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Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Very Merry English Christmas!

We are horrible bloggers. Go ahead and agree. It’s OK. Our lack of blogging is due to the fact that we find ourselves busy most of the day every day and in the evening we just sort of want to sit and veg. Also, do you know how dark it is in England this time of year? Oh, my goodness, by 4 p.m. it’s DARK! We took this picture of the Towne Hall, which sets right next door to the church, and you can see the time on the clock tower . . . 5 p.m. and totally dark. Not to mention that the sunrise doesn’t occur until about 8 a.m. So we really only have about 7 hours of good daylight. By teatime every day (4:00-4:30 p.m.) we both feel that we should be getting ready for supper and then bedtime. It’s really weird. While our weather has become colder and colder, we have had some really beautiful days and have been spared, for the most part, from the incredible winds that have hit Scotland.

The Christmas season is in full swing and we are enjoying the traditions that the British hold dear . . . like “Crackers.” We had recently been noticing some rather interesting and festively wrapped boxes of “crackers” on the end caps at the grocery stores. We even commented about how nice it was that they seemed to enjoy having crackers that were wrapped in Christmas paper, but we wondered, “Why crackers?” Well . . . they aren’t crackers at all, not crackers like we Americans think of crackers . . . you know, those savory little flat toasted things that we eat with cheese or peanut butter. No! These are three little cardboard tubes connected together by an internal band . . . Oh! It’s impossible to explain, so just watch this YouTube video . So, then you sit around with your lovely little crown on and enjoy your Christmas party or even Christmas dinner. Yes, we’ve already been told that we will all have a Christmas Cracker at our place when we go to Liz and Geoff’s for Christmas Dinner.

We don’t have a Christmas tree because we don’t have anything to put on it. However, we have a wonderful new Nativity that was knitted by sweet Vera Brown (with a little help by Lorna Hannan). Vera and Lorna are two of our amazing senior adults. Both are in their 80s, yet serving faithfully in many ways at Westoe Road. We have thoroughly enjoyed having their beautiful handiwork on our mantel for the past few weeks and we will love having it in our Abilene home for years to come. Our new Nativity and many, many Christmas cards have made our beautiful English home quite festive.

Where do we even begin to talk about Westoe Road Baptist Church and the precious folks there? We refuse to talk about the calendar and the fact that our time here is quickly coming to an end. The Modern Girls and the 50-Somethings have now completed their study of the book of Ruth. What a sweet time that was?! Dennis is continuing to plan monthly pub or curry nights for the young guys. Just this past weekend he gave them all a copy of More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. They all received it and agreed to read some chapters that Dennis recommended for them. Consistently there have been 5-7 guys each time they have gotten together and it is great fun to watch them seek one another out at church on Sundays and spend time chatting. Relationships have formed quickly.

The deacons finished their study on leadership and are quickly putting it into practice. Dennis led a mid-day study in the book of Malachi which was very good and Brenda has been taking 5 ladies through the teaching class that she was involved in at our church back home. They will have their opportunity to teach a lesson they have prepared on January 7. They will, no doubt, do a great job.

When we wrote the last blog, the church was in the process of making a decision about their next AIPM pastor. They have chosen Ron and Karalee Johnson who will be coming from Corona, California, on January 12. We have had a chance to visit with Ron and Karalee via Skype and are very excited about the gifts and abilities that they will bring to Westoe Road. Ron has been a pastor for 40 years and Karalee has experience in women’s and children’s ministry, so they will be a great fit for what is already going on here.

The calendar is a constant reminder of how quickly time goes by, but the Lord has continued to work in hearts. We will be having a baptism service on January 8. Dennis will baptize Lianne Douglas who has come to Westoe Road having grown up in the Church of England. Lianne talked to us some time ago about her feeling that she should follow the Lord in believers’ baptism. Several others are thinking and praying about taking this step. We will also have a baby dedication on January 15. So, as you can see that this is a happenin’ place.

We continue to thank the Lord for those of you who have walked with us on this journey through your prayers and e-mails. Don’t stop praying! God is still working!

Many blessings to you and yours during this Season of Celebrating the Birth the Christ!

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