Saturday, April 10, 2010

New beginnings

Today was very exciting because we had a service of dedication for our new church premises. (You will have to forgive me if I repeat myself here, but I can never remember whether I have said something on the phone, by e-mail, on Facebook or on my blog). Anyway, our little church group has been meeting in a bar restaurant for a year now, ever since it started just before I joined. A church in Mazzaron, further along the coast towards Murcia, decided to run an Alpha course in Huércal-Overa, and when it finished, the people wanted to go on meeting regularly, so the church was born. Like the one at Mazzaron, we are part of the Victory Church group, whose main vision is church planting. They now have churches in over 40 countries. We are led by Trevor and Sue Miles who are both trained pastors. We still have regular joint meetings with Mazzaron, and visiting preachers from there, but in the main we are self-contained now. Each Sunday there are around thirty of us, all fairly aging of course, and our numbers fluctuate depending on who has visitors, and who is visiting UK. We are all English except Mateo who is Spanish, and he plays the keyboard. He is a professional musician, and he is gradually learning our English hymns from Trevor's CDs. He plays them by ear, and reads them without understanding all the words, but his English has improved massively since he has been with us. He has an English wife who teaches Spanish and they only speak Spanish at home. They are a lovely couple and a real asset for our time of worship. We have known for some time that we need to have our own premises so that we can hold a mid-week Bible study, and other events for the wider community, but it has not been easy to find anything suitable. However, just before Christmas we heard of a hairdresser who was about to close her business, and when Trevor went to look at it, it seemed to fit our needs perfectly. He had to work fast to secure a lease on it, as some restaurant owners also had their eye on it, but with the help of Mateo's wife as an interpreter, and an agent who was sympathetic to our cause, we were successful. So for the past few months we have been busy fundraising, and making plans, so when the hairdresser moved out last Wednesday, we were ready to move in! A small group of our menfolk did some DIY, fixing lights, replacing floor tiles where a counter had been, removing a sink, and other such tasks, while a group of us ladies scraped beauty product posters off the wall, cleaned mirrors, scoured the kitchen area and swept and mopped the floors. We had sufficient funds to order 60 good quality, comfortable chairs from England and 'Jimbo the Scot', (the man who moved our furniture over here for us who just happens to live next door to the Palms where we have been holding our services), transported them back here free of charge, and they arrived on Thursday afternoon, along with five big, folding tables. Then a friend of Trevors, who is an electrician and computer buff, came and fixed our projector in the ceiling and ran the cables above the ceiling tiles, so we don't have to keep taping them to the floor any more, and he set it all up so we can project from a laptop onto the screen. We then found a home for a wooden cross made by a man from our group, hung curtains that another church member had made, and had a few trial runs at arranging the chairs. Then we called it a day as we were all very tired. On Friday, just a small goup of half a dozen or so, went back there. The new floor tiles were dry so we swept and mopped through again, set up a table across the entrance to the kitchen ready for teas, and set out the chairs for todays service. We needed all sixty of ours plus twenty or so borrowed from the cafe next door, but we managed to get them all in. As well as the main room and kitchen, we have two toilets and a small room which will be a quiet room, but which, for today, became the place to set out all the food for a buffet tea after the service. So we put up a block of the other four tables and spread white cloths on them so everything was ready. At the last minute a man arrived to put up the sign above the door. It has a real 'church feel' to it now, and it is lovely. Today we got there early so we could put out all the food as it arrived - contributions from all our members. The tables were groaning under the load and it all looked lovely, and almost every bit was eaten! There were just a few cakes left that we will finish up with our coffee after the service tomorrow morning. The service today was wonderful. The room was full, with all the chairs taken and a few people standing at the back. Trevor led it and Sue worked the computer for today. The message was given by the International director of Victory Churches, who has a church in Rugely, and the dedication of the building was led by pastor Andrew from the Mazzaron church. Another man from there sang a beautiful solo called 'Watch the Lamb'. It was very long and it told the story of Simon of Syrene taking his sons to the passover and being ordered to carry the cross for Jesus. I think nearly everyone was in tears at the end of it. We had a good time of fellowship afterwards while we enjoyed a lovely buffet, and then we had a big group photo taken outside. Another lady from the congregation made a beautiful celebration cake which was cut at the end of the service and shared out with our tea. We are lucky to have so many talented people among our membership.There were plenty of helpers so we soon had it all cleared away and ready for our first service there tomorrow. Let's hope we go from strength to strength.
I will add a few more photos on my gallery (along with the Good Friday ones that I haven't had time to do yet!)

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