Greetings from the UK, been here now just over a week, Pete's funeral is tomorrow (Monday) and then back to Dar es Salaam on Tuesday. Great to meet up with a large number of people, many thanks to many people for support in all kinds of shapes and forms over the last few weeks.
There is one thing I was wanting to write about from the last week. UK readers will be familiar with the 'Big Issue', a magazine which is sold on the streets in London and other cities by homeless and vulnerably housed people, with the content to some extent written again by people in difficult circumstances. I have to say, it's a great initiative, very much in the spirit of helping people to help themselves. Certainly in Dar es Salaam, I do now give to beggars (didn't when I first arrived) on the basis that, with limited social security and huge difficulties in accessing the job market, I am doing nothing sustainable but can at least make a small difference to the lives of a small number of people for a small period of time. But I much prefer to pay for small services, eg. people returning my shopping trolley to the stand - in a tough situation people are trying to make a living and I respect that.
But the reason that 'Big Issue' is particularly on my mind is that they have an associated small business development component to their work, from supported Pete's business some while ago. So, when I went to Oxford last Monday, I found a 'Big Issue' vendor maybe in his early 60s, let me call him Bill for the purposes of this blog. In buying a copy from him, we got into conversation. I explained the particular reason why I was keen to buy a copy at that point in time, and he listened, sympathetically, offering his condolences. I then stroked his dog, and he told me that she had belonged to a young couple who, on birth of their child, had locked the dog up in a cage for some months before it was rescued. Bill then offered to give the dog a home, and nursed her back to physical and psychological health. Certainly in my brief interaction with them there was no indication that the dog had been mistreated in the past, all credit to Bill for his patient and persistent care.
In coming away from Bill I found myself thinking. He came across as a caring, thoughtful, sympathetic person, with a great deal to contribute in a variety of ways. So, what is it in Bill's past that means that he is homeless or vulnerably housed? I don't know, I didn't ask, Bill didn't volunteer and I'm not going to speculate. But a reminder that everybody is somebody's son or daughter, everybody is made in God's image and loved by Him. I try to live my life respecting people around me - not always easy but an important thing to do.
Aware that I'm about to ramble so I'll stop here. Pete's funeral is tomorrow (Monday) I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it, if not then please hold us in your thoughts and prayers as we mourn our loss, celebrate Pete's life and recognise the hope we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. Flying back on Tuesday, working again on Thursday, I look forward to being in touch again soon. And: if the opportunity arises, do buy a copy of the "Big Issue" and if you can, spend a couple of minutes speaking with the vendor.