I am knuckling down and doing today what I have neglected for far too long: an update. To be honest, I've been so busy that I was shocked to discover how long it's been since I've posted on my news blog, and I'm going to work on remedying the situation in the weeks to come.
At St. Hilda's Church, and the two rural schools (St. Hilda's and St. Barnabas'), we have been completely in the swing of things since early-to-mid September. On September 22 we began a new Sunday schedule and a new weekly schedule.
The new Sunday schedule involved a change in our morning service of Holy Communion from 11 AM to 10 AM, and we also added an Evensong service at 5 PM. This has meant several things for me personally. First, I am present in Georgeville all Sunday, preparing and leading services and visiting with people in between. Second, because of the new conflict in service times, Juan and Maria spend their Sundays exclusively in San Ignacio at St. Andrew's Church, and they do not come over and assist us in Georgeville on Sunday. Third, the musicians from San Ignacio don't come over anymore to Georgeville either, so I have been preparing all the hymns and music, and we are usually singing everything a capella or having me play guitar. Fourth, rather than preaching once every three weeks (rotating with Juan and the lay evangelist), I am preaching twice a week. Putting all these pieces together, things are going well, but my weekly workload has gone up tremendously on account of these changes to our Sunday schedule.
The weekly schedule has also had a considerable change. On September 22 we began gathering for Morning Prayer each day at 7:30 AM; and, although the bus schedule is convoluted and unreliable, I've been able to make the half-hour trek every morning without fail. I love it: not only is prayer happening in a big way in our church community, but it puts me present at the school(s) every day to interact with principals, teachers, students, and neighbors. I don't think we have even begun to see the long-term benefit that this may have in our church and community as we seek God's face together. Attendance has been variable: sometimes I'm alone, some mornings we have had fifty (yes, fifty!) gathered to pray, listen, and worship. Please keep these moments of prayer in your prayers.
The other activities of the week have also started up. I have weekly devotions with the teachers at alternating schools, and I meet for chapel with the students at our two schools every other week. Monday mornings I have begun tutoring the graduating class of St. Hilda's in mathematics, since their teacher resigned this month and will not be replaced before the New Year. I also go over to San Ignacio every couple of weeks to help with music and teaching at the St. Andrew's school chapel, and I have occasionally been counseling students there with various problems. We have begun an Adult Bible Study on Wednesday 6:30 PM, and though attendance has been small it has also been consistent, and I see it as a launching point for future leadership in the church. We continue to meet for fun activities with the children of Georgeville on Thursday nights, and in the other spaces of the week I occasionally have time for friends, for books or movies, for dates, or for quiet reflection.
We've had some big days recently as well! Here in Belize the celebration of the Harvest is a big thing, and children will bring a gift into the church as first-fruits of the harvest to give thanks to the Lord in grand Englishs style. This is particularly practiced at our schools: St. Barnabas' had its Harvest celebration on October 18, and St. Hilda's on October 25th. The church is intensely decorated, and as the children process by class to the front of the church to present their gifts before the Lord, we sing traditional Harvest/Thanksgiving hymns. The gifts usually are then given for a charitable purpose. This coming Sunday we will be having a baptism, and two weeks later (November 17) we will celebrate St. Hilda's Day with food and t-shirts and (hopefully) visits from Anglican churches all around our area. And, before we know it, Christmas will be upon us!
Does this sound like a lot? It is. A couple of weeks ago, I realized that though I am getting everything done that needs being done, I do not have a lot of margin in my life. A lack of margin brings with it stress, and in my case, can make me prone not only to frustration but also to lack of communication. I need time to process what's going on in my life, and if I don't have margin I can't do it enough. So, in the last few weeks I have been making margin in my time a priority, and I have been feeling better emotionally, and physically as a result. Please pray that I continue to do this, and remind me to give you an update if I don't get to it!
Additionally, please pray that the Lord provides the financial means for me to purchase a truck or other all-terrain vehicle. Walking and taking the bus are great ways to get around, but the unreliability of transportation adds to the stress of travel and to the time needed to get from Point A to Point B. God has provided almost half (just over $2,000) of the minimum funds I need to acquire a vehicle. Please pray that he provides the rest.
And finally, please simply continue to keep me and our ministry here in your prayers. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the Devil, the Flesh, and the World, and they have begun manifesting their wrath in our community against the purpose of our Father, the purchase of the Son, and the power of the Spirit. Our victory is assured by the blood of the Lamb, but we here must persevere and overcome by giving witness to Jesus Christ, by being devoted to his Word, and by fearlessly constant in prayer. Please pray that God would come to our aid, sustain us in our fight, and make us faithful and disciplined followers of Jesus Christ.
And congratulations for making it to the end of this super-long post! Have a great week!