her Church, as Vicar. Beej has been a good friend and a wonderful support to the Redshaws so it was special to attend and see her into her new Church.
All in all a mixed bag of events and occasions, which probably sums up the life of most Ministers. However my frustration throughout it all is “How and where do I find the time and energy to answer my call to evangelism ?” John Wesley raised up the Methodist people as a discipleship movement and it feels as though we`ve moved a long way from that; now we seem to be far more pre-occupied with maintainance instead of saving souls. As my recent post (Amy Carmichaels dream) showed I want to be engaged in bringing people to know the Lord Jesus Christ to whom I owe so much, but the Church often squeezes it out of me. For that I am truly sorry, Lord.
And yet I don`t really know the answer to it all. Church people want more and more of their Minister and yet because of declining finances they can`t afford it, and consequently they become more focused on fund-raising rather than Jesus.
We need to return to the threefold principle of Worship, Prayer, Bible Study and allow them to refocus our attention on Jesus, and then we need to be people who are witnesses for Jesus. There are souls out there waiting and wanting to be saved; don`t let them down.