Wednesday, 2 November 2016

All Saints Day Celebrations

It´s been a few years since I went to one of the All Saints Day celebrations - the kite competitions - so yesterday I went with a few friends. Traditionally, families would go to the cemetery and fly home made kites in memory of their loved ones who have passed away. Now a couple of towns are well known for their kite flying competitions.
The kites are made by groups or clubs, who spend months planning, deisgning and making their kites. They are made out of tissue paper, supported by bamboo, and involve intricate designs, telling a story, or paying homage to someone, or supporting relevant themes ('No to child abuse', o 'Celebrate Nature'). The kite are of various sizes, some as large as 10metres across.
 On All Saints Day (1st Nov), everyone gatheres together to compete as they attempt to fly the kites. The smaller sizes (2, 3 or 4metres across) have a good chance of flying, but these days the larger ones are more of admiration, than for real flying.
 Thousands of people gather in Sumpango to see all the kites, watch the attempts at flying them, and also for the kids just to have fun flying their own normal-sized kites.
 So here´s just a few of the amazing kites that were on display yesterday.

 Friends and Latin Linkers appreciating the kites!

Kids all around us were successfully flying kites - but it´s actually not as easy as it looks!! But this is proof that we eventually managed to get the hang of it!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Panama part 2

My second week was still in Panama, but as part of the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commision Consultation. The theme was polycentric mission  - ie mission from anywhere to anywhere - which is the reality of global missions today - and how our organisations and structures can reflect and support that. It was great to meet others involved in global missions, and hear others persepctives.
 I was invited to be a plan of a panel to discuss young leaders in mission -- which was an interested prospect at the age of 41!
The event was in a spectacular place so I enjoyed an early swim every morning, preparing for me for the days of networking!

 And whilst we were there, we had the chance to visit to the Miraflores locks on the Panama canal, and watch as a cargo boat moved through the locks - and moved crazy amounts of water to operate the locks.

 It´s a slightly different scale to the locks on the Caledonian canals I travelled through in Scotland just a month before!!

Panama part 1

My first week back in Latin America was spent in Panama, for a week of meetings with the Latin Link Core Team. We were planning the programme for our enxt International Assembly, as well as discussing various other issues affecting Latin Link.
 On a lunchtime walk to the waterfront. The water wasn´t particularly inviting given the traffic that passes fairly closeby - which we could see on the horizon!

 We had chance to explore the old town of Panama - colonial buildings, boutiques and restaurants!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Step Legacy

During my time on sabbatical over the last few months in the UK, I´ve really enjoyed catching up with various friends who I first met when they participated on Latin Link´s short term mission programmes in Guatemala.

It´s been lovely to see Step teams who still enjoy getting together and encouraging each other- even 7 or 8 years later - still sharing the same jokes - but also their achievements and challenges as they work out grown up life (kind of!)

And it´s intriguing to hear how each of them look back on their experience of Step or Stride.

Several ex-Striders talk of their plans to return - some more concrete than others.

One talked of her experience as being instrumental in her career choices since, as she discovered her God given gifts whilst jumping out of her comfort zone in a Stride placement.

One ex-stepper talked of the 'formative' time he spent as part of a team.

Another talked of having found faith during that time. Even though she had grown up in a Christian family and spent years in  church youth groups previously, it was her time on Step that brought her to a real relationship with Jesus.

On the flipside I also know one or two for whom Step was the beginning of their faith slipping away, as they discovered that their faith-through-family-and-youth-group didn´t have the personally held foundations they needed once they were away from that.

Those two sides of things still show something about the authenticity of life on a Step team - when the superficial is striped away, and we have to interact with our real identities.

So I still love Step!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Wind n Spirit

I´ve had a great week with Latin Link Scotland sailing the Loch Ness, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and the Caledonian Canal connecting them all.

1 week
12 people
2 (small) boats
6 different church visits
A huge amount of food
5 swims
A bit of sunshine

So here´s a few photos...

Thursday, 28 July 2016


Part of my module last week at Redcliffe was focused on reconciliation as mission. So we had a bit of a field trip to Coventry Cathedral. It´s a spectacular place with a really interesting history and legacy.

The original Cathedral was bombed in the war. The bishop at the time, when he visited the site day after the bombing, decided to add a new inscription behind the altar saying 'Father Forgive'. Although many suggested to him that it should be more specific - asking God to forgive the Germans who were responsible, he was adamant that it should be simple 'Father Forgive'. He explained that we are all responsible for conflict, and should all seek God´s forgiveness for our part in it.
A time later they needed to work out what to do with the bombed out site. Some suggested razing it to the ground, others rebuilding on the same site, but it was decided to preserve the ruins as they were - as a reminder of the past, but to build a new Cathedral to it´s side. Coventry Cathedral has become a centre for reconciliation, linking with other sites around the world seeking to be the peacemakers in situations of conflict.
 The sculptures around the site remind us of the realities of war. Above is a (bad) picture of a memorial dedicated to the Unknown Civilians who have lost their lives in war. Apparently, although there are many memorials around the world to the Unknown Soldier, this is the only one recognising the civilians who are caught up in conflicts.

 The new Cathedral has some spectacular windows. The one above, is at the entrance hall, and has a glass engraving of angels and saints.
The side window panels, which are only visible as you reach the front of the Cathedral and look backwards, depict the various stages of life. As you walk past them going forward, you only see the stark concrete of the building - but as you look back, they appear, just as we often only make sense of the stages of our lives with hindsight!!

 Archangel Michael defeating Satan.
 This side window is really spectacular, and depicts the sense of God´s light breaking into, and expelling the darkness. It´s much better in real life, so I encourage you to go and have a look!