Christmas greetings from Caversham. I hope that you and your family are well, have had a good Christmas, and that you will enjoy the rest of Christmas and then be looking forward to the New Year 2010. What a year 2009 has been, with such dreadful flooding and other natural disasters, as well as the unbearable casualties brought about by war in various places across the world. Yet in all this, as Christians, we find good news and hope. So I look forward to hearing your latest news.
I have been celebrating Christmas as usual with Tony and Caroline and their family in Derbyshire, including Anna and Carl’s 2-and-a-half year old daughter, Louisa Isobel, and their 3 months' old new baby, Toby James.
I’m thankful to have had a second whole year free of cellulitis, but I have not enjoyed quite such good health as last year, though nothing in particular to complain about (I have two months’ iron tablets just now for anaemia). This is probably because I’ve had to work really hard all the year, with little let-up. We continued studying the Disciple 4 course until July and 2009 has been the Centenary year for our church, Caversham Heights Methodist Church. There has been a very full programme of events and special guest preachers throughout the whole year. Since I am the Media Publicity Director, it has meant a lot of work for me – advertising each event or preacher beforehand in the three local papers and two local radio stations, and writing about them afterwards (with photos) for the same papers.
As well as the Centenary, I have had several really good celebrations elsewhere. At Easter, I returned to Llandudno for the second ECG Event (‘Equipping, Calling, Going’) which took the place of the former Easter People and, although run by different people – ‘NXT Ministries’, ‘Youth for Christ’, and ECG – was very similar, especially in regard to the in-depth Bible Studies so popular at ‘Easter People’. A main emphasis at ECG is in catering for the 20s and 30s age group and the provision of events and activities specially geared to their needs and aspirations. This year I looked after the MET (Methodist
Evangelicals Together) stand in the exhibition, and I am eagerly looking forward to doing the same, again in Llandudno, when ECG 2010 will be held on 6th to 11th April with Steve Brady as the Theatre Bible Teacher – see www.ecgevent.org.uk.
As last year there was a family gathering at Bethany School in Kent for my great
granddaughter Louisa’s second birthday on 10th May, which was much enjoyed by all of us. At two, she was able to entertain us with all her newly acquired skills.
I took turns in leading the experimental Wednesday afternoon midday services during
May at our church, but not too many people came, so we decided to re-think this later.
My cousin Jack Baul died in May and, since he never married and had no family except
cousins, we had to arrange the funeral at Ripon Methodist Church by email and I found it necessary to print the orders of service myself. John David gave a warm eulogy to his uncle, and it was good to meet so many of my nephews and nieces whom, because of distance, I had not seen for years. They also had not met each other for years. One nephew, Nigel, was unable to be there because his IT business had expanded so much that he was in the middle of moving it to larger premises. So those who were there decided that it was time to have a big family get-together and they joked that it would have to be in Pontefract to make sure that Nigel could come.
I went to the Methodist Conference in Wolverhampton in July where I was thrilled to be present at the ordination of our Deacon, Becky Bawden, and I was also glad to be able to step in once more to run the MET (Methodist Evangelicals Together) stand in the Exhibition, which gave me a unique opportunity to meet old friends from far and wide as well as listening in to the debates when not busy.
This year Churches Together in Caversham decided to carry out Street Evangelism in Caversham at the time of the Reading Pop Festival sited nearby, with a Welcome Café in the New Testament Church of God opposite the shopping precinct, and a number of us worked on a rota basis to hand out Bible reading booklets. After several interesting conversations with lovely young people from far and wide, I was startled to find that the greatest need was right on my doorstep! The CTC had been taken down but I was still sitting outside the Black Church (the NT Church of God) when a neighbour saw me and, thinking I must be ill, came to see if she could help! We offered her a cup of tea and explained why we were there. At first, she argued against what we were doing but she continued to ask questions, breaking down after a while and then being very reluctant to end the conversation! The NT Church of God were holding a regional convention that weekend, with their Bishop and 3 speakers from America. So it was a shock to me when I was pressed into addressing (by interview) their Sunday afternoon session about serving God in your 80s! Quite scary, but they begged me to ‘Come again!’
Finally, the year ended with the death and December funeral of my sister-in-law, Alice Mary Morgan, who will be much missed because she was never happier than when helping others and writing letters of encouragement.
I have continued to proofread translations of Scripture in strange languages for Wycliffe Associates and I have just returned Mark Chs. 4 – 6 in Zapotec Miahuatlan (a Mexican Language). I am still a representative to the Circuit Meeting, I prepare Prayer Guidelines each month and, as I have already said, I am Media Publicity Director at my church.
Tony and Caroline continue with their very full programme of teaching and concerts, etc. Caroline teaches reed instruments at the South-East Derbyshire Music Centre at Heanor, is a peripatetic teacher in local private schools and arranges concerts for ‘Music in Duffield’ Tony’s own professional chamber orchestra, English Pro Musica (based in Nottingham) is still in great demand. The orchestra sometimes works with his choir, the Ryton Chorale (based in Bassetlaw), which is very well established. Tony continues teaching Music at Nottingham University and High School and the Leicestershire Youth Orchestra, as well as running a thriving business selling instrument cases worldwide – see www.bassbags.co.uk .
David, their eldest son, has been completely transformed by the miracle ‘cure’ for his illness. He has regained his former energy, as he works for Bassbags, and even has a steady girl friend. Richard is now at Cambridge, training to teach science. Anna and her husband Carl moved in the summer to become house parents at a much larger school – Old Swinford Hospital School in Stourbridge. They are thrilled with their little daughter Louisa and new baby Toby. Youngest of the family, Emily is still working for the accountancy firm KPMG in London, and has now moved in with her boy friend. So this Grandma is eagerly wondering if there are likely to be any more weddings before long. (I must stop counting chickens …)
Sheila is in good health and spirits in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where she is head of a University English Department. The apprentice hairdressing project (Vuon Len) set up there in her father’s memory continues to give new hope to ever more apprentices - see www.vuonlen.org.uk.
I continue to blog on www.octomusings.blogspot.com and to enjoy the rich blessings of being part of the Methoblogosphere, though the frost was too severe for me to go to the recent DigiMission day conference in London.
2010, should prove to be an easier year for me, without the Disciple Course and all the centenary events, but I have already booked for the MET weekend conference in January in Torquay (which gives me the chance to visit Dermot and Charlene), the ECG Event in Llandudno at Easter and I hope to be able to help with the MET stand at the Methodist Conference in Portsmouth in June. Also, after the sadness of funerals this year, I am looking forward to the wedding in Pontefract on February 5th of my
nephew, John David, to Annaliese, another member of the West Riding Police Force, especially as this will unite two families who have both suffered bereavement in recent years. So there will be a happy family gathering in Pontefract after all.