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Stan's Plan

"Don’t Lay Any Certain Plans for the Future ..."
... it is like planting toads and expecting to raise toadstools! (John Billings)

Not the most Biblical quotation I have used in writing newsletters over some twenty years, but quite amusing and sums up the last few months. I have put in inserts with news of past travel and events since my last news update headed ‘India’, ‘Africa’ and ‘Book’ and trust you will be encouraged by them. These pages are for a more general update of present plans.

Why quotations about plans? Simply because mine have changed so much... and that is not an excuse for such a long delay in writing. I honestly have not known what direction I am taking and where I am going! Now I know!

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men gang aft agley
... (The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry – Robert Burns)

Having nearly completed a very successful and very tiring trip in Africa (see insert) I was feeling very tired Now I was sitting in a small church on the slopes of Mount Elgon in Kenya waiting to start the final seminars on Unity. Out of the door I could see the west of Kenya spread out below – Kitale, Webuye, Bungoma, Busia and in the distance was Eldoret. Even now I am not sure if it was just tiredness but it seemed the ideal place to announce my ‘retirement’ from missionary travel. So I did!

When I arrived home I announced my plan and began looking forward to a ‘normal’ life style – after all I have been on the road for twenty years and am getting close to sixty! I had almost got my new flat in Erith to feel like home. Retirement? Certainly! ...

... Humans have a thousand plans;
Heaven has but one. (Chinese proverb)

Retirement? Certainly not!

I decided that by the end of 2006 I would have everything nicely confirmed but for one thing. Over several years I have been working with the Congolese refugees waiting for their return home. My visits to the Lugufu and Nyaragusu camps in Tanzania were to that end. In December I heard that they were returning home. I was (and I still am) very strongly drawn to them. And I began to feel unsettled about not following through with my plan.

At the same time I got an e-mail from Pastor Ludy in the Philippines saying:

"I think REFIRE is what you need not RETIRE ... Anyway the mission field is for YOU so traveling is already a part of YOUR life."

He was right and so I amended my plans again. Missionary travel is my calling and my life. A new itinerary was drawn up which looked something like ...

Early April USA
Early May Spain
May/June India
Aug/Sept Africa

... Africa with a plan to a permanent move to either Nairobi or Congo to be in a good place to work with the Congolese. Simple. New plan!

A man's heart plans his way ...
... but the LORD directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

I have a friend (I have more than one friend). This friend is a man who has been a great support, inspiration and encouragement to me over many years. Many of you know him, but I will not mention him by name.

For three or four years he has had an unbelievably difficult time. There has been one great joy in his life in that time but on balance I would not want to share in the fellowship of his sufferings. He is a pastor. In these years of struggle many friends have abandoned him and now he is a broken man and it was difficult to believe that his circumstances can (or could) get worse. But they did!

"A friend drops their plans when you're in trouble ...
... shares joy in your accomplishments, feels sad when you're in pain" (Doris Wild Helmering)

So much so that he is to take a break from the church. He has asked me if I will go to America and help him in his difficulties and also to take care of his church while he is away. I know the church and the people and also know that there will be much pain and confusion there.

Suddenly my plans have changed again but I am confident that the Lord is guiding my steps. I have given notice in the part time work I have been doing to help support the ministry and now I have given notice to the landlord of my flat. Personal gifts and mementoes are going back into store and everything else, including the car, are given away again. What freedom there is in not being tied to possessions!

20th March sees me on the plan. What next? Watch this space… and pray for:

My pastor friend
His family
His church and, I guess,
For me!

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