Testimony by Vanda Chittenden
“The Best made plans of mice and men…”
No matter how carefully 2020 was planned, something may still go wrong with it, and it did. 2020 happened.
At the beginning of 2020 there was so many awesome plans, of what we were going to do in the community, in the Church and with outreach.
Personally, things were looking up, work was going great for change, we were expecting a raise and a bonus. My family was doing well, everyone had a job, everyone was healthy.
But things did not go according to plan. For all of us, plans changed, and we were all affected by the Pandemic in some way.
Not long after lockdown, my son lost his job and has still not been able to find a job. My father fell and split his head open to the bone, and severed an artery, my mom was struggling with severe pain all over her body. My brother had to move in with us and is living on a mattress on the floor in our living room, for a year now. Far away from his family in Langebaan. I have had some health scares, and suffered a salary cut.
The first month or so when lockdown started, was dark and depressing, and I found myself wanting to give up and leave. To swear at the world, and what I have not told anyone, is that I wanted to leave this world. I was struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression. I have lost good friends to Covid 19 and from other illnesses over the past year.
Fr. Andrew started daily Morning and Evening Prayers, and I had to force myself to take that step and click on the link and join in with the prayers. At times, I had to mute myself and cried in between. I had to force myself to study, and to read the Bible. To pray and to meditate.
The best activities of 2020 were the Morning and Evening Prayers, if it were not for those communal prayers, I would not have realised how powerful it is to prayer together for our community. I would have stopped growing closer to God and stopped maturing in my Faith. I would have become lost. Like a lost sheep in the wilderness.
But time heals all things, and that can only be done, if you pray regularly, together and in a group. The Zoom group has been a source of joy, healing, laughter, community, fellowship, and spiritual growth. I know that not everyone has access to this platform. And there were times, where there was just 2 of us. But as it says in Matthew 18 vs 20: For where two or three gathers in my name, there am I with them.”
With the daily Morning and Evening Prayers, I have found strength again in God, renewed and refreshed Spirit within me, doing things to change me from within.
We started the Evening reflections at 7pm daily, which was a growing source of joy to me. As I was sharing the reflections every evening with you, I was changing and learning and being fed with you, as well.
And then we learned how to do things differently in our Church Community.
We started sharing the services online, both on WhatsApp and on Zoom. Oh man! Was there some pretty big hiccups and technical difficulties in working out what we needed to do, to make things work. And since I am being honest, I wanted to throw my laptop at someone, a couple of times in the beginning, while we tried to work things out. In the end, everything worked out fine.
I have learned something about patience, and not letting the small things bug me. But that is still a work in progress.
I have also learned that you need “Brain Wifi”. That is a story all on its own. Ask Fr. Andrew about “Brain WiFi”
We managed to still run our Alpha as planned, but online, and this went very well. What I learned with being online, is that you reach a whole new group of people, that you would not have done, if we had run it physically in church.
We started something new with the Prayer course, which was a success, where we learned a variety of ways to pray.
And then we tried for the first time, the Difference course, which is all about Reconciliation. The group consisted mainly of fellow Theology students, and a couple from the Methodist Church. I was so scared to run this course, because of the “issues that would arise”. And they did rise as expected, but instead of it being a disaster. The response to this course was astounding, and truly inspirational. There has been a call for more workshops on Reconciliation, more about this later in the year, this course will be run several times this year. The reconciliation course knocked me for six, as I realised a whole load of things about myself, that I would not have attributed to myself. And I learned that forgiveness is hard.
2020 has been hard. But out of the pandemic, illness, stress, and anxiety. We have been forced in a way, to adapt. Just like the first Church had to adapt, and the disciples had to adapt. We learned new skills, new ways of doing things, and have seen a shift in how we worship our Lord God, and a shift in the way we minister in this new normal.
I am sure that we will continue to have a couple more wobbles in this journey, but together we can persevere and forge new ways of Being Church in our Community. We just need to be courageous in blazing the way to a new way of Being Church.
God is with us, in us, all around us. The biggest lesson I learned, is that nothing is too big for God. If you give your troubles to God, all will be well in the end. He has plans for you, but focus on what is happening right now, and do what God requires of you right now.
Take part in the prayers, listen to the Sermons, read your Bible, and listen to your group of friends in your circle. Without continuous nourishment, we will wither and be lost. Keep feeding and watering your faith. Don’t give up.
God be with you, as we continue to journey together.