Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A special place to stay!

I am writing this post at my son’s place in Galicia, north-west Spain, where John Paul and Maria Angeles run a country hotel. A few months ago, one of the inspectors for Alistair Sawday’s prestigious series of 'Special Places to Stay' guidebooks stayed at the hotel and, as a result, they now have a very positive write-up in the 2007 edition of the guide to Spain.

Here is a quote from the book:
«If you’re sporty and you don’t demand luxury, this modest hotel between Santiago and the Atlantic could be for you. The young owners are keen to promote ‘adventure tourism’ on their patch so you can fish for trout, hike, mountain bike or ride the St James’s Way, sail or, perhaps most tempting of all, swim in the Atlantic off the lovely sands at Carnota. Bedrooms are in the original stone farmhouse and are surprisingly smart considering the price, the best with their own covered galleries. All are cheerfully decorated with attractive wooden furniture and floors, and central heating in bedrooms and bathrooms, a comfort when the days turn chilly. The restaurant is just across the way, new and strictly functional, its culinary philosophy to keep things “simple and local”. Try the local specialities: stuffed peppers and empanada, the Galician equivalent of Cornish pasty. The wine list is surprisingly good. Although this is a no-frills hotel, the young owners’ kindness and hospitality has convinced us that Santa Eulalia deserves a place in this guide.»

But don’t just take their word for it… COME AND SEE FOR YOURSELF!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Godly Play in Jumilla (Murcia)

On Saturday 21st April, I led a Godly Play introduction day in a town called Jumilla, in the province of Murcia. Twenty-three people from 5 churches in the region took part in the event.

Here's some of their feedback:
  • "I found this method very interesting and I would like to learn more about it."
  • "The day has been a great blessing because I have learned a lot about the need to reach people's heart with simplicity, the importance of silence and not to intervene too much or interrupt play in order to impose our doctrine."
  • "Everything was great. It's an interesting approach for children and young people. It doesn't only teach you Bible, but other things like education."
  • "It seems to me to be a special way of teaching children, and older people too, important aspects of God's word. It's clear, simple and, above all, fun."
Click here for more photos of the Godly Play introductory day.

Taking advantage of the Godly Play seminar en Jumilla, on Sunday 22nd April I was invited to use the same method in a children's class at the church. There were eight children present, plus some teachers and parents. The boys and girls responded very well to the story of Jonah, the Backward Prophet.

Besides the seminar and the children's class, the weekend also included presentations of Godly Play to two youth groups (in Jumilla and Archena), with an attendance of approximately 50 young people, and also as part of the sermon in the church's evening service.

Click here for more photos of the children's class.

Easter retreat

A couple of days after my trip to Wales and England, I was able to spend the Easter weekend at a retreat organized by Oasis Madrid, an international church in the Spanish capital. The programme for the weekend included several sessions of Godly Play for the children who attended the retreat.

In these photos, the pastor of the church, Troy Cady, tells the Godly Play story of the 'Faces of Christ', a summary of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, from his birth to his resurrection.

At the end of this lesson, the participants are invited to bring objects from the shelves and place them on the floor in order to 'complete' the presentation. Many objects can be brought - practically everything in the Godly Play classroom is related in some way to the story of Jesus!

Click here for more photos of the Oasis Madrid Easter retreat.

England & Wales

Recently, Cilla and I were invited by our 'home' church near London to spend a week with them in order to get to know new church members and share at various meetings. Before that, however, we were also able to spend a few days at the B&B guesthouse, at Criccieth (North Wales), where our friend Rachel Jones lives.

So, on Sunday 25th March, we flew from Madrid to Liverpool airport, where Rachel's friends and landlords, Bob & Anne, kindly picked us up. (Unfortunately, Cilla's suitcase failed to arrive and at the date of posting this report - nearly 6 weeks later - there is still no sign of it!)

We spent a few days relaxing in Wales and enjoyed surprisingly warm and sunny weather. The B&B is right on the coastal promenade at Criccieth, and we were also able to explore Snowdonia - as well as purchasing emergency clothing and toiletries for Cilla!

I was also invited to share a Godly Play story (using sand from the local beach!) at a meeting of the local Christian fellowship.

The following Wednesday, Cilla and I took the train to Harrow (Middlesex) and that evening we attended and shared at one of Roxeth Green Free Church's cell groups. The day after, I was asked to lead a Godly Play presentation at the Thursday afternoon group which meets in the church hall. And I was also able to include a brief Godly Play story, on the Mystery of Easter, as part of my Palm Sunday sermon at Roxeth.

The big event for me, however, was the surprise 60th birthday party which the church sprung on me - with Cilla's secretive collaboration! Many family members (sister, uncle & aunt, cousins, nephew, son-in-law & grandchildren), as well as old friends took the trouble to travel sometimes long distances to be at the party. It was astonishing to see folk we had not met since our wedding day way back in 1969! A number of them gave little speeches and said kind things about me which I'm not sure are totally true! There was also a quiz on 1947, the year I was born. (I am trying hard to find time to write personally to those who attended the party. But if you were there and you read this beforehand... a BIG thankyou for being in on the secret!)

A trip to England is never complete without at least a short visit to see our daughter, Lorna, and her family in Thatcham (Berkshire). We were able to spend a couple of days with them before flying back to Madrid on Tuesday 3rd April.

Click here for more photos of our stay in Wales, and here for pictures we took of our time with Lorna, Simon and the grandchildren.

My Flickr! page

You can now view many more of my photos at my Flickr! page. Please have a look and let me know what you think.

Godly Play workshop in Salou (Tarragona)

On Saturday 17th March I led a third Godly Play workshop at the Spanish seaside resort of Salou (Tarragona) - although I never get to enjoy the beach! The workshop centred on the 'Liturgical Action' genre of Godly Play, more specifically on the Advent stories. Seventeen trainees from three local churches took part in the 8-hour workshop.

Taking advantage of my stay in Salou, there were other opportunities to present Godly Play stories. On the Saturday evening, after the workshop, I led a Godly Play story with about 15 young people. And on Sunday I took a children's class with about 20 boys and girls who responded well to the Godly Play approach. Finally, in the evening service, there was a chance to present a Godly Play story as part of the sermon.

Click HERE or HERE to view more photos of the workshop.