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LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS

kathylarkman,

love came down 2” The Holy Spirit accompanied Jesus throughout the whole course of his life, from the moment of his conception until his resurrection (Luke 1 v35; Romans 1 v 4). Throughout his life he had the Holy Spirit ‘without measure’ (John 3 v 34). In the face of all the pride and failure of his little disciple band, he never said, You’re not recognizing my gifting. 

Instead….

‘Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.’ John 13:3-5 NLT

Jesus had all prophetic powers; he understood all mysteries and all knowledge. He had mountain moving faith. But because he loved us, he kept coming down. See him in the upper room, kneeling at the feet of his sinful disciples. Since Judas didn’t leave the room until later on (v 30), we know that Jesus knelt down and washed the feet of his betrayer.

We see this humble in its perfect form at the first Christmas. The incarnation means that “though he was in the form of God….[Christ] made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-8). That is what love looks like. That is what love is. And that love came down at Christmas.” pp. 22-23

Notice sheet 8th December 2019

Louise,

Baptism Service

At the 11:15am service this morning we are having a baptismal service for Lydia Pillinger.  We would like to extend a warm welcome to her friends and family on this special occasion.

Midweek Service

The text on 11th December is James 4: 1-10. Eric is leading and David is preaching.  On Wednesday 18th December we will be holding our traditional service of Carols and Bible Readings for Christmas.  Both services are at 2.00pm and followed by refreshments. All are welcome.

Fight Night

This monthly prayer meeting for the men in our church takes place tomorrow night, Monday 9th December at 8pm.  Please contact Ian Holmes if you would like to know more!

Women’s Christmas Meal

This will take place tomorrow, Monday 9th December, at 7:30pm at Priory Street.  Women from all the services (and their friends) are invited to the now traditional “Christmas Curry and Cocoa” evening where we gather together to celebrate Jesus and have great fellowship and food (from Moonlight).  Cost is £10 per person.  There is a sign-up sheet at the back of the church!

Nativity Service

It’s that time of year again! Calling all thespians! If you are interested in taking part in the nativity service on Saturday December 14 at 4pm at Priory Street, please speak to Rhiannon. There are flyers at the back of church so please take some and invite family and friends. There will be refreshments afterwards so come and join in the fun and fellowship. The nativity isn’t just for children!  Come even if you are an adult and be reminded of the reason that we celebrate Christmas.

Carols by Candlelight Helpers Needed

Helpers are needed to serve refreshments after the Carol Service on Sunday 15th December at 6pm. This will involve serving tea and coffee and distributing warm mince pies – speak to Rhiannon!

Scratch Choir

Calling anyone who would like to get together to form a choir and learn one song to sing at the Christmas carol service on Sunday 15th December. We will only have one rehearsal on the day at 2.30pm. All welcome – please see/email Sara Taylor for any more info and to sign up.

Wadswick Green Carol Singing

You are invited to join in the singing of Carols at Wadswick Green, Greenhouse on Monday 23rd December 2019 at 10am.

Christmas Service Offerings – 2019

On Saturday 14 December, the offering taken at the Nativity Service will be given to Compassion UK’s “Most Needed Fund” and will be used to support the work of their Child Survival Programme in many poor communities across the world.  The offerings taken at the Carol Services on Sunday 15 December (Carols by Candlelight) and at the midweek service on Wednesday 18 December, will be sent to support the work of the Oasis Centre, our mission partners in Austria working alongside refugees. 

If you are able to gift aid your donation, special yellow envelopes for your monetary offering are available on the table at the back of the building.  Please do mark them “NATIVITY – COMPASSION” or “CHRISTMAS – OASIS”.  When the offering is taken on the day, only the contents of the yellow envelopes, and loose cash/cheques will be included in the amounts to be given away.  Blue envelopes will be treated as regular giving to the general work of the church.  Please do pray about how you can contribute towards this offering, and speak to Paul Garcia (COTG Rudloe), Michael Prior (Priory Street 9.15) or Roger Hammett (Priory Street 11.15) should you wish to clarify anything.

Christmas Cards for the Persecuted Church

Christmas Cards for persecuted believers are available on the table at the back with relevant information.  Please take a card and sign it with a verse of encouragement and prayer; once signed, please place back in Open Doors’ envelope in the tray.  Thank you.

Prayer challenge!

Please join us in praying for the UK and the General Election on Thursday 12th December. No meetings or travel needed – pray wherever you are, at the time that works for you. Commit to praying at a specific time by signing the sheet on the table at the back of the church.  Any questions, please see Helen Christie or Gill Bryant.

...This week @ CBC…

Monday: Mums’ bible study, 10am; fight night, 8pm

Wednesday: Midweek service, 2pm

Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am; DAC, 7:30pm

Friday: DAC, 9:30am; Encounter, 3.45pm; Engage, 4:30pm; Energize, 5:30pm

Saturday: Nativity service, 4pm

CBC Christmas Services 2019

@ Priory Street

14th Dec – nativity service, 4pm

15th Dec – Carols by Candlelight, 6pm

17th Dec – Corsham Town Carol Service, 6:45pm

18th Dec – Midweek Carol & Readings Service, 2pm

24th Dec – Christmas eve communion service, 6pm

25th Dec – Christmas day family service, 10am

29th Dec – no evening service

@ Church on the Green, Rudloe

22nd Dec – nativity, 10am

24th Dec – carolling around Rudloe community, 6pm

25th Dec – Christmas day family service, 10am

Notices 1st December 2019

Louise,

Priory Street (Corsham)

9.15am             Tim Stephenson (Luke 1)

11.15am           Tim Stephenson (Luke 1)

6:00pm            Gathering to Pray

Church on the Green (Rudloe)

10:00am           Rob Durant

Prayer for Missions and the Persecuted Church

This will take place tomorrow night at Priory Street at 7:45pm.  Please speak to Vanessa Naish or Wendy Rowe if you would like more details.

Baptism Service

Next Sunday at the 11:15am service we will be having a baptismal service for Lydia Pillinger.  We look forward to welcoming her friends and family to this special occasion.

Nativity Service

It’s that time of year again! Calling all thespians! If you are interested in taking part in the nativity service on Saturday December 14 at 4pm at Priory Street, please speak to Rhiannon. There are flyers at the back of church so please take some and invite family and friends. There will be refreshments afterwards so come and join in the fun and fellowship. The nativity isn’t just for children!  Come even if you are an adult and be reminded of the reason that we celebrate Christmas.

Carols by Candlelight Helpers Needed

Helpers are needed to serve refreshments after the Carol Service on Sunday 15th December at 6pm. This will involve serving tea and coffee and distributing warm mince pies. Please speak to Rhiannon if you are available.  Thank you.

Craft Group

The final Craft Group meeting of the year will take place on Saturday, 7th December at 10am.  Please speak to Pam Mitchell or Hazel Hammett if you would like to know more about this monthly ministry.

Women’s Christmas Meal

This will take place on Monday 9th December at 7:30pm in the church hall.  Women from all the services (and their friends) are invited to the now traditional “Christmas Curry and Cocoa” evening where we gather together to celebrate Jesus and have great fellowship and food (from Moonlight).  Cost is £10 per person.  There is a sign-up sheet at the back of Church; alternatively mention to Anne Holmes, Christine Coltman, or Vicky Kelly and you will be added to the list.  If you have any dietary needs, please indicate. Look forward to seeing you!

Christmas Carol Service

Our Christmas carols by candlelight service this year is being held on Sunday 15th December at 6pm at Priory Street.  If you would like to be involved in this service by way of singing/playing, please contact Nancy.

Bryant Newsletter

The latest newsletter from Steve and Gill Bryant has been released!  Please take a copy from the table at the back to catch up on all that the Bryants have been involved with.

Message from the Lancasters!

“Greetings from Tanzania! We arrived safely in Dar last Sunday night after a long day in the air – this time, with all of our luggage!! We then travelled on to Morogoro on the Monday and arrived in a downpour – albeit a very warm downpour! We found our house in good order – but had to spend two days car-cleaning due to a thick layer of fungus & mould growing on the seats! Oh the joys! It’s been great to have been back with the church family over the last seven months, and we’ve appreciated your hospitality and support – many thanks, and see you in two years”.

Scratch Choir

Calling anyone who would like to get together to form a choir and learn one song to sing at the Christmas carol service on Sunday 15th December. We would only have one rehearsal on the day at 2.30pm. All welcome – please see/email Sara Taylor for any more info and to sign up.

Christmas Cards for the Persecuted Church

Christmas Cards for persecuted believers are available on the table at the back with relevant information.  Please take a card and sign it with a verse of encouragement and prayer; once signed, please place back in Open Doors’ envelope in the tray.  Thank you.

“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner.” Heb. 13:3.

Sponsored Compassion Child – Monthly Rate Increase.

With effect from April 2020 the monthly rate to sponsor a child will increase from £25 to £28pm.  If you already sponsor a child, you will receive a letter to inform you of the changes. If the increase will cause any financial difficulties for you, there is the option of continuing to sponsor your child at £25 and Compassion will make up the difference.  Please speak to Wendy Rowe (Mission Ministry Leader) if you would like to discuss this matter further.  Thank you.

CBC Christmas Services 2019

@ Priory Street

14th Dec – nativity service, 4pm

15th Dec – Carols by Candlelight, 6pm

17th Dec – Corsham Town Carol Service, 6:45pm

18th Dec – Midweek Carol & Readings Service, 2pm

24th Dec – Christmas eve communion service, 6pm

25th Dec – Christmas day family service, 10am

29th Dec – no evening service

@ Church on the Green, Rudloe

22nd Dec – nativity, 10am

24th Dec – carolling around Rudloe community, 6pm

25th Dec – Christmas day family service, 10am

…This week @ CBC…

Monday: Prayer for missions and the persecuted church, 7:45pm

Thursday: Toddler Group, 10am; DAC, 7:30pm

Friday: DAC, 9:30am; Encounter, 3.45pm; Engage, 4:30pm; Energize, 5:30pm

Saturday: Craft Group, 10am

Church Meetings 2020

20th January, 8pm

20th April, ACM, 8pm

20th July, 8pm

ADVENT AROUND THE CORNER

kathylarkman,

christmas-charlie-brownDecember is coming fast, and I feel I have lost some time somewhere…..maybe the month in Germany? Can you relate?  Well the reality is it IS that time of year which is very special if you are a follower of Christ. As ever, we need to prepare our hearts, don’t we? There is so much cultural noise and societal and even church events, that it is imperative to quiet our hearts to focus on what really matters at Christmas. Linus got it right with Charlie Brown.

I want to suggest to you some great resources for advent reading which Eddie and I have found to be so helpful in the Lord  preparing, nurturing, reminding and encouraging our hearts to celebrate and praise God for our Saviour coming into the world to save us.

LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS – SINCLAIR FERGUSON

“Love is at the heart of Christmas—it’s the reason behind all our gathering and gift-giving at this time of year. In this Advent devotional, Dr Sinclair B Ferguson refreshes our hearts as we reflect on the source of it all—love incarnate, Jesus Christ.”

THE ONE TRUE STORY – TIM CHESTER

“The book has 24 short meditative readings working through Bible stories from Genesis to Jesus. Each day ideas for reflection, prayer and application, designed to excite you about the Gospel message in the run up to Christmas day.”

You can purchase these on 10ofthose, The Good Book Company or Amazon.

Here we go! Thank you Lord!

ROOTED: STUDY OF COLOSSIANS

kathylarkman,

colossiansTree[5971]As we get back into the swing of our school diaries, routines, and church life, I want to encourage you to save the date for this year’s first women’s all-age bible study! It begins Monday, 30 September at 7:30 in the CBC church hall. We meet once a month on the last Monday of each month.

We are studying Colossians which is titled “Rooted.” Sharon Durant has provided our first bible study, which is on the Grace Place Blog, as well as hard copies at CBC and COTG.

Another component of the women’s bible study is one-on-one meetings, also known as study buddy time. The idea is to do the provided bible study together.
God has given us his Word but also each other. We are able to learn from each other, to be challenged and spurred on by each other, and to pray for each other.
This one-to-one element brings these two gifts of God together in a simple and powerful way: two people reading the Bible together, helping each other to see what God is saying there, and praying for each other that you will obey what you hear.

For more information, the study buddy guidelines are on Grace Place blog, and hard copies at CBC and COTG.
And If you don’t have a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes!
Have a great week!

Growing In Christ As We Serve Him

kathylarkman,

short-term-missions“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!” Ephesians 3:20

As many of you know, Eddie and I and a team of nine are going out to Uganda tomorrow to serve Christ through coming alongside missionaries and their children for a week. We know that you are praying and we appreciate this as this is always a community endeavour for Christ’s Kingdom. Thank you.

serve-rgb-1024x326There are two goals for our short-term mission team: First is service; and second is discipleship. These trips are as much a part of how we grow in Christ as it is about how we serve others.

Please pray for us as we endeavour to follow the paradigm of Jesus. I am reminded in the gospel of the feeding of the 5000 that Jesus fed the people through the disciples. Initially, the disciples focused on the problem of no food and not on God. But Jesus was teaching them about ministry and serving. Jesus was also teaching them about who He was. He gave to the disciples to distribute the food. In this way, Jesus’ disciples had to trust the Lord for it all. They gave as they received from Jesus. Through Christ’s three years on earth, He modelled intentional actions and habits in relationships with people in every day opportunities and hands on experience.

Isn’t it the same with all of us, whether we are in Rudloe, Corsham, or Africa? As followers of Jesus, we must bring our lives everyday to God in a spirit of obedience and sacrifice, no matter how insignificant…..or how confident we may think our gifts and talents are.

So please pray for us, and we will pray for you to that end. Thank you Lord.

Workers together for His Kingdom,
Kathy

FLOWER POWER- THE FLOWER MINISTRY OF CORSHAM BAPTIST CHURCH

kathylarkman,
02 wendy

Wendy Prior, Guest Contributor for today’s blog post 

See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6.28)

Its lovely to have flowers in church during our services, and people have sometimes testified as to the powerful impact that they have had. They are a vivid reminder of the beauty and wonder of God’s creation – something which most of us can enjoy in our gardens, in parks, and sometimes in the open fields – and something which can be brought in to our services as a reminder of what God can do. His creative power is infinite, and it follows that His power to heal, to calm us and to uplift our spirits is just as great. I know of an occasion when a lady came into a service in some distress – she was a visitor – and said afterwards that she remembered little of what went on or what was said, but was greatly affected by the flowers on display which spoke to her and calmed her.

03 flowers croppedThose who support the flower ministry are contributing to a further objective too. Not everyone is able to go out and enjoy the beauty of flowers in their natural environment. There are quite a number of people known to us who have become housebound, and often the flowers go to one or another of them during the week, and this is greatly welcomed. In addition, there are people recently bereaved, people recently out of hospital, new parents, people with special birthdays, who are greatly encouraged when flowers are brought to them. It’s a point of contact in which the love of God and Christian fellowship can be expressed, both to CBC members and sometimes to others too, for whom it can be an opportunity to bring into the conversation the subject of CBC and whom we worship. It’s a rewarding ministry and we’re thankful to all who are involved.

JESUS IS THE COSMIC LORD

kathylarkman,

 

grace place bio photo christine

Christine Coltman, contributor for today’s blog post 

In preparing for this year’s studies in Colossians, I was reading the recommended Mark Meynell book, ‘Colossians and Philemon For You’. In the opening pages the author describes Paul’s claims about Jesus as truly ‘outrageous’. I read it and thought how jarring that was with my Sunday experience of God. I’ve gone to church all my life, surrounded by people who love singing praises to him and learning more about him. We are comfortable, unshocked and perfectly happy. Surely nothing about Jesus is that outrageous?
Then I began to think. How much do I limit God by my comfortable familiarity? Why does the truth about Jesus not blow my mind on a more regular basis? Paul’s claims about Jesus in chapter one of Colossians are big. He is the ‘firstborn over all creation’, the sustainer of everything – God himself. If I was as brave as I should be and told my non-Christian friends exactly what I believe about Jesus, they would be straight-out shocked. Jesus is that cute baby on Christmas cards, right? Yes, and he’s also the cosmic-creating, terrifyingly powerful, fearless ultimate hero who gave his life for me.
You may not know this about me but I love fantasy. Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter (and many less well-known novels that I can recommend!). I like big; I like unbelievable – I like high concept fantasies where the incredible happens. Dragons fly, magic is real, one person can save the whole universe. Show me a crime drama, or a soap and I’m not interested. I don’t want to see something that could be happening down the road from me – I want my imagination to soar.
I know I’m not the only one. The success of superhero movies alone show that people have a longing for the incredible. Critics would call it wish-fulfilment; I’d call it our hearts crying out for something more: the inbuilt belief that there is a real superhero out there who really has saved us.
I was never quite sure why fantasy was so appealing to me until I read a quote from Tolkein. He said that myths and fantasies are ‘echoes or memories of the truths that God had originally made known to Adam and Eve’ and that the gospel is ‘the true myth, the great fairy story in which all the elements of the pagan myths find their fulfilment.’
Suddenly it clicked. I like ‘big stories’ because I am part of a big story; the greatest story ever told. I want more because I am built for more. I dream of an incredible land where the unbelievable happens because that is where I am headed; because a God – the one true God – sacrificed himself for me in a cosmic spiritual battle which he won.
Jesus is counter-cultural. He is not comfortable – in fact, he’s pretty unbelievable, and I’m glad of that. I don’t want to stake my life on something small. But there’s also a huge challenge in that. As Mark Meynell says, ‘If Jesus really is the cosmic Lord, then how can we not dedicate every fibre of our being to him and his service?’
‘The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together.’
Colossians Chapter 1 v 15-17

“We’re leaving on a jet plane”

Steve and Ruth Lancaster,

Back in February 2016 the title of our pre-home assignment newsletter was taken from a John Denver song: “Take me home pot-holed roads”! Three years on and it’s another one of his songs. We are indeed “leaving on a jet plane” after completing our second term in Tanzania. On the morning of 7th March you can expect me (Steve) to be humming JD’s words: “All my bags are packed and I’m ready to go; the taxi’s waiting, he’s blowing his horn”, although I won’t be able to sing along with the words, “I hate to go”, because I’m very much looking forward to heading home! In fact we both are.

In February 2016 I referred to the first home assignment (furlough) of a certain missionary explorer that you may just have heard of! And so it seems fitting to refer to Mr Livingstone as he prepared for his second home assignment! His first stint in Africa lasted a whole 15 years but he decided to take his second home assignment after only 8 years of trudging around Africa! During that time he ‘discovered’ Lake Nyassa in Malawi, buried his wife in Mozambique, encountered the ‘wretchedness’ of the slave trade, and sailed a small boat 2500 miles from Zanzibar to Bombay in 45 days! Having then sold his boat, he got back on another one and headed home for England. He arrived in London to find that not one member of his family had come to meet him, and so he ended up having dinner with the Prime minister instead! It had been an extremely tough term for him. He wrote in his journal: “Due to the failure of our recent mission all my work seems in vain. Am I to be cut off before I can do anything to effect permanent improvement in Africa? I have been unprofitable enough….”

Well, as we prepare for our second home assignment, I can assure you we’re not feeling as low as Livingstone was! Whatever hurdles and hardships we’ve had to deal with can in no way be compared to what DL had to endure, although we both admit that this term seems to have been tougher than our first one. I’ve struggled with illness for the past 10 months (sinusitis and gastritis) and we’ve both had bouts of what they call “culture fatigue”, although which missionary hasn’t experienced this?! Sadly I’ve had to deal with a disciplinary matter concerning a Tanzanian pastor who had been a close friend and, just a few weeks ago our ‘guard’ dog died, a faithful companion who really enabled Ruth to settle here in Tanzania. Ruth has also felt the burden of various responsibilities more this term. All that to say, we’re ready to get on that jet plane and we’re thankful for the fact that we can be home in 12 hours!

However, and it is a big ‘however’, we do have much to praise God for! Many positive things have happened during this second term – so here goes! I’ve driven over 50,000 km without accident or breakdown. We’ve seen the Conference Centre grow to its completion with the facilities being well-used by various groups. I’ve preached or taught over 160 times, mainly to Tanzanian pastors & leaders, and had a go at my first Swahili commentary! Ruth has dealt with over 80 bookings at Sanga with over 2600 people staying there, taught several English courses, and she’s also processed donations for work at Sanga totalling 507 million shillings (£170,000)!

We’ve also had the pleasure of introducing family members to Tanzania, as well as a number of church teams and Oak Hall groups. It was also heartening to hear that a number of those Oak Hall folks have gone on to invest further in mission. So, whilst we travel home with jaded eagerness (!) we’re counting our blessings, and we’re thankful for what God has gifted us to do. As I mentioned in our last newsletter, using the words of Paul in 2 Cor. 3: 5 & 8: “There is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work, for the capacity we have comes from God alone”. And one of Ruth’s favourite verses, Isaiah 26:12: “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us.”

Over the next six months we’ll be spending time with our home church in Corsham, meeting up with family members, some of whom we’ve never met before, and talking to folks about the work we’ve been involved in. I’ll be doing some Bible teaching on a number of Oak Hall trips, and we’re hoping to get away for a few breaks, one of which will hopefully see me celebrate a significant birthday! Among the more routine matters that need attending to will be visits to doctors, dentists and opticians, preparing presentations and sermons, sorting out tax and pension issues, and having a debrief at AIM’s HQ in Nottingham. At some point along the way, we hope to be able to see many of you, so that we can say a personal “THANK YOU” to those who have supported us. Without the financial and prayerful support of many of you, we simply couldn’t do what we’ve done – so “ASANTE SANA” for your backing and for lifting us up to the throne room of the Almighty! A privilege indeed.

The last few months…. As well as dealing with bookings and the finances of Sanga, Ruth has spent a lot of time training up an AIC pastor to look after the accounts. Fortunately, he’s not just a pastor but a qualified accountant! Praise God for this provision. Whilst on the subject of the AIC (Africa Inland Church) we were recently very encouraged to see a clip of the General Secretary addressing the Tanzanian President on TV. Once in a while various church denominations get the opportunity to make requests to the President, and one of the requests that our AIC guy raised was whether it would be possible for missionaries not to have to pay for work permits! At $500 a time, we’re hoping for a positive result!

In terms of recent preaching appointments, I’ve formed firm friendships with a number of local churches. The AIC church at Kihonda meets in a dilapidated school classroom on the edge of town, and for that privilege they get to pay £17 per month in rent! Thankfully there’s no electricity! It means there are no microphones or sound systems to damage the eardrums! The singing is great and it’s from the heart. The décor is also interesting! They decorate the front of the dusty classroom with brightly coloured material and stick a couple of yucca plants in the corner wrapped in plastic bags! They also wrap up the pulpit as if it were a Christmas present! At the end of the service everyone files out whilst singing with the added benefit that you get to shake every sweaty hand along the way! Apart from the dive-bombing sparrows that target the gaudy pulpit, I’m always encouraged when I preach there, because the percentage of note-takers outnumbers those who don’t! They’re keen to study the Word, and that’s always an encouragement to the preacher.

The folks at AICT Kihonda

AICT Kiloka

One of the other churches we sometimes visit is out in the bush at a place called Kiloka, although it could be Kiroka! We never quite know due to the problem many Tanzanians have with their L’s and R’s! The AIC church at Kiloka is led by a man called Francis who is actually one of our trusty workers at Sanga – even though it’s an hour’s journey from Sanga to Kiloka! I’m not sure I’ve ever met such a godly, committed, smiley evangelist during my time in Tanzania. Just a few weeks ago, I was preaching to the small congregation there and was able to give out Bibles thanks to a monetary gift from someone who had read about the church in one of AIM’s publications. Other gifts have also meant that the church had a makeover a few months ago. In fact it was more like a rebuild due to the fact that the cracks in the bowed walls were getting bigger! Whilst it can be a bit of a challenge getting to the church, it’s always well worth it and we come away feeling blessed at their generous welcome, often shown with a big bunch of bananas! The church provides a small glimmer of gospel light in an otherwise dark community where Islam rules, and we pray that this small gathering would be protected and blessed as they witness for Christ there.

20 things we’re looking forward to on HA!The cold! No mosquitoes! Visiting Israel. Being spiritually fed. Running in cooler climes. Spending quality time with family & friends. Watching Carlisle United get promotion?! Not battling with Swahili! Enjoying long summer evenings. Food variety. Driving on smooth roads where most people adhere to the highway code! Playing golf on greens. Skiing. Climbing a mountain or two. Going to the chippie! Not having ants crawling around the kitchen! Cycling the Hebrides. Not being at the mechanics on a weekly basis! Not being stared at! Being at our home church.

Prayer Points:


  • Please pray for us as we aim to finish well and handover our various responsibilities. Pray in particular for Pastor Heri Ruma who will be looking after the accounts. Pray that our home assignment would be a time of refreshment, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

  • Please pray for our teammates Matt and Amy Dixon as they will be the only missionaries left at Sanga, at least until May when we have another family joining.
    Please pray for stomach healing for Steve! Recently diagnosed with gastritis and duodenitis.

  • Please pray for the two K churches; Kihonda & Kiloka. Pray that the Kiloka folks would be protected as they live out their faith, and for the Kihonda church which is currently leaderless as their pastor recently went to Bible College!

Every blessing and see you soon!

Steve & Ruth

Yikes!

Found this magnificent creature on Steve’s shoe –
a praying mantis

A reflection of 2018, and maybe life before then.

Matthew Little,

I would like to start by saying that this is not my blog post/update/newsletter/ thing/ whatever you want to call it for the latter half of January 2019 and former half of February. This is the result of thinking over the course of a week, and refuting past statements. See my last post. I have also just discovered that putting a slash into italics makes it lean a little further than usual. Putting lean into italics, aren’t I a creative soul. I don’t care if that’s grammatically incorrect. Plus, I have my first deck department evaluation this week, so it gives me an opportunity to think about how  I will respond.

I wanted to do a reflection in a separate blog post.

The things that happened…

So, how did 2018 go for Matthew Philip David Little go? Well, it went ok, I think. As you can imagine for an 18 year old, my life changed a fair bit in 2018. The first ‘BIG’ thing was, well, I turned 18. The age in life in which you become an adult. More on this later. After this, I completed my A-Levels. or High School, I guess, for my international friends that I have made over the past few months. Also, the crazy thing that didn’t occur to me when I started this blogging business On a hospital ship with a voluntary crew from 56 different nations was who this would reach out to. Looking at the stats regarding page views by country has wowed me. From the United States to Indonesia, of all places. I couldn’t even figure who this person could be!
So yeah, I completed my A-Levels. That period of two years were, without a doubt, the two most tense and worrying years I have lived through. I did Film Studies, Geography and Sociology for my A-Levels, plus an EPQ, that after months of consideration and fear, I eventually completed. I didn’t want to do an EPQ, because I just wanted to get through the three subjects I had chosen by themselves, and I thought it would just stress me out to focus on the subjects, and another thing to focus on for a few months. In reality, it did. But in the end, I chose a subject and topic that really interested me: History! History was my favourite subject in school, but I wasn’t able to continue it after GCSEs, because of my grades. I remember that results day well. Driving into school, opening that brown envelope to….. utter disappointment. It was gut-wrenching. It was like someone opened fire on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I passed my Maths though, which I never in a million years thought would happen first time. I still remember driving home, envelope in hand, responding to a joyous message of passes from my friend from another school who was like my closest friend that summer. (We are still friends, there wasn’t a betrayal, if that is how it sounds) I tried to congratulate, but I was too heartbroken by my own results. So what was sent was me trying to force my sadness onto someone else. This was all in 2016, so yes, the title is true.
But my A-Levels in 2018. To cut to the chase, I did much better than I thought would have done after my GCSE results two years ago. I passed Film Studies (Expected). I Passed Geography, like my Maths GCSE, did not expect that, but failed Sociology, which I was confident would be my best result. And I passed my EPQ, which I focused on the ‘Cultural and Political Impacts of the Crusades’. There were many times where I wanted to drop it. In the end, I was incredibly proud and happy with what I had done It didn’t really help by ‘bigging it up’ when it wasn’t necessary, Mother! Don’t call an EPQ a University paper with a smile on your face, expecting a sudden boost of confidence. Neither was “Matthew is graduating too!” She wasn’t talking about finishing High School (We don’t have graduation ceremonies from High School, we just go on our merry way), she was referring to me leaving St John Ambulance Cadets.  Which was just me going on my merry way. No more publicly outting my Mother, because she did encourage me to get through it all, so thanks, Mum! I wasn’t feeling all too confident on A-Level results day, also through that entire final exam period. I just wanted for it to be over. They were the two most confusing and exciting  (Who calls school exciting?) Luckily, thanks to a friend  I had made months before, fitting in was easy, and I mostly enjoyed spending the time with my new friends. Again, if you read this Catherine, thank you for all that, and thanks to the rest of that friendship group, who are either at University, doing apprenticeships or something else. Oh and also to the rest of you acquaintances and old friends who made new friends during Secondary School, I wish you all the best, and hope to see you again when I go back to England for a bit in the summer. after thought After many ups and downs and a few breakdowns, the sad passing of my Grandmother (My dad’s mum) I got through it in the end. And another chapter in my life was over.

As one door closes, another opens…

Of course, I regenerated into my next incarnation, my Mercy Ships life. (Yes, I used three different  metaphorical life markers. What you gonna do about it?) What started from wasting electricity with a documentary on in the background after school to gaming four years ago is finally real. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I finished my A-Levels. I thought about University, but I realized that University isn’t for everyone, my parents  were planning to do Mercy Ships and 2018 was the big year for the family, when we all finished things, Hannah graduated from Cardiff University with Civil Engineering, Zoe finished Child Nursing from University of Surrey and got married to Seth, and me, well read the paragraph above. I am a Deck Hand on the ship, under training to become an AB (Assistant Bosun) I don’t know if I’ll reach that  by the end of this two years, but this is about looking back, to what I know, only One knows the future, and He has it under control. He promises. I have only been serving for three months now, but I am really enjoying my time, and  I am  surprised by how much I am progressing,  and I am doing things that I never would have thought I would done this soon into this chapter. The chances of meeting people from this many different nations in a single community would have been very slim if I had taken a different path. Sure, we may confuse each other with different understanding of time. For example telling a Dutchie that you have to go at Half past Nine to see them get really confused when you leave at half nine (21:30), because they think you are going at half nine(20:30), because half  nine in Dutch is written as follows (20:30), so you should have said half ten (21:30) which to everyone else (Maybe) is written like this (22:30). My point is, I don’t know how to call time anymore. But it is truly amazing to experience these cultures with them, aswell as sharing your own with them. A few weeks ago, the (very small) Asian community onboard invited the rest of the crew to celebrate Chinese New Year with them. One of the hard things about life on the ship is that the culture on the ship is western. It still feels like home, yet step off the gangway, it’s Africa. It feels like another world.
At the end of On Boarding, we have a final project, which is to show that something has stuck out at you from all the things you learn over four weeks. I can’t remember exactly what I said, and my speech I wrote was on the notes section of  my old Tablet. That I left on the flight my Paris to Conakry. oops.  But what I said was along the lines of this. I am only young, and I haven’t had many opportunities to say yes to the right things, and no to the wrong things, but I think that saying yes to Mercy Ships was hopefully the first of many yesses. And who knows how many of these opportunities won’t have come up if I had said ‘No’.

Nearly finished.

Please forgive me for this being a wall of text. Why have I decided to reflect? As many of you maybe aware by now, that this year, Jodie Whittaker had her debut series, taking over from Peter Capaldi as the first female Doctor in Doctor Who. (My all time favourite TV show). And along with that, the show has been revamped (Again) now that Chris Chibnall is in charge. (Please don’t kill the companions off and then keep bringing them back to life. Everything has it’s time) New TARDIS, new Sonic Screwdriver, new friends, new everything. And I particularly related to Ryan Sinclair, one of the three new companions, played by Tosin Cole, because, like me is dyspraxic. I hadn’t related to a companion like this before, and it temporarily gave me a confidence boost and something to add to my defining characteristics. I wrote about this on Facebook, but now, I have gone back to my ways of  “I am dyspraxic. So what. I will ignore it.” because I don’t want to skip out on things because of my hand-eye coordination, but it has made somethings, including tying knots, and important skill required in the training book, difficult. Unfortunately, it is hard to work slowly trying to figure things out and taking my time to do these things, when some of my colleagues like to rush these simple things. Going back five years, to Matt Smith’s regeneration into Peter Capaldi, this was his speech.

We all change. When you think about it, we are all different people; all through our lives. And that’s ok- that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. – 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) The Time of The Doctor.

So that’s why. Looking back on the person I once was, but it’s important that whilst you look back on yourself, but to keep changing as a person, otherwise that’s some pretty rubbish character development, if you ask me.. I have been feeling fairly nostalgic this year. I am not saying I haven’t been nostalgic in the past, but I have found myself wanting to back to my childhood, and wanting things from my childhood, for instance, my 12″ Radio Control Dalek. Which was my first ever Doctor Who toy. That I bought (I say bought, It was probably my mum) from Woolworths, that fossil. Did you know that the first ever Woolworths was opened around the same time that Moses and the Israelites left Egypt? But I know at heart that I am now, as an adult supposed to be responsible, let the new children do what they want to do, play with their toys, read their comics, watch their films, whilst I put my childish things away, as in Corinthians, But that’s hard. With lots of voices trying to tell you how they want you to be, and trying to integrate them into yourself.   So now I don’t want know what to do, but I am happy at where am in life. Confusion and Contentment. (A nice way to end this, right)

Thank you for reading, and goodbye.

And one last reflection, and to clear some confusion. I didn’t break the window.