Below you will find our Christmas letter which we send out annually to folk around the country. Hope you enjoy reading and catching up.
May we also wish everyone a very happy and blessed Christmas
It’s that time of year again when we try to catch up with everyone. Thanks to the mysteries of email and Facebook it does seem easier than ever and especially because of Facebook it feels as though most of you will be up to date with the comings and goings of the Redshaw family.
It’s been a mixed year in many ways but a good one. It began with a trip to the Holy Land, last January. This was possible because of the generosity of the Bishop of Derby who provided the trip for all his non-stipendiary (unpaid) clergy as a thank-you to them. At the same time Michael’s previous Circuit (Borders Mission Circuit) had very generously given us £1000 as a leaving present and it meant he could afford to travel with Alison. It was a marvellous 8 days and the highlight was being on a boat in the middle of Lake Galilee (above) singing “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”. However there were many other highlights (Masada on Michael’s birthday was special). We might never get the chance to go back again because of the cost so it really was the highlight of our year and we now have a Jerusalem cross hanging in our hallway to remind us to give thanks for the generosity of the people who made it possible.
We have settled into our new area very well; hard to imagine this is our second Christmas in Burton and have quite fallen in love with the town and area. Staffordshire has a different feel about it from Derbyshire but the people have been just as welcoming, friendly and supportive. Thankfully we are able to receive news from all our former circuits and so it has helped us to retain friendships and to hold folk in prayer with a sense of thankfulness for all the Churches, Anglican and Methodist, we have been privileged to share in.
Alison continues to travel back to Ripley three days a week for her job as Chaplain in the Methodist Home for the Aged, Maple Leaf House. She loves that job and it really is a special place. Alongside that she continues to fulfil her Parish and Deanery work, based in Swadlincote on the other side of Burton. She goes into a residential home regularly for Communion and is becoming well-known there amongst the residents and staff but various other members of the Deanery are beginning to sound her out for advice for similar work in residential and nursing homes. You can find more information about the MHA home on http://www.mha.org.uk/care-homes/dementia-nursing-care/maple-leaf-house
Michael continues to be busy in his circuit work in the Trent and Dove Circuit, which is an amalgamation of two circuits comprising 16 Churches stretching from the far side of Burton (Stanton) to Uttoxeter. As with any Church/Circuit there are many issues to be resolved and opportunities to be taken and Michael is finding it very exciting. If all goes according to plan he may even get to plant a brand new Church, based on an arts theme, in 2015. ( if there are any musicians/actors/painters etc. who are prepared to give a show free of charge in return for a nights bed and breakfast let him know). This has been a vision of Michael’s since he first arrived in this circuit and it’s getting closer and closer. Alongside that he’s doing all he can to encourage other Churches to think missionally. In January he gets his long-awaited administrator so that should release some of the administrative burden and some of the Uttoxeter churches are exploring the possibility of employing a schools worker and so the work continues. He also continues his work within the Fresh Expressions movement of Church, especially through the Mission Shaped Ministry teaching course and as we write this he’s getting ready to launch the fifth course in January (there’s still room if anyone is interested !)
Alison continues to hold her membership of the Inner Wheel and once a month travels back to join the other ladies in West Ashfield where she was President until last July. She enjoys the fellowship and friendship. Michael still plays his part in Rotary, but now in his new club of Burton, where he is starting to make close friends. As chair of the youth committee he is loving the involvement and the possibility of doing something for the town and area.
Both of us continue our involvement with Poiana in Romania where our friends Alex and Heather and Andrew carry out some amazing work amongst the children and villagers. We`ve come to love them so much. We`re now starting to think about our journey out there in Sept/Oct 2015, if they’ll still put up with a strangely dressed, Englishman in crocs ! We don`t send Christmas cards beyond our immediate family and close friends, so we send a donation to Romania instead.
Vikki moved in with Mark this year. They first met 5 years ago at the baptism of their God daughter. Mark is a smashing lad and we look forward to getting to know him even better. Vikki changed jobs this and is now working for Prolog; the important thing is that she seems happier than ever, whilst Mark continues to teach music to pupils in Nottingham schools.
This meant that Vikki’s flat was free so Rebecca and Michelle have moved into it and seem to have settled nicely into Nottingham life. Rebecca continues to work for EON and seems to be liking it. It also means Michelle is closer to her work at Matalan.
The four of them are only a few minutes away from each other and so they tend to look after each other. They are coming to us over Christmas so it will be board games and laughter all round.
Alison’s Mum Freda, came down in the Autumn to visit and Alison went to see her last week. Given her age she enjoys reasonable health and has decided to remain at home for this Christmas. Michael’s Dad, Charlie, is with us for Christmas. Again he also enjoys reasonable health and we`re thankful for that.
On the health front it’s been a difficult year for Michael as his hearing has declined considerably and he now cannot manage at all without his hearing aids. When they`re out of his ears he cannot even hear someone standing next to him and he finds it very frustrating. Come April 2015 he might even start investigating the possibility of a hearing dog for the deaf. The Methodist Church are exploring what equipment he needs to make life easier for him and we look forward to their report in the New Year.
In 2015 Michael has a sabbatical from work between May and July and is considering studying the life of St. Cuthbert and exploring more of Celtic Christianity so he’s looking forward to that. He’s also hoping to do some investigation work into how the Church treats deaf people so if you feel you could complete a short, simple questionnaire that would be very helpful.
No doubt 2015 will bring us some interesting challenges and many opportunities but as we come to the end of this year Alison and Michael are content and happy and so grateful for all that God blesses us with. We hope and pray that it is the same for you, that you have a very peaceful and blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Yours in Christ
Alison and Mike