The Credit Crunch is now said to be the 'Credit Grind,' or even the 'Credit Pulverisation', [doesn't exactly roll off the tongue], and we're all watching our backs. So why was 2008 untypical? Well, for the UK, it was the lead-up to the Crunch, the terrible weather, especially the snow, [which still lies thickly outside]. For me..... I did a few new things.... Sold my house - [as God performed a miracle to help me! See below for details - really! If you don't use exclammation marks for miracles, when do you?]
Well, I [er- with lots of help from Ashley] launched another Blog - Khammam News - born of a visit to the Christian Mission of Brother Azariah in Khammam, Andhra Pradesh, India, in November, with a great team from Christchurch, Purley, Surrey, UK. Fabulous trip. Fantastic experience. Took me back to memories of my childhood in Calcutta [Oops, Kolkatha!], and oddly enough, to biblical times. The very real poverty, the lepers still living [begging] in ordinary society, fields being turned with old ploughshares pulled by bullocks, and seeded by hand, shepherds with their flocks [of cows, buffaloes and goats, in this case], people who weren't constrained by Health & Safety rules or political correctness, and people who seriously thirsted for spiritual things. And that Mission served them well; the lot - based on humanitarian need, not religion, or coersion to join it. We learnt so much from Indian missionaries at the chalk face. Great scriptural and intellectual discussions, and opportunities to do some real good, reaching out to people who had little, and still gave so much to us. Never smiled so much. Had such a good time. Passed through Mumbai while the bombings were happening, so we stayed at the airport for hours, but at least we were safe. If anyone at the Mission in Khammam reads this - 'Thank you from the bottom of my heart.'
Held another Arts Festival at the Cancer Centre, Purley, where I'm the Arts Director. I think it was successful - everyone else seemed to enjoy it, too. Lots of positive feedback. It lasted from the 7th July to the 30th September, not continuously, of course, and included workshops on Bellydancing [Read 'Strictly Come Dancing from Samarkhand' in the Cancer Centre Newsletter, www.sechc.org.uk] Performance Dance, Sculpture, Story Re-enactment, and Creative Writing, as well as celebrations, such as our week-long 'Healing Tree of Life' Exhibition of artwork, photography, craft, sculpture, and the Choir celebration. Lots of cancer patients and their carers having fun! That's a plus at times like these.
My 12-year-old granddaughter took the leading role in 'Pinocchio' by the Chipstead Players, which ran for two weeks, and she was great! Possibly a career in musical theatre here......
New in 2008: Paid off the mortgage [Yes!]; staying with good friends in the interim; joined two new churches, 'Christians in Science', 'Friends of the Natural History Museum'; started music therapy; learnt to do Kakuru; to use a smart-phone; maintain a journal throughout the Khammam trip; spent 5 days at Ashburnham, lost my keys and had to be towed 60+ miles home [Actually that was the start of 2009, so it can only get better after that!], etc.
Some downers - 11 good friends died; became allergic to malaria pills and suffered for two months; eye problems; put on 5 lbs [old war, new battle]....
Projects for 2009!!! The two new paintings are being photographed by Tony Barranco this month! They should go on the website, with commentaries in March. [At last, you sigh, some new news about 'The People of the Book'.] Also, organising the Silver Jubilee Finale at the Arnhem Gallery in March; re-starting my PhD at Goldsmiths, London Uni; visiting Canada again; doing the Fashion Show for the Cancer Centre with Kingston Uni, if GAP USA doesn't back out; buying another house... and whatever God has in store to surprise me. [Reading the above, I realise that none of the 2008 events were planned or anticipated at the start of the year.]
God bless all of you out there. More news soon,
P.S. The Miracle of the Sale of my House - After four formal house offers dropped out for different reasons, and people still visited to view but offer silly figures, I was reading the Book of Esther, and decided to do a 'fast and pray' for two days. [Three days for genocide!] My mortgage had doubled, I couldn't pay it and eat as well; the bank had threatened to re-possess after I missed two payments - I was staring at disaster. So I duly started fasting on a Monday morning, leaving the house about mid-day to let the estate agents take viewers around as usual. Sitting in the car, feeling very thirsty, [remember, biblical fasts have no food or water] with my mobile phone to my ear while I prayed [so that I wouldn't look silly], I waited for them to finish, so that I could go home. Suddenly, the mobile rang, and the agent said there was another offer. 'Oh, yes,' I said, all glib, 'How much this time?' 'No, it's your asking price, and they're cash buyers!' Well, I nearly said, 'God!' And of course, it was; and it all went ahead on cue! The buyers wanted to move in in three weeks, but it went to four. I was in tears on and off for months, but still kept my two-day fast, thanking God all the time. How cool is that for an answer to prayer - and no waiting! With no time to buy another house, friends offered me two rooms and bath in their large six-bedroom house, with storage for my furniture in their garages. Now that's God's planning, whatever you say! And I still keep thanking Him.