...You have turned my mourning into dancing.
You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
So that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord God my God, I will give you thanks forever (Psalm 30)
The beautiful words above, written by King David hundreds of years ago, describe well my past year. I didn’t know at the time but when I arrived here I was carrying a lot of “stuff.“ Over the last year, I have been confronted with a lot of my own brokenness but I know that God is healing me, and changing me in this process. An image I’ve frequently thought of is Aslan the Lion in 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' clawing into Eustace’s flesh, removing layers of skin, but in that painful process creating a new person. I am thankful for this time away, for a counsellor, a slower pace of life, which has enabled healing and I know is preparing me for future ministry.
Trinity School for Ministry
I’ve finished my first year at Trinity seminary, located in a small town near Pittsburgh, western Pennsylvania. I’m studying towards a Masters in Theology and Church History. I have one more year of classes to finish and then I plan to write a thesis.
Some glimpses of life here:
- Ambridge is a former steel town devastated by the decline of the steel industry. Trinity was planted by an Australian missionary in the 1970s and it was placed in this town intentionally so as to be involved in a hurt-ing community.
- I joined a “cleaning and beautifying” community group and it’s been a joy to bring more beauty to this town.
- There’s a Coptic Orthodox Church one block from Trinity and I’ve enjoyed making friends there, and buying Egyptian food supplies.
- I’ve loved group study sessions with a diverse group of friends. My friend recently bought a kettle just so she could make me cups of tea!
- I attempted enculturation by joining the seminary flag football team. We won the “Lutherbowl” against other seminaries.
- I helped organize “Missions Day” where Archbishop Mouneer was speaking. As he spoke about ministry in Egypt, I was reminded what a privilege it was to serve in this Diocese.
- Learning the difference in pronunciation between “beer” and “bear,” and realising that the kiwi phrase “sweet as” can be easily misunderstood…
- Finding life-giving community at Southside Anglican Church, whose focus is “messengers of God’s radical grace to the wounded and sceptic.”
The Summer Break
Over the summer I lived at a retreat and prayer centre on the Southside slopes of Pittsburgh. I spent a lot of time praying and reading, which has been a welcome break after the intensity of the year.
It was also a great joy to work part-time for the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF). ARDF’s mission is to partner with local Anglican churches to transform lives and communities in some of the world’s most challenging areas through sustainable, high-impact development projects. I really like their partnership model, as the Archbishops of the Global South make the funding decisions for projects in their areas of the Anglican Communion. Previously I had worked with them in implementing pro-jects in Egypt, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Iraq and before I arrived, ARDF had been praying for someone to work in fundraising. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written a funding proposal for education projects including a school for pygmies in DRC, vocational training in Myanmar, and a hostel for female students in Tan-zania. See more here: www.ardf.org
I was recently put in touch with two families recently arrived in Pittsburgh from Syria. They are from a Muslim background. During their time in another Middle Eastern country they have been doing “Discovery Bible Studies” and the patriarch of the family had a miraculous vision of Jesus. The first time I visited, I didn’t go with an agenda but just to meet them and be friends. However, immediately the kids asked if I was Christian, the 9 year old girl told me stories about Jesus in Arabic, and asked if they could come to church with me. They have lived through very difficult times that I can’t imagine, but I do know when they talk about Jesus they do so with joy and their faces light up.
Thank you for your love and prayers. I’m excited to continue walking in this adventure that God is taking me on.