Archive for July, 2009

What should we fear?

Some folk think that it must be scary living in our parish, with its deprivation, drug dealers and people like Gone. Last week I found some great quotes on what we should really be afraid of, selected by étrangère from Tim Chester’s recent book ‘The Ordinary Hero‘. I’ve been thinking I should buy it to read this holiday, but slightly fearing to aswell.

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Since it’s the summer hols, posting is going to be a bit light. My brain is fried after nearly five months of Vicar’s Wifeing, but I’ll put up a few fun things over the coming weeks to cheer us all up as the rain reminds us we live in the Wet Midlands.

When I was posting the Seeds Family Worship kinetic typography the other week, I came across this song. It’s the best books of the bible song I’ve come across, and I’ve looked at a good few.

Please excuse the American pronunciation for various books (Isaiah, Hosea and Philemon) plus the references cited as being from ‘Psalms’. We are finding it easy to forgive them cos the kids love this song. But don’t worry, we’ll make sure they pronounce everything correctly (or at least with a Black Country accent).

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Vicarage cuisine is on offer for those keen to serve

Cooking lessons are also possible

Together with a room in the Vicarage, tons of interesting ministry experience in our parish and a place on the Midlands Ministry Training Course. See the Vicar’s post and check out his blog to find out who’d be training you.

We’d love to have someone join us who’s passionate about Jesus and keen to share that passion with folk in our deprived multi-cultural parish.

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There’s been a bit of a debate started over at the Cranmer’s Curate blog about the role of a Vicar’s Wife. If you’re one of my Vicar’s wife readers, why don’t you join in? Most of the early posts seemed to be from Vicars, not their wives.

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Well, obviously I don’t really hate foreign. Or I would be completely bonkers to be a Vicar’s Wife in our multi-cultural parish. I love foreign people, and I loved living and working in foreign lands (the Far East, for nearly six years). But moving somewhere new – and therefore foreign – is hard.

We didnt actually need this when we moved recently

We didn't actually need this when we moved recently

When the Vicar and I first moved to Malaysia (there’s foreign for you), we joined a church with links to Wycliffe Bible Translators. And one day a representative from that organisation came to teach the church about what life was like as a bible translator. The Vicar and I can now only remember one thing we learnt that day (it was a few years ago, mind). We learnt about culture shock, and adjusting to living in a new culture.

The Wycliffe chap told us that there is a common pattern to the experience of the ‘foreigner’ moving to a new culture to live and work:

  • Six to twelve months of ‘honeymoon’ – everything seems new and exciting, the people exotic and the differences to home fascinating.
  • After the honeymoon comes a time when the differences become annoying and hard to live with. This is the period the Vicar and I started calling ‘I Hate Foreign’.
  • And after a couple of years, the differences in culture don’t seem so great and you become adjusted. Your home is no longer ‘foreign’ but home.

So we’re nearly six months into parish life and I confess that I’ve been having a few ‘I Hate Foreign’ moments lately. Our new church is lovely and friendly, but we don’t know folk all that well. The school has been helpful and welcoming, but our old friends know us better.

I know this time will pass and that soon we’ll feel completely at home here. But in the meantime it’s a good reminder to us that our real home is in heaven and that Christians are

aliens and strangers in the world (1 Peter 2v11)

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If you’ve been following my Twitter account, you’ll know some of this news, but here’s a summary of the latest developments with the homeless alcoholic who’s been spending every morning on our doorstep for the last couple of months.

Whilst I was away on my conference last week, the Vicar arranged to take Gone to Betel in Nottingham. He decided that they could go by train, as Gone is anxious travelling by car. They agreed that folk from Betel would meet them at the station and take Gone by himself to their centre.

The journey went well, although Gone was still anxious about going to stay with people he didn’t yet know. He is very mistrustful, which I guess is a default position when you live on the street.

Once at the station, they had a while to wait and the Vicar spent the time calming Gone and assuring him of the warm welcome he’d receive once he got to the centre. The men from Betel arrived ‘looking like angels, they radiated so much joy’. Gone seemed happy to go with them, so after a prayer, the Vicar returned to the station and headed home to relieve our babysitters.

A good way for the anxious to travel

A good way for the anxious to travel

That was Tuesday evening. On Thursday morning our doorbell rang early. It was Gone. As you can imagine, the Vicar was very disappointed.

‘There were some men I knew from prison there and I was worried they would beat me up,’ said Gone. ‘I came back by train.’

The Vicar left Gone on the step and went to consider what to do. He rang Betel, who told him that Gone hadn’t actually made it to the centre. He’d been too anxious in the car and got out before they left the station. It is a big thing, to leave your familiar haunts and your regular life, however awful that life is.

I returned that afternoon and together the Vicar and I agreed that we would tell Gone that we couldn’t help him any more, save taking him back to Betel. We’ve been realising how his constant presence has been draining us both. The Vicar’s hardly done any parish visiting since Gone has been on our doorstep, and his predicament has been sapping much of our pastoral energy and our time. Gone has spent a few days thinking about it, and yesterday he had a second telephone interview with Betel and this evening the Vicar and another local pastor are going to drive over with him, right to the front door of the centre.

We still don’t know whether Gone will make it. It’s a massive step for him to change his life in this way, so we are praying that God will give him the courage to do it. I’ll keep you posted.

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I had a wonderful time on my conference last week, thanks for asking. But I need to catch up on the laundry whilst I compose a blog post or two. There’s lots of Vicarage news and I might even manage to share a few gems that I picked up from the saints I met up with whilst I was away.

In the meantime, here’s the newest piece of kinetic typography from Seeds Family Worship.

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I have a few hours before I leave for my four day clergy wives conference. It’s a real tonic to spend time in the company of other Christians in similar situations and to hear solid uninterrupted bible teaching without worrying about who’s missing from church or whether the lunch is going to burn.

In the meantime I thought I’d let you in on happenings over the last few days:

  1. I spent most of Friday morning on the phone to the Benefits Agency on Gone’s behalf. It took two hours to ascertain that Gone had recently made applications for Incapacity Benefit and Job Seekers Allowance but hadn’t managed to actually claim any money. There was a computer foul up that meant that the claim he now needs to make for Employment Support Allowance couldn’t be processed over the phone. Everyone on the phone was very kind and helpful but Gone’s situation is so far gone that he seems to drop out of the bottom of the net. They have sent us an ESA claim form and that project is looming now.
  2. I did manage to arrange a crisis loan for Gone, and went with him to the local job centre to collect it. The people in there were again very kind and helpful, especially the manager, to whom I’d spoken previously in my negotiation of the system. So Gone had some money on Friday, the first he’d had in about a month. He spent some of it on a copy of his birth certificate. He’s struggled recently with his total lack of id, and he really wanted to have some. I went with him to the registry office – he’s very anxious and struggles to deal with formal situations.
  3. A local Christian GP came to see Gone at our house and has written to Betel saying that Gone is healthy enough to go there. Now to speak to them, check all is ok and arrange for him to travel there and stay.

I’m back on Thursday. One friend had suggested that I blog from the conference and I might check in if I can. If not I’ll report back later this week.

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Let the wild rumpus begin!

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of our favourite books to read at bedtime in the Vicarage. My mum read it to me when I was young and our children enjoy it just as much as I did. Recently the Joker came home from school and recited the whole story off by heart, complete with actions.

We thought it was wonderful, and thought you might enjoy it too. I especially love the way his accent wavers between London and the Black Country.

Of course, there are no wild things or rumpuses in the Vicarage. Ever. Honest.

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