CORONAVIRUS: STAYING IN TOUCH in LLandaff
I often joke that I have the best job ever because all I do is drink tea and play with Lego! Maybe I do a little more than that, but I do have the best job ever, and it does involve a lot of tea!
Cups of tea and knitting at Connected, a drop-in for “young at heart” people in Resolven,
Cuppa & Company in Banwen where people come to just be and chat,
The Lounge a drop-in during a Thursday lunchtime at a secondary school where we provide hot chocolate and a safe space for the students to come,
Chillout afterschool club where games are enjoyed and lemon is the favourite squash choice,
Messy Church or Café Service or Family Service…
I spend a lot of my week drinking hot drinks and eating far too many biscuits and cakes!
And while we do these things we chat. We talk about everything and anything from the latest favourite programme on TV, to funny things the grandchildren have said, to how you talk about your wishes for your funeral.
We talk about how school is going and what lessons the young people like or hate. We talk about doing things that show kindness and love, how knowing Jesus makes a difference in our lives. We laugh together, we share stories of the good, and the sadness and pain of the difficult things. We talk about faith and life and family, and we love one another through it all.
In this strange time that we find ourselves in, it’s impossible for me to have cups of tea with those I would normally see each week.
Most of the ladies who come to Connected are over 70 and/or fall into the vulnerable category due to underlying health issues and so are “confined to barracks”, as one of them described it, for at least 12 weeks. We’ve been unable to have Cuppa and Company, or hold the Messy Churches we had planned for Easter week. Life has changed and all the ‘normal’ ways of doing community have changed.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for people to talk.
Whilst I can’t have tea with people in the same space as them, I can still enjoy a cuppa with them over the phone. I’ve been phoning those we would often see each week and have simply been chatting with them. Many of the older people don’t have internet access or smart phones, or if they do, they don’t know how to use any of the video calling apps and need someone to physically show them (which of course we can’t do at the moment!). So, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on the landline to them.
Same but different
In some ways it’s not been much different; we talk about TV and the weather, we laugh about the amount of spring cleaning that is happening, and compare notes on what’s been washed and hung on the line in this fine weather.
They’ve shared their concerns about loved ones who work in the NHS and healthcare professions and we’ve prayed for them. They’ve talked about finding comfort in the Psalms (some of them reading their Bible for the first time) and they’ve shared their excitement at reading other Bible stories.
We talked about how hard it is being on your own (which some of them, including myself, are) and how it can be lonely. We laughed more than ever and shared funny stories of things that we’ve heard about. The men have shared how they are getting on with the jobs their wives have been asking them to do for months. And the grapevine is still working well, with news still being shared around.
Whilst it is a very different way of doing life, I am finding that we can still laugh and cry and love together. I can still bring hope to people’s lives and share Jesus’ love with them. It is a privilege and a joy to be able to do so. The joy of community is that some of them have said, “I’ll call you next week Hannah, it’s my turn!”
We have no idea how long this will go on for, but I will continue to phone my ‘young at heart’ folk each week, so that we all know we are not alone. And, when this is all over, I’ve promised them we’ll drink lots of tea and eat lots of cream cakes!
22 May 2020
Hannah is Pioneer Evangelist with Llandaff Centre of Mission in South Wales. Hannah runs The Lounge, a weekly lunchtime club in two local secondary schools, Chill Out, a weekly after-school club, and Connected, a regular drop-in for older people. In her free time Hannah can usually be found at a sewing machine doing something creative.
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