Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Snow in Madrid

It's always exciting when it snows in Madrid!

Here I am with a group of trainees at a Roman Catholic retreat centre near Madrid. From 24th to 26th February I was leading a course for children's workers and Sunday school teachers. Although in this photo, my students and I are busy shielding ourselves from oncoming snowballs!

Nice place... especially when covered by fluffy white snow!


Instead of posting a new Agenda every three months in the main text, I have created a link in the right-hand margin. This will now be continually updated with recent additions to my diary. So... please watch that space!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Guest house expansion in Galicia

My son's family business is expanding. As from 1st February, John Paul has taken over the management of 'Santa Eulalia' country hotel. The photos above and below show what a beautiful place this is - in deep rural Galicia. The hotel is equipped with 10 double rooms and a restaurant. This is besides the family's own property, 'Andanzas', which is currently being extended from a four- to a six-bedroom guest house. John Paul's younger brother, Andrew, has also moved to Galicia in order to help with the project.

Why not visit their brand-new web sites (http://www.andanzasrural.com & http://www.hotelsantaeulalia.com)... and book your holiday in Galicia!!!

Links to websites & audio/video clips

I have recently been adding new stuff to this blog's right-hand margin, including audio and video clips about Christian work with children. Do have a look at these from time to time.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Whatever happened to January?

Well... I wonder whatever happened to January? It sort of came and went. And there was just no time at all to post any of the events on this blog. However, it was quite an eventful month. So, here is a summary of what took place, with a generous supply of photos to illustrate the various activities.

1. Bible school teaching near Barcelona

From 9th to 17th January, I was involved in teaching a course in Children's Ministry at IBSTE (Spanish Bible Institute and Theological Seminary) at Castelldefels, near Barcelona. This has been the first year I have been invited to teach at this particular Bible College. Sixteen first- and second-year students attended this 30-hour (3 credit) intensive course.

The course covered the following subjects: (i) What do we mean by 'child' and 'childhood'?, (ii) Theology of the child and childhood, (iii) Children's spirituality, (iv) Introduction to Developmental Psychology and Education, (v) The local church and children, (vi) Methods and resources, y (vii) Children's participation.

2. Godly Play in Barcelona
On 14th January, I led an introductory seminar on Godly Play in the chapel belonging to IBSTE (the Spanish Bible Institute and Theological Seminary), at Castelldefels, near Barcelona. Sixty-five people attended this introduction day. They represented different Christian denominations and came from a number of towns in Barcelona and Tarragona provinces. The seminar consisted of three presentations of Godly Play stories, followed by wondering and group discussion.

The comments on the feedback forms were very positive. Here are a few samples:

· I really thank God for being in the right place at the right time.

· It's a great method - so intriguing and appealing, with handy tools that are within your reach.

· It's given me a different vision and encouraged me to carry on with this ministry.

· I've picked up new and different ideas to put into practice and share with others in my church.

· Please keep on teaching others, both grown-ups and little ones.

· I think the seminar was really interesting and practical. It opens up a new way of working with children and with people of other ages.

· It seems to me that the idea of using parables so that children can work through their fears and problems was really relevant.

· I feel very excited by this way of presenting Bible truths in such a direct manner.

· I believe that this method is very helpful in showing that children are able to draw their own meaning and conclusions from a Bible story.

· I have learnt so much and really enjoyed the session. May God bless those who are dedicated to this work, and may they in turn be a blessing to others!

· I'm really impressed. I see it as being very useful for young children.

· One of the most important aspects for me is that Godly Play foments communion, which is so important and vital for Christianity.

· We are starting a new church, so I am convinced we shall take up Godly Play.

· I would like to learn the techniques. When the books are translated, I would like to have them. Thanks!

· The method seems excellent, so tactile and group supporting.

· I'd love to get deeper into this method. As a church, we would like you to come and teach us more.

· We need to support the work of translating the materials, website, etc.

Furthermore, one of the participants left this prayer on her evaluation sheet:

Thanks, Jesus, for these wonderful stories, so well told. For I have felt as though I was right inside them. How much I have learned and grown, remembering the story of The Great Family, which I form part of, and the story of The Holy Family and Christmas, as though it took place only yesterday. I can only say 'Thank you, Lord' and 'May you continue blessing us with your loving kindness'.

Here are a few more photos of the seminar:

3. Godly Play in the Canary Isles
On 28th January, another Godly Play seminar took place, this time in Jinámar, Gran Canaria. It was my very first time in the Canary Isles... however, it rained most of the time I was there! Despite the rain, though, thirty people attended the seminar from several churches and groups on the island.

Here are a few photos of the event...

...and some of the reactions:

  • I am grateful to God for this chance to learn something new through this presentation.
  • We need further training to really implement this method... I'm keen to go on.
  • Godly Play is useful for churches with just a few members, as it can be easily adapted for different age groups.
  • For me, this has been a precious experience. I thank God for your ministry and I encourage you to go on sharing all this with other people. Thanks.
  • Thank you.
4. Youth programme in the Canary Isles

The church which invited me to spend two weeks in the Canary Isles (from 23rd January to 6th February) really made use of my skills: children's talks, preaching, prayer meetings, adult and youth Sunday school classes... Furthermore, I was invited to lead a week-long programme in celebration of the youth group's 15th anniversary. Although the sessions were aimed at the young people, in fact several other people, both younger and older, were keen to join in! Nobody seemed to mind this, so it all turned out to be an all-age event. The theme of the programme was 'Even the stones cry out', based on Luke 19:40.