Ship Holiday Weekend and a day in the Life of Stuart

Stuart & Lynne Little,

This weekend is a three day Ship Holiday weekend.  Approximately every six weeks, to allow crew to take time out for a little longer and rest we go into Ship Holiday routine on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Many crew get the whole time off but, of course, this is a working hospital and crew live on board so …… the wards are still open and medical staff need to work, patients need caring for, dressings need to be changed; there was an unexpected admission yesterday to the hospital so OR (Operating Room or Theatre as we call it in the UK) had a surgery today; crew need feeding; housekeeping staff work as the ship is not self cleaning; launderers continue to wash bedding, towels, uniforms, scrubs as people are still coming and going; reception staff and the Gurkhas need to work too.  And this time, Matthew was on call Friday and Stuart is on call all weekend so they have both worked and Lynne went into the office for a few hours to keep up with the admissions and discharges and order patient meals for Sunday and Monday as it is bit tricky to order in advance.

We took the opportunity on Friday as we were both off to get off the ship and went to a local hotel to chill by (a different) pool.  (We have had a pool at almost every place we have been to since leaving the UK in September!)  It was a great place to relax and just be somewhere different; it was by the sea and, as is often the case, also next to a building site!  We tried to take a taxi back to the ship to get back in time to see a friend off but after about half a mile the roads were completely blocked (as they often are – with no warning or obvious reason and at any time – so we got out and walked back!  Only took about half an hour and we were back in time to say bye and we then went out again for shwarma and pizza.

A few of us at Roume 
View as we were walking

Last Sunday we went back to Roume Island.  We have been there once before and really enjoyed it so took the opportunity to go back as a friend was organising the boat.  Hopefully Matthew will be able to come with us next time – but he was on call!  The last time we went we met an Austrian lady who is a midwife and for a good number of years has been spending three or four months every year volunteering on the island offering midwifery and other medical care – amazing!  We bumped into her again as we got off the boat!  We had a fabulous day with some other crew.  We were serenading by some locals and Stuart couldn’t resist joining in.  We even met a young guy, born in Guinea, now living in Bristol who was on the island visiting family and friends!

Over the last couple of weeks we have both had the opportunity to be involved in our, or another, department’s devotions.  Stuart led devotions for the Deck and Supply Departments and Lynne was involved with the worship for the monthly Ward devotions.  Good to take time out with others in this way.  The Ward devotions includes time for staff to share stories from their work.

So, what is a day like for Stuart?  Well the deck department starts the day at 0745 with a time of devotion followed by a daily briefing, who is on duty who is watching the water supply and what deliveries are expected.  There may then be a specific safety briefing on firefighting, diving activity or working aloft  Then we disappear our carpentry shop to look at the list of jobs that come to us via the ship intranet.

 High priority jobs are those that impact the mission of the ship and these could be anything from a loose door handle or making up a special shoe for one of the patients.  Then there are the bigger items like moving fitted office furniture or making shelving.  At this time of the year we are also planning work for the maintenance period in June in Las Palmas. The is a constant stream of personal items to fix like, my shoe, my sewing machine, my bicycle,  can you make up a fishing net?  It all great and most work needs some ingenuity as we can’t pop down to Screw-fix or Wickes for stuff.  

Since being here we have realised that most of the workshop machinery is old, worn out and not as safe as newer items tend to be.  so with the captains support I have ordered some serious new kit that should arrive in the summer.

We are also training  some of the day crew in basic carpentry skills, as we seldom see any machine tools this training is based on hand tools and we end the course by building a tool box and providing them with a set of tools.  Sadly the only tools we can buy locally are very poor quality and look like they will last only a few months. 

At the end of this field service our day crew will leave the ship and try to find a job locally, if these carpentry skills help them find a job and feel needed then its a step forward.  

Below is a recent story from the hospital…

We love this verse on our cabin wall:

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you “Do not fear; I will help you”    Isaiah 41:13

When your smoothie spills…

Matthew Little,

Hello again, I did say coming soon, so a promise was kept! Unlike January, February has been a fairly slow month, so I’ll try my best to talk about things that happened. Some things, I can remember, however, they aren’t the best memories and fairly humiliating, but there are also good things that I remember. Life is like a dream like that. I did have a really weird dream a few days ago where I was back home, and I randomly kicked my sister in the stomach. And she was playing Assassin’s Creed, and when I realized that, everything went back to normal, and we started a discussion about Assassin’s Creed (weird). Almost, we just kinda… forgot that I kicked her. I would much rather dream about Padmé. So sit back as I blog and watch Torchwood at the same time. I mean I am watching Torchwood as I write, please don’t watch something at the same time as reading this. Or do, I am not going to know. Or will I?

Container day!

So, we had container day recently. This isn’t an official ship ‘day’, the latest Netherlands container arrived. As a deckie, one of my jobs is to help out with the crane operations on the ship when the containers arrive (A monthly thing) and when the ship gets local delivery of produce (A frequent thing, twice a week.) with the aft crane out of operation until shipyard in Las Palmas in June, we are now limited to using the stores crane for everything. (Everything deck related, not the surgeries and everything else) This means that someone has to be on the dock, slinging up the pallets and receiving the things that come out of the ship (the bin/trash container) and empty pallets. Someone operates the crane, moving these pallets and the bin from the galley hatch to the dock and vice versa, and sometimes to Deck 8. Finally, someone is in the galley hatch, basically doing thee same thing as the guy on the dock. When we get a container, someone is also on deck 3 and the cargo hold, receiving the pallets that come down from the galley to deck 3 via the ONE elevator. We have one elevator for everything, which can make it difficult to work with with lots of jobs going on all over the ship that use the elevator at the same time. 
This container day, I was assigned to the dock, where I was slinging up the pallets, whilst Mike, one of the carpenters with my father, operated the forklift, bringing the pallets from the container, at the aft of the dock, to the lifting area on the dock. Clear an LZ, Noble Six! Flynn, our German Deck storeman, was also on the dock with us, working in the containers, bringing pallets closer to the door of the container, for the forklift to move out from the container, to the lifting area. It can be hard work doing all this, particularly with the heat, and working in the sun in  dark blue coveralls, but I do enjoy it, and if it means that the ship can operate,  (Both actual ship stuff, with the Engineering side and the hospital side of the ship) then it’s good work all around, and it makes it easier to deal with the heat. Something that does keep coming into my mind is what is more important. Is it that this is a ship with a hospital on it, or is it that it is a floating hospital. On his visit to the ship in November, Don Stephens, the founder of Mercy Ships spoke to the Deck and Engineering departments at our Thursday devotion. He said that we are the beating heart of the ship. Others say that the hospital is the heart. But to me, it’s all a matter of perspective. I think this should be taken into account when considering the question:

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” Nor can the head say to the head say to the feet, “I do not need you” 1 Corinthians 12:21

We would normally use the stores crane and the transfer container, but it’s broken down, so we have to do container work by hand now. Technically it was always by hand, but you know what I mean.
At the moment, I do not have pictures from this, but I’ll put them on when I do.

Bow wow!

One of the most recent projects for the deck department has been working on the bow mooring deck. This has included…. Cleaning and painting! Pretty much just cleaning and painting. We have given the deck a fresh new coat  of  (insert paint code here) green. So it’s gone from dirty and dusty green with a hint of brown and pale, to a shiny, emerald green! I unfortunately don’t have any before and after photos, but it looks so nice now. What’s sad is that it will ultimately collect dust again and go back to dusty and dirty. Oh well, such is the way of the world. It looks nice now though. Our saying in the deck department is  “The party continues” and “The party never stops”. Which is true, because there is always something to be done.

Go Greased Lightning!

One of these tasks is greasing. I was working on greasing the exterior doors on decks 7 and 8. These things have to be done, to keep the doors opening. And like lightning, we did a fast job, me and one of our ‘Men of Guinea’. Apart from the doors which had a different greasing point to the other nipple. We have no idea where the other nozzle is. I think we are all done for now. I think this job has to be done every few months.

Hospital time!

I finally got round to doing one of the things I have been meaning to do on board for ages. Visiting the wards! John, an Australian electrician, invited me to visit the wards with him, to see one of the patients that he had befriended. We all played Jenga together, which quickly turned from regular Jenga into extreme/engineer’s Jenga. We haven’t decided on a name. This was pretty much the general game of Jenga, however, instead of the regular three blocks on a y axis and x axis, we tried to see how many positions we could put the blocks on top of each other, whilst keeping the tower stable. It went as well as you could probably imagine. 

Photo of the month

We are also working on cleaning and re-painting the aft crane. Which is fresh new coat of white. On the day that we started working, and I was observing stage working. I am intended to start stage work very soon. Apparently. I’ll try to get some of that filmed and put into a new vlog. So as we were working, this fishing boat tried to moor in the dock, and then that happened. Oops. The Tug boats tried to pull it out before anything worse happened. The next day, the boat was gone, and we don’t know how. Must have been when the tide was really high. There is also a wreck pretty much right next to where this boat was.

When your smoothie spills…. 

I have made up a proverbial phrase, please use it! If it was a full sentence, it would be “You just kinda freeze and stare at it with the people on your table and wait for a friend from another table  to come over with serviettes and get you a new one.” That happened to me. It wasn’t my smoothest moment in my life. I was trying to set it down on the table, and instead, it just fell through my hands and went everywhere. On the table, and on the scrubs of a new person. (Good job, Matthew. It was only a tiny bit though. But still)  If it happened in slow motion, Jim Croce or Eurthymics would not be playing, One of the following would be a fitting song. In no particular order:
  1. Enya – Only Time
  2. Simon and Garfunkel – Sound of Silence
  3. Gary Jules – Mad World
  4. Mad World but it’s that cover by the black kid from Vine

‘Sausage tree’. We never found out what this actually is
A week later, and I didn’t drop it everywhere.

The bay
I also went out to lunch one Sunday with Caleb (USA) Laura (Netherlands) Imani (USA) Octavian (Romania – Chief Officer) and Philipp (Switzerland), where we saw some interesting plants by the bay. 
Here are some pictures of me repairing tarp. Look at that determination.

And that’s pretty much all for this month and a bit. I think. I am not keeping track of how long between one update to another. Thank you for reading, where ever you are in the world. Including the few people from Indonesia, how are you? (read my reflection).

I also don’t know what happened to my 12″ remote control Dalek. This was ages before we I joined Mercy Ships, it went missing years ago. We didn’t throw it away or give it away, it just vanished. I miss my 12″ remote control Dalek.

Notices 24th February 2019

Louise,
CBC Notices logo

Paul Nossent

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother in Christ, Paul Nossent, on the 20th February.  Details of his funeral will be made available in due course.

Mary Hayes

The Thanksgiving service for the life of Mary Hayes will be held this Wednesday 27th February at CBC, Priory Street at 2pm . Mary died on 25th January at the age of 99 years, had been a regular member of our lunch club and attended many other church activities. All welcome.

Mission Trips’ Thank Offering – 3rd March 2019

As we seek to play our part in spreading God’s love around the world, on Sunday 3rd March, we will be holding a thank offering to build up a fund to support self-funding adults who volunteer to serve on our future Mission Teams. This year, teams will be going out to support an AIM conference in Uganda and to help with construction work at the AIM Sanga Sanga conference centre in Tanzania.  The money raised will be lodged in our Restricted Mission Trips Fund. Please do pray about how you can contribute towards this offering.  Special yellow envelopes for your Gift Day offering will be available on the table at the back of the building. Please mark the envelope MISSION TRIPS THANK OFFERING, and if you are able to gift aid your donation, please complete the declaration on the envelope.  If you are not able to do this, please just score out the declaration. When the offering is taken on the day, only the contents of the yellow envelopes will be included in the Thank Offering total.  Blue envelopes and loose cash/cheques will be treated as regular giving to the general work of the church.  Please speak to Paul Garcia (Church on the Green), Michael Prior (Priory Street 9.15) or Roger Hammett (Priory Street 11.15) should you wish to clarify these arrangements.

The mission team going to Uganda from 9-16 August is still incomplete but those definitely going at this stage are: Eddie and Kathy L, Dan O, Rhiannon P, Chris S.  We look forward to announcing the remaining team members in due course!

Women’s Bible Study

The next women’s bible study will take place tomorrow, Monday 25th February at 7:30pm.  Notes for the next study – Titus – are on the table at the back.  Please take a copy!

Steve B’s Travels

Steve will be visiting East Asia from 3rd to 24th March. Your prayers are appreciated. Please see Steve or Gill if you would like to know more.

Bible Society Event at Priory Street, Saturday 2nd March, 7pm

As well as up to date information on Bible Society, there will be the exciting launch of the new book – ‘JONAH AND THE BONY-FINNED ASTEROID FISH’ written by our very own Jo Sheringham! Publication date – 26th February.  Join us for a fun evening with readings, quiz, book-signing and supper.  If you are thinking of coming, please sign-up at the back so we can cater accordingly!  Thank you.

Women’s World Day of Prayer

Corsham Baptist Church is hosting this year. Please join us as we pray for women of SLOVENIA, one of the youngest and smallest countries in Europe.

  • WHERE: CBC Sanctuary, Priory Street
  • WHEN: Friday, 1 MARCH, 2019
  • TIME: 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Please see Kathy L as she needs assistance for readers, refreshments, and greeters.  We are never too busy to pray!

Family service (The Ark)

A family service will take place at Priory Street on 17th March at 3.30pm.  The service will be fairly short and will finish with tea. Please put the date in your diary and start inviting family and friends along. We’ll also be advertising it at the Ark, Toddler group etc.  Many thanks.

Accommodation for summer course 2019

For the last two years, CBC has hosted the WEC MK Staff Training course in July/August.. The course is scheduled to take place again, from Sunday 21st July to Thursday 1st August 2019. Some participants will only stay till Saturday 27th July. If you are able to provide accommodation (including breakfast and most evening meals) for someone for all or part of this time, please contact Steve and Gill B. Thank you so much for your help.

Chippenham Street Pastors

Several of our church members are involved in Chippenham Street Pastors.  There will be a celebration service on 13th March at 7:30pm at St. Paul’s Church, Chippenham.  The night will include worship, testimony and prayer to celebrate this ministry which started in 2011.  Please go along if you are interested in joining or simply wish to encourage those already involved.

Opportunities to Serve the Corsham Community as a Foodbank Trustee

The Corsham Churches Foodbank has been serving the community for around seven years now, and many of the Trustees have served from the outset.  Whilst we have the experience, we are all getting older and are looking for new blood to refresh both us, and our work.  If you would like to find out more about serving as one of our Trustees, we would love to hear from you. For more information contact Roger or Hazel H in the 11.15 or call (number in the directory).

Help Required @ The Gathering Weekend 29-30 June 2019

These are the following areas where we still need help for the above event.  There are sign up sheets at the back so please consider where you may be able so serve. Thank you.

Refreshments; PA; Stewards / welcomers; Communion team; First aiders; setup / breakdown team

…This week…

Life groups meet in and around Corsham and neighbouring towns and villages during the week.  If you would like more information on any small groups, please speak to your congregational leaders or read here.

TITUS: THINGS WE NEED TO BE REMINDED ABOUT

kathylarkman,

I have been so blessed by this year’s Titus Bible study! This month’s study is no different as we are reminded of God’s saving and training grace as the impetus for a changed behaviour in living the good life.

We will be getting together as women who want to know God and each other better; to love God and each other more!

  • WHERE: Corsham Baptist Church Hall
  • WHEN: Monday, 25 February, 2019
  • TIME: 7:30-9:00

We have such a great time of sharing of refreshments, friendship, and studying God’s word! I hope you will join us!

Spick and span

Tim Stephenson,
Oasis refugee center from outside

While Martin and team returned home for some rest and recuperation from their bugs, Neal, Lesley and the team put things back to normal for the start of another week.

Click through to see the finished result.

A pre-release peek into the new Bible Society’s book

Tim Stephenson,

Join us for a fun evening to celebrate the launch of “Jonah and the bony-finned asteroid fish” – a sci-fi adventure of a washed-up prophet. With readings, quiz, book-signing and supper.

We do need to hear if you want to come so we can cater appropriately so please sign up at the back of church or use the form below.

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.

                   

“We’re leaving on a jet plane”

Ruth,

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 critter on Steve’s shoe – a praying mantis.

Notice sheet 17th February 2019

Louise,

Priory Street (Corsham)

9.15am              Eddie Larkman

11.15am             Eddie Larkman

6:00pm             Gathering to Praise

Church on the Green (Rudloe)

10:00am            Rob Durant

Mary Hayes

The Thanksgiving service for the life of Mary Hayes will be held on Wednesday 27th February at CBC, Priory Street at 2pm . Mary died on 25th January at the age of 99 years, had been a regular member of our lunch club and attended many other church activities. All welcome.

Bible Society Event at Priory Street, 2nd March, 7pm

As well as up to date information on Bible Society, there will be the exciting launch of the new book – ‘JONAH AND THE BONY-FINNED ASTEROID FISH’. Publication date – 26th February.  Join us for a fun evening with readings, quiz, book-signing and supper.  If you are thinking of coming, please sign-up at the back so we can cater accordingly!  Thank you.

The Ark

If you’re not still away for half term do join us for the next Ark on Saturday 23rd February and why not bring a friend? It’s about treasure!  It’s aimed at 0-7 year olds but all are welcome with an adult. The puppets will be here, and exciting crafts, as well as the normal children’s service followed by drinks and cake. 

Mission Trips’ Thank Offering – 3rd March 2019

As we seek to play our part in spreading God’s love around the world, on Sunday 3rd March, we will be holding a thank offering to build up a fund to support self-funding adults who volunteer to serve on our future Mission Teams. This year, teams will be going out to support an AIM conference in Uganda and to help with construction work at the AIM Sanga Sanga conference centre in Tanzania.  The money raised will be lodged in our Restricted Mission Trips Fund. Please do pray about how you can contribute towards this offering.  Special yellow envelopes for your Gift Day offering will be available on the table at the back of the building. Please mark the envelope MISSION TRIPS THANK OFFERING, and if you are able to gift aid your donation, please complete the declaration on the envelope.  If you are not able to do this, please just score out the declaration. When the offering is taken on the day, only the contents of the yellow envelopes will be included in the Thank Offering total.  Blue envelopes and loose cash/cheques will be treated as regular giving to the general work of the church.  Please speak to Paul Garcia (Church on the Green), Michael Prior (Priory Street 9.15) or Roger Hammett (Priory Street 11.15) should you wish to clarify these arrangements.

Women’s World Day of Prayer

Corsham Baptist Church is hosting this year. Please join us as we pray for women of SLOVENIA, one of the youngest and smallest countries in Europe.

WHERE: CBC Sanctuary, Priory Street

WHEN: Friday, 1 MARCH, 2019

TIME: 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Please see Kathy Larkman as she needs assistance for readers, refreshments, and greeters.  We are never too busy to pray!

Midweek Service

The next midweek service will take place on Wednesday 20th February at 2pm.  The text is Matthew 6.1-18. Eric Seager will be leading and preaching.  All welcome.

Women’s Bible Study

The next women’s bible study will take place on Monday 25th February at 7:30pm.  Notes for the next study – Titus – are on the table at the back.  Please take a copy!

Family service (The Ark)

A family service will take place at Priory Street on 17th March at 3.30pm.  The service will be fairly short and will finish with tea. Please put the date in your diary and start inviting family and friends along. We’ll also be advertising it at the Ark, Toddler group etc.  Many thanks.

Accommodation for summer course 2019

For the last two years, CBC has hosted the WEC MK Staff Training course in July/August.. The course is scheduled to take place again, from Sunday 21st July to Thursday 1st August 2019. Some participants will only stay till Saturday 27th July. If you are able to provide accommodation (including breakfast and most evening meals) for someone for all or part of this time, please contact Steve and Gill Bryant. Thank you so much for your help.

Chippenham Street Pastors

Several of our church members are involved in Chippenham Street Pastors.  There will be a celebration service on 13th March at 7:30pm at St. Paul’s Church, Chippenham.  The night will include worship, testimony and prayer to celebrate this ministry which started in 2011.  Please go along if you are interested in joining or simply wish to encourage those already involved.

Opportunities to Serve the Corsham Community as a Foodbank Trustee

The Corsham Churches Foodbank has been serving the community for around seven years now, and many of the Trustees have served from the outset.  Whilst we have the experience, we are all getting older and are looking for new blood to refresh both us, and our work.  If you would like to find out more about serving as one of our Trustees, we would love to hear from you. For more information contact Roger or Hazel Hammett in the 11.15 or call 01249 715816.

…This week is half term…

Please check with your small group leaders about your group!

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

Wednesday: Midweek service, 2pm

Thursday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 7:30pm

Friday: Corsham Money and Debt Advice Centre, 9:30am

Saturday: The Ark, 10:00am

Life groups meet in and around Corsham and neighbouring towns and villages during the week.  If you would like more information on any small groups, please speak to your congregational leaders.

… Looking ahead…

25th February: Women’s bible study, 7:30pm

27th February: Mary Hayes’ thanksgiving service, 2pm

1st March: Women’s World Day of Prayer (Slovenia), 7:30pm

2nd March: Craft Club, 10am; Bible Society Event, 7:00pm

3rd March: Gift day

6th March: Midweek service, 2pm

11th March: Fight night, 8pm

18th March: Prayer for mission and the persecuted church, 7:45pm

20th March: Midweek service, 2pm

24th March: Nominations open for Safeguarding Deacon

THE LOVE UNDERPINNING GOD’S GRACE

kathylarkman,

 

Cathy Photo

CATHERINE DONOVAN, CONTRIBUTOR FOR TODAY’S POST

I don’t know if you ever wondered why the Old Testament plot on the life of God’s chosen people Israel reads like “paradise- evil-destruction/captivity- redemption” almost on a continuous loop. There is creation, the flood, then Abraham. Joseph’s family ends up in Egypt, followed by slavery then release from captivity and entry into the Promised Land. You then have the Kings, the divide of the Kingdom, exile (Daniel’s time) then release from captivity. It’s no wonder the hope that Israel had was Jesus would be an earthly king releasing them from the Roman rule.
Yet the message of Jesus is Salvation by grace. This grace is the undeserved love of God. Grace brings salvation and teaches, enables us to say “No to ungodliness” (Titus 2:11). I am reminded of the three parables in Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In each of these parables, the search for the one who is lost does not stop until they are found. And this is always followed by rejoicing. This is how much our Father God loves us. Just like a child, I am keen to say, “ I know better. . I can do my own thing”. John 4I am keen to rebel. However, when I grasp how much God loves me, that He loves me enough to have died for me; that stops me in my tracks and I am beckoned to obedience because of His love. God’s grace speaks love which we all thirst for. If I trust His love, I am happy to stay home instead of wandering away from his arms.
However, in our fallen world which does not know unconditional love, the reality of the truth that “love” underpins that grace cannot be known. How can I possibly understand a love that I do not know, cannot see or have not experienced? The grace of God brought salvation through the cross and more. Jesus said:

John 14I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit who reveals all things and helps us to understand this unfathomable truth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I can obey God, obey His commandments and love Him who first loved me. God’s gift of salvation has rebirthed us to be God’s offspring. His children. We can confidently say: “ in him we live and move and have our being…We are his offspring.”(Acts 17:28)