Travelling Dawn: ahh the fun of booking a train ticket for Europe

Having spent hours today looking for seats online for the trip from Paris to Germany on the ICE train, I finally found them but then had trouble getting the train site Bahn to accept payment, I suddenly realised the reason i kept getting the message ‘the ticket you have requested is no longer available’ was because the return trip was too far off to book. I was trying to book seats for late April but the train line hadn’t yet released them, though they don’t tell you this…sigh, well that was 3 hrs i won’t get back. I also learnt that if you want a quick transaction then dont state, too precisely, which seat position you want. It seems the tickets sell so quickly that by the time you get to the check out, your seat has gone! So, eventually I just chose seat with a table in the mobile area and didn’t state whether I wanted window or aisle. In case you are wondering what the mobile area is well…there are two areas you can chose from, mobile or quiet. The quiet area is for people who don’t want to be around people on mobiles etc or those listening to music that can be heard even through earphones, the mobile area has a better mobile signal and you can chat as long and as loud as you like 🙂

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Reflections on ministry #1: Behind the curtain

Many of us serving God, in churches, have experienced the ups and downs in ministry. We expected it to be a hard road…a suffering road, but seminary never really prepares you for the trials you and your family will face. It never trains you in how to handle the politics and sinful behaviour often found in churches. It is a poor reflection on us, as a church, that we behave no better than any secular organisations do towards leadership. To the public view, all is well, but behind the scenes there is back stabbing, politicking, gossip, power struggles etc. All this, even in small country churches. Most wouldn’t be aware of it because many ministers put on a good public face, the ‘public smile’.

I went through seminary with 50+ other people, and knew many in years ahead of me or behind. Sadly, I have seen many either walk away from the ministry, or have their marriage/family destroyed by the stress caused, by others, against them, and i have seen many ministers have a break down or burn out. This has to stop, we are losing too many godly people from ministry. It is time we start talking publicly about the struggles faced ‘behind the curtain’ of public appearance and work out a way to help our ministers and their families…keep them in ministry for the long haul. This will be the aim of my ‘behind the curtain’ blogs…to bring out into the light the things many have kept hidden.

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Last two weeks in the USA before i head off to Europe:

Went with a friend for a drive today. We went through the mountain range by Mount Rainer. The snow is here (though not a lot of it this season) and the lakes are nearly frozen over. God paints the most beautiful landscapes (sunset in the mountains):

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Also, saw some Elk on the way home, seemed tame though i was warned not to get out of the car !!! Lol

My mind is preoccupied with the upcoming trip, last thing i am trying to organise is the insurance, and debating whether i should go to the dentist about my tooth that i cracked the other day…lol i know…go!!! But i hate dentists soooooo procrastination time 😉

Everything is booked:

Studio is booked in Montmartre, Paris. Flights all booked, saved myself $800 by going to France instead of Costa Rica…which surprised me!! Always worth checking different countries to see if you can get a better deal. This has been an answer to prayer: a safe place for me to stay in.

I have started stricter training sessions, to prepare me for travelling alone. Intense boxing bag routines etc…relearning my self defence moves. Why you may ask? Well, only a few people know this (and now it will be a lot more people) but i was raped, as a young woman, by someone i was dating. A few years ago i started training in a self defence called Krav Maga and i found that the more i trained the more my internal strength came back. I KNOW i can protect myself now, or at least go out fighting hard lol. i also used to train my female students in self defence and I would encourage every woman to learn it. But, training has taught me even more than defence; it has taught me about stricter discipline, the knowledge that i have more internal strength than i thought as well as physical strength and it has fine tuned my focus

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And so the search continues…

Having finally settled on Costa Rica as the place for me to stay while i wait to go to Germany, i went to book the flights and was shocked to see that in just 2 days the cost of them has gone up over $500 wow!!! Note to self: stop procrastinating and book the cheap flights when you see them :-/ So, after much prayer, i started reassessing my destination and came up with Paris. Hmmm you may be thinking…isn’t that an expensive place to go? Well, not in winter it seems. Flights there are a lot cheaper than Costa Rica, so i discovered, and accommodation is the same price (and it will mean i am only 1 1/2 hrs flight from my final destination of Germany, and my son and his family).

With iPad in hand, and my high school rusty French, i started my search of accommodations. All rather nice but…hold on…what’s that??? Kitchens and bathrooms aren’t necessarily INSIDE the apartment ummmmm huh??? Have i read that right…ok so time to revert to google translator and research, instead of guessing what the french says :-/ lol. On investigation it is quite common to not have the kitchen and bathroom in the apartment. So another note to self…check the place has these INSIDE the apartment lol. After a few emails to different places i have found a place near the centre. Looks like Paris is a go 😉

Some interesting things i have learnt so far about Paris: the central districts of Paris are divided into 12 Arrondissements, or ‘areas’ which are positioned in a circle around the centre of Paris. Some of these are safe, some arent. From my research it seems that Arrondissements 1-7, 9 and 12 are safe. 18 is more quaint, but also is next to the red light district, so you have to be careful to pick accommodation away from that section.

The first blog of many…I hope lol

Travelling from Australia to the USA after the death of my mum, the admittance of my dad into a dementia home and the break down of my marriage was in a way a new start, a chance to think and regroup. During this time I hoped I would spend more time with God, reconnecting to him after finding that I wasn’t speaking to him as much as I had been before.  Why hadn’t I been speaking to him? Well in honesty because it hurt, I found that I felt like a child sitting at his feet not wanting to look up at him because, I knew that when I did, I would start to cry over all the things that were happening and I wasn’t sure I would stop crying if I started.  So I kept my face looking down and didn’t speak to God much.  I knew he was always there, loving me and holding me close, but it was hard to look up.  To the world I kept a typical ‘stiff upper lip’ of my British culture, smiling and trying to help those around me, few knew what was happening in my life, I didn’t want to burden people and also because we Brits don’t cry in front of people, we are private people.  So, after all was packed away in Australia I came to a remote farm in Washington state, a beautiful, peaceful farm with no tv (my initial reaction to that was ahhhhhhh!!!!) and silence.  I have always been a busy person, mentally and physically.  Loved learning and also challenging myself, so to just ‘be’ was a new experience for me.  To sit with no music/tv/anything but nature and God was something that I thought would be too hard at times.  But, as the last 5 1/2 months have slipped by, I have found that I crave the silence.  My aim was to start writing a book about ministry; what really happens in ministry and how can we help ministers and their families thrive and not die in it.  Instead God has spent this time talking to me and teaching me.  I started looking up again at his face and yes the tears came, but with it came the healing of the pain of all that had happened.

During my time here I also found a best friend, someone who means so much to me and now knows me better than anyone in the world. Someone who let me cry on their shoulder and encouraged me to look up to God again. I will miss them terribly when I leave.  Thankfully there is always the Line app so I can keep in contact 🙂

So, why this blog.  Well the aim of it is to share with you my travels, what God teaches me, reflections on ministry, advice on travelling alone as a woman and the fun times I encounter.

My tentative itinerary is as follows: head to Costa Rica on 10 Feb, stay there till 11 Mar then head to see my son and his family in Germany and their new baby.  Then head to UK to see my dad and sister, head over to Amsterdam to see one of my students and then back to my son’s place, and do all this with minimal cost, because I am not working at the moment :-/ By the time I am back in Germany in April I hope to have an idea what I will do from then on lol. So, please follow me on this adventure into the unknown.