You’d have to be of a certain age to know the title of this post! It was the name of a (tv or radio?) programme back in the old days (actually it was ‘that was the WEEK that was’), but for me, and I know for many people in ministry, it certainly has been some year. Before typing any more, I will issue my usual apology for the lack of posts here: I’ve said before, that I don’t want to keep writing the same thing in posts just for the sake of one appearing in your inbox, or on Facebook. I’m not one of those people who wants to tell you what I ate for lunch (in my case, most days recently, that would be a blank space anyway!!), or who I talked to and about what. I find Facebook a bit of a ‘drag’ for those sorts of posts: it’s not a criticism of the writers, just that there’s more to life than food etc.,!
I’ve had an ‘interesting’ last few months, some of which has been documented here, or in my newsletter. If you don’t get a newsletter and would like one, you can sign up here on the website. I’m such a ‘tech wizard’ that I don’t know how to post the newsletter on the appropriate page here: I’m hoping my friend Lee, who is the ultimate tech wizard! – will tell me soon!
I won’t repeat my newsletter about the year ‘that was'(!) – it’ll appear here soon, hopefully!
Much of the last three months has been spent in Romania, in a very different style of ministry for me: mostly one to one, or small groups meetings – hence the ‘lack’ of stories. It has been a valuable time in respect of what I’ve been able to do, it’s been a learning curve for me and the people I’ve been with here, for them, and me, hopefully one that will stand in good stead for the future. Part of this ‘sojourn’ is as a direct consequence of my ‘lung attack’ in August – pretty major pulmonary embolisms – and my doctor’s advice not to do any long-haul flights before the new year, as you may – or may not – know, flying and blot-clotting go hand in hand quite often! So I’ve been a good boy and behaved myself, doing what the doctors have said, and dutifully taking my fairly hefty dose of warfarin every day to keep my blood thin. That’s an interesting experience – thin blood! It has certainly affected my feeling colder than ever before – which has consequently meant that I’ve had the heating on in the apartment I’ve lived in for the last few weeks: even more when I ‘nicked’ my finger _ well, a bit more than a ‘nick’! – with a sharp knife, and couldn’t stop the bleeding for ages!!!
If I’m honest, a few weeks ago I felt like the child who’d been sent to camp, or boarding school, who didn’t want to be there, and I wanted to return to Ireland. God made it very plain to me that his plan wasn’t that, and that I should stay. I’ve been more relaxed about being here since then: even up until yesterday, it was ok. Then today, I felt that it is alright to leave now.
Realising that God has had me on a journey other than ‘in the air’, I’ve wanted to make sure that I’ve heard him, been open to hearing him, and I’ve had time here to be alone with him, all of which are invaluable. I’ve learned so much: including total dependence on him, in that he’s taken me through a walk of faith on learning to live with little, to a place where I’ve had to make my needs known to people, à la Acts 2. I’ll be perfectly honest here, I hate doing that. I don’t have any problem in raising money for other people’s needs, people like dear Ana Beiba in Cali, Colombia (man, how I MISSED being in Cali in October and November 🙁 – one of the ‘long-haul sacrifices I had to make). When it comes to sharing my own needs, it’s like I’m trying to type with my toes on a keyboard the size of a mobile phone: almost not do-able! If anyone thinks that living in Romania must be cheaper – a concept I know many people have, as it is a poor country, then come and live here for a week…. it’s not cheap, and I have nothing but admiration for people who work their socks off, for 150-200 euros a month (about £120-150, US$185-250) a month salary, when petrol (gas) is as expensive here as it is in the UK. It’s like money disappears through a bottomless hole. There are so many people here with very rel, genuine needs. Rent is dearer here than many parts of the UK. I’m in an apartment with one room – a bed-sitting room, a kitchen, and bathroom: it MIGHT, at a real push, accommodate a family with one small child, but really, just two people tops. It’s 450 euros. I’ve had to draw a line at trying to help them, purely and simply because because money has been so tight. I have given, where the needs have been more desperate than mine, but many times I haven’t been able to, or felt the liberty to, because my money is people’s sacrificial giving to me – maybe it’s you. reading this who has helped me. And for that, I’m deeply grateful.
I was very blessed by a good friend on my birthday, a couple of days ago, with a gorgeous cake/gateau/pastele (dunno which language describes it best, English, French, or Spanish! – I think Spanish, the last one!!), and some hours at a great leisure centre/spa, in Deva: I sat in the jacuzzi for ages! And then the sauna – and then the jacuzzi. Quite predictable, me!!
I know that God brought me here to Romania: and I’ve waited, through some difficult times, listening for his voice to say ‘time to go home!’. I feel that today, he’s said that. My only problem now is to get home: I have my car here, and this journey God has taken me on has pretty frequently left the kitty totally empty! Like now. A fiend called me the other evening, and I was telling him about my dilemma of personal fund-raising, and he suggested ‘tagging’ my needs to the end of a blog post, so… at the bottom, if you feel able to help me, my needs are there: if personal fund raising ‘offends’ you, I understand, just don’t read to the bottom!
Thank you for all your prayers and support, care, birthday greetings. I really value and appreciate them. So, as soon as I have the means, I’ll be doing the second part of the blog title, hopefully making it in time – Chris Rea’s great song ‘Driving home for Christmas’.
I hope and pray that these few days ahead of Christmas won’t be too busy or stressed for you: if I don’t get to blog again before the greatest celebration in history after Easter, that you have a wonderful Christmas, a time of rest and peace, and the blessing that Jesus came from his home to give to all of us who want it.
I think I explained to you that I was told I had somewhere to stay on my own (which is a blessing when you travel, for an extended time) and then the realisation that the rent for the apartment – and the utilities – were down to me! – so:
Rent (for January – I have to give one month’s notice to the owner) £360
Fuel for 1400 miles to Calais: fuel for 600 miles to Cairnryan, Scotland, av 35 mpg (circa 60 galls)
ferry crossings 1 x Calais – Dover, 1 x Cairnryan -Belfast, 1 x Belfast – Cairnryan £600
Possible overnight accommodation, Germany, Sibiu – Calais (24 hour+ drive) £60