Thursday, 7 November 2013

SEPT/OCT 2013


Ifor and I had a wonderful summer and as the season drew to a close we made the most of the opportunities to have stalls in the late summer shows in Libanus, Felinfach, Erwood and Hundred House. The local Young Farmers' Club did a brilliant dance wearing hats down to only just above their knees at Felinfach Show!  One of their club leader's is keen for me to do a talk at their club.  She has recently read the "Heaven is for Real" book and has since lent it to her mother to read.  At Hundred House show someone from the anniversary service Ifor led at Capel y Ffin came up to my stall to remind me to send her that same book. Apparently I prayed with her for healing at that service which she said had made a big difference, so she was open for further prayer right there and then.
 

I made some good contacts at the Craft Fair in Crickhowell, including someone who works with young offenders who would like me to do a talk with them sometime.

When I showed short videos of  Ugandan dance and music at Erwood W.I., I spoke about the worrying situation of the wife of Pastor John Okello, whose schoolchildren provide me with the paper bead jewellery to sell for them.  Since then I have been able to report back that she does not have cancer, and one kind lady welled up in relief.  I have also had the opportunity to do a slideshow of Life and Farming in Kenya to a Young Farmers Club near Presteigne.  This talk includes a number of healings which we witnessed when over there, which will have given the teenagers further food for thought.  This was just a week after a church leader Ifor is mentoring did a presentation in the senior school they attend about the difference it makes sending a cow to Africa.   This was well received and was the first time he had been asked to speak at the school.  He has also been asked to speak at the primary school there, so its interesting how the Lord seems to be focussing on the children and youth in that town all of a sudden.


video

As summer came to an end, we joined two of our original home group
in Llandrindod Wells as the town closed their annual Victorian Festival with a bang - in fact lots of bangs!  Two bands of drummers converged at a crossroads and we joined the huge throng of flaming torch bearers processing up a to the lake for a big firework display.  All very atmospheric - enjoy the short video!

Cantref  Church, in whose parish Pen y Fan is located, organised a special service on the summit to celebrate life in the Brecon Beacons.  Those attending included Hill Farmers, Brecon Mountain

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Rescue Team, the Armed Services, Visitors, Walkers, Cyclists, the National Park and the National Trust.   A minute’s silence was observed in memory of those who lost their lives in the Beacons this year.

 
Walking the dogs recently, I was struck by how much Autumn had quietly advanced.  I felt God say that Ifor and I are in the autumn of our lives, to which I objected!  Then the words " a season of mellow fruitfulness" came into my mind.  That sounded rather good!  I had the sense that He is bringing a season of fruitfulness into our ministry and the word "mellow"  suggests that it will not involve striving - His yoke is easy and he tells us to let Him have His way with us and not to strive.  I have been pushing myself lately and all the signs of that were there.  Also seemingly little fruitfulness.  His way sounds much better and more effective! 
 
I have been busy harvesting lots of beautiful berries - rowanberry, elderberry, crab apple, sloe and rose hip - and turning them into lots of wines, syrups and jellies!  The last of our runner beans made a lovely chutney!
Autumn is also the season of Harvest Festivals which many local people attend who would otherwise rarely go to church.  Ifor has been taking lots of these services whereas I have only done two, one of which was at Bronydd.  This chapel used to be an old drovers' smithy where they would shoe their cattle, sheep, geese and ponies for the long treks into the cities.
One elderly lady in the congregation, who remembers going there as a five year old, told me it was her mother who made the verse banner over the pulpit and who also used to lead a Sunday School there.  Ifor was also asked to be the after dinner speaker at Erwood harvest supper at the Market Hall to which a number of people from the village came and heard his testimony. 
Autumn is also the time we celebrated 36 years of our very happy marriage :)
 
 
Part of our calling is to encourage,
train up and equip the saints to work in the harvest field as in the verse in the photo above.  We have just had our third of such gatherings to which three dozen people came. After a wonderful time of worship together, I taught them how to hear God more easily, starting with different ways people in the Bible heard God through his creation; going on to hearing Him through word pictures I painted; progressing through hearing God through both created and man-made things they handled; and finally getting into groups of three to prophesy over each other.  Many people were encouraged by words they received.  The challenge now is for them not only to practice this gift but to take it out into the "market place".  We did something very similar last month in a much bigger church in Aberdare, with similar results.
 
The group who led worship that day used the same building to lead an open evening of worship for the county.  Four of them stayed on to pray through the night for God to move in this part. These nights will be repeated and hopefully build in strength.

Over these last few months I've felt like giving up with the monthly youth group I lead, most of whom do not go to any church. I've found it quite draining.  Then I realised what I find hardest is leading discussion with them, especially when the subjects I've prepared have not really gripped them, yet they still want to keep coming.  I was encouraged to learn that one teenager was so upset when she realised she'd forgotten a meeting, she wouldn't talk to her mum for an hour afterwards - and she was the one I had thought was least interested!  Jesus challenged me about lifting Him up, rather than focussing on other things.  As a result of praying this through with Him, I have decided to start doing the Christianity Explored course with them.  I have led several groups on this course in the past and found it to be really good. I think it could work with this age group, with games in place of discussion. We'll see.
Anne Roberts is having a most successful time running this course at the moment in a village hall.  They would like to carry on after the winter with the follow up course on Philippians.

God is using Ifor quietly but steadily amongst the farmers.  Do you remember the farmer in the Home Mission "Just Imagine" poster and bookmark, chatting to Ifor by his tractor? Last week he came to a farmer's supper in Crai village hall organised by our friends David and Carole Dry.  Dr Christie Glossop, the chief vet for Wales, shared her testimony after the meal which he enjoyed, together with two other farmers Ifor is involved with.  Another couple who Ifor has been involved in helping also came. This week Ifor has been helping one of those farmers TB testing his cattle.  Another of these farmers accompanied Ifor all the way to London and back to help pick up some furniture recently.  Ifor continues to milk in Glasbury three mornings a week and is building up good relationships there.

Ifor has been involved in three funerals recently which in turn have enabled further contacts, including a different undertaker.  Sadly Ifor has also been to the funerals of two ministers - Peter Hicks who has been doing a good work in Llandovery since his retirement from Spurgeons College; and John Hayward, previous minister of  Moriah, Risca.

It has been beautiful to witness how gently Jesus has been setting some people free from the affects of words spoken over them and things done in their pasts.  These people have come to know at a deeper level just how much He loves them and they are no longer experiencing some of the negative feelings that plagued them before.

It has been encouraging to make contact with Jeremy and Nicci Bevan who are doing a wonderful work leading an Anglican church in Gilwern. Jeremy has a good number of unchurched youth coming to a weekly programme he has put together, while Nicci seems to easily attract young mums with a New Age leaning.  Two of these were there with their tots when I spoke on different ways of easily making a difference to the lives of those around them who are struggling in various ways and so bring Light into their darkness. It seems they appreciated the talk and stayed until the end.  I have since been asked back to speak at the Women's World Day of Prayer next year.

Ifor and I met at Usk College of Agriculture in the seventies and this year the college celebrated its centenary with a big reunion weekend.  Much of this took place in a huge, grandly decorated sheep shed where they had been lambing earlier in the year!  It was good to catch up with old friends and renew friendships with some we have not been in touch with since our college days.  About 300 people came spanning a large age range.

In just ordinary living we make so many contacts which God can use at later dates.  My hairdresser here was traumatically bereaved  recently when her son and his girlfriend fell off a cliff which gave way. She recognised me when I called at her home and had already appreciated homemade cakes and things from our mutual friend from Glasbury Baptist Church.  I lent her a copy of Heaven is for Real to encourage her, having talked about it while having my hair cut earlier. Please pray for her.

Graham Kendrick and Cath Woolridge with her group performed wonderfully at Llandrindod Wells. The final song culminated in a silence of awe at God's presence.  Then just a few weeks later Cath launched her SOW Acapella CD at Brecon Cathedral.  A friend who prays with us regularly often remarks how Christian events and activities like these were very rare in the county until recent years.  The season is changing.

In fact Julian Richards spoke on just this at the Mid Wales New Wine Cymru Leaders gathering in Llandrindod Wells a few weeks ago - how God is birthing something new and in this new season people are becoming much more open to Jesus.
Just before he spoke, we had a time of individual ministry for each leader present.  This was an amazing time for me as I felt myself going down and down as if in a deep pond, with the challenge to trust Him, and ending up in the cloudy silt on the bottom where water nymphs are transformed into dragonflies, capable of so much more than before, just by soaring.

Ifor was greatly encouraged at a small two day Baptist Futures UK conference in Birmingham where he was one of three delegates representing Wales.  The free flowing, radical discussions amongst the delegates from all four countries in Britain showed the future can be bright.

We found one of our ducks two weeks after she disappeared, nesting the other side of the bridge!  She went on to hatch out eight little ducklings.  One died later - it never grew.  She now has seven ducklings almost as big as she is. They have no fear of swimming in the brook, even though it's raging like a torrent.

Much has been happening on the family front these last couple of months.  Ifor's mother has spent a few weeks in hospital and the doctor said she now needs to be transferred to a home.  We looked at a few that had been recommended.  The one we thought best for her rang up just a few days later to say that a room had become available and she could move in next week!  All these places generally have long waiting lists.  It's amazing how the Lord has worked everything out in such a short space of time.  The staff there are lovely and go the extra mile.  Please pray the transfer will be smooth and she will settle quickly. The home is actually in Breconshire and is very involved with the village community and school. The staff there saw from Ifor's business card that he is a reverend, so asked if he would be willing to minister to the other residents and staff at the home.

Our son Kevin, whose seasonal work with Welsh Water has come to an end, is now greatly enjoying work with the National Park.  This is voluntary but is more like an internship and he has been kitted out with a uniform.  He is having instruction and experience in a wide range of skills, with opportunity to gain certificates and qualifications which will set him in good stead.

I enjoyed a weekend in Chester for our daughter Katie's Baby Shower party.  Then a month later she gave birth to our gorgeous first grandchild, Caleb William Isaac Knott, who weighed in at 9lb 4.5oz. Sam was a great support to her. She did really well and was discharged on day two.


Meanwhile another daughter Becky announced that she and Pete are expecting their first baby in April.  So having picked up my crochet hook after 28 years to make a shawl for Caleb, I have now started crocheting a new shawl for Mini Matyus! 

Yes, its a new season in more ways than one!!!!