So where's the snow?

Muddling through life from Austria to Wales; God, life and a small black dog


Reflections on Austria

We’ve now been in Wales for seven months and I’m very aware of my looking back at our fourteen years there. I don’t want to go back, not even for a visit at present, but that’s not because I’m angry or sad about there. Some of it’s because I’m travelled out, have no desire to go anywhere except to explore Wales and maybe one day look at my roots in Ireland. It’s more that I’m so much happier here, and the contrast between then and now is becoming apparent.

We were both restless from 2004 onwards. Heading to the empty nest syndrome, work becoming less of a dream. Children growing up, Mum and dog passing. And some of it, my inherent restlessness. I think I get it from my Dad, the thought of staying in one place all my life made me feel like I was suffocating. Not to mention my impatience too. We wanted to go as Missionaries, but Dave didn’t want to study, but when looking we felt God was directing us. Oh, you can read it all in the rest of this blog!

Austria was never home, and maybe that was because I looked back, missing kids, and as we found our selves in a dead church, being in a living one. Our little fellowship here in Wales is so alive and I know God wants us here. Yes, we loved a lot of it, but we had always said we night go back and I knew there was another house for us to live in. This one. I will end my days here.

My overwhelming feeling of being here, is complete and utter relief! More in the next post…

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Easter healing

I think this Easter was the best I’ve had for many years. Not only the joy of being in a church community, with people singing away in English, and my favourite songs, but also the joyous feeling of being in the love of God. He was all around us. I like the chapel we sing in, it faces east and gets the morning sun like the one in Mariapfarr did. I can watch the light on the flowers, window, table and the book, reflecting the glow of his love. And that bit’s every week.

Then I began to feel challenged by God about healing. After all, Jesus died for our sins, and conquered sin itself. Illness is a by product of sin. Jesus conquered sin, by his stripes, we ARE healed. So I knew what he was saying. Like others, you have to make a step to receive your healing, not sit there like a dummy.

Oh, no Lord, not take the communion wafer? I’m too scared. For a long time, due to my gluten intolerance, I’ve been giving mine to Dave. And I knew deep down this was wrong.

Then at the end of the sermon, there came a challenge. Maybe you have been coming to church for years, but you haven’t really accepted Jesus. And I knew. If I’m a Christian, I have to act like I really do have this belief. I had to take the step.

So I took the wafer. No reaction. And I know I’m healed. I’m not leaping about because I have to battle my unbelief on this one. I will take the host over the next few weeks and show myself that it is true. Then with baby steps, without fear, it will manifest and I will be able to eat normally. God knows I will have to overcome my over thinking. But wow, what an Easter!

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Easter; Good Friday Walk of witness

This Easter is amazing! Those of you who follow this blog, know about my frustration and dryness with the church in Austria and my happiness on returning to a living fellowship here in the UK. Today, many of the churches in Mountain Ash got together for the first time in two years for a walk of witness. We walked about 1.5 miles, and ended up with a service at Providence Baptist church, our new home. We had a service afterwards and then Hot Cross Buns.

What a complete and utter joy! Dave and I chatted with folks, made new friends and contacts, and came home utterly convinced we are in the place God wants us for one of his cunning plans and the result will be an revival and outpouring in this town. I’m so excited, I bounced all the way home!

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A new spiritual home!

One of the main reasons we decided to return to the UK was that we were running dry spiritually. The Protestant church we were in had its head firmly buried in concrete and was battered by constant feuds and personality conflicts. We had a Bible group with some friends of ours, but they neither wanted to move on nor try yet again to build a new fellowship with the Christians in the area. All the things we discussed were treated with wariness until they heard it from an Austrian source! The Lungau might have been a natural paradise, but spiritually it was a desert.

So, when we started looking at parts of the UK, we always searched the churches and fellowships in the area, and Wales in comparison to the UK seemed full of ones to explore. When we looked at Mountain ash, there seemed to be churches all over the place. It wasn’t until we got here, that we found google was listing empty buildings and many that had been demolished, even two in Cfenpennar. But lockdown had us searching online services and we soon picked up that in Rhonda Cynon Taff, our area, there were many free churches and we would surely find an alive fellowship.

We didn’t have a car to start, and so decided to go to those in walking distance, and so ended up at the Baptist church in the town. We walked into the warmth of a living fellowship, small in numbers, and an older congregation, but so full of the spirit, we knew that we didn’t need to go any further, we had found our new home!

There was a new pastor, and we met him and his wife and found fellow hearts for the area and bringing people to the Lord. It’s been such an utter relief to be home! Over the past months things are moving on and we’re so thrilled to be part of this, it was something we came home for. They started by blessing the fellowship that was already there, with love and Christmas celebrations, what a beautiful thing to do. We started a children’s club, which had a slow start, and last week we had a prayer breakfast with other churches which rocked my spiritual socks. All the other fellowships are of the same heart for the area, and out of this are coming a walk of witness on Good Friday, evening services, Mothers’ day teas, all sorts of wonderful things. I’m just leaping about with excitement! Only downside, was that while it was brilliant to sing songs we sang in Lymington Baptist church all those years ago, there are some great new ones…

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One of the great joys here is the birdsong. When I walk Swingle in the mornings around the playing field at Cfenpennar and then in the woods back home, the birds are singing their heads off,even though it’s only February. The thrush has been warbling since Christmas and I think it is the best birdsong, touching the soul. Second is the blackbird in early summer, but that is to come.

In the garden, the birds have been pigging themselves out on my feeders, and I have a pair of nuthatches, plus all the families of tits and robins. I even spied a pair of Bullfinches too. There are buzzards here, plenty of magpies and Jays,who are almost as shy as the Austrian ones. I even don’t mind the pigeons and doves cooing, it’s their place, but in Lungau they were new arrivals and a sign of change, I felt they didn’t belong.

Across the road, in Mike’s garage, the ever noisy sparrows are nesting in the eves. I can only gloat, because it’s February. Back in Austria, snow is still on the ground, and the birds haven’t come back to the valleys from wherever they are over wintering. The song thrushes will pass through in March on their way to warmer climes. My only regret about Austria, is the one morning when it was snowing, a thrush was singing its heart out. And I didn’t have a phone to video it.

Even more joy! The daffodils are opening, alongside the hosts of snowdrops. These sometimes wouldn’t arrive till May in Lungau.

I wonder if we will have any swallows or martins here?

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We left our red Fiat panda behind in Austria because it broke down and we were quoted over €1000 to fix it. It would also cost much more than that to register it here in the UK, change its lights, registration etc. So, back home we spent all the time waiting for the house to complete using buses and trains, which we found quite relaxing! Once we moved in, we walked everywhere, the hill up to Cfenpennar was a bit of a challenge, but we needed to get fit. Once we had our bus passes, we used the bus as I’ve told you.

We would shop in Aberdare and then get a taxi back; we got to know the driver quite well! We’d seen a 2009 white panda on sale at a local garage. It was a good price, even if it only lasts a few years. So after Christmas we got it, and a total bag of nerves, we set about driving.

I’d been so long sat in the back of a taxi or on public transport, sitting in the front was quite unnerving. But I had my go. Talking out loud as I sat on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, trying not to change gear on the window. What I hadn’t reckoned was that I had my winter boots on. When I went to change gear, the car stopped and the engine roared. Total, utter panic. And I did it again. My boot was catching two pedals. Dave made me stop and he drove. I’ve got behind the wheel once since. I’ve been trying to get a refresher course, but the driving schools are so booked up with the Covid backlog. Dave is a much calmer driver, but he’s found it quite a challenge. It’s made us realise how little traffic we had to deal with in Lungau, and the roads are busy here.

It’s silly that this is stopping us getting out and exploring. I will get there, knowing I must stop over thinking and panicking. But I do so wish we could have brought our red panda over, I’ve a feeling it would have been much easier being familiar with the car!