Hello from the Manse,
I hope this letter finds you all in a positive spiritual place, although I’m sure you will be “fed-up” with life at the moment, with restrictions on our movement and meetings? If you are in need of spiritual help; a listening ear, please contact me at the manse. At this present moment, I am able to meet you in your garden (weather-dependent of course!), or in your home depending on the number of people you see each day- but it is possible!
Do you remember the old Psalm, “All people that on do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice”? As we, as a congregation begin to open the Church building, due to the pressure placed on all Congregations from the Insurance company- we find ourselves in a very different place- in a building where we can only sit in certain places, unable to meet or sit beside those we used to meet up with etc; being unable to sing. And we know the science gives us reasons for this, but the question still rises for many- “how can we worship God, when we can’t sing?”
Worship is far more than just singing. We don’t worship God with our mouths only but with our being, with our heart. We can worship and sing along at home- in front of the TV, while watching the service on Grangemouth Churches Youtube or Zetland/ Grangemouth Churches Facebook pages, or listening on the phone (01324 266990). We can sing at any time of day, just not collectively, and I know many of you miss that, so do I.
In March, when we sang the Blessing, “Go now in peace,” there was a tear in my eyes, as I knew that would be the last time we would be together for a while, a long time. But we open the Church building for prayer again on Sunday 27th September and for worship on Oct 4th at 10.30am for 30 minutes. I am so grateful to the team for their work to create a safe environment for all who wish and are able to attend, and to the Cleaning team and stewards for their work. If you would like to join the teams, please let me know. It will be a lot of work, and worship/ funerals etc will all depend on the benevolence of our volunteers at present.
Our worship will be different, but at least we can worship our Lord and Saviour together, if we are able, and say the Lord’s Prayer quietly together, behind our facemasks.
And so, although we may still be unable to meet as the whole Zetland family of Christ, we can come before God, praising with our cheerful voices of our hearts; living and rejoicing in the street, in our homes and countryside by offering the depth and sincerity of our praise, even when we are being guided by the regulations. And maybe sing a modern Psalm by Matt Redman- “10000 reasons”, in your hearts- “Bless the Lord oh my soul, Worship His Holy name, Sing like never before.”
God Bless, and KNOW and FEEL, the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ within your hearts and lives.
I thought I’d take this chance to quickly introduce myself through the magazine although I hope we can meet in person at some point soon. I’m just about to start my second year at the University of Edinburgh, where I’m studying for the four-year BD(Hons) degree. This will be my first of two term-time placements and will run until after Easter.
Before I began my degree, I grew up in the Borders then spent just over twenty years working in various IT roles in many different countries. Probably don’t bring me your computer problems though – my specialism was mainframe security and there aren’t so many of those things around!
I live in Larbert with my wife, Gillian and my two boys, Callum (11) and Matthew (8). They might pop up in church now and then if an opportunity arises.
Aside from work, my main interests are walking and cycling (I’ll cycle to church when the weather allows), music, travelling and all things trains and planes. I can be bribed easily with chocolate biscuits if you need anything, especially white chocolate. A final thing to say is that I’m pretty much facially blind, so please accept my apologies if I don’t recognise you. It helps a lot if you can remind me of your name when we start speaking.
Congregational General Fund Update
In the previous financial update, the effect of the lockdown measures and the negative impact this would have on our congregational finances was expected to be massive.
However, the congregation responded to this message in various ways and have been able to maintain freewill offerings by setting up standing orders, by sending cheques or by arranging for offering envelopes to be collected by elders and friends.
In April and May offerings were down by 38% and 34% respectively in comparison to 2019. However, the steps taken by the congregation mean that for the 7 months to the end of July total offerings rallied to 18% below the 2019 figure.
Expenditure has been restricted and this has helped to offset lost income.
Whilst this continues to be the most financially challenging period we have ever had to face in Zetland the efforts of the congregation to maintain and sustain their support throughout is gratefully acknowledged.
If anyone would like to set up a standing order this can be done either by online or telephone banking or by manually completing a standing order form and posting it to your bank. A form can be e-mailed to you and is available from members of the finance committee or from your elder. Details of the church bank account, sort code, account number appear on the form. If it would be easier a printed form can be sent.
Another option is to send a cheque made payable to Zetland Parish Church either to the manse or to the treasurer. (Name and address appear in previous magazines).
These options may not be appropriate for everyone and you may prefer to continue to fill your freewill offering envelope week by week. Your elder may be able to arrange to collect these from you now that restrictions have been eased slightly.
Please stay safe and healthy and continue to take care.
Due to the Corona Virus our gardens are missing our lovely bedding plants.
Our roses have been well cared for by Tom and Ann Davidson, and I wish to thank them for all their hard work. Our team of Alex and Irene Frew, Agnes Hunter, and my husband Morton and myself have just kept the gardens free from weeds and kept the grounds tidy. I thank them all for helping me.
We haven’t had our usual cuppa and pancakes when we finish as we have been unable to enter the Church premises.
Hopefully next year the situation will have improved and some normality returned.
Ruth’s Nepal News and Prayer
A few days before lockdown came, I celebrated one year in Nepal. And 12th of August marked one year since I finished the 5 months of language and culture orientation and started working full-time in the communications team.
Many thousands of Nepalis work abroad (providing 28% of the GDP) and thousands have returned in a rapid influx from India especially – up to 4,000 a day arriving from India into the Far Western province alone in late May (with 56,000 arriving there in just 2 weeks), as well as hundreds who are eventually being returned from Gulf countries. Since they had travelled in crowded transport and were coming from countries with much higher infection rates, these thousands had to be quarantined for two weeks. But creating and supplying these centres so quickly was impossible.
Some returned home without quarantining, some left quarantine early because of poor facilities – even lack of food or sanitation – and quite a number contracted Covid-19 while staying in quarantine in cramped conditions. All this after months of no work in India and finally reaching Nepal, and facing unemployment now they have returned.
For those who do get infected, it seems that their communities will often fear or shun them or their families, and also it’s really hard for people to self-isolate at home here because many live in a small room or two, and several families may share bathroom etc. So isolation centres are also needed!
In my experience there is been no shortage of food in Kathmandu’s lockdown as long as you have money to buy it – the problem is knowing when shops are open. Sometimes they were (and are) only open e.g. 5-7am with a few vegetable stalls open til 8 or 9 and some opening briefly in the evening. The rules kept changing all the time, but luckily I was informed and entertained through a local foreigner’s What’s App group which also connected me with Hot cross buns, bagels and a massive soft fruit run achieved by two cyclists going up a steep hill to collect the orders for around 40 foreigners! Through the group I learnt about some new shops.
For friends in the villages or smaller towns (and I assume for many villages in Nepal) there has sometimes been a big shortage of vegetables as they can’t get to market, which is also awful for the farmers when their crop is ready. This is partly because of inter-district transport being banned, and public transport also for a long time – transporting another way is much more expensive.
For the many thousands who rely on daily wage work or have a business which they can’t / could not run, their problem is no money to buy food. Some were left in heart-breaking situations of having no food left or being refused in official hand-outs because they didn’t have an identity card from the same district, surviving on fern shoots from the wild or a nearly-finished bag of dry flattened rice. There have been some good food supply schemes though. Some through the government but they didn’t seem to reach everyone. I’m was relieved and encouraged to hear of others – a church near my area which supplied food to around 700 households of the poorest people including many people with disabilities. That church was started by a man who spent years in hospital, semi-paralysed after an accident. It now welcomes so many people with disabilities, it is a blessing to go there).
I know there were schemes in other districts, one friend shared about a scheme which helped over 200 families through support mostly from the Netherlands. And a Nepali friend Nira who usually runs a café, I found out that during lockdown she organised preparation and distribution of hot meals daily to 150 people for 75 days! She used her café to prepare the food, her large vehicle for deliveries and collecting supplies (when there was no public transport, even taxis) and groups she knew helped as volunteers.
She received some support of food and money as well as using her own funds. UMN has also supported poor families, especially the poorest and those with disabilities in Okhaldhunga district (300 families) and also food for a quarantine centre and some Dalit (so-called low caste) families.
Amongst my Nepali friends, a friend, a friend’s sister-in-law and my house-helper’s husband have all lost their full-time jobs during this season, and in UMN others have had their contract finish early and not be renewed. In Nepal and many less wealthy countries around the world, there is no unemployment benefit and there has been no support to businesses other than a tax delay.
There are heart breaking stories of daily wage workers and shop owners committing suicide because for days and weeks they couldn’t work during lockdown. And since so many thousands who were working abroad have also lost their work and come back, the impact on household incomes is going to be immense, affecting so many other areas of life.
Transport and Exercise
For most of lockdown we had no public transport and personal travel was restricted. We still have no inter-district travel without permission, and no international flights.
There was no daily exercise allowance. If you have a roof, that’s a great space to do exercise and people often use it anyway. I enjoyed going on the roof to do some stretches and watch people, birds, dogs, the view. I got connected to our What’s app shopping group that way in week 1, through talking to another expat who lives over the lane who was on her roof.
Eventually we realised we could meet friends to go on circuitous shopping walks, armed with shopping bag and mask.
Later, in around June, I learnt of a walking group starting from outside my house and met people who were only names. 6am on Sunday mornings. A bit early but it was already super humid and I’m happy to avoid the full sun.
So finally, I could do a much longer walk into semi-countryside up to Chobhar hill where I’d never been – about 2 hours round trip. Good exercise, sometimes good views, and good chats.
Resources and UMN Updates
My work has been very busy, especially sharing the hospitals appeal and more regular news, checking video content etc. I’ve edited or written perhaps half of the recent content on our latest news, social media and in the quarterly magazine.
UMN’s work in this period has focussed on keeping the two hospitals going – Okhaldhunga and Tansen – when they had a massive drop in patient numbers and therefore income (which may happen again).
Their work includes serving the poorest of their districts. There was a massive generous response from around the world so we can still function well, but an estimated USD 1m / GBP 0.75m shortfall remains, because disease and lockdowns may come and go. The cluster work in districts has been almost halted (because we can’t travel and can’t meet in large groups) and turned into Covid-19 support to quarantines etc. and some relief and lots of planning.
We hope to send staff back when this lockdown eases so they can support local partner organisations and be ready for action when it’s possible, albeit restricted…
Regards from Ruth, in Nepal.
I am missing meeting with the ladies at The Guild on a Wednesday evening so much.
The Guild has always been a place where I have felt at home. A chat, good speakers, lots of fun and laughter and a sense of fellowship and companionship as recently I heard two members of The Guild speaking.
Mrs A Oh I do miss The Guild. The openings were always so meaningful.
Mrs B Aye
Mrs A The choice of hymns is so uplifting
Mrs B Aye
Mrs A The choice of speakers was second to none. All wisely chosen by our president and her committee, so interesting and informative
Mrs B Aye
Mrs A The prayers were wonderful and so thought provoking
Mrs B Aye
Mrs A What do you miss most?
Mrs B The cup of tea and chat at the end!!!
This is just a just a bit of nonsense and “A Laugh Out Loud Moment”
Seriously I do miss the cup of tea and the chat. Catching up on all the news from our fellow members and any visitors who are all warmly welcomed. The good things, bad things, worries and concerns all shared on The Guild night.
I miss you all ladies, stay safe during these surreal times and hope to see you soon.
SPECTACLES: I had a number of these at home waiting for the optician to open and they were warmly received by them.
If you have any spectacles that you no longer use and would like me to come and collect them, just give me a call.
STAMPS: Again, I am still collecting stamps and if you would like me pick up any stamps that you have been saving up please get in touch with me.
MARY’S MEALS: I had goods in my garage for Mary’s Meals, especially towels. One day I thought they might be getting a bit musty in the garage. I took them into the house, washed and dried them and put them in a bag upstairs. Thank goodness I did, as some people may already know, my house was flooded the night of the thunder and lightning storm and so were my garages but the towels were safe and dry upstairs. It pays to listen to your thoughts!!
BOOKSTALL: I sent money to Sight Savers at the beginning of lockdown but have since gathered more in the tin. So, I will forward that too, as no doubt charities are missing out at this present time. An amount of £7.00 has been forwarded.
GIRLS BRIGADE: before lockdown, the brigadiers were collecting toiletries for the foodbank for teenagers. I have taken this to the foodbank in the name of the Girls Brigade. The brigadiers appreciate and convey their thanks to all who contributed, it is much appreciated.
The Church website is continuing to attract viewers regularly over the last three months although the numbers viewing the site has dwindled over the period. The viewing figures for June was 856 views, July was 612 views and August was 308 views.
It is maybe not too surprising that interest has waned due to no activities taking place at the Church just now due to the Coronavirus and therefore little news to report on the website.
Sunday is the most popular day for viewers visiting the website and most of them is to access the link to take them to the Grangemouth Churches YouTube channel to view the Sunday Service.
As the Church has reopened on 20th September 2020, we hope to be in a position to start posting information again regarding what is going on in our Church.
There have been more video clips uploaded to our church’s own YouTube channel and in the future, it is planned that the Sunday Services in our Church will be uploaded onto our YouTube channel. Here is the link to it: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQJyOvdr1PCwORMW2_n7KPg
If there are any topic’s that you would like to see on the website please get in touch.