Helen and Alastair - some background

Helen and Alastair - some background : We have always hoped to return to Africa once more before we're too old (perhaps we already are!). Alastair first went to Africa in 1974 as a junior doctor, working for the Church of Scotland in a small hospital in Transkei, South Africa. I met Alastair there in 1982, were married in 1984 and continued in Transkei until 1988. From there we went to Kenya, as employees of the Church of Scotland, where Alastair ran Chogoria Hospital. We left in 1995, with Alec, Peter and Becky to establish the children's schooling and our work in Britain. Here Alastair found himself as consultant in Breast cancer surgery, and Helen initially trained and worked as a GP before "evolving" to full time ordained ministry. Alec is now married to Ruth, and they have baby Zach; Pete is in his final year of medicine in Edinburgh, and Becky half way through nurse training in Oxford.

The Diocese of Western Tanganyika is a partner of Gloucester diocese. The plan is for Helen to join the teaching staff of the Bible College, teaching those preparing for ministry. Alastair will teach English to the students at the college, as well as doing some surgery at the church-run hospitals, and helping with project management in the Diocese.
We will keep you updated on our plans over the next few months and will greatly value your prayer support. Our current prayer requests - and thanks to God of course - will be posted on the side bar.

Friday, 11 October 2013

New teacher

It has been good to welcome Mike Heylings this week, from Mitcheldean. Mike is here for 7 weeks to help with English teaching in the college, and will be living with us - and as you can see is well settled in already! I'm so pleased to be able to share the teaching load, so after an introductory day with me today he will be in full flow next week, giving me more time for my main subjects.
Earlier this week I accompanied colleagues to the funeral of a young pastor's wife who had died following child birth. A very sad day. I didn't know her but here support at such an occasion is important, regardless of whether you are acquainted. I've written about a local funeral before, but continue to be impressed and challenged by the way grief is dealt with. I was out for 7 hours! The first hour consisted of driving in various circles around town, progressively filling the landrover with people hoping for a lift... clergy, wives, babies..... and bumping over the village roads to the church. The basic service is perhaps similar to what we would expect in the West, though attended by upwards of 800 people. Then everyone came forward to give a gift of money to support the husband and his family - and as in this picture  - to give a word of comfort. This took an hour or so but was very beautiful.  After introductions of all the guests and more prayers, everyone came forward again to walk past the coffin, which was opened... again a reverent though emotional gesture. Then we walked to the burial site, where the men are traditionally responsible for the burial while the women sit quietly and prayerfully some distance away.  It's strange for me as in much of the service, as a priest, I join with the men, but at the time of the burial realized I needed to stay with the women. While it was sad and very respectful there was much chatting and singing, and the day ended with a meal of rice and beans for everyone who had come.

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