Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Pressure from no one but me

I always knew it would be a bit odd, going back to just doing bits of services and being formally assessed after almost a year of 'going solo.' To be honest, I am looking forward to having some feedback (good and bad) other than the usual (and well intentioned) most members of congregations make at the door.

I'd like to think I have fairly high standards to what I do and prepare - though am aware there will be times when things just don't come together as I would like. I know The Boss is very, very good at her job, especially preaching. So, I'm somewhat feeling the pressure as I prepare to preach on Sunday.

This isn't pressure from anyone else. I've been given free reign over what bible passage(s) to use. Members of the congregation have reassured me no one will expect me to be a copy of Laura - and I know they aren't just saying that to be nice. No, the pressure is that I place on myself, knowing this is a congregation which has grown since Laura arrived and I don't want to break it.

And, though I've chosen 2 readings, I'm now wondering if I should be just using the 1. Maybe this will become clearer as I discuss my ideas during supervision tomorrow - hopefully.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Days off and building jigsaws

So, yesterday was my first real day off for 3 weeks. Yes, for the first 5 days of being in Malawi, I was not on probation, lets face it, with the best will in the world I was being assessed and watched by those from Airside with whom I was travelling. And, for the 2 weeks we were out there, there was no rest for the wicked!

It being a pretty rubbish day, weather wise, Spot and I decided to head westish. I dropped a friend a text before we left, to see if they'd be up for a visit - and they were. It was great to see them - and their children. It was a joy to spend time with them, catching up on news and seeing how the wee ones are growing and developing (and how good the oldest is with his wee sister - and jigsaws for that matter).

As the wee boy was getting ready for bed, we said goodnight. He wanted us to stay over, so we could have breakfast and go to church together. Sorry dude, I work on a Sunday - I'm a minister. This is the second time I have tried to convince him this is what I do, though he seemed a little more open to the idea than the last time I (and his Mum) tried to explain this to him. So, how do I convince an under 4 year old what I do without turning up to see him in a clerical collar? As far as he's concerned, I am the person who talks about trains and Thomas and motorbikes and Peter Rabbit and helps build jigsaw puzzles with him. But, maybe that's no bad thing!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

A quick reflection on the start of probation

So, the group from Airside arrived safely from Malawi on Friday morning. That was a truly AMAZING experience - one which I will be pondering and thinking and reflecting on for a long time to come. I'll post properly on some of it on the coming week (once I've sorted through the almost 700 photos!), so this is a brief (she hopes...) thought about the beginning of my probation.

It's a funny thing, I had never been told, I'd have to share a room with The Boss, but it didn't come as a surprise. Luckily, we got on like a house on fire and I'm really excited (and dead, dead chuffed) that I'll be working with Laura for 15 months. The thought never occurred to me before, but this past fortnight could have killed my probation too! But it didn't. The others in the group were totally fabby, and I feel so blessed to have been included so easily and quickly. And the experience was AMAZING (did I mention that before?).

There's much I have learned. I don't know how long it'll all take to process, but I'll reflect on it as I go. I have seen that Laura is really loved by those we travelled with. She's got a great gift to connect with people and pull brilliant stuff out-of-the-bag at extremely short notice. When it comes to worship stuff, I have to admit I am quite in awe of her - and it takes a lot for me to do that with anyone.

I was discussing this with one of the older members of the group, who agreed this is one of Laura's gifts, but reassured me I wouldn't be expected to be Laura - and I know she meant it. But, I now feel the pressure, because this is a congregation which has grown (in numbers and depth) in the time Laura has been their minister - so I feel I have a high bar to live up to, so I don't ruin what she's doing.

Which meant yesterday (I know, so much for a day off!) it took me over 2 hours to write a thanksgiving and intercession prayer. It was a combination of being out-of-practise (we're not following the lectionary today, so I can't 'research'), being nervous about being 'assessed' for the first time in well over a year and knowing how good I want to be, never mind how good others who will be leading aspects of worship at Airside today are. Spot thought it was a good prayer, though I suspect what I've written and what I will actually say may differ when I actually lead the congregation in prayer.

And, the 'no rest for the wicked' continues tomorrow with Holiday Club - bring it on!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Malawi - here we come!

Tomorrow, I begin a journey. A journey which will take me, along with a group from Airside Kirk, to a community in northern Malawi. A community with which Airside has a twinning and has helped to, along with the parish, to help build a new manse and (figners crossed it's finished) a piped water supply.

I'm heading with the group, as I will be serving my probation at Airside, which I will begin while I am out there. Really - what a way to start (though it might be downhill from then on!). It's an enormous privileged opportunity I have been given and I hope to make the most of it.

Today, I sorted out the last of the bits and pieces I need to take with me, and got my packing due. At one point, I did think I had finished packing everything, then realised the underwear I'd laid out was still on the window sill - going commando was never going to be an option! Could have been worse, I could have realised after I arrived (nice).

Did have to nick borrow Spot's ex-army bergen rucksac. I could get all I needed to take in my 70 litre rucksac, but there was no space left - which would have made bring stuff back a little problematic! I have travelled to New Zealand with my rucksac, but I didn't need wipes, toilet paper or a smart outfit (including shoes and jacket!) for Sunday worship. I genuinely did not realise how much space the smart outfit out take up.

It's a long journey (including an overnighter near Malawi's main airport it's a 48 hour trip). Hopefully I can sleep through most of it. Or read, or talk, or watch the scenery from the plane windows. But it'll all be worth it to share worship and life with the sister church to Airside Kirk. And to get to know my boss - Laura Roslin - and the rest of the group better. Due to being out there, though, it's unlikely I will be blogging till I get back. Then, I'll be on probation and who knows what may or may not happen! But I'm sure there will be plently I can reflect on during this part of my journey.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

'Fun' on a Friday

I can sleep through almost anything. It is a great gift I have and one which has been admired by varying people throughout my lifetime. So, being woken by Spot at 1:30am (yes, in the morning) was not a good sign. Firstly, things were not good, secondly, I did so with disturbing ease. This means, somewhere deep, deep in my sub-conscious I knew there was something SERIOUSLY wrong. You can read Spot's version of events here.

Suffice to say, when he headed off with the ambulance crew to the local A&E, though I went to bed I did not sleep very well. There was the combination of fear, adrenaline (which is brown) and concern that, despite having my phone and the landline handset right next to my left ear, I would sleep through the phone if it rang.

So, Friday was a bit odd. Phoned Spot's work to let them know he wouldn't be coming in. They were shocked (not as much as I was love!). He phoned and let me know which ward he was in (cardiac care!) and gave me strict instructions to carry on as normal. Given how 'normal' life is in the Gerbil household, that gave plenty of flexibility.

A haircut was booked, and there is something unnerving about waiting for a phone call at anytime while discussing first homes, the weather and the forthcoming local gala.

At some point in the morning, I had contacted Laura (my soon-to-be boss), as there was a final prep meeting for those of us heading to Malawi - I may not have made it. She was sooo supportive. Yes, she was heading into the hospital to do the rounds, but visited Spot too. I was very impressed.

When I went into see Spot, there was a trashy romance novel on the table. That was all the 'literature' which was available in CCU. We had a discussion about getting a better range of fiction for the ward at some time in the future. I think I would have struggled to read that more than he did (I had brought Game of Thrones with me for him).

The medical staff I met were lovely. Genuinely caring, informative and just, professional. I know this shouldn't come as a surprise, but this has been a hospital which has had a bit of a kicking from the local press - but you never hear the good stories.

There is something surreal about being talked through what's going on by Dr Noh - who was lovely, but I expected him to tell Spot 'no, I expect you to die, Mr Gerbil!'. Then a Peter Capaldi look-a-like also came in (that was one of those moments of 'I know you from somewhere', then the realisation of no, you just look like a famous person).

After 2.5 hours of visiting, I headed off to Airside Kirk for the stuff I needed to do there. Nothing I could do at the hospital, so might as well get on with life. It was actually a good laugh and I feel part of the group. The danger, though everyone would have so understood was I would 'remain' an outsider if I had not got there. As the law of sods would be, Spot phoned just as dinner was about to be served, but picking him up from the hospital was more of a priority.

It was good to have him home. It was one hell of a scare and did, in a very real way, highlighted just how important pastoral care for the nearest and dearest is. In some ways, it was worse - just waiting and being in a position where there was nothing which I could do. Spot was getting tests and a whole host of nurses running after him, while I waited for the phone to ring. Not a lesson I wanted to learn first hand, but certainly one I will be very much bearing in mind.

And am I still going to Malawi on Thursday? Yes. There's a whole load of reasons why I have to go, but mainly life goes on (not to say that it would probably distress Spot if he 'stopped' me going). I know we have been looked after, on many, many levels so far, so I'll trust that God will continue his care.