Friday, 31 December 2010

Resurrected!

N.B. So it has arrived: the end of another year. And what a year it has been! If I care to look back to the start of the year, and how promisingly it started, I vowed to look at situations more positively - and yet all that ensued was plenty of crappy situations. Maybe that was the challenge. Maybe I failed.

I don't know what 2011 will bring. I don't even know if I am going to make it past tonight. But God-willing, whatever happens, I vow to love and laugh more. Maybe listen more and speak less. Learn more and judge less. Help more and hide less. I have high hopes for my time left on earth. Not for me, but for ways God will use me to teach others about Him. I want to walk in the light, wholly sure that no matter what happens, God is at my side.

This time last year I was striving to leave my past behind - ashamed of so many things that I had done. But now, it's time to embrace those things, learn from them, and move on. Those things happened, and they made me into the person I am today. I cannot change them, cannot erase them, but they did make me who I am, and so for that, I am grateful for them. I believe I am stronger because of them, I have more understanding of the world, a greater ability to journey with others going through simular situations. Comfort as the Lord has comforted me.

I don't want 2011 to be a year of regrets, but of seized opportunities; not of selfish choices but of demonstrationis - real and alive - of what God wants for His people. I believe that it is time the Church stepped up to the plate, and began to deliver the message of love, hope and peace that the broken need to hear. It is no longer a time to point the finger at specks in the eyes of "sinners", but to remove the great log of hypocrisy that has been crippling the Church for centuries. Isn't it time that Christians stood more readily at the heart of Resurrection - rather than crucifying the masses for living publicly what so many of us live behind closed doors?

James 1:22 says do not simply listen to the word, DO as it says. Jesus himself commands us to love God, love others, love self. To love our enemies and to stand out from the crowd like a light shining in the darkness. That means no more fitting in to a society that oppresses the poor and the vulnerable to keep the powerful in charge. No more accepting the status quo that shouts down all those who do not conform. No more bowing to the easy way, but treading the path of righteousness, however dangerous and hard it is. Let's start standing for justice, peace, love acceptance in a real, vibrant and public way. Let's breathe the life of Jesus back in to our communities, our streets: our neighbours. Let's breathe the life of Jesus into our families, our children, our schools, and our churches! Let's stop yearning for the glitter of shiny material objects, and allow our hearts to discover the Glories of the heavens! For I believe there lies a treasure far greater and far more sustainable than anything you may have got for Christmas.

I am not perfect, in fact, far from it. But I know that I am nothing without God. I have no value, save for that in Christ. Alone, I am enslaved to sin, but by the blood of Jesus, I have been set free. And so I may not have everything figured yet, but that doesn't matter. I am a traveller on a journey. I may not yet have fully grasped what it means to love my enemies, I may not yet have grasped what it means to love God. But I sure as hell want to find out, because I'm resurrected! I'm alive in Christ.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Anger

 N.B. I do not want to turn this into a political blog, because quite frankly, I know squat about politics, but there is a large part of me that has recently gotten angry at the mess the world is in. Let me explain.

Over the last few weeks, thousands of school and university students have marched the streets around Parliament -  outraged that Nick Clegg is backing down from his pre-election promses. Apart from a minority of students (or maybe not) getting carried away and spoiling what was otherwise a peaceful protest, I would commend these students for getting passionate about something that affects them.

So often young people get accused of being violent, uncaring hooligans. But in my experience, and especially in my work with young people - if facilitated the right way, young people get angry about a whole load of injustice that generally passes older Christians by. To be young is often to be powerless to the oppression of the 'world of adults' that operates without (and often without thought of) you. But young people have such a strong sense of justice that they often are moved to action a lot sooner than others when they feel injustice has been done.

Many have preached; and will preach for many years to come; about the danger of anger. Many more have interpreted this to mean that anger is bad. I would say that anger - to get angry at something - is a good emotion. Anger promotes action. Anger discourages passive behaviour. Anger promotes change. Anger discourages the status quo. Anger, as an emotion in itself, is not bad - even though some may react to the reaction in a negative and sinful way. What I have been discovering is that God requires us to be good AND angry. This is something that I have been working through personally for many months, but I was reading a book someone gave me for Christmas last year, and found an excellent chapter all about this. (You can find the same book here.)

Paul Tripp does an excellent job in promoting the 'good and angry' position that he believes Christ is calling us to be in. Think about this. How often do we (by we, I mean the Church) get angry about the state of the world? If your answer is not in the present then maybe we are missing something. Recently, I have discovered the divine art of getting angry. God does not call us to put up with injustice, but to fight it. (And by fight, I mean with passion - not violence... Jesus/Gandhi style all the way.)

So maybe it is time for the church to get angry: To get angry about the suffering of the oppressed and the poor. To get angry about the children caught up in violence and abuse. To get angry at the lack of support for those seeking assylum. To get angry about the businesses that use slave and cheap labour to create chocolate, clothes, cars and iPods. To get angry about the children growing up without parents due to HIV. To get angry about the thousands of women and children sold into the sex trade every year. To get angry about the Sex Shop opening up near a school. To get angry at the drug dealers who target young and vulnerable people. To get angry about God's creation being desecrated to feed our consumerist culture. To get angry about the people who gossip about the church leaders. To get angry about the church leaders who do gossip about their church members. To get angry at those who stop at nothing to gain power, status and money.

But in our anger - let us not be moved to violence and sinful behaviour - but let us be motivated into doing something about these issues - whether that be a protest, boycott, or simply a change in our attitude to the way we approach things, and the way we treat others around us. And if you really think there is nothing in this world worth getting angry about - get your head out of the sand, and look around you. For where there is broken and hurting people, the Church needs to act.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Comfortable

N.B. I've been in the Philippines for just over a week now, and like a moth is drawn to the light, my brain continues to search for meanings for the thousands of questions that I am presented with every day.

Ever since I arrived here, I have been confronted with situation after situation of instances where most (Western) people would throw their towel in and say, "No, I'm not doing that. Life is not fair!" But here, there is no option for that. Life goes on, through storm, pain and disaster. Survival is key. I have no doubt there are people in the West like that also, but I fear that they may be fewer and further between. Not because the West is a particularly bad place, but because I believe life circumstances grow people, and fewer there know the real meaning of mere survival.

A few months ago; whilst on train going nowhere; I was listening to a Youthwork Podcast, and the guest Pip Wilson said something that has stuck with me ever since, and I would say has had a fairly major impact on some life decisions I have made in the last few months:

"Growth does not reside in a place called comfortable... God does not reside in comfortable."

Read that again. Each time I read that sentence it resonates on a deeper level. It is not (excuse the irony) a comortable sentence to read. And I guess in a way, this blog may read the same way to you. I do not apologise for that, because if there is one thing that I have learnt is that sometimes the truth hurts more than a lie. Then again, some people who read this may not even understand the meaning of it. Some may be indifferent. To me, it matters not. Growing up in the west, I have seen comfortable. I have lived comfortable. I have seen comfortable excelerate to levels beyond understanding and need. I have also seen more greed and selfishness than I care to share. And I am a participant in that... on many levels, and I am ashamed because I am not ignorant. There may be some (and I say some, because the media broadcasts it nearly every day of the week) who don't get the extent to which poverty levels sink in countries like the Philippines, (well, most of Asia/Africa/South America) but I fear that there are many more who simply don't care. Or maybe their understanding is jaded by their privileged western upbringing.

At this moment, the story of the woman who gave 2 pennies in the temple offering resonates with me. I may not have a lot (Westernly) of money to give, but I am no longer satisfied with just giving some. Time after time after time it says in the Bible that we must give our ALL to God. Trust that HE will provide. How true is that in my lifestyle right now? I am not sure it is. I know, from just one week here that there is more that needs to be done, and God yearns deeply for his people to stand up and DO something! How can we claim to Love God, and to want to do his will when we sit in our overly comfortable houses, relaxing, seeing to our own needs, while countless numbers of children, families, elderly, are living destitute, starving, ill, dying in our own country, as well as in other parts of the world? Do we love God enough to love them?

Nearly a year ago, when I started my Degree course, I asked God to help me to grow, and I believe He has some amazing plans to help me do that, put I don't think it involves sitting around watching TV. Praise God.

"Try kissing some scars.
Try walking in someone else's shoes.
Try making a mistake as a learning experience.
Try loving the unlovely.
Try a vision for others not self.
Try downward mobility instead of upwards.
Try a worse home.
Try a poorer community.
Try a battered and hopeless church.
Try disturbing your comfortable.
Try comforting your disturbed.
Try pain when comfortable.
Try comfort when in pain.
Try grit in your oyster.
Try loving yourself like you have never been hurt."

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Planting

N.B. It's late, or early. Depending on what you call these small hours of the morning that only clubbers, alcoholics and insomniacs usually inhabit. I'm beginning to wonder if there is something about this place that stops me from sleeping...

Everyone's heard that sermon about reaping and sowing, and how sometimes those who plant seed's aren't always the ones that collect the harvest at the end of the crop. If you haven't heard it, maybe you've never worked in ministry. Because it is certainly a story that resounds loudly with those who sometimes get discouraged by doing all the work and never receiving a share of the crop at the end of it.

Of course, I'm not talking about plants here. I'm talking about children, young people... any people for that matter. There are those in ministry, (and I guess in all christian circles) who sow the seeds, and there are those who reap the harvest. I'm not sure at the moment who gets the raw end of the deal. I guess it's all on my mind at the moment as many of my children and young people, and others I have invested time and energy into, are off at the usual Christian festival weeks that dominate the summer holidays, and I know that whilst there many of them will make big decisions about their lives, maybe become christian's, give up a bad habit or two, or generally be impacted by the messages and atmospheres that are taught and created at all Christian festivals. And they will come back, and tell me all about how *insert name of Christian holiday here* changed their life forever, and how they now want to live for Jesus/get baptised/live differently. And in a small part, I am left thinking: "What about all the work I've been doing with you all year? What about all the times I've tried to tell you that thing, teach you that part of faith, show you how awesome it is to live that way?"
*sigh*

It's got me thinking about all those people who I never think about when I contemplate the journey I have travelled so far. There are people in my life whom I give credit/appreciation to for helping to mould me, but what about those who I never think about? They did have an impact on me, whether I acknowledge it or not. There was the nurse who looked after me whilst in hospital, my childhood friend Tony who I only knew for a year, the boys who called me names and beat me up in Junior school, the kids I played out on the street with, the various relatives and family friends that filled my life as a kid, and I guess as a teenager. These people had an impact on my life, and they helped to craft the person I have become just as much as those I acknowledge have. Many of these people will never see or hear from me again - never know the impact they had on me, nor know of the successes and the failures I achieve. And yet, the world keeps turning. People are constantly wandernig in and out of our of lives - and some of them leave more footprints than others.

And so, I may not get a mention in any testimonies/stories come September, but I will be the one to witness each of them grow, change and develop their faith for a while yet. The person that spoke that crucial word of change into their life may never see or hear from them again. But I will get to walk the next part of their journey with them too, as I walked the last. And though I may never be (in their eyes) the one who changed their life, maybe one day, down the line, when they are sitting up late at night contemplating the journey travelled so far, they may think of me. And maybe they won't. But then again, it is not the servant that reaps the true benefits of the harvest, but the Master.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
Galatians 6: 9-10

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Stripped

N.B. Please bear with me, this is the first time I have attempted to articulate these thoughts in writing.

Over the last few months, a lot of things have happened (some good and some bad) that have led to me experiencing the feeling of being broken and beat up inside. I say good and bad, because I believe that at some point in our Christian journey, (at least once, but probably many times) we must go through the fire in order to be refined by God. Sometimes the situations we go through are beyond our control, friends becoming ill or moving away, family members falling out, the government scrapping a savings scheme we were relying on. Sometimes those situations are scary. And sometimes those situations arise because of concscious decisions we have made.

But regardless of how those situations came about, when they do, we have a choice how to react to them. Some would say that suffering is a choice. To be stripped bare, to lose all means of survival but to cling to Christ, can be a choice. To choose to remove from your life all that distracts you from loving God and doing His will, can be a satisfying feeling, though others would have you believe that it is unnecessary.

What am I trying to say? Over the last few months, I have been looking at ways of simplifying my life. I have given away many of my possessions, stopped falling for the commercials and tried to only buy essentials, rather than special bits of tat that are unnecessary. I have attempted to spend more time with people, eating, meeting up, talking. I have tried to spend less time on Facebook and messing around on computers. I have tried to value the input of individuals in my life. I have given when people have needed, and not expected repayment. I have tried not to worry about money. Most of all I have chosen to rely on God when situations have become hurtful and heartbreaking. I have, in effect, stripped myself of some things that others take for granted.

Many people have said to me recently: "I'm really proud of how you're coping with all this" or words to that affect. I am not entirely sure which things they are proud of my ability to cope. But I do know that these last few months have meant more than just removing physical distractions and obstacles from my lifestyle. I have experienced God stripping things away from me too. Breaking off the casing that has surrounded me for so long to reveal the raw, sparkling core of my being. Relighting the fire of passion for things in my heart. Christ has been de-cluttering my soul, so to speak. I cannot say that overall it has been the most pleasant of experiences. But I do know that whatever it is Christ is doing, I am proud that I am not done yet. I am glad that I am still being moulded into a work of art, and that there is more of me to reveal, more of my potential to see, and however painful that experience may be, I know that it is worth going through. For Christ has a greater plan for me, to do greater things. And I need to be ready for that.

So watch out world, I'm just getting started!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Nine

N.B. There are many times I wish to write, but I sit and I wait for the words to come tumbling into my head, and most of the time they make no decent amount of sense to record in a blog. Please be patient. My time will come again. :)

On Sunday, I was rushing about like a mad person, as per usual before the service, trying to make sure everything was ready for Sunday school, making sure the Music group had the words, ensuring the room upstairs was ready for the group to use, etc, and all the other things that have fallen upon my shoulders in the last few months. It was crazy, and by the time the service started, I suppose I was just about ready to go home for a nap!

After the first few songs, during which I was trying to sing in the worship group and also mouth to a few young people on the front row to face the front and stop messing around, the preacher stood up to do the short children's talk. I went and took my seat next to the young people on the front row, hoping to use the next ten minutes of the service to relax before heading out to lead Sunday School, when someone tapped on my shoulder, and a hushed and hurried message about some child refusing to come into church was told in my ear. I sighed, and attempted (probably unsucessfully) to sneak down the aisle into the back of church, where, there indeed, was a young girl, around nine years old, standing in the lobby area, flatly refusing to enter church.

It was a child that I knew fairly well, and got on well with her mother, and at first the disciplinarian side of me flared, so I tried gentle coaxing and pushing at the same time, taking her by the hand and playfully shoving her towards the door. She put up quite a resistance, and dug her heels into the floor, making it near impossible to get her into the church, and as I didn't fancy dragging her up the aisle to the front row where my seat was, we settled for a nice comfy seat in the vestibule, where we could see and hear what was going on in the service without actually being a part of it. In a way I was pretty grateful myself to be out of the service to get some breathing space.

So we sat, and I began to ask her why she didn't want to go into church that morning. The conversation contintued along these lines: (Me in Italics) (Katie* in bold)
*child's name changed for confidentiality.

"Where's your Mum?"
"In there." *points to church.*
"Where's your brother?"
"In there. " *points to church*
"Oh. Don't you want to go and sit with them?"
"No."
"Have you had an arguement with your Mum?"
*nods*
"Oh dear. What about?"
"Cause she was being naughty."
"Why was she being naughty?"
"Cause she told me off."
"Well, why did she tell you off?"
"Erm... cause I was being naughty."
"Ah. Well don't be naughty then!"
*giggles*
"So why don't you come and sit with me then?"
"I don't want to. I hate church. It's boring"
"No way! You find having a relationship with God himself boring? You find coming together with others who believe and celebrating that relationship boring?!?"
"Yeah... well I don't even know if I believe in God anyway."
"Oh, okay. Why is that then?"
"Because who created God? Who is God's parents?"
"Why do you think that God had to have parents?"
"Well, how did he get there?"
"Okay, well, you know that God created tree's?"
"Yeah."
"So if everything is created by something, then you go back and back and back to the very first thing that started everything else. You can't keep going on forever, can you?"
"No..."
"Well, Christian's believe that the very FIRST thing, the thing that created the first thing that was created, was God. He started everything."
"Oh..." *pause*
"Sometimes I find it hard to believe in God too. But I think choosing to follow God isn't always about what we think or feel, it's what we choose to believe."
"Huh?"
"Well, I believe God does lots of things in our lives. And sometimes we choose to thank him for them, and sometimes we choose to thank other things for them. Like, if I pray to God to help me pass a test, and then I pass a test, I can either choose to give God the thanks, or to give myself a pat on the back for working hard for it. In my life, if I look carefully, there are many things that God probably helped me out on, that I never gave him the credit for. And in your life too, there are probably things that he's done for you. Sometimes we just have to choose to see God in things that other people don't."
"Yeah."
"But when we pray to God to help us get something good, that doesn't always mean that He is going to say yes. God knows what is best for us, so sometimes he won't give us the things that he knows are going to harm us, or things that we don't really need."
"Yeah, like the time I asked God for a barbie bike, and I didn't get one."
"Yeah, like that. But even if we pray to God to help us when things are bad, that doesn't mean he is going to say yes either! When bad things happen, we can choose to blame God for them, or we can choose to accept that God knows much more than us, and to trust that things will work out for the best."
"Yeah."
"You see Katie, I believe we can only see a part of the picture that God see's. It's like a giant painting, with hundreds of different colours, and the painting is made up of lives, of the life of the universe. Now our little life may be in a part of the picture that is really dark, maybe black or brown. We could ask God to change it, to make it a different colour, or for God maybe to make a situation easier or better, but we can't see the bigger picture. Cause the bigger picture is that it's important that for a time, we go through hard stuff. Cause it makes us stronger when we come out the other side, and it helps us in the future to be better people. So when we pray to God to make our situation better, and maybe he says no, or he doesn't change the situation for us, that doesn't meant that he wants us to go through bad stuff, but it means that he can see and understand the reasons for the bad stuff much better than we can."
"Yeah I guess." *long pause*
"Ya know, when I was your brothers age, my parents got divorced. And at the time, I really prayed hard that God would bring my family back together, and would make my parents get along. And it was really hard to go through that, and at the time, I didn't really understand why God was making me go through this really tough time. But now, 6 years later, I can see that it helped me to become a better person, and it means that I can help other people whose parents are separated or divorced, cause I can understand a little bit of what they are going through."
"Like me."
"Yeah, exactly. I know that it might seem hard and scary and not very nice at the moment, but things will get better. And you are going to be a much better person because of it. And I am sure that your Dad loves you very much, even if he can't see the right thing at the moment, and seems to be being a bit horrible, it's just cause adults get confused about stuff too. And sometimes they focus their energy on the wrong things.
"Yeah. All my Dad cares about at the moment is money. Cause we are living in his house. He just won't help us with anything, and he never really supports me or anything."
"Oh sweetie. That's feels rubbish, doesn't it? I'm afraid your Dad just has his priorities a bit messed up at the minute, and he is more worried about money than people. But one day, he is going to realise that. And Katie, if your Dad misses out on a few years of your life because if this, then he is going to miss out on something really special. He's going to miss watching you grow up! Something I'm not going to miss out on. And your Mum and your brother are going to see too. Because you are going to be one amazing young lady, you know that? And because of all this really rubbish and hard stuff that you are going through at the moment, you are going to be so much stronger, and so much braver at the end of that. And there are lots of other people who are around who are here to support you, even if right now, your Dad is too confused to do that..."
*We paused, and Katie nodded with tears in her eyes. I gave her a big hug.*
"I know something that God helped me on! When I started Year 4, my school work was really low, but then it got really good in the middle of the year, and I had prayed to God about it."
"That's great!"

By this time it was almost time for Sunday school, so we headed round into the Main Hall and everything carried on as normal. Katie stayed pretty close to me for the rest of the morning, but she went back to being a kid again. But that didn't change what I had seen in her that day. Up until then, I had seen her as a pretty average 8/9 year old child, who acts out once in a while, has the ability to spike a high temper, and who most of the time is more interested in playing around rather than sitting still. But I saw a part of her that I had previously ignored. In the many conversations I have had with her Mum, I assumed that Katie was oblivious to all the stuff going on with her parents apart from what she had been told, and that she knew very little. How wrong I was. She knew exactly what was going on, and there was a large part of her that was hurting, and confused, and just didn't know what to do.

Looking back, I guess it was that part of her that acted out in the refusal to go into church on Sunday. But in a way, I am quite glad she did. Because it gave me an opportunity to reach through the childish fa├žade she often dons and grab her hand. Maybe stop her from falling too far. And in a way, I was only able to do that by sitting with her, and choosing not to see the stubborn child that was acting out. But by allowing her to just be, and talk, and not be forced to sit in a service when all you want is for someone to pay attention to you, and the person you are, and the part of you that is hurting so bad. I doubt that what I said to Katie will stand any kind of ground as she heads into her summer holidays. But I hope she remembers that I care, and that I love, and that I will listen, should she ever need it.

God bless her, her family, and all she walks beside in the future.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Dangerously

N.B. I know that it has been a long time since I've blogged, and that my habits recently have probably allowed most of my followers to fade slowly to the point of non-interest, but as College draws to a close I am determined to be more disciplined in my public reflections.

I have spent the Bank Holiday weekend at the Baptist Assembly in Plymouth, not as a youth worker, or children's worker, or anything really, just as me. It was lovely, if not a relief to have some time away after the rather emotional few weeks I have had. Although a lot of the worship time was not really my cup of tea, and the average age of most of the people there was well over 50, it was uniquely refreshing.

Whilst there, I wasn't being watched - in fact I spent a lot of time by myself, surrounded by beautiful strangers. I was just another face in the crowd, albeit a much younger one! But as I listened to the stories of age old missionaries and heard of the fantastic service they had done for God and for people of other nationalities, I was inspired.

Over the weekend I was also desperately writing an essay on Luke 6: 27-38, Jesus talking about loving our enemies, treating others as we would aspire to be treated, and remembering to love others as God loves them. It was helpful, and encouraging, to think that my life with God is only really beginning. That I have so much more to learn, so many more mistakes to make, and yet so many miracles to discover! God has so much more of a journey set out ahead of me, one in which he calls me to live dangerously, trusting in his amazing provision and truth and love for me, and knowing that the more that I endeavour to live His call for my life, the more I will discover about Him.

I cannot say that life from now will be easy, because I truly believe that it will be anything but! Trusting that God will provide is a scary thing to embark upon. Attempting to love those whom have previously contended, hated, maybe even attacked you, is a hard thing to do. But I truly believe that I am not travelling on my own. On the contrary, I will have neither the strength nor the will to take a single step without the Grace and Love of God pouring onto my life. Praise God. The race is on!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Painful

N.B. One of my favourite places in the world is by the sea. For me, there is something deeply spiritual about sitting down on the seafront, staring out across the water. As the sun sets it creates an atmosphere that allows me to think, put things into perspective, and spend some time alone without the pressures of what to say or do. It’s one of the few times that I truly feel able to be myself. Sometimes I curl up on a bench and cry, and sometimes I feel like drowning myself in the sea, but being completely honest before God is something that is really important to me: especially when I feel rubbish. God asks us to come before him at all times, in all moments of life, when we are battling and struggling with all kinds of emotions.

Over the last few weeks, I have learnt some really amazing stuff about the strength of God’s love for me, and about what loving someone really means. I think I’ve really begun to understand the strength of that phrase: Love hurts. I’ve always known it, but I think there are a lot of things that people know but don’t really know. And then, when you finally realise it, and it hits you what it actually means, it starts to change the way that you view the world. That’s not to say that the world doesn’t take that realisation away from you again. I think that some things you have to learn over and over again.

Anyways, this week was the handover for the boy that the Andrews family have been fostering over the last few years. He’s been at Avenue for longer than I have, so it’s been a little strange and very hard to think that he won’t be around anymore. On the positive side, he is being adopted into a really loving, Christian family where he will be with his siblings. Sadly, it means that we miss out on watching this amazing little kid grow up. It’s amazing to think that all the things that everyone has always wanted for him have finally come true, even if it took so long for it to happen. But it was also really hard to say goodbye, especially for the Andrews’ who have loved this kid like their own for over three years, and have watched him learn to walk, talk and begin to figure out life.

Understandably, the last few weeks have seen everyone’s emotions run a little all over the place, and I have had more than a few tearful conversations with various children and young people. As happy as we all are for him, we’re really going to miss him. We love that kid, no-one more so than the Andrews, but amidst that love, we must acknowledge that this is the best thing for him, and as much as it hurts to say goodbye, hurt must be endured. Even writing this is bringing tears to my eyes, though I know that everything is going to be okay. I guess one of the hardest things for me has been to watch the Andrews kids getting upset, and knowing that it’s not something that I can make any better; so on Sunday, amidst comforting crying children, I realised that the only thing I could actually do is to share in their pain. Therefore, anyone still hanging around at church had to leave by passing a small pile of sobbing Ami and children on the floor, childishly clinging onto one another for comfort. It may not have been professional, but it made a difference. It helped make that which otherwise was an extremely difficult day, slightly less difficult.