Tag Archives: Aberystwyth

NightLight update

28 Jun

I’ve just been doing the latest NightLight prayer newsletter for church, and I thought it might be good to post a bit of an update here because I know a lot of you have been praying for us faithfully over the last eighteen months.

But first…for those of you who don’t know what on earth I’m talking about when I mention NightLight…

NightLight is a project which Josh and I set up which involves volunteers from many of the churches in Aberystwyth.  It came about in November 2008 after several members of the congregation expressed concern at the state people were getting themselves into drinking at the weekends. We’re a university town and on an average night we can have several thousand drinkers crowding into our small town centre.

We’re out from 11pm-3am every Saturday night, working with the police and the council to patrol the streets and make sure that people are okay. We’re not there to condemn people, but we are there to show that we know of a better way, we’re there to stand with people when they’re sick and all their friends have left them, we’re there to walk people home when they’re lost and confused, and we’re there to comfort and pray with people when they need a listening ear.

So what have been up to in the last 6 months of so?

As always with a project of this kind, the hype and excitement of the project’s beginning has died down. However, I have continued to be so impressed by the volunteer’s willingness to serve and to love continually week by week, even when they’re tired and they have got other stuff going on.

Relationships with the council, the police, doorstaff and licensees have gone from strength to strength, with God doing more than we could ever have hoped for! We’re now welcomed onto the streets when at the beginning we (as ‘the church’) were looked at with suspicion. I just can’t get my mind around how much God has been changing people’s attitudes and mindset…and also just how obvious it has been that God’s love really does change things out there on the streets!

Very excitingly, Josh and I have been involved with helping to set up two other projects around Wales, which are working to the ‘NightLight model’. It’s aimed for small towns so it works well in our area.
It has always been my prayer that the vision would spread across our area and it’s so so so so exciting that it is, and so quickly. AND the police and councils of these places are actively seeking out the churches help in response to the drinking culture which is getting out of hand.

However exciting and ‘successful’ the project is been, it’s often on my mind when I’m patrolling the streets at 2.30am and I’m ready for my bed, that if we have loved one person that evening it makes it all worth while. Even if didn’t have this positive feedback, it would still be important to be getting out there and loving these vulnerable people.

Some excerpts from the incident book:

“Had a chat with some youths on the seafront. After small talk we began to talk about what they thought of Jesus. They were really engaging and we were able to answer some of their questions”

“A girl was lying face down in a gutter. We helped her get up and walked her to a taxi.”

“Inn on the Pier called us on the radio because there was a girl being sick outside. She could hardly stand, wasn’t responding and was in a bad way. She was staying with a friend who was also very drunk, so we called an ambulance to sort her out.”

“Listened and prayed with someone who was crying in the seafront shelter. Planning to meet them and bring them to church tomorrow (this morning!!)”

“Gave flip flips to a group of girls who were walking barefooted. They were happy that ‘God saved their feet!’”

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Dear Snow

18 Dec

Dear Snow,

Today I am feeling annoyed about you. Actually, to be exact, I’m annoyed about you falling in Britain.
We so rarely meet you over here and so I’m sure you love the excited reception you receive when you decide to make an appearance.

However, call me a scrooge if you want, but British people are DELUDED if they really think that they want you around for a white Christmas. We sing about you, gaze up at the iron grey skys in anticipation and go glassy eyed when we image curling up in front of the fire, unwrapping presents with you falling gently outside.

Haven’t people worked out by now that most of Britain can’t cope with snow. You only have to be around for a matter of hours and we go into meltdown (ha ha, get it…). Couple that with a time that most people are on the move to see family and friends and you have a disaster in the making.

But then I suppose it’s not really your fault. WHY can’t we actually be prepared for you for once? Why does a few centimetres have to equal “travel chaos” or “snow disruption for thousands” as the media are cheerfully declaring today. Other countries manage with you on the ground for months at a time and it just becomes normal.

For now I’ve got my eye on the forecast with anticipation, hoping for clearer weather soon so that all my family will be able to travel safely down to Devon next week so we can have a houseful of fourteen. I can’t wait!

Pretty please can you stop falling for the next few days. If you feel like snowing us in when all my family are down in Devon then that’s fine, but please wait until then!

With love from Rachel

The past, present and future

16 Dec

Isn’t it weird how we go through seasons in life? Seasons of happy times, seasons of change…seasons of blogging every day, and seasons of not blogging at all?

I’m not really sure how to describe the last couple of months of my life, however, I can say that they haven’t been the best.

Back in the mythical time when I actually blogged regularly, you may remember I alluded to pushing doors for our future without actually going into specifics. I didn’t want to say too much because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but now I will explain all.

For the last year or so Josh has been applying to go forward for ordination in the Church in Wales. It’s a long drawn our process which can take years, but finally Josh seemed to be getting somewhere over the last few months. He met with one director who seemed to think that Josh could get through the interviews in time to go to college in September 2010 and was really pushing him through the system.

So, the last few months have been focussed on cramming for interviews and thinking about the future and what that means for us. If Josh becomes a vicar then it is pretty much signing up to a lifetime vocation, and it could actually be happening THIS YEAR.

While all this was going on work has been really busy and pretty tough for various reasons which I can’t really go into here. I still love my job, but lets just say it has been stressful and tiring too, and Josh working loads of evenings as well as studying for interviews meant that our time together was scarce.

Basically what I’m trying to say through all this ramble is that in the last couple of months I’ve felt like I’ve been in suspended animation (hence the lack of blogging – I didn’t feel like we were doing anything blog worthy!). I was concentrating so much on our future, and I was so tired just getting through the days that I forgot that I actually had to enjoy living for now.

But then we found out that Josh wasn’t going to get through the system into college this year. The board told him to wait a year and apply again then. At first we were both really upset and disappointed. It’s inevitable that it will be hard if you’ve built yourself up for something and been told that it is likely you will get through.
However, a week after we heard the news we took a short break to Pembrokeshire to relax, to catch up on sleep and to just get some quality time to hang out and talk. The rest we got over those few days away helped me to see that I had just been functioning on autopilot and that I was focussing so much on the future it wasn’t really surprising that I wasn’t feeling very happy in the present. 

Over the last couple of week I have been feeling better and better. The news that we have to wait a while still stresses me out a little – but only because I get stressed about not knowing what the future holds. I know that I shouldn’t and I’m still working on trusting that God has it in hand!

For the present we are planning to stay in Aberystwyth because moving anywhere for just a year seems like a lot of trouble just for the sake of it. So unless an unexpected job or opportunity crops up we’re staying put for the mean time. And I’m just trying to sit back and enjoy the present for a while, looking forward to Christmas* with my family and not worrying about what the future holds**.

*I bought the Muppet Christmas Carol DVD today – oh yes

**which will hopefully include more regular blogging. I’m sorry!

Aberystwyth NightLight Video

3 Oct

Stumpy Ethel Update

31 Aug

Do seagulls moult for the winter?

I hope so because otherwise Stumpy Ethel is looking poorly sick.

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Perhaps she’s just missing her baby, Damien?

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Out of all the seagulls that I want to die in Aberystwyth, I want Stumpy Ethel to die the least.

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Get well soon Stumpy Ethel!
(You can even make a velociraptor sound outside my window at 4am if it makes you feel better)

Facing drama head on

26 Aug

I like to think that I’m pretty calm in a crisis.

I can see members of my family sniggering in the back row right now. I admit, I’m a bit of a drama queen, but I like to imagine that however much I’m screaming with terror inside I can put a brave face on things and get on with it calmly and efficiently.

Being a part of the NightLight team has been great experience for me. We have had to deal with situations, both on the street and off, that I would never have imagined that I would even ever come across, let alone be coordinating.
Dealing with collapsed individuals, giving statements to the police and mopping up minor injuries is par for the course. You expect it because that is why we are there. In a way it’s easier to deal with in that context. We’re out there to do a job and you just work as a team and get on with it.

However, what I still haven’t got used to is that it’s hard for us to turn off from it all. I’ve noticed that off duty care professionals find it difficult not to think about people with a professional mindset and to a certain extent we feel the same way.

I know as Christians we should be looking out for people that need help all the time. I’m not saying that NightLight is the only way that I am willing to serve people and that any other time is my day off…it’s just that I’m more used to what to look out for now. We can now spot the drug users and the trouble makers. It’s easier to sense when people are just having fun and when things are going to kick off. We know the ‘regulars’ and see them around town all the time.

And that’s why when a drunk guy started a fight last Thursday in the early evening in the middle of town, Josh was the only one to step in. Stepping in to break up a fight is always a debatable move, but as the guy calmed down it turned out okay in the end.

But when the drunk man then jumped on top of a moving car and kicked in the windshield, still it was only Josh that actually did anything to help.

The lady in the car was really shaken up, but everything was sorted out and the police were really grateful to Josh for helping out. But why didn’t anyone else do anything?

I’m not suggesting that we should always wade into any situation that should be left for the police. I’ve had the training and I know that would do more harm than good. But since we’ve started NightLight Josh and I seem to have come in contact with more and more dramas that we’ve spotted just walking around town.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not that Aberystwyth has suddenly turned into a pit of debauchery, brawling and despair, but just that we didn’t actually have our eyes open before. Over the last year or so God has been opening our eyes and giving us bigger hearts to love and help people, and so now it’s much harder to walk on by on the other side of the road.

So, I’m challenging you today to walk around your neighbourhood with your eyes open. I’m not just talking about sorting out major emergencies; I’m talking about stopping to speak to the lonely old woman who live three doors up, or offering to do a bit of shopping for a sick neighbour.
Hey, if that’s too difficult why not just try giving a stranger in the street a huge smile.

They might think you’re a complete weirdo…or it might just be the only smile they receive that day.

B.F.F

24 Aug

Meet Hayley.

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When my parents moved to Exmouth in 1999 I had to cope with adjusting to a new place, a new school and new friends. Several weeks after I arrived Hayley started at school as a new student too. We got absorbed into the same group of friends, and gradually got to know each other. Soon we were visiting each other’s houses after school, and before long we were inseparable.

We would spend hours playing The Sims, talking and laughing in my attic room, and getting high on coke. 

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Hayley is a complete coke addict. I’ve been kicked and thrown around when she’s on one of her highs, but our friendship still survived it all. 

(You do realise I’m talking about Coca Cola right? Who do you think I am?!)

Anyway, when we turned sixteen we both headed off for different colleges. Although we still spoke on the phone and over the internet our friendship suffered as it was difficult to see each other often and we were hanging out in different friendship groups. 
Over the next couple of years we went our separate ways, reaching adulthood via different life experiences.

When Hayley text me about a month ago to ask if she could come and visit us in Aberystwyth I immediately said yes. Then I began to worry.

What if we didn’t get on anymore? We haven’t really hung out with each other for five years. What if we don’t have anything to say?

I needn’t have worried. We had a great week, hanging out, chatting, laughing and reminiscing.
On Friday we walked all three beaches in Aberystwyth just chatting ten to the dozen – just like old times.

AND THEN, I found a CD of all of my files that my dad had burned from our old computer before they upgraded. We had such great times looking at all the old pictures and laughing over old MSN conversations. I didn’t even know that MSN conversations are automatically saved to your computer! Can there be anything more hilarious than pouring over hours and hours worth of teenage angst, young love and just downright randomness. I mean listen to this…

Haylesberry:     What r ya pics? [on webcam]
Rach:                    lol. It’s pheobe’s corpse
Haylesberry:     Whos Pheobe?
Rach:                    My pet balloon [chicken shaped orange balloon]
Rach:                    Its very distressing
Haylesberry:     rofl

Rach:                ive had her for two months and kept her perfect without deflating
Rach:                and then jen came along and squeezed her and she just died
Rach:                so i attempted resuscitation this morning but she couldn’t hold her skin together and her head blew off
Rach:                and now she’s dead
Hayleysberry:   rofl

RIP Pheobe
RIP Pheobe

SEE! Don’t you just miss those days when you found the most random things absolutely hilarious?!

And then we found the conversations we had when I first started noticing Josh around…

Rach:                lol! [boys name]’s bugging me about Josh liking me
Haylesberry:     lol. Which Josh?
Rach:                Josh from Chapel. We’ve been talking a lot lately. He doesn’t like me, but [boy] thinks he does
Haylesberry:     HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA.
Haylesberry:     Sozzy
Rach:                What?
Haylesberry:     He’s getting jealous of Josh?!
Rach:                He’s cool beans
Rach:                If he was in our year you wouldn’t be saying that. He’s really nice.

Two months later…

Rach:                    Josh is going to ask me out on Wednesday, I just know it
Haylesberry:     awww! What you gunna say? How do you know?
Rach:                    I don’t know
Rach:                    I think I’m going to run off or shoot him with a paintball

Yeah…I was kind of scared of boys back then. And, we were going paintballing that day – I don’t just randomly carry around a paintball gun to ward off persistent boys. Oh, and Josh asked me out on Thursday, so my instinct wasn’t far off.

Anyway, back to the point in hand – I’m so glad to have made proper contact with Hayley again and to have renewed our friendship. It really does feel like we have picked up from where we left off

Other than now I have to pay my own phone bill, which kinda sucks.

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Hayley has just started a new blog. Why not head over there, introduce yourself, say hi and welcome her to the blogging world!

Top 5 Photographic Memories – Wildlife

7 Aug

You have probably noticed that I love wildlife photography. I love the challenge it poses because it’s often so unexpected and you only get a few seconds in which to catch something special. Josh and I try and get out into the countryside as much as possible and as a result so many of our wonderful memories hinge on wild places and wildlife. It’s wonderful to have some photos to help us treasure those memories.

1. Dolphins in Pembrokeshire. June 2008

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This isn’t a particularly good photo but it just reminds me of fulfilling one of my ‘do before you die’ wishes. While camping in Pembrokeshire we took a boat out about 23 miles into the Irish sea and eventually came across a pod of dolphins which swam and jumped around the boat for about forty minutes. It will be something that I remember for the rest of my life.

2. Starlings in Aberystwyth. February 2005

 Aberystwyth starlings

During the Autumn and Winter months thousands of starlings roost underneath the pier in Aberystwyth. If it’s raining the starlings will quickly swoop underneath the supports, but if the weather is fine they will mass together in their thousands and perform amazing acrobatic air displays. This photo reminds me of eating fish and chips while watching one of these displays with Josh when he came up to visit me when I was at University. We have only been going out for 8 months and hated being apart. That week we spent together was very special.

3. Ynys Hir Lizard. June 2008

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This was taken on one of the first proper trips I had out with my new canon SLR last year. I had to crawl so slowly to try not to scare the lizard and managed to snap two frames before it darted away. I doubted whether either would be any good as I had been balancing on one leg, but amazingly this one was great and sent me into a bookeh induced euphoria for the rest of the day. I will always remember that day as we saw so much good wildlife without even looking for it.

4. Woodmouse in Wiltshire. November 2008

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I know, a woodmouse can’t exactly be described as a top wildlife spot, but what is special about this one is that I managed to share the experience with my young Nephew. We were lagging behind the rest of the group on a walk when I heard a scuffling in a nearby hedge. We carefully moved closer and saw this little chap just sitting there. We managed to get very close and then just crouched there watching. I could tell my Nephew was holding his breath and was spell bound. Very special.

5. Butterfly. Aberystwyth

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I just like this photo, and it reminds me of all the hot summer days that I have spent lying in fields of long grass and wild flowers, staring up at the sky while butterflies flit around me.