News from North Africa July

MuskNews: “Please pray for us!”

 

July 2014

                               

1             Thank you for your prayers!

 

:we are such a scramble of emotions at the moment! We write just after the wonderful celebrations of the marriage of our fourth daughter Nicola to her fiancé Simon. It has been great having so many family, relatives, friends together for their wedding. Helen and Jon and boys travelled from the USA in early July – planned because of Nicola’s wedding – but sadly had to attend first the funeral of Jon’s father who for the past year or so has bravely fought cancer. We are spending time with Helen and family, Sarah and family in Lyme Regis for a week together. Nicola and Simon are, of course, on their honeymoon and Rachel and Aaron were unable to get away at this time, as schools in Surrey are still functioning – though Rachel and Aaron are planning a trip to the USA to visit Helen, Jon and boys later this summer.

:we also write at a time when we are in the midst of saying “goodbye” to many folk at St George’s in Tunis. Most, though not all, of such leavers, are employees of the African Development Bank and for eleven years have made Tunis their home. Others leaving belong to other international companies, work in the diplomatic service, or are students or members of various mission groups in the country. It was particularly sad to say goodbye to Rev Justin, his wife Kristen and their five children as they returned to the USA to be more involved with Justin’s parent’s lives. At our end-of-month “liturgy of leaving” in which we said farewell on the last Sunday of June to those leaving Tunis in July 2014, we had 36 families and/or individuals come to the front for the special liturgy – more than remained in the pews! Members of our Church Council, an ordained assistant priest, leaders of various ministries and many deeply involved in the life of the church were at the front. Hilary has produced a little plaque with a photo of St George’s laminated onto a wooden background as a memento that we can give folk as they leave. This process of saying “farewell” has been going on since February and will continue until year’s end, but most folk will have left by October 2014. It is wonderful to have been part of these dear brothers and sisters’ lives, but so hard to see so many good friends departing all at once.

:we look back on a wonderful ICS conference at a lovely centre in Leicestershire. There was helpful input, great fellowship with some new as well as older friends within ICS, some envisioning from Richard, the new ICS mission leader, small groups and prayer, plus some lovely countryside to explore. This year, there were hardly any of us present at the conference who did not work in the Diocese of Europe. We were able, together, to pray for the new Bishop of Europe-elect, who has been an ICS chaplain in Brussels.

:we also felt so privileged to join the Egypt Diocesan Association   annual meeting in London in June. Friends from days in Egypt and in Tunisia made the time special. It was very moving for me to celebrate holy communion, assisted by a deacon who had been the young daughter of a dear couple very involved in the life of All Saints’ Cathedral when they were in Cairo as Embassy personnel in the 1980s. It was great, but frustrating, snatching brief conversations with so many whom we know and love, plus meeting more folk with experience and interest in all three areas of the diocese – Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

 

2             St George’s, Tunis

:apart from the overwhelming experience of having about 65-75% of the congregation of St George’s all leaving within a year, we pray, push and struggle to move forward the fulfilment of our legacy project – the building of the St Cyprian Centre. We have a good design. Our attempt to get permission to demolish/rebuild led to the discovery that the title deed to the property on which St George’s church stands is in the name of the British Government. Embassy personnel are being so helpful, trying to assist us, via the necessary protocols(!), to gain the right permissions from the right offices in the Tunis authorities. It does mean, sadly, that we are considerably delayed in moving to permission stage – and hence to detailed planning, costing and timetable for building.

:most Sundays there are visitors in church, with a few of them staying in-country for a period. This is a great encouragement.

:one of the people who has decided that now is the time to move on is Rev Emil, leader of our Arabic-speaking ministry. He and his family will be leaving St George’s sometime before the end of 2014. We are so thankful for the legacy that he leaves in terms of Tunisian lives transformed and the establishment of a core of Arabic-speaking members of St George’s. We pray with Rev Emil and Reem about the next stage of their ministry, plus look to the Lord for an appropriate ordained person to come and give leadership to the Arabic-speaking congregation. It requires a very special person.

:we also look forward very much to being joined later in the year by Rev Peter and Mrs Christine Knight. It will be so wonderful to have Peter on the ordained staff here and a mature couple to walk with us at the helm of St George’s into a very different future. I feel sure that their fresh eyes will help me see in ways unencumbered by present tears all that the Lord is calling us into for the years ahead. Please pray for Peter and Christine as they finish their current commitments to ministry in Norfolk, for the folk of their current parishes who will hugely miss them, for the transition implications for their family and the working with CMS and ICS to see them arriving here in Tunis in latish autumn, God willing.

 

3             North Africa Episcopal Area

 

:it is wonderful to see the vision of Rev Hamdy and others at Holy Trinity, Algiers for growth of the worshipping community, for involvement in ecumenical and interfaith relationships and careful interaction with Algerians. Holy Trinity, Algiers has recently held a strategic conference for sub-Saharan students who are arriving in the country to begin their degree courses. Those students need to learn French in the first year. Members of Holy Trinity have put on a conference for them, plus given them advice and orientation to life in Algeria. Hopefully many will find Holy Trinity a spiritual home while they are away from home in a foreign land.

:we continue to pray for the signing of a good agreement between the Diocese and the British Government that will sort out ownership and use of the buildings on the site of Holy Trinity, Algiers. The result of such an agreement will hopefully be to allow us to renovate the church, to accommodate on site the minister of the church, and to have some facilities for outreach in the local community.

: The church thrives giving support to Indians, Pakistanis, some Africans and a few Westerners working in the country. We pray for their daily safety and effective ministry. At the end of June, Christ the King said farewell to Rev Gus and Marliese after many years of service in the field of education in the country and many years of involvement in good ministry at Christ the King. They will be missed very much by many and we pray for them in retirement and sorting out with the Lord’s guidance the next “season” of their lives and ministry. We were glad that Rev Vasihar and Malini were able to spend time home in India arranging and seeing fulfilled the marriage of their daughter. I cannot believe how many guests they had to welcome and feed at celebrations in two different locations in south India! Rev Ayo and Rosemary are expecting the addition of a brother or sister for young Joshua. Rev Samuel and Hony remain faithful as spiritual parents to so many Christian Egyptians in Tripoli – with Hony recovering well from an accident to her ankle.

4             Personal touch!

:these last few months have certainly been a roller coaster… in Tunis the goodbyes are quite overwhelming! You will see a photo of the ‘Raising Up Spiritual Champions’ group. They just finished their programme and should be coming up to Voices in the Desert (the young teens group I am involved with) in September. Of the eleven who took the course I think I will be having just one come up; all the others are leaving for Abidjan or elsewhere! The Youth Band has also been decimated by people leaving and so I have asked three of the African Students to teach three of our young people to play the drums, bass and guitar over the summer to give us some hope of a functioning Youth Band for September! We do, thankfully still have a few members from before! Our lovely student group has also shrunk after those graduating have returned to their home countries! The members of the ‘a capella’ choir pictured are almost all not going to be with us in September! You will see in the photo of the leaving liturgy for June, that there were more in the front being sent off than there were in the pews! Please pray that God sends us some wonderful new people to help with different ministries in the church! I for one need people to help with the young teens group. Our University students have been taking regular slots leading the music recently so that is great! Hopefully we will still have enough for them to do this!

:we had a very busy week when we came to the UK for the ICS Conference, with a reunion of Bill’s Oxford Christian Union (for the years 1965-1970) near Oxford, a visit to a church in Cambridge where Bill had to preach and then the conference itself in Lincolnshire. Bill and I had to run a session called ‘Looking up, maintaining a vibrant spiritual life!’ It was the first time we had done something like that together; in fact we literally divided the session in half, Bill talking first and showing his powerpoint and then me! As you can imagine, the two halves were quite different but many commented on being blessed by us in one way or another so that was good!! Bill also had to be interviewed in a mock-up of the Graham Norton Show! It was also a good time to catch up with old friends, play music, share with others and pray with some who are really going through a tough time. We did find time for one lovely walk in stunning countryside as well!

:the next trip to UK was equally busy as we returned for the EDA AGM Bill has mentioned. I also got to attend Nicola’s hen weekend!! The blue and white theme began there as we all made jewellery from large and small buttons from Tunisia and a kit that Rachel had brought with her… very creative! We were cutting up bunting in Tunis and then ironing them onto ribbon! I say ’we’, but in fact a friend helped as the pinking shears were too stiff for me and Bill is left handed! We had a brilliant weekend with trips to London, a treasure hunt, a wonderful ‘not afternoon tea’ at the top of the OXO tower and a lot of laughter!

:we are enjoying a summer break now and really feel we need it although there are some issues Bill is still having to deal with in Tunis and which need wisdom!

:our roller coaster family news… Helen’s husband, Jon, sadly lost his father to cancer just one week before Nin and Simon’s wedding. All the family were all able to be back for the funeral to say goodbye to a lovely Dad, Father-in-law and Grandad. They have been staying with his widow, Helen, and helping her to plan for the future. In the USA, Sam and Ben have had a few challenges settling into the new school system, including boredom at school (Sam) and some bullying (Ben), but things seem to be in place for a more fulfilling year ahead for both of them. They all love their new environment and Rach and Aars are due to visit them in August.

:our lovely, gentle and fun loving 10 year old grandson, Aaron, has had yet another anaphylactic shock and it was much more serious this time… he himself was much more aware that he could have died, which is a horrible thing for a ten year old to feel. He is seeing a top London child allergy specialist on the 21st July but he has had to keep off anti-histamine before this appointment which has been really stressful. Please pray for Aaron as his whole body and being is on high alert and he is super sensitive to almost everything. We are praying for protection, for healing, for wisdom for the Dr and daily wisdom for Rachel, who is truly an amazing mother to him. His school has been very understanding and cooperative during this really stressful time and consequently Aars does feel safe there and has a quiet place he can go at break times to be out of danger.

:Sarah and Andrew are in the process of moving house within Walthamstow at the moment and are using all spare moments to paint as workmen are in there doing necessary alterations! Their two little girls are growing and charming the socks off all and sundry!

:of course our happy news is the wonderful wedding of Nicola and Simon! It truly was a beautiful occasion. Nicola and Simon’s attention to detail had to be seen to be believed! On the blue and white retro theme, the ‘Red Barn’ venue was bedecked with handmade bunting, each table was furnished with little games for guests to play, tiny jars of sweets as wedding favours, cards with ice breaker questions on them plus gorgeous little flowers and blue jars with lights in them… the name tags were all handmade, as were the invitations and programmes, all hand torn and stuck by Nicola and Simon! I think their honeymoon in Mauritius is well deserved! Their two tortoises had been hoping to be ring bearers at the wedding but the journey down the aisle was just too long! But Pops did manage to obtain a blue tortoise tie! Simon and Nicola have discovered that Mauritius is the best place to see tortoises and we have just heard that they have been cuddling them!

:thank you all for your emails and your prayers!

5             Prayers please for

 

:folk in Tunis on staff at St George’s – Bill, Kwame, Emil, Balqis, Souad, Mohsen and Chedly plus their families.

:Rev Vasihar and his wife Malini with Rev Gus and his wife Marliese (now between Canada/Switzerland), plus Rev Ayo and his wife Rosemary (expecting) and son Joshua, plus Reader Crimson, plus Rev Samuel and his wife Hony – all in Tripoli.

:Rev Hamdy plus the various African students making up the majority of the congregation in Algiers; plus newly arrived students.

:Aaron as he and his mother seek a way forward with a specialist over Aaron’s serious allergies, plus others in our extended family facing difficult days.

:movement forward with building permission plus funding for our St Cyprian Centre (Legacy Project) in Tunis.

:protection and growth of national believers in North Africa; especially the congregation led at St George’s by Rev Emil with assistance from Sadak, and the implications of a change of priest.

:the impact of the work of members of the Africa Development Bank throughout the continent of Africa; pastoral care of such folk in Tunis, especially in the process of their being removed back to Abidjan.

:pastoral care of the many folk who are here in Tunisia with mission communities or as students and who attend St George’s.

:pastoral care within the growing Tunisian churches and for deep spiritual growth and maturity; for mature local pastors to emerge.

:our diocesan and primate, Bishop Mouneer and his wife Nancy in their significant and busy lives.

:wisdom for Grant and Wendy LeMarquand in Ethiopia – Grant is Assistant Bishop for the Horn of Africa.

:the general situation in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, the Arab Gulf, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan – and in the current shaking of several of those nations, for God’s Spirit to be unleashed in a wonderful way.

Many blessings to you all and lots of love.

 Bill & Hilary

 Bill & Hilary Musk are mission partners with I.C.S. (Intercontinental Church Society: registered charity no. 1072584). If you would like to contribute financially to their support, please go to www.ics-uk.org and follow the link to “Make a donation”, then select “Tunis­–St George’s–Musk” from the drop-down list. Thank you.

6             Contact details

 Bill & Hilary Musk

St George’s Church

5 rue Ahmed Beyrem

1006 Bab Souika

Tunis, Tunisia

Phone in our flat: +216 71 335493

Mobile (Bill):           +216 23447439

Mobile (Hilary): +216 23446739

Email:billamusk@gmail.com

          hilaryamusk@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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