Rachel Reflects on her time in Paraguay with SAMS
Hello, hello, hello!
First of all, a very belated Happy New Year!! I realise its February but better late than never. It's officially 6 months in (crazy), it’s definitely time for another update on how things are going here in London. My time so far has literally disappeared in front of my eyes but there are so many things to praise God for over the last half a year. I have really settled into both church service and life in general, it has been made much easier by the people around me. They are all genuinely lovely folk. That is one of the top things on my thankfulness list. I am also extremely thankful to God for everyone back home who have been supporting me through prayer, donations, and regular communication. Again, this has made everything so much easier for me to settle in quickly. I sincerely appreciate it, especially when my friends have been there to listen to me when I have had a bad day or put up with me when I’m just generally in bad form so thank you all so much. God is faithful. Always.
Psalm 57:10-11 “Great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches the skies.”
December was an exceptionally busy but incredible month for us as a church. The Christmas period took it out of me more than I realised, a lot of my energy had disappeared by the 24th, highlighting the importance of rest during the holidays. All in all, we had over 30 events in the church, all of which were great. Thankfully I did not tire of singing carols unlike some other members of staff. I had the opportunity to be involved in our main Christmas Praise events, this was so encouraging to see so many different people entering the church for Christmas. All Souls' is very successful at bringing people in, and a Christmas carol service is a perfect opportunity to introduce someone to Jesus. They make the most of these events going above and beyond on food, decorations and music. It was a brilliant time. The festivities continued as I managed to sneak home for the event of the year — the feast. It was lovely to be back in CE, catching up with friends and eating mammoth portions of Christmas dinner. I am very thankful I was given time off to come home and celebrate Christmas with my church family, it was a special time and exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries without having to worry about anything practical in the church service.
The deal in All Souls means, if you get off for Christmas then you work New Years Eve, this was a lovely time to see people, check in with friends and praise God for everything he has done in 2017. Rico Tice was preaching at the midnight service. His gospel message was so clear, passionate and totally faithful to God. Again, this a huge opportunity within All Souls’ to evangelise to folk who are coming into the church, maybe for the first time. There were mince pies, mulled wine and friendly faces. The church was as packed with people as I’ve ever seen it — praise God for this. I managed to catch the NYE fireworks from our spire, an experience I’d highly recommend for the views.
Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion’s never fail. They are made new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
The life cycle of our tree. We are still picking up pine needles.....
Fighting those January Blues
Then, just like that, it was January. January always has a bit of a Narnia feel to it, always winter and never Christmas. The nights are still dark, things are quieter and the lights and prettiness of the season suddenly disappears. It was a time to rest and get myself back together after being so busy in December. Every regular event in the church was off for a break, so things were much more relaxed and quieter. We CAs just got on with general bigger quarterly tasks like cleaning with windows, washing the carpets, power hosing the steps and washing every single chair in the church (yes, all of them). It was a strange period compared to December but much needed. We took the time to recover physically and mentally and started to prepare for the next term in the church.
The new term meant a new ministry. I really enjoyed my time doing Life Explored with Rico. It taught me a lot in terms of ‘good’ ways to evangelise and reach people. One gentleman in particular, made a lot of progress. He was a Christian but fell away from faith after the death of his wife and in his late 60’s is now searching again. He started to come to our January Christianity Explored course which was brilliant and is thinking about starting back to church. Please pray for him, that God will move in his life and convict him once again.
My ministry this term is Wednesday lunch club with the senior members of the church and community. Old people and I get along pretty well, so I’m really enjoying spending time with them. There is something very special and important about eating with one another. I listen to their stories and we have a great 3-course meal every week (note: I'm not going it for the great food but it helps). There’s an 88-year-old lady, Irene, who comes, originally from Portadown (such a small world). There’s a small church service before lunch and entertainment for them after — they particularly love watching episodes of ‘The Crown’. They're all pretty cool people.
At the beginning of the new year, I started Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Bible reading plan. It involves reading two chapters of two different OT books and two chapters of two different NT books. It's for a year and results in reading the OT once and NT twice through. I attempt to fit it in every day, but admittedly, there are days I end up missing it due to busyness. I'm learning that it is times like that I need to give myself some grace and try again the next day. It’s really challenging me to prioritise my time with God in a better, less rushed way. My quiet time is always last thing at night but I’ve been encouraged recently by one of our sermon series to devote time in prayer in the morning. The pervious rector of All Souls', the late, great John Stott began each day with a morning prayer:
Good morning heavenly Father,
Good morning Lord Jesus,
Good morning Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe.
Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world.
Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence
and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God,
have mercy upon me. Amen.
At the beginning of March, we are hosting a missions week to show how God is moving in peoples lives. We are expecting between 500-1000 people attending the event each night, which is a bit crazy! The event has a few famous faces, including Tim Farron and Queen B herself - Mary flipping Berry (wow). Pray that our Church family will have the courage to invite people they meet along their day to day lives. That non-Christians will attend and hear the gospel, seeing how Jesus has moved in their lives as they give personal testimonies . Pray they will be called to make the same decision. Pray that All Souls' will be a welcoming environment for them, that they might consider worshiping with us more regularly. Finally, pray for us, it will involve a lot of logistical and practical work behind the scenes. Hopefully it's a fun week as well (totally going to try and get a pic with Mary Berry). If you want to find out more check out our website: www.allsouls.org/reallives
I would appreciate prayer for the future. Although I have my Master’s sorted for next year (woo) there are a few things in All Souls' I could potentially get involved with. Pray that God will open the right doors and close the ones that need closing. Pray for wisdom and discernment as I make these decisions, the year is coming in fast, pray I feel ready to begin my studies again in September and it will be a smooth transition in what I am doing and how my time is being spent.
Just like that, it’s February. Things have started up again, the hustle and bustle is getting more hustley and bustley and tiredness is kicking back in. Please pray for me, to know how to rest well and make use of my free time in a productive and beneficial way. I’ve started to feel a bit weary at times and this is not something I’m used to. I’m the kind of person who is always go-go-go however, this is really beginning to catch up on me. I need to find ways to sit still and be at peace, whether that is time reading, chilling or just sitting in a coffee shop watching the world go by. Whatever way I choose to relax, all I know is my body and mind need more of it.
This term, along with our usual Monday theological training we need to read, a lot. Our book is John Stott’s ‘The Cross of Christ’, it's a dense but brilliant read. Please pray I keep at it as well as sticking to my Bible reading plan. I’m finding it so beneficial to my spiritual health, simply getting to know His word more and more. Pray as well that on days I may miss these things, I will give myself room for some grace to try again tomorrow. I have also had the privilege of getting a bit more involved in the church service, which I really enjoy, pray for more opportunities like this.
Finally, I'd appreciate prayer for my family. My grandma isn't well at the minute and it's very hard being away which makes things difficult in terms of knowing what to do and how I can help. Pray for my mum that she'll be supported and cared for. Pray for me, that I will make peace with being away during her period of sickness. It's obviously a difficult time, pray for wisdom to know when and if I should come home. As you will be praying for me, I will also be praying for you, for my church and for CE, to continue to flourish and grow in Christ. I pray the Holy Spirit will continue to move in your lives, changing you and making you more like Christ. Great is your faithfulness. To Him be the glory. Forever
I miss you all. Keep in touch.
God bless and much love. x
Titus 3:4-7 “But when the kindness and love of God our saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 so that, having been justified by His grace we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”