Just got back tonight from the 2012 British Pilgrimage. We’ve just whipped up a slideshow of the 19 days of mission and pilgrimage.
of boat) on Iona after a long and dangerous crossing over the Irish Sea.
Each of us spent time reflecting on their courage and love for Christ in giving up their homeland to bring Christianity to the barbarian and fuding Picts of what would later be known as Scotland.
Each of us picked up a pebble from the beach as a reminder of what it costs to follow Christ ans serve others.
We also built a cairn (a pile of stones) as a symbol of Fusion going on from that place to reach out to the world. Some of us commented on the fact that it was smaller
than other cairns on the beach – a reminder that we are a small band of brothers and sisters trying to make a difference in our own communities.
After a gentle walk back we ate lunch and then walked to Iona Abbey. Many of us appreciated the serentiy and had space to seek God in a place that has seen millions of Pilgrims as well as many Scottish kings & Queens coronated. After some free time for shopping and coffee we gathered again on Maryrs Bay where Dan shared the horrors of a Viking attack where over 60 monks from the community were slaughtered. Again we paused to think of what it means to live a sacrificial life for Christ as we watched Dan & Danni’s kids play on the beatiful white sandy beach – a stark contrast from the horrors of the past.
After a walk back to camp we were treated to a burger & chips from the on-site burger van. Some then went back into town for the evening service and kayleigh! Many of us had an early night!
And so as the early morning sun broke through on our last day we de-camped once again and said our farewells to the special place that is the Isle of Iona.
Some of us paddled in the sea as we waited for the ferry and also waited, a little anxiously, for Bruce and Anne. In the end they missed the ferry, but thanks to a local boat trip we quickly recovered them plus Marty who waited on the other side for them to arrive.
So we looked back on this sainted isle, many for the last time as we prepared for the next leg of our adventure – a lively Edinburgh, where a comedy festival called the fringe was taking place. But more of that on our next Blog.
After a busy but very productive 6 days of mission and training the Pilgrims began the process of re-assembling. It wasn’t without it’s challenges. One of the coaches was 5 hours late and neither of the coaches could make it all the way up the forest track to the adventure centre in Dunoon – Glen Kin.
As you can imagine, transferring 80 suitcases plus food, tents, pa, etc was quite a challenge. We were very very grateful to a couple of locals who helped make it happen.
Midges were also quite a problem and many of us suffered from midge bites. That said despite all this plus the tiredness, the Pilgrims were in amazingly good spirits. There was hardly a dry eye as we reflected on the last 6 days of mission and the impact it had both on us and those we were reaching out to. There aren’t the words to express what was shared but hopefully the recent Blog posts has given you a glimpse.
On Sunday morning we were a lean mean de-camping machine and were soon on our way to Iona via a car ferry to Mull and a smaller foot passenger ferry to sunny Iona, where we set up camp, ate a delicious bolognase and began to transition to the significance of St. Patrick and St. Columba.
We also did some sign writing with our mobiles.
God is good and we’re on an amazing journey of discovering more of Him through our shared lives together in a beautiful and special place.
God has been doing great things in the group at Barton. After leaving Croydon we traveled to the village of Wheatley where we’ve been welcomed by very generous host homes. It’s been great sleeping in actual beds again and not having to take a bus to shower.
We’ve been doing work on an estate called Barton. There we work with local youths who most come from very impoverished families.They’ve been very welcoming to us outsiders and know us all by name. So far we’ve gone rock climbing, berry picking and jam making, and have put on a youth cafe each night. You can tell these kids really appreciate the attention and have enjoyed spending time with us just doing simple tasks.
We will be truly saddened when we leave tomorrow but we look forward to reuniting with the rest of the team as well as the pilgrimage.
Our final day was an OpenCrowd Festival on Ribbleton Park in East Preston.
After some worship, prayer and journaling we got into festival setup with the help of a handful of locals. At 12.50 we got all the tents up and at 1pm it rained, and rained and rained some more.
But were we discouraged? Not a bit of it, remarkably we had quite a crowd – probably 100 plus. The kids weren’t phased by the weather and when I suggested a numbering system for the mums patiently standing in the queue for face painting they just shrugged it off and said, it’s fine, we’re not going to get any wetter!
We were very proud of our Brazilian centre games team (plus Sam my son) who stuck with it through the showers and built the games and the Open Crowd nicely. Elaine dressed up as a clown and had lots of fun with the little kids.
I was especially proud (as was the whole team) with Hannah my daughter who was a human statue. She was surrounded most of the day by intrigued but fairly wild teenagers, but she wasn’t at all phased by them and she built a mini open crowd around her as the teenagers learned to respect her and interact with her in a positive way. We had a ‘make her laugh’ competition and she only laughed twice in three hours! One girl asked if I needed to check she was still alive when she practices at home! LOL
The biggest highlight of both the day and the week for me was that we invited the locals to sign up to help with a kids club and a youth cafe we’re aiming to start in the Autumn – 8 volunteers signed up! Both myself and Rev Peter were thrilled!
After a big sort out of soggy festival gear and a nice meal prepared by Annemarie (food has never tasted so good), we did a mini SWAT analysis on the festival and then all the team prayed for me and Annemarie – a very moving moment and real honour. We then watched a slideshow of the three days and then cleaned the mini bus while the Brazilians recorded some highlights from their time, as they leave us for London tomorrow We’re REALLY going to miss them all.
It’s been an exhausting but very satisfying and moving end to the mission placements – I think for all of us.
Our week in Balham, London, UK
The team arrived Thursday afternoon to prepare for a three day festival followed by three days of kids club. It was a lovely welcome by the local church who put on a wonderful spread of traditional English food and some ethnic delights as well.
Friday we knew things were going to be exciting when over 30 locals joined our team of 11 for mission training and festival briefing. The local church had committed much time and effort in promoting the festival across Balham and had received local council approval to block off the street.
Over 100 people came to experience an open crowd festival where the children of Balham were the stars, adults could become ‘big kids’ and every body was welcomed. Many watched from the edges, wondering what is this strange sight but gradually through our clowns and others, people found themselves drawn into the party.
One lady with two young kids said, “I live a few streets away and didn’t know this was on until I walked past. I went home, fed the kids, came back but we’ll just stay a few minutes for my son to get his face painted.” Two hours later they were still at the festival enjoying the atmosphere and the social connections.
The night ended with a huge screen outdoors on the street viewing the opening ceremony.
Day 2 was a cake bake competition and afternoon tea. Some returned from the day before, others were here for their first time. Again over 100 crowded into the church yard and enjoyed each other’s company. There was a real feel of community. Our team really focused on this day to train locals in clowning, balloon sculpturing, face painting, centre games, and technical roles like producing and MCing.
Day 3 was Messy Church. The locals knew what to do: demonstrate Kingdom values, allow people to let their natural child prevail, welcome the stranger, and ensure the kids are the stars in our community. Our team simply needed to be helpers on the day. By the end of the third day of festivals, everyone was singing or humming ‘Big Fat Pony.’
Our team had a day off on Monday and explored many sites around London.
Tuesday we ran our first kids club. For weeks and in particular over the last few days, children from all over Balham have been invited to this week’s kids clubs. Some of the kids that came yesterday have no previous contact with the local church. It was both fun and challenging with many in our team never done a kids club – especially the Brazilians on our team. Establishing a values based culture and the team harmonizing with each other were our biggest challenges.
Yesterday, Day 2 of 3, our kids club saw a huge difference in the culture and team harmony as we go about ensuring every child is seen and valued, have fun and feel safe, and our team – new as they are to kids club – feel a greater confidence in how it works and in their role. More kids came yesterday and even some parents joined in.
Today is our last day of kids club and service to the community of Balham. We have really grown to love this community and are encouraged to see hope rising. We expect even more kids today, a prevailing values based culture, and a real sense of community developing amongst the kids, parents, and community.
The team in Balham
Barton – First Day – Day Trip & Community Drop In
First day of the Pilgrimage Mission Outreach activities in Barton. Took a bunch of teens for an afternoon of rock climbing & group activities before we opened up a drop in space for the community in the evening. Around 30 people came to hang out, play games, get their face painted and make cards for craft. Really nice day. Looong day. Well worth it. Blessed.
East Preston – First Day – Kids Club
Last night we worked hard on the programme, allocating roles and buying / making resources. Well I’m pleased to say that today was remarkable. We were thinking we might only have a handful of kids but 30 showed up and we had a wonderful time.
The Champions programme produced by Liz Campbell from Fusion Jamaica is fabulous. The kids engaged really well with songs, games, crafts, stories, the drama and group discussion. They painted flags and paper plates (discus), made balloon towers, ate multicoloured doughnuts (Olympic rings!) – without licking their lips (well mostly), they played several olympic themed games, did the actions to songs, threw the discus and much much more.
We had a 3 volunteers from the local church help out and their reflections were very encouraging during the debrief. Rev Peter’s wife said she’d help us if we wanted to set up a weekly kids club – she’s an ex-school teacher – yay!
Tonight Dean lead a deeper reflection on Kids Clubs as part of a process of mission and we discussed and prayed through what it meant for each of us as we go back into our own communities. We also looked at the Goal of Kids Clubs and the different ways to achieve the same, or similar goals of delivering a values based programme.
BRAZILIAN TEAM PLACEMENT – DAY’S 1-3
(Dean and Kathy, Anika, Karolina, Elaine, Rodrigo, Ailton, Helton and Daniel) have spent 3 invigorating and successful days with the Comunidade Crista de Londres (Christian Community in London) Portuguese speaking (Brazilian) church in a suburb called Westbourne Park, which is near Paddington. They have their church in the middle of a community where 70% of the local primary schools are Muslim. We ran 2 festivals where our goal was to train local people to be able to run their own outreach festivals.
On Friday afternoon we ran a medium size festival in a beautiful park close to the church. Team G joined us and were able to make a wonderful contribution in mentoring particularly our Brazilian team in producing and MC roles. Heaps of children came from the units surrounding the park and had lots of fun. We packed up at 8 in time to go to the church to watch the opening ceremony on the large screen – it was very impressive.
Saturday morning saw us have some time together as a team before packing up once more and meeting with some of the church people to start our last festival in the wonderful park where children were waiting for us to start. The team was smaller than the day before but it gave the Brazilians from our group, and others from the church, the chance to use their new skills and make the festival work from the ground up. We created a friendly atmosphere which resulted in the community people asking us when the next festival was happening. There will be one on the 5th August where the team will consist of those local people and the 12 Brazilians from our teams.
After the last festival we had a very different worship experience when we attended their weekly Saturday evening service – ALL in Portuguese. It was a real blessing. At the end they prayed for us before we left to come back to West Croydon to sleep.
Kathy & Dean
WITHAM DAY 1
An easy day today for the team moving to Witham, just NE of London. They have a week of kids clubs in the mornings, Youth Cafe’s in the afternoons and detached festival work around some of the local estates in the evening leading up to a big festival this coming Saturday. Today we did two hours training with the local team in youth work and sustainable mission. Tomorrow we have a big celebration with the local Christians leading in to the week of mission. Then we’re transforming a great church hall into an energetic and lively youth venue complete with inflatables in the main hall. Tonight we had dinner in a church cafe – see the photo.
WITHAM DAY 3
Sunday we worshiped at different churches then came together to set up for a week of kids holiday program and youth cafe. It was really special to welcome the churches to try all the activities n see the smiles as the kids got excited about what the week will hold. We then prayed together for God to bless everyone who comes.
MANCHESTER DAY 2
The morning training was really special, we did listening triads – where everyone got to practice what they had learned in the listening training the day before – there was such a beautiful sense of connectedness afterwards. Claire and Matt came to visit for the day and Matt shared some thoughts on Kingdom Cells and the 6 Radical Decisions. I asked them after his talk who would consider finding a group of mates from different churches to form a kingdom cell and reach out to their own local community and around a dozen people indicated they were up for it!!!
It was humbling to see such an amazingly servant hearted bunch of people from so many countries work together to bless the community. The second day’s festival really built on the first with lots more adults engaging from an early stage – we had nearer 300. We also started promoting the Kids Club which is on Wednesday and quite a few families said their kids were coming. We had some heavy pours of rain towards the end but it was warm (well it was to me) and no-one seemed to mind – there was a beautiful moment where we passed around a Mexican wave from tent to tent as people sheltered from the rain! Another special moment was an international dance-off – we all stood in a circle and found tracks on people’s phones that represented their country and folk form different countries showed off their dance moves. Spiro’s Greek moves will be a lasting memory!! A whole group of Jamaican girls really got into it too and showed us some sweet moves!
MANCHESTER DAY 3
On Sunday we attended church at Manchester International Alliance (the church we’re working with) and I led some worship and then Jason from the USA shared from God’s word which was great.
The setup for the festival went so well we had half an hour spare before the start. In the briefing we reminded ourselves of the job in hand and talked about the value of listening – the team had really got it and it was clear to see with many great conversations with the locals. We had a bit of trouble when the generator ran out of fuel with some of the teenagers, which was a real shame (although it helped the local team see what the needs are), but we recovered well and ended nicely. We then met at Juan-Carlos’s house (the pastor) for curry and a debrief. It was a really special time as 40+ of us crammed in their house for food and some well deserved R&R (including watching some of the Olympics). Towards the end we showed a slide show of the three days, people shared stories of some great conversations and I talked with the Juan-Carlos, their youth worker and several of the church leaders about next steps. Possibilities include more networking with local churches, a weekly kids club, detached street work and some training for their youth worker (please pray – we need to find him some support). After unloading all their gear, we headed off to move people around to different billets before taking David back to Southport (he was only able to do the first week but is wanting to join Fusion!) I got back home at 1.45am to get ready for the Preston team arriving later on Monday. Knackered doesn’t cover it!
We spent the morning doing some preparations for tomorrow’s festival and helped to decorate the hall for tonight’s sports quiz. We then went to the park & played some games & prayed. About 50 came to the hall & many of us realised how much we didnt know about sport. But we had a lot of fun. Some extras came to watch the ceremony.
DAGENHAM FESTIVAL (a quick text update from Marty)
Guys – it’s truly amazing here at Dagenham. Bigger than you can imagine with massive inflatables – our teams are going great as clowns and in the centre games. I also got to meet the producer of Radio 4!
God is very kind. Nice to see it all beginning to happen!
Love to you all.
MANCHESTER DAY ONE
Training with the “local” team went really well. As well as the local church there were international missionaries from USA, Sweeden (a YWAM team), Peru, Argentina, Brazil, France and the UK!
There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm amongst the teams and they were very grateful for the training and for what the Fusion team brought. Lisa, the leader of the YWAM team told us she had been doing mission for 9 years but had never heard teaching that helpful before.
We had quite a few early hiccups in setting up the festival – the hire company wouldn’t loan the van to the person the church had set aside as driver because he didn’t have a British driving license, so we had to find someone else which cost us heaps of time. Then the van we had was too small so we had to use the minibus for gear as well. Then the generator was faulty so we had no bouncy castle for a while – so we had some stresses to begin with but within an hour everything was sorted out and we had a fabulous festival. 250+ local people came and the Open Crowd built nicely with plenty of adults joining in the games in the last hour – especially for Hokey Cokey and Big Fat Pony!
The weather was glorious! We couldn’t believe we were in Manchester it was so sunny!
The YWAM team did a great dance – very well coordinated and lot’s of the locals looked on.
The tug of war was very popular and plenty of mums and dads joined in. Quite a few muslim families brought their children was really great.
The team debrief was also a lovely moment – with lots of highlights from the volunteers and some reflections on some great conversations with locals. I was very grateful to have Ian, Jayne and Francis on the team – they were very functional and clearly experts in running festivals. Jayne worked really hard to coordinate all the volunteers (all 50+ of them!)
One volunteer from Brazil told me later that she felt the Fusion team were very loving and servant hearted – which was so nice to hear.
We finished the evening with Pizza and watching the opening ceremony – a real treat (the Olympic rings were amazing and Mr Bean was hilarious!!)
We have a great team developing and we know tomorrow will be a great day now that the volunteers have see how it works and we have a working generator! Bring it on!
p.s. I will upload some photos tomorrow (I think my camera is buried in festival gear!)