Living in a Field of Hats

some ramblings and reflections on working with students in Herts and Beds.

A Prayer Answering God February 2, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 7:55 pm
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posting twice on one day kinda makes up for not posting a couple times in the last few days right…!?

As previous posts on this blog will point out, I have a teensy weensy bit of love for the little known yet beautiful country of Moldova (shock for many of you I know 😉 ). A friend of mine from Moldova has been through the visa application process – a long one that includes much paperwork, and interview and a long wait. And very regularly (in my previous experience of trying to help people get visas) they get rejected for no obvious reason. To be honest I expected the same this time, but I prayed that God would do his will and that Albina could come somehow. But everything seemed to go against us. The official invite letter I posted before Christmas hadn’t turned up, the original letter had been lost on a bus in America (a whole seperate story!) so an emailed letter with no signature had to do instead. We hadn’t quite sorted the finances until the evening before Albina’s meeting so that was again a emailed letter with no signature. I was praying that the letters would turn up so that the embassy could see that Albina’s request was genuine – but they didn’t. So we were left to wait the five working days minimum to fourteen working days for an answer. And then three working days later the embassy rang to see Albina again . . . that didn’t bode well but we continued to pray to our God of miracles and … Albina’s visa was granted! Albina said: “[the lady] didn’t tell me anything, just asked me to sign a paper and gave me the passport, it was open at the visa page, but first i didn’t realize that, I thought it was my Romanian visa somehow, well, i was so scared…it was after I left the room that i started realizing it was my visa“. So so exciting. But for me the most exciting thing was what Albina told me later – that she was praying that the letters wouldn’t arrive . . . here’s why!

” last thursday when I applied and asked them if it’s possible to bring the letters if they come and the lady told me if I manage to bring them before they make the decision…well, I prayed that they might not come:) I knew God could make a miracle and it was not in vain that the letters didn’t come, almost 3 months passed and all people could do was done…so, I knew God had a plan. But i know myself, and knew i could later on think it might have been a coincidence or “luck”, whatever…so, i wanted a real miracle”

And a real miracle is what she got! And a challenge for me. So often I think that God can only work out situations in a certain way so I  pray for that to happen. I so often don’t pray that God would turn the sitatuion round but that he would do it my way. But he’s God and always does things his way in his perfect timing and it always works!

So… in just a few weeks we’ll be reunited! Praise the Lord!

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Exciting Searches! January 13, 2011

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 11:29 pm
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It’s late . . . so this will be brief but I’m determined not to fail on my mission to blog daily for a month!

Wasn’t sure what I was going to say this evening. There’s so much I could. I met with two lovely students today and have just spoken at CU on how the Old Testament told people that Jesus was coming – that in itself deserves a blog post at some point I think. But I just had a quick look at my stats when I logged on and saw that someone had searched “uccf mission trip to moldova 2011” and found my blog! VERY exciting! For those of you that didn’t follow the original incarnation of this blog have a look here, here, and here to find out a bit about why I was in Moldova and why I loved it so much to be this excited to see someone had searched and found it on my blog!

And if you’ve found this blog looking for more info about going on a summer team and aren’t sure whether or not to go – just do it. You’ll love it (especially if it’s to the most beautiful country in the world – Moldova!).

For the rest of you here’s some photos so you can see a little of why I love it. (And have a watch of the video here)

  And, yes I struggled to pick just a few – it’s so beautiful!

 

Marvellous Moldova 2009 October 24, 2009

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 6:02 pm
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Ok, so last week I got dragged up the front of church with no notice to report on my trip to Moldova earlier this year (I got home 3 months ago now!). If I wanted I could list a whole list of reasons (excuses) as why I’ve not told that many people about the trip. . . . instead . . . here’s my report!! Which after writing I realise is quite long . . . feel free to skip to the end where I say what I learnt!

So, Moldova has been and gone. This years experience was so different to last years in so many ways, but one thing stayed exactly the same  –  God worked amazingly and shown His grace in ways I’d never thought about before!

There’s so much I want to write about, but I don’t think there’s space or time to do so! There’s so much overflowing from my mind about the trip so here’s some of it . .

As we left . .
I was really torn about whether or not I really wanted to be going (true but majorly suprising I know!). There was a lot of things in the UK that had consumed my every minute for weeks and was feeling that there’d be no way that I would be able to focus on the mission trip without being distracted. Loads of doubts about being good enough also managed to creep in! Meeting the team in Luton and preparing to fly out put some of these at rest though, through other people and being reminded over and over of grace!

When we arrived . .
Orientation took up the first week of our stay and we were staying in a lovely Church near the centre of Chisnau, which also is home to a Christian school (with nice dorms!).010 The hospitality we received those first few days was immense. CSC (Moldovan UCCF) staff had arranged between them to cook all of our meals even though it meant sacrificially early starts and late nights for most of them to travel to where we were staying. Also, it meant that we got amazing Moldovan food! The sessions in orientation were all geared towards loving one another and working as a team. There was so much I learnt that week, including yet another reminder that God doesn’t get his address wrong! The reason I was on the trip was because God wanted me there! Towards the end of Orientation, although things at home still preoccupied my mind, I genuinely was feeling refreshed and way up for camp! I’d been reminded of so many gospel truths that are too easy to allow to slip away and been able to chat and pray things through with people and been reminded of the privilege that it is to be in Christian work!

Just before camp . .
The day that we left for camp we were informed that we had to visit the doctors for a Polio test. This turned out to not be totally accurate and sadly the tests weren’t all that nice for some of the team. This experience was tough and painful, but turned out to be in so many ways, good. Issues relating to previous things were able to be talked about and prayed about and  the post Soviet culture became more real to us. We’d  been aware that as it was pre election time (round 2) things were difficult for  Christians and students and that other Christian camps had been closed down by the authorities, so in a way we were a little prepared for something to happen, but not for something to occur that would affect some of us as individuals.

Camp . .
So, the team that arrived on camp was a broken, hurting team and yet I was amazed by the way in which they all get totally stuck in!  Although there was every reason to not be as a whole hearted on one hand, the team chose to be whole hearted for the same reasons and because of their commitment to the gospel! The first morning of camp was when I saw “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15) lived out like never before, and that really set the camp tone in some ways,people being sensitive and speaking the gospel wisely!
The brokenness of the British team was apparent in many ways to the Moldovans, so much so that one of them said to me towards the end of the trip, that although she’d been involved in many camps before, knew as a Christian that no-one is totally sorted, she’d this year seen that was true of the British team. Previous years she’d seen the team as being “sorted” (wrongly!) but this year she realised that being Western didn’t make us anymore sorted in God’s eyes!

075Camp revolved around English lessons, which we taught ever morning for a  hour and a half . . . . I’d love to say the time flew by, but my lovely group did their best to make sure that it didn’t! They weren’t easy but I am quite fond of them now! English lessons are the main attraction for many of the Moldovan students that come along, which is why so much time, energy and preparation goes into them. Also, they’re great for building relationships!

We also did bible studies every morning which was great! We went through “The world we all want” by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. It really is a great course, it had been adapted for our use as there is no way we could have done the normal one as it contains a lot of scripture (a great thing, but a real hindrance when you are doing a bible study in English, and the native language of those participating is Romanian or Russian or other with very varied English fluency levels!). Opening the bible for yourself is quite a novel idea for a lot of Moldovan students so studying it came as a huge shock to some! Having an opinion and voicing it is also novel!

I didn’t have my own bible study on camp this year which made the whole camp experience really different. It meant that I got to spend time with loads of different people on camp which I enjoyed, especially praying with some of CSC women. But, it was definitely strange! Amazingly, the one girl that I managed to spend a lot of time having gospel conversations with was a girl called Alina! Now, Alina and I had history! She had been in my group last year and had pretty much been a nightmare as a group member. It was really interesting to catch up with her and see the ways in which she had changed and had become so much more open to the gospel since last summer!  She’d attended so many CSC events throughout the year that she’d failed her year at Uni but was asking some great questions (a great reminder that CSC continues without the Brits!)

During the camp four people made a commitment to Christ for the first time which was so exciting!

Post Camp . . .
We had four or five days left at the end of the camp before we were flying back to the UK. We spent in debrief, allowing people to talk  and pray out what had happened pre camp and571 really immersing ourselves in scripture which was a real joy!

We also had the ‘traditional’ UCCF and CSC day of fun! This year we got to go the Soroca in the north of Moldova and wave across the river to the Ukraine (something I was highly excited about!).

What did God teach me . . .

The simple answer is loads, the more detailed (but not full answer!) is here:
– That He is God wherever I am and therefore nothing is out of His control even when it really seems like it
– That the prayers and encouragement of fellow Christians really makes a difference (even when they are in a different country!) Receiving texts and mega long phone calls that will have been very expensive for them, just to encourage me was amazing and really showed true fellowship.
– God will provide! Due to a human error, we’d started the trip financially on the edge . . . . we left Moldova being able to leave CSC a significant amount of money AND offer our team a refund!
– God guides and leads – many times, it seemed we were following in the dark, but He guided us, provided the right people in the right places to help
– We can pray and rely on God for all our needs!
– I love mission!!

 

Blogging from Moldova July 12, 2009

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 2:31 pm
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So, I’m currently sat in my bedroom on camp, using a mobile internet – technology is amazing! Today is day 7 of camp and it has been really exciting. I’ll post more in deatil when I get back to the UK, but it is really exciting to see how one girl on the camp today has become a Christian and how many others are really seeming to count the cost! Exciting 🙂
This set in a context where Christians are appearing to get a hard time from the Government at the moment is even more exciting! (I’m quite excited . . .!)

There’s so much i’ve learnt and been seriously challenged on already this trip but ive not got time to go into it save to say that the gospel and God are so much bigger than I realised and that God is the God of all comfort and that joy is acheivable whatever situations you are in and that God is amazing in His plans!

I would say im off to sunbathe during my free time but sadly it is chucking it down . . . almost like being back in lancaster!!!

There may be another update before I get back but no promises!

 

Moldova Week Two Prayer Requests July 6, 2009

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 9:30 am
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Here’s week twos prayer requests. Thanks for praying guys!

7th July
Today is the first full day at camp and so our first bible study. Here is a brief look at how most days on camp will look:

Morning: UK team meeting, followed by breakfast. After a short introduction to the theme of the Bible study, we’ll split into Bible study groups. These are one hour long and will have about 10 people in them. After a short tea break, there will be English conversation classes for 90 minutes before lunch.
Afternoon: Begins with sport activities, free time or an excursion. Often there are team activities in later afternoon, or preparation time for English night!
Evening: After dinner, there are various forms of entertainment – including team presentations, English Night, Moldovan Night, a film, the banquet … etc.! Then off to bed after a busy day!
Please pray that we would be able to get to know our roommates (there is normally two English team in a room of 4-6 Moldovans). Please pray for the first study, that the English team wouldn’t be nervous and would be trusting in the power of the gospel and that the gospel would attract the non Christian Moldovans. Please also pray especially for the two male leaders, Peter and Matt today.
8th July
Today is the second bible study, so all those students who didn’t lead one yesterday will be doing so today. Please pray that there is no comparison going on within the team that could cause feelings of inadequacy. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will be working in the hearts of the non Christian on camp to be the receptive to the gospel. Please pray especially today for Sarah, the female leader and Rebekah (Ebek).
9th July
Camp continues! By now it will be becoming the norm for us all! Please pray the Bible studies taking place that the language difference would not be a barrier to the gospel. Also, pray for Andrew W and Emma, two British team students.
10th July
Please pray for the Bible study groups taking place, that they would bond with one another and feel able to be themselves around each other. Pray especially for Toby and Nicole, two British team students. Please also pray for the CSC staff team which is depleted this year due to staff leaving and no suitable having yet been found – Albina, Rodica, Slavic and Tania.
11th July
Please pray for the Bible studies, that the Christian Moldova students would grow and learn more about Christ throughout camp. Please pray for the whole team, that even in our tiredness we would love one another. Pray for Hannah H and Jon, two British team members especially today.
12th July
Pray for the ongoing Bible studies, that the Moldovan students who are not Christians would understand more about Jesus and why he came. Please pray especially for Andy J, UCCF Relay Worker and Sally a British team member today.
13th July
Pray for the bible studies taking place, that the English students leading the studies would grow in knowledge and understanding of Christ as they seek to tell the Moldovans about Jesus. Today please pray especially for Shaun and Hannah R and Lisa, three British team members.

 

Moldova Prayer Requests! June 28, 2009

Filed under: Mission Trips — Sarah @ 8:43 pm
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So, I’m off to Moldova tomorrow with the UCCF summer team. I’m really excited to be going back and to see friends that were made last year. There’s some daily prayer points below for the first week (i’ve set it so that they come up weekly as a reminder!) Your prayers will be very much appreciated and I’ll try and update my blog if I get chance 🙂

29th June
The team is meeting in Luton tonight at 6pm where we’ll be sleeping on a church floor before our early flight tomorrow. Please pray for the team to get to know each other a bit better, rest and a good night’s sleep.
30th June
Our flight is at 8am from Luton this morning, and arrives in Bucharest at 1315 (local time) and then catching the overnight train into Moldova at 8pm this evening. Please pray for safety for the whole team (and luggage!) whilst travelling and for ease of buying train tickets as the language barrier can cause problems. Also, all the team will be getting tired so please pray for continued good team relations.
1st July
We should arrive in Chisinau at 8am after a very disturbed night’s sleep of passport checks and immigration etc! There’s time for some rest and relaxation, but orientation starts fully today. So, please pray for energy and concentration for all as we look in detail at “What is the gospel”. Please also pray for the team to quickly embrace and adapt to Moldovan culture.
2nd July
Today we are looking an entire overview of the Bible as part of our preparations for camp. We’re also having a seminar on prayer and our first set of Romanian lessons! Today will be our first proper chance to see Chisinau as well. Please pray equipping of the English team with the topics being looked at today and that the Romanian lessons will be practically helpful
3rd July
We start our preparations on the Bible studies we’re doing on camp today. We’ll also be thinking about how to practically teach English as a second language. Please pray that students will get to grips with the studies as Peter, Matt and Sarah lead them through them and the students will feel more equipped to be able to teach English.
4th July
as well as bible studies for camp, we’ll also be looking at How to Lead an Evangelistic Bible Study which focuses on God’s sovereignty in Evangelism. We’ll be putting out Romanian into practice by going on a scavenger hunt to buy the things that we need to get for camp! Please pray continued group bonding especially with the CSC staff we will be going on the scavenger hunt with.
5th July
Peter is leading a study on “the gospel and wholeness” today. We’ll also be prepping studies 5 and 6 for camp and thinking about how to get alongside non Christians on camp. Please pray that we learn and are equipped to sensitively get to know and get alongside Moldovan Students and point them towards Christ.
6th July
Today we head to camp! We’ll be preparing bible studies 7 and 8 in the morning, but then we set off. Please pray that we would all be confident in the gospel alone, as we set off to camp (and what may feel for some the scary unknown!)

Thanks 🙂 another update next week!

 

Summer Mission Team Weekend June 9, 2009

Filed under: Christian Life,Conferences — Sarah @ 3:30 pm
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I had the great pleasure this weekend of meeting the Moldova 2009 team at the national training weekend for all those going on a UCCF summer mission trip this year.

The one thing that struck mainly was how diverse the team is. I honestly can not think of one thing that would unite us all apart from the gospel and I am really excited about how God is going to use that. Got to thinking that this must be a really weird thing for non believers to see – 16 British University students, voluntarily giving up three weeks of their summer break, raising £700 to pay for costs, to go and visit a country which the majority of Molodvans can’t wait to get out of. We are choosing to go there!

Also was thinking how excited I was to see how God has changed our hearts and desires. This weekend there was around 100 people who are going on summer teams this summer with UCCF. None of them are going to an “easy” context, in fact the speaker for the weekend, Keith Walker from SIM (Serving in Mission) made that point a couple of times, that there aren’t any ‘easy’ places left! And yet all 100 of us have had our hearts changed by God to go to these countries with a desire to share the amazing truth of the gospel with the students we’ll meet out there and to work along side our brothers and sisters who are working out there already.

If you had told me when I was a fresher at Uni that I would have gone on one mission trip already, and be involved in leading another to the same country in 5 years time and that I would be happy and excited about it I really would have laughed!

It is really great to see how God has changed my heart over the last five years. How he is changing the hearts of the students that are going on the trip and making us all more sacrifical. What an encouragement to see God working in this way!

The teaching over the weekend was great as well. To be reminded of the uniquness of Jesus was something I think I desperatly needed to hear. And it is so true! My fire for wanting to go to Moldova is now based so much mroe firmly on God’s Word and as Matt Redman said “Worship is the fuel for Missions flame”. It’s because of what God has done, because of who He is that we want to worship Him, and spread glory – hence mission!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” Ephesians 1:3

Keith looked at Revelation 7 on Sunday morning and pointed out that this vision is something that God showed John as an encouragement that God will keep promises. The “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9) aren’t just faceless people – they are all those who have been saved, me, my church family, the other Christians I know – how exciting is that!

One of my main prayers for our mission trip is that those we encouter this summer, who haven’t accepted the truth of the gospel for themselves, will and will become one of those great multitude.

Praise to God who has the power to change us from living in darkness to the light!