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Monday, 26 April 2010

Appeals and Gods provision

Alan and I have been completely blown away this past week watching God provide for us. On Monday, the 19th Alan and I drove to London to meet with the legal team at the Christian Legal Centre - the legal organization behind Christian Concern for our Nation. We were referred to them by Fiona Bruce's husband, a christian solicitor in Alans old church at the Foundry. We were working with a case manager there, Mr. Onn Sein Kon and he has been wonderful to us. They dedicated Monday for us to come and talk about our case against my employer and fortunately Alan was able to get the day off to go with me.

Our meeting lasted almost four hours with us both giving testimony as to how things are run at STF and how we've been treated as well as speaking directly to the complaint filed against me. Co-founder of Concern for our Nation and Director of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams was able to join us for the better part of the meeting and it was her opinion that we should try and go and resolve our dispute directly with the directors with the hope that the unfair dismissal could be squashed and I be reinstated. If not, she seemed to think we should fight hard against the company and not allow how I and so many others have been treated to continue. Alan and I were incredibly humbled by the interest our case has received and by the intelligent and highly capable christians God has brought alongside to help us. We left the meeting overwhelmed by His provision.

On Tuesday I took the train to meet Alan after he got off work so we could go and see the directors. They did not look happy to see us but did agree after Alan told them we were there because God told us to come. It was our goal not to take my dismissal through the courts but to resolve it in a christian way but after our talk with the chairman it was clear there was nothing we were going to say or do that was going to change her mind about us. We had betrayed her when we stopped attending and volunteering at her chapel service in favor of attending a local church and in her mind it was unimaginable and unforgiveable. I think we both just felt sorry for her and all of the unforgiveness that she holds so dear to her heart. We told her we forgave her and all those that had tried to slander my name and that we loved them very much but in the end we left and awaited my appeal.

Wednesday night we went to housegroup and asked everyone to pray for us. Not only did they pray but they also agreed to meet and pray during the exact hours of my appeal the following morning. We are so grateful for christian brothers and sisters who stand by you through difficult times.

The appeal was held on Thursday morning. I was glad when it was just the member of the board of trustees and us because if Helen had been there she would have more than likely continued her deceit. We had prayed that lying tongues be shut and for me this was an answer to prayer. She was made available to us if we needed her but I didn't think it would be necessary. It was important for me that the member of the board hear our story and then we were simply going to trust the situation to God and to the board. If they wanted to change the organization then they could do it. I was not foolish enough to think anything I did would effect much change.

Our legal team at Christian Legal Centre helped us write a ten page statement that I was to read. About half way through the board member just said to me, "what is it that you want?" He said he had the power to squash the CEO's decision to fire me, overturn it and impose some other penalty like a warning or uphold the decision. I told him I wanted my name cleared and I did not want to return to the company. I told him Alan wanted to leave as well and would accept a redundancy if offered. It's Monday now and we haven't heard anything yet. I anticipate hearing in the next couple of days and their response will determine whether we go to tribunal or not. If the decision is upheld then we will definitely go because it's clear I've done nothing that warrants being dismissed.

Other than my appeal, we enjoyed two housegroups in a row - the one Wednesday night at Sam and Mercy's and the one at our house Thursday night. Alan encouraged me to teach part of the study and I really enjoyed doing it. Alan complimented me about how well I did which made me feel good. It was a good group that came out - Hannah was able to join us and she brought her mom and Ashley as well. Mihai and Simona, Karen and Alan and Michael and us rounded out the group. Only one more study in J.Jon's The Lord's Prayer and then we're going to shift to doing a book of the bible we think.

Friday night I told Hannah I would come and help out at youth. Alan had to work late on Friday so I went by myself and it was such a great time. I just love our youth group and how they are living for Jesus. Friday nights are the times when lost kids all over Birkenhead can also join in and so there must have been around 40 that came that night. The church has a pool table and a couple of WII's, plenty of board games, a play station, ping pong table, etc. The youth leaders sort'of monitor everything and then lead big group games starting around 9:30. I didn't end up leaving til 11 and I was exhausted!

Saturday we just relaxed here (Alan worked on his boat) and then we went for date night to Pizza Express at Cheshire Oaks. Only cost us .75p with my £30 of Tesco voucher coupons so we were happy about that! :) Yesterday Simona and Mihai joined us for lunch here after church. We had mexican fajitas and then went to the beach to fly our kite. It was a fun day and we are grateful to know both of them. We love how much they love Jesus!

Today I started considering part-time jobs. Well actually I'd been considering them for a while but today I started re-doing my resume in preparation for actually searching for some. Alan wants me to get a job in Liverpool but I'd rather do almost anything than work in Liverpool! He asked me what I wanted to do and I said work in a bakery or at the medical office here in Moreton! :P He laughed and suggested I work at Tesco which I actually might consider if we can get discounts on groceries by doing so! :))

Well clothes to fold and dinner to prepare so I better run. More later...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Pioneering to the heart of Europe

Last night Alan and I, along with Bob and Joan from Hillside, met with Steve Ludwig and Paul Lowe from the UK office of Pioneers for dinner in Manchester. It was a discovery meeting for both sides. Did we think Pioneers was a good fit for us? Did they think we were a good fit for Pioneers?

We came away after a nice dinner still asking those questions but maybe not as strongly as before we met. I for one, came away more firmly knowing that God has called Alan and I to Germany (we believe to Heidelberg specifically) and to helping train, encourage and mobilize Germans to become missionaries to wherever God is calling them. We want to play hosts for those seeking short-term exposure to missions in Germany - whether that be a Teen Missions team, a church group from the states or the UK or individuals and teams sent through Pioneers. We also want to evangelize and disciple Germans, US Army Soldiers and the students that attend University there. At our foundation though is getting heavily involved in a local church. We liked the one we visited over Easter - Victory International and as such have sent email to the pastor there today trying to find out more and seek out His heart for the church and the people of Heidelberg.

Known as the "heart of Europe", Heidelberg lies approximately 80km south of Frankfurt which is in central Germany. The population is nearly 140,000 which is big in comparison to Athens. 1/5 of these are students - nearly 30,000 of them attend Heidelberg University and of this, roughly 5,000 are international students. 1/7 of the entire population are non-German nationals. There are at least two US army bases there and a NATO branch - one of which we saw on our way to church, the Mark Twain Army base. These bases give us great opportunity for reaching out to those that have had to relocate and are experiencing a combination of excitement for living in Europe with an anxiety for missing home, learning the language and culture and fitting in.

Heidelberg is gorgeous. It sits in the mountains and it's old town (altstadt) runs along the Rhine where there are a series of locks that let boats and barges go up and down the river. Above the town sits the Heidelberg Schloss (castle) which Alan says reminds him of the tower of Babel. Mark Twain describes it best though I think when he says, "Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes−improved it." In 1976 the streets in the old town were pedestrianized and the beautiful cobblestones stretch out against some of the most fantastic shops I've ever seen.

There are some exciting possibilities and so we continue to push doors in this direction and wait on God for more answers. He is good and faithful and we feel confident that we are on a path that could easily utilize both of our backgrounds, interests and gifts for His glory if He so chooses.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Christ is risen... He is risen indeed! Easter, Our First Wedding Anniversary and a Discovery trip to Germany

Alan and I were very fotunate to be able to go to Germany last weekend to celebrate Easter and our first wedding anniversary. We also wanted to use the time to investigate the country as somewhere we might like to relocate for missions work. Originally we had planned to go to Aachen, right over the border from Belgium but as we got closer to time I started really wishing we could visit Heidelberg. Even for just a day as it was the town I visited in college that I fell in love with and remains my favorite city in the world after nearly 20 years time. Unfortunately Heidelberg is in the center of the country and would mean another three hours of driving on top of the 11 Alan would have already had to drive to reach Aachen.

Of course being the loving and sweet husband that he is, he suggested we skip Aachen and go straight to Heidelberg and spend the entire weekend there checking things out. We didn't have a hotel lined up so when we got there we spent the better part of two hours trying to find something special and romantic yet CHEAP! :) We prayed a lot and eventually God led us to a wonderful little hotel in the center of Altstadt (old town) Heidelberg where we stayed two nights. They even had a fantastic restaurant next door which we tried our first night with traditional German food and drink. Alan had bratwurst and I had a mushroom linguini but Alans bratwurst was the best I've ever eaten. It didn't even taste like sausage!

Saturday we got up early and went for a long walk along the Rhine river and through town. We stopped at a bakery and got fresh bread and coffee/juice for breakfast and then found an internet cafe where we could locate a great English speaking church to celebrate Easter the next morning. We found one on the outskirts of town called Victory International and we took time to listen to the pastors online sermons and read his blog before getting directions and deciding that was the place we would go.

Saturday night we celebrated our anniversary, courtesy of Alans parents at a wonderful little restaurant where the people sitting next to us were Americans visiting from Virginia. We got to talking to them and they were very nice. Their trip reminded me of the trip dad and mom took LeeAnne and I on when we were young to Europe and dad said he'd never take us back again because we weren't that thrilled on seeing all the museums and stuff he had lined up. We wanted to do kid stuff instead and he was none too pleased with that! lol

Sunday we went to church and met tons of folks stationed in Heidelberg with the US army. There were far more americans there than I've seen since being in England. There was also a man who ran a homeless ministry, named Joe there and an English man who said God called him to Germany 30 years ago and he was excited to meet another Brit. Trey, the worship leader, spoke as the pastor and his wife were in America that week and the sermon was fantastic. He is very gifted but who equally impressed me Katrine who stood beside Trey and translated the entire sermon into German. She was fantastic.

After church we decided to drive part of the way back and in the end drove all the way to Calais and took an earlier ferry. It was a good thing we did as SeaFrance (competitors ferry) went on strike the next day and we may not have been able to get home. We stayed near Dover that night at a Holiday Inn Express and drove the rest of the way on Monday.

The last couple of days I've been washing all the clothes, cleaning the house, taking up running (lol), working in the garden, shopping, ironing, etc. Last night Alan and I went to Sam and Merci's for housegroup and it was fantastic. Merci shared her testimony of how the Lord saw her through her recent almost fatal illness in the hospital and then we had a great prayer time together. We are so excited about everything the Lord is doing at Hillside. We expect many more great things ahead.

Next Tuesday Ian, Bob, Alan and I go and meet Steve and another associate of his from Pioneers in Manchester for dinner to see if God may be calling us to join that ministry and possibly move to Germany as missionaries. We're excited and praying every day for His direction and guidance as we move forward.

Christ is risen... He is risen indeed! :)