Bob & Jean Eckman
STAPLEFORD CHURCH OF CHRIST
Posted February 16, 2007 - Bob and the entire congregation in Nottingham sent a video greeting to the South Plains congregation in Lubbock. It is a 4-minute video showing many of the families at the Nottingham Church.
Click here to view (Windows Media Player 9, 10, or 11 required).
February 2007 - Bob sent a video slide show which includes several photos of people and activities from the Stapleford church (10:43 in length and no audio).
CLICK HERE to view the slide show (Windows Media Player 9, 10, or 11 required).
Photo of most of the congregation, who went on the church retreat in October 2006.
Click here for a larger version of the photo.
Click here for an extra-large high resolution version.
Bob is on Facebook! Click here
Greetings from Nottingham!
I know you will find it a surprise when I say this, but it’s cold here today!! For the first time since I can’t remember several months ago, it’s been necessary to put on a thicker shirt with long sleeves! We’ve had such a long and hot (by England’s definition of “hot”!) summer, that this has come as something of a shock to us! I know some of you will say that you wish you could have some of this cooler weather, but it would have been nice to have held on to the heat a bit longer!
Let me start with some family news that has really brought a lot of joy to Jean and me. We had a message from Sarah (our daughter in Australia) a few weeks ago saying that she would be making a “flying visit” next month (October)! It will be very brief, but – Hey! – when your daughter lives the other side of the world, you’re grateful for anything! She is coming to attend the wedding (be a bridesmaid) in Manchester of her best friend from school days. (Helen was the chief bridesmaid at Sarah’s wedding.) As she could only get a week off from work, she will be with us for a long weekend and then go up to Manchester for the wedding, flying back to Brisbane from there. We are over the moon! We only wish that Johnny and Emilio could come with her. It will be a short visit – but very, very sweet!! Can’t wait!
As I mentioned last month, I had a 4-night meeting with the Westway church in Belfast in August. This was a real treat for me. The Westway church is a good church with good leadership and a great spirit. It was good to see many old friends as well as meet new ones. The meetings were well-attended each night, with good support from other churches in Northern Ireland and a number of non-Christian visitors. I always feel blessed when I’m able to make a trip to Belfast. It holds so many happy memories for me.
On the way back from Belfast, I attended the 3-day European Christian Workshop at Lancaster University. This is held every year towards the end of August. Because of our commitment to Honduras, I wasn’t able to attend last year so was determined to be there this year. It was super, one of the best I’ve been to with great speakers both from the UK and Europe as well as the States. Sessions such as these are so important to me because I need to be “fed” by listening to other speakers and Bible students and to be challenged by their thoughts as well. It was really good.
One sad note on the meeting in Belfast: Normally, I would fly to Belfast for such an occasion and hire a car, but because of my desire to also attend the meeting in Lancaster, I decided to take my car over on the ferry. The meeting finished on the Wednesday night, the workshop started Thursday afternoon, so as the ferryport in Scotland meant that I drove right past Lancaster, it made sense to take my car.
When I went out to my car on the Wednesday morning, I found that someone had broken into it sometime during the night, smashing one of the rear windows and then trying to hot-wire the ignition. I phoned the police, but it was 4 hours before they could get out, in the meantime telling me not to touch it. (How things have changed in Belfast since the 1970s and 80s! Back then, if I’d gone out to my car and found bare wires sticking out of the dashboard, the police would have been called, an army bomb disposal team would have been called out, the whole area would have been evacuated, and a controlled explosion would have been used on my car!)
My real problem was getting the ignition sorted so that I could catch the ferry back to the mainland the next day and get to Lancaster. To cut a long story short, by the luckiest of chances, I got a garage that took the car and said they would try to sort out the ignition. After many prayers, I phoned the next morning to get the good news the car was ready to drive – albeit with a taped up rear window!! I was thankful -especially since the police said it was obvious that the intention was to steal the car and either use it in a criminal act or for joy-riding. In either case, they said most likely the car would have burnt out to destroy any evidence! I’m now in the same situation 2 years ago when I was at Lancaster and the car was broken into by smashing the same window! It isn’t easy finding a replacement window for a nearly-30-year-old Toyota!! But, I’m trolling the internet!
Ever since we moved into our house, we have tried to build relations with our neighbours. It has been my experience over the years that this takes a long time as people are suspicious when an American who is also a preacher for an “unknown” church moves into their street! We’ve got great, friendly neighbours, and we feel blessed. It’s been long and gradual, but we’ve been meeting with success. Over the last year or two, through our coffee mornings, “bring-and-buy” sales, and our “Harvest Suppers” we have made inroads with some of them to come to some of our gatherings – and us to be invited to some of theirs! In particular, I have been invited on a number of occasions to attend a “Men’s Evening” at the local Anglican church! This is everything from hearing a guest speaker to going with them to a cricket match! I now pass a number of men on the street and share greetings or conversations. I think it means that with them I’m finally being “accepted”! Feels good!
Harvest Supper and Shoeboxes
Speaking of the above, this past few months our house has looked like a “sweat shop” as Jean has been preparing for our Harvest Supper for senior citizens this Saturday, and our Christmas Shoebox Appeal the first of November. Shoeboxes are everywhere (we have a goal of 75 shoeboxes this year), and our kitchen has been smelling sweet as Jean has been making homemade jam to give as gifts to our senior citizens at the Supper! (This week she has started on the “fruit crumbles” for the dessert at the end of the meal.) These are great projects that Jean has initiated and spearheads every year. It has done a lot of good in getting us to know people in the community.
The Present and an Exciting Future
This past month has been a good month for the church. We’ve had the odd Sunday when we’ve been missing a number of members who’ve been on vacation, but that’s to be expected during August. Since the beginning of September, though, attendance has been back up, and we have been pleased to see some new faces through students at the university who have been at our meetings. This is always encouraging.
I want to finish on a really exciting note!
The church has decided that it is time for it to take a major step forward and look towards appointing spiritual shepherds to lead, serve, and guide the church in the future. It has been my desire to do this for some time but felt that the men weren’t quite ready. I now believe they are, and what especially pleases me is that this initiative has come from the church itself. We are presently considering appointing Derek Adams and Philip Bullock to become shepherds of the church.
It was felt that before we do this, I should give a number of lessons on the responsibilities they will have and the responsibilities the church has to work with them. I would appreciate your prayers on this. I am excited! Philip and Derek are two fine men who in recent years have really “stepped up to the plate” to take on more and more responsibilities in the church and I feel they are men that the rest of the church will gladly follow. I look forward to (God willing) working with them.
We thank God for you, for your friendship in Christ, for your prayers and for your support. We really do think of each of you very often and pray God will continue to bless you in all you do for Him. We are both doing well as regards health, although Jean does find it a struggle from time to time.
Bob & Jean Eckman
AUGUST 19, 2016
Greetings from Nottingham!
It has been a hectic summer, and it’s also been some time since I last sent out one of these reports. So, let me use this to catch you up on some of what we have been up to over what’s turned out to be a really glorious summer.
Group from Lubbock
It all sort of began back in June when we had a lovely group with us from the South Plains church in Lubbock, Texas. It was so good to have them with us and hear that west Texas accent once again! Most of the group was composed of excellent singers, and they enhanced our meetings tremendously. Among the group was Dr. Jesse Long. Jesse is – how can I put it? – a lovely, kind, godly man with so many talents. If you don’t know him, he lectures in the field of archaeology, and he brought some excellent, interesting, and informative lessons on the Bible. We sat enthralled each night. The group stayed in various homes of our members, and we’re hoping that some life-long friendships were made. Their time with us was too short.
Loads of Family
This summer seems to have been the summer for family visitors! You want your American cousins, nieces, and nephews to come over and visit – and they all come at once! Actually, they didn’t come to visit us but my mom! And, who can blame them? My nephew Stephen and his family came from Houston for a week and stayed with Mom (as did all of the family!), followed just over a week later by his sister, my niece, Lindy from Florida who spent a long weekend with Mom. And, then early July, my cousin Catherine and her husband John stayed with Mom before heading off for the Continent. I miss my Stateside family, so it’s always good to see them.
Speaking of Mom, just before Catherine and John arrived, she had a cataract operation on her left eye. It all went well, and apart from a couple of hiccups, she made good recovery progress. She now has a new pair of specs and is coming on with leaps and bounds (not literally!). She’s marvellous for a lady who’s in her 90th year.
In 1966, the first youth camp among churches of Christ in Britain was started in the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland. My dad was among those who initiated this idea, and I held the honour of being one of the counsellors at that camp. Apart from numerous young lads from Northern Ireland, we had campers from England and Scotland at that first camp. The result was that in subsequent years, a number of excellent summer camps have been started in England and Scotland. Camp Shamrock, though, was the first!
They held a 50th reunion for Camp Shamrock the second weekend in July and I was invited to attend. It was an excellent occasion, giving me the chance to meet some people I hadn’t seen in a long time, including one of the lads who was in my first camp (he was 8 when I last saw him, so it was strange meeting him again at the age of 58!). Around 120 attended the reunion, and I don’t know how they managed it, but the organised managed to order a real Irish “gully-washer” just as I arrived! It was like old times!
I flew back to Nottingham on the Tuesday afternoon, and early Wednesday morning, Jean and I drove up to Edinburgh. We went to visit some good friends we have there, but the main purpose for the trip was to celebrate with one of the young men who went with us to Honduras last year. He was celebrating his 21st birthday! To get invited to a 21st birthday party these days is a real privilege! Being in Scotland, it had to have a good ceilidh!! That was loads of fun and very exhausting. I’d never “Stripped the Willow” before, but I’m still alive to say that I did! (Now, that’s given you a couple of things to Google so you’ll know what I’m talking about! After meeting with the church in Edinburgh Sunday morning, we drove back home – tired, exhausted, but very, very happy.
Christmas in July
Yes, it was Christmas in July! This is something we tried a couple of years ago and decided to try it again this summer – a coffee morning with “Christmas” as our theme. As well as coffee and tea, we served to anyone who came mince pies and Christmas pudding! The building was decorated as if it was Christmas. We were pleased with the number of people who popped in for some Christmas fare, and we were especially pleased to see a number of people from the community – including 5 of our neighbours! They stayed for quite some time and chatted, asking questions and generally feeling relaxed. (I even got an invite from one neighbour to go with him and some friends to a cricket match the following week!) Jean and I are thrilled with the way that our neighbours have opened up to us and have been willing to come to some of our events at church.
Two New Families
We have been thrilled in the last month to have two families meet with us. One is a young family from Sicily, and the other is another young family (son who is 14) from Bermuda. This is the kind of new blood that we need. They seem to be settling in very well, and we’re looking at ways that we can involve them in the church as well as tie into their talents and abilities.
On the Road Again!
I am off to bed in an hour or so as I have a very early start in the morning. I’m driving up to Scotland to catch the car ferry over to Northern Ireland. I’m holding a 4-night meeting with the church in Belfast, and then catching the ferry back to Scotland on the Thursday to attend the annual European Christian Workshop at Lancaster University, Thursday - Saturday. I’ll tell you more about that next month.
Jean and I are doing well. Things are going well with the church. Lots of exciting news that I hope to tell you more about next month. In the meantime, thank you for your interest, your prayers, your notes of encouragement, and your support. We are blessed to be here and to have good friends such as you.
Bob and Jean
NOVEMBER 5, 2015
Greetings from Nottingham!
It’s time I caught you up with what’s been happening both in our lives and in our work here. This has been an amazing and unusual year. Like you, I feel it has flown past and can’t believe we’re looking at the end of 2015 in just under two months! It isn’t until I look back over the year and see all that’s happened that I realise what a great year it’s been. Just the past couple of months alone have been something else! Let me begin by telling you a bit about what’s been happening in our lives. Those of you who follow on Facebook will know all of this, but I still love telling it!
Trip to Australia
The middle of September, Jean and I flew out to Australia to visit our daughter Sarah and her family in Brisbane. It’s been 2 years since we were there, so we were anxious to see them. I returned from Australia just over 2 weeks ago (Jean returned last week).
We broke our 24-hour flight in Bangkok, Thailand for a few days to rest up for the final leg of the flight and to see if we could minimise the jetlag (it worked!). Thailand is simply a gorgeous country, and the people are so friendly. The temples and royal palace in Bangkok are beyond description. For me, the highlight of our time was a trip to the Kwai River, a speedboat ride up the river to the infamous “Bridge on the River Kwai”, and the train ride on the “Death Railway” back towards Bangkok built by POWs in the second world war. I wish my dad were still alive to tell him about it.
As I said above, we were last in Brisbane 2 years ago to visit Sarah and John when our first grandson Emilio was born. The last time we saw him was in London the year before last when he was 9 months old and unable to walk or talk. What a change in that time! He isn’t walking; he’s running everywhere! And, he talks up a storm! We had so much fun with him; the whole time was full of laughs and many, many wonderful memories. If God gives us the health and the ability to go again in two years, he will be 4 years old and will be a different child again. We feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family.
While staying with Sarah and Johnny, we had a “holiday-within-a-holiday”. The five of us flew from Brisbane to Cairns in North Queensland for a week’s holiday in Port Douglas (an hour’s drive north of Cairns). What a trip that was! We trekked through several rainforests, seeing all kinds of Australian wildlife (thankfully, no snakes!). It was indescribably beautiful! Emilio loved it all. We saw salt-water crocs (again, which Emilio was fascinated with) in the wild, we went paddling with Emilio on some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen anywhere (still find it hard to believe that sea water can actually be warm!), rode some old railways (Emilio jumped up and yelled in delight every time we went through a tunnel!), and rode a lovely cable car down the mountains, over the rainforest, to the shore. I guess, though, the highlight for all of us was when we sailed out to the Great Barrier Reef, snorkelled it (Emilio, too!), saw it from under water in a semi-submersible, and took a short helicopter flight over it. I cannot begin to tell you how beautiful it is out there and what an experience it was with three people that we love so much. We can’t thank John and Sarah enough for arranging this for us. And, what made it special was being with them.
The Sundays that we were in Brisbane, we met with the church in Holland Park. We went there two years ago, and both Jean and I feel like it is our spiritual home in Australia. It’s a really good church with some lovely people. If you should ever find yourself in Brisbane, we would highly recommend it. Just contact us for details!
I flew back to London on the 19th October with a 5-hour layover in Bangkok. That same morning, Jean flew to Auckland, New Zealand to visit an old school friend who emigrated there to be with her daughter several months ago. This past summer, she was diagnosed with cancer and had a kidney removed. Jean spent 5 days with her before flying back to Brisbane on the 23rd and leaving for London on the 25th. For both of us, it was extremely tough (lots of tears!) saying goodbye to our family there. We have been blessed with the best two daughters any parents could hope to have. We are extremely proud of both of them. They have married good men, and we love and are proud of both our sons-in-law. And our three grandchildren? What can we say about them? Well, we feel that each of them is golden, and we love all of them so much.
You could say that I hit the road running on my arrival back in Nottingham! The church had planned a special meeting the Saturday after I arrived, so there were loads of things that had to be done to make sure everything was ready. Our speaker was someone whom I’ve wanted to come to Nottingham for a very long time, Frank Worgan. Frank may or may not be known to you, but he is certainly well known in the churches in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. He is the oldest evangelist in Britain – 93 years old! Only one word suffices to describe him – brilliant! I don’t know many preachers his age who could keep an audience of mixed backgrounds and ages spellbound for 3 lessons, but Frank did! He is an incredible speaker with one of the sharpest minds of anyone I’ve met. I have felt it a wonderful privilege to have known him and sat at his feet for learning most of my life. When it comes to knowledge of the Bible and Bible history, he is a goldmine. The building was packed for every meeting. We appreciate the support of area churches and were pleased to see a number of non-Christians at each meeting.
Space – a New Start
Ever since Simon left as our youth worker and my co-worker several years ago, one area in which we have been lacking has been with our young people. If we have needed anything more over the last few years it has been someone to work to build up our youth work. But, where do you find them? Sometimes, they are right under your nose!
One of the young ladies in the congregation, Becki Gamble approached us, saying that she would like to do something to try and kick-start our youth clubs again. Becki’s background: she comes from a non-Christian home. She was one of the first young persons to join the clubs when Simon started them many years ago. She came regularly every week. As she grew older, she began to assist Simon in the clubs. She started to coming to church and in time was baptised. She has made both Mission trips to Honduras (2013 and 2015), and if the truth is known, I wouldn’t be surprised if she wasn’t already saving for 2017!
Becki talked with one of the men in our Leadership Team (Derek Adams) who said that he would be more than willing to help her, along with his youngest son Joel. The three of them laid excellent plans to start it 4 weeks ago, not knowing if anyone would come. It has been tremendous! Every week since then, they have had new youngsters walk into the building on a Thursday night. A special party was held last week, and a young lady walked in off the street and asked if her two sons could come. When asked where she heard about the club, she said it was on Facebook! Modern technology!
Work on the Building
It was decided before we left for Australia to get to work on redecorating and fitting new carpet in the main hall and foyer of the building as Phase One. Phase Two will involve refitting the kitchen. Phase Three will be to redecorate the rest rooms. When I returned from “Down Under”, I was pleased to see that a start had been made on the first phase. Decorators had been hired and were in the process of painting the upper half (ceiling and walls down to the panelling) in the main hall. This done, we have now started work ourselves on painting the lower half. Once this has been done, we will have the carpet (a hard-wearing, long-lasting carpet) laid in the two rooms. We feel this will completely change the inside of the building. It is long overdue. Photos will be posted when complete.
Carnival and Harvest Supper
Just before we left the country, we had a stall at the annual Stapleford Carnival. We had a good display, which was focussed on our recent Mission Trip to Honduras. A good number or people stopped to look at our exhibit and ask questions, giving us the chance to tell them about (and give them literature from) the church.
We also held our annual Senior Citizens’ Harvest Supper at the building two days before we left. As usual, the building was full, and about 50 sat down for a delicious meal prepared by our ladies. Invites went to all the older members of our church, as well as the area churches, and friends of members of the church. Half of those who attended were not Christians, and they spoke highly of a lovely meeting.
We ask you to continue to pray for the church here in Nottingham. I am so thankful to God for this church. In particular, I would like to ask you to remember these four in your prayers: Louis, John, Jean, and her husband John. They are not Christians but have been attending our meetings and studies and are growing in knowledge of God’s Word. Louis is the husband of one of our members Evelyn and is a lovely man. The first John is also the husband of one of our members, and while they live some distance away, they are usually present each Sunday. Jean and John have been coming to our Harvest Suppers for several years. They were friends of Alan and Christine who have both died in the past 18 months. They started attending while we were away and they love the meetings and the “family” atmosphere of the church.
We thank you for your support in every way, especially your prayers and notes of encouragement. We feel that God has a great year ahead of us, and we intend to make the most of it. There is a great spirit of optimism in the church, as well as a hunger to grow and reach out.
Bob and Jean
JANUARY 13, 2015
Jean and I made a trip to Bulgaria during the first week of December to deliver Christmas shoeboxes. CLICK HERE to read the full report about our trip.
NOVEMBER 27, 2014
Greetings from Nottingham!
Today is “Thanksgiving” in the U.S.A. Here it in England, it’s just another day. The shops and stores were all open, and people went to work as normal. But, it didn’t pass completely without notice. It was mentioned on the television, and people who live around us passed me on the streets and wished me a “Happy Thanksgiving.” This evening, Jean and I got with my sister Cherry and her husband John and my mother and went out for a delicious meal of turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce – and Yorkshire pudding!! Well, you gotta mix the two cultures! And, as I write this, the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants (albeit recorded Sunday night) is on the tele! So, I keep up some of the traditions! I hope that all of you are having a super day with those whom you love the most. We all have so much for which we can be thankful.
So much has happened since my last report. So, where do I start?
Tea For Treetops
“Treetops” is a charity that raises funds for cancer relief. We have 2 shops just around the corner from us, and in September the charity encouraged people to hold a tea party to raise funds. In view of Jean’s cancer history, she decided to have one. This was nothing directly to do with the church, but we decided to use it anyway as a means of outreach. At the end of September, we held the “party” in our front room, inviting any members who could come as well as all of our neighbours that live around us. Jean spent many hours baking cakes and other “goodies.”
It exceeded our expectations! The house was full of both our neighbours and our members from church! It was a wonderful blend and gave our neighbours the chance to meet members in a relaxed, informal, non-threatening way.
Early in October, the church held its annual “Harvest Supper” in honour of the senior members of the church, as well as area churches, and senior friends of members of the church. It was good to see approximately 45 sit down in the building for a delicious hot meal prepared by the ladies of the church. More than half of those who came weren’t members of the church. Three of them were our neighbours who had come to the above-mentioned tea party. All of them asked a number of questions about the church and the work it does. Our Harvest Supper is a wonderful means of outreach into the community.
Also in October, the church hosted the “Zimbabwe Service” attended by Zimbabwean Christians from all over England. This is held every three months at various locations. As a number of our members are Zimbabwean, we were pleased to host the meeting. The building was filled, and the singing (in Shona) was amazing! A number of lessons were presented in both Shona and English, but the greatest blessing of all was being able to share fellowship with these brethren. Churches in this country are blessed by the presence in many congregations of Christians from Zimbabwe and other African countries. We are certainly blessed here in Nottingham.
Pray For Them
A number of weeks ago, we had a young couple walk into our building one morning. Their names are Scott and Allana. They are in their early 20s. They have been most Sundays since as well as Sunday nights and occasionally to our study on Mondays. They have also been studying privately with Andrew Wheatley, one of the young men in the church. They (especially Scott) is very keen on learning the message of the Bible, although he has a multitude of questions. They have a long way to go, but your prayers for them would be appreciated.
Incidentally, Andrew discovered what it was that caused them to walk into our building. It seems that Scott had been talking with a friend about some of his spiritual questions, and this friend told him about us. This mystery friend had dropped into one of our coffee mornings and said that we were very warm and friendly, so he recommended that Scott visit us!! It just goes to show!!
Or a “vacation” to some of you! Jean and I haven’t had one this year (apart from a weekend in Dublin in June – I still had to preach!) and a short week in the Isle of Wight in August. We both felt that we needed a proper holiday. Jean (bless her!) got on the internet and found us a good deal for a week in Florence, Italy, so earlier this month we flew out. It was just what we needed. We let it be a week of relaxation. Apart from a half-day tour to Pisa (and the “tower”), we spent the whole time in Florence, viewing the churches and museums and finding nice little coffee bars up the beautiful backstreets! It was also nice to enjoy just one more week of warmer weather before the English winter set in! We looked up the church in Florence on the Sunday and had a real blessing meeting with them. The whole service was in Italian, but the fellowship was sweet!
On our return to London from Italy, I met up with Derek Adams from the church here in Nottingham, as well as 3 other Christians from Scotland at Wembley. the national football (soccer) stadium in London. Derek had been able to get us tickets for an NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars!! What a sweet experience that was!! It was a real nostalgic trip for me! But, it was also weird to be sitting in a packed British stadium, surrounded by British people, watching an American football game!! But, I savoured every moment!
For the past 10 years or so, the church has been involved in a programme in which (on a voluntary basis, members put together “Christmas Shoeboxes” to be sent to Eastern Europe. Most years, this involves between 60 and 80 or more boxes. These are collected and sent to the south of England and eventually sent to Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and the Ukraine. This year, we put together 64 boxes, and last week, Jean and I delivered them to a lovely couple in Chesterfield who will see that they are sent on to the depot down south, where they will be sent (along with about 55,000 more boxes)!
As the programme has developed, many of our friends have become involved, putting together a box or two or providing the items that go into each box. This has helped us to work with people in a project that they otherwise wouldn’t be involved in.
Off to Bulgaria!
In relation to the above, this year Jean and I are going to Bulgaria to help deliver some of these boxes!! We are going down to London this Saturday before our flight to Sofia on Sunday. We will be in Bulgaria from that night until late Thursday night. We are excited! As well as distributing boxes, we will be visiting a prison in Bulgaria and a Syrian refugee camp in the country!
We would appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Although we have been working with this for a number of years, in many ways, this is a step into the unknown. We don’t know the group with which we will be travelling and working for these days, and we have been told to expect things to be tough! We will be in the interior of the country, in some of the poorest conditions in all of Eastern Europe. It will be cold and very wet!! We have also been told that we can expect some snow – and a lot of mud!!
This is mine and Jean’s project, something we have wanted to do for the past couple of years. We determined that this would be done out of our own pocket – flights, hotel, food, and a share of the mini-bus hire, fuel, and driver. We just felt it would be a good experience for us, and it will help the church to know more about this programme in which it has been involved. It is also proving to be a good PR for the church among our neighbours and contacts. I am proud to also say that – although we purposed to finance this wholly ourselves – the church stepped in to help us with the costs. We are grateful – and just another reason why we are so proud of this church.
We thank you for all of your help, support, prayers, and encouragement. Our work here is possible because of you. God has blessed us, continues to bless us, and we are convinced that He will bless us even more as we seek to serve Him. Please keep us in your prayers – especially next week while we are in Bulgaria.
God’s blessings on you all,
Bob and Jean
SEPTEMBER 16, 2014
Greetings from Nottingham!
Summer Holiday Club
In August, we held a three-day Summer Holiday Club primarily for the children in the area around our building. We were aided in this by some members from the South Plains church in Lubbock, Texas. Leaflets were distributed throughout the area, and we were pleased to see a number of children come each day, as well as those from our own congregation and other area churches. The theme was “Elijah – Overcoming Fear”, and all of the children had a great time learning some great lessons from the Bible story of this great man. The stories were presented with the use of puppets, magic, drama, crafts, singing, and many other activities. The highlight each day was a trip to a local park for games. A number of parents stayed for the Club each day, and on Friday night we had a “Parents’ Night” giving the children’s parents a chance to see what the children have been learning each day.
(Click on the photos below to view the larger size)
Our visitors from Lubbock were accommodated by members of the Nottingham church, and their main meal each day was catered at The Meeting Place, a local community-run cafe. This gave us a chance to connect with the volunteers who work in this cafe, and since the SHC, Jean and I make it a point to go to The Meeting Place at least once each week to have further and continuing contact with them.
On Saturday, 9th August, we had a special “Gospel Night” with Gary Evans from South Plains speaking. We appreciated support from local churches, but most importantly we were pleased to see a number of non-Christians present to hear God’s word presented.
As we have done for several years, we took part in this year’s Stapleford Carnival, 6th September. This always gives the church a chance to meet people in our community. We had a stall at the Carnival at which we distributed newly-printed leaflets giving information about the church. We had a display about the ongoing work this church is doing in Honduras. The display showed our “Mission Trip” to Honduras last year and attracted quite a bit of attention, giving us a chance to tell them about a further trip (God willing) next year.
The Carnival is always a lot of work, but also a lot of fun and a great way to put the church before the local community. We were able to talk with a number of interested people about the church and the work it is doing.
Jean and I are both fine. It’s been a long, hectic summer, but, hey! – we wouldn’t want it any other way!! The run-up to the Summer Holiday Club was very involved, as were all of the planning and preparation for the Carnival. In between these two, we had our daughter Sam and Carmen and Raphael with us for 10 days, which was a lot of fun but very, very tiring! (Again, we wouldn’t want it any other way!) It’s great to see how these two seem to grow and change every time we see them. We are so blessed. We are in regular touch with Sarah and Johnny and Emilio in Brisbane, Australia, and they are all well.
We managed to get a 5-day holiday in the Isle of Wight at the beginning of September. We went with friends from the Loughborough church, and it was a nice, relaxing break in a part of the country that is stunningly beautiful. It gave us a chance to regroup, getting ready for more activities that we have planned this month and next.
We thank God for you, for your love, your prayers, and your support. Things are well with the church, and we are all feeling very positive after several very difficult months. Our God is good, and we know that He is with us.
Our love for you, our friends,
Bob and Jean
MARCH 31, 2014
Greetings from Nottingham!
As this month draws to a close, it means we are now one-quarter
through this new year! That both amazes and scares me! Time flies
just too fast these days. Life is precious, so we all – regardless
of our age – need to make the most of it.
We are in the process of making great plans for this year and
preparing for those that have already been planned. We know it will
be a super year – not because of anything that we do but because of
our Father who makes all things possible. We solicit your prayers
for us in the things we have planned.
At this stage we are planning at least two long weekend Gospel
Meetings, one in the spring/summer and the other sometime in the
autumn. We are just waiting for our proposed speakers to confirm
their dates with us.
For many years, we have been blessed with a number of our members
coming from Zimbabwe to be a part of our church here in Nottingham.
They have been a real asset to our work in so many ways, and we
don’t know what we would do without them. They have a great faith
and tremendous zeal for the Lord. Because of this we are planning a
meeting sometime in May/June with Augustine
Nyamatore. Augustine is from Zimbabwe but lived for many
years in the UK and returns at least once a year. He is highly
respected both here in this country and in his own country for being
a godly man with a deep love for God and a deep love for people. We
are hoping that this will encourage our Zimbabwean brothers and
sisters and encourage them to invite their friends.
Last year, we asked Dr. Alastair Ferrie
who works with the church in Dundee, Scotland to give us a weekend,
and he had hoped to do it this past autumn. However, health
problems prevented him from coming, but he is doing much better now
and plans to come this autumn. Alastair is a friend of mine from
way back when we were both “young evangelists” just starting out in
our work. He has always been a great source of encouragement to me.
He has spoken a couple of times in the past when we’ve had our
“Men’s Days” and what he says is always worth hearing.
It isn’t until the beginning of September, but we’re starting to make plans for this year’s carnival now. This is an excellent opportunity that we had last year for us to put the church before the whole community. Last year we placed emphasis on our recent mission trip to Honduras, and our display drew quite a few of people to our stall to learn more. We are putting together a “task force” to spearhead our plans for the carnival this year and to decide the best way for us to attract people to our stall so we can meet and talk with them.
Speaking of Honduras, we are starting to make plans for our next
mission trip there next year. Our first planning breakfast will be
in May, and we are certain for a good turnout from both our own
conger-gation and other churches in the country. Already, one of
the young girls in our congregation
Becki Gamble, has paid her
deposit and is well on the way to raising her funds to go in 2015!
She’s excited about returning! This is what we had hoped – that
our youth would be enthused to do some sort of mission work. Becki
came up through our youth clubs before becoming a Christian a number
of years ago. She’s one of our regular teachers in our Sunday
was one of the young men who was part of Team Britain in 2013. He
says it was one of the high points of his life and was determined to
go back. The only difference is he can’t wait until next year! He
has applied for – and been given – an internship to return this
summer. He will be there through most of June and July. He has
been seeking to raise the sum of £2000 for his air fare and
accommodation. The church here in Nottingham has given him £500
towards this goal and given him our full endorsement. I know when
Danny returns, he will be on fire, and his enthusiasm will serve to
boost everyone else’s desire to go. It’s just wonderful to see the
impact this has had on these young Christians.
Holiday Bible School
Plans are being made for a visit with a group from the South
Plains church this August. A group of up to 15 are hoping to come
and host a Holiday Bible School both to
encourage the church here, teach our existing children, and reach
out to the families who live in our community. This excites the
church as we look forward to them working with us.
We ask for your prayers. As you may or may not know, our
daughter Sarah and her husband
Johnny and our first grandson
Emilio have been back in the UK from
Australia for the past 6 months, as John has had a contract at
London Bridge in the makeover that is being made to the train
station there. When we left them in Brisbane last July, we had no
idea that we would be blessed with having them so close so soon. It
has been such a blessing to have all three of our grandchildren
together at the same time!
Those 6 months are now up, and they fly back to Australia
tomorrow (1st April). To say that we are going to miss them is
putting it mildly! We have watched Emilio grow from a 3-month-old
to 9 months now and can’t believe what these 6 months have done to
him! He’s developing a lovely personality, to the extent that I’ve
called him “Mr. Smiles”!
As I said, we ask for your prayers, first of all for their safe
journey. They will be stopping off in Dubai to spend a few days
with Johnny’s sister before flying on to Australia, arriving next
Monday. We also ask you to pray for them, as Johnny doesn’t have a
job to go back to but is confident of finding one fairly quickly.
Fortunately, Sarah will be able to return to her job as a
radiographer. The real uncertainty is what they will find when they
get back. They put most of their belongings in storage for the six
months they were away and have received news that there was a
serious fire in the storage facilities, and it looks as if they
could have lost everything. They won’t know what the situation is
until they get there. So, it’s daunting circumstances that
they are going back to. We are going to feel the distance of them
being so far away. Your prayers on their behalf would be much
Apart from that news and dealing with the emotional rollercoaster
of Sarah, Johnny, and Emilio leaving, Jean and I are both fine. She
is due to see the oncologist in the next couple of weeks for her
usual check up and is confident all will be fine. We thank you, as
always, for your support and prayers and your encouragement.
Bob and Jean
DECEMBER 16, 2013
Greetings from Nottingham!
I begin with an apology – for neglecting to put out an UpDate last month. The month just seemed to have sped past and was gone before I realised it. It was only until the other day that it was pointed out by a reader that they hadn’t received one since October. I was convinced that couldn’t be right – until I checked my files, and sure enough, it was October! I can only blame it on a sudden, unexpected death within the church early in November as well as preparations for speaking in Germany that made it miss my attention.
A Sad Loss
As I said, right on the heels of the death of Alan Gregory in September, the church was stunned by the death of Sharon Riley last month. Sharon was one of those members that every church needs – and if you have a dozen “Sharons” in your church, then your church is blessed indeed. I’ve known Sharon for many years, and I had the joy of baptising her several years ago. The one quality that characterised her was her humility. Sharon never considered herself an “important” member of the church, but in my mind (and everyone else in the church) she was an amazing worker. She’s one of those “backroom” Christians. You never saw Sharon at the forefront, but she was always there, working hard behind the scenes. She was a mainstay to our “Craft & Planning” group, handy with her hands in making things. Indeed, just a few days before her sudden death, because she was in such poor health, she asked if the group could meet at her house instead of ours so that she could help out packing some of the shoeboxes for our Shoebox Appeal. Sharon only had to hear that the church needed something, and within days it was there. Be it our pot-lucks, coffee mornings, tea afternoons, Harvest Supper – whatever, Sharon was one of the first to volunteer to do what she could. We will miss her greatly. Keep her two daughters Dawn and Anne-Marie in your prayers at this time.
Euro-American Family Retreat
I was quite surprised earlier this year to get an email inviting me to be one of the main speakers at the 50th Euro-American Family Retreat held in Rothenburg, Germany towards the end of November. I’ve been to a few of these retreats over the years but never as a speaker, so I was taken back when the invitation came. The theme for the retreat was “Remembering, Reflecting, Renewing”. The main speaker for the retreat was Curt Niccum from Abilene Christian. He was outstanding! The other speakers (apart from yours truly) were Mark Woodward, John Phillis, Bill McDonough, and Mark and Jill Brazle. Over 250 attended from most of the countries in Europe, so it was an excellent opportunity to hear what God was doing in these countries. It was good to meet up with many old friends (some whom I hadn’t seen in years) as well as meeting a number of people I hadn’t met before. I was tremendously encouraged to see the large number of young couples who are dedicating their lives to working in these countries.
Rothenburg is a magical, medieval town. In so many ways, when you enter it, it’s like stepping back in time. If
Christmas Coffee Morning
Midway through November, Jean and I held a Christmas-themed coffee morning at the building. We had good support from numerous members who provided mince pies, Yule logs, and other Christmas-type goodies. We had several of our usual visitors pop in, but we also had a couple who’d never been before, and they asked a lot of questions. As always, these are intended to keep the church before the people, letting them know that we try to open our doors as often as possible so that we can meet them.
A New Grandson!
So many wonderful things have happened since my last UpDate, but undoubtedly the most wonderful of all for Jean and me has been the birth of our third grandchild! Rafael Miquel was born this past Thursday, 12th December, in London. This is Sam and David’s second child, a brother to Carmen. Jean went down the Sunday before to be there to help Sam. I went down on the Wednesday to take my mom to Heathrow Airport for her flight to Houston. It wasn’t until I got to Sam and David’s that I got the news that Sam was in labour in hospital! So, it was a long day until we got a text from David just after two in the morning saying that Rafael had been born! Mother and baby are well, and we thank God for His blessings in the safe delivery. Jean has stayed in London to help Sam in these early days, and I came back to Nottingham on the Saturday. We’ll be spending Christmas with all three grandkids in London, so this is going to be a special Christmas for all of us.
In closing, may we say that we hope and pray that all of you will have a happy and joyful Christmas with your loved ones. May it be a special time for you, and may all of us be thankful to how blessed we have been this year. May the new year be one that will be filled with our expectation for God to do even more for us than we can begin to imagine.
We want to thank you for your help, support, encouragement, and prayers during 2013. This has been a tough year, but we have known throughout it all that God is with us. Your prayers for us have meant so much to us. We thank Him for the blessings we’ve had this year – especially the experience of working for 2 weeks in Honduras. That was something that changed the spiritual perspective of each one of us.
Our love for you,
Bob and Jean
OCTOBER 25, 2013
Greetings from Nottingham!
Can it be true that we are just 2 months away from the end of another year? Where have the days gone? What a year it has been, but more on that in another UpDate. It certainly has been an amazing year for the church here in Nottingham. Each month seems to bring new surprises and new blessings.
As you may recall, whenever we have a month that has five Sundays in it, instead of our normal Bible study that evening, we seek to do something different. We normally call it our “Fifth-Sunday Social”. Sunday, 29th September was one of those Sundays, and we decided to have a “Singing Social”. The evening was organised by one of the young men in the church, David Bullock and was dedicated to singing new and old hymns/songs. We invited other churches in the area to join us, and several from the churches at Loughborough, Ilkeston, and Morley in Yorkshire came.
With David’s help, in an effort to improve our singing, we have been trying to utilise our facilities to have the hymns/songs projected onto a screen and not rely on our hymn books. The evening was such a success that it is very likely that we will do this several times throughout the year, sometimes at Loughborough and sometimes at Morley. We hope this will not only improve our singing as we learn new songs, but it will also encourage greater support among the churches. Full marks to David; he did a great job.
Our annual Harvest Supper (when we seek to honour our Senior Citizens both within the churches in the area and our friends), was held on Saturday, 5th October. In the past, this has been organised by Alan and Christine Gregory, but with Alan’s death in September, it fell on Jean to take control, along with help from other members of the church. The building was full on the night, with half of those present being non-members of the church. Not only do we give those who come a wonderful three-course meal, but we have a little fun and entertainment at the end.
I know it sounds as if I’m bragging about Jean, but the evening turned out to be one of the best ever. Our visitors were profuse in their thanks at the end, and we have had a large number of “Thank You” cards from them expressing their appreciation for such a lovely evening. It has been wonderful to see the way evenings such as this break down barriers with people as we get to know them in an informal atmosphere.
For several years now, we have involved the church in putting together Christmas “shoe-box” gifts to be sent to eastern Europe. We normally put together anywhere from 60 to 80 boxes filled with small gifts and presents in a shoe box and wrapped as Christmas presents. These are collected and taken to countries such as Romania, Moldova, Albania, and the Ukraine. Tens of thousands of these are distributed every Christmas to families who would otherwise have nothing. The wonderful thing about this for our church is that every year several friends of members also get involved and put together shoe boxes, and earlier next year we will have a “Thank You” evening to which we will invite them and show them a video of the distribution of these boxes. Jean and her “Craft & Planning Group” spearhead this, and this year we will be putting together 60 boxes to be collected in a couple of weeks. (Secretly, Jean would love to accompany some of these boxes and give a first-hand report on the work that’s being done! I’m working on seeing if this dream of hers can be fulfilled!)
Honduras “Thank You” Evening
In the build up to our Mission Trip to Honduras in August, we were helped financially by many people in other congregations as well as outsiders who heard about the work and wanted to help. In some cases, the families of some of our young people who went helped them towards the cost of their air fare, while others made donations to our “Soles For Souls” appeal to buy new shoes to distribute to the people in Honduras who live on “The Dump”. (You may recall that sufficient funds were raised to purchase 1200 pairs of new shoes.)
On Saturday, 19th October, we held a “Thank You” evening so that we could give a fuller report on the Mission Trip and to say “Thank You” to everyone who helped financially to make the trip such a resounding success. Most of those in “Team Britain” who went on the trip were able to be there, and it was inspiring to hear them tell about what the mission meant to them and how it has helped change their lives. Most of them are already planning to go again in 2015, and some are even planning on returning on their own next year. An inspiring slide presentation was also shown to give everyone some idea of what was done by the team in Honduras.
I mentioned in last month’s UpDate about some of the problems and challenges that this church has faced this past year or so and how that, through prayer, God has worked to remove those who were the major cause of the problem. That doesn’t mean that such problems never leave scars, and the church has been dealing with the wounds that were left over. Although we have lost a few members over this, as I said last month, it has been encouraging to see our building full most Sundays, and (more importantly) to see the wonderful, loving, co-operative spirit that this church has been known for remaining within the church and its meetings.
God has a wonderful way of doing that little bit extra! We have been blessed this past month with several new members who have been meeting with us. They are students at the University of Nottingham, and new faces and new blood are always welcome. They are each from Africa (Ghana and Nigeria), and they are doing post-graduate studies. One young man is Christian Tamlakoe. What thrills me about Christian is that I taught his father John Tamlakoe at the British Bible School some 30 years ago. John returned to Ghana and has been a powerful worker in the churches there. It is so wonderful to meet his son and have him with us. We thank God for His goodness.
Jean and I are doing well. We have much for which we are grateful. We thank God for answered prayers in the safe arrival of Sarah and Johnny and Emilio from Brisbane this past month. Johnny has a 6-month contract with a firm at London Bridge in London, so we are thrilled to have them closer for a few months at least (something we never expected when we left Brisbane at the end of July!). It has been good to see little Emilio and how much he’s grown in three months. No bias, but he is absolutely gorgeous with loads of beautiful smiles!!! (I’m not sure, but I think there was another boy named “George” who was born around the same time, but he’s not a touch on our Emilio when it comes to good looks!) Emilio is blessed with excellent parents. We ask you to keep our older daughter Sam in your prayers as her pregnancy progresses. The baby is due in December (so, it looks like it’s going to be quite a Christmas this year!).
We thank you for your love, your prayers, your support, and your encouragement. We pray God’s blessings on you as you serve Him where you are. We have such a good and wonderful Father.
Bob and Jean
SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
Greetings from Nottingham!
Jean and I have been having trouble with our computers for the past couple of weeks. We believe the problem is with the router. We are in the process of trying to get a completely new system. Hopefully this will be done within the next few days. At the moment, there are times when we can get online, but most of the time we can’t. Sometimes, we are able to get online, only to have it shut down right in the middle of whatever we are doing. At the moment, everything is fine, and I’m hoping to get this written and sent before it decides to shut down. Wish me luck!
The first Saturday in September Stapleford had its annual Carnival, and we once again booked a stall so that we can try to place the church before the community. We decided this year to focus on our recent Mission Trip to Honduras. With some excellent photos from the trip, we had a wonderful display that attracted a fair bit of attention. Many stopped to look at the photo and ask questions, which gave us a chance to tell them what we did and let them know a bit more about the church. Each person was impressed with the Mission and commended the church for this project to reach out to people who are in such need.
The Carnival is always an excellent PR opportunity, and we know that many people who don’t stop to look at our exhibit see us there and know that the church is a part of this community. A number of the other “churches” in Stapleford also have stalls at the Carnival, and a number of them stopped to learn more about the Mission Trip.
David Bullock also used the Carnival as a chance to recruit more young people to our youth clubs. These will be restarting next week after the summer break, and he is hopeful that some (maybe all) of those who showed an interest in the clubs at the Carnival will come along. Keep David in your prayers. He’s doing an excellent job, and this year he will be without the help and support of some of our older youth who will be away starting university.
Mission Trip Update
We’ve been back a month from Honduras, but the excitement about the trip remains. One thing for which we are very thankful is that the last of our anti-malaria tablets were taken last week! The display that we put together for the Carnival has been at the front of the building for the past two weeks, giving every member to see more of what was done and to ask questions. At the same time, we are putting some of the information and photos about the trip on the outside notice board for passers-by to see. We are changing it each week so that they can have some idea of everything that was done. I’ve noticed a couple of times when I’ve been passing the windows someone stopping to look at the notice board.
The church at Loughborough is having a “Men’s Day” this Saturday, and I am taking the display with me and leaving it with the church for the weekend, as four of our “Team” were from the Loughborough church, and the church was a tremendous supporter of the whole project.
A tremendous amount of interest in the trip has been shown by Christians all over the country. We are planning our next trip for the summer of 2015, and already we have more than enough interested people who want to join. We know, of course, this may well be whittled down once people find how much is involved in raising the necessary funds. However, we are confident that we will have more than enough, and – who knows? – maybe even to have two teams.
Although the next “official” trip will be in two years, it looks as if a small team (mainly of some of those who went this year) will make an “unofficial” trip next summer – such is their enthusiasm for the whole thing! I think this would be great, will keep the interest at the forefront, and will show to all that the whole concept was more than worthwhile.
A Sad Passing
This past week has been a tough one for the church here and for me personally. One of our longest-standing members Alan Gregory lost his physical fight this past Sunday after over 2 years struggling with poor health. I seem to have lived at the hospital this past week, spending many hours at his bedside praying for and with him and seeking to give strength to his wife Christine. Alan was one of those back row, silent members who is always there ready to do anything that he is asked, and often just hearing that something needs to be done and getting on with it. He and Christine have been at the forefront of preparing our Harvest Suppers for our senior members for several years, and Alan will truly be missed. He was a man to whom the word “gentleman” certainly applied. I have never heard Alan complain about anything or anyone, and I have never heard anyone say a negative them about him. He was just a lovely, lovely, godly man, and I will miss him dearly. Please keep Christine in your prayers.
A Tough Year
This past year has been a really tough one for the church here, and the church has had a truly rough time, perhaps the hardest in its history. Without mentioning any names, it has basically been because of two members who came and placed membership with us, and from the start have had a completely negative attitude towards everything that was done, and they went a long way towards seeking to sow dissent in the hearts of many members. For the most part, they failed, and (sadly) I was pleased when recently they informed the church that they no longer wished to be recognised as members of this church. It also saddens me to say that they will not be missed. A “cloud” has been hanging over this church for some time, but I am glad to say that finally things are starting to look so much brighter. This past couple of Sundays, our meetings have once again been full, and the wonderful spirit for which this church has always been known is returning as everyone’s spirits seem to have been lifted. I know you have been praying for us, and I ask you to continue to pray. Satan has tried to destroy God’s work here, and he has failed. We praise God for this. He is good.
Jean and I are both well – just still a bit shattered from the long summer and the two trips to Australia and Honduras. We don’t get to see her as often as we’d like but our granddaughter Carmen always lifts our hearts! We are looking forward to having her with us for a weekend in a couple of weeks while her mum and dad go to New York. Fun and games for Granddad!! Also on a positive note, we are excited by the news that we will soon be seeing our grandson from Australia!! Sarah and Johnny (and Emilio!) will be arriving early October, and we cannot wait!! (God knows what we need just when we need it the most!)
We thank you so much for all you do for us – for your support, your prayers, and your words and notes of encouragement. Without you we wouldn’t be able to do what is being done here. We thank Him for you daily.
Bob and Jean
AUGUST 22, 2013
Greetings from Nottingham!
This will be a straight-forward UpDate with only one topic to tell you about. I intend to write a fuller report with photos in a few days, but I can’t contain myself. I have to tell you the wonderful news of the two weeks we’ve just had in Honduras.
Twenty-three of us met at the church building on Saturday, 3rd August to board the coach to London where we would meet the final group of our 24 at the airport, flying in from Scotland. Then, the group was complete, ready to board our flight to Honduras, via Washington D.C. (10-hour layover!) and Houston. Early Sunday morning, the 5th August, we landed in Honduras, not knowing just what lay ahead of us. We were met by Marc Tindall and several members of the church in Tegucigalpa, and we were delighted to see them!
After lunch, we hit the road running visiting the orphanage (“Casa de Esperanza”) run by the church. We played with the children and then took them into the local village fair. They are great kids, and it was a lot of fun! It gave us a “taster” of what was to come throughout our time there – surrounded and deluged by children!
Without going into detail in this report, let me give you a rundown of all that we did during our time in Honduras:
Jean and I were ready to come home at the end of our time in Tegucigalpa, but it was decided when we were making our plans that the group also needed some “R&R”. We took a coach from Tegucigalpa to the beautiful island of Roatan, and I must admit it was exactly what our group needed after the time spent in Honduras. Our group of 24 consisted of 9 adults and 15 young people, and the latter in particular needed this break. It gave them time to really gel as a group and to debrief all of the experiences they’d had in Tegucigalpa. Also, most of them had worked hard at weekend and after-school jobs the past 18 months raising their funds and giving up a summer holiday with their families. They unwound big time!
I cannot praise this group of young people enough. They worked hard the whole time they were in Honduras, throwing themselves into everything that was asked of them – with never a word of complaint. They all said that it was an experience they would never forget, and most of them are talking about going again in 2 years! They all said that they would talk their friends into going, too. I told them that when they start back to school or university next month and meet up with their friends, one of the first questions everyone will ask is, “What did you do this summer?” I told them after their friends tell are going to feel when they tell them what they did!! Envy? I’m sure!
Two of the young persons in the group were not Christians. We knew from the start that this trip was going to change the lives of all of us, but in particular our youth. We praise God that one of them, a fine young lady named Raya Chaundry decided to be baptised while she was in Honduras. One of her young Christian friends baptised her, and it was occasion for many tears!
We wish you could have made this trip with us (some of you who read this have already been to Honduras, Nicaragua, or Rwanda, so you know what I mean). But, we are so thankful to God that we were able to go. It was the experience of a lifetime. We thank God that all of us returned safely (I was the only one who sustained an injury – a black eye while building one of the houses!), but more than that we just thank Him for using us in the way that He did. Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your words of encouragement.
I gave a report to the church on Sunday about all that we had experienced, but I emphasised that this wasn’t just the work that the group had done, and there was nothing special about them. This was the work that the church as a whole had done because - while not all could go, the trip wouldn’t have been possible without the backing, support, and encouragement of the rest of the congregation. So much was given financially and through socks, shoes, sweets, trinkets by everyone in the church. What a great church this church is!
God’s blessings on all of you. We thank God for you.
Bob and Jean
AUGUST 2, 2013
Greetings from Nottingham!
As we’re going to be away for the next two weeks, I’m getting this month’s UpDate out earlier than usual. I felt it good that I send this early because no doubt things will be pretty hectic two weeks from now. There’s a possibility, though, this will be followed up by a second report later in the month.
Proud Grandparents – Again!
As you will recall from my last UpDate, Jean and I flew off to Brisbane, Australia early in July to be present (we hoped!) at the birth of our second grandchild. I’d forgotten just how far Australia was from the rest of the world, but two, long gruelling flights brought that back to us!! We flew for 13 hours to Kuala Lumpur and changed flights for a second flight lasting 8 hours on to Brisbane. It was all more than worth it, though, when we saw Sarah and Johnny waiting for us at “Arrivals.” As tired as we were, it was so good to see their faces! The reality of Sarah’s pregnancy was immediately apparent to us!!
Well, we would love to tell you what an amazing country Australia is and how beautiful the city of Brisbane is – but what we really want to talk about is our new grandson – Emilio Renzo Violi! He is absolutely gorgeous!! He was born on Tuesday, 23rd of July, one day after another boy was born (so I’ve heard) to some couple in London!! (Actually, it could be said that Emilio and George were born on the same day because it was already Tuesday in Australia when George was born!!)
Mother and baby are both well, and we are so thankful. (Oh, yes, the dad’s doing okay, too!) We worried at one point when Emilio came home from the hospital on the Friday that we wouldn’t get to see him again, but he and his parents walked through the door half an hour before we were due to leave for the airport – and then he rode with us to the airport, his first outing!! We were thrilled!
We are so happy for Johnny and Sarah, and we know they’ll be just the greatest of parents. It would have been an emotional time saying “Goodbye” just to them, and even more so in letting little Emilio go. But, we’re just thankful that we were able to make the trip and be there for such an important occasion.
That’s two grandchildren. Now for “Number Three”!!
Christians in Brisbane
We were looking forward to meeting with God’s people in Brisbane – but where?! We looked the church up on the internet to find that we had several choices. We found the one the closest and launched out on the Sunday morning not knowing what to expect. We were delighted with what we found, and both Jean and I came away feeling that we’d found our spiritual family “Down Under”. The church in the Holland Park district of the city is a vibrant, friendly church that really made us feel welcome. We look forward to meeting with them the next time we are in Brisbane.
We arrived back in the United Kingdom late last Saturday night, and it really felt good to be with our brethren here again. We had missed them so much. There was an air of excitement in the meeting, as it was our last worship together before our Mission Team flies out to Honduras tomorrow! Once again, we have a long trip ahead of us, flying to D.C., changing airports, sitting around the airport for the best part of 10 hours before flying on to Honduras via Houston. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be meeting God’s people in Tegucigalpa this Sunday!
24 of us will be making the trip together down to London (all wearing purpose-made t-shirts to advertise what we are doing). Our suitcases are packed, filled not only with our personal clothes, but also with hundreds of children’s socks, footballs (soccer) to be given to the many young people who don’t have them, as well as soccer shirts (donated by a local football team), and sweets and other items for the children we will meet. We are also taking with us the funds to purchase more than 100 pairs of shoes for people who have no shoes. We don’t really know what lies ahead of us, but we are confident that God has some great experiences waiting for us.
We ask for your prayers – for our safe journey, for the safety of everyone while we are there, for the people whose lives we will touch and who will touch ours, for the good that we hope we leave behind known only to God. I am confident that one day it will amaze all of us when we see what God was able to do with our feeble efforts. Pray, too, for those in the church here who aren’t able to make the trip but who have been magnanimous in their support financially and spiritually. Without them, this trip would not have been possible. We will miss them, and they have let us know just how much they will miss us. Finally, pray for those who aren’t Christians in this area whose hearts have been touched by what this church is seeking to do. Neighbours, work colleagues, family members, and friends of all have shown an interest and have helped financially and in other ways to make this a success. I spoke just this afternoon with one of our neighbours (who would say that he isn’t a believer in any way). I was touched when he said that he and his wife would be praying for us!
Jean and I are both well. We are tired from our trip to see Sarah and Johnny but thankful that we ere able to make it. And, we are so thankful to God that we are making this trip to Honduras. As I told the church here last Sunday, this is an unusual summer, certainly not the one that we planned some nine months ago. While we’re grateful for what we have been able to do and plan to do, Jean and I are also looking forward to some “normality” returning to our lives when all of this is over. (Define “normality”!!). We thank God for your support and prayers. Without you and the help and encouragement you have given to us, none of this would have been possible.
We love you,
Bob and Jean (aka, “The Eckmans”!)
JULY 1, 2013
Greetings from Nottingham!
I’m getting the latest UpDate off early in the month as Jean and I will be away for most of July. Time is running short and it now seems as if everything is rushing headlong demanding our attention to be done immediately. We really solicit your prayers for the weeks that lie ahead.
Up and Away Down Under
Jean and I leave this Thursday on the first leg of our journey to Brisbane, Australia! Even writing that doesn’t make it seem more real! We fly out of London on Friday, but we’re catching the train to London the day before to stay at Sam and David’s flat. This will be much easier than having to get up in the middle of the night to catch a train to London and then the Underground out to Heathrow Airport. (It also means that we might get a short glimpse of Carmen Thursday night as they arrive back from Madrid where they will have spent five days with David’s parents.)
This trip is about 12 months ahead of schedule, as our original plans were to visit with Sarah and Johnny sometime next summer. However, when they phoned us New Year’s Eve telling us that we were going to become grandparents again, we knew those plans had to change! The baby is due on the 11th July, so unless “Hamilton” decides to come early, it should mean that we should have a few days with Sarah and Johnny and then be there when the baby arrives. We would ask you to keep Sarah, Johnny, and especially “Hamilton” in your prayers, and we also ask to remember us in your prayers as we make the long flight “Down Under.” We return on the 25th July.
This is a bit old news, but I’m not sure if I mentioned it in our last UpDate. On the 19th May, we all rejoiced in witnessing the baptism of Mario Rogue after the morning meeting. Mario has been coming to our meetings for quite some time and is the friend of Jose and Mariana Encarnacao, our lovely couple from Portugal. They have taught Mario well (he speaks little English) so we were all thrilled when Mariana phoned me the day before to say that Mario had requested to be baptised. Several of his Portuguese friends and family came to the meeting that morning and then witnessed his immersion. We’ve all grown to love Mario very much and thank God for his decision.
Coronation Tea Party
Believe it or not, my earliest recollection of television was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. The images are vague, but they’re still there in my mind. June 2nd marked the 60th anniversary of this event, and as a means of outreach to the community around our building, Jean and I organised a Coronation Tea Party at the building on Saturday, 9th June. It was sort of a last minute, impromptu event, and we weren’t sure if anyone would drop in for a cup of tea and some cake, but we were thrilled to see several come in almost from the door opening and staying most of the time to visit and chat Jean and I were particularly thrilled that among those who came were four of our neighbours! So, this past year we have been happy to see a number of our neighbours drop in.
This past Friday-Sunday, we had our annual youth weekend. We had young people from all over England and Scotland come for a time of study, devotion, fun, and fellowship. The whole weekend was left in the hands of our youth, and they did an excellent job. The time was well organised and all of the youth had a great time. I’m proud of our young people. It encourages me to see how much they have grown and matured over the years. The service on Sunday morning was conducted completely by young people from other congregations. The singing was fantastic, and the young man Liam Bates who spoke (only his second time!) did a superb job and showed a tremendous amount of maturity. I married his parents many years ago, and it has been superb to watch him grow in maturity and spirituality.
When I praised them at the end of the meeting Sunday morning, I jokingly commended them for somehow managing to organise a fly-past over the building (and our house!) of the Red Arrows, the aerobatic team of the Royal Air Force! I said I dreaded the bill coming in!!
When we return from Australia, we have about 6 days before we leave with our group for Honduras. That staggers me whenever I think of it! After the youth weekend on Sunday, we had a final planning meeting of the whole group, and you could feel the excitement in it. We are all raring to go! 24 of us will leave on the 3rd August and return on the 17th.
Let me give you a few “financial” details of what all of this has meant. I recently pointed out to the church here in Nottingham that this venture has meant that we have raised approximately £50,000 (or roughly $77,000 for this trip. Now, most of this is in the air fares of those who are going, but quite a big chunk is also for supplies that we will need while we’re there to do the work we intend to do. Through donations to our “Shoe-0-Meter”, we are hoping to purchase close to 100 shoes for people who live on “The Dump” who have no shoes. Hundreds of pairs of white ankle-length girls’ socks have been bought and will be packed in our suitcases so that young girls can go to school. We will be taking a number of footballs (soccer balls) with us for the children.
What I really want to impress you with, though, is that not a penny of this £50,000 has come out of the church’s funds! It has all been raised through the collective efforts of members of the church in various activities that have been organised, as well as the efforts of every individual who is going. It has also been possible thanks to the generosity of those who can’t go but are helping and encouraging those who will! Right from the start, we made it clear that anyone who wanted to go would be responsible for raising their own air fare. Half of the group is made up of young people in their mid-to-late teens. Each one has found an after-school-and-Saturday job to find their fares! If we had said at the beginning of this venture, “We will have to raise £50,000” most would have said it was impossible. But, it has been done, and the excitement grows as each week passes and brings the trip nearer. We ask for your prayers for what this trip will mean for the lives of those we will meet in Honduras and for what it will mean to each of us who are going. May God truly be praised in this effort!
Jean and I are well and excited about both of our trips. This is going to be a summer we will never forget. We’re looking forward to being grandparents again! We’re looking forward to seeing Sarah and Johnny again. We’re looking forward to coming home and seeing Sam, David, and Carmen again. We’re looking forward to what God has planned for us in Honduras. We are excited!
We ask you to remember us in your prayers. I especially ask you to pray for Jean. I am slightly concerned. She got a good report from her oncologist in April, and they have indicated that there is nothing to worry about. She has had, though, a persistent and annoying cough for several months, and her doctor referred her to the hospital who scheduled her for a CT scan tomorrow morning. We won’t get the results of this scan until we return from Australia. All of the indications are that there is nothing for which we need to be concerned (it may be nothing more than a simple allergic reaction). I’m confident that this is all it will be, but when you’ve done battle once with cancer, well, I’m sure you know what that does to you. So, I would ask you to keep Jean in your prayers just now.
We thank God for you. We thank Him for your support and encouragement, for your prayers, and for your thoughts. We are blessed to have a family such as you behind us in what we do.
Bob and Jean
FEBRUARY 7, 2013
Greetings from Nottingham!
It’s been a couple of months since my last UpDate, and this was mainly due to the fact of such a hectic time over the Christmas/New Year holidays. Things tended both to slow down and speed up over that time, as I’m sure was true with you, as well. But, we are well and truly into 2013 now, and the pace is really starting to pick up. We had an unusual and incredible year last year, and this year looks as if it’s going to be one of the most amazing years this church and Jean and I have had.
Plans for 2013
Last week, the church leaders got together and started to lay out and finalise some of the activities that the church has planned for the year ahead. We’ve done something this year that we haven’t done before. We got a large “Annual Planner” chart and put down every-thing that we currently have planned for 2013 (and I think we were all surprised at how full the year is already starting to look), and we placed this “Planner” on the notice board so that each member can see what’s planned and (hopefully) book their engagements accordingly. We let the church know that the events we listed weren’t all that we hope to do, and certainly didn’t include such things as coffee mornings and tea afternoons and Fifth-Sunday Socials that we schedule throughout the year.
Let me run you through just a few:
As you can see, though, 2013 is going to be a very full year! We ask your prayers on each of these that they will receive God’s blessings if they are His will so that this church will grow in numbers, in love with the Lord, and in His Spirit.
Honduras Mission Trip
Of course, from the church’s point of view, the really big event of 2013 is going to be its Mission Trip to Honduras 1st - 17th August. Approximately 25 in total from the Nottingham church, as well as the church in Loughborough, a church in Yorkshire, and a couple from Scotland are making this trip. We have had regular meetings (mission breakfasts) throughout 2012 setting out plans for this trip. Our next breakfast is this Saturday (9th). We are all excited! Flights will be booked soon, so all funds must be ready very shortly.
Personal News and Plans for 2013
The year could not have started in a more exciting way for Jean and me, as I’m sure most of you already know. On New Year’s Eve we received a phone call from Sarah and Johnny, our daughter and son-in-law in Brisbane, Australia, informing us that we are to become grandparents for the second time in July!! “Baby Hamilton” (working name – they have no idea of the baby’s sex and haven’t chosen names!) is due the 11th of July.
We are thrilled and excited!!! This, of course, has completely changed our plans for the year! Ever since Sarah and Johnny moved to Australia 2 years ago, we have been planning (and saving) to go out to see them either towards the end of this year or early next year. We have decided that there is no way that we can be 12,000 miles away when this momentous event occurs, and Jean especially wants to be there to give Sarah all the help and encouragement that a mother can. So, if things can be sorted, God willing we hope to go to visit with them in July so that we can be there when “Hamilton” is born! With our trip to Honduras the start of August already booked, this will mean a very fast turn-around, but we think we can do it. No dates have been set yet, but we’re hoping to have a week between our return from “Down Under” to leaving for Honduras. (And, we’re not as young as we used to be!) We’re kind of hoping that the thrill of the work in Honduras will help to make it easier leaving Sarah, Johnny and “Hamilton” in Oz. We genuinely solicit your prayers on this.
So, as we pray for each of you and your church and the work and plans you have ahead of you for 2013, we ask for your prayers in all that I have told you about. We know that it’s going to be an exciting year, and we are confident that God has several surprises in store for all of us!
We are both well and in good health, for which we’re thankful, and the church here is strong and vibrant. (This past month alone has seen the building packed Sunday after Sunday, and the wonderful, loving spirit within this church continues.) We thank God for your prayers, your support, and your messages of encouragement. They mean more to us that you can know.
Bob and Jean
DECEMBER 11, 2012
Greetings from Nottingham!
Just two weeks until Christmas. Seems not much more than that since we were putting everything away from last Christmas!! No doubt next year will seem even shorter! But, 2012 has been a good year with lots packed in it, and we have so much to be thankful for as we approach the end of this year. We pray that it has been as good a year for you as it has been for us.
Lots has happened since our last UpDate, the most notable being our trip to the States to visit our supporting churches there and to catch up with family and friends there. Jean and I flew out of London on the 23rd October for Lubbock, Texas. It was great to be back with our good friends there, and especially those at the South Plains church. As always, the Lubbock people were very gracious and friendly, and it was good to see many good friends from over the years, as well as get the chance to meet new friends. Our time there gave us the chance to share with them what God has been doing here in Nottingham since we were last in Lubbock 4 years ago.
The second weekend we were in Texas, we visited with the church in Childress, Texas who also help in our support. Again, it was good to see people that we have known for so many years, and we always go away wishing that we could have spent more time with them. It helped having seen four of them (Dee and Susan Green and Mike and Sue Henderson) back in June when we went to Paris with them, and it was good to relive some of our memories of that trip.
Then it was back to Lubbock for Jean to fly back to London on the 6th of November, allowing me to stay on the best part of 2 more weeks. I appreciated the chance to speak at both churches, and I’d like to think that the news that we shared with the church in both Lubbock and Childress of our work here in Nottingham was an encouragement to them, as surely as what we saw the church doing there encouraged us. It’s always good to hear of what’s happening in other places. I cannot thank enough those who gave us beds to sleep in, cars to drive, and food to eat while we were there. All of you were so generous to us, and we have to admit that we had a lot of fun while we were with you.
Stop off in Houston
On the way back to London, I stopped in Houston for a few days to visit with my brother and sister-in-law, which was in a lot of ways the proverbial icing on the cake! It’s always hard to be divided from your family by miles, so any time we can spend with one another is always golden to me. Jim took time off work two days to spend them with me, and also to give me the chance to see one of my aunts that I hadn’t seen in over 30 years. I have fond memories of my dad’s sister Virginia and the summers we spent as kids at their house. My memories of her are always of a lovely, gentle person, and it was so good to spend a few hours with her reliving those memories and catching up on each other’s news.
My time in Houston also gave me the chance to meet up with two old school friends that I hadn’t seen in many years (in one case, not since the day we walked out of high school for the last time!). That was a special day, too, and we all agreed how blessed we were all those years ago to have had such good, strong friends to help us through those early years of our lives.
After visiting with other members of my family, with a mixture of sadness and joy, I flew out of Houston for London on the 15th. I was sad to leave so many good friends and family behind, but it felt good to be heading “home”. Jean and I can’t thank everyone enough for all that they did for us.
We hit the road running when we got back from the States. Jean had 2 weeks to put the finishing touches to our planned Christmas Fair on Saturday, the 17th November. We didn’t know what to expect, but posters had been put up and flyers put through the doors of the houses around the building and our street. When the doors opened at 11.0 o’clock, there was a queue outside waiting to come in!! Two words sum up the day: absolute success! I give credit mainly to Jean who spearheaded the whole thing, but also to so many others in the church who did so much to make it a great day.
I estimate that we had somewhere close to 60 people from the community drop into the building to do a bit of early “shopping” for Christmas presents, to have some mince pies and/or Yule log and a hot drink. The building was packed, and we had many opportunities to chat with people and share with them the work of the church. Jean and I were particularly pleased to see many of our neighbours come into the building, and we feel that this is an important breakthrough in our relations with them. We were thrilled.
A lot has already happened in preparation for the holiday season. Instead of our usual Christmas meal, this year we opted for a Christmas Pot-Luck this past Sunday. We had a wonderful time of worship with the building bursting! Then, most stayed behind for our monthly pot-luck meal. We had so much food that we had difficulty finding table space for it all! These pot-lucks are a wonderful time for us to spend time visiting with each other. Then, last night, instead of our usual Monday “midweek” Bible study, we went out for a Christmas Meal together at a local restaurant, and had a lot of fun. The waitress was intrigued as to who we were, so it gave us the chance to tell her a bit about the church, so who knows?!
News of Simon
This will be old news to those that I saw in Lubbock and Childress, but I thought it only right to share it with you once again. Just before we left for the States, Simon announced that he was standing down as the full-time Youth Worker as he had secured a part-time job at a multi-faith centre at Derby University, working primarily with the “Roma” refugees (we used to call them “gypsies”) in the Derby area. He will carry on this job until he finishes his degree course at Derby University next summer, and then will see what develops.
Simon has been a tremendous worker in the church over the years, doing a sterling job with our young people and developing a good and active group of young people. With help from other members of the church, David Bullock has agreed to step into the gap and is running our weekly Friday youth clubs, also getting help from many of the older teens. David is a fine young Christian, but we would ask for your prayers on his behalf.
There’s so much more that I could tell, but I’ll leave it at that. We enjoyed a couple of days in London with Sam, David, and Carmen the week after I returned from the States, and then weekend before last, they came up to Nottingham to celebrate David’s 40th birthday, giving Jean and me the chance to have Carmen all to ourselves all day Saturday and that night! It was golden!! We’re looking forward to spending Christmas with them in a couple of weeks.
Thank you once again for your support, your prayers, and your words of encouragement. We could not do what we are doing without your support. This has been an exciting, but challenging year, and we are confident that God has great things in store for us in 2013. I know He has them ready for you, too! May you have a happy and joyous Christmas with your loved ones, and may we wait with great anticipation for the year ahead.
Bob and Jean
SEPTEMBER 25, 2012
Greetings from Nottingham!
Every month, when I sit down to write my UpDate, I have to ask myself what I have to report. Many times I panic thinking that not that much has happened and I don’t really have anything to tell you! And, in all fairness, sometimes that’s true. Like any other church, we always have something going on by way of our usual meetings and Bible studies and there’s nothing “special” to tell you about. Thankfully, that isn’t always the case. I sort of felt that way when I opened my computer, but I think I’ve got several good and exciting things to relate to you!
I forgot to mention last month that our summer camp this year the end of July was another tremendous success. Most of those in our youth group were there helping teach classes and acting as counsellors, and several of the youngsters from church were campers this year. It involved several carloads to get them all transported! They all came home excited, having met old friends and making new ones. I feel it’s good that those in our youth group that come primarily from non-Christian homes make friends which help to broaden their scope of the church and gives them strength as they face a world that is increasingly non-Christian.
On Saturday, 18th August, I flew to Belfast to hold a 4-night Gospel Meeting with the Westway church in that city. The theme for the meetings was “Living With God”. It is always a treat for me to go to Belfast as it is a city that I dearly love, and the Westway church is one of the warmest and friendliest that I know. The meetings went well with good attendances every night and good support from other churches in Northern Ireland. It was good to see some friends from many, long-standing years and to make some new ones. The church was particularly pleased to see several visitors at the meetings as a result of both their advertising of the event and through members inviting friends. We can only pray that good seed was sown.
My mother went with me, and she also enjoyed being back in Belfast, getting the chance to recall many wonderful memories when she and Dad worked in the city. Old friends were delighted to see her, and she enjoyed being with them. Laugh?! I haven’t heard my mother laugh like that in a long time! On the Thursday morning before we flew back to Nottingham, I took her on a tour round the city and to see places which still hold fond memories for both of us.
Sunday, 9th September, we had a guest speaker at the church here in Nottingham - Mark Hill from the church at Loughborough. Mark is a fine man whom I’ve watched grow physically and spiritually, having taught him at the British Bible School many years ago. He is highly respected by the church in this country, and he served us well that Sunday morning. His lesson was inspirational and encouraging, something that we really needed.
In His Care
On Saturday, 15th September, the church hosted a group “In His Care” that has recently been organised by Christians from various congregations throughout the country to bring churches up to date on what the law in this country teaches regarding “child protection” and the “protection of vulnerable adults”. We had a good group from our own congregation as well as from churches throughout the country join us for a full day of work-shops to look at this very important subject. Some who came from other congregations indicated that they hoped to do something similar next year.
We continue to hold our Mission Breakfasts once a month, as we meet and pray about our planned mission to Honduras next August. Most of the plans are more or less finalised until airline costs are posted later, so our meetings usually are now more of a devotional nature as we seek to inspire one another. We are all excited about these plans and feel that they are going to have a significant impact on this church.
Art Exhibition and Auction
This past Saturday night, we held an “Art and Craft Exhibition and Auction” at the building. We asked any member who wanted to produce any kind of work of art or craft to do so and bring to the building where everything would be sold or auctioned off. We also asked those who may not be artistically inclined to think of some service (car washing, ironing, etc.) they could also offer to be auctioned. All proceeds of the auction and sale were to go towards purchasing things that we will need to take with us to Honduras next year.
Well, what an evening it turned out to be!! Several met Saturday to set up the building and the display, and when we came that night, the building looked amazing! More importantly, we were all astounded at the talent that we have in this church! The whole evening was a load of fun, and it was good to see friends come along and join in the proceedings! The final total of money raised was £780 ($1200+)! That will go a long way towards buying food for the people who live on the dump in Honduras, as well as educational material for their orphanage and clothes for children. That’s great, but what it did for the church to do this evening was of the highest value!
So, as you see, things have been rather hectic here these past few weeks, but it’s a wonderful feeling being busy for the Lord! We simply thank Him for the opportunity to serve Him. This is a wonderful, generous church, and we feel blessed.
Jean and I are in good health. Jean has her next visit with the oncologist in a couple of weeks, and we’re hoping for a continued good report. We constantly ask for your prayers. Our daughter Sarah in Australia is well, and we are so thankful for Skype to help us stay in touch with them. Our daughter Sam in London is also well, as is our granddaughter, and we’re very thankful that we’ve had several opportunities this summer to be with them. Sam, David, and Carmen will be leaving in a couple of weeks for Australia to spend a few weeks with Sarah and Johnny. It’s going to be a strange feeling having all of our family on the other side of the world “Down Under”!
We thank God for you, for your support, encouragement, and your prayers. May you continue to serve Him where you are as we seek to do the same here.
God’s blessings,Bob and Jean
AUGUST 16, 2012
Greetings from Nottingham!
Christmas in July
We tried something completely unique one Saturday in July – some would probably say more “bizarre” than “unique”! We decided to make that particularly Saturday “Christmas”! We put a Christmas tree up in the building, and decorated the inside of the building as you would for Christmas, and then we put leaflets through the doors of houses in the vicinity as well as posters up in local shop windows inviting people to come and have Christmas with us – in July! As well as having a feast of Christmas pudding and mince pies, they could also do a bit of early “shopping” – buying unwanted toys, etc., in good condition that were donated by members.
We opened the doors on the day not knowing what to expect, whether this would turn out to be nothing but a big embarrassment. I already had some inkling that it wouldn’t be, but you never know. Out of all the coffee mornings and tea afternoons we’ve had over the years, this was our most successful, yet! Many came from the neighbourhood, giving us the chance to meet them and chat with them. Jean and I especially were pleased that several of our neighbours expressed an interest in it (one even took some leaflets to give to her friends!) and said that they would come. Three of our neighbours came and spent quite a bit of time talking with us and asking more about the church and some of the things that it is doing. In all of the years that I have worked in this country, this is the first time that we have any of our neighbours come to anything that the church was doing – and not for lack of asking or inviting! One couple in particular showed a lot of interest in our mission plans for Honduras next year.
I wanted to share the good news with you that we were thrilled on Sunday, the 5th August we witnessed the baptism into Christ of Joel Adams. Joel is the youngest son of Derek and Lisa Adams. He is 13 and has been an active member of our youth group for several years. This was the answer to many prayers. It’s so good to see someone give their life to the Lord when they’re young. It all happened on a wonderful Sunday when we the building was full, we had a number of visitors with us, we had a pot-luck meal after the morning meeting, and the whole day truly was one of those special days that we all thank God for. We ask you to pray for Joel and for other of our young people whom we feel are close to committing themselves to the Lord.
A couple of months ago, the church bought new, much more attractive and eye-catching signs for the outside of our building. With the help of one of the young men in the church, I finally got both signs hung, and the transformation they make to the appearance of the building is incredible. We have a wonderful building for which we are very thankful, but we know that it isn’t the most attractive of buildings on the outside, so we’re seeking to do all that we can to change that. The signs go a long way in helping to achieve that.
The Olympics are all over and have moved into history. I know it has nothing to do with our work here, but I do feel that I need to make some comment on the past two weeks of London 2012 because it’s been amazing to be in this country and to witness the Olympics from almost firsthand. I guess it all started with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at the beginning of the summer, but the patriotism that I have seen here in Britain this summer has been incredible. I have never seen so many British flags (“Union” flags) being flown everywhere in all the years that I’ve been in the UK! I’ve never seen it worn on so many shirts by both men and women, young and old. It really captured the hearts of the people. Considering the fact that some politicians in this country seem to have been doing their level best to split up the United Kingdom, the Olympics did a great job in making every person in this country proud to be British! The biggest transformation that I saw was in London, which at times can have the reputation for not being all that friendly. When we travelled to London on the train, from the moment you stepped onto the platform, you could sense that this wasn’t the same London that we went to in the past. Everyone was friendlier and more polite than I had ever seen before. I hope it continues because London really is an amazing city.
As we knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, we decided to try and see some of the Olympics. Sadly, we couldn’t get tickets to any of the events that we wanted to see (basketball, volleyball, athletics, swimming), but we did manage to get them for one of equestrian events, so we went with Sam and David, our daughter and son-in-law (suited Sam because she loves horses!). What a fantastic experience! Just walking to the venue was something else! And the icing on the cake? The British equestrian team took gold on the day!! So, we got to see the medal ceremony. Did I sing “God Save the Queen”? I’ll let you guess!!
We also got tickets to go round the Olympic Park, which in itself was worth it to see where everything was happening, and on the same day, thanks to David’s parents, we were guests of the Namibian National Olympic Committee and had a guided tour round the Olympic Village! We felt very honoured!
But, the best part of the Olympics as far as Jean and I were concerned was the fact that when we went down to London, we had an opportunity to spend some time with our granddaughter Carmen!! Beats gold medals any day!
Jean and I are both well and our health is good, for which we are very thankful. The “questionable” mole on the top of her head that was surgically removed back in May has completely healed, and the oncologist said there was no indication of malignancy. We are delighted with this news – and I now have to stop calling her “Patch” because of the small bandage she had on her head!! We continue to thank God for you and your love and support, and we feel blessed to be working with such a wonderful congregation. Continue to pray for us.
Bob and Jean
JULY 3, 2012
Greetings from Nottingham!
As I write this, I know that tomorrow is an important day in the lives of many who will read it. Although I have now have lived out of the United States for 47 years, the 4th of July is still an important day to me, as well. I won’t have tomorrow off from work. It will be a normal day just like any other, but I will still fly my American flags on my car, and maybe go to the pub around the corner from where we live and have a hamburger and a root beer. To all of my fellow Americans, I hope you have a happy and joyous 4th of July!
As I said last month, Jean and I were looking forward to a visit from some good friends from Childress, Texas during June. It was good to meet up with Dee and Susan Green and Mike and Sue Henderson in London on Friday, 8th June. What a fast-moving visit it was! We gave them a whirlwind tour of some of the many sites of London before going with them to see Les Miserables Friday night. Saturday morning, we all caught the train to Nottingham, and after unloading their luggage at our house, we took them on another whirlwind tour of Nottingham, showing them the Castle, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, and Wollaton Hall. Sunday morning, they had a whirlwind visit with the church here in Nottingham, with both Mike and Dee telling the church some of their experiences in Honduras.
After a whirlwind lunch, we caught the train with them back to London where we boarded the Eurostar train direct to Paris. Monday we saw everything in the Louvre Museum (the Mona Lisa is smaller than I imagined!), the Arch de Triumph, and the Eiffel Tower. Tuesday morning we saw the Pantheon and Notre Dame cathedral before they took a taxi to the airport for their flight to Rome. Needless to say, once they had left us, it seemed so strange without them! The rest of Tuesday, Jean and I had a relaxing cruise along the Seine and a stroll around Paris before catching the Eurostar back to London Wednesday morning.
I don’t know about the Greens and the Hendersons, but it was one of those “trips-in-a-lifetime” for us! It was so good to be with them. We had so much fun and so many laughs!! We have many wonderful memories of those few days, and it was such a shot-in-the-arm for us. It is always encouraging to be with them. We cannot thank them enough for including us in their itinerary and for treating us to such a memorable few days. Their short time with the church meant a lot to the Christians here in Nottingham and helped them to understand even more about the work that is set out for us in Honduras next year.
On the 21st June, Jean and I flew to Dublin. I had been asked by the church there to speak at their annual retreat, and they insisted that Jean come with me. The retreat was the Friday and Saturday in Rostrevor, just over the border in Northern Ireland. It was a wonderful, soul-inspiring time to be with my Irish brethren. I was the main speaker (subject: “The Changing Church”), but several of the church’s members also brought short talks, which were absolutely amazing as they talked about what Christ meant to them in their everyday lives.
We met with the church back in Dublin on the Sunday, and that, too, was a great experience. I had been asked to speak at the meeting, and – no relation whatsoever with the fact that I spoke – we were thrilled to witness the baptism into Christ a fine young man who had simply walked in off the streets last year searching for the truth.
It has been a blessing to see the way that the church in Dublin has grown over the years. Tony Coffey and his wife Leslie have been good friends for many years, and it was good to be with them in their home and to spend time with them on the Monday seeing some of the beautiful sights of the Emerald Isle. Tony has been a rich source of encouragement to me for many, many years. The few days in Ireland were a wonderful, cup-filling time for both of us.
A New Member
The Sunday that we were in Dublin, I received a text from my sister to tell me that a young man who had recently moved back from Berlin asked to place membership with us in Nottingham. I have known Andrew Wheatley for many years, watching him grow into the fine young man that he is today. He has always had a deep love for God’s Word. We are confident that he will be an asset to the church here.
Honduras Mission Trip
Plans are moving forward for our Mission Trip, God willing, to Honduras in August of next year. The group has been finalised, and those going have made the initial deposit towards their air fare. We have regular meetings one Saturday each month, and now that we know the make-up of the group, we can start making definite plans as to what we will be doing when we get to Honduras. I will keep you informed as this progresses.
2012 is an amazing year to be in Great Britain. I have no doubt that all of you have been aware of the celebrations around Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years since she has been on the throne. I personally have nothing but admiration for her and the way that she has conducted herself over this period of time, and her Jubilee has inspired a tremendous amount of patriotism in the people of this country – something you don’t often see openly displayed but is there nonetheless. I mentioned in my report last month about the church’s celebrations for the Jubilee.
We also have the 2012 Olympics starting later this month in London, and that, too, is developing into an incredible event. The Olympic torch has been making its way around the country, and Jean and I went into Nottingham last Thursday to join the crowds wanting to see it. We have applied for tickets for one of the events and are still waiting to see if we will be successful. Jean and I both felt that this was one of those once-in-a-lifetime events that we will be sorry if we don’t at least try.
This will seem a strange thing to put in a report, but I believe something that this country has witnessed this past few months has very deep spiritual lessons for all of us, and I wanted to share it with you.
To some it is rapidly becoming distant history, but to those who experienced it, part of it will stay with us forever. I’m talking about what the locals called “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland towards the end of the 20th century. Those who were not there may have seen the news reports on the television or read about it in the newspapers, but if you were not there, you really have no ideas of how bad it was. Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland was very much a warzone. “The Troubles” covers the 30-some odd years of terrorism that Northern Ireland experienced transforming what was (and still is) a beautiful part of the world in which some wonderful people live. Looking back, there were many aspects of it that today seem mild. You could take your car into the centre of Belfast and park it, but someone had to remain in it the whole time. If not, the security forces would blow it up for fear that it may contain a bomb! You got used to the security checks in the city centre and outlying shopping precincts so that being searched as you would at an airport became routine. The same was true when you passed through the security barriers in the main shopping area of downtown Belfast. Mankind soon adjusts to things like that, so much so that when peace returned to the province and such security measures were no longer necessary, women would automatically open their handbags and men would raise their arms when they entered a shop!
On the more serious side, it isn’t a comfortable feeling to be sitting inside your house and several times a day feel the whole thing shake as a bomb went off somewhere in the city! Imagine looking out of the front window of your own house and seeing an army patrol of 6-8 soldiers, automatic rifles loaded and at the ready, patrolling past your house on both sides of the street. You stop your car at a police check and you know that guns are trained on you and your vehicle should something be wrong. You drive down the streets after a night of rioting to find many of them still blocked by the burnt-out hulks of cars, trucks, and buses that were used as barricades. I remember walking the dog one night and less than a mile away I could hear the automatic fire of several machine-guns and the acrid smell of smoke coming from a riot or other incident just down the road from our house. Anyone that you meet in Northern Ireland today will know someone who had been directly involved in “The Troubles” through death or serious injury or imprisonment. A good friend of mine at university was murdered by the IRA. They were dark, terrible days which we can only pray are now permanently behind us.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, it’s because of two things connected with the Queen’s Jubilee. A few months ago, Queen Elizabeth included a tour of the Republic of Ireland in her Jubilee celebrations. This was the first visit that a British monarch had made to the Republic since it gained its independence in the early part of the last century. When I was in Dublin last week, several Irish friends told me how much that one gesture on her part meant to them, reconciling the differences that have existed between the two countries for several decades. They had nothing but praise and admiration for what she did.
Last week, the Queen made a tour of Northern Ireland as part of her Jubilee celebrations, as you would expect. One thing occurred during that visit that it is hoped will make a big difference to the future of Northern Ireland. The Queen met Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s First Minister. Nothing surprising in that until you consider that Mr. McGuinness was a former member of the IRA during “The Troubles”, and God alone knows how many people whose deaths he may have been responsible for during those 30 years. The Queen’s cousin, Lord Mountbatten, was murdered by the IRA. What goes through a person’s mind when they know they are about to meet someone who may well have been involved in the murder of someone in your family?
I admire the Queen for the graciousness with which she did both of these things. It’s a tremendous lesson on forgiveness and reconciliation, and I hope it will be an example to all who were caught up in “The Troubles”. Anyone who cannot forgive will live in the past and will never be able to move on into the future. The past will haunt them and destroy them. The Queen is a very religious woman, and I have no doubt that she has read many times the words of our Lord in Matthew 6:15 – “If you do not forgive men their sins, our Father will not forgive your sins.” We mustn’t just read these words but do them.
Please accept my apologies for the longer-than-usual report. I promise that it will be shorter next month! Jean and I thank God for you, for your prayers, your support, your notes of encouragement – and just knowing that you are there enabling us to be here.
Bob and Jean
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