What’s next? 

Hello all, 

Please see my new blog for more detail of what’s next in my wanderings… my explorations and my journey with God. http://www.melswanderingsdotcom.wordpress.com 
Thanks for your ongoing support, 

Mel xx 

  P.S. This photo is a sneak peak into a huge new life event, for me… God is good, all the time. ☺️❤️

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Time to go… :(

The time is actually here …. to say goodbye, reflect on my time here in Scotland and finish all the Essays!! It has just flew by; crazy! I am really sad that it has come to an end, even if it seemed it never would at times!! I have made some life-long friends, awesome memories and have learnt A LOT in such a short space of time. As I reflect on the year and the amazing things that have happened – I am just in awe of the work of the Lord and His faithfulness to me…

Studies

Studies… hmm.. it’s funny actually because I am not  naturally good at studying; they say some people have it and others don’t – I’m the one who was rebellious at school, seeking all the attention and had no interest in work. This lack of recognition shone through during the intensity of studies at Tilsley… I was reluctant to read – ‘read, who reads?!’ was my genuine attitude; which soon had to change!!
The truth of it is; I am only young and didn’t make the best out of my Education, had no experience with Essay-writing and had an auto-reaction to just get on with it or do enough to pass …academically I had no confidence!! But this truth didn’t occur to me until I sat down, thought about it and seriously prayed things through. I remember thinking half way through the first term how much I was enjoying the overall experience but being genuinely ready to leave due to the work-load and amount of essays we had to complete… BUT I persevered in Jesus’ strength and it became apparent later on that God had bigger and better plans for this year!

With the help of the Teachers, many of the students (bless them!) and God; I was able to knuckle down, find reading useful and develop interests in topics I never thought I would! I discovered something within me that I never knew existed – a passion for The Word, a desire to get to know our amazing God and Father. What a discovery. Gradually, the reason I came to Tilsley became so clear to me after I started to Trust God more and more and see the work through God’s eyes and not my own. It was amazing to find this place in my heart that burns for the Scriptures and the studies that surrounded them!! 🙂 

Living in Community

Most of the students were residential.. we all lived together. There were six of us who lived in the College building and a couple with their children who lived across the Road in The Manse (i.e. the escapee house!) This was a challenging and testing life to live.  Mostly for me, it was character-building, because we had no choice but to and get to know the housemates; I realised that I had to change many of my ways to suit them and vise versa! I had to learn to communicate in different ways; and I had to share most day to day moans, groans, highs and lows with them! But, it was a great laugh and built me up, gave me some new experiences, memories and a wider cultural awareness! These people became my family for 10 months and shared a big part of my spiritual development with me so it was very emotional to leave them and leave such a beautiful country; Scotland!!

I have made some awesome, awesome friends during my time in Scotland.. the students and wider afield! I am so thankful to God who is the provider and always has us in mind. The personalities of the students were so diverse that I know without God’s hand in the situation – we would not have connected as much as we did this year. The unity of Christ personally with us shone through to create a real sense of His people living as a family! 🙂

Life-long Friendships

I also had a continued friendship with two girls from the Mission Trip in August which took place in Johnstone! It came to my knowledge that in Scottish Christian circles – everyone knows everyone… this small connection led to many banterful trips for Tom and I to a place called Cumbernauld. There, I met some crazy young people and enjoyed a Bible Study with John Dick who is a Youth Worker and an inspiring man of God! The people there were interested in us because of our nationalities and our desire to take a year out and study the Word. This was very encouraging for us both to feel wanted and loved there and be a part of something new. This weekly outing was so effective for my growth as I was meeting with young people who lived in the real world rather than in a Bible College Christian bubble.. and it gave me a whole new perspective on life from a Scottish point of view.

City Hopper!

When moving away from the place you’ve called home for so long to an unknown place; there is no doubt that is exciting and very nerve-racking at the same time!! I am still genuinely overwhelmed by what I have accomplished this year and it is all because of Jesus’ vibrancy in my life and the love of Our Father that consumes me. I have had the opportunity to rediscover who I really am in Christ because of the freedom and independence it created. This evidence of Jesus in my life proves that God is truly an awesome God. He used a small town, rebellious girl to complete His overpowering mission through transformation and willingness to follow His Will. Do not ever limit Him and the power He has to change hearts and lives.

Manda has continually called me a city hopper; due to how many times I have been on a plane to somewhere or another this year! I have had two awesome opportunities to visit Italy and a country in Africa!! My time in Tanzania was by far the highlight and I will treasure those moments forever. I have spoken separately about these trips on the blog but just to briefly say how blessed I feel..
my friend said something to me during a conversation recently and it’s really stuck with me “these things don’t usually happen to me!” she was talking about something completely different but it is relevant to how I see this whole year. As many will know, I come from a family of a low income and this has helped me appreciate the money given, the time spent and the opportunity given a little more than you’d all think. I need you all to see how much this whole experience has meant to me; I have grown into a God-seeking, mature woman of faith who cannot wait to see the new wonders God has  in store in this short, wonderful life on Earth. I am overwhelmed, encouraged and in awe of the love/kindness of people in supporting me and helping me through this year and most importantly to God who deserves all the praise for He is the giver of life and provider to all.

Thank you all for taking the time to read of my journeys to GLO and I hope you’ve been inspired or encouraged in some way or another.

I’ll finish with this… “I have learned that faith is trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse” Philip Yancey

Field Term – Tanzania, Africa

As part of the course, we had a 4 week placement based somewhere else, out of your comfort zone to have the opportunity to minister to other people in a different context.
I would like to say that I chose my placement, but I know that I’d be wrong because God did, through circumstance and providence God showed me that He’d like me to go to Tanzania in Africa. By the time I had listened to God and accepted this, I had about four weeks to take this unbelievable prospect in and prepare myself for the experience that was ahead of me. So, in the midst of the workload and daily lectures, I had to try and make time for 7 necessary JABS!!! This was a very stressful time but God gave me the perserverance and strength to carry through 🙂 I’m not scared of needles but I had to have a few fast-tracked and arrange them around my schedule … at one point I had 4 jabs in the space of 6 days!! So, I think it’s fair to say – I was safe and ready for the journey ahead of me!!

TZNP_map
Trying to grasp this whole new concept of going to Africa was a very long and thoughtful process.. I couldn’t help but think about what everyone had told me about distinct parts of Africa, what I’d experience and how I’d react to, what I thought to be such an abnormal place. I was consciously plagued with self-doubt and unbelief of the reality for a while..
During this emotional time, God really put my heart at peace and gave me a sense of His comfort and reassurance that everything will be fine in Africa, despite my fears and anxieties – He prepared my heart, spirit and mind for what was to come. This brought me real excitement for the journey ahead! So, it was set in place, to leave 28th March and return 22nd April.
The top questions people have been asking are ‘How was it? Give a summary of your time in Africa. What was the highlight/lowlight?’ And for a long period of time, before answering – I was genuinely speechless. So, I think it is fair to say that I have really struggled to write a ‘summary’ or ‘highlights’ due to it being such an impacting experience, so I will attempt to give you an idea of the amazing time I had.

The Plan

The plan was to go with one of the GLO Workers called Allison Hill and work alongside her for the GLO Team (1-7th April) but, for the rest of my time in Tanz – the following week Allison was there or the week I was there with another missionary – Christina. We were going with a certainty (maybe more uncertainty, for me) that God will provide more opportunities for me whilst I am there. This was unsettling and I kept thinking that this was the wrong way to go about it as I’d have nothing to do whilst in Tanzania and wouldn’t be able to make the most of my time there as a mission experience; but I had to keep reminding myself of the truths of God’s promises, in knowledge that He had a plan set before me – I need not panic or worry.

Dinas Bear

Settling In

Allison and I went a few days before the GLO Team which started on Easter Sunday, ready to prepare. This gave me a chance to settle into the new environment and observe the difference in surroundings. We stayed in a house on the grounds of a Children’s Centre called MCCC in a town called Moshi which is just at the foot of the tallest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro.

The breath-taking view of Kilimanjaro
The breath-taking view of Kilimanjaro!

Experiences of Tanzanian Life

My first real experience was going to collect the children for Camp from the ‘keegeegees’ (villages) which were the poorer areas of Moshi.

For me, the fact that these poorer areas were called villages was a weird concept in itself, because in Wales – a village is more of an ‘up market’ place and full of the middle class people and I remember as a kid thinking that everyone who lived in the Village (where I live in now!!) was a snob – hahah!!! I am proud that my view of DP has changed …. now that I live there and have got to know the people!! :’) I was brought up in a downmarket town.. so thought i’d share the little giggle I had to myself whilst reflecting!

Soo .. back on subject, these visits really impacted my heart and I’m still not sure how I kept my tears in – it was so emotional. To see right in front of your eyes a life that is completely different, and how great of despair that life is, was truly heartbreaking. I have many sad stories I could tell that God has helped me come to terms with but I feel they’re too personal and sad to share, you can ask me in person. I don’t think that there is a way to reflect on these situations other than showing complete compassion, accepting that their way of life is very different but almost the same in many ways where they’re reliant upon God and trust that His power is at work, despite the toil along the way. In one instance, an old lady said to me, “say a little prayer for us, will you?” This simple ask was small, yet empowering and heartfelt. I prayed for nights on end afterwards, questioning and doubting God and where His hand was in that horrible place I had seen, I was angry and my reactions were based on a horrible reality of a very distinct quality of life.

Another experience was the form of transport to a School. It was called a ‘Dalha Dalha’ and was the equivalent to a 16-seater mini-bus here. BUT, being African this was not the case – they managed to squeeze 32 people on board, I counted. It was crazy, children sitting on top of each other, an overpowerimng smell of body odour, people standing (falling) – good job they’re naturally so slim I say!! Hahah!

GLO Camp

During the first week, Allison was the main leader of the GLO Camp which took place on site – at the Children’s Centre. This Camp takes place every year and has a set programme with the same structure. For most of the week, I was just an observer and helped out in whatever way I could. This was a valuable lesson in itself – God taught me that I need to be teachable and take a step back, in order to learn from others and from Him. One challenge I did face throughout the week was the fear of being an outsider and having no idea what to do, I was the only one who didn’t really know the set structure they had in place and this sometimes made me feel lonely and isolated. This was especially hard because there were only three of us on the team this year – I am told that there are usually more to interact with and are, therefore more likely to be in the same position as I was.

The coolest missionary you'll ever see!
Undoubtably the coolest missionary you’ll ever meet!

My main role during the week was to manage the quizzes for the Children which were based on the stories, told by Allison; I really enjoyed this role and impacting the lives of these young children in some way so that they hopefully learnt something from me, as a young foreigner with a crazy accent, an interest in them and a new perspective on life.

What I found effective for reflection was the differences between my Western culture and the Tanzanian culture. One being that children were so willing to listen; they are genuinely interested and naturally have a respectful attitude towards you, always. I guess this comes down to the fact that, we don’t get that kind of respect here, as adults; it isn’t a cultural necessity compared to African societies. In Tanzanian Culture, the young children are brought up to have a certain amount of respect for  their elders – especially being for men. Women are pushed aside I guess and are commonly known to stay at home and look after the children.

Puppets/Singing
Puppets/Singing
Crafts time!
Crafts time!
Some simple games, which they loved!
Some simple games, which they loved!

A challenge I faced daily, was the language barrier, I had to constantly think about how I pronounced words and speak with clarity which doesn’t come naturally to me. But by God’s grace and strength I was able to do so and I am so thankful to Him for helping me every step of the way. God showed me His presence and helpful hand through Scripture, through speech and through people, I was genuinely in awe.

Week 2&3

God miraculously provided lots of opportunities to keep me busy throughout my 2nd and 3rd week in Moshi. Staying at the Centre with us also was a guy from Dar es Salaam which is South of Tanzania. He is a volunteer from Scripture Union and gave me the opportunity to visit some African Schools in Moshi. His name was Stephen and he had arranged to take some Religious Education Lessons in the Schools. He was very happy and encouraged to take me along with him as a visitor. I was more privilidged to go along though, with him for the experience and chance to change lives! So, in one week I visited three Secondary Schools – an All Girls Private School, and two Mixed Government Schools. I was able to tell the young people my testimony and share with them a bit about the Western Culture. This, for me was very challenging, as I had to really think about the use of words and terminology to make it most effective and relevant to their culture, bearing in mind their assumed life situations and based on the little that I was told. God really guided me through these experiences in order to share with confidence and impact the young people, who enjoyed my company and had a great interest in me.

I was also able to work alongside the children at the Centre, I saw them every day and enjoyed getting to know them. I spent a full day with them on my day off and set up a few arts and crafts, taught them how to do ‘scoobies’ (brings back many childhood memories) and played some fun games with them. I was able to do this with a few of the children as they had extra time off school for Easter. I really enjoyed spending time with, getting to know and sharing with these beautiful little lives.

with two of the girls from the Centre!
Me with two of the girls from the Centre 🙂

Also, I was also able to work alongside Christina, who is a missionary and an Outdoor Sports Instructor. Not only did God provide me with someone to teach me some Team-building Activities and Creative Sport Games but someone also who I could relate to, who I could seek guidance from and see things from a missionary’s point of view. Tanzania was a journey of discovery and Christina took a guiding role to influence my thinking along the way. It was also a great opportunity and eye opener to see/experiences the challenges and troubles missionaries face on the mission field. I guess we gather an image in our heads of what a missionary is and mine seemed to be that they’re super spiritual and full of many gifts, they have it easy and get some sun! But Christina helped me see that in reality, that’s not the case and they face troubles and struggles, just as we do as Christians fighting the spiritual battle daily. God’s plan is always perfect, He definitely taught me a lot through an inspiring woman of faith.

Christina and some of the children! :)
Christina and some of the children! 🙂

Home Time 😦

Being home has been hard, I struggle with the feeling of knowing that I have such a comfortable, resourceful life here in the West and it’s very hard to readapt to the life I have already known.
But it has allowed me to reflect on my life here with a new perspective and therefore change my attitude and outlook on our culture.

To try and summarise … from this experience, I have gained a new perspective on life, more of an idea what ministry is like on the wider mission field, how the simplicity of life can still bring a new hope and how I can be taught not only by God but by inspiring people who devote their lives to God. I have been truly inspired and encouraged by the compassion of Jesus’ character portrayed in so many ways during my time in Africa!

Where does time go?!

A new year, A new term

So, Term 2 started in Jan and ends 15th March! It really is crazy how fast it has gone!!!! I seriously, have not had any time to sit, think and reflect on this term, which sucks. It has been more of a practical term this time round which has suited me better but this didn’t stop the busyness of essays and placements.

Getting settled again was harder than I thought it would be! I assumed that I would have just got back into the swing of things – evidently not! I will highlight, just a few;) of the moans and groans… mess, I hate mess. My room gradually gets messier and messier throughout the week and this genuinely frustrates me. I just don’t get time to tidy it 😦 When my room is a mess, my head is, I think it might be a woman thing!! Hahah!
Staying up late – makes mornings harder to do and when I have no time to do a personal devotion, miss breakfast or not have a shower, I find I turn into a monster, cannot concentrate and find it hard to even communicate. Go to bed early and get up early has proved to be the best option, as mum always used to say!!

Team Evangelism

As part of the course, we did a ‘Team Evangelism Week’ which is what the title says.. funnily enough!! We were split into two teams – One in Cardiff (Wales) and the other in Hereford (on the Coast of England/Wales).
I was put in the team in Hereford for obvious reasons, with Cardiff being so close to home. Also, I would gain new experiences of evangelism in Hereford to what I’d have already known in Cardiff.

So, the week was interesting. I think, the mutual expectation of the team was that we were going to be hands-on, task-orientated and enthused by the evangelism events lined up. This wasn’t so much the case due to two of our leaders falling ill at last minute. It was discouraging and brought the team spirit down. This meant that someone else had to step up as leader, this proved to become quite challenging. I think that as Bible Students, it was hard to get used to the idea of planning in unstructured time and having a small amount of things to do each day.
Although, I do not want to sound so critical of the week because our team leader was brill and the week overall was genuinely amazing! A clear message of love, passion and support of the Church was apparent.

Our lovely meal @ Marion&Malc's!
Our lovely meal @ Marion&Malc’s!

Also, throughout the hardships – God’s spirit was among us daily. The team all clubbed together to help and support one another and a real sense of peace in community was shared within. When God’s people gather in His name and seek His will, great things happen and His omnipresence becomes clearer.

Overall, it was a fantastic week and I really enjoyed meeting so many more lovely God-fearing people who were so welcoming and encouraging to us all! 🙂 It has been a real blessing for me, in that it has helped me appreciate everything more and concentrate only on God. My faith has been tested and I feel that I have learnt a lot about my character. For example, to be more patient and sympathetic to others, instead of becoming frustrated so easily. And also, to work as a team of God’s people and show His love in whatever circumstance because it’s not about the quantity of people or the lack of organisation, but the quality of the message that the team had to offer. A team doesn’t necessarily need a leader to take responsibility; all a team should need is unity and God at the centre of their motives.

Aww
My house buddy!

Mission Orientation Programme (MOP)

From 16th-22nd February, we participated in MOP which is basically a Mission-Focussed week. It consisted of:

  • Lots of other missionaries to share Mission experiences and Lecture us.
  • More Visitors to take part in the Lectures too.
  • Lectures from 9am-4pm!!! (2 hours longer than usual)
  • A very busy and unusual atmosphere.

Hello, Goodbye!

First-Servers

We also had the privilege of spending time with four other First Servers who joined us for two weeks – as part of their Mission Programme called ‘First Serve’ which is pioneered by GLO and Interlink.
They were really good fun and brought a bit of life to the group! I love meeting new people and therefore really enjoyed sharing life and enjoying the banter that they brung with them too! 😀

They have just recently left to prepare and go to their Mission Placements which was sad to see. But seeing and knowing that God has an awesome plan for them was inspiring and well worth the treat of spending time with and getting to know the lovely people that they are.

Group photo at St Andrews
A day out to St Andrew’s!

Zambians

It has been an absolute pleasure to have two Zambians here with us, they have brought a whole new dimension of thought to the group. But, sadly due to 6-month only Visas, they are leaving us 😦
I have loved getting to know them and what life is like, from an African perspective. The culture difference has been a big shock to many and this is what struck me most.. God really is awesome, By His grace the Zambians have managed to contextualise as much as they can to get used to our different way of life by accepting a change in mind-set and focus. Only through God’s power is that made possible.

Field Term Placement

In April, I have a Field Term where each of us can go to a place of our own choice to do a Ministry of our choice. I feel that God has called me to Tanzania in Africa. God’s provision has made it clear that this is where He wants me to go.

Term 2 ends on 15th Mar, I am home on 16th Mar for about 12 days and then I set off!! I will be leaving 28th Mar and I return home 22nd April. I will be taking part in the Easter GLO Team there with a GLO Worker from the College here for two weeks and then continuing on to work with CEF – Children’s Evangelism Fellowship. So, the month will mainly involve Children and Youth Ministry.

Moshi - Tanzania
Moshi – Tanzania

This means missing Easter with my family, which is a first and could be tough, having lots of Jabs beforehand, sorting flights, and many other things for the trip – ALL in so little time. I trust that God has this all in His hands and in His timing; I will be fully equipped to go and serve Him in this awesome opportunity! 😀

Christmas Break!

Term 1 over …or is it?!

Soo.. TERM 1 COMPLETE .. Hmm you’d think so eh?! Hahah, well.. most definitely not! I have arrived home with a small amount of clothes and a very LARGE amount of BOOKS!! Hard to believe of me I know, I really have changed, and that’s clear evidence, hahah!
Soo.. as homework I had three essays to complete.
One was my Guided Research which I have been working on for the past three months (1,500 words) I loved doing this – I think the very fact that I got to choose a title for this essay and I had the time to research the topic helped me enjoy it more 🙂 I did it on Youth Work, and therefore, have discovered that this is a big area of interest to me.
Also, two more essays.. another for the following week and the third for after the Christmas hols! Soo.. the work was non-stop!! But it was really good to keep busy and I am liking the fact that I now have the self-discipline that has developed at College, applying it to home was such a good feeling! And, not just that, everything else I’ve leanrt here too!!

Back to Family Life

Seeing my lovely family  and friends after such a long period has helped me realise a lot and feel truly blessed. It was a very challenging and exciting time.
Although, if I’m being completely honest … In think in some ways I could have made it a better experience for myself and the people around me. I had returned from a ‘nice little christian bubble’ where, in that setting, everyone is seeking to get to know God better and develop their relationships, so naturally I compared the two and caused some (unnecessary) abbruption at times. But I strongly believe, that in those situations – although it may have been addressed in the wrong way – the issues raised were relevant and God has His hand in those circumstances. Christmas. Christmas. Christmas was hard, I struggled through this period. Which, in a way is understandable, it was the second year without both parents and this year without my two lovely sisters too. Things were tough but again, in God’s strength and undeniable Grace, He carried me through each little difficulty to concentrate on Him and the reason I am here today. That’s the special truth I will hold on to forever. It was a lovely time of remembrance of a Saviour being sent to this Earth to make my relationship with God possible and a memorable time of fellowship with my friends and family.

Then, it was my 18th BIRTHDAY!!! 😀 So.. the system says that I am finally an adult! But, nothing has changed. Hahah!
Maybe, the fact that I can now go to the Pub with the guys now and not feel so left out! 😀 Hahah!

So, overall a brilliant time home with friends and family – I am really blessing to have been shown so much love and compassion whilst home, means a lot. I thank God continuously and pray for every blessing for my fellow Welshies!! 🙂

Reflection Time

Time to reflect, sit back and think about my time so far in Scotland, what brought me here and what I am learning up here. I am still finding it hard to believe that I am in Scotland with this privilege of studying the Bible. I have been continuously blessed throughout my time here and there are many positives and negatives to reflect upon.
I know that it is only by God’s will and purpose for my life that I am here, I am willing to trust my life in God’s hands and let him use me in the plans he has for me. I don’t think words will able to express how much of a step that was for me to take and still is to take, I doubt God too much and would just like to know his plan but learning to be patient and loving is the key to God revealing his plan for your life. My purpose for being at Bible College is to develop my relationship with God in many ways: spiritually, practically and knowledgably. I am then more equipped to serve wholeheartedly my God who is worthy. Psalm 46:10 -‘Be still and know that I am God.’

I have just recently got into the College routine properly and I have more interest in the work now… because when I first came, like others I didn’t know what to expect but I think it just took me a lot longer to get used to the surroundings, to learn self-discipline and organise time-keeping. I came here just 3 months ago as a lazy teenager who wasn’t used to being so independent and willing to study. I was also just getting used to being in a settled family in our amazing new house! So being in a room, twice as small as mine and (what it felt to be) -on my own. A positive therefore, was getting to know the other students and interacting with them! We all get on well, despite the cultural differences. We all like a bit of banter and come up with some random and interesting things to try and have competitions over. We have done some baking, some cinema trips and of course the shopping sprees! Our weekends are always filled with something to help get out of the same thing and take our minds off work. It is so easy to just stay locked in the College building and only think about studying and this causes too much pressure.

We are quite blessed that the GLO Centre has a town nearby, a park down the road and a Library near so that we have places to go and study, run or think elsewhere. I try to run as much as I can but I have become pretty lazy and I think I will be better next term as I have a better idea of what is to come, I hate not knowing and stress myself out with being unorganised so that has also been a challenge and God has reminded me that there will be times in our lives where situations are similar to this and I am learning now to prepare for that.

We have learnt an unbelievable amount of knowledge in just 3 months and I don’t think I have digested it all yet, sure the others will agree! I would like to take a year to just look over and refresh my memory! The workload is intense and I have never had so much work but God pulls us through.

Just to also share.. Lately, I have been reminded about past times and events, I am seeing how God has been with me, continuously throughout and yet I couldn’t see it at the time, I followed my generation’s stereotypical culture of being a ‘rebellious and ungrateful teenager’ and I am so glad I am not like that anymore. I have matured spiritually and emotionally and I am a whole distance away from ever going back to that way again. With God’s strength anything is possible. Others and myself can see this through the way I am today compared to how I was, this is inspiring that God can work so much in someone’s life that I am able to look back and see how that is possible, truly amazing.

When in Italia

A wee update about the Mission Awareness Trip to Naples, Italy.
We went for a week and it was an experience I don’t think we will ever forget! It was an awesome experience!

Shock!
Many of you have a view of Italy that it’s posh and a very romantic country, well at least that was the perception I had before discovering something else. There are also lots of historical and attractive reasons why people visit Italy, some being that’s it known to be a beautiful, hot country and that it’s well known for the fresh food. (which we experienced plenty of!!)
So, I was shocked when I began to see a different view. As the week progressed, I began to realise that there are more important issues to be addressed such as, the spiritual needs, the political corruption, the Mafia and the overruling faith -Roman Catholicism. There are more negative issues that we all fail to realise regarding the mindset and culture of italians. Because it’s all well and good me telling you but I’d recommend that you’d visit there rather than just hear, because the experiences we faced there were more touching and challenging than words can emphasise.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, right next to a beach. Yes, it felt like luxury as you can imagine 😀
The food there was IMMENSE! Honestly, never ever eaten so much food in all my life. For lunch we had a 3course meal and for dinner a 4course meal, EVERY day!! ..and that’s not the worst part, the second course was always pasta and the fourth always a dessert.. absolutely crazy! -brought the question to my head, how can these italians eat sooo much and still be so thin?! :L because I’m pretty sure I went up a dress size that week!! -and still feeling the effects now, almost two weeks after!! Honestly, you may think I am overreacting but I guess you had to be there to experience this kind of pain/issue! I say pain because they also ate Dinner very late 9.30pm!! Now, us students weren’t used to that, we eat at 5.45pm here so that was new and there was no possible way any of us went straight to sleep after that!! We developed a method of ‘passing it on’ ..it goes abit like this, so when the person sitting next to you was late/popped out or just not looking .. we’d casually place some food onto their plate 🙂 How funny! Karen came up with this idea and most of us girls took it on board!! The men were not too happy but it was a laugh. We did it with kind hearts though, we just didn’t want to offend the cook, after all his effort!
But putting all the benefits aside, that wasn’t the aim of the trip ..it wasn’t a  holiday for us! The Hotel may have been beautiful and served lovely food inside but the outside didn’t convey the same message. The Italians live in a culture where ‘Bella Eferma’ which means ‘To look good’ is considered a priority. The italians were well dressed, well groomed and would present themselves to us in a very formal way. And to them, the broken world didn’t matter. Where we stayed was a good example of this because we were treated very well inside and it was a beautiful hotel but when you went outside where the beach was, it was interesting that it wasn’t cared for in the same way. It was full of litter and the nearby pool has been abandoned, in fact there were a lot of old, unused buildings nearby as we walked along the beach. Also, there were foreign prostitutes on the street just opposite the hotel, every night looking for business, so that was quite heart breaking.

The Reality of Italian Culture
Cultural differences effect us all when we leave the country we call ‘home’. We have all been brought up to do, say and act in one certain way that differs to others around the world which creates difficulties in communication, relationships, beliefs and opinions. We assume everyone thinks the same as us because that’s what we are used to and therefore new experiences are harder to adapt to.

The biggest change and challenge for me in Italy was the Culture difference which opened my eyes to how privelidged we are to have freedom in our faith and no religion dominantly overpowering us.
The italian culture has been influenced mainly by the Roman Catholic faith and is increasing. It has been impacting Italian society, history and art for more than 15 centuries.It has developed into more of a tradition than a religion and people religiously go to church because they have to or because they always have done, but there is no application to how they live their lives after attending church on a Sunday. So many italians would say they have a strong religious belief but it is obvious that they do not act what they believe.
The Italian culture also has a lot of Spiritual Warfare due to the historical and artistic routes of Italy, many Roman Catholics pray to statues (inside the church) for intercession from Mary and Saints. They believe Mary was conceived with no sin and that she is higher than the Saints they worship.

Missionary Life in Naples
Whilst in Naples, we worked alongide two missionaries: Patrizio, an Italian and grew up in this culture. And his wife, Jennifer who is Northern Irish. They shared about their experiences in Italy and how their family situation has changed over the years. Patrizio and Jen have been a missionary family in Italy and working with GLO to plant churches, impact other growing churches and reach the Italians in Naples to come to know the truth.

Jen shared her difficulties of learning a new language, adapting to the italian culture and bringing up a family in Italy but expressed how much God provided many people in her life to help and guide her. Jen learnt to have a positive attitude towards everything and be creative with the cultures to get a balance. Patrizio shared how hard it was (and still is) being converted to a believer after many of years of being a catholic and also, how it took 8-10 years for his church to have respect that he was a missionary in Italy.
Patrizio and Jen both have to be strong and faithful in what they’re doing. They both have the same passion to serve God and although there’s a few struggles along the way, God makes it possible for two people of different nationalities to work together and develop strategies to work it out in his strength.
I learnt that being a missionary is hard work but if it is what you are called to do, God will bless you and make the impossible possible. The key reality is grace for God thoughout the struggles and tests and to praise God for his goodness to us, no matter what.

Visits
Whilst we were there, we visited many churches. We shared abit about where we’re from and why we came to Tilsley (which they loved!) our testimonies through a translater, we sang songs in Italian and English and shared thoughts, preaches. These experiences were intriguing in many ways. Most of the churches were either Evangelical or Bretherin.

We also visited Pompei and Pozzuoli which are quite spectactular. It was interesting to see what life would have been like for people in the New Testament. Just to point out some main places, we saw an old market place in Pozzuoli which was left there and has been there for 2000 odd years, the italians haven’t touched and don’t really pay attention to it.
I have plenty of pictures so  when I figure it out I will upload some so you have a better idea!
That’s short and sweet cause I am getting tired now! Haha, sorry guys! I will be home soon though so I can just tell you how it was 🙂

We also visited a huge cemetery where we distributed literature. This cemetery wasn’t your normal cemetery though; thousands of people visited here on the Bank Holiday to pay their respect to loved ones in an interesting way. The cemetery was very big and full of houses with plaques inside and Catholics came here to pray that God would take their loved ones to Heaven, as they believe that they do not go to Heaven straight away. I found this quite scary and challenging because most people wanted to take it but sometimes I got rejected or shouted at. Also, the amount that were thrown on the floor was over half what we brought and that was disheartening. The language barrier was also a problem because some did want to have a conversation and I just couldn’t communicate in any way. We distributed lots of leaflets though that read ‘Death is not the end.’ It was a tough job but the message is out there and through God’s Holy Spirit, that leaflet can move mountains in their lives.

So, there you have it, FINALLY.. an update about my experience in Italy 🙂 Sorry that it’s only short.
Enjoy the read, be inspired. 🙂

A group photo at Pompei :)
A group photo at Pompei 🙂

Ups and downs!

Hmm.. where to start?!!
Just a little update of the past few weeks which have been very tough, to say the least!!

As the title says, there have been ups and downs this past month.
A very very good friend of my family’s called Gurwin Marshallsea passed away and joined God, his father in Heaven on 27th Sept 2012. Gurwin was good friends with my mum and Dad and was Pastor of the church of my childhood. He had a massive impact on mine and my family’s life. So I knew that I had to return home for the funeral and had prayed about it, and God made this possible, he really does know your heart and his love is unconditional and never changes. I had never doubted him, and as sad as it is for Gurwin to have left us on Earth, he is in the greatest place of all, Heaven.

So I travelled home for a short 2 day stay and loved catching up with the family and other valuable friends 🙂 This encouraged me and helped me to realise how much of a change God has done in me already, returning home in June will be crazy and challenging!

This week and last week both have been quite busy with me travelling back and fourth to Wales/Scotland, having to catch up on Lectures and then I had a little flu-like symptoms and felt very under the weather earlier on in the week so I missed two more lectures so that wasnt good but God has healed me and I am feeling restored by his grace.

The work load is increasing, there’s waay too much for my little brain to process most times, and this happens each day, never mind each week!! Alongside the studies; we have to learn 12 memory verses  for a test in Nov, look over the study notes in our own time, Put together an Essay of 1,500 words on a chosen subect for our Guided Research Project.. mine is a question on Youth Work which is very interesting to research and relate to. Also, reading, reading, reading and more reading.. which is not my strong point at all, so I do struggle with this from time to time; trying to fit all these things into a daily/weekly routine is hard as you can probably imagine, especially for me as I have never really disciplined myself properly to self-study in my own time. Everyone else seems to have figured that one out. God has guided me thorughout though and proved that prayer is powerful.
 The course is intense but well worth the challenge. We had an essay to do for Friday on Luke’s Gospel, and that was set for us two weeks ago, but I had been so busy with travelling and then coming back and being ill that I was pretty worried for days that I wouldn’t get that completed by the deadline and yet I totally felt at peace about it, and if you know me, you’ll know that, that isn’t me and what I’m like!! I freak out if it’s not done on time and I worry for the worst to occur so the only explanation for this peace-feeling is God’s warmth and reassurance. He comforted me and assured me that it was fine to cast my worries to him and I will get it sorted. Since then, I have been given a short extension and will have it done by Monday! 🙂

I am also beginning to dislike seeing the same place and same faces every single day, I need to get out at least once a day otherwise I do crack up!! I haven’t yet found a decent place in Motherwell where I can sit and study, there’s no Starbucks and not many Coffee Shops! McDonald’s doesn’t quite do it for me although it does for some of the other students 🙂 I do attend the gym tho to TRY and keep in shape with the massive portions of food offered here! The food is too good! The cook, Heather is just awesome, such a blessing to us! But we all manage and keep each other going with encouragement and some banter! 🙂 There are friendships building more and more within the students and each one is unique and I think the Trip to Italy will bring us closer!

The weeks are flying by and I feel like I have been here for months!! ..because of the amount of intake we have each day/week! I have now completed two folders, thrown away like 5 pens, 2 highlighters (due to no ink left!!!) and completed a whole A4 Notepad of notes and (not to forget) the awesome doodles 😀
Also, we are planning our trip away this weekend to a conference in England called ‘Living the Passion’ which then we’ll travel from there to ITALIA!! 😀  for a week! 🙂 We will be working alongside a church and carrying out some activites and outreach in the Town of Naples. So as a group, we are in the middle of putting together a drama and learning some songs in Italy. I love the language and cannot wait to learn more about the Italian culture and have the experience of trying to communicate in different ways with people who do not understand a word you are saying!! Also, looking forward to, what is said to be ‘proper’ pizza.. haha!

That’s all from me for now! So hope you all enjoy your read and have felt encouraged by the work God is doing in my life and the lives of many others here! 🙂

College Life!

Hmm.. not too much to update you on really. The students’ personalities are starting to shine thorough and it is lovely to be around God’s family, in his peace.

Ahh, being here is just so weird for me, coming upstairs to a room of my own for one and… not constantly having my aunty there to talk to and confide in or the kids around to argue with!!! haha! I feel I have more space to completely concentrate fully on God! I am very homesick now and it’s not even the first week over, I will have to get used to it though I guess and I most definitely will value them more when I return home after each term!! 🙂

On the other hand though, the teaching here is just amazing! I feel that God is really going to work in me and use me here, whilst preparing me for the future he has laid ahead. His provision and guidance is just ovewhelming!!

We were given our first essay on Tuesday and so, for me, these few days have been stressful and the amount of times I have just felt like quitting, packing and leaving.. but just got to keep praying and trusting my Father in heaven.

 

tilsley