A little bit of maths

31 12 2013

Last week it was my Dad’s birthday, and he turned the age of the year my Mum was born. We then realised that Mum was the age of the year Dad was born in. I thought a bit further and realised that when my Dad is the age of the year I was born in, then I’ll be the age of the year he was born in. It looked like this worked every time, but it seemed a good opportunity to work out why.

So I thought I’d de rust my brain and see if I could still do a mathsy proof – turned out it was ridiculously straight forward 🙂

define x=(year person a was born) mod 100
define y=(year person b was born) mod 100

person a reaches the age person b was born at year (x+y) mod 100
person b reaches the age person a was born at year (y+x) mod 100

we know x+y=y+x (e.g. call this z), so this will always happen at the same year


A Lineage of Grace – Francine Rivers

30 12 2013

This book took a little longer than my last few books, five months to be precise, but I’ll put that down to it actually being 5 books in one!

Each book is a historical fictional telling of the life of a woman in the bible, so the book works through the lives of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary.

I found the Tamar and Rahab books fascinating, I’d never heard their stories before – you don’t tend to cover the stories of prostitutes in Sunday School! I thought this would also be the case for Bathsheba as it’s another one I’d never heard, and it was for the first part of the story, but then it just seemed to drag and drag and go on and on!

I really struggled with the Ruth story. I know this story inside out – I’m sure we did it at least once a year at Girls’ Brigade for a while – and so some of the things she added in I found particularly noticeable. For example, she paints Elimelech to be an awful man who is to blame for everything that ever went wrong in Naomi’s life…

Mary’s story was another good one – again, a woman whose story is oh so familiar, but just to read it from her side (or at least an interpretation of) was quite refreshing.

I look forward to trying the male equivalent, Sons of Encouragement, at some point!

Lineage of Grace

Held in the palm His hand

29 12 2013

I’ve been holding this blog post back for weeks because I can’t find a biblical basis for it anywhere, even though it’s a phrase we use all the time in Christian circles! (So do let me know if you know of one!)

Before I went to Uganda I was pretty nervous. I’m not in the slightest bit well travelled, and the idea of adapting to such a different culture was a bit concerning too. I was so grateful to have so many people praying for me. One thing someone said to me, I’m not even sure who anymore, was to remember that I’m held in the palm of His hand. And this stuck with me.

I reflected on this a little, I don’t think I’ll be any good at explaining my thoughts, but what’s new?! Here goes!

Hold your hand out face up in front of you.

Make it as flat as possible.

There’s still a dip.

Even if God didn’t have His hand closed tightly, there’s still a valley.

Even in an open palm, because we are tiny in comparison to Him, we are so safe, there’s no way to fall out.

Probably theological twaddle, but hey, maybe the idea helps? I don’t know – sorry if I offended at all!

New Years Resolutions – Final review 2013

28 12 2013

Haven’t done a review since May, which is a bad start in itself, but here we go….

  • Only buy FairTrade chocolate – done pretty well with this, there’s been the odd exception eg a Christmas present, and a few (probably less than 5 in a year) on the logic of cocoa percentage (which I can’t find ANYWHERE on the internet at the mo, but give me a shout if you want an explanation)
  • Read more – Was doing really well with this, but then I’ve now been on the same book the last 5 months, though to be fair it’s really 5 short books. Aiming to finish for the new year though, then go for something a bit more normal length!
  • Limit daily time spent watching TV series on DVD – I’ve been absolutely blitzing Grey’s Anatomy the last few months, and so this one’s gone to pot, but then other than Saturday evenings I’ve barely been watching any TV. I cancelled my LoveFilm though, and once I finish Grey’s (which I’m borrowing the DVDs off of a friend for), I’m going to try to read more and even if I get into a new TV series, not to blitz it but be more rationed! Also aiming for the last couple of series of Grey’s to only watch one episode in an evening rather than 2 or 3 which is easily done.
  • Exercise – there’ve been some good attempts with this! I got a weighted hula hoop in June, and would use it while watching 20 minute episodes of The Office US, however it phased out when I went to 40min tv shows! Then over the summer I played badminton weekly with some friends from work which was great fun and definitely good exercise, but once term time started, all of the courts within any reasonable distance got block bookings and so that had to stop. In December however I inherited a Wii from a friend and bought some accessories so we now have some of the dancing games, which are a) great exercise and b)worryingly addictive! This is the new plan!!
  • Better bedtime routine – yea not wonderful, but getting lots of sleep, normally 8 hours ish, so not too worried, but could do better
  • Sort through my photos and print off some for a photo album – I ended up ordering a photo book, which was a much better option in heinsight – expensive yes, but it’d’ve been more expensive to print them, and this way they’re all arranged nicely and in different sizes and captioned. I’ve done the one for my 6th form years, uni is next, but not going to rush it as as I said, it’s not cheap!
  • Put clothes away at night – this has fluctuated. I got better once I got my new fabric covered wardrobe frame, still room for improvement, but progress has been made
  • Write down good things that happen and put them in a jar – nothing since my last update in May. I’ll try again next year
  • Learn to love God more, do everything for His glory, and make time for Him. – This is a resolution for every year!

I’ll come back before or after the new year with next year’s resolutions!

Uganda – Church & Markets

27 12 2013

On our final day I had one more experience of washing my hair over the sink, packed up as much as I could and headed down for breakfast. Just in time for the last day I discovered that they made fresh pancakes, so after a week of beans on toast, I had pancakes with syrup, and a croissant, a continental!

We headed off to a church in Kampala, and only arrived 45min late – not bad for African time! This did mean we missed all the worship time, we arrived during the last verse of the final song, I was gutted to miss that part of the service as I’d been told there was nothing like it, but fortunately we’d been able to experience a few times of worship with the LDP students earlier in the week.

We were there in time for the commissioning of their women’s ministry team, and to hear testimony from one of their current LDP students. It’s amazing, through the week, how many of the testimonies we heard mentioned how they had gained social skills from the project. It’s not something that instantly comes to mind as something they may be lacking in, but it’s definitely something Compassion is there to do!

The sermon was on Genesis 26vv1-33, and was on keeping the promise (v4) alive. In the UK you sometimes get people clapping at the end of songs (which I tend not to do) but here they gave the sermon a good hand clap! My only concern was that it felt ever so slightly prosperity-gospel-y, or at least expressing a need for people to be wealthy so that they can do things, but maybe I misunderstood.

This church also ran a Compassion project, and so after the service we went upstairs to the project office. We met the project director who himself was a formerly sponsored child and an LDP graduate – it’s great to see the circle of sponsorship complete! They gave us mini fresh bananas to snack on and we also had their pastor join us, which was very generous as he was actually on sabbatical!

We headed off for lunch at the Good Africa Coffee Place. This was in a retail park, and because the terror alert was on maximum (and potentially they would have done this anyway) as we entered the car park we had to vacate the bus to have it searched, and also have our person and bags searched and checked too. We were used to lots of metal detectors and bag searches by now, but it was less common for the whole bus to be searched. It did make the place feel a little safer though.

I ordered bolognaise, which was a little odd but fine, and a strawberry ice tea. I took a sip of the drink before someone pointed out it had ice in it. Of course, ice could be made with tap water, and so you can’t consume it. Such a shame, I was so looking forward to that drink! I only took a sip from the bottom with a straw where the liquid was still warm, so wasn’t too worried, but it would have been silly to drink any more.

Several of us bought coffee there to take home as presents for family and friends, but they didn’t have enough in, so they first said they would bring it to our table when it was delivered (we had already paid), and then promised to bring it to us in the market in the afternoon. In the end Lillian had to collect it for us – it all worked out in the end!

I didn’t really enjoy the trip round the markets as much as I expected to. There were so many lovely things, but you weren’t able to stop and think. There were repeatedly ladies asking you to come into their stall, to see what they had, offering good prices. Even when I went in they kept talking and showing me things so I couldn’t just pause to work out what I wanted to get for the people on my list, or how many shillings I had left. In the end I just got a few things and sat down later to work out what to give to who, but for myself I did get some extremely colourful trousers with elasticated waist and trousers!

We went back to the hotel to change into more comfortable travelling clothes, collect our luggage and check out, and then as we realised there may be no time for dinner, a few of us got something to eat at the restaurant. A couple of us just had brownie and ice cream as it was a bit early for a meal, but we needed something to keep us going!

On arrival at the airport not only was our bus searched, but they even sent sniffer dogs aboard! We were all searched too, and then when we entered the building, even before we could get to check in desks our bags were put through security scanners and we all had to walk shoeless through the metal detectors, and then finally there was another security check at the gate.

While we were waiting to get on the plane a few of us had fun trying to do accents – I was taught some American over the week, and some of them did their best English accents for me which I managed to get on camera, lots of fun!

The flight left around 11pm I think, and once we were up and cruising we were served chicken and rice for dinner. I then managed about 3 hours sleep before breakfast. So given a late dinner, very little sleep, it’s unlikely anyway that you’d want breakfast within 4 hours of your previous meal. Not least when breakfast is broccoli, potato and quiche! I left it all and just had a roll.

We got off the plane at Amsterdam, and after a tearful goodbye with my new American friends, I headed back to London.

The End! I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my trip, please don’t hesitate to ask me more about it, most particularly if you’re interested in finding out more about Compassion, or sponsoring a child! I’m very happy to talk!

The Angels Knew

26 12 2013

This year at Romsey Baptist they learnt a new song over the Christmas period which we then all sang Christmas morning at the ecumenical service.

I really like it, good words and good tune, but a couple of bits I thought were particularly interesting about it.

  • It’s a bit odd how between the verses and the chorus, sometimes there’s a break of a couple of bars or so, and sometimes it goes straight in, and you can never really tell.
  • What I really like about it though is how in the chorus, I never really worked out the tune – everyone was singing different notes together and it sounded really beautiful. We were encouraged on Christmas morning to sing any harmony that fitted over it and sing like the angels!

Enjoy 🙂

Uganda – Sponsor Day

23 12 2013

It’s been a busy month, coming to the end of these blogs now, I’ll try to finish them before the end of the year – here’s the Saturday!

For the sponsors on this trip, this really was the big day of the week – the day they met their sponsored children. Some of them met one, some met two or even more. Some had met before, for some it was the first time. For some of them their child was about to finish the programme, and so for them it may be the last time.

We got on the bus and headed to the amusement park. This wasn’t any Thorpe Park, but a small, slightly run down ground with dodgems, a couple of water slides, a pirate ship, teacups, and a few other little rides, along with face painting and other fun little things, and everything painted in bright, happy colours!

As we drove up to the park entrance there was a line of children, all singing and dancing, with their project workers who’d travelled with them from all over the country stood behind them. We parked up, got out and enjoyed the entertainment. Then joined in as they sang songs we knew.

Then it got emotional! With the children in their line, the sponsors formed a line opposite, and one by one, Lillian read out names and the sponsor and child would run into the middle, hug, and cry! As I wasn’t meeting my child that day, I borrowed one of the sponsors’ nice cameras and took photos at rapid speed as they spun around! Once we’d gone through a few though, I got pretty upset. I wanted to see my little boy who’s in Tanzania. I kept taking photos, even though there were tears running down my cheeks!

On the Tuesday we had been to Prisca’s home, who was sponsored by Patricia from our group, and so she was there again that day, and what’s more, her project worker Robinah remembered me from when we had visited on the Tuesday, saw me upset, took my hand, and took me over to the three of them. Patti asked what was wrong and I said “I’m just being selfish and jealous, don’t worry!” They let me hang out with them, but I knew it was their time, so once I’d sorted myself out I left them to it.

We entered the park and each group of sponsor, child(ren) and project worker(s) sat at a table and went through a folder full of all of the information the project holds on the children. School information, health information, all sorts! So lots of time was spent leafing through them, and chatting, getting to know one another. I went round taking a few photos while they did this, (and met a stunning stray kitten), and then went to sit with JoAnn and Jennifer, the American staff – they were my “family” for the day!

Everyone headed off to rides and I carried on wandering and taking photos – little did I realise I was getting sunburnt! I saw Jocelyn and her sponsored child were going on the pirate ship and decided to go on with them. This wasn’t quite like a UK theme park ride – the rail we pulled down to keep us in was still nearly a foot from my lap! It was just as scary though, and went on to ages, which her sponsored child did not enjoy at all. Of course, she’d’ve never experienced anything like it before! We just kept telling her it was ok and that it’d be over soon, and eventually it was, but she didn’t feel well and lay down for quite a while afterwards.

We went into a room for lunch in our “families” again, I had chicken, beef and rice 🙂 Then after a couple of children sampled ice cream, we took them back to the hotel on our buses. The kids and project workers came down to the field by the lake, and the sponsors went back to their rooms to collect their bags of gifts. Justus who was one of the kids hung out with me, it was nice to have the company, I think he knew I was alone, it’s amazing how intuitive kids are – plus he had his face painted like batman! He and a couple of other kids had been given cameras for the day so I also got him to take a photo on mine 🙂 I also had a lovely chat with one of the project workers who actually happened to be the church leader, Pastor Samuel.

The goodbyes were tough on the sponsors. I had a packet of tissues in my bag so just went round handing them out as needed, along with occasional hugs etc. When Prisca got on the bus I just took Patti’s hand, she’d had the privilege of seeing her child twice that week, had spent much more time with her, and so I guess the goodbye was a little tougher.

This day was particularly difficult because I didn’t get to say hello to my sponsored child, Hamad, in the morning. But it did mean I didn’t have to say goodbye at the end.

We went to the hotel restaurant for dinner and as it was the last night I decided it was safe to sample the Asian menu! The hotel was owned by Indians, so I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala and it was fantastic! 🙂 I decided to only have half as it was so rich, and I’d had so much plain food all week, I didn’t want to make myself sick! That said, to get to the point where I was choosing not to eat where I would have expected to struggle to eat, this was a great step forward!

We had a debrief and a group photo (which I need to find actually!), packed and went to bed.

That night I wrote in my diary:

“I never thought I’d get to the point where I didn’t want to leave this place, but it’s happened. I’ve had the most incredible week.
We have seen the end result of Compassion!”

The meaning of Christmas

19 12 2013

A lot of TV programmes are currently sharing their opinions about what Christmas is really about (I guess what they mean is: as opposed to consumerism).

“Christmas is all about thoughtfulness” – Great British Sewing Bee
“For me, Christmas is all about the kitchen” – Great British Bake Off
“It’s about the smell of the turkey cooking and mulled wine” – Great British Bake Off

They’ll also say things like family or giving.

Or even love.

They all seem to have forgotten the main point:

Christmas is about JESUS!!!!!!!!

Friday Five Favourites: Christmas Adverts 2013

13 12 2013

Quite a few feel-good, inspirational Christmas adverts around this year 🙂 Wasn’t a fan of the John Lewis one this year – I’m less against it now, but it just doesn’t explain it’s own plot very well, and definitely not worth £7million

Coca Cola – quite a different message to normal!

Boots – it’s been a bit overplayed this year, but I do like it

Sainsburys – love this one, particularly spreadsheet man, and the family at the very end 🙂

Carphone Warehouse – bit of a more light hearted one!

Marks & Spencer – everyone loves a spoof of childrens’ stories 🙂

Why are you here?

10 12 2013

We had a guest speaker this Sunday, he spoke on 1 Corinthians 12vv14-31 and asked us, “why are you here?”

There’s many reasons we could be a church

  • We’re on a rota
  • Force of habit
  • Routine
  • Social time
  • Free childcare

These may be factors, but they aren’t the main reason, these only form a secular shell.

The reason is a relationship with, or an interest in, God.

That can be done at home, but that ignores large chunks of the bible. Church was God’s idea. Lot’s of the letters in the New Testament were written to churches. Church isn’t the building, it’s the people. We’ve recently been looking at the One Another commands, these commands need other people to one-another with.

Some people have been hurt and scarred by churches, but don’t let your past dictate your future.

  • A bad parent doesn’t make every parent bad.
  • A bad marriage doesn’t make every marriage bad.
  • A bad church doesn’t make every church bad.

Why did God give us unique fingerprints? To remind us that we have been made unique.
Each church is unique as it is made up of unique people. Each person has unique gifts and abilities. Each person has a part to play.

If you’re an eye trying to be an ear, then you’re not going to be good at it. Plus you’re stopping an ear from being an ear.
If you’re a hand, and you’ve been a hand a long time, maybe consider: is it time to be a wrist, to support a hand?

God has called us, chosen us, appointed us, to His church. We are hear today because God has chosen us. He knew us before we were formed, He was the first to hear our heart beat, the first to love us.

The reason we’re here is a whole lot less about us, and a whole lot more about God. We can’t do anything in our own strength. The Holy Spirit has the power. God used and uses the most unlikely characters to create the biggest ripples.