Child of God

He's got the whole world in His hands!

The Devil's Chair

30 September

Hello. I hope you’re all keeping well and enjoying the start of autumn. I have just returned from my holiday in Shropshire and really enjoyed it. We rented a bungalow in a village called Minsterley, not too far from Shrewsbury. It had a huge garden and a summerhouse and we were able to make the most of it, as the weather was mainly kind to us that week. Not having a garden ourselves, we truly appreciated this luxury.

Hubby and I quite enjoy a walk and we had a good choice in this area. We tramped up Stiperstones hills and saw the Devil’s Chair – what seemed to me just a heap of stones is apparently the subject of a local legend. The story goes that the Devil was carrying a load of stones in his apron, while travelling across Britain from Ireland, and he needed a rest (well, you would, wouldn’t you?). Legend goes that he was actually planning to use these stones to fill in the valley on the other side of the Stiperstones, which is known as Hell’s Gutter. Unfortunately for him, as he got up after his rest on the highest rock in Stiperstones, his apron strings snapped and the rocks fell out. Instead of picking them up, the Devil left the rocks scattered all over the ridge, and legend says you can smell brimstone on them in hot weather. Well, it was quite a chilly morning, so we didn’t get to experience that dubious pleasure! It was, however, beautiful, peaceful and eerie on that hill. Hardly anyone was around but two very brave people ran past us, down the rocks! It took us forever just to walk up the hill, picking our way along the rocks and terrified of slipping and breaking an ankle..

Our pastor Andrew and his wife Tracy joined us for a few days and we felt so blessed to have the time with them. They had never been to Shropshire, we had visited only briefly, and we enjoyed exploring the area together. We went to Shrewsbury, Ludlow and – best of all – the beautiful town of Ironbridge. What a stunning place this is! It was a warm, sunny day and we walked by the river, admired the famous bridge, made time for some local shopping, and even sampled the famous pies (which I can highly recommend, by the way).

The pandemic isn’t going away any time soon, is it? Only six months or so for us, but it feels like forever. I doubt that life will ever be the same again. All the simple pleasures we took for granted are complicated with rules and restrictions – masks, distancing, who you can and cannot socialise with. They change so frequently and it’s tedious and depressing. All we want is our old lives back. But, compared to a lot of people, we are so blessed. Kev still has his job (I am now retired, by choice), we still have our home, and none of our friends and families have become casualties of the dreaded virus. We have so much to be thankful for and never forget to thank our loving God.

I have to remind myself regularly that He is in control – not the government – God! And I am so grateful that He is in control. As the world slides further into chaos and madness, we have an anchor to rely on. Although I am a Christian, I am still a weak human being and sometimes give in to anxiety – even terror – about what the future holds for us in these bleak times. But comfort and reassurance is always to hand when we need it.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27, v 1)

As always, I hope you keep well, stay safe and remember that Jesus loves you very much – so much, in fact, that he actually died for you. That’s some love, eh? Ann ❤

Ironbridge, Shropshire

Friday, 11 September

Hi there. I am a bit late with the blog again because I have been experiencing technical problems with my website. I am not the most techo-savvy person in the world and sometimes encounter issues that slow me down a bit. I have been trying to find out how to allow comments on my blog but apparently it’s not as straightforward as I would have thought! I am going to give it a go, anyway, and see how it goes, so please feel free to add comments to my blog (but not rude ones, eh?) and if you leave your name and email address I will certainly reply to you.

As I remember, at the end of my last update, I had just arrived in Brighton, ready to start my new job at Olivet the following day. I was a bit nervous but very excited at the thought of being able to put what I had learned in Bournemouth into practice. After settling into my room at Mary’s, I had a good night’s sleep before going off to the school the next morning to meet my colleagues and have my induction.

The weather was beautiful and I wore my favourite green dress to give me confidence. I walked from Hove to Brighton, along the seafront, and congratulated myself on finding a summer job in this beautiful place. It was only about 45 minutes walk, and I eventually came to regard that journey in the mornings as a wonderful start to my day. It was usually very peaceful, only seeing the occasional jogger and dog walker, with the screeching of the seagulls and the ‘shushing’ of the sea as a backdrop. I have always loved walking near water – many people do, I suppose – as it is very relaxing and peaceful.

I arrived far too soon, so treated myself to a leisurely coffee at a café next to the beach. I rang Kev and excitedly told him about the beautiful surroundings I had found myself in. This wasn’t my first trip to Brighton, as I had visited for a weekend with a friend several years previously, but it had rained constantly during that time. Seeing the town in the sunshine was a different matter.

When I eventually arrived at the school, I was greeted by Steve and had a guided tour and introductions to the staff. Everyone was friendly but I wondered how on earth I would find my way round this ‘twisty-turny’ building! I am not good with directions at the best of times, and it took me quite a while not to get lost between classes.

My contracted hours were only 9 am -12.30 and this suited me very well, leaving the afternoons for me to explore and enjoy. I would be teaching a class of children from around the world but was relieved to learn that I would have a teaching assistant working alongside me. Olivet opens its doors to children of many nationalities who enrol for summer courses, including accommodation at nearby facilities.

I found these children quite challenging. They ranged in age from about 11 to 14 and were hyperactive and very lively! Fortunately, Zoe, who was working with me, was invaluable with her suggestions and practical help and, between the two of us, we managed to survive eight weeks. We took them to the beach a few times and it was like trying to control a load of little monkeys. I won’t lie to you – it was very hard work but it was also extremely rewarding, forming relationships with these children who often had to be coaxed into joining in with the games and activities. On the last day, we gave out certificates and had a little picnic in the class. Zoe and I both ended up in tears, as we nostalgically said goodbye to them and hoped to see some of them return the following year. In my case, the tears were part relief that I had survived the summer….

Steve asked if I would be interested in working during the following summer and I agreed, as this would fit in between the first and second years of my contract in Poland. I had thoroughly enjoyed my time in Brighton and was quite sad to leave.

Yes, thanks to the Lord’s help and support, I had a wonderful summer, made some new friendships and it had given me enough confidence to take my next big step – I would be off to Poland in September.

I hope you're enjoying this sunny weather while it lasts. Stay safe and well and remember that Jesus loves you.

Ann ❤

Hello everyone. It’s been over a week since my last update, as Kev took a few days off for the Bank Holiday weekend. We managed to get to Morecambe and Heysham on Friday, where the weather allowed us to have a decent walk. On Saturday, we had a meal at a Turkish restaurant we have been meaning to try for ages and it was really good. Our first date was at a Turkish restaurant, so that brought back some nice memories.

I remember I was telling you about my training in Bournemouth as a Missionary Teacher of English. I got my qualification in December 2014, and returned to my temporary job as PA to the Clinical Director of an adult psychiatric unit in Manchester. I really enjoyed this job but my ambition was to use my teaching qualification abroad. I had previously contacted the language school in Poland and was given a Skype interview in the following February. I was offered a two-year contract, to start in September 2015 but I hadn’t taught since my time in China over seven years ago and I felt that my confidence needed a boost with some teaching in this country before I went.

I researched Christian English schools and there were only two in the country – both on the south coast, one in Bournemouth and the other in Brighton. I wrote to them both, enquiring whether there was any possibility of my doing some work for them during the summer. I set my hopes on the school in Bournemouth, as I had really enjoyed my time there during my training and now had a few contacts. I was disappointed in that respect, though, because I never heard back from them but I did receive a lovely reply from Steve, the Director of Olivet School in Brighton. He offered me two months’ work during the summer, and he did this without so much as a phone call, much less a face-to-face meeting! His reasoning was that I had trained at ITN and that was good enough for him. I was amazed and delighted with his response and happily looked forward to June, when I was due to start my new adventure.

Steve also arranged for me to stay with a lovely local Christian called Mary, who I became good friends with. She was around my age, single, and we had quite a lot in common. She lived in a terraced house in Hove, and I grew to love that area. I actually stayed with Mary for the three summers I worked in Brighton. I had such mixed feelings, though! I had to give my notice in at work and was really sorry to leave this office where I had been so happy for about 18 months. My colleagues were wonderful and I had enjoyed the work too. I also had to give notice on my rented apartment – a lovely place with a balcony overlooking the canal. I had such treasured memories of my six years living there.

Saying goodbye to my church was hard, too. I had made friends there and really felt that I fitted in. I actually met Kev, my husband, at this church but at the time we were only friends. Once he knew of my plans, he was extremely helpful to me, offering to store some items for me at his apartment. He actually said, “I can store a few books for you, if you like” and he probably lived to regret those words, as my possessions eventually took over most of his space!😀 I knew, even then, what a special man he was but didn’t think that a relationship would figure in my plans to conquer the world!

Kev asked if he could take me for a meal before I left for Brighton, and that’s when we went to a Turkish restaurant. He scrubbed up well and we had a lovely evening, eating and drinking and talking. I was due to leave for Brighton within a week and I had such a lot of stuff to sort out and Kev was my rock at that time, as he still is.

I left my flat in June 2015 and travelled to Brighton by coach. Kev and I texted each other all the way down there – he was supposed to be working that day! Mary met me at the coach station in Brighton and took me back to my home for the next two months. I was due to start work at Olivet the following day. My adventure had begun.

Writing this blog is so good for me. I don't always feel like doing it - I sometimes feel lazy or think I don't know what to write. But, I pray beforehand and I am convinced the Lord gives me the words to say. Writing my story reminds me yet again how good God has been to me. He has watched over me all my life - even when I didn't really have much time for Him. He has guided me to do His work and is always with me and I am so very grateful to Him. He even blessed me with the gift of a wonderful husband, although poor Kev had to be patient with me for a long time before we eventually married!

As always, I wish you well. I wish you to be safe, healthy and loved - because, never forget you are very much loved.

Take care

Ann x