Friday, 29 June 2018

Food Glorious Food...


A whole pan of coffee served with a ladle
One of the things I love about living and serving in Slovenia is the relational aspect of the culture. Meeting up with people seems to always involve food of some kind and most definitely coffee! I have learnt that Slovenes love their coffee, it's almost a way of life for them. It is not common for to go to other people's houses, instead you meet them at a kavarna (coffee shop just doesn't sound as good or encompass the full meaning of the place) where you can sit and talk for hours. I have been firmly informed that the stuff Starbucks/Costa/ any other chain you can think of do not serve anything more than hot water and milk. Even mentioning the words 'instant coffee' produces blank stares and questions of why one would even think about drinking it!

Coffee here is made Turkish style on the stove. The picture to the right is a very extreme example. My housemate did indeed make a whole panful and served it with a ladle. She was quick to assure me that it wasn't normal but it was because she was providing for a large number of people at once. Even though this was different from normal coffee is still made in a pan, strong and with residue left in the bottom of the cup. I love it!


British Sunday Dinner
In Britain it is completely normal to open your house up to friends and guests especially on a Sunday (at least that was my experience growing up). As I've already said, it's not that common here. As a house, we've decided we want to be different. We're all in ministry although in completely different contexts. We all wanted to be able to feel free to invite people over and to make them feel welcome in our flat. It's great, it's not a constant flow of people in our flat (yet!) but it is a steady trickle of people in and out. As such we decided that it would be a nice idea to host a British Sunday dinner last Sunday.
Many of you may know that I was brought up by a very proud Yorkshire woman (as in my Mum is very proud to come from Yorkshire, not that she herself is proud). I believe that she would have considered herself a failure if she had not taught us how to make a proper Sunday roast complete with homemade Yorkshire puddings. I'm sorry Mum, we didn't have them the traditional way as a separate course before the meat and vegetables, it seemed a step too far after I'd had to explain that they were savoury and not actually a pudding! The meal was a complete success! We provided for 7 people (including ourselves), a mixture of Christians and non Christians. It was such a joyful time together, getting to know people better and being able to share some of our culture (even though we produced so much food we only finished the leftovers today). I even didn't mind missing the England world cup football match, people are my priority here.

That's not just a glib sentence ending, it's a really important part of my work here. People are the priority, I can study for as much as I want but if I'm not meeting with people then it's almost useless. It's a bit harder over the summer holidays as lots of people are away but my prayer is that I can be building on the relationships I've already made. Please pray for me as I'm the one who needs to take the initiative and as an introvert it's a bit out of my comfort zone. I love being with people once I'm there or if other people invite me but it take an extra effort for me to reach out to people. We were talking about this a bit in ministry training this week - as much as I love the studying part, it's no good if it's not put into practice by spending time with people. If that just happens to be accompanied by food or coffee then so be it.

On the practical side of things, thank you to all of you who were concerned about our plate being returned by the neighbours. It has now been brought back complete with some chocolates possibly from Latvia or Russia, I'm not really sure. I've also seen the older lady from next door a couple of times. I really wish that I could communicate with her more than about the weather. This week I started language lessons finally. It's so great to be able to sit down and talk about the areas I need help with. There is still so much to learn but I feel that the real learning can begin now. I've arranged with my tutor (who is a Christian from my flatmate's church) to have 2 lessons a week until the end of September when I will be starting group sessions at the university. In terms of my residency I've not heard anything yet so I'm still waiting for the letter that will give me an appointment to go back. I don't think there are any problems, it's just of matter of waiting on the bureaucracy.

I will finish this blog post with another story of the worldwide church of God. Two Sundays ago was the annual church picnic. It was an absolute blessing of a day. The weather was good, the food was good and most importantly I had an amazing time of fellowship with my church family. They have really made me feel welcome and as part of the church here. In amongst the people there was an Australian family who are serving in a Middle Eastern country. They were visiting the Australian family who are based at my church. I got into conversation with the wife and as we were talking about England she mentioned the name of the town Shrewsbury (the county town of Shropshire and where I was born). In some surprise (since tourists don't often go to that part of England) I asked her if they'd been to church there. Her answer was no because they'd been visiting friends in Wem and gone to church there. Of all the places in England they could have gone to, they went to the town, to the church that my family belonged to until I was 6 and we moved to St. Albans. Wem has a population of 5,000 people, I certainly never expected it to come up in conversation with Australian missionaries in Slovenia. God definitely has a sense of humour!

P.S I'm also writing my prayer letter today, if you would like to be added to my mailing list please email me at s.re.deacon@gmail.com.

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