Let it Snow!

It’s been snowing a lot here at Gaines, which means Winter is officially here! There’s still been quite a bit going on, even without any groups here – read on to find out what we’ve been up to! Thank you so much to those of you who support me; if you feel able, you can financially support me here.

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Verse for November

Romans 3v23-24: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

We’re studying Romans in home groups at Church at the moment, and this verse has stuck with me a lot recently. On the one hand because it’s so HUMBLING. Paul (who wrote Romans) has just spent the whole of his letter up to this point explaining why everyone is totally undeserving of God’s grace and we all fall so far short of God’s standard because He is a holy God and we are sinful people. And secondly because it gives such HOPE. God sent Jesus to die on the cross to show his amazing grace, so we could be redeemed and brought back into perfect relationship with our Father for all eternity.

Day 285

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Team bonding a few weeks ago was throwing out some of our old beds and mattresses from Little Gaines… which was actually a lot of fun!

Day 286

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I went along to Worcester CU’s Weekend Away for the day on the Saturday. It was great to be able to spend time with the members of the Christian Union, and get excited with them about sharing the Gospel with their fellow students.

Day 289

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Neil and I went down to St George’s House (SGH), a Christian outdoor centre in North Devon, for a couple of days to meet up with the teams from SGH, Fellowship Afloat and CYE (all Christian outdoor centres). We enjoyed fellowship, teaching, sharing of ideas, and of course surfing! Although you won’t spot us in the photo, as we wanted to head back to be able to go to MMTC on the Thursday.

Day 296

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The boys have been hard at work clearing and tidying where the Conservatory was, as well as painting the new lean-to, and it’s looking great!

Day 302

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It’s been pretty cold here recently, including ice on the lake! While the boys have been working on the various maintenance projects around the house and grounds, I’ve been busy in the office updating activity plans, as well as getting stuck into all things housekeeping (who knew there were so many different types of light bulbs?!)

Day 305

We all went up to Nottingham for the termly meet up of the ‘West’ and ‘East’ centres for MMTC, which was ‘Book in a Day’ on the letter of James in the New Testament taught by Rupert Standring. It was such a good, helpful and challenging day for us all.

Day 311

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Good progress is being made in Room 2: painting, kitchen units being fitted and electrics being sorted have all been happening since my last update. We hope and pray that this self-contained flat will be finished very soon!

Day 313

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We headed up to Nottingham to help out with two of the ‘Christmas Experiences’ Crossteach are running at various schools across the city, to teach kids about the true meaning of Christmas. (You might remember we helped out with Crossteach’s ‘Easter Experience’ in March.) The kids had three interactive stations where they had to find out the identity of the baby, then advise ‘Joe’ whether he should stay with Mary, who was having a baby that wasn’t his; Joe certainly looked the part as King Herod! It was great to see these mostly un-churched kids engage with who the Bible says Jesus is.

Coming up…

Continuing work in Room 2, New Year House Party (including planning and decorating the house) and time off over the Christmas period.

Please Pray!

  • That we would all be keeping our eyes, hearts and minds fixed on the Gospel, especially as there are fewer groups and people around on site
  • Thanks for all the maintenance and admin work we’ve managed to get done; in order to improve the fabric of the building and the running of things, so that more young people can hear the Gospel
  • That the students at Worcester CU would be excited about sharing the Gospel with others and would actually go and do it!
  • Thanks for the 60-70 people who attended the CU Carol Service this week, pray that they would consider the true meaning of Christmas
  • For the young people who will come on New Year House Party; that they would have a good time, but more importantly hear and respond to God’s Word
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25 things Living at Gaines Teaches you (and you now think are totally normal)

  1. Getting annoyed when a kid beats you at any game because you’re actually more competitive than they are
  2. At least one kid losing a shoe in the lake every time you do rafting
  3. Having a bonfire every Friday night is totally normal right?!
  4. There never being the right number of pillows and duvets in each bedroom at the end of a weekend (how does that even happen?!)
  5. Finding mugs in completely random places when you clean the main house
  6. Only realising your car is quite dirty when you go to the supermarket…
  7. Playing chase the delivery driver round the house EVERY time there’s a delivery
  8. Waiting for a pheasant to cross the road almost every time you drive anywhere
  9. Having to drive everywhere
  10. Being totally spoilt with acres of grounds
  11. Not being surprised when you get stuck behind a tractor
  12. Secretly really enjoying having Mondays off, knowing that almost everyone else is at work
  13. It being totally acceptable to not leave the house all day on a day off
  14. Trying to explain what you do to pretty much anyone and them not really getting it
  15. Not caring what you wear because let’s face it there’s no one to impress – you live in the middle of nowhere
  16. Jumping completely out of your skin when you see the cat (if you’ve worked at Gaines, you know which cat I’m referring to!)
  17. Feeling a little bit out of place when you go into town because you haven’t seen so many people in one place since… well the last time you were in town
  18. Having a stack of tesco crates higher than you outside the kitchen
  19. Wearing at least 100 layers in the office in winter
  20. Getting weirdly excited when you visit friends or family that there’s a supermarket less than a 15 minute drive away
  21. Playing pothole bingo on a regular basis
  22. Walking all round the house to find the one person you need to speak to
  23. The constant soundtrack of cows or reversing vehicles from the farm
  24. Having an equal love and hatred of the A44
  25. Chasing the geese…

Farewell Groups: Hello Winter!

We’ve had our last weekend groups of 2017 (well it’s a bit cold for rafting now!), so we’re into a period of maintenance and development – read on to see what we’ve been up to. Thank you to those of you who support and partner with me – in prayer, relationally and financially – it’s hugely appreciated. If you feel able, you can financially support me here.

Verse for October

Hebrews 12v1b-2: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, running the race he has given us becomes so much easier; something it’s often easy to forget, and yet makes all the difference in ministry!

Day 250

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At the beginning of October, we welcomed the youth group from St Stephen’s church, Birmingham (the same church where we have MMTC). The teaching was on understanding the gospel and being equipped to share it with friends – practical and helpful for everyone! Highlights of the weekend included: the usual Friday night bonfire (complete with smores!), craft, combat archery, air rifles, a walk in the countryside and a murder mystery.

Day 253

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A few weeks ago, the drive looked like this…

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…but it now looks like this; nice and level and without any potholes: a smoother ride for those visiting Gaines!

Day 257

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Our final weekend group of 2017 was the youth from Kensington Baptist, Bristol; we enjoyed a packed out meeting room, with around 50 of them staying with us. It was a pretty full on weekend with so many people onsite (and to cook for!). But it was a joy, as always, to open up God’s Word with the young people, which was ancient wisdom from the book of Proverbs – still relevant to us today. We were thankful to be blessed with great weather, meaning we could spend time outside, and highlights included: combat archery, a bonfire, crocker, ice skating, lacrosse and a walk in the beautiful surrounding countryside!

Day 269

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Several of us from the Gaines team were involved in the Holiday Bible Club that Woodgreen Church ran over half term. If you can’t tell from the photo, the church was transformed to be ‘Under the Sea’! We were looking at the life of Jonah, and how we similarly run away from God and what he commands us to do, but thankfully Jesus came as the better Jonah to free us from our sin – and didn’t run away, but faithfully obeyed God.

Emily and Chris were our hosts (complete with wetsuits, swimming hats, life jackets and nose pegs!) and there was even a lobster costume involved as well! It was great to be involved in leading a small group and seeing the children better understand what Jesus has done for them.

Day 276

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The boys have been busy taking the conservatory down, so that the building can be better weather-proofed over the winter.

Meanwhile in the office I’ve been busy with lots of admin, including looking at several of the different aspects involved with the activities we run, as well as various housekeeping tasks and bookings for the coming year.

Day 280

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I’ve loved being involved at Woodgreen since I’ve arrived at Gaines, so have now become a Church member. Part of this involvement has been with After Eights: the students and 20s group, which has seen a lot of growth over the last year – so encouraging! You can see the excited bunch we are in the photo on the first session of term!

I’ve been settling into MMTC (Midlands Ministry Training Course) which has been continuing on Thursdays. We’ve now finished going through John’s gospel, and we’re just starting to put into practice some of the things we’ve been learning as we look at how to teach 1 Thessalonians to others.

Student work with the Christian Union at Worcester is also going well: they had their first session of the Alpha course this week, with many non-Christians attending – praise God! And pray He would be at work in their lives to bring them to Himself.

Day 282

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In my last update, the plaster board in Room 2 had gone up, and now it’s plastered! The boys have also been busy sanding, before it’s painted and the kitchen appliances go in.

Coming up…

Planning for New Year House Party, lots of maintenance around the house, and various admin tasks.

Please Pray!

  • To remember that the Gospel is great news and fix our eyes on Jesus, even when we have fewer groups coming through the doors
  • Praise God for gap years already interested for September 2018 (and some girls!)
  • Praise God for the provision of a woman at church to do a one to one Bible study with
  • To use the time we have over this winter period well: for maintenance projects and planning for the year ahead (bookings, activities and Bible teaching)
  • Praise God for over 100 children hearing about Jesus during Holiday Bible Club at church
  • For God to be at work in the lives of those who have attended the Alpha course run by the CU

New Year – Same God

Sorry for the long silence – never quite managed to find the time to sit down and write this until now! As we start a new academic year at Gaines, with changes in team and where my time is focused, I’m so thankful to be serving the God that doesn’t change; he’s always the same, he’s always faithful: “You are the same, and your years have no end” Psalm 102v27

We’re back into the swing of things after the summer, with several groups coming to us in the next few weeks, read on to see what we’ve been up to! Thank you for your support; if you feel able to you can support me financially here.

Verse for September:

A new slot… for a verse (or two) I’ve found particularly helpful over the past month.

1 Thessalonians 2v19-20: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”

Why? Our treasure in heaven is seeing those we’ve had the privilege of sharing the gospel with in glory – how exciting and incredible is that?!

Day 204

After all the craziness of camps over the summer, we all enjoyed some well deserved time off and rest; which included holidays, seeing family and visiting friends.

Day 211

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I passed my Level 2 assessment! Which means we can now offer kayaking on our lake at Gaines! On assessment day we were blessed with beautiful  sunshine and lots of willing participants to be coached – you can see me in action during the kayaking session I had to be observed coaching.

Day 212

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Forum (UCCF’s annual conference for CU leaders) was a great way to kick start the year as an Associate Staff Worker in Worcester with UCCF: four days of camping in the rolling Shropshire countryside with fantastic Bible teaching and being equipped alongside the CU leaders from across the country. You can see me and Sophie (Staff Worker for Worcester) looking so excited for the year ahead for what God is going to do at Worcester uni, but a little worse for wear after four days of camping!

Day 218

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Back to work! Which for me has mostly involved lots of admin (which I actually really enjoy…). Work has also been progressing on Room 2 – have a look back at May at Gaines! to see what it looked like a few months ago; although I can’t take any of the credit – that’s mostly been Joe. There’s now a ceiling and the walls are insulated and plaster boarded – ready to be plastered, then painted – more photos to follow in my next update!

Day 230

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Wedding time! It was a joy to be bridesmaid for my friend, and be involved in their special day.

Day 232

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As a full-time team we went away for a few days together in September; it was nice to spend time with each other away from all things Gaines-related. We then dropped Zoe (who’s been helping out at Gaines over the summer) off at Cardiff uni on the way back – it was sad to see her go, but I’m sure she’ll have a great time and be back before we know it!

Day 235

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Thursday 21st of September marked the long-awaited first day of MMTC (Midlands Ministry Training Course). Three of the other guys at Gaines are also doing the course this year, so it’s good to be able to go together. Each week we travel up to Birmingham and receive Bible teaching on books of the Bible, doctrine and other topics relevant to Christian ministry. It’s exciting to be able to join with others from across the region to be equipped to better understand and teach the Bible.

Day 239

Thomas arrived from Germany to join us for his gap year; we hope and pray he learns and grows in his Christian faith as he serves God here at Gaines over the coming year.

Day 243

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We had our first of a run of four groups in at the weekend: St John’s, Lindow from near Manchester. The teaching was from Proverbs, seeing how 3000 year old wisdom is still relevant today; as ever it was a joy to be able to open up God’s Word with the young people. Other highlights from the weekend included: combat archery (the girls were pretty happy about beating the boys!), graffiti, an afternoon of very competitive games, air rifles, and a murder mystery in which they all very much got into character! Pray for what they heard from the Bible to sink into their minds and hearts as they return home.

 

Coming up…

Three more groups over the next few weekends; and various maintenance projects, particularly Room 2.

Please Pray!

  • For us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and his great gospel, and not to forget that the reason we run Gaines is for God’s glory
  • For us to faithfully teach God’s Word to the groups that come
  • Thanks for MMTC: it’s such a blessing to be able to receive faithful Bible teaching each week and to meet people of a similar age who also want to learn and grow in their walk with God
  • Safety for all the maintenance work taking place

It’s all about the Camps

We’ve been in full-on summer camp mode here at Gaines and elsewhere (read on to find out where!) If you feel able you can support me here.

Camp XL (the overall charity that Gaines is part of) run three summer camps at Gaines: Escape, Breakout and Ignition – read on to find out how they went! You can also see more photos on Camp XL’s facebook and twitter, as I couldn’t put them all on here!

The summer camps are such a great opportunity to share our hope of God’s great gospel with children and young people from across the country – that’s why we spend so long planning and preparing for them!

Day 182

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Escape was the first camp we ran and Cap’n Joe was leading the ship – although he seems to have lost his pirates in the above photo! Activities throughout the week included air rifle shooting, paracord keyrings, rafting, a trip to Drayton Manor, wide games, woodwork, combat archery, treasure chests, tie-dye t-shirts and pirate-themed baking among others!

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The teaching on both Escape and Breakout was on Judges and Ruth: there were small group Bible studies in dorm groups in the mornings, and evening teaching meetings altogether with games, singing, interviews and a talk. It was such a privilege to delve into God’s word with the young people and help them understand it better.

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‘Late Night’ was a big hit, which included lots of silly games: pop-up pirate extreme, a mass game of rock, paper, scissors (above), Davy Jones’ Locker, 100 metre mermaid, walk the plank, and lots of other food related games too!

Day 189

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I was Cap’n Rachel for our second camp: Breakout. But you’ll be glad to know I didn’t wear those glasses all week!

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Everything was pirate themed for every camp, and the campers were in dorm groups for each week: Blackbeards, Davy Jones’, Jolly Rogers and Long John Silvers. Above, the Long John Silvers are taking part in one of the games in Captain Hook’s Training Circuit! Other activities throughout the week included: tie-dye t-shirts, air rifle shooting, pirate-themed baking, combat archery, wide games in the woods, rafting, bushcraft, a pirate murder mystery, archery, graffiti, a trip to Drayton Manor and more!

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There was lots of time to get alongside the young people, due to the small numbers, and even despite some illness going round! Small groups were again a great place to open up God’s Word with the young people, pray that God would bring fruit and we’d see them in glory.

Day 196

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I got the opportunity to go on one of Camp XL’s other camps: Waverider, a surf Camp in (mostly) sunny Polzeath in Cornwall; although it did mean I missed being part of Ignition back at Gaines. But I love the sea and (almost) anything to do with water, so it was a great way to round off the summer!

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Days were filled with surfing, coasteering, kayaking, Bible studies, BBQs, competition games, cake, evening teaching meetings and cream teas. Numbers are deliberately kept small on surf camp, which creates a real family feel. The teaching was a Bible overview, which was a really helpful way for the campers to better understand the Bible, the gospel and how that should affect the way they live their lives. They were all really open to talking about the Bible and had lots of questions, which was such an encouragement to witness.

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Meanwhile on Ignition… the re-enactment of King Eglon! There were nearly 30 kids aged 8 to 11 who enjoyed activities from air rifle shooting to team games, and rafting to combat archery. But most importantly they got to hear God’s Word from Joshua, Judges and Ruth.

Day 200

Wasn’t actually spent at Gaines, but was filled with kayaking, time on the beach and a walk with the campers to the cove on the last full day of Waverider!

Day 203

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Time to say goodbye to Bethany and Sally who have been on the gap year: the time has flown by, but it’s been so great to have them here at Gaines, seeing them grow and develop in their faith and leadership has been a joy and a blessing to witness – they will definitely be missed! They’re both off to uni in September – wishing them the best of luck, but I’m sure they’ll be back before we know it!

Coming up…

Rest and time off! I also have my kayaking assessment on Monday, which if I pass will mean we can do kayaking on the lake with groups. Then I’m straight off to Forum (UCCF’s annual conference for CU leaders) after that, as part of my role as Associate Staff Worker with Worcester Christian Union. And we’re all back in the office in September, with several groups coming to us in October.

Please Pray!

  • For all the kids that heard God’s Word over the summer – pray that they wouldn’t just remember the activities they did on camp, but they’d remember something of God’s great gospel
  • Thank you for all the volunteers who have (often sacrificially) helped us over the summer at Gaines, particularly on the camps
  • For good rest as the Gaines team have some time off
  • For my kayaking assessment
  • To be encouraged and spurred on for the year ahead by the teaching at Forum

Summer Craziness!

On Sunday our first camp starts and I’ll have also been at Gaines for 6 months – time flies! Thank you so much for taking time reading this. If you feel able to support me, you can do so here. And don’t forget to check out Gaines on facebooktwitter and instagram!

Day 159

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Our fourth weekend group in a row was a new group to us from a church in Stafford, and it was great to have them with us! The teaching was from Colossians – The Greatest Ever King; looking at Jesus is always encouraging and challenging – no matter how many times we hear it! Activities included the usual Friday night bonfire with marshmallows, rafting (it got competitive with boys vs girls!), air rifles (which became equally competitive), murder mystery evening, mug decorating in the sun, and combat archery (pictured above).

Day 162

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39 girls and their teachers from Lady Margaret School in London enjoyed a full on pirate-themed week. It kicked off with an afternoon of inflatables, which were a lot of fun – and yes Joe did dress like that for the whole week!

The teaching took a slightly different form to normal: we had small groups in the mornings with a mixture of upfront and discussion time, looking at ‘The World We All Want’ – how the world is not as it should be, why that is, that Jesus came to fix it, and by trusting in what Jesus has done we can look forward to being in the New Creation with Him as King. It was incredible to see how open the girls were to God’s word.

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We did lots of activities with the girls, including rafting, tie dye t-shirts, combat archery, graffiti, air rifles, a trip to Drayton Manor and much more! It was also great to have a couple of last year’s gap team back to help out.

It was a tiring week (as you can see from the team photo above!) but it was so amazing to be able to share the gospel with mostly un-churched girls.

Day 170

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Bethany and Sally enjoyed the two canoeing sessions we did on a lake the other side of Worcester. I’ve now finished all of my canoeing and kayaking sessions – so I’m now almost ready to go for assessment!

Day 174

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St George’s, another new group to us, enjoyed a Bible and activity-filled few days with us. We did an extended teaching programme in Ephesians, looking at God’s big plan to unite all things under Christ, as well as Paul’s 2 prayers. It was great to see the kids in my small group engaging with and thinking about what the Bible says, which produced lots of questions towards the end of their time with us! There was lots of time to do activities with them as well, which included: wide games, graffiti, rafting, mug decorating, combat archery, film night, ultimate Frisbee, team games, combat archery and more!

In our spare (?!) moments between groups we’ve been doing the very final preparations for summer camps: decorations are up, programmes are finished, Bible talks are written, all we need now are the kids!

Coming up…

Summer camps! Escape starts on Sunday, Breakout the following Sunday, and Ignition the Sunday after that!

Please Pray!

  • For all the kids coming on summer camps, that they would engage with God’s Word (we’re looking at Judges and Ruth), be challenged and transformed by it
  • That all of the leaders: Gaines team and those coming to help over the summer, would model the gospel to the kids on camps. Pray for us to be gracious, loving and patient towards each other and the kids
  • For all of the those who have heard the gospel at Gaines over the past month or so, that God’s word would be continuing to impact, challenge and change their lives

Summer is in Swing

We’ve been busy! The sun’s been shining here at Gaines and we’ve welcomed several groups since my last update, as well as a new team member! We’ve also been finishing off some maintenance projects and doing final preparations for summer camps. And you can support me here.

Day 138

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We welcomed St John’s Knutsford – the first of four weekend groups in a row. The teaching was on Colossians, and it was so encouraging to be able to open up the Bible with some of the girls and them wanting to do the same when they got home. Other highlights included: the hottest weekend so far; water games; toasting marshmallows on the bonfire while enjoying a beautiful sunset; rafting on the lake (only most people fell in…); and enjoying God’s creation from the top of the Malverns.

Day 144

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More painting! Up on the scaffold to paint the top half of the the PA room and the ceiling.

Day 145

A regular occurrence in our calendar is the youth group from St Botolphs, Barton Seagrave. I was mostly helping out in the kitchen, but another weekend of warm weather was enjoyed – rafting on the lake was a definite highlight, as was the murder mystery. The teaching was on Proverbs: seeing how God’s wisdom written through Solomon 3000 years ago is still relevant to us today. And combat archery was a great way to finish off their time with us!

Day 149

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My labour of love: now all painted and ready for the shelves to go in!

Day 151

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I’ve been busy working on my kayaking qualification (Level 2) so we can get kayaking up and running on the lake with groups. Part of it includes doing some coaching sessions – Bethany and Sally have been my participants, and we even had an audience for the second session in the rain!

Day 152

dads & lads

A slightly different weekend to normal as we welcomed 8 fathers with their sons for our very first Dads & Lads weekend! Activities included archery, smores round the bonfire, sport, air rifles, combat archery and bushcraft in the woods (more fires); which enabled the dads to spend time with their lads doing things that boys like to do! The teaching was on father and son relationships in the Bible: Solomon, Abraham and Noah, as well as looking at the Biblical roles of fathers and sons from Ephesians 6. Small groups were the dads reading the Bible together with their lads – pray that this has continued after the weekend. We were also blessed to have some lovely volunteers come and run the kitchen for us for the weekend!

Our team selfie shows that at least the girls are enjoying the bonfire…! And you can even spot Neil in the back left: he’s our newest full time member of staff!

Day 156

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Our new activity storage is all finished and in use!

In between making shelves, painting, kayaking and welcoming groups onsite, we’ve been finishing up preparations for our summer camps: decorations, teaching programmes, wide games etc.

Days off have included relaxing at Droitwich Lido on the hottest day of the year, going to see the tennis at Wimbledon, seeing friends and catching up on sleep!

Coming up…

We’ve got a youth group coming this weekend, before 42 girls from a girls school in London come for the week on their school residential; then a youth group from London are coming for 4 days, before we’re into our 3 summer camps in a row: Escape, Breakout and Ignition!

Please Pray!

  • For us to remember we’re serving God and sharing HIS Gospel
  • For us to continue to grow in unity as a team as we share the gospel with well over 150 kids in the next six weeks
  • For us not to get caught up in the business of preparation and groups, but to fix our eyes on what is ahead: eternity spent with the King – as we’ve been reminded of as a team by studying Philippians together in devotions
  • Thank you for the team God has provided us over the summer, with lots of volunteers coming to help on camps
  • Energy!