We are back in the UK for a few months as we prepare for the birth of our second child, due at the end of next month. So personally its a changing season for us. To be away from home for 4 months is a long time. To have seen how the church was growing since the September launch, to now only be looking in from afar, is tough. But we have come back different people to England this time. We've come from a real base church in Russia. We are very much part of something, that has in itself secured us in, like we have never known before.
I'm continually honoured to be part of such a great team in Dave and Hansie, and these last four months have seen us growing much closer together as we've been working through what it takes to get a new church off the ground in Russia. It's been great fun and a lot of work all at the same time!
And now in England, with the changing weather and their worst winter in 40 years, we get the snow that we thought we'd miss in Russia. Of course, here snow has a bigger impact. Things close, such as businesses and schools, travel is hard, airports even close, none of which happen in Russia.
While back, and before it gets too near to the due date for the little new arrival, I am travelling a little on behalf of Hope Church, learning as much as I can from the various settings I'll be going to, in order to take this information back with me to Russia, which we hope will help us through the next seasons of church life.
My travels start tomorrow with a trip, weather permitting, to Dublin, where there is a church that was started about a year or two before Hope Church, which will give some insight into what we might expect a little further down the line. Then the following weekend, having spent 4 nights in Dublin, I'm getting the train to Paris to spend 2 nights at the church plant there that was probably planted just a year before Hope Church. Paris is a similar size and style city to St Petersburg, and though they are not dual language, I think it's a great opportunity, and honour, to learn from these great pioneers who are working away in these two locations.
At the beginning of February I'll be returning back north to Manchester, where I'll cover a few places including spending a day in Leeds with Matt Hatch and his team, seeing how they do their Missional Groups, which is something we've started in Hope Church as well. I'll also be sharing a little at Stockport Family Church on the morning of the 7th and then at Church in the Peak, Matlock, in the evening - and then it's possible I'm travelling to Cardiff on the 8th, though that's not known yet.
If Cardiff is not happening then, I will probably be heading to London, to Sidcup, to meet up with four groups over that week before heading back to Oxford on or around the evening of the 14th. But more on this trip I guess later.
While in the UK though I continue to work for Hope Church, which is exciting. I chatted for 45 minutes yesterday with Dave, who was happy to give me a pages worth of stuff to get stuck into, just as if I was sitting next to him in our office in Russia! I've been remote working for 15 months already with my old job, so it's not as if I'm not used to it after all!
So in summary, how does it feel to be back in the UK? Compared to the summer, which was our first trip back, it feels great. We feel secure, part of something, representing the church in St Petersburg to everyone we meet in the UK, no longer just a personal thing but a corporate thing. Personally, I have a lot of ownership with the church plant, which is great. We hope to travel back at the beginning of April so that we can be part of the Mobilise Team that arrives on the 2nd. Whether we do or not is very much up in the air, as it requires quite a lot to happen for this to even be possible.
Over the next few weeks though, we do have to finalise what we are thinking about in regards our visa's, and whether I go the teaching route or not. Our support also stops in July 2010, so this is something else we are also thinking and praying about! Please pray with us!
Blessings and thanks for reading - I expect I'll be updating things here regularly while based here in Oxford, of which I am using a desk in the office of the New Frontiers Oxford church, Emmanuel Church, for which I am very grateful.
Until next time....Tim