Thursday, 29 August 2013

SUMMER 2013

I'm aware that many of our stories are small when compared  to the vastness of the county we have been called to but we take heart from Elijah who celebrated the tiny cloud and anticipated the downpour about to come.  All big trees started as little seeds and we have been planting lots of little acorns as we go about living our lives here, going to Young Farmers rallies, shows, local events, visiting and bumping into people and ministering wherever there is an openness.   That reminds me that someone who prophesied over me "saw" me treading many acorns into the ground.  As we do so, God gives us many encouragements along the way.

One such encouragement was when we met up with international opera singer Huw Priday over coffee in St Mary's Church cafe in Brecon town centre with our intercessor friend Barbara.  Huw told us the amazing story of Robert Jermain Thomas from Llanover in Gwent who was born in Rhayader. He took the gospel to Korea, was murdered and his murderer plastered his house walls with pages from his Bible that he took as a trophy.  A visitor was converted through reading the walls and in turn led the murderer to Christ.  Together they founded a vast movement of Christianity amongst the Koreans who today thank God for Wales.  Huw stepped back from international fame to serve God by singing wherever God wants him to.  He feels strongly that God wants him to sing in Brecon, where Huw's father was minister at one time.  Barbara felt to go to Brecon Cathedral before he left.  As we stood between the choir stalls, I sensed roots growing quickly downwards from our feet and a tree of Life, bearing much fruit, growing upwards.  Then I looked up I saw a large cross hanging right above us - the "tree" which gives eternal and abundant life.

During Brecon Jazz Festival this summer Cath Woolridge and her group sang and gave testimony to a large crowd of people packed into the cathedral who also watched a drama they did on the Prodigal Son. Barbara tells us it was very powerful and the Dean danced up the aisle in all his regalia!  The Cobbles Cafe also worshiped for a couple of hours as people popped in to listen.
"Praise is rising, ......."

Through the summer we have been running Table Talk in the pub in Glasbury as a continuation of "Pester the Pastor" as the post Alpha group who came called it.  As most of these people already attend a chapel near the village and no one else was being added to the group, we made the decision to stop these sessions to encourage them to go to the new Christianity Explored  course that is starting in a nearby village in September.  This will be led by Anne Roberts who works alongside us in the different capacity of focusing on growing the tiny chapels in the county.

The monthly hill top prayer group continues.  In June we returned to pray over Rhayader.  This time one of
the group "smelt" food. This could mean the residents are hungry for God, or it could tie in with the previous time when I "saw" columns of fire coming up from each estate - perhaps God is saying about BBQ's being held in each estate?  Rhayader was once a main centre for pagan worship in Wales at the point where two rivers converge at Cwmdauddwr so we went down there to pray afterwards.  Overlooking this spot is the Anglican church with a circular graveyard - a sign of it being built on an earlier druid site so we prayed around that too.  Our prayers that day felt effective. Rhayader is built in the shape of a cross along the four valleys leading into and out of the town.  We heard that the cafe style church which met in the village hall has decided to close as it was only attracting other Christians, but the Anglican church runs Messy Church which is attracting 25 to 30 children and grandparents.  Very encouraging.

Ifor joined the praying from Garth Hill overlooking the Royal Welsh Showground this year just before the show took place which attracts huge crowds and businesses from all over Wales. In August we joined in praying over Beulah and the surrounding farms. From here we had a sense that God is strategically building and positioning His troops across the county and beyond.  The new prayer group in Bwlch continues to meet monthly.

I only did one talk on Uganda this summer at a local W.I. After showing videos of Ugandan dancing and music I told them how Rose, the wife of Pastor John and mother and adoptive mother of their seven children needs an expensive biopsy and probably operation and treatment. Both John and Moses, the leader of the other Ugandan school we also try to
support, have both been off work with severe stress and malaria.  Life is far from easy over there.  Two of the members there kindly gave me money to send for Rose.  I have been
able to sell, at a number of village shows, more of the paper bead jewellery the schoolchildren make so this will help towards them paying the salaries of the teachers.  These shows also lead to opportunities for prayer ministry, more talks at meetings and Breconshire schools.  I had a Ugandan stall at a new country market in Llangorse which proved very fruitful in terms of both selling and contacts to follow up.

In June I was asked to teach a group of women in Presteigne how to hear God in different ways.  This seemed to boost their confidence in being able to recognize Him speaking to them.  To a lesser degree I taught this at a few small chapels later on.  Our next local New Wine Cymru event for Christians in Breconshire and Radnorshire will be next month and this will be the theme there, developing it through to prophesying over each other.

 When our friend Janet Russell (Diocesan Missioner based at Brecon Cathedral), Ifor and I met to pray for our July NWC event, God gave us three pictures which together pointed to the royal priesthood of all believers.  Ifor preached on this and the role we have as such, remembering how important Jasper is in the New Jerusalem although the world considers it to be only a semi precious stone.  He referred to the move God is bringing about in Cwmbran where in the first four months since the revival started there have been almost 1,400 converts and many healings (and still continuing at this rate); in Bridgend 250 young people were converted recently and in Barry 25 young people over a few weeks. Then the people gathered into small groups to pray encouragement over each other.  During the prayer ministry for healing afterwards many received prayer and a number felt the Holy Spirit working in their bodies.
     The NWC Leaders' conference at Lampeter the previous week was a great encouragement to us and a boost to meet up with so many of our friends again.  The theme of the few days was "The Church and Mission" and much of what was said was helpful and faithbuilding for us and for our local friend who came with us.

My youth group enjoyed various water games and a balance beam
whilst looking into the testimony of Bethany Hamilton who rebuilt her career through her faith in God and determination after losing her arm in a shark attack whilst surfing as a 13 year old.  She went on to win second place in the World Junior Women's Surfing Championships just five years later.  This seemed a good topic to explore on a hot day as our last session before the summer holidays, culminating in a BBQ Ifor cooked for them.  I would value your prayers for God's wisdom in how best to continue with this group after the hols.

Ifor took the funeral of a nearby farmer to which about 300 people came, almost all of them local. Two more people borrowed the book "Heaven is for Real" after Ifor referred to the story of the great-grandfather in this book.  The service was spoken about by many people over the following weeks and the widow encouragingly referred to the Rev. Ifor Williams as a friend of the family when she wrote the obituary in the paper.

Through Ifor's role in Farm Crisis Network (now Farm Community Network),  he has been able to help a local couple who were pleasantly surprised when it was Ifor who turned up.  They had already met him previously when Ifor visited their farm to collect dead sheep with the new Christian friend he is mentoring. Also through FCN Ifor has been helping a farmer and his children north of the county who has all sorts of issues. The whole ministry to farmers scene is begining to develop and becoming increasingly fruitful. Farmers are recommending Ifor to other farmers whom they know are going through difficulties.  They also told him about Mark who came to introduce himself recently.  He goes to Victory Church in Merthyr but lives on a caravan site in Breconshire.  He moved here a couple of years ago when he felt God calling him to work as an evangelist among farmers.  This has been a whole new ball game for him and he
started by going to the farmers' markets, handing out tracts and engaging in conversation with the farmers. His deep love for God and his dependence on His leading are very apparent and his work will compliment Ifor's .  God certainly has a big heart for farmers here.  In August we went to the dispersal sale nearby of a long established pedigree Holstein dairy herd.  We have known the family for many years.  It was a sad occasion but well attended and prices were good with buyers coming from all over the country.

On our livestock front, we sadly lost another lamb
who we think had been eating the dogs mercury in the woodland.  A few days later, we took our lambs back to the farm where they had been born, as the farmer had offered. Quite an adventure for them. A day or so later the farmer added a hundred or so other sheep to their field.  Our little flock stuck together, gradually intermingling after a few weeks.  When Ifor went back three weeks later he saw our lambs in twos and threes among the flock.  When he called them, their heads shot up and they all came up to him and followed him back to the gate.  The rest of the flock thought they were barmy! Sadly we have lost another since then, so we are now down to eight.

On the duck scene, "Matilda" managed to break her thigh bone clean through. We treated ourselves to some lollipops and splinted it with the sticks and insulation tape!
Leaning over the hurdle to put her back, I cracked a rib when the hurdle gave way!  So more lollipop sticks . . . no!  My rib is now healed and so is Matilda's leg. On the same day I cracked my rib, Kevin visited a friend's farm and brought home a sheepskin for me to cure. It was a bit painful scraping the sheepskin that day!
Ifor is continuing to milk at least three mornings a week, building good relations with the farmer and the other cowmen and and having some good conversations.

Also in August I met up with the person who had asked us to pray last
winter around her home as they were struggling with a number of ghosts and poltergeists. (See Autumn 2012 blog). We made several visits and got to know them during that time. When her brother died just a couple of days before her daughter's wedding I was able to give her a bit of support and lent her a copy of Heaven is for Real.  When I met up with her the other day she said how the house has stayed completely clear of ghosts since our last visit and her daughter has noticed the difference too.  After being greatly helped by the book she has lent it to her bereaved sister-in-law.  We got talking about a real two-way relationship with God.  She had noticed this with some people and wanted this for herself.  At her request I prayed with her and led her to her Father through Jesus as she let go of everything to Him, feeling very different afterwards.

On the family scene we have very exciting news.  Our youngest daughter Lucy is now engaged to Timo Pappe, a wonderful young man from Estonia.They met five years ago when they were both doing their Discipleship Training School with YWAM in Norway. They met again two years ago when Timo was on the School of Evangelism that Lucy was leading. He was one of her staff helping with the school last year.  We're all looking forward to their wedding in Estonia in May and meeting Timo's family.  I had a go at icing a cake with a joint Estonian and Welsh St. Davids flag as part of the engagement celebration while they were over here!

Katie is growing bigger by the day and Sam is a great support to her. Our first grandchild is due to be born mid October.  All very exciting! I've picked up my crochet hook after 28 years and am busy making a shawl whenever I sit down!

Kevin sadly was not accepted to take up one of the few training places
offered by Welsh Water for graduates.  So he is back to the drawing board looking for work when his summer work as Assistant Ranger around the reservoirs comes to an end in six weeks time. Last week he was driven home with ten metal staples in his head after the fencing slammer he was using ricocheted off the top of the stake.  Ouch!  The staples are out now and it is healing well.

My Dad celebrated his 92nd birthday which
 meant a lovely reunion with most of the family.  The sun shone so we enjoyed being in the garden together where Dad has been working hard.  This was followed by a family holiday back in Broad Haven, Pembs,  to join in the 70th birthday celebrations of Glenys, our good friend and neighbour there.  Another good friend said we could use her home for the week so that all the family (except Lucy in Norway) could have fun together, which we certainly did.  We also had a wonderful spur of the moment, day and half caravan holiday with a great view less than ten miles from our home!  With the lovely hot weather it felt more like a week and a complete break!  It also meant we got to know the farmer who owned the site, so pluses all round.

Thank you all so much for your prayer support.  Should any of you choose to visit us, please be aware that the main river bridge near us is now closed and will remain so for nearly a year as they repair it, so you will need to find alternative routes!