Where is Freedom?

This video shows some of the depth of need that our children have, in fact that all of us have. A need to be free, to explore, to have spaces no matter what our limitations that offer us places to be and to become. Our moments of outside often are limited between building and vehicle, office or school to bus or car, shop or church. But the greatest cathedral ever built with the most breath-taking architecture is that one all around us, the great outdoors. It is unbelievable that we see the need for prisoners to have space outside but don’t insist the same for ourselves and children. How can we change this, how can we encourage the connection with all the outside freedom and learning if we don’t go there?

Muddy Church isn’t about a set program, do this or that. It’s a place for groups, individuals, churches, communities to stop and look around them, to explore around them and to look where God might be. It doesn’t take huge planning or any expense it it about each of us realising we need to feel the fulness of life that certainly extends walls and doors. Why not try it for yourself today, step outside for five minutes – feel the wind, get wet in the rain, listen and ask yourself – where is God right now?

This is in no way a promotion of Unilever but fascinating and deeply saddening.

Wandering and Wondering

A conversation with someone led to the start of Muddy Church, developing the idea of making church accessible and also celebrating the different ways we connect spiritually with God.

Muddy Church is a space to wander and wonder… to walk alongside people (and animals), enjoying the outside, community, friendship and the wonderful world around us.

Living on the edge of a nature area we are fortunate and yet overlook this luxury often and Muddy Church hopes to re-discover this lovely area and the fun that can be found in the steep mud banks, scrunching through leaves or bouncing in puddles. The beauty of the seasons captured and enjoyed, the creative God recognised and delighted in and the lovely companionship of easy talk and sharing life.

Muddy Church gives a place that people can meet together with others of shared faith or none. A place families can gather together and adventure – getting the kids off screens! A welcoming place for the extended family of furry friends (treats provided for the dogs) and supporting the local community businesses and facilities.

Perhaps Muddy Church is a breath of fresh air for spiritual wanderers and the church?

Parents Evening TCK style

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Parents evening, the name (or whatever it is called locally) still strikes a fear in my heart.  It’s not that I doubt my children’s behaviour or ability – I know they are more than a school grade.  It’s memories of confusion, misunderstanding, frustration and sadness – and I’m the parent.

As the first teacher arrives he tells my son to sit in his chair and he joins me, the other side of the table and he tells him to begin.  My son is confused but also amused and so asks the teacher how he thinks he has done.  They swap back around and I hear reports of the ways my son helps hand out books in class, he gets distracted at times, generally works hard and is a good student.  Presentation is an issue, I explain it always has been and the teacher says he used to have the same problem and it’s okay, he’ll get there.  I ask my son if he has got anything to ask or say to the teacher?  “Thank you.”  My tears well up and the teacher is taken aback, humbled, amazed and appreciative – in all his years….

With that word – presentation, my son and I were both taken back to his overseas school where ‘parents evening’ was held with students and parents all together in a class.  The only foreigners the first barrier was that usual one of what happens here?  Trying to understand the fast speaking teacher whilst rushing through your head the search for the norms and expectations of this setting.  The teacher began picking out the best students and praising them, how wonderful they are, how beautiful their hair, how well they are doing (often they were paid to like this child).  They would then go around the class and pick out the faults of the others, not good at this, bad at that, not trying, no hope, waste of time.  The aim was humiliation – it worked.  As the only foreign child in the class he got no favours, he is disorganised, untidy, his writing is atrocious. There was no use trying to explain dyspraxia and it’s effects (I did once try) or explaining he was really left handed but not allowed to use that here (yep, tried that one too).  There was no mention of his friendships, the things he was good at or his kindness such as the time he took some paper and sticky tape from home and covered the broken window that had been blowing freezing winds and rain into the unheated classroom.  When he left the school after four years all his teacher could say was the general greeting of ‘safe roads’.

That was why his reaction was ‘thank you’, someone who had seen his messiness and untidiness but saw more and focused on that.  A teacher who first talked of his character and then discussed his academic life.  Every time we sit down I feel the need to explain to the teacher first that he isn’t really English, he hasn’t been through the system and has only been here for two years.  My son rolls his eyes at me but they see the funny blonde haired, blue eyed, gangly teen and don’t realise that he’s never learnt those grammatic rules or writing style – but he could do it in another language!  When they do they understand him a bit more and can take the time to explain, maybe it’s just the mum in me jumping to his defence.  But I see the miracle of his determination in sticking at school to become a student who is achieving and enjoying the experience which demonstrates the resilience of so many TCK’s.  Laughing about their history, which to others is a horror story but to them is part of who they are, and also the challenge of what sets them apart.  With his ‘thank you’ I again realise the richness of how he values and sees beauty in simple things that others would take for granted.  How easy it is to focus on the wrong things, to find criticism first or not see the full picture and yet how powerful when we touch a heart by seeing the fulness of who they are.

As a mum, I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the dread of parent’s evening,.  But just as I did as we walked down the dust road, we walk across the concrete play area and I tell my child how proud I am of them.   Each time I say it I see the fullness of their journey and it means just that bit more.  How grateful I am for a God who sits by me and listens as others declare things about me, who stands for me, who sees my mistakes and failures but also sings over me with delight.

(just to add we did also have an amazing teacher at the same school for my other son and both of them learnt well at the school – in the fullest sense).

God is NOT faithful

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Eight years ago we left our lovely three storey Edwardian house with a car load of things and headed off with our three children to live and serve in Albania.  We arrived and settled into life in a nice house, once we got rid of the fleas.

People asked us why we would give up everything and go, it didn’t make any sense.  But it did to us.  Our belief in God and our desire to live our lives for Him meant we had said we would go wherever He thought best, do whatever He asked and trust.  WE were faithful.

 

After two years we knew we were to set up a centre for children and young people in this deprived settlement where hopelessness had made her home.  So we asked our church and they helped us with the finance and there were some rocky moments, some tough challenges, threats to us but we saw these children and young people grow in God, learn in their own lives, become more than they thought and realise that they mattered.  We saw in their smiles, in their chatter as they crowded round the gate waiting to get in that this was what God had wanted.  Our CHURCH was faithful, WE were faithful.

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When we felt we should move from our nicer house on the tarmac road to the mud lane swamp area we found a four room house.  It was ground floor, had an entry space that we could put a kitchen and a sofa in, we could use two other rooms for bedrooms and a bathroom.  Sure it also had mould covering the walls and it was TINY, but we knew this was to be our home and so we packed our stuff into a van and moved.  WE were faithful.

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bridge over troubled water

Two years ago we set off on a plane, accompanied by our suitcases and a van full of boxes (by the road) and returned to the UK.  We were due to have our fourth child, we knew that this time in Albania to live was at an end but we didn’t know what lay ahead.  WE were faithful.

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In the months ahead we discovered we had to prove our nationality that we had gained at birth but lost living overseas, we lost our entitlements to benefits and help.  We had some friends who continued to support us and the dwindling monthly income stretched miraculously.  Neil went for interview after interview to be told he was a close second, over qualified, too experienced.  But we kept going, we had our baby and placed her in a charity shop basket, in second hand clothes, we told the children they couldn’t go on school trips and we all learnt the walk of a land where your passport fits but your heart does not.  It was dark, it was tough, it seemed never ending.  But WE were faithful.

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Two years on and I have my dream job, it is incredible and beyond what I could have ever felt I would be offered – tutoring at the Centre for Youth Ministry on the degree course.  Neil is a university student – he never felt he could do academic work but continues to strive for his best and passes well each semester.  We both also have the incredible privilege of working in our home church who had supported us for so long and seeing another generation grow in passion and life for God.  We have our four amazing children, three at school who have faced challenges of bullying, fitting in, learning a new language and continue to fly high and smile and take each challenge.  Lilijana, chatters and sings and worships like I have never seen a child before, her heart just overflows.  Then after temporary accommodation for the past two years we bought and have moved into our new home.  A stunning three story, five bedroom, four bathroom, kitchen, diner, double garage, lovely garden, moments away from a nature park in one direction and the play park in the other.  Our two cars sit on the driveway when they aren’t going to our many activities.  Our life is full.  But God was NOT faithful.

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I don’t mean He hasn’t blessed us continually, incredibly, wonderfully and miraculously.  Oh my goodness He HAS!  But this was not because He was faithful in the sense it seems it is often used.  It is not a REWARD for what we have done, given, been.  He doesn’t need to pay us, He didn’t owe us for our time of ‘sacrifice’, He wasn’t in debt to us for asking us to do things.  That was our choice as our commitment and belief, that was more valuable to us than other people could ever understand and that was us, being us.  God is a God of incredible love, a ‘good, good father’ as we like to sing – He gives because He loves to, He loves us and He can.  He isn’t faithful in paying back something that was never a cost, beyond a Call.

 

When we think this is God’s faithfulness what do we do when the job interviews all failed, we had no income, we are living in that mouldy little house? Was God not being faithful then?  Oh, the stories of that precious home, the memories of that neighbourhood and the place it has in our hearts are more than the flash new build.  God’s faithfulness is not linked to payment or payback but linked to His never ending, never failing, never giving up love.  People say ‘God is Faithful’ in terms of a payback, a settling but how cheap that makes His love and His Call.  Faithful is His persistent love, faithful is His walking through the storms, faithful is His Call to adventure and life, Faithful.

Day Three … Determind to Succeed, Obstinate?

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Day Three happened, just the write up didn’t!  So here it is!

Our two friends come chasing after us, Obstinate and Pliable…. my goodness this could be written about my children!

As we start off on our journey towards the great, others watch us, shocked at what we are doing, what we are trying to achieve.  They think with their best intententions that they need to rescue us, from what? From ourselves of course.  We can’t get to where we are aiming, we can’t reach the goal, the city, the promise, the dream.  We will end up hurting ourselves, we musn’t do it.  We shouldn’t do it.  Not you, you aren’t big enough, clever enough, smart enough, rich enough, brave enough…. fill in your own word.

Here they come, obstinate and pliable.  Obstinate has always been right, probably never listened long enough to hear the people saying that those words aren’t true.  And there, by his side (or hers!!) is pliable, maybe, in fact they are Mr and Mrs.  Pliable, always willing to go along, to say yes or no or maybe or whatever you want to hear or someone else tells them to say.  Obstinate doesn’t have to listen, they know you can’t make it because they are always right.  Pliable doesn’t bother to think whether you can, they just agree with obstinate.  So along they come chasing after you and your dream.  Sure enough Obstinate is bigger than you and your dreams.  Looming over, catching up and taking you over before you can even truly set out on the journey.  You can’t do it, the words echo round and meet up with those doubts of your own.  You look to Pliable, nodding in agreement, but your dreams shout out, YOU CAN!

Your choice right now to turn back, go back and wonder.  Or to wander.

J.R.R. Tolkein with his mind full of imagination said “Not all who wander are lost…” Not all who wonder are either.  Someone sent me a card with that quote on when we first started our life overseas.  Its true, so many times I have not seen clearly the road, or known the way ahead. But I have not been afraid to wander, through the fault filled language, through the panic over health, through the cultural faux pas… its actually fun to wander, normally more fun when you are reflecting than at the moment!

For the boys, what can they learn?  Well a wry smile on the eldest face let me know he recognised his over confident qualities.  He might never have described himself as obstinate before but he knew the cap fitted, well!  He could see the pig headed-ness of obstinate, the unfriendly forcefulness of insisting on being right, being first, being boss.  He saw the negative qualities probably because he had felt them.  But when is obstinate good?  That was more of a challenge to think of. 

Little Pilgrim was also obstinate, determined to press on, despite the arguments, the nagging doubts, the ‘wondering’.  Obstinate allows us to be focussed, to be single minded on what we believe even if no one else understands.  Obstinate allows the impossible to become possible, often in words we cannot explain…. it just is right to us because it is. 

Pliable decided to continue the journey, for once daring to stand up to Obstinate, daring for once to walk towards the things he had wondered about.  How brave, how freeing that must have felt.  To come out of the shadow and to walk, to wander.

The boys wrote down how the qualitites of Obstinate and Pliable were both positive and negative.  Great to reflect on how our qualities are not always negative but can be used for good as well if we choose to use them rightly.  So, the wandering continues, as does the wondering….

Day Four In a Puzzling Place

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the slough of despondency

Day four found us in the Slough of Despondency… the what????  I had loved this book so far because as I read it I only changed very few words as we went along.  The title for this one had me from the start… the what of how to explain that.  Okay, that’s the title boys lets read on and see if we can make it make sense!

Pliable is accompanying us, but as we begin to head towards the gate we discover ourselves in the slough… we begin to sink and can’t find our way out (great time for acting this bit out, with some squelching and some slurping and some sploooshing) Pliable discovers he isn’t that pliable because he is stuck, just like us, stuck in the mud.  The further we walk, the deeper we go, our toes, our ankles, our feet and through to our knees.  Are we ever going to get out?

Well Pliable does but decides this is not a good idea, if its this tough already he’s out of there.  So he gets out and leaves, back to the kingdom.  Little Pilgrim is despondent (see, I can use that word in context too and it does describe that emotion so well).  No way forward, no way back, just feeling like we are sinking deeper and deeper.

Living in a swamp area with ‘roads’ made of mud we could understand the physcial aspect of this part of the journey easily.  I will not quickly forget the day my foot got stuck in the mud road, as I pulled it out my flipflop broke and there I was, in the middle of the road, in many ways free but still affected by my moment in the mud.  My freedom had come at a cost and now I was faced with a new problem, a flipflopless foot (okay that word probably didn’t exist!) and the next step was still in the mire.  So I took it, the filthy mud road squelching between my bright pink nailed toes, the cold goo sticking to my foot, and on I walked.  One foot flipflopped one foot free.  The dripping traitor of the other flip flop in my hand!  The rest of the road was walked hobbling over the sharp stones, embarrassed, amused, aggravated but moving towards my house, the goal in sight.

Its easy to give up as we get that sinking feeling, for my boys to think of the times they’ve chosen to give up as soon as they have to put some effort in.  To stop where we are because the only way forward means more mess before we find another kind of freedom.  Financial, dreams, hopes, health, job, school…. whatever, we’ve all been there and probably will be again. 

Do you know the best thing though, I made it home, how great that fresh clean water felt as I watched that filthy mire filled mud wash away.  I don’t know I learnt my lesson, its part of life here, there will be more mud and more flimsy flip flops…. but I won’t give up this pilgrimage.  I hope the boys remember it might be easier to run backwards, but it feels way better to be closer to the gate and heading towards your dreams and destination.

Giving Up Technology…

Today Act #22 is about giving up technology, get off facebook, switch off the screens, unplug the computer (does anyone still have a computer), leave your phone behind.  

I know because facebook told me.   I opened my emails to read more and to read the ‘devotional/thought’ with today’s Act.  Okay, failed.  I wasn’t the only one to notice the irony of this.

I know a few friends who have given up facebook for Lent.  Who fast twitter or snapchat.  And yes I know I can waste a whole load of my time on any of my little social network things – instagram, pintrest, email and facebook and a coffee and I’m ready for the day!  But it also kind of gets on my nerves, in fact this focus on ‘bad’ in technology doesn’t just kind of get on my nerves, it REALLY gets on my nerves.

You see, living overseas I am connected to people all over the world.  I share their lives and they share my life through facebook, or a photo.  It was awesome to see photos of my aunt and uncle from Australia who I haven’t seen for over ten years on their holidays.  I was able to send an encouraging letter to my old pastor, who I haven’t seen for 18 years through email.  I chatted to a friend in Africa this morning and we laughed and encouraged and shared life with each other.  I had an email from a friend who needed prayer.  I read a blog from a friend who is facing a challenging time and could cry with her as I shared in her emotions.  I sent out facebook reminders to a group of youthworkers we are working with to remind them about training next week.  I also sat down with my family, talked, shared breakfast and laughed together.

Yesterday I met a guy who I heard on a podcast about a year ago.  He was sharing in a meeting about a vision his wife had that matched perfectly something God had showed me.  He asked me to facebook her and so I did and was able to share the encouragement of her prayer and vision and for her to know how perfect it was.  She is someone I have never met, very well may never meet.  I have ‘bonded’ with her over facebook.  I have been inconvienienced by my friends through social media and technology, seriously has no one ever messaged you and asked you to do something?  In fact many of my relationships are held together, deepened, strengthened by technology.

IT IS NOT SUCH AN EVIL!  Oh I must fast facebook because it takes too much of my time, no it’s my choice how much time it takes, I just need to learn to be more self disciplined.  Before facebook it was too much tv, before tv it was probably embroidery or something….  there has always been things that take our focus, take our time.  That is life.  A balance. 

I will not fast facebook or technology because I THINK IT IS WONDERFUL!  It is INCREDIBLE, AMAZING and i am sooooooo grateful for all the people who are my ‘friends’ real and cyber world, who link with me and share my life and if you are reading this you are one of them!!! 

Move on, catch up and don’t be so culturally closed that you don’t see this incredible tool for the world to communicate and stay connected.  Not all of us have the option to nip to Starbucks to share a latte, but next time I’m in your country, inbox me or SMS me and I’ll be sure to meet you for a drink.

 

Be Careful What…

Be Careful What You Ask For…. or Offer!

This month has been hard, I, personally have really felt a heavy spiritual weight.  Some people may use that kind of language normally, not me!  But this isn’t something physical I can say, its something else.  Not something I see, or something that is tangible, but something else and so… I have to put it into the spiritual because, well that’s what I believe it is.

It started with strange feeling of my heart racing and pounding, my ears were throbbing with the sound of my blood wooshing through them and around my body, my head was not dizzy but fuzzy in the weirdest sense, like cotton wool mixed with popping candy.  I went to the doctors and everything was fine, pulse, blood pressure, chest, nothing wrong.  But there was.  They prayed and anointed me with oil and I had such a peace come over me.  That’s why I put it down to spiritual.  
But its been like that for the whole month, not feeling right but not being able to say what.  
By Saturday night the same thing was happening, there was a wedding nearby and the music felt like it was taunting me.  It was normal wedding music but it made me feel ill.  My heart was already racing and I checked my blood pressure and it was 211 over 113.  I guessed the machine wasn’t quite right!  I lay there.  I turned.  I prayed.  I read bible verses.  But I was so unsettled I got up and took myself to the hospital.
Now, normally that would be no huge thing, except A&E on a Saturday night you would expect to have a fair few drunks and people worse for wear.  But this is massive.  I drove there wondering how I would find the words to explain how I was feeling.  I wondered where the emergency room was.  What happened there.  What would I do?
I drove up to the place and asked a security guy where I could park the car, he looked in the car and saw I was alone and said he would do it.  I very quickly weighed up the situation and decided that was my choice.  So I gave him the keys and went in through a door.  A small waiting area with six chairs and three people were there with a sign that I could read said TRAIZHE… triage.. okay, I know that!  But no one was there.  I asked the couple seated what to do and they looked at me as though I was speaking another language, okay, I was but my accent isn’t that bad.  A worker came out of another room where she was chatting with a friend and took me straight through these heavy double doors into a corridor full of people, old, men, shouting, chattering, noises, clanging.  I felt overwhelmed and knew every eye was on me, this strange foreigner in their world.  She pointed me to a room and I think told me to sit.  
I took in the room.  There was no hospital smell.  Two rusted, adjustable beds with a filthy cover on each seperated with a broken metal trolley.  There was sink with two soap dispensers (both empty), a brillo/scrubbing pad (?) and a wire basket thing with a bin bag hanging in it.  I sat as told, on one of these beds.  Feet firmly on the floor.  Handbag held tight for comfort and waited.  I watched as medical staff wandered around, chatted to each other.  Relatives meandered from place to place, following trolleys.  Listened as the doctor at one end of the corridor shouted in an argument with a family member at the other end of the corridor.  I saw one of the staff rush into a side room and get an old, empty paint bucket and heard the noises I expected as this was filled.  Then a young guy came rushed in on a trolley, pushed by an elderly porter and his friend, his leather jacket lying under him, tubes in his arms, his body shaking as he moaned in agony.  I wanted to move out the room to make way for him, but didn’t know what to do.  I knew I had been treated better as a foreigner but that had only meant being put in this room and waiting and as I had sat here I still had some racing, my chest hurt but I had a sense of God saying, “Here comes your healing” and reminding me of my prayer that morning that offered myself to reach out to heal those who needed a touch of God.  To be honest in a place like that I would imagine there is little more to do than pray.  I couldn’t quite decide if the boy’s school was equally as dirty or felt cleaner than this place.  I longed for that hospital smell…. something that said someone cleaned here, some sign of that.  An old lady was rushed into my room, her family all stopped to stare at me.  I smiled.  Pathetically.  Then I prayed.  I just wanted to leave.  The doctor (yes the shouty one) came in to take her blood pressure and a nurse asked him to take mine.  I began to explain my symptoms but quickly got the idea he wasn’t interested.  He kind of took my blood pressure and politely said there was nothing wrong and so I said thank you and left as fast as I could.  
The security man was gone.  There was a policeman so I asked him who then found the security man who had put the car in a chained area, unlocked and with window open… oh how Neil would go mad if he knew!! Ha ha.
I drove home.  Feeling silly.  Feeling like I wanted to wash in disinfectant.  Feeling grateful.  Because in the days since my mind has gone back to that place, for the people going there.  For the people working there.  For the lives, the tragedies, the relief… And without fail my own prayer words echo in my mind.  May I reach out to heal those?  Did I really want to mean that or to ask that ever again if it takes me to such places and situations?
I thought again of the million, trillion things we take forgranted.  The years I have lived in a country with free health care, with ambulances you can call in emergency, for the smell of disinfectectant, a throw away vomit bowl, a dial up health advice line, able to explain symptoms and get medicines, a doctors office closer than an hour away.  Oh the times I’ve moaned about not getting an appointment that morning,  that lingering hospital smell, and all the other things that aren’t quite perfect.  I don’t think I’ll moan as quickly ever again. This is a place we trust more, we pray more, we believe more.  Neccessity brings that and I’ll continue to pray my prayer but I know now my words sound different even to me.

Christmas Day Reflections

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This morning at breakfast Timmy said he had a passage to share with us… the first time he has ever done this.  He said he felt God wanted to share this passage, he had thought it was in Matthew but found it in Luke.  He could have stopped there, I was blessed.

He went on to read the Christmas story from Luke, in his slightly faltering reading style. he read about the promise of Jesus, the glory song of the angels and that for us had been born Christ the Lord.  He went on to pray for our day and thanked God that He had sent Jesus at just the right time, as Caesar Augustus had sent the decree at that very moment the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled.

Of course I was in tears, what a beautiful gift.  A child sharing his thoughts from his bible reading, sharing his heart in his prayers, the things he had learnt and the things he now held.  It felt like my Christmas was bubbling over.

But then, later on in the morning we went to an outreach the churches together were doing.  In lots of ways it does not feel like Christmas here at all, we are the only ones celebrating, to everyone else it is just another day in the lead up to their new year celebrations.  This miracle my son had shared about was being missed by what feels like the whole city.  So the outreach was a great opportunity to at least feel a little Christmasy!  There was a stable made and in the shadow of the main mosque in the city, in front of the cities council offices, the square was filled with worship of this Saviour.  Praise music blarred out competing with the mosque’s call to prayer, people gathered, came, asked, had drinks, were prayed for, were offered bibles and literature, children (and a fair few adults) watched the puppet show and children got their faces painted and had balloons made for them.  It was an amazing atmosphere, joy of Christmas was here with the hope of Salvation.

At one point I noticed coming into the square a little girl skipping with a huge smile on her face and carrying a balloon shaped like a flower, closely following her was a little boy laughing and excited to get over to the puppet show and behind them another child carrying a balloon and looking at the twists and shapes.  What got my attention was I knew these children, I’ve seen them before. Normally they aren’t smiley faces and skipping with joy they are street children, begging for money with big sad eyes practiced for the greatest effect.  With determination to get just a little money to take home with them or buy some food.  Their clothes don’t fit, they are dirty like their faces and their scruffy hair.  But today they were precious, excited, wondering children, not beggars, not the lowest, not ignored or shoved away but welcomed, invited, gifted, valued.

But it wasn’t just them, it was me too, through all my dirt and grime, through my daily failings and drudge, the times I feel pushed out, ignored, unworthy.  I was invited to come excited and hopeful to find this Saviour again, this newborn King, this Child born for me.

I hope you can join me skipping to see again the wonder of this Christmas.

Next? Encouragement.

As most know we are wondering what lays ahead in our future. We originally committed to three years but with a view to five years in our mission journey in Albania but now we are in year 4 with the fifth approaching quickly there is no escape from the question what next?
We of course continue to ask God, we need to ask our supporters as without financial support this door is definitely shut but we also have such a mixture of fear and questions that we so want for these not to cloud our decisions.
Neil had a dream to serve in Albania since he was 13 and someone asked us, what happens when you finish do you get a new dream, we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders but both silently said “I hope so!” We have met many inspirational missionaries who have long term visions for their countries but also some who we can see clearly stay because it becomes the easier option.
We have always been clear we are just very normal people, not super Chrisitians or with some special five star staff badge. We are us. Shouting, moaning, grumpy, laying, happy, need to pray more, read the bible more, go to church more, us.

But now that us does have a job title which is possibly the most fantastic…. Missionaries. It means we are clearly defined to be trusting God, living by faith but what we like the most maybe, doing our thing with only the big man to answer to. We only do what we did in our own country, we know loads of people who are serving God more radically in our old community but we get the good job title that makes people think we are somehow more arming, holy, incredible. We are not.

But what next? To go back to slogging away without the cool title. Living without the amazing summer weather and proximity to the beach. Taking the kids away from the life they know, the friends they love and the culture which is more theirs than their nationality.

We don’t have another calling. We don’t have a burning dream. We see the kids at the gate of Burime, the neighbours who need a Saviour, the openness to finding out about God and see we could stay here forever and still there be a need. But we are not the solution, we are just reflections for now, we are here in this season.

So with all these rumblings you see the questions that are before us each day. What next? Where next? How long and how? How I wish I had a map to follow.

And then, within four days we have been told that people want to support what we are doing financially. We have a team and five individuals wanting to come to be a part of what we are doing. Just the encouragement in the midst of questions that other people see not the tag of missionaries but the touch of God and what is happening here. I don’t know the answers (yet!) but I am so very grateful for the people who believe in this journey, have and still walk with us and will be beside us no matter what our job title. For the times people show us a bit more of the map, the journey. Of course, a few answers would be nice!

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