Friday, 2 November 2018

Celebrations...

This last couple of weeks has been full of celebrations. It's always nice to write about the fun things that are happening here. I guess the biggest piece of news (if you hadn't already heard) is that I've been asked to stay in Slovenia for a second year. This is a very quick plea for prayer and support. I still need to raise the finances to be able to stay so if you'd like to help please let me know (s.re.deacon@gmail.com). I am really excited to be staying here longer as I feel like I've only just got here and settled in to the work I'm doing.

Another (reasonably) big celebration for me was my 30th birthday last weekend. I certainly don't feel any older or wiser but maybe that will happen more in my 30s. I was really grateful that both my sisters and one brother in law were able to come visit me and see a bit of the life I'm living here. I had a brief (1 day) holiday in Venice with my younger sister which was lovely but she kept telling me off for comparing it to Ljubljana (oops). We were very fortunate with the weather but after we left Venice was hit by big floods. We definitely came back at the right time!


This week has been very quiet as many of my normal activities were cancelled. The schools are on holiday and also there have been two national holidays. Both these holidays have great cultural and historical significance. Firstly the 31st October is Reformation Day. I love the fact that in a Catholic country Reformation Day is celebrated and is much more important than Halloween. The reason for this is down to one man: Primož Trubar. I don't have space to go into too much detail here but essentially he was a reformer in the 16th century who was also responsible for writing the first books in Slovene. Reformation Day is a great opportunity for gospel witness and that's why I found myself helping out with and event run by IFES last week. Lots of different organisations came together to run stalls offering everything from magic tricks to free literature and cake and coffee. We were trying to generate conversations with people passing by. My main job for the day was to hand out leaflets about the beliefs and life of Trubar. I'm not very experienced/ good at street evangelism but even I managed to have one good gospel conversation with a student. I'm praying that he will read the literature he was given and that he will want to find out more.

The second national holiday this week was on 1st November which was All Saints Day. This is where people remember the dead. As far as I'm aware (any Slovenes reading this please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) the roots are in Catholicism. People go to the cemetery to light candles at the graves of their family members. I believe that this comes from praying for the dead to help them through purgatory more quickly. It is now more cultural than religious and everyone seems to take part. We went to the cemetery later in the evening and every grave had at least one candle lit on it. Everywhere you looked there were thousands of candles blinking in the darkness. It was very beautiful but at the same time very sad. I know that not everyone there was praying for souls in purgatory but many would have been.

I went with a couple of Swedish students with Slovene ancestry and for them it was about remembering their loved ones which is something I don't think we do much in England. It was a solemn occasion but very interesting to witness. What I did find odd though was the stalls selling hot food. (Buy your roasted chestnuts before you go visit the graves.) I think though that this day reflects the Slovene culture quite well: understated but beautiful.

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