Apart from nearly melting in the heat of my study (36 degrees Celsius before I escaped last week) we have been enjoying the surely brief summery weather! Hope you have too.
We have have a new member of our family: Marvel our new rescue puppy joined us eight weeks ago. Apparently 15 years of lobbying by Ellie has paid off! We are not sure what breed he is by the way so don’t ask. However, he has won a place in our hearts and dug many a hole in our garden! We are also discovering who is Alpha in our family!
Nicki’s Fusion club is going from strength to strength. Some of the kids are moving up to the next open youth group which is really booming at the moment. We have a lovely bunch of kids at Fusion, all fidget spinner mad and very lively. We thought we would have a small turn-out on election day as we had to cram into the portacabin as the church was a polling station that day. However we had 26 kids, as some parents discovered the club whilst voting! It was a squeeze but fun. Each session we finish with sharing something about God and it keeps going in drip by drip.
I have been been helping the Christianity Explored group become stable and have now left the group running happily by itself as they continue to explore things deeper. Instead I am co-leading a Wednesday night Alpha! This is also in the portacabin (one day they will let me in the main church!) which works for the group of folks who are coming. It is a wonderfully real and down to earth group. I was back in the portacabin on Sunday night as I led Restores My Soul, the contemplative evening service. We are really pleased how this is going and there was one groan of disappointment when I said we were pausing over the summer! It certainly seems to work for those who find a quieter and more reflective atmosphere helpful.
We were involved in two crazy church Fun days over the Whitsun holiday. Emmanuel hired a number of bouncy castles and the wonderful inflatable dome which Nicki worked her magic on turning it into a pop-up café again. Emmanuel is gaining strong appreciation locally for the Fun day and we probably doubled the numbers again this year. It was wonderful to talk to so many local people.
Sadly I had to zoom away from the fun day to go to college… to give a presentation on what I am doing at Emmanuel! Anyway I must have done a good job as three of the Cuddesdon students now want to do their final year placement with Emmanuel! Studies are going very well, with very enjoyable courses and projects. Thanks to all who helped with my orality project! I did well and learned a lot. We continue to find studying at CMS tremendously helpful and highly relevant. I can’t quite say the same about Cuddesdon – that blows more hot and cold! Nicki managed to get her Pastoral and Ethics portfolio in eleven months early too! To celebrate she has recently been up to Manchester to gain some training in running parenting groups that we hope will be up and running in the autumn to help local parents.
I have been at work fundraising for the church’s building project and also for the Ark project (Double decker bus for the homeless). The bus is getting closer and closer to starting operations. There is much to do behind the scenes in getting good training, governance, policies and… well everything you need to get a homeless shelter on wheels running! ARK is a charity now and we held our first family day which drew huge support. I enjoyed entertaining the Mayor of Reading who was delightful and very supportive! Even though the bus is not yet operating as a community several addicts have contacted us or have been taken to rehabs. Now as they are returning, the ARK team are working on ways to use the strength of the community around the bus to support, reintegrate and rebuild their lives. It is wonderful seeing so many of them discovering Jesus and the power of transformation in his name.
The kids are through the exams without hitch so our blood pressure is returning to normal! We are looking forward to a quieter summer and visiting our friends in Belgium too!
Kevin, Nicki, Sam, Ellie, Luc and Josh.