Remembering Miracles

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Recently someone I follow on facebook was talking about writing a book about miracles and wanted testimonies.  It made me think about two things in particular that happened while we are in Sierra Leone which Ali and I considered to be miracles. I thought I would write these two stories down so as not to forget and to enable me to share them with other people.

I actually believe that miracles happen everyday but often we fail to notice them.  My life is one big miracle, we pass things of as coincidences or if we are Christians we may call them God-incidences but I am starting to call them everyday miracles.  There are however more significant miracles, these tend to be the ones that we talk about and hear stories about.

I am going to share two stories and I believe them both to be miracles, one an everyday miracle and the other a miracle.  They both happened while we lived in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Everyday Miracle – Calling the Tax Office

It was September 2015 and we had just arrived in Sierra Leone, this is where we would call home for the next couple of years.  Our youngest son Matthew was just starting his second year at Oxford University studying Earth Sciences and we had been having terrible problems sorting our his student finance.  When we left the UK I thought I had sorted it. Phew, it had been such a pain trying to finalise it  and because I knew we were leaving for Sierra Leone it had become a massive source of stress and worry to me, I was so relieved it was at last done …..  so I thought.

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We arrived in Freetown and not long after arriving we received a message from Matthew saying that the student finance people needed a letter from the inland revenue to confirm my income for the previous year.  In a normal situation this would not be a problem but we were now in Africa and, where we would be living did not have any electricity and the internet was very spasmodic and painfully slow.   I needed to sort this out before we left Freetown.   We were leaving the following morning.

The person we were staying with had a business in Freetown and said we could use the office telephone to call the inland revenue.  Obviously we were very grateful, I was aware it would be expensive to ring the UK but our friend said it was fine and we shouldn’t worry.  We went to the office and I got all the information together ready to call, it was the afternoon and we were leaving in the morning.  I called the number and it rang out for ages, eventually I got a recorded message saying “we are receiving a high number of calls today please try again tomorrow” then I was promptly disconnected.  I tried again and the same thing happened, I was besides myself as we were running out of time, I started to cry and poor Ali my husband tried to calm me down, I knew if we didn’t sort this out it would mean Matthew would not get his funding and we didn’t have the money to give him.

Ali then prayed that when I called again they would pick up.  I tried one last time ‘knowing’ that no one would answer, to my utter amazement a ladies voice spoke to me saying “Good afternoon, Inland Revenue how can I help you today” I was so shocked and so relieved that I started to sob uncontrollably on the end of the phone, the poor lady must have wondered what on earth was happening.  I eventually calmed myself down and explained the situation to her, she was amazing and was so helpful.  She wrote a letter there and then and promised it would be posted out to Matthew that night.  Matthew received the letter the following day and his student finance was released to him.

Ali and I believe that God intervened here, the situation felt so hopeless and God turned it around.  Many would call this a coincidence I call this an everyday MIRACLE.

Abu’s Miracle

Abu was one of our staff members in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, he was responsible for the security at the site where we were building a school.  One morning at 8am he arrived with Sahr another member of staff and told us that he had been attacked by a soldier at the army barracks down the road, he seemed pretty shook up and had a bust lip and said he had a headache.  I gave him some paracetamol and told him to go and rest.

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That evening at around 6.30 we received a call from Sahr saying we needed to go to the site as Abu was not very well, we needed to come quickly, we could hear the panic in Sahr’s voice so we jumped in the old blue landrover and drove the half mile down the road to see what the problem was.  We arrived to a group of women stood around Abu, crying and wailing “Abu, Abu” he was flat out on his back unconscious, totally unresponsive.

We managed to get Abu in the back of the car where I sat with his head on my knee so as I could maintain his airway,  I remember as Ali was driving as fast as he could down a very bumpy unmade road saying to Ali, “you need to be quick I can’t find his pulse”  I was so scared, at that moment I was convinced Abu was going to die.

It was very strange, I wanted to get to the hospital but I  knew that it was highly unlikely there would be a Dr there.  We arrived at the hospital and stretchered Abu into the mens ward where we placed him on an empty bed.  We were promptly asked for Le1,000 to buy a book for them to write his notes in.  A nurse took his blood pressure, administered painkillers and put up IV fluids and that was it, there were no Doctors as I feared.  At this point I didn’t hold out much hope for Abu.

I used to be a nurse and I knew that it was highly likely that he had a bleed on the brain caused by him being kicked in the head.  In the UK he would have been taken for a scan and would have been placed in rhesus while he was stabilised.  Here there was nothing more they could do.  Our only chance was a miracle.  I got out my phone and started to send WhatsApp messages to everyone back home in the UK who I knew would pray explaining the situation and we stood around Abu’s bed and prayed, asking God to heal him.

Just ten minutes later Abu opened his eyes and started to talk, saying “Mr Ali, I need to go back to the site” “I need to be at work”.  Abu left hospital two days later and went on to make a full recovery, we witnessed an amazing miracle that night and we give God all the glory.

 

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ALWAYS saying YES to God

It all started over 17 years ago when Ali my husband and I returned from an alpha evening that we were helping at in our local church. We were stood at the kitchen sink talking and I said to Ali “what would we do if God called us to be Missionaries” after a little deliberation between us we decided that we would have to always say “YES” to God.   Not long after that in April 2000 we went together on our first trip to Brasov in Romania working with street kids and gypsy communities. That was the beginning of a journey of adventure in missions that continues today.

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We had a real desire to serve full time overseas but our children were very young and as we prayed about it we felt the Lord saying that He gave us our family before He called us to work overseas and so we should focus on raising our children first and once they were all independent then we would go longer term, in the meantime we were to spend time preparing and serving in whichever areas He opened up to us.

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.

So over the past 17 years that is what we have done, we worked with a number of small mission organisations firstly in Romania and Zambia then in 2008 I set up a charity with a friend of mine working with women in Uganda and in 2009 Ali and I started working with an organisation in Sierra Leone. In September 2015 we went to Sierra Leone on our first long term mission after our youngest son started university, we finished there in May 2017 returning back to the UK after 18 months as our time with that organisation came to an end.

That nearly brings us up to date. In February 2017 of this year we became directors of an organisation called Watchmen International who work in 9 African countries, mainly East Africa and we will be travelling and working with them for the foreseeable future in whichever capacity the Lord leads.

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http://www.watchmeninternational.com

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

While in Sierra Leone we built some really special relationships with a few local Christians and Church Leaders, we really felt that we wanted to leave something of us in this place we had grown to love and we wanted to help and encourage our friends, so we spent some time praying and asking God what it was He wanted us to do and The Lord gave us a vision.

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We really believe that Jesus is going to return very soon and the Bible tells us to watch and calls us to be ready but if people don’t even know Him how can they be ready. So as a result of the Lords leading we have set up a small organisation called Maranatha Christian Outreach Ministries. Maranatha means Come Lord Jesus and so if we can enable local Christians to evangelise small rural villages and communities and tell those that don’t know about Jesus the truth of who He is and what it means to follow Him then we are doing our bit to pave the way for Jesus return and helping people to get ready.

Mark 13:35-37

 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Matthew 24:44

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Maranatha Christian Outreach Ministries.

We are now working with a church in the Kailahun District of Sierra Leone, West Africa. This is the church which we had the most dealings with during our time in Kailahun, Adullam Bible Church.  The Pastor of this church Pastor Ken Fullah will be leading the work and we will be working very closely with him and his team.

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They have a team of people who meet regularly to plan and pray and at least once a month they go out in to the rural villages, show the Jesus film in the local language and preach the gospel.  All those that respond are encouraged to attend a local church  and our team are working to help and encourage the local churches to disciple the new Christians.

We left Kailahun at the end of May the first outreach was on the 8th and 9th of July and there were between 200 and 300 people attended and over 80 responses to the Gospel message, many attended church on the Sunday and the following Wednesday they had a meeting in one of the churches which 28 of the new Christians attended. The team were very excited and encouraged so much so that one of the Pastors offered to pay for the next mission. This thrilled us and encouraged us more than you could believe, as from our experience it is very unusual for local people to give when “whites” are involved, we saw this as confirmation from God that He was really going to pour His blessings out on this ministry and that we had heard right.

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Currently all this is taking place with our very small monthly gift and we are managing to do so much with so little but we could do so much more. Kailahun is right on the border of both Guinea and Liberia and so is located in an amazing place to be able to take the Gospel across the borders and believe me our team are wanting to preach to the whole world. They are so excited and so full of enthusiasm, they want to win the world for Jesus.

Please visit our website and look at our vision for moving forward. There is so much more we would like to do discipleship training, pastors and leaders training, conferences and possibly church planting we already have 4 communities where there is no church and they are asking for us to plant a church. All we know is God is in control and we are excited to see how He can multiply the small seeds we sow. We did say that we always have to say YES to God.

Footnote: When we felt the Lord saying that it was time to leave Sierra Leone I was really quite numb. We had waited for 15 years to go and then after only 18 months we were all finished, I didn’t really understand. We had learnt a lot and had great experience and loved our time there but it was so short. It is only now that I am starting to think that God needed us to be there at a certain point in time for us to meet the people we did and for him to tell us to set up Maranatha Christian Outreach Ministries. He knew we would say YES as He has been testing us and training us up to this point. Wow what an absolutely awesome God we serve.

What about YOU?

What is God asking you to do right now, are you a YES person when it comes to God or do you make excuses, I cant, I will do but not yet, I cant afford to.   There is always an excuse.   God will not ask you to do anything that He is not going to provide for, He has everything available, ready and waiting just for you to say YES.

Say YES to God today, no conditions just a straightforward YES you will never regret it and He will not let you down. He will supply everything you need to do the things He is asking of you and your life will be so much richer for saying YES to your loving Father in heaven. Always remember He doesn’t actually need you He can manage quiet well without you but He would much rather work with you because it’s a great way to get to know you better.

 

God bless you all Lorraine Patience

 

http://www.maranathacom.com

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Living The Dream

Dreams are different for each of us, for me Living The Dream is knowing I am in Gods good and perfect will for my life. I believe that Ali and I are now in that place and it feels good. 

 
 Me chopping wood for the fire to cook dinner. 

Many people would not think that leaving a comfortable home in England, leaving friends and family, to live in a remote part of Africa with no running water or electricity could in any way be a positive thing. For us this is the fulfilment of our dream. 
For 15 years we have been praying and preparing for this time. There have been moments when we thought it would never happen. There have been other times when I have not wanted it to happen and I’ve asked God to take it away because I was fearful or sad at the thought of leaving family.  

Now we are here, it still hasn’t sunk in really, in some ways it feels like we have been here forever though in reality it is only three weeks.  
There is so much to do and the days go so fast, everyone working with KIK is so busy going out monitoring the kids on the programme. I am office bound for the moment sorting out filing systems, Ali has been visiting the local schools with the monitoring team. 
Ali is planning and preparing for the building work on the land to begin, once that starts it will be full on for him. 
Evenings are the worst time as it is dark at 7 pm and the mosquitos start to bite, the climate here is very humid so everything is damp. So damp, dark, hot, itchy evenings are not the best. We go to bed between 9:30 and 10:00 pm most days. This is necessary anyway as Kailahun starts to come alive around 5:30 am and there is no double glazing to keep the noise out. So cockerels crowing, goats screaming, birds singing, crickets clicking plus the smell of smoke as fires are rekindled from the night before all makes for an interesting early morning call.
As we lie here in bed watching the Lightning through the window and the rain thundering down on the tin roof it all feels a bit surreal.  I have never heard thunder so loud the house actually shakes in time with the clashes of thunder.  The most disconcerting thing is the fact we are under a tin roof, well I suppose looking on the positive side the rain would put out any fire that may occur through a lightning strike. 

I was talking about Living The Dream maybe I am dreaming. 

My that rain is heavy.  

Good night God Bless. 

 

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A Haven in Spain

Ali and I have just returned from a week in Spain.  It was a busy week yet a very productive week as we viewed properties and then had an offer accepted on our little haven in the sun. 

  

We made a visit to the notary and signed documents to enable the lawyers to act in our absence and so by mid August we should be owners of our Spanish Home. 

It is a small 2 bedroom apartment with a lovely roof solarium where we will be able to relax in the sun, we also have the use of a lovely communal pool that is a two minute walk away. With shops, bars and restraunts within 5 minutes walk,  it is going to be a perfect little bolt hole for us for the times we are home from Sierra Leone. 

   
   
God is so good to us and we feel totally blessed to be in a position to be able to do this. 

We won’t be renting our apartment out but we will be happy for friends and family to use it when we are not there, we would just ask for a small donation towards the costs and possibly a small donation to our missions fund, though this would be totally voluntary.  We know we are blessed and want our friends to be blessed also. 

We thank God every day for the life He has given us and we are determined to live our life to the full appreciating all He has done for us and living in obedience to the things He has called us to. 

Love and Blessing Ali and Lorraine

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Good Bye Pilgrims Hall 

 After 9 months living in this beautiful house and working as part of the residential team the time has come for us to move on.  When we first arrived in October 2014 we knew we where in the place God wanted us to be and our mission was to seek and to serve the Lord, so that is exactly what we have done.  
For just short of a year we have been living as part of a Christian Community  helping to run the Hall, serving all those who pass through the doors, learning, listening, building and preparing for the next part of our life journey.  

Community living is not everyone’s cup of tea and we very quickly realised that our lives were no longer our own. Life in community is about sacrifice. In a house like Pilgrims Hall there is a lot to do and for me it was a bit of a shock. Those who know me well, will understand that I’m not really very domesticated, I very quickly had to accept that my life was now different and consisted of cleaning, ironing, waitressing and making coleslaw.    (I had never made coleslaw before) 

Oh yeah, flower arranging was also necessary, to make the tea room look pretty.    

 Ali was kept very busy too with 19 acres of grounds to take care of plus 21 chickens, and 6 bee hives. He always had something to do outside, though I think it’s fair to  say he actually loved it.  

It was a real blessing for me to see my husband so relaxed and at peace in what he was doing. I loved  watching him out of the window zipping around on the tractor, working in the vegetable garden or collecting the eggs.  As much as we were at Pilgrims Hall to serve, I think we would both say that we have learnt so much from the experience and we are far better equipped and prepared to go to serve the Lord in Sierra Leone than we were when we arrived.  

Who would of thought, less than a year ago that we would have had this unique opportunity to serve the Lord in such a beautiful place. We have met some amazing people, we have sat under outstanding leadership, we have received some excellent bible teaching and we have been right in the centre of Gods will for our lives for this time. 

Thank you Lord for taking us on this journey and preparing us for the next chapter.

Pilgrims Hall will always be a special place to us and we have no doubt this is the beginning and not the end. 

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Hello, join us on our journey ……….

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Ali and I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog.  It seems like a good way to share with our family, friends and any one else who wants to read, a way to keep you guys up to date as we move forward  to the next exciting chapter in the adventure we call life.

We will tell you about life in Kailahun, the people we meet, the things we do and the thoughts we have.

We are not literary experts so it may be a bit rough around the edges.

We wear our hearts on our sleeves so you are likely to get the whole shabangle, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the excited and the frustrated, hopefully you will get our hearts.

Not sure how regular we will post but we will try our best to keep you updated.

Thanks for being interested and caring enough to read.

Love and blessings,

Ali and Lorraine

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