Welcome! It's wonderful to see you here!

I'm a passionate writer - and therefore spend most of my time writing thriller novels. But I also live an interesting life in the nations. This blog is here for that aspect of my life - our life - I live with my wonderful wife and two daughters.

I believe in encouragement. I live for obedience. I believe in learning from our experiences, and this blog exists for both of those, and more.

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I was part of the leadership team in St Petersburg, Russia - which planted Hope Church in 2009.(www.hopechurchstpetersburg.com).
In March 2012 Hope Church sent my family to plant into Tallinn, the Capital of Estonia. I therefore lead this small but growing church plant team. Here is the website for Hope Tallinn (www.hopetallinn.ee)

For details on our journey here, read the series called Adventures of Faith which is linked for you on the right hand column, just below. That details our original journey to Russia and then onto Tallinn 4 years later.

Author for fiction novels - Cherry Picking (2012), The Last Prophet (2015), The Tablet (2015) and The Shadow Man (2016) are available on all major bookselling sites. Please visit: www.timheathbooks.com

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Life & Times - Part 5

Life continues to get interesting here - partly why I've not been able to update much lately!

We have now been here over three months and there isn't a day that goes by that we haven't been learning something. Life is certainly different, challenging and we need God in every situation. It's not possible to just use the word 'hard' because we used to say that about life in England. So maybe its hard+ here?

Most Russian's know that life is hard and this comes out in their attitudes to smoking, drinking and even HIV. They know the dangers but just don't care because the sort of feeling is "lets have fun, enjoy the moment, we have enough to worry about besides cancer, AIDS ect" It's tough to hear but we've learnt this from the mouths of Russian's themselves! So I guess to some degree we carry on our shoulders that same "thing" that makes it hard+ for them (as yet unidentified but I think it's loads of things rolled into one) plus we have the language issues as well!

But we have God...which is a HUGE bonus!

October had a very wet end to the month, two weeks of constant rain which just don't compare to what had been 'wet' weather for us in Manchester (we're it is rumoured that it rains all the time). Two things help paint the picture. Firstly, even though the roads are resurfaced quite regularly (yearly maybe) there are entrenched tired tracks that all the cars and lorries drive down. When it rains these track fill with water and the cars then spray the pavements - whether you are clear or not! Plus, they don't have drains for the rain water from the roofs, instead it comes down these giant foot wide metal tubes that are spaced every 20 metres and they just spray the water across the pavement and into the road! So just walking alone, rain pouring down, you also have to avoid the spray from the road and the rivers that cover the pavement every 20m....your shoes get covered in dirt with all that run off from the roof. My trainers in just three months have worn down! But that's just a little image of life here.

Last week we changed to a new Russian language teacher last week - basically our old teacher wasn't able to get in on time so she arranged the switch. But it was God's provision really. The new teacher is fantastic and the level has jumped so much. We are getting loads of homework which has to get done that day as the next lesson is usually the following day. So its hard, but good!

The last fortnight though also offered a great opportunity with Russian and with social action, though it also added to what became a crazy week - let me explain. On about the Sunday 26th October, Hannah Henson (wife of Dave who's family we joined here in St Petersburg) noticed a lady begging at the station with her two children, a girl of 4 and a boy who was only 1. She befriended her and Dave & Hannah both agreed to invite them in and help them. To keep them off the street they stayed at their house on the Monday night in order to get their clothes completely cleaned, and on Tuesday we both went round to meet them all (both parents and the 2 children) in order to try and find them somewhere to stay from that night onwards. We'd arranged for a lady from one of the churches here to come round and she made loads of calls.

The family are Moldovan and had come to St Petersburg, like many like them, to look for work in order to make more money. Their story though was that they had lost their home in a flood and they'd been sleeping rough here for one week before Dave & Hannah met them. By about 6pm Dave & I went off with the family and the Russian church worker to take them to an office of a hostel that could take them for a week from the next day onwards (we also had somewhere lined up for that night which we'd go onto after). Having travelled to the hostel they said that they wouldn't take non Russians and so that option was closed. We then went onto the venue for that night, to which, as is common, the owner seemed to change her mind on the doorstep about the price before saying she didn't want children and turned us away! It was now about 7:30pm and after about 7 hours of efforts we were back to square one with a family needing somewhere to stay and now we had no time and few options. We finally got the lady who runs the hostel we all stayed at on first arrival here in Russia to agree to take them in for two nights. The lady occasionally goes to the same church as the Russian church worker with us and she also was quite good friends with Dave Henson. We therefore went there, glad we'd got them somewhere to stay for two nights at least, paid up and got them into their room for the night. You could physically see the relief on their faces. But then.....the lady who ran the hostel spoke to Dave for 10 minutes and said she was very concerned about them....she assumed the worst...and they could only stay one night, of which even that made her very upset and worried about her other guests! It was now 9pm and another slap in the face, a difficult reaction even considering she was only a nominal christian.

Just before Hannah had met them begging outside an Orthodox Church building (as is a very common spot to find people begging) the lady had been beaten up by two men who said she couldn't beg there. Apparently she then prayed to God and Hannah showed up and offered her help.

The family joined us all for dinner at group last Wednesday though didn't make the church we went to on Sunday. Having made contact later through our Russia friend Nadia, from our small group here (and after another incident while begging outside the Orthodox Church) she has said she wants no more help and nothing to do with the Church (unfortunately, as is common, we all get tarnished with the same brush in this one).

Since the above was written now further contacts have been made so we have to leave them in God's hands and pray that they don't completely reject Him because of the criminal actions of the Mafia gangs that ultimately control and charge the people to beg outside the churches.

November has come in with only dry weather (a welcome relief) but the temperature has been constantly dropping and this morning got to zero and will drop minus from tomorrow onwards, I'm guessing not going to get above zero again until well into next year, April maybe? So we are bracing ourselves...

God has given us a break and we go on holiday tomorrow for 10 days - we'll come back refreshed, recharged and geared up for all that is to come.

If life is going to be hard+, it just means God is going to be even closer than ever.