JOY FOR THE JOURNEY

kathylarkman,
lesley-grindrod

Lesley Grindrod, contributor for today’s blog post

Years ago while Neal and I attended Bible College in California, one of our worship leaders wrote a song called “Joy for the Battle.” It became the ‘theme song’ for our class throughout the two year course, and just before we graduated we even made a CD with this as the title song!
The song’s very simple chorus lodged itself deep in our hearts, and still bubbles up whenever the journey gets tough, when life’s battles seem overwhelming:
“He gives me joy for the battle, joy for the journey,
Joy for the battle, joy for the journey…..”
The Bible is packed with references about the power of joy. The text we’re considering in Hebrews 12: 1-3 talks about the joy that was set before Jesus enabling him to run his race, to endure even the horror of the cross! And it urges us to ‘consider Him’ to imitate Him, to follow His example as we run our race.
In the book of Psalms one of the most repeated phrases is “Shout for joy!” Nehemiah told the Israelites that the joy of the Lord was their strength! In Philippians 4:4 the apostle Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” It’s a command.
imagesFinding joy has been a challenge for me. I’m not naturally an upbeat person; I’m more of a melancholy, so when I talk about joy, I’m not doing so from the perspective of someone who never has a bad day!
My problem was my definition of joy. I thought joy meant feeling good all the time. That’s impossible – even for those who are naturally upbeat and optimistic! I found this definition from Kay Warren very helpful:
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.
There’s nothing in that definition about happy feelings, because happiness is fleeting and temporary.
In reality, life is much more like train tracks than hills and valleys. Every day, wonderful, good things happen that bring us pleasure, contentment and beauty. At the exact same time, painful things happen that disappoint, hurt, and fill us with sorrow. These tracks — both joy and sorrow — run parallel to each other every single moment of our lives.
That’s why, when you’re in the midst of an amazing experience, you have a nagging realization that it’s not perfect. And while you’re experiencing something painful, there’s the glorious realization that there’s still beauty and loveliness to be found. They’re inseparable.
If you look down train tracks into the brightness of the horizon, the tracks become one. You can’t distinguish them as two separate tracks. That’s how it will be for us, too. One day, our parallel tracks of joy and sorrow will merge into one. The day we meet Jesus in person and see the brightness of who he is, it will all come together for us. Then it will all make complete sense.

The adventure continues!

Tim Stephenson,
Neal and Lesley Grindrod

“Would you be willing to spend three months as short term volunteers at the Oasis Refugee Centre in Traiskirchen, Austria?”

Thus began Neal and Lesley’s journey last year. Now they are preparing to return once again. You can read about those preparations and regular updates on their blog at: http://grindrods.simplesite.com/

But don’t worry we’ll keep you up to date on this site and Facebook too.

Notice sheet 27th August 2017

Louise,

Vic Woolford Funeral

The funeral service of Vic Woolford will take place on Thursday 31st August at 1pm at Priory Street followed by refreshments in the coffee hall.

Thank you from WEC UK HQ

We have recently received this message from Keith Gibson, training overseer at WEC…”Could you please pass on our heartfelt thanks to the membership…Steve and Gill tell me that they think about 50 people contributed something, whether it was accommodation, catering, shopping, providing cakes and salads, doing a taxi run for the participants, PA system etc. A HUGE thanks to all!….We trust that you as a church community will know deep joy through this very practical act of serving God’s “bigger plan” in this way and from a WEC UK perspective all that we can do is thank you profusely!”

Donations to Oasis Team

We have received a request from the Oasis Team in Austria for the following items to be sent out with Neal and Lesley Grindrod.  If you would like to donate any of the items mentioned in the list then please place the item in the box (at the back of church) marked ‘Oasis’ before Sunday 3rd September. Thank you very much for your support.

  1. Personally requested by the Oasis team:
  • Large box of ‘English’ teabags (PG Tips or similar)
  • Large bar of Cadburys Dairy Milk chocolate
  • 2x bars of Cadburys Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy
  • 2x containers of Cream of Tartar (for baking)
  • 4 – 6 packets of jelly crystals (red, green and orange) for making jellies
  1. Requested for the refugee clothing room ministry:
  • Small and medium size underwear for men (new only please)
  • Small and medium size ladies’ underwear (new only please)
  1. Requested for the women and children’s outreach ministry:
  • Small bottles of ‘bubbles’ for the kiddies
  • Small bottles of food colouring (various colours) for colouring playdough

Please contact Wendy Rowe if you have questions about any of these items.

Grindrods’ four month mission trip

Neal and Lesley Grindrod depart for Austria on the 8th September.  They will be writing a regular blog and have written their first entry! Please pray for their preparations and that God would use them in a mighty way as they serve refugees at the Oasis Centre.  We will pray for them at services next Sunday.

Midweek Service

At the next midweek service on Wednesday 30th August at 2pm there will be two believers’ baptisms for John and Margaret Cole.  Eric Seager will be leading the service and David Morrell will be preaching.

Craft Club

A reminder that our craft club will recommence on Saturday 2nd September from 10:00am-12:30.  These sessions are held in the coffee hall at Priory Street.

Grace Place – Summer Reflections

Ladies, please visit GRACE PLACE summer reflections on Hebrews 12:1-3. May it be an encouragement to you as you run the race with godly perseverance over the summer months!  Please have a chat to Kathy Larkman for more information about her blog.

….Coming up…

30th August: Midweek service, 2pm; baptism service for John and Margaret Cole

2nd September: Craft Club, 10am

4th September: Meetings and ministries re-commence

8th September: Grindrods depart for Austria

8th-10th September: Church on the Green weekend away

10th-17th September: Week of Prayer

13th September: Midweek service, 2pm

17th September: Praise evening, 6pm

18th September: Mission and Persecuted Church prayer meeting, 7:45pm

22-24th Sept: Men’s camping weekend, Grittleton

25th September: Ladies’ Bible Study, 7:30pm

8th October: Harvest services

THROWING OFF IDOLS

kathylarkman,

 

P1060250_th

Hannah Spruijt, contributor of today’s post

During this summer break I’ve learned more about practical perseverance than I feel I’ve ever known before. Why? Well, in short, as soon my son turned two and half, it seems he found the ‘terrible twos’ button and pressed it hard! My oh my. I’d read about this stage in books; the tantrums, yelling, irrational behaviours etc, but had thought we’d already kinda covered that and I *thought* I had it nailed (ha!). Oh boy was I wrong. I can tell you I’ve cried in quiet corners more than I care to admit recently and have been driven to my knees telling God ‘I just don’t think I can do this anymore!’. The intense screaming and general craziness have made parenting with grace and consistent love a daily test in perseverance. I want to share some of what God has been teaching me.
We’ve already looked at a key passage in understanding godly perseverance; Hebrews 12 v 1-3 compares life to a race that must be run with endurance, with our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus. I quickly realised my eyes had been looking in the wrong direction; at me and my problem…not feeling capable of parenting my boy successfully. Yet I struggled to change the direction of my eyes, despite praying for help. And then I read a timely blog post a friend had put on Facebook (http://www.jenniferphillipsblog.com/2017/07/when-your-kids-wont-bow-to-your-idols.html) and was immediately convicted. I had made an idol of being the perfectly in-control mother of an obedient child. My heart squeezed as I realised I was struggling to persevere with godly parenting because my son would not bow to my idol. I could suddenly see how I was also taking the credit for his good behaviour rather than giving God the glory, and indulging in pride when falling into the comparison trap.
How often idolatry and pride cause us to stumble as we ‘run the race’! But what should we do about it once the Holy Spirit has convicted us? The author of the blog neatly gives three steps in her follow-up post; repent, believe and fight. Not just as a one off but as a moment-by-moment call to perseverance in godly living. We need to repent of loving something more than we love God, believe Him when He says we are forgiven and eternally loved by Him, and then ‘fight like crazy to walk in obedience to the calling he has given’. Peter writes in his letter to the early church that perseverance is one of the qualities we should be developing to supplement our faith (2 Peter 1 v 5-8). It IS a fight to persevere. Perseverance does not come automatically; it requires hard work. It is not optional; it should be a continual part of our Christian life.
The words of Paul are echoing in my mind as I close, in Philippians 3 v 12-14 ‘not that I have already reached the goal…’ I certainly have not reached there yet, but I’m so thankful to my Father for allowing the Holy Spirit to prompt me in this area so that I can ‘work towards the day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be’ (v12 NLT).
I am now praying that the Holy Spirit will enable me to see other ‘unseen’ things in my life that need ‘throwing off’ in order to run this race without hindrance and with perseverance. Can you relate? Is there some idol you need to throw off? Let’s continue to pray and encourage each other as we run the race God has marked out for us to THROW OFF THOSE IDOLS!

We the redeemed shall be strong, in purpose and unity

Tim Stephenson,
Martin & Jo Sheringham

Habari!

It has been a wee while since the last email and all for good reason – we have been working really hard this week in particular, in an effort to complete the toilet and shower block (built by the Corsham team in June) and make sure that everything functions as it should and that it looks fairly presentable, ready for the Oak Hall group arriving on Thursday from the UK. The plumbing is now nearly completed but we have yet to install the solar hot-water system on the roof and fit the doors, so it will be a last big push through to Thursday and then hopefully collapse in a heap on Friday (us, not the shower block!) As we have worked all week up till today we are already having a little practice at collapsing in a heap, so today we are mostly doing nothing!

We are SO thankful for a lovely place in which to rest! Sitting on the verandah, overlooking the huge variety of trees and greenery here I would say it is peaceful and in a way it is but adding their voices to the silence are the numerous neighbourhood cockerels competing for top spot in the pecking order, several gangs of combatting sparrows nesting in the eaves above our heads and the intriguing chatter and song of passers by who wander up and down the cut-through alley way at the side of the house which leads down to a stream and then eventually onto the road where Steve and Ruth live. The monkeys have yet to make an appearance…

Steve and Ruth will be leading the group from Oak Hall and have been working hard, planning and getting covered in dust along with us down at the Sanga Sanga site. They have also been very supportive this week especially as it did not start in a good way…

So Tuesday was probably the worst day we have had so far, in saying that though it was the only really difficult day we have had so far, which all things considered is pretty good!
It has been dubbed Leaky Tuesday as every pipe we plumbed or laid, well you guessed it, leaked; it seemed as if every connection failed and hours were spent fixing other leaky things on site before getting on with our main work. That in itself was just frustrating, just part of life but we were so tired at the end! The other issue which left us feeling a little vulnerable was that one of the guard dogs belonging to the house where we are staying became ill very quickly and died that evening. It all happened within hours and not knowing the system here and feeling quite responsible for someone else’s dog was difficult. At the end of a long story, we watched and waited with Luka, the night guard, as the poor dog breathed its last.
Not to mention the other animal death earlier that same day…

George, the calf born on site this year, became ill on Monday and when we arrived on Tuesday morning the first thing we ask is

‘How is George?’

‘Oh, George is dead…come and see’

I follow Amos the guy who looks after the 3 cows (now 2) through to the field behind the cowshed expecting to see poor George’s body…instead there is George, in 3 buckets, being dissected and examined. Francis holds up (a little too closely) the lungs and heart for me to comment on…

‘Look,’ he says, ‘You can see the bad bit there!’
‘Yes, quite…thank you…’

Later we see some of George bubbling away in a pot on the campfire – the dogs dinner of course – waste not want not, a far cry from the plastic wrapped joint from the supermarket.
For those interested parties, the campfires have been very useful in heating pipes so that we can bend them to make them fit – always think outside the box!

The song in our heads this week…

‘And we the redeemed shall be strong, in purpose and unity.
Declaring aloud, praise and glory, wisdom and thanks, honour and power and strength.
Be to our God forever and ever!’

We pray for the ability to get done what needs to be done this week and to stay wholly reliant on Him!

Love to all,
Jo and Martin

PS Thanks for all the snippets of news and info we get from folks back home!

JESUS, THE PIONEER AND PERFECTER

kathylarkman,
_MG_9161_2015

Sharon Durant, contributor for today’s blog

Hebrews 12:1-3
“… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (NIV)
I love this description of Jesus. It reminds me that, like pioneers going off to America or Australia, he has gone ahead of me and blazed a trail. The future is not a terrifying landscape, uncharted and unknown. Jesus, my pioneer, went there first. And even better, he finishes every job he starts, because he is the ‘perfecter’, too, adding all the final touches to present me as perfect in Him.
Jesus is the pioneer because he is the only one who has died and been raised into new life. He is the pioneer who gives us the Holy Spirit. He is the pioneer who is even now in heaven with the Father.
If I fix my eyes on him, I can follow his pioneering trail. Whatever I face in my life, I know that he was there first:
Rejected by those you love? Jesus was rejected first.
Physically suffering? Jesus suffered first.
Abandoned by friends? Jesus was totally deserted first.
People tell lies about you? Jesus was wrongly accused first.
Feeling the pain of giving things up? Jesus gave up everything.
But the path Jesus has set for us to follow is also pioneering in other areas:
Want to please God? Jesus shows us how.
How to get to heaven? Jesus himself is the way.
Staring at Jesus all the time gives me the best example. Whenever I’m unsure, I can look to him for the way forward.
But sometimes it’s an overwhelming example because I can’t live up to it. This is why the second half of the verse is so amazing. Not just an example, Jesus is the “pioneer… of our faith”. He went ahead of us, making a way for us to have faith.
Jesus’ death and resurrection is the pioneering treatment for our heart disease, so that we can confidently say, ‘Yes Father God, I believe your promises, that in Jesus Christ you will save me, keep me, transform me, glorify me, just as you promised, because you keep your promises; you sent Jesus and he died and rose again just like you promised.”
Jesus is also the ‘perfecter’. He doesn’t just start off the work of faith and abandon us to become holy by our own efforts. He stays with us and sees the job through. He perfects us. He doesn’t leave us half-finished but sticks with us right to the end – just as he promised, “I will never leave you, nor abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
So fix your eyes on Jesus. He goes ahead of us and he sticks with us to the end. You won’t have to look far to find him. He is always speaking to us in the Bible, through Christian songs and friends, and his Holy Spirit lives in us. He leads us through whatever joys and sorrows come our way. We can be confident that our faith is not misplaced – God keeps his promises – because Jesus the pioneer went there first and Jesus the perfecter sticks with us to the end.

DON’T GIVE UP

kathylarkman,
Silhouetted women holding hands
lesley-grindrod

Lesley Grindrod, contributor for today’s blog post

Sisters, like it or not, if we’re alive and breathing right now, we’re all part of a huge marathon race – a race that will not be over until we take our final breath. The course is full of twists and turns, mountains and valleys. There are many hidden obstacles, challenges and even giants on the way, many opportunities to fail; trip up; fall over; be hurt, humiliated or discouraged.
Hebrews 12:1 says we should “… run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.” (The Passion Translation)
I’ve often asked the Lord why my life’s marathon seems to have been so full of obstacles and challenges. I’m not alone – I’m sure we’ve all had times when our race has felt particularly tough and we’ve pitifully cried “Why me, Lord?”
I remember on one of these occasions He led me to the Old Testament stories of how the Children of Israel took possession of the Promised Land. He showed me that to get into my ‘promised land’ I’d have to navigate my way through some wildernesses and fight some pretty ferocious battles. And that my attitude and responses to those obstacles would have a direct bearing on how long they lasted and what fruit they produced!
keep running the raceSo sisters, I have a question for you. In running your race, do you see your daily challenges as obstacles or opportunities? I believe the Lord wants us to see obstacles as a call to strengthen, not to quit! Between you and anything significant there will be giants in your path. No one is immune to problems. Even the lion has to fight off flies! Louisa May Alcott famously said “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
James 1:2-3 says “…. When it seems as though you’re facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience all the joy that you can. For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.”
Let’s refuse to become discouraged by temporary setbacks. If you’re encountering some hard bumps, don’t worry – at least you’re out of a rut! Circumstances are not your master – Jesus is! As we run our race, we may encounter puddles on our path, but those puddles can actually be telling us where to step. Remember our Saviour has promised to be our constant companion and guide, even through the darkest of valleys.
The Apostle Paul wrote “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.”
So keep on running sisters – the entire hosts of heaven are cheering for you!

 

JONI EARECKSON TADA- REFLECTIONS 50 YEARS ON

kathylarkman,

Joni E Tada character quoteOne of my contemporary heroes of the faith is Joni Eareckson Tada. She has exemplified to the world through the years the amazing grace and godly perseverance that our Lord has given her.
This last Sunday (30 July), marks the 5oth anniversary of her diving accident which left her a quadriplegic at the age of 17.

She has written a reflection of this milestone. As Grace Place contributors are reflecting on running the race God has marked out for us with godly perseverance, I thought it fitting to share it. Just click on the link below and take the time to read and ponder. May you find comfort, hope, and a deep peace from our Lord through this precious sister.

Love, Kathy xo

JONI EARKECKSON TADA-REFLECTIONS 50 YEARS ON

 

 

 

 

 

 

God doesn’t believe in karma

Tim Stephenson,

Today’s question Jesus asked:

“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”
Matt. 18:33

The amount discussed in the parable is huge, something like 20 years salary. God has forgiven us a similarly immense debt. We live in a culture of “you get what you deserve” and “what goes around comes around” but it’s wrong.

God does not believe in karma!

And if God is so abounding in mercy, how can we hold on to our grudges?

Conference Conundrums!

Ruth,
Barazani town

Barazani, with a dried-up Lake Eyasi behind

Barazani: the town reminded me of an old wild-west movie set, although with a lot more poverty.  A number of ramshackled shops lined the rough-roaded street and the one main café in the town consisted of a small plastic-covered shed and a couple of charcoal stoves.  Youths hung about in the ‘pool hall’, many of them with glazed eyes and looking decidedly bored, a sure sign of unemployment in a town which is known for its seasonal onion farming!  The words on the gate of my accommodation read ‘Florida Guesthouse’ and outside loitered a couple of stray dogs.  I knew in that instance that I was not in for a luxurious stay and that this was anything but Florida!  Maybe the room rate of £2.80 per night should also have raised an eyebrow, but alas, this was indeed the best that Barazani had to offer.  Thus began the IBM conference season back in early May!  I’ll let my diary entry for that night set the scene:

The Florida Guesthouse

“My room is 3×3 metres.  There’s no desk, no chair, no cupboard; just a bed with a multi-coloured chequered sheet on it!  There is electricity; it’s been in the town for a couple of years now.  There’s also running water, even when the shower is turned off!  Drip, drip, drip – onto the tiles.  The remedy is to pop next door and turn off the water supply to all of the rooms!  There is a window – but less than a metre away there’s a brick wall, so the view isn’t exactly ‘lake district’!  There’s no mirror in the small bathroom, so shaving should be fun, and to get to the squatty potty, I have to pass under the leaking shower!  Four glorious nights of this!  If I’m honest, I’m not relishing it and would rather be elsewhere, but I am here to do a job, and the job will be done.  I feel woefully inadequate going into this and, being as this is the first of the year, I am not sure how things will go.  How will the pastors respond to nine sessions of my Swahili teaching this week!?  Father God, I need your strengthening hand on me this week.  Please fill me with your Holy Spirit, enable me to teach your Word, and grant me fluency beyond the natural.”

Well, the conference did go very well and the pastors seemed keen to tackle the subject: “Show me a leader with integrity.”  In fact it was a hot topic that grabbed their attention and the questions and head-nodding (in agreement, not sleep!) revealed that this was definitely a timely subject that needed expounding.  On the final afternoon we were also able to encourage the local AIC pastor by visiting his small unfinished church building and praying for him and his family.  Their story, accompanied by tears, revealed that they were going through some very tough times and I left the church astounded, wondering how this guy has been able to cope in this isolated northern outpost.  His house made the Florida Guesthouse seem like the Ritz – or at least like a Travelodge!  As I lay in bed that night listening to the call of a distant hyena, and trying not to itch my 120+ bed-bug bites, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was I had to be grumpy about!

The house where trees live, Lindi

Whilst the Barazani conference is our most northerly venue, the second conference of the year took place in our southern-most venue: the town of Lindi, not too far from the Mozambique border.  One of my guidebooks describes Lindi as follows: “With one eye closed, you can even imagine that the main beach served as a resort of sorts, but today the beachfront benches are all broken and they probably go for weeks at a stretch without being perched on by a tourist.  In the town centre numerous colonial-era buildings are ruined or heading that way, whilst the old derelict German Boma has nothing in it except trees”!  The conference, although small in number (12), went well, but the humid coastal temps meant that, at one point, we had to move out of the tin-roofed church and under some nearby trees to get some much needed breeze!  Whilst some relief was found, the nearby wailing minarets seemed to become a tad louder!  The only issue to report was that, on one morning just before we were due to start, I was summoned to present my passport at the local immigration office and told that I had committed a crime by staying in the town without obtaining prior permission!  Whilst my Tanzanian colleague graciously asked if he could pray for the very officious Muslim official, I sat in the corner biting my tongue and zipping my mouth for fear of a longer confinement!

Our most recent conference (July) was actually on home turf, as we decided to hold the Pwani event at Sanga Sanga, instead of Dar.  Thankfully, with Sanga only being 12 miles up the road from our house, there’s little to report on the travails of travel!  The only drawbacks in trying to hold people’s attention at this venue were the nesting sparrows overhead and the stunning views of the Uluguru mountains!  We had to position the seating so that the pastors wouldn’t be mesmerised all of the time!  We met in the main upper room of the new conference centre, which as yet doesn’t have windows fitted, but the sparrows, the views and the breeze certainly made it memorable.  There was also some great singing during the three days, and it thrilled the soul to hear those African voices, especially as there wasn’t a keyboard or an amplifier in sight!!

The seminar room with a view!

The one thing that did stand out for me personally was how tough the first day was.  I taught three sessions but it felt as though I was wading through treacle for much of it!  I was aware of a lack of inner enthusiasm; the ummpphh was missing, and I stepped away from my homemade lectern a bit dejected.  Was it simply an off day, or was cultural fatigue showing through?  It could indeed be a bit of both, but my team leader Tony helpfully reminded me that what we’re doing at IBM and the subject that we’re teaching is bound to rattle the cage of Satan.  He is very much opposed to seeing teaching on integrity in the Church and, as we know, he comes to steal, disrupt and discourage us in our work.  Thankfully, days 2 and 2 went much better.  The ummpphh was back and I felt that I was more expressive in my Swahili teaching than I had been before!

Mum & Dad Lancs ‘gift-wrapped’ – literally!

Parental Visit!  The very next day Ruth and I headed to Dar to pick up my parents who had flown in for a two-week holiday.  One of the first things to be unwrapped from their luggage was…… a pork pie!  It’s strange what you long for when away from your home culture.  Following the Lancaster tradition, our holiday did not consist of much ‘sit-at-home’ time, and we packed a lot into our time.  We swam in, or rather were battered about by the eight-foot waves of the Indian Ocean!  We spotted scorpions, sea-snakes and storks – literally thousands of them!  In fact the bird list was certainly added to as we toured the National Parks of Tarangire, Manyara, Arusha and Mikumi.  We also spent some time in Tabora with a pastor and his wife who run an orphans and widows project, and came away humbled at the welcome we received by people who literally had next to nothing.  Another sobering moment came as we travelled back from Tabora and observed a disabled women crawling across a busy main road on her hands and knees.  Other more amusing journey sightings included a goat standing on the top of a speeding petrol tanker, and a man walking down the street with a pig on his shoulders!  We also gave a lift to a man who told us he had been walking for three days because he couldn’t afford the bus fare of £1.70 to get to his home town.  We had just driven his ‘three days’ in a little over three hours!  Never a dull moment on the roads of Africa!

Life in Ruth’s Lane!  Every year AIM’s female missionaries in Tanzania get together for a time of retreat.  This year’s retreat was held in May on the coast south of Dar es Salaam.  Kathy Larkman, our pastor’s wife from Corsham Baptist, came to speak on ‘Christ’s Love Compels Us’.  It was a special time of relaxation, catching up with friends, praying with each other and having a few laughs too.  Unfortunately I had again been suffering from a few boils, and a large abscess on my side distracted me somewhat from the retreat.  I was able to have a small surgical procedure at a clinic in Dar before we headed home to Morogoro.  Thank you to everyone who prayed for me during this time – it has healed up nicely now and added to my collection of scars!

We’ve had lots of visitors at Sanga Sanga over the last few months, including two large AICT children’s camps.  We converted the pump house into a temporary dorm to add to our capacity!  It was lovely seeing the children enjoying the fresh air, space and their Sunday School lessons.

One of the highlights of the year so far was the visit of a work team from our church in Corsham who came to help build a shower block on the campsite.  Nine folks came and joined with our local team to lay bricks, mix cement and plaster walls.  Some of the nine were returnees from last year’s group but some were new and had never visited Africa before.  They coped really well in the unfamiliar environment and even picked up a few words of Swahili.  They were very focused on their task and at the end of the trip the roof was on – a great achievement!  We are so thankful to our church for sending them and for raising the funds to build these much-needed facilities.

I had a few days of holiday at the end of May when my friend Rachel from Tearfund/Oak Hall days came to visit.  We had 3 nights on Zanzibar and a day on safari.  It was her first time to Tanzania so it was lovely to show her our ministry and home life here.

Cookery course students

One part of my role that I very much enjoy is spending time with the staff at the Retreat House.  Francisca, the housekeeper and cook, is a bright spark who has all sorts of ideas about generating funds for the Institute.  One of them was to hold a cookery course for Tanzanians who work in western households in Morogoro.  She already knew how to cook a few western dishes but we had great fun one afternoon when I was able to teach her how to cook chilli con carne, spicy chicken and guacamole, among others.  It means we are able to offer a more varied menu to our guests at Sanga Sanga.  The cookery course itself was a big success and we have plans to hold more in the future.

Diary Dates & Prayer Requests:

1-5 Aug:               Ifakara IBM pastors’ conference (Steve)
16-30 Aug:           Hosting, speaking and leading on Oak Hall’s first Tanzania trip!
20 Aug:                Ruth’s birthday!
5-9 Sept:              Magambua IBM pastors’ conference
18-22 Sept:          Ruth teaching an English course at Sanga Sanga
25-30 Sept:          Mbeya IBM pastors’ conference
12-17 Oct:            AIM Tanzania conference in Dar es Salaam

There’s always room for one more bag!

We’re praising God for a busy few months at Sanga, for safety on the roads, for plans that have come to fruition, for teaching that’s gone well, and for a great holiday with Mum & Dad.

We’re also thankful for our home church and band of faithful supporters who have enabled us to be here for four years now!  Yes, it really is that long!  On 11th July we celebrated our four year anniversary here in Tanzania.  Thank you to those who support us through prayer and finance.  We couldn’t do what we’re doing without your support.

Please pray for Steve as he continues to teach at the IBM conferences on the subject of Biblical leadership and moral integrity.  The next one starts on 2nd August.

Please pray for Ruth as she handles bookings at Sanga and manages the Retreat House staff.  Pray that we would be able to move forward into completing the conference centre build.  Things are certainly happening but on a slower basis, although we’re now in a position where we can use some of the rooms.

Please pray for us both as we host and lead the first ever Oak Hall Tanzania trip in August!  Obviously, we’d love for this trip to be a success and for the guests to go away having had a real taste of Africa and a taste of mission.

Please pray for us both (and our team mate Cath Swanson) as we continue to plan for the AIM Tanzania Conference in October.  We’re looking forward to welcoming a certain Bob Hunt as our speaker, and we’ve now got a children’s team all lined up!

As always, Dad needs help with his phone!

Visits from family and friends are wonderful but also tend to make us long for home—we sometimes wish we were going with them as we wave them off at the airport.  Pray that we will be fully focused on our calling to Morogoro and that our hearts and minds will be guarded by the One who called us.

Many thanks.

Steve & Ruth