It never ceases to amaze us how our “Day Off” is never really a Day Off. Last year our experience was that just when we thought we would take a day to be “tourists,” we would end up having a cup of tea or coffee next to someone who would either share their own experience with Christ with us or someone who was searching for answers that only Christ could provide. We’ve had countless conversations such as that on our “Day Off.” So, here we go again . . .
Saturday was the first day that we determined we would just be tourist in this area we live in. As we left our house we exchanged “Good Mornings” with our neighbor, Tony, 2 doors down. He has the most beautiful front garden filled with flowers. He quickly invited us into his back garden and, Oh!, what a treat that was. It was filled with all sort of blooming plants. We must have spent 45 minutes admiring his gardening skills. As it turns out, Tony cares for a sweet little elderly lady named Nancy whose husband passed away 6 years ago. Tony has cared for them for 25 years. Such a sweet spirit and we look forward to many “gardening” conversations with he and Nancy in the future. You know, we love yard work.
We then headed toward the river and caught the ferry that makes the 5 minute trip across the River Tyne to North Shields and Tynemouth. Our goal was to visit the 12th century Tynemouth Priory ruins which dominate the horizon as we look north across the river from where we live. As has happened many times, our American accents gave us away, and Brenda got into a conversation with a lady named Jen who has only recently decided to follow Christ as her Savior. You can see them standing in the background underneath the canon. Jen is 60 and has a set of twin that are 9 years old. Divorced from their father, she met John who is an evangelical Christian. She said that his faith never really made much difference to her until they were invited to a baby dedication for John’s infant niece at the non-denominational church his brother and sister-in-law attend in Gateshead. She said that as she sat there listening to the words that were spoken that morning she thought, “That what I’ve been looking for! That’s what’s missing in my life!” And then and there she gave her heart to Christ . . . AT A BABY DEDICATION! Her face beamed as John walked up and she informed him that we were Christians, too. John has recently been “made redundant” (lost his job) and Dennis was able to encourage him that sometimes that’s what God uses to move us where He wants us (i.e. AIPM in our life). What a sweet time we had standing among those ancient ruins of a place of worship 900 years old and enjoying the fellowship of a brother and new sister in Christ. So much for our Day Off! As believers, do we really ever have a day off? But we did enjoy some great fish and chips right on the river.
This week began business as usual – Sisterhood on Monday, Coffee Pot on Tuesday, Knit and Natter on Wednesday. There is increased interest in Bible study and we expect to begin a study in Colossians for the pensioners (senior adults) the week of July 18. As always, it is difficult to find a time that agrees with everyone, but it seems that a daytime study may work best for this group. The younger folks are probably going to have to wait until September when school starts again. Schools in the UK go until the end of July and then take a 6 week break for summer. The deacons will begin the study Jesus On Leadership in the next few weeks. Their books arrived safely (Thank you, Granny Liz!) and we are all looking forward to digging into that transforming study for leaders.
On Thursday we had a sweet time at a Care Home (Nursing Home) only a few blocks from the church. Liz and Geoff Aydon prepared music and some Scripture readings and there were about 25 residents who joined in as well as 4 of our own sweet ladies from WRBC. It’s so truly amazing how these older folks who are suffering with dementia or the results of a stroke can lift their voices in praise singing the old hymns as well as quote Scripture as it is read. It was a precious time for us and took us back to some moments we had with Dennis’ Mom. God certainly prepared us for this type of situation in ministry.
We had a special treat as John Singleton, the Regional Minister for this area, joined us for the Sunday morning service to give an official welcome to us from the Northern Baptist Association of Great Britain. He is a delightful man and actually came to our house to greet us the day we arrived in South Shields. John lives down the coast a few miles in a town called Stockton-upon-Tees and we will probably have many opportunities to visit and minister alongside him. John shared the role of pastor for WRBC while they were without a pastor and it is obvious that the people of the church have a deep love for him and him for them.
As you can see, it’s been a full week. Next week promises to be even busier. We start the week by being given the privilege to go into Westoe Crown Primary School and talk with students ages 5-9 about Texas and why we are here. You may remember from an earlier blog that we were invited to go to Westoe Crown for a tour and to meet the Head Teachers the first week we were here. We trust that the Holy Spirit will open hearts and minds to know the Truth. We will be sharing Scripture but cannot share specifically about Christ and salvation. This will be a relationship building experience and we pray that it will lead to further visits with school administrators and teachers. Angela Pino, the church secretary, has been diligent to set up these appointments. She keeps the ball rolling at Westoe Road and we appreciate the fact that she keeps our diary (calendar) filled with ways to touch this community for the Glory of God. It’s a delight to serve with her. If we can get her to stay still long enough, we’ll take a picture of her and post it so that you can all see her sweet face. We’d love to share her sort-of-a-Geordie accent with you. . . a little Scotish, a little English, and a lot of South Shields. We love you, Angela!
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