Friday, 24 April 2009

Back to Serbia With Love

I'm surprised how quickly I've adjusted to being back. In fact I don't think I had to adjust at all. I felt very alien in the UK but at home here. I found the UK very materialistic and commercialised. I felt very uncomfortable with it. It has been a good insight into some of the problems I'll have adjusting back to UK life next month.

Argh, only one more month left. I'm really excited about the next month here. I don't feel it is only a month left – God can work in a second so the opportunities to change lives is immense. I love seeing people grow in Christ and feel there is more to come over the next few weeks. I want more opportunities to plant some seeds ready for the Holy Spirit to grow them. It'll be great to hear in the months and years ahead how people have grown and where their walk is leading them.

(I) Love Belfast

Naomi, Milos, Mira and I headed to Northern Ireland for Love Belfast. It was such a great event and great to meet up with people interested or already in the church plant. I've heard about people and been praying for them but to meet them has really helped. It is really encouraging to hear how the churches of Belfast are working together and are supporting each other. The team have already bonded and I think this weekend has helped them grow closer together.
I think each of us has found the weekend very challenging.
The Serbs – Milos and Mira - struggled with the culture shock. They kept comparing things to Serbia and how much better Serbia is. I suppose being out of the country for a short time and seeing so many differences was difficult for them. It took me a few weeks to adjust but they had to do that in a few days. I found it difficult as I was woken up on Friday by a very painful foot. I could hardly walk. It continued throughout the weekend. It was slightly better each day but still painful. Now back in Serbia it is so much better. It made me more determined to enjoy my time in Belfast. I was a little quieter than I wanted to be due to the pain but I was still able to socialise a bit.
It was lovely to stay with David and Trish Capener. They are renting a great house – there were 5 of us staying with them. I hope we weren't too much trouble for you. They were such an encouragement to us all. I didn't realise how much I missed them until I spent some time with them. I wonder who else will make me feel that when I get back to Norfolk.
Hello to new friends, it was great to meet up with you and thank you for making the weekend so much fun. Thank you for your prayers to heal my foot. It's nearly completely healed. Hairy legs didn't succeed in disrupting my time in Belfast.

No April Fool

We had a Wednesday evening free from any planned activities. I've been trying to hold a film night for the girlies for ages and most of them are only free on a Wednesday. We normally have Communion one week followed by Student night alternately so to have a free Wednesday was an opportunity not to be missed. At first the guest list was only 3 but including Tracy and I we had 9 over for dinner.
The film didn't end up happening but after having chats, dinner and playing games it was still a great night. There was a mixture of believers and non-believers. It was so good to see them all mixing. One of my students came along which was great as she may be encouraged to attend a student night now. We had to ask them to leave as they needed to catch the last bus. We listened to them going downstairs and they were all laughing. I felt God was here with us tonight and something has grown among them. Watch this space.
I spent a good few days with my brother and family. It was great to catch up with them and spend quality time there. I also enjoyed catching up with some friends back in Essex – 4 of them I haven't seen for 4 years since I left. It was also an opportunity to reflect on my time in Serbia.
I realise that some of my blog has been about my struggles here – but I felt I needed to be honest about things. It has been very isolating here at times but the good moments have really made up for it. It took a while for things to develop but I feel they are now.

My photo of one of my favourite flowers
 What a busy month March was. We had a visit from Andy and Helen Moss from Great Yarmouth. They were here for 10 days which flew by. It was great having them here. They had a great impact on the church.
We had our first MAD day with around 20 children. There were activities and games for them to play. One of the girls remembered me from last summer – at least that's what I thought she said. It was a great chance for the church to look at the MAD day structure and whether we need it to be changed as the children are getting older. The older one's didn't engage as much as they had done in previous days so maybe we need to run a youth group for them.
Tracy – a girl from a New Frontiers church in Bristol – also arrived. She is planning on living in Nis for a year or so from September. This was a bit of a taster for her. It was great sharing the apartment. I was concerned before she arrived as I've had the apartment to myself and wondered if it'd be difficult. I didn't need to worry. She was such an encouragement and I can see her doing good things here. It's made it a little easier to leave knowing she'll be taking over some of my work. She will be kept very busy here and I think she enjoyed the time getting to know people.

I've finally met 3 of my neighbours – all within a week. I feel a bit better having spoken to them, even if it was only to introduce myself. I just have to remember what they look like!
I had children's work for one of Andy's preaches. It was so funny. For weeks now it has only been Iva and Milos. I took a few extra craft items with me just in case there were a few more. I had 7 children with me. Church usually finishes by 12.45. Helen came out at 12.50 and said they hadn't even started preaching yet. Ooops, I was struggling finding things to do with them. Thankfully Helen stayed and helped. It was difficult keeping them quiet. I think church finished at 13.40. What a marathon children's work that was. Only one more to do!
I had 2 days at Faculty helping Sonja's students with conversation. It was such a great time. I was very nervous before I started but we had enough material to keep conversations going. It was a great opportunity to find out what youth think about and their views on things. I'm really surprised how much I enjoyed doing that and it has raised a few questions for me what I want to do workwise when I get back. It's started me thinking again about doing a degree but am unsure in what and where and when .... etc. As an introduction activity we had to think up 2 truths and 1 lie. I found this really difficult – thinking of a lie. I changed them each day. I think they were * I speak french * I've travelled around Europe * this is my fourth time in Nis. What do you think the lie is?
We had another Holy Spirit evening at church. On the previous Holy Spirit evening I didn't ask for prayer as I felt the native church needed to receive more than me. But on this night I felt I needed to have some impartation. There were lots of people attending which was great. I went forward for prayer for the gift of Tongues. I feel I've made a step forward and have faith I've been given the gift. The joy of heaven came upon me again. My stomach hurt so much.
I've had my last serbian lesson. It was surprising how sad I felt. I really enjoyed them even though at times they were very difficult. I'll have to pop in and see Tina – it's handy as the school is opposite the church building so no excuse!
We had a quiz night at the church. It was well attended and well organised, well done Martin and Irena. I was on a team with a couple of students. We did really well. We came 2nd – 1.5 points in it. We couldn't believe it. We lost to the teachers but gave them a run for their money. I think it was the country outlines that let us down. Never mind, I'm sure there'll be a next time!