October 30, 2010
I could just say go and read the book of ACTS and that is all that took place in India. Emmanuel – God with us. That was certainly true. The Holy Spirit, who came to earth when Christ went to heaven, to complete the commission of Jesus here on earth until He returns, He, the Holy Spirit of God was so Emmanuel! The highlight for me had to be Ram coming to a faith in Jesus.
Ram, a Dalit boy in an Indian Village
After visiting one of the Good Shepherd Schools, (the ones OM has set up) we went to a village 8-10 miles from the school. There are no roads into the village, just dirt tracks and the kids either walk or ride a bike to school every day. There is a fledgling church there and several of the women and children in the village gathered to meet us and come for prayer.
I saw a group of boys standing at a distance the whole time and watching and listening to Pastor Peter speak. As we closed and the team were praying for people I went over to the group. I singled out on boy, may be because he looked about Mike’s age. One of the OMers who is a teacher at the school translated for me. I shared about my only son dying and about God’s only son also dying. What a joy to see tears in Ram’s eyes and for him to kneel with me and pray to come into a relationship with Jesus. I was so proud of Ram as in India, especially in a small village, Hinduism or Islam is a way of life and to walk with Jesus comes at a cost. We as a team prayed with a good number of people during the week and I would say they made another step in their journey to know God but Ram made all the steps. He asked the local pastor who works as a teacher at the school if he could have a portion of scripture. I gave a big fatherly hug to Ram. These are the untouchable people in India. The higher caste would be offended if an untouchables shadow came across them and here was I hugging Ram. We will never know the power that we can have by physical touch to these lovely people. I will continue to pray for Ram, its not important whether he is a “Christian”, what is important is that he is a disciple, a follow of Jesus.
October 27, 2010
Today I will be going into a prison for 1400 men in a town they refer to in Hindi as “Criminal Town”. Not becasue of the jail but because many people carry guns. Oh well I supose this is when I get spiritual and say “mines bigger than yours, I have a sord”! Unfortunately only two of us can go in there and so it will be Pastor P and me. These are the times you feel so inadequate. I smile as this is an email Mike sent when he was on Logos II.
This is my last week in Bermuda, we leave for the Bahamas on Thursday and it’s a 4 day voyage. I haven’t managed to get off the ship alot this time, mainly because I only have sunday’s off, The chief mate of the ship said he would try and arrange it where i can have at least 1 day off per week but then he left, so i’m rather stuck at the moment but i guess that’s life. I’ve sent you guys postcards (that would be my parents and Luke for the yp’s) so you guys should be getting them soon, they are currently in Germany and waiting to get sent to England unless you guys have them already ha-ha.
This afternoon (Sunday) I went to a prison where I spoke to the guys who are in jail about our Lord Jesus Christ, We sang some hymes and me and some of the ships people who came with me, we did a drama and spoke out testimonies. It was a new experience for me, i’ve never been inside a prison before. The prisoners were quite nice, I shook some of the prisoners hands, I was quite blown away by how nice and well behaved they where, in a prison you’d kinda think it was the opposite, but then again I guess that is what prison does to you. The prison was quite big there we’re so many cage doors everywhere, Almost every corridor you entered had a cage door to enter and to exit.
I was also blown away at their faith in christ, They have a pastor that comes and leads them in a church service twice a week, it’s just over time that they have really welcomed Christ into the prison, if you met one of the prisoners you wouldn’t think for one second that he was a prisoner just at how nice they were, they were just like ordinary people. I was quite nervice when i came, I wasn’t really looking forward to meeting guys who have done bad things, even horrible things and meeting guys who come from bad nabourhoods and bad cultures, at the time i kinda though to myself that i’d rather wait in the lobby haha but after meeting them it wasn’t bad at all i think it was a wonderful experience.
Anyways so yea the ship leaves for the bahamas on Thursday and we stay there for about 2-3 weeks maybe longer before heading out to the cayman islands and that’s pretty much it for now. i hope to talk again in a week or so.
Thanx for all you prayers God Bless xx
"There's an officer on deck!"
October 23, 2010
Several of us from the team visiting India sat in a small mud floor shack made from rubbish and bits of wood in the slumb and listened to the story and prayer requests of the two families. The man shared that in the past couple of months he and his wife had prayed morning and evening to Jesus, who the OM team had been telling them about. He said “I feel the burden has lifted and I seem to be getting more business”. His business is to ride one of the bikes pulling people around. I shared that Jesus did not ride on a fine horse drawn carriage but on a donkey, the King of Kings on one simple donkey. We prayed and sang, such simple acts and I watched these four people so happy and content and open to Jesus. An old lady came to me and was so grateful for all the team coming and simply putting nail varnish on their fingers, washing kids and giving new clothes, singing songs, playing with bubbles, she touched my chest, knees and shoes….I was so choked and knew they had experienced the Love of the Father.
Proudly showing off their new vests
October 18, 2010
When Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, to leave the presence of God, I think the Father had many tears in His eyes that day. I dont think the Fathers walks in the cool of the day were ever the same again. When He looked at that tree He and Adam had planted, when he looked at that particular spot where He and Adam had thrown stones in the river, that place where He and Eve had an awesome chat.
The Fathers love is deep, that relationship with Adam and Eve was perfect in every way. As dad I know my flaws, my failure and my short comings and so do my kids. They miss out on the totality of Fatherhood because of those flaws in me.
The father had no option but to administer justice as a result of Adam & Eve’s disobedience but I wonder if it was on one of those walks, with the absence of his loved ones, with a heart so full of love that His mercy poured out and His plan for the cross of His Son came to be! (Dont tell me my theology is up the creek, Im enjoying myself here!)
As a dad who has lost a son, I too take walks and have bitter sweet memories of Mike. As I study God’s Word more and more, especially with the “new lenses” I have, I see the Fathers love, His pain, His aspirations for His Children, His tears and His Joy, in places I had never thought of before.
God made us in His image. Not from the design of something He had conjured up, not a walking tree or some animal, but in the very likeness of Himself. There is something so special about us, our worth to Him, our value to Him that to restore those walks in the garden with us, He sent His only Son to die for us!
October 17, 2010
Kathy and I often will say to each other “its all so bizarre”. We still have to pinch ourselves that August the 1st actually happened. There are many aspects of the whole event that continue to take time to process.
Sam Curry the undertaker is the brother of our friend Ian Curry who we have worked with for 2o years plus. Sam talked with such love, care and dignity when he refered to Mike. He would say “Mike has come into my care”.
Sam had to talk through many aspects of the funeral with us. One of those was what clothes would we like Mike to be buried in. What a bizarre question. How many of us think about that? I expect my family will bury me in my red Hawaiian shirt! In fact, Kathy had already thought of that and had prepared them. For centuries mothers, wifes and daughters have prepared burial clothes. Its not something a man thinks too much about. I remember in my sub-conscious seeing Kathy polish Mikes shoes, find a nice shirt and trousers and put his glasses with them. She prepared them with such love. Although in the latter part of Mike’s life he and I would go shopping for his clothes, most of his life his mum did that. What a painful but loving act to provide his clothes that one last time.
When Adam and Eve eat from the fruit and discovered their nakedness, before God sent them on their journey out of the garden, he too clothed them. He know what it is like to cloth loved ones before sending them out of his presence.
The shirt Kathy choose one last time for Mike
October 13, 2010
Black & While Portrait of Mike in the Gate - Port Lympne Zoo, UK
We have all grown up with the phrase, “time heals”. Yes when we damage ourselves physically, with time bones will fuse together again, cuts will join and the skin will heal. There may well be consequences from the damage in the form of a scar, a limp or some other symptom. So in our case where there is huge emotional damage you would naturally say “time heals”. What we mean by that is the further away in time we get from the event that caused the pain and damage, the more the emotions will resettle to a “normal” state. That is possibly true but I am starting to see another factor, “absence separates”. Think about it, in a relationship the longer we are apart from someone, the greater the feeling of separation. If both parties intentionally separate because they have no desire to continue the relationship, then I think they add a turbo boost to accelerate themselves away emotionally engaging with the other person. If on the other hand, circumstances, a job, a move or death separates people, then we do not want a turbo booster we want the biggest anchor we can find! With todays communication technology we really are not absent. My friends Skype with video several times a week to their daughter in Canada. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are able to video link with their loved ones.
So on the one axis time is healing the emotional pain of loosing Mike and on the other, the longer he is absent from this world, the greater the separation. So whilst my friend Steve can talk to his daughter Vickie this week, it maintains his emotions and emotional connectedness to Vickie. I dont know what my last words to Mike were but they were on August 31st 2009. (Oops, its several hours since I posted this. I promise I have not contacted the dead, he wne thome on the 31st of july!) The longer Mikes absence the greater the feeling of being separated. That makes me angry! I am annoyed that Mike is less and less in the forefront of my mind. Work and life are taking more and more emotional and thinking space. I hear you say “that’s good Mark, you are showing signs of healing, of returning to normal, you could not emotionally sustain that level of intensity”. For the first time I empathise with those who do not wish to be healed!
So we love the portrait Kayleen painted of Mike. After collecting it yesterday from being framed, I hung it on the most prominent wall in the house where we will see it many times during the day. Looking at photos and video clips of Mike act as an anchor to slow down the pace of emotional separation. They help to keep the emotions alive. The reality is that I love him today as much as I did when he was here with us. Does time heal, not sure? Maybe its more we learn to live with the disability. The three legged dog runs around happily playing.
October 6, 2010
We have moved into another new phase in our grief journey. Mike’s life was planned out until September 2010. He was accepted into Nexus College in Coventry, UK for a year. During this past 12 months we have discussed how he might have got on and the what next scenario’s. Would he want to stay for a 2nd year? Would the finances be there for that? Would the tutors offer him a place for a 2nd year? Would he be disappointed that he was not able to do what he wanted after Nexus? Would other doors of opportunity of opened for him? Would he come home and have to get a job? As parents you naturally worry over your kids. Some kids give you more concern than others! Akila has been very purposeful her whole life and has never given concern. She is a self-starter and takes lots of initiative. Laura is excellent academically and doors will naturally open for her. Mike on the other hand was neither good academically or had much drive to make things happen, he relied a lot on us for help. All of that thought is the Human Story.
Now the Faith Story. God knew the very days of Mike’s life and he forenew that from August 1st, 2009 Mike would be with him in Heaven. Whilst we fret he knows the whole story. God knew from Mike’s conception that he would only be on this earth for 18 1/2 years. God provided for Mike for those 18 1/2 years and he would have provided and lead for a further 20 years if Mike had needed. That may or may not of ment we had to continue to walk step by step with him to discover the journey and realise his passion and purpose.
Vision, Faith and Action have to all be a part of our journey. Akila has wanted to work with children in Brasil since she was 13. That is a future state of what she can imagine. There are elements where that is humanly possible and there are elements where that is a real faith challenge. She has worked incredibly hard for 10 years to achieve academically. We so often forget just how debilitating her hearing disability is. As far as we know she is the first on Kathy’s side of the family to obtain a degree.
A great man on his death bed said “may your vision be bigger than your capacity”. I hope many of us will see a future state that is beyond the human reality. That we will see what God sees. Jesus said of Jairus’s daughter she is asleep, whilst the people gathered there laughed at him. Jairus did not accept the human reality of the death of his daughter. He had the vision of seeing her alive again. He had faith in Jesus and he got off his butt and did somthing about it! Jesus saw from A-Z and knew that this was not the right time for the girls death. In Mike’s case, death on August 1st was a part of the plan. Neither Kathy or I had the conviction or vision to see Mike’s life past that moment. We did not bring Mike to Jesus.
So whilst we speculate what he would have been doing now, we realise he was not ment to go to Nexus in the first place and so the whole exercise is futile!
Handsome and Bored!
October 3, 2010
A natural question to us as a family is whether or not we are moving to Australia. Its been 26 years since Kathy left Australia. Having just turned 50, this would be a good time to move and still give opportunity for continuation in our careers or ministry. Akila has just finished her degree, Laura has completed her GCSE’s (on opening the envelope of the results yesterday she discovered to more A’s not B’s which she had been told!). Was that a part of this trip?
A huge issue for Kathy & I at this stage is one that most people over look. It is so hard to think of leaving Mike behind. That is an emotional hurdle not a practical one, which makes it more complex and harder to deal with. We have come a long way but we still have a ways to go. Whilst we know the reality of where Mike is or is not, whilst we would be the first to say that what is in the ground is his decaying body and the head stone is just a piece of granite, we are close and surrounded by memories, beautiful ones.
Kathy and I walked through our park yesterday chatting and mulling over issues. We often use the term “up-rooted” for a dramatic move in someone’s life. When you have a small plant and the root system is small, that is a fairly easy endeavour and more often than not, the plant survives in the “replanting”. A large well established tree is not “up-rooted” and replanted, a cutting is taken and grafted onto another tree. Yes there are some plants that a cutting is taken and it is placed in water for it to reproduce its own root system before being planted.
Last winter and early spring I drastically pruned two of our larger trees as well as shrubs along a border. Its amazing to watch the Oak tree, with large solid branches produce tiny buds and through the summer grow into small branches and develop leaf’s. God has designed a natural order for fruit trees to be pruned in order for more fruit to come. Our prayer and plea with God though Mikes death has been that there is much eternal fruit.
The train is already further down the track and distance between where we were this time last year and today is significant. We continue to wait on the LORD, (in the starting blocks waiting for the gun not lounging around on the couch!), process, seek advice from others and heal. When we no longer view our reality as “leaving Mike behind”, when we shift our emotions to focusing that “Mike has gone on ahead”, then as our friend Barry Kissel once said to us, “the next thing is the natural thing”.
Sunset in Brisbane
October 2, 2010
One year ago when we walked through the door of the house after being away for a week, it was so depressing. The house was quiet, people had gone, the flowers were dead, Mike’s room had to be packed up and on and on. Our minds were chaotic with multiple thoughts, simple became complex, energy was gone.
Within minutes of returning from Australia Kathy and I sit in Mike’s room or the “pool room” as we fondly call it and drink tea. Kathy returns Mike’s teddy dog, RoRo to his shelf after getting many photos of him in Australia. We love Mike’s room and I sit in my favorite chair. Our minds are not yearning for answers, we have finished all that part of the processing. Our hearts are at peace. We put on his Ipod and listen to familiar music.
Today as I wake at 05:30, the stars are profound. What a joy to wake and appreciate what we have not what we lost. Kathy and I went to see Mike and tell him we are home! We were surprised that the plot next to him as been filled whilst we were away. Kath and I would often pray for the people who would be buried either side of Mike, knowing that they were alive at that time. We wonder who the person is? How old? I still find great comfort in visiting Mike even though I know his spirit is in Heaven and he cannot hear a thing I say!
Whilst we are sad to leave family and friends in Australia, already miss the warmth of the sun, love the coast line walks and cycles, we are also happy to return to family and friends here. Laura walked into her room to find it decorated by her friends as a welcome home. My friend and work mate Colin kindly picked us up at the airport. Jamie, who had been house and cat sitting, put basic foods in the fridge, mum phoned to welcome us back……..all acts of love and kindness.
One of the by-products of Mike’s death is that we “cease the day”. We continue to find opportunities to celebrate. There is no point in focusing and whining in what we do not have. Yes there is a very big part of us that would love to live in Australia and enjoy the out-door life style, the awesome church life, fantastic wines…… But every day there is a choice to make on what we focus and where we spend our time and resources.
Much has happened in Australia to all four of us and we need time to process. We were exposed to some awesome events & people and there is much to learn.
Hot Air Ballon Ride For 50th