Saturday, April 08, 2017

Sending out the Nine

God’s mathematics – 9 divided by 4 plus 2 equals lots of people prayed for and blessed plus 2 balls of knitting wool. That describes my yesterday activities.

The nine – myself, Andy, Carla and Daniel, Ellie and Angus, Michael, Andrew and Raymond. Jesus sent his disciples, whether the twelve or the seventy two into the surrounding towns and villages to preach and teach, heal diseases and cast out demons. It’s a vision that our church has made regular practice for the last few months. It was the first time that I joined them, Friday usually being a work day. It brought back memories of Gospel Outreach team days – these particular days of talking to strangers were never the ones I enjoyed. I’m not that good at the one-to-one encounters.

The four – four cars. Obviously we could have fitted into fewer cars but we weren’t all starting off at the same place. I sat next to Raymond. I know his wife and his wife’s sister and his wife’s sister’s husband but I have never had the chance to get to know Raymond. He works for a tourist company called Happy Tours that run mini busses around the Highlands and islands. The busses are apparently small and the driver is the tour guide and gives all the interesting commentary of the places they visit.

As well as the conversation with Raymond, I loved not being the driver in the car. I love to gaze out of the window. The previous day, driving out to see Heather at Moniack, a pheasant in the ploughed field the other side of the hedge had run beside the car, keeping up the pace – so I was keen to see if I could spot anymore of them.

The two – two villages along the A9 heading north, Golspie and Broara. I visited Golspie High School a number of years ago when the education system had money to send teachers out to interesting places to learn stuff by watching the experts. I went there to look at co-operative learning in action.  Broara had a whisky distillery – enough said! The man that used to be a green keeper at the golf course at Broara also used to be our part timer in the department.

The lots of people prayed for – we arrived at the carpark in Golspie and broke off into teams of three people.  I was with the other two ladies. Ellie and I were pretty much first timers and left most of the talking to Carla. Most people were too busy to stop, too healthy to want prayer for any aches and pains, and although polite about it, they were not interested.

There were a couple of people who claimed an acquaintance with me. A young man, Adam, putting up a new sign for the local newspaper office said I had taught him a decade or two ago. He listened but he really wanted to get on with his job. The other man, George, insisted he knew me from the Red Cross House in Inverness. I’d known and visited a young man there but our dates, George’s and mine, didn’t match up. George was happy for us to pray for him. He reminded me of a friend of mine in Inverness who says “I know” to everything I say even when he probably doesn’t know at all.

Carla, Ellie and I walked down to the sea front. I regretted not bringing my camera and trying out a few panorama shots. The sea, the sand, the rock pools and the clouds were a perfect picture.

We spoke to a man called Bert.  He was happy to listen as he polished his car – not the outside, but all the bits under the bonnet. I wanted to tell him that for all the car he took over his car, God took that much care and more over his life. Bert took that much care so that the performance of the car would always be at its best – God wants to live the best life we can with His care. I didn’t say it – I think about saying a lot of things that I never say. Carla talked with him about baptism. He’s been baptised as a baby in the Roman Catholic Church and didn’t see the need for another baptism. I took the opportunity to talk about my own Roman Catholic childhood. We prayed a blessing over Bert.  He was a man of peace and even the short time we spent with him he has stopped to talk to friends and neighbours and told us of the burdens they were carrying.

After lunch we headed along to Broara. We swapped about the teams and Andrew, Angus and I headed off to pray with people. Again, the village was quiet and there were few people about. A street lamp was decorated with knitting – my first ever real experience of yarn-bombing. Then I noticed the knitting everywhere. Broara was hosting a yarn bombing festival – why did I not see all the people knitting in the café? Did I not yearn to join in? I spoke to one lady about the yarn bombing and asked whether any of the knitting was hers. She said she used to knit but arthritis in her hands had brought it all to an end. Cue for healing prayer – a perfect opportunity! She must have read my mind and she had already said to the lads that Ibuprofen tablets sorted out her pain. She swiftly walked away.

I talked to and prayed with a couple of other people, offering a prayer of blessing which they seemed to like. One lady hugged me afterwards. Another lady looked a little bemused that someone would take time to walk very slowly along the road with her and he zimmer frame – not offering healing, but just letting her talk about things and not feel so on her own.

How do you define success in these kind of things? One of the lads was disappointed not to have had the opportunity to pray for healing. I was thinking of myself – whether a prayer of blessing was a cop out.

“Mel,” said God, “You have been out there, way out of your comfort zone. You found a way to do things your way, not Carla’s way. You approached people, talked to them, found bridges to them – the Roman Catholic stuff, the yarn bombing stuff – and you connected. You prayed for people – blessings. In my book, it was a good day.”

The two balls of wool – I am going to have to go back to Broara to the wool shop. I left the boys to go into the wool shop. The smell of the wool was glorious. There were the usual top brand wools in packs of six wrapped in cellophane, but there were also shelves of other wool – local spun stuff in earthy shades. I bought two balls from the scraps basket.

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