Woke at 3:30am again but this time I really couldn’t get back to sleep so eventually gave up.
After another delicious breakfast of bacon butties (and pancakes) we collected Zahra from her friends house around the corner. She had been for a sleepover. Sleepovers at her friends houses are other things she has missed – a lot. Zahra misses her friends. She loves India and the school and everything we do but she so does miss her friends. Michelle and Chris had very kindly given Zahra a warm coat as the one we had brought (the only one that fitted her) was too thin for this cold weather. She loves it. We walked to their house – because we could. Lovely smooth pavements and smooth well maintained roads. What a treat to be able to walk. Michelle and Helen also walked with us to church through Chaddesden Wood, a local wood. It was lovely. Birds singing in the trees, dogs being walked, muddy woodland paths and chilly clean fresh air to breathe. We walked through the wood chatting; it was as though we had never been away. It was lovely.
Woodlands Church on Oakwood
We arrived at Parkview School where the church meets to be greeted at the door with big smiles and a welcome greeting. I had forgotten we did that. That makes a huge difference and something I have clearly missed in Bangalore. The church there is so big and people arrive up to 30 mins late after the service has started – it’s completely different than the UK. Here everyone grabs a cuppa (tea / coffee) before he service starts and has a chat. It’s lovely to catch up with friends before joking together in worship.
The leader called us to our seats and the service began. Real musicians (who also happened to be the church Elders) played at the front (rather than a recorded backing track) and we were led in the singing by the Pastor’s wife (I’ve never seen a woman involved in anyway in a service in Bangalore). It struck me immediately – only men lead at the front and take part in the church service in Bangalore.
Another difference was the acknowledgment of the children. They are spoken to specifically during the service – on this occasion with how a chocolate Easter egg replicates the crucifixtion- and they are prayed for before they leave the main service to go to their groups. In Bangalore, after the singing, they merely dismiss the children into their groups. There is no talk for them or prayers for them. It didn’t sit well with me when we first arrived in Bangalore and made me feel uncomfortable that the children were not being prayed for – but I had got used to it and said my own prayers for the children as they left the service each time.
Today’s service at Woodlands was a communion service and it was lovely to be able to take communion for the first time in 6 months. The church in Bangalore does have communion services but they are after the break after the main service and is another service in the afternoon. After 2 hours in a hot church with several hundred other people I don’t have the stamina or willpower to sit through another two hours after a short break – so we haven’t taken communion. Woodlands have a short time of prayer before the breaking of bread and drinking of wine. A quiet time to contemplate, reflect and pray. After this the Pastor, Aaron, delivered the sermon; 20-30mins and to the point – Christ died for us sinners so that those who confess their sins and ask for forgiveness can go to Heaven. It didn’t take 2 hours to get that message across (and frankly nor should it!).
Tea, coffee, cakes and chat after the service catching up with our lovely friends before saying goodbye and heading back walking through the wood to the car.
NCT friends get together
We drove over to Littleover in Derby. It’s 16km /10 miles away and took 20 minutes. The roads were well maintained, traffic flowed in the same direction, no one was honking horns and no one was trying to create 3 lanes out of one. How refreshing. The same journey in Bangalore would have taken at least 2 hours.
We arrived at the Heath family household to be greeted by the most delicious smell of roast lamb and pork. Sean came out and greeted us – it was so lovely to see him after such a long time. We headed indoors to find Alison busy in the kitchen and enough food for a week! Friends started arriving with even more delicious food and Zahra got more excited as her ‘lifelong’ buddies arrived. We know each other from the National Childbirth Trust (‘NCT’) classes we took together and have remained friends ever since. It was wonderful to catch up over a relaxing afternoon filled with food and laughter (and plenty of Prosecco). We did miss the Lyford family who are out in Thailand. Sean hid Easter eggs in the garden and the children hunted for ages collecting chocolate eggs from all over. They loved it. You’re never too old for an Easter Egg Hunt.
Cheese and Wine with Jo and Christine
As the afternoon drew to a close and people headed home full of food (with take home bags!) Zahra headed off for a sleepover at her friend Isabel’s – so excited! Rez headed out to the cinema with friends and I headed out for a cheese and wine evening with Jo and Christine. We went to a pub in Shirley who do fabulous cheese boards, including goat and ewe cheese for me (being intolerant to cow’s milk). A cosy pub, a bottle of red, cheese board and fabulous friends to catch up with. We chatted and caught up with each other. It was a lovely relaxing evening with friends. A perfect end to the day. I felt like I was home.