Friday, 30 December 2011

Aims for 2012

Its New Year resolution time and here are my plans.

1, Get fitter and healthier - In a number of ways.
a, Walk / run - aiming to do a 5k run for charity by the end of the year,
b, Do more exercise in general - mainly on the wii as well as walking.
c, Have a better daily routine - including eating breakfast more often.
2, Blog more - I'm not saying how regularly, but more often!
3, Worry less about the future!!! 2012 is gonna be scary but worrying helps no one!
4, Stop being so obsessed with marriage.
5, Be more fair trade:
a, Only buy clothes that are fair trade or second hand
b, Give up non-fair trade chocolate.(Now that is the really difficult one and I've already failed once as I forgot - will ask Brother for tips!!)
6, Be wiser with money.
a, Reviewing giving - not give less but do more with what I give.
b, Review my spending.
c, Make more sandwiches / packed lunches rather than buying them.
7, Pray More! Lancashire district are having a year of prayer I'm hoping to get involved in a number of ways! First plan is to say grace more often before meals. Maybe find a spiritual director.

So here goes!

The top 10 of 2011

Inspired by Bx - I thought I would blog about my top 10 experiences / memories of 2011. Been meaning to do something reflective as December always seems to make people think of the past year - so here are my top 10 –maybe not in the right order – and maybe there are others I’ve forgotten (like Greenbelt, Spring Harvest and Gem’s birthday)

1.South Africa.
For more details of my amazing journey the blog has everything. Truly incredible experience!
2.Setting up my own home
I moved in to my own little house on New Year’s Eve. I spent that day starting to unpack. A year later I’m still not totally unpacked, but it’s my home and it’s been a great year making small memories. I even got a bin for my birthday!
That leads nicely to my Birthday and Party, which was also a House warming party only 11 months late. My lovely old housemates came and made the event possible and my lovely friends and their kids filled my house.
4.4 weddings and a funeral
This feels like the joke of the year. I would like to say thanks to the Oates’ Mortimers, Watsons and Harrisons for some great days and only asked 10 times if we are next – the answer is still no as we have 5 more weddings next year. But in all things there is balance and I did attend a funeral this year too – Rest in peace Mike, what an incredible man and amazing village turn out for his funeral.
5.MWiB in general.
This time last year Methodist Women in Britain didn’t officially exist, but it has greatly shaped my year, with swanwick, forum, the launch, another forum, Children Unite task group, and this is only going to get bigger in 2012, watch this space.
6.Mummy and Daddy’s 25th Anniversary Party.
In October something big happened! My parents finally met Matt’s parents! This was at the lovely party celebrating 25 years of marriage for my parents and my aunty and uncle. Was nice to see the family and get all 8 cousins together – been years since we last did –and Yes I am the shortest now. Had fun dancing and eating.
After reading hundreds of pages of text off I went to Southport. Was great to engage with the topics, going to an ordination, meeting with friends, get to know people better and have a nice nap at the cinema. Looking forward to going again.
8.Connecting disciples.
I love Lay employees! Was a great chance to meet with others and swap fancy job titles. The great thing about working in the church is the vast number of colleagues I actually have, and the random phone calls I sometimes I get from them!
As of the 2nd January I have been leading services all by myself – also known as on Trial. I love preaching. Normal services, prayer nights and of course this last week Christmas day.
10.Work events.
I’ve had a great year, and my first whole year working fulltime. Some of the highlights must be the children’s and youth work ideas fayre, Inspire 5 and getting my baby name book!

I would just like to add what great friends and boyfriend I have that have made 2011 special. The little ones I’ve been watching grow up, the ones who have came to visit and stay over at my house, the ones who have been there for me electronically, and the ones who can finish my sentences for me. But also the ones who weren’t there all year, ones I made and ones I lost and what I learnt from them all.

So bring on 2012!

Friday, 9 December 2011


look at this, 3 blog posts in 3 days! I nearly blogged yesterday about Thursdays and work, but got distracted, and so here is another blog in my series of blogs not about my job!


I was woken up this morning as I get Tweets that mention me are texted to my phone between 6am and midnight each day and at 8am this morning - though 9am her time my friend decided to reply to a tweet sent to her yesterday. Since then I've had conversations on 2 of my 3 different phone numbers, texted of 2, talked to people on MSN, facebook chat, twitter, replied to people who have written on my wall, write on others walls and even old fashioned email! and Current am talking to someone on facebook chat because of a comment they wrote on a group we are both in and that I responded to - during our conversation this person then posted the website I mentioned the campaign of onto my wall. I have also this morning been to a coffee morning at my local church and bought stamps to send the christmas cards I wrote over a week ago now which still don't have addresses on! To get addresses I've texted and facebooked people.

Last night on the new episode of How I met your Mother - on at 9pm on E4 - though I watched it at 10 due to Rev and BBC not having a +1 channel. Ted sets up a date with a girl at the bar and the agree not to look each other up online before the date. This leads them to a first date where they aren't sure what to talk about as they don't have an idea about the other person - which is what would have happened only a few years ago. I've been on facebook 5 years now and have 2 accounts. I'm careful with what I share online, but I'm also very nosey.

This blog isn't finished! But facebook has just brought me more interesting stuff to deal with so I better go!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

How am I?

The tagline to my blog is - a journey into what it really is that changes us, and what working as a professional youth worker can really do.

I wrote that almost 3 years ago when I decided to blog about my new job. You may know that youth work jobs are only 3 years long and therefore I'm getting ready to move on - maybe. So I obviously did bad at blogging the journey!

I've been reflecting after news of another person leaving their job, after many others recently moving on, about what difference things make. How different am I since I started this job? since I arrived at University? Since I joined exec? (maybe that's for another post!)

I often wonder what life would have been like if one thing was different, and I usually go back to the conversation on my front door step in the summer when I was 17 that made me decide to go to MYC in the first place.

This leads on to what makes me me. I'm going to a retreat in January and one thing we will do there (I'm on the planning team so I know!) is writing my life in 10 chapter titles. There are the obvious big things that made me who I am, my brother being born! spending time with relatives, moving house, becoming a ministers daughter, certain friendships I've made along the way - and the games we've played, the memories I have. The high school years, the options I took, my work experiences, the award schemes, my first boyfriend, my first kiss, the interviews for uni's, MYC and MYE, my uni friends, chaplaincy, my placements, the YPS -which did more for me personally before it even existed, Breakout, Greenbelt, competition, working in London, Matt, Aber, Nay, call to preach, living with LB, church family, MWiB. (I realise that's more than 10!)

Slight tangent warning! Then there are the things that happened - like as Vicky Beeching blogged about the internet -

Who would I be if none of them had happened...? maybe I'd be a better person, I'd certainly be different, I wouldn't know many of the people I do particularly if one or two were changed.

I guess this isn't Who am I? but How am I?

Last full day, the last goodbyes and the journey home

Sunday morning started with me joining Rachel and the translator guy for breakfast. He like many other people got the two of us confused, asking if she was the one who was the youth worker – as he had translated my story (now made famous in the Meth rec 15.9.11) during the song the night before. That morning we had breakfast in our favourite restaurant and like every morning after the first when i’d only eaten cereal I’d had scrambled eggs, and I think bacon, and pastries.
We then had the Sunday morning worship service. Dr Fulato Mayo spoke brilliantly about love, marriage, sex, discipleship and meaningful relationships. The whole talk can be found on the WFMUCW website.
Then as the main assembly had business where everyone decided on the aims and action plans that came out of the workshops of the past 2 days the HKMS went off to our room for one last time. We started with what felt like an exam, writing down our comments / evaluations about the week, then as a group we shared with each other what we had enjoyed, learnt. We had really bonded as a group and this was a lovely ending (well ish). And people shared gifts.
After lunch – which I must admit I have forgotten – most of the meals rolled into one really, I caught up with Kathleen and Alison. We chatted about the week, and the process to get there. I found out what Kathleen is up to next and we assured Alison she would be a fabulous Area President. I then went a little late into the Asia Areas presentations. Which were again something totally different, and Kennis, Mu Gay and Ryna did brilliantly.
Then we started the very long closing worship and installation of new world officers and area officers and communion. As always we started late, but there wasn’t quite enough time for Alison Adam to tell us how all the songs went – so some where a bit hairy. I’m very glad I have the whole service in the worship booklet as I don’t remember a lot, I know I was sitting next to Rachel and I think Niki was with us. I know I popped out to get headache tablets and I know there were presents given to all the speakers as I’d been roped in to help put them in order while talking to the new world presidents daughter who was a past HKMS. Lise did a great job representing us!
After that was tea time which I had with some of the other HKMS.
I then had to meet with Britain and some European ladies for a final catch up and talk about our time there. During this the World President came up to me and gave me an Australian ‘I wear black on Thursdays’ Tshirt, a couple of sizes to big but probably my favourite gift of the whole week!
After this I went back to the HKMS – see it wasn’t an ending earlier and after going to Rachel and Ryna’s room in normal clothes I got sent back to my room to put my PJs on. There was lots of food – most of which we had liberated from the restaurant. There are also many photos of this evening. And as women of our time we had 3 laptops out so that the ones who weren’t on facebook were brought into the world of photos groups and status’ To be fair one of the women didn’t have an email address at the start of the week.
As Kennis my roommate went to bed she told Rachel to tell me something... This transpired to be one of the nights earlier in the week I had scared her by rolling over to her side of the bed!
So finally we all left the party and went to bed, assuring each other we would see everyone at breakfast. However I overslept and missed the time we had all arranged to go to breakfast. It then transpired that some had sneaked into the other restaurant as well so it would never had worked! So the rest of the morning was spent running round trying to say goodbye one last time, being given gifts by strangers – including some lovely green earrings. Lise had issues trying to get to another hotel, and Rachel was moving rooms so I went to help her move her stuff and in doing so finally found the swimming pool which is the photo on the hotels website and has been the background to my laptop for the 10 months running up to the assembly. We logged onto the internet one last time – to tell people I was leaving for another 24 hour journey! Then it was finally time to say goodbye. I got my bag, got on the coach and went to the airport. There was hail on the journey and we were told that in Durban there was snow! Not what you expect in SA in August – but then they did!
We had arrived early at the airport – to save paying for a coach which meant we still had money for shopping and food. I had a burger after deciding against monkey juice on it! And had lovely chats with the Leeds Ladies, particularly the one who is also on the forum. Went shopping and got Dad a tie, and Matt salad thingys – it looked like a welsh love spoon but African. Then it was time to queue for the plane and I had a chat with a guy who had many flights to get back to uni in America, and had to use FF points to get the seat so was upgraded!
The flight back was fine, was a bit surreal at one point to look at the map and see that we were above the Sahara Desert. I watched The Way, which is an incredible film that I highly recommend and I’m thankful that Alison suggested it. I also watch west/east ridings – I forget now, but that was really good too. Breakfast on the plane was good, but very early!
I’d arranged to travel back with Chris from stoke. So we sat around at the airport and I drank juice before going forwards and backwards trying to sort a bus/train ticket to get me back to Mum and Dad’s house. Finally sorted it and we got on a bus to reading were we again sat for over an hour till Chris could travel (after 10) watching rush hour people come and do, drinking coffee and eating baguettes – it felt like lunch time! Then our train was slightly delayed but we eventually were back on our way, sitting with a lovely lady and her granddaughter. Chris left me at Stoke then I just had the final bit of the journey left, to get from Centre of Manchester to be picked up by mum and dad. A lovely guy helped me get my suitcase off the train but I stopped him before he went up the stairs as mum, dad and Duncan were all on the platform. And we then went home to holiday club land – were I even stayed longer than planned cos I love Holiday clubs so much. Then Sunday was a shock as I had to preach! But that was when Em came to hear me and we went to booths for breakfast and I met Alex and Patrick, but that’s another story for another day.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Saturday night at WA of WFMUCW

This was going to be the last post, but its taken me so long to type Saturday night and I have a service to prepare this is all you are getting for the time being!

OK so its 7:30 and we are meant to be starting our hour long presentation. We thought there was no chance of starting on time so we had only planned 45 minutes of programme. We were missing one of the group, even though we were meant to be there 45 mins earlier. We also couldn’t start for 2 other reasons, the powerpoint and video weren’t on the memory stick, and the ppt hadn’t been saved anywhere else! And the voting members of the assembly were stuck voting for the next World Executive. We sent a runner to the voters to see if we should wait. And Alison Adam took over the stage and kept everyone singing – which included us taking the stage to teach everyone the final song of our presentation. Our member turned up, the video was found and the powerpoint remade! And we were still waiting. An hour late we started our presentation with the current (at the time) executive and area officers in the congregation. During that hour I’d been wearing my new pasmina, which originally was just drapped round my shoulders like a scarf, but after crawling round the floor and nearly strangling myself I changed it to how I would often wear a scarf - kind of knotted... anyway.
So our presentation started. We danced in to the room singing Bambelela– which was the theme song of this assembly (it means never give up and when said the reply is ‘Christ is our hope’) we stood on the stage as the the history of Helen Kim was explained, and pictures of what we had been up to appeared on the screen. Then we had to say our name, our country and our area. Hi I’m Rachel Coates, from England and I represent Europe: Britian and Ireland area. Was a good job we all had our name badges on still, they were a bit of a mouthful. That done we got off the stage and Aurelia and co did a stunning drama about our 2 faced attitudes. After that we set everyone a challenge, mainly about a dialogue with us. Then Rachel and Lise asked 2 questions to the people and I ran around the room (yes you read that right, I ran) with the mic getting their answers. It was a good time of engaging and starting a dialogue. I hope someone wrote down what they said. My face was the world vice pres who said we need to get young people involved in the planning as well as the events! Woo participation! at the end of that part me and Rachel had another freaky moment when I said what she was about to say, in almost the words she had in her head!
This led on to the vision declaration where we stated:
We believe in:
- God
- Peace
- Self-worth
- Beauty
- Empowerment
- Empathy
- Equality
- and Nurture.
We affirm:
- that we are all equal in the eyes of God;
- therefore, through empathy, we can nurture each other to reach our full physical, emotional, social and spiritual potential;
- that one another can be empowered to be confident in themselves and in their beauty
- and that peace is possible. (many languages)
We confess that:
- we have sinned against God and our fellow sisters and brothers
- at times we haven’t done our part to speak out for the voiceless
- we have erected and maintained the walls of race, class and gender
- we have failed to love ourselves and others, as Jesus calls us to do.
We commit ourselves:
- to love one another as God has loved us and to reach out to those in need
- not to accept anything less than an equal partnership
- to work towards creating and maintaining a sustainable world
- to use our voices
- to do all we can and to pray for what we can’t
- to the glory of God.

I said Self-worth and ‘to do all we can and to pray or what we can’t’. The vision we had written as a group, but then Rachel, Juliet and I had finalised it with Tara’s help. That had been Friday afternoons job! The words in the believe section came from the area / continent visions we wrote on Thursday. Europes was about self-worth and beauty – inside and out.
The vision was followed by a mini challenge that Rachel and I read out. We did a small presentation to Dr Kim, and then invited past HKSs on to the stage to sing ‘we are the ones’
We are the ones to make a change in this world
We are the ones to make our Jesus known
Let’s join our hands to break the chains that have kept us apart for so long – so long
Let’s come together as one
Not minding all the differences between us
Let there be peace and love and harmony
So we can live in unity.

That done I took off my name tag – as the British unit had decided to for their presentation. The Europe: continental area president did a presentation about her area and how it may be changing. Then the Irish took over, Rachel played and sang (I made a good mic stand) then we had to do some irish dancing – the one photo I’ve seen is when we are standing still but we looked like we were having a good time, it was great fun.  See Wesley I do dance!

After this someone from Europe told us about her unit and then it was the British Unit’s turn. We went on to the stage in our black trousers, white t-shirts and red pasminas ready to sing ‘for everyone born’ which is a very moving song about justice and equality – and is in the new Methodist hymn book! Between each verse and chorus 2 people got up to tell a story that linked. I obviously linked with the verse about young and old. The most moving story was that of Kate, which started ‘Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, yeah right!’
The evening ended with everyone singing in Christ alone. The we had chance to look round the market a final time – Emma if I hadn’t been for that and a pushy lady you wouldn’t have a present!

We (me, Rachel and Niki I think) sat in the courtyard after this. Not really ready to go to bed. But then tiredness kicked in and off to bed we went.

Monday, 15 August 2011

start of the end

about to start the journey home. Will update blog with rest of week when back!
thanks for your comments. pray for safe coaches, planes and trains for me and all my friends please
love you all


Sunday, 14 August 2011

a trip and some stress!

Friday afternoon started with a very long session with the other HKSs as we started to prepare for our presentation. We took the visions we wrote the day before and merged them into a vision declaration – to follow at a later date! When you bring 14+ leaders together its going to be difficult, and because we hadn’t had a proper time of forming, we were storming later in the programme and it wasn’t till Saturday we finally found a middle ground – norm, and were able to perform together! (love a bit of Tuckman!)
So after hours of prep we went for tea and then watched the pacific and American presentations, Susanna’s dancing, and Patsy’s singing were great. And me and Rachel had a right boogie to the Jamaican presentation. And did some work for our presentation while we were watching. Then it was bed time.
That morning I went on a trip to Sowato. I was sitting with Christina the HKS from USA. It was such a moving experience- I even cried at the Hector Pieterson museum, which was all brand new information to me. During the tour instead of going into the Nelson Mandella house Christina and I went shopping, so look out Becky, Mum, and the boys. And I have a pretty thing for myself! It was also heart wrentching to see young children begging for our packed lunch. And we also tried to find Desmond Tutu’s house, we took photos of 2 houses in the block, just incase
We got back, and straight back into work – well some of us did, others arrived a little late... We worked hard, and there was quite a bit of stress and more arguements! We missed the next slot of issue workshops. We also in this slot learnt some Irish dancing!
After a rushed dinner and a quick change into British outfits! Then it was Helen Kim presentation... and on that Cliff hanger I’ll leave it there for now!

PS, I nearly got engaged, someone wanted me to marry her son in Nigeria!

Friday, 12 August 2011

just another day in SA!

To my lovely readers, if you are there!
Firstly and most importantly I want to wish Duncan a very happy birthday, hope you liked your card and present and I’ll give you lots of hugs when I get home – obviously a further present is no hugs today! 
Right then: Update of past 24 hours!
• Area meeting, presentation of new officers, me and Irish Rachel did a great double act – even if I say so myself, then conversations about transport. Dad, I’ve found someone also going the route you suggested so that’s all sorted! Will have 7 hours at airport here, but that saves r180 = £18 so that will get me a good lunch!
• HKS. Me, Rachel and Murielle had to think of a vision for Europe, its something about self worth and everyone knowing they are beautiful inside and out.
• Then tea with the world officers, who were late, but it was nice all the same.
• Then Rachel and I went and had a look round the stalls, so many pretty things!
• The African area reports were loud and colourful as you would expect, one of the HKS Aurelia did some amazing dancing.
• The british unit presentation is on Saturday night so we had a practice and I need to learn the chorus of the song, and practice my little story.
• Then I went to bed, and slept really well.
• This mornings opening devotions were all about Pricilla, and rather than from a ‘why should women lead’ perspective the speaker talked about her a part of the couple, but also a very important person in her own right. It was moving too as it was said in Spanish and translated for the rest of us.
• Then the Bible study was really good, interesting aspects of Matt 15 21:28. Was Jesus prejudice..? but also about the ‘other’ how we treat outsiders
• To make up for flying over England which Steve C wouldn’t approve of, and it is all his fault I’m even here I went to the workshop hope for creation. We talked about traffic and recycling, gardens and water. We pondered of why wasn’t eden enough for us. Looked at our needs and wants and learnt pigs like tofu. We need to think that the earth has abundance – cos it has, not that its lacking, which is not true.
• Then I had lunch!
PS it is now evening, but I’ll update today tomorrow!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

starting and pondering

Good afternoon lovely blog readers!
Today is very black. Its not surpising to say that there are many non-white women here, but today is more black as almost everyone is also wearing black. You may or may not know that I’ve done this every Thursday for nearly 4 years now. It is really moving to see the lack of colour as we all stand in solidarity with women who struggle in violent situations. We stand against rape, domestic violence, trafficking we do this because we believe everyone should be safe and free.
This blog may come across as very random, I’m short on time, not only cos I can’t currently plug my laptop in, and the internet costs –though yesterday I sent emails, updated the blog and shared it with twitter in just 4 minutes!! But also I have a meeting in 43 minutes! Must also say it may take a day to reply to comments – as I write this online before logging on to post it. Also, don’t have time to check news, any updates appreciated... (Rob you still ok?)
For those of you who worried about my bedroom I’m only sharing with 1 other HKS (Helen Kim Scholar) so its not too bad. She is lovely and is from Hong Kong, though has been in SA for a couple of weeks with the other Methodist events!
The rest of the HKS crew are lovely, 14 girls from all over the world, really looking forward to getting to know them better and working with them this week and beyond. SO far been thinking about confidence and speaking – focus on what the listener gets out of it rather than how I’m doing. And listening for (what can I get out of this) and listening from (perspective, if i think it will be interesting I will be interested) ...
Does anyone know what the red R is on my phone when I turn it on?
Last night we had the opening ceremony that was trying to be as long as our circuit final worship – though they didn’t beat you Andrew. The singing hasn’t been great as many people don’t know the songs – difficult to do a service for so many cultures. This had led to ponderings about specialist worship – if this is for all women and its difficult, and we’ve had similar thoughts about youth worship at national events, how do we get a answers just thoughts...
There has been a lot of changes to the programme and a lot of confusion, yesterday we only found there was a HKS session cos we went to find the room at the right time, unfortunately there was only 7 of us yesterday but we are all together today, though the main programme changed to confuse us. And stuff needs to be slicker – where is affinity when you need them?!
One last pondering, church of today, church of the future... I really hope I am both, but I hope when I am defined as the now, I’m not past it. I wonder when you from being young and the future to the old and past-its...
And most importantly the food is good! Bread and butter pudding today!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

made it

So here I am, I’ve made it safe to my hotel room in South Africa. Little bit confused as I’m meant to be sharing with 3 others and there is only 1 double bed! Could get cosy!
My 24 hour journey had its ups and downs – and a few shaking moments, but what really surprised me was what the bus trip from the airport to Hotel showed me, here are a few:
• A spar, toysRus and other multinational companies.
• A guy living in a tent on the grass verge between a motorway and an A road.
• Many people in jump suits working along side the road.
• Everything was in English
• If you are HIV+ you can text a number and get 5million rand compensation / insurance – about half a million pounds.
• Cities and shanty towns side by side.
• People selling fruit
• Alot of cars like mine!
• And many other things I’ve forgotten already...
To put this all in to context, I decided to fly down to London from Manchester, as I didn’t really want to go through London after the last couple of days, and suitcases on escalators are a pain at the best of time. Having flown for an hour I then had about 4 hours at Heathrow terminal 5! Before flying albeit delayed for 11 hours to Jo’burg, in which I had a choice of movies, music and could watch a map of where we were, how high we were and the temperature outside! As well as 2 cooked meals. I flew over countries struggling with famine and left a country with riots. I just hope that what I do out here will be worth the environmental impact, amongst other things.
But I’m safe, happy and have had lunch. Not sure about plugs, may have just blown a fuse in my laptop plug, so we shall see how long this lasts, but here I am, registered and raring to go. Just need to find some Helen Kim Scholars now.


Monday, 8 August 2011

yes ok I failed!

Ok then, I yet again failed to keep my blog up to date - all I can say is that its a good job I have a faith based around forgiveness and new starts!

I'm not promising to start again, but while I'm at WFMUCW's 12th World Assembly I thought this is a good a place as any to note my thoughts - especially as I can write offline and just log in to update.

Today has been a bit mad, last minute packing, ringing dr's to get a new inhaler, buying a plug to be able to use electricity in SA. and printing a tree's worth of information!

But its all good, cos tomorrow I get on my first plane in 12 years and become "well traveled" as one of my circuit stewards put it. Prayers and travelling mercies appreciated. :)