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Our newsletter, Tidings, is published 10 times a year to be available at the beginning of each month but, to give the editor a break, there are no January or August editions.  It is circulated to members and friends of three churches, namely Longbenton Methodist Church, West Moor Methodist Church and St. Andrew's Church (Methodist and United Reformed) at a cost of 40 p a copy.  Rev. Alison Wilkinson is the minister for Longbenton and Rev. Gavin Hume is the minister for the other two churches.

Here are some items from the July / August 2018 issue, beginning with letters from Gavin Hume and Alison Wilkinson.

Dear Friends

At this time of year, many of us will be looking forward to holidays. This year I’m looking forward to spending some time in Scotland, on the shore of Loch Sunart.

I’m sure you know that the word “holidays” comes from “holy days”, days when people were encouraged to stop work and celebrate how God was at work in our history, or through a particular saint. But, can every day be a holy day? Are we sometimes blind to the presence of God in the everyday because of a tendency to separate out some things and times as being “holy” or “spiritual”, and other things as “secular” or “ordinary”?

A singer/songwriter describes his own change of mindset on this in his song, Everything is holy now:

“When I was a boy, each week

On Sunday, we would go to church

And pay attention to the priest.

He would read the holy word

And consecrate the holy bread

And everyone would kneel and bow.                                         

Today the only difference is

Everything is holy now.

Everything, everything,

Everything is holy now.”

On my holiday, I am hoping to visit the island of Iona, somewhere that George MacLeod, the founder of the Iona Community, described as a “thin place”, where the veil between earth and heaven seems “as thin as gossamer”. Or, perhaps, it is a place where our sight is renewed, where the eyes of our heart are opened that we may more readily recognise the holy in the everyday.

It was Elizabeth Barrett Browning who said “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes; the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”

So, wherever your holidays may take you this year, may you find rest and refreshment, and may these be holy-days that open our eyes to the presence of God in the common things, once the holidays are over.

With every blessing,


Dear Friends

Our country is on the edge of lunacy again! It happens every couple of years, and involves hours of TV coverage and newspaper headlines, and

usually ends with the blame game and national mourning.

I refer of course to an international football competition like the World Cup, which began in Russia in June. I suspect for most people it’s a “Marmite” event. You love it, or you hate it.  I have heard friends discussing how to organise their work schedule to ensure they can watch as much of it as possible. For some people Bill Shankly’s famous

quote, “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.”– is very true. I remember a very tearful Adam, aged 7, devastated at England being knocked out, and the news that the next tournament was in 2 years’ time was no help at all.

I admire the passion and dedication of fans, their commitment to defy the odds with the absence of logic and their lasting hope for the triumph which is oh, so elusive.

And I can’t help but long for the same passion in the Church. The same determination to follow Christ no matter what. Not for an elusive moment of victory but for the prize that lasts.

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 3:12-14)

With love,


A letter from Nicaragua, June 1st, 2018         

Hello, one and all!

It feels difficult to focus on writing a newsletter at this point of time when Nicaragua has so much political unrest. It was brought to a head when in early April the president announced some drastic changes in certain areas. This has led to many riots throughout the country, resulting in over 100 deaths and about 1,000 people injured. Many buildings have been destroyed and much looting has taken place. Roads into every city have been blocked now for three weeks, stopping all transport coming in or going out. This is naturally causing a food shortage as nothing can get through. Thankfully, here in Bluefields the fishermen can still go out as long as their gasoline lasts, so fish is still available. Also some locally grown produce is around – at a price!

Bluefields has not been affected too much with the riots, but five weeks ago trouble did occur. Our next door neighbour, who was a journalist, was there on the scene busy reporting when he was shot in the head and died almost immediately – only five minutes away from our house. It has put Bluefields into a state of shock.

The riot police, who are part of the government, seem to think they are playing with toy guns, because all of a sudden a truckload of police will enter a peace march and start shooting at the crowds: this is what the government is allowing them to do. Peace will not reign in the country until the president steps down from office, but at the moment he is refusing to do so. Talks have taken place, but with no satisfactory results. We are waiting to hear the date when more will happen, but as yet nothing has been set. In the meantime the people are getting angrier and having protest marches and the police come along and start shooting again. The Nicaraguans say they have never seen anything like this before.

As for me, please be assured I feel very safe here in Bluefields and if I were to see any sign of riots I would turn and run in the opposite direction!

On another gloomy note, five weeks ago I went right over on my foot, causing a Jones fracture. I am wearing one of those special surgical boots – the height of fashion, of course – and having to rest as much as I can. I now know what a caged animal must feel like and I’m looking forward in four days’ time to going back to hospital, getting rid of my boot and being let loose and active again! Saying that, it is very comfortable – and of course I had one for my other foot when I fell down the well I was helping to dig here a number of years ago. That one is back home on Tyneside, so I’ve decided I may as well take this current one back with me in November so I can have a pair. Who knows, one day they might come into fashion and I’ll be the first to show mine off!!

One thing I’ve still been able to do while sitting at home here with my leg raised is to dole out money and get my projects under way. We are having two wells dug here in Bluefields.

In San Pancho the one I’ve previously talked about is being drilled. (That is where I did the famous horse ride last year.) The drilled well is 100 feet deep and should never run dry. It serves a large clinic which reaches out to 33 communities: the clinic never used to have water except in the rainy season when they collected water in barrels. The well will also serve the maternity home which is on the same piece of land. After hitting many problems with the drilling, the well is almost finished. I’ve been invited to go to make a speech at the inauguration!

Water is such a precious commodity and we take it so much for granted, don’t we?

And still a slight bit more gloom: I’ve heard from the airline that they have given up the search for my missing suitcase, so I now have to make a compensation claim. Some of the things in that case were irreplaceable, but I will try my best to get what I can so that people don’t lose out on what was in the bag for them.

The good news is: I’m still very happy here. Apart from my foot, which is almost healed, I’m in good health. I’m seeing people’s lives changed in the projects I’m able to get done through many of your generous donations. I get so much satisfaction when students come and show me their report cards. I know that those of you who sponsor them have made such a difference in their young lives. I’m among people who truly look after my welfare and include me in whatever they are doing. They still want to claim that I’m more Nicaraguan than English, as when I fell down the well I needed a number of units of Nicaraguan blood!

What a blessed woman I am!

 Much love,

Margaret  Storey



So that members and friends can keep in touch over the summer, before our regular afternoon meetings start again on September 11, the following coffee evenings will be held on Tuesdays from 7.30 p.m.:

            June 26            with Sue Payne                                 9 Harriot Drive

            July 24 with Margaret and Howard Burchell              4 The Oval

            August14        with Jean and Peter Green                21 Elm Grove

Everyone (male or female, young or old) is welcome.


G.A.G (Girls Allowed Group) – 2 p.m. Thursday July 26th and August 23rd

        Come and let your tongue wag!           Pauline Oliver, Margaret Wall