Today has been such a crazy day. I’ve spent it packing, sorting out random stuff and walking around the local area on various erands. My packing has been strange. Usually, when i go away anywhere, i naturally pack really lightly. I take the minimuim clothes, put shampoo, etc in small bottles and generally try to reduce the amount that im taking. This is usually because I’m travelling on the train, and it makes the journey so much easier. But this time, a coursemate who is staying in the same place as me, as offered me a lift up. And so I decided that I wouldn’t be quite so light in my packing. This will hopefully mean I’ll be able to settle in better.
So, instead of my small suitcase and my smallish rucksack (which I take for an average week or so away), I decided I’d take my bigger suitcase and my new big rucksack. I spent quite a lot of time during the day, just putting stuff I wanted to take on my bed. I think, because I knew I had this extra space, I thought I had endless space. So I put rather a lot of stuff out on the bed. And in my usual, optimistic way, was even wondering if I’d need my big rucksack, and if I did could I fit my laptop in there too. When I finally got round to putting everything in my rucksack, I only just about got everything in! Why is it that no matter how big the rucksack / suitcase, you always fill it?!
I’m off tomorrow afternoon. Wish me luck. I organised a goodbye drinks thing in the pub last night, and there were about 20 people there, which was very cool. Thank you to everyone who came. And special thanks to my housemates who are currently cooking me a special house meal. I doubt if I’ll have internet access so posts in the next 7 weeks will be minimal. I hope things run smoothly here and everyone is ok whiles I’m gone.
I did something today that I’ve been meaning to do for several months. I went to the market and bought my fruit, veg and cheese there. My Dad thinks Swansea Market is fabulous and is always telling me I should use it more. I know it is environmentally better – the food is probably locally grown, so it supports local farmers and there are less air miles on the food. And it means that i’m not supporting big, supermarkets as much (I still had to go to the supermarket to get the rest of my food, but I didn’t spend as much). The cheese I bought is a mature cheddar called ‘Snowdon’ and looks quite exciting. The only problem with the market is I always get lost when I’m in it. I lose my bearings and always come out in a completely different place to where I think i will do. But, I suppose the more I use it, the better I’ll get.
What was equally exciting as the market shopping trip, was the cycle ride there. I haven’t riden my bike properly since i fell over coming down Pen y fan and strained a ligament in my knee. It was too painful to ride on it, and I think numerous friends would have shouted at me lots if i tried to! But, it hasn’t hurt for the past couple of weeks, so I decided to brave it on my bike. I removed the rain cover, dug my helmet out, and set off. I was doing absolutely fine, until I got to Ryddings Park Road, when I discovered that my back brake wasn’t working properly. Most Swansea readers will know that this isn’t particularly the best road to discover this on – its rather steep! I was there, zooming down this hill, trying to slow myself down with my front brake, but not wanting to do so too forcefully, for fear of flying over the handle bars!!! Oh bugger.
It was ok. I made it to the bottom in one piece. And I mentioned it to a housemate when I got home who worked out what the problem was and figured that a piece of duck tape would solve it. Fingers crossed!
This evening I’ve been to a People and Planet meeting, so over all i feel it has been quite an evironmentally friendly day. 🙂
I received a letter today. From 10 Downing Street. It basically said, thank you for my correspondence, and the Prime Minister has asked a Minister in the Department for International Development to reply to me directly.
As you can imagine, I’m quite impressed. Its encouraging to get a response from my campaigning. My local MP (Labour) in recent years, has taken to sending me regular updates (‘personal’ letters, in which she spells my name wrong!) about the work she does to promote Fair Trade. So I’m used to getting letters in ‘House of Commons’ envelopes and paper. But, I’ve never had anything from Downing Street itself.
The only problem is that I can’t remember what I sent. I regularly get emails from charities such as Christian Aid and Oxfam, which often ask me to send emails to various MPs. I generally check I agree with the email, click a few times, and it off it goes. I don’t think about it again. And then I get a letter back. From Downing Street. And I can’t remember the details of the email I sent. Oops.
This is the Dad of a close friend of mine from school. I’ve just been round to visit her. Its horrible. Just horrible. She’s 20 years old. She shouldn’t have to grieve for the loss of her 49 year old Dad.
On the way there in the car, I had one verse from ‘Brother Sister Let me Serve you’ by Richard Gillard in my head. I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you; I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through. So, I sat on her bed and cried with her. And listened as she talked about her Dad. How she’d miss the annoying nagging, as well as the loving father. How she kept on expecting him to walk through the door. How he’d died doing something he loved. How she was going to overcome all fears of public speaking, and speak at his funernal.
We only spent about an hour together, but it completely drained me. On the way home I was talking to my dad about it all and I couldn’t stop crying. When I got home I lay on my bed and listened to Kate Rusby. Please can I ask you to pray for her and her family.
Tomorrow I’m meeting another friend who lost a second grandparent within a couple of months, last weekend. Sigh. I’m trying to be a rock for my friends who need me, but I feel liable to simply crumbling. The good thing is that I know that if I crumble, Him upstairs and other friends will put me back together. I don’t think I could have got through tonight without His support. Thank you.
Its now only a week until I go. I’ve had the accommodation details through the post and will have to make some phone calls soon to finalise everything. It is quite scary. Moving away from everyone I know and everything I’m familiar with in Swansea. But, I’m trying to be positive about it. Its only 7 weeks. I will be able to come back and visit Swansea on my days off. Being away like that should give me more time to do acedemic work – i have an exam the first week back (most people have study leave before an exam, I have a 7 week placement). I’ve bought a map of the area, so I can go exploring in my free time. And numerous friends from Swansea have said they’ll come and visit me. I doubt if I’ll have internet access, but I know I’ll still have the support and prayers from wibloggers. Generally I think it’ll give me some good thinking space and if I want company, my friends are only at the end of a phone line.
As I often do when I’m at home, with a music book and a piano, I was enjoying a little tickle last night. One of the songs I played was ‘Will You come and Follow Me?’ by John Bell. As I played and sang the first few lines, it struck home – ‘Will you come and follow me if I but call your name? Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?’. 2 years ago, when I was confirmed and made a personal committment to follow Him, I chose to sing this song in the service. I remembered last night, that I’m doing this course for Him. I’m doing my placements for Him – I am trying to let His love be shown in this world. Moving away like this, is one small part of it. He will be with me every step of the way. He doesn’t expect me to go through it all on my own. This realisation has helped me come to terms with the whole concept of moving away.
I’m back in Manchester after a round trip visiting relatives down south. My Grandparents Diamond Wedding celebrations all went to plan, including all the family entertainment after the meal. It was quite amazing that the family managed to provide an hours entertainment for over 50 people, when we all live at other ends of the country and only got together the night before. My 4 year old cousin even declared that he wanted to play his violin in front of everyone – he’s been learning for about 8 months now and played a simple piece perfectly! One of the other highlights of the evening was seeing my Dad and uncle dressed in aprons and holding cleaning equipment, whiles singing ‘We are Poor Hen-Pecked Husbands’ (to the tune, ‘The church’s One Foundation’)!!!
I’ve managed to relax a bit, having done most of my work before going. The morning after the celebrations I stayed in bed till 11am and caught up on some much needed sleep. The only problem was that when I emerged into the living room at 11, I found it full of all my Gran’s cousins and their partners, who all thought it was incredibly funny that I had only just got up! I’ve just checked my emails and found that my tutor hasn’t returned my work yet, so it looks like I’ll have to have a break for a little longer! I just hope she doesn’t leave it too late before she returns it.
So, have I missed anything exciting here? It seems like something went wrong. What was the problem? Is it all fixed now?
As promised, I have returned with a couple of photos from this morning.
At the beginning of lent, I said that I would try to post more spiritually creative items, instead of just ranting. Well, lent’s over now. I know I haven’t kept to it as strictly as I could have done, I have occasionally felt the need to stress relieve myself through here, but I also think that I have made more of an effort to blog more spiritually inspiring things. Which is good. I think I will try to make more of an effort now lent has finished, to continuing posting more spiritual stuff. I must admit, that i didn’t really think it through properly – I think it could have been done a lot better with better planning and organisation.
But, when I want to know is – what do you think? All of the lent posts are shown below. Were they what you expected? Did you find them helpful or a hinderance? Or didn’t you notice it was anything different to normal?
nb: This will be my last post for a week or so. I’m going to the depths of the country and will be without internet access.
I’ve just come back from the Easter Vigil at our church. It was amazing. There were 10 of us, who stayed up all night, drinking tea and chatting with prayer sessions every 2 hours. As the night progressed, through the prayer sessions, we moved from mournfully recalling Christ’s death on the cross, to celebrating His light in our world. The vigil ended with a sunrise service on the beach with a bonfire, fish and bread (which we cooked at ate – just like the first disciples!). Oh yes, and the highlight of the service was definately the impromptu singing of ‘Thine be the Glory’ (Thanks guys!). Photos of the bonfire service should follow later today.
This Easter Sunday, has definately been started in a lovely way. Though not all Easter Sundays have been as jolly. Ten years ago, a 9 year old ERG, came downstairs on Easter Sunday to breakfast, excitedly anticipating lots of chocolate. Only to be told by her mother that her Grandad had died during the night. I was never particulary close to my Grandad, but it certainly took the wind out of my sails. It always seemed ironic that Jesus came back to life on the same day that my Grandad died. And since then, I always remember him on this day.
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fullfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty’ John 19:28.
Thirst. A physical need, an uncontrollable desire.
We all need water to live.
Everybody feels thirsty.
It is a natural reflex which keeps us alive.
Water is so often taken for granted.
We don't always realise our need, our thirst for water
Until there is only a little.
Until there is none.
What does it feel like to be thirsty?
Your mouth is dry.
You feel weary. Lethargic. Weak and tired.
Your whole body longs for water.
All energy, all other thoughts are gone.
You must satisfy that need before you can carry on.
Like on a hot summers day.
When you ache for a drink, to cool and refresh.
An aching. A longing for something. Anything.
Water. Food. Rest. Peace. Justice. Love. Freedom. God.
A satisfaction for our basic needs.
And for the basic needs of those around us.
Our world, torn apart by injustice, war, violence and poverty.
Our world is thirsty for God's healing power.
Sun-baked fields thirst for rainfall,
Plants wither and die without its life-giving sustainance.
As people struggle to find daily food and water,
Countries destroyed by war thirst for peace.
Jesus came to our world to satisfy this need.
He healed the sick.
He set the prisoners free.
He spent His life working with the vulnerable.
Those who suffered.
He came to show us the deepest of needs which we have inside us.
This thirst which we were unaware of.
For peace in the world.
For peace in our lives.
For the life giving water which will fill our parched souls.
He alone can satisfy our needs.
Jesus knew what it was to be thirsty.
He lived and suffered on earth as we do.
He understands everything we go through, good and bad.
He's been there before.
He yearned for food and water.
For peace and justice in this world.
For us to love one another as we love ourselves.
(Yes, I know, I’m a bit late, but I didn’t have time to do this last night)
Last night I went to a communion service held in the back hall of my church. OK, so a back hall, isn’t quite an ‘upper room’, but its reasonably close. And to be sat round in a circle, sharing bread and wine, with a-few-more-than-12 disciples of Jesus, really was special.
In Richard’s short talky bit he spoke about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and how he feels uncomfortable whenever he engages in any feet washing acts. As a student nurse, washing somebody elses feet, never really makes me feel oververtly uncomfortable. Its not something I do lots of, mainly because I specialise with children and they generally have their parents to do these sorts of things, but I have done it. I suppose, as nurses, we do much more invasive procedures, so washing someones feet doesn’t seem too bad. But, Richard is right, it is a very humbling act for anybody to do for anybody else. Jesus is the King of Kings, and yet he still humbled himself to be our servant and wash our feet. He did it to set an example. I’m not trying to say we should all go round washing each others feet, but we should be more humble towards Him and each other. Love one another as He loves us.