Here are the reports from Tahiry and Avisoa from Madagascar who volunteered for 8 Weeks and Morgan from North Wales who volunteered for 2 weeks at Llanfair Uniting Church Penrhys.
(Photo L to R: Avisoa, Tahiry and Morgan)
“My name is Tahiry. I am from Madagascar. I am member of a Malagasy artistic group called Ny Ako, the artistic section of the Scripture Union in Madagascar. At the beginning, I did not plan to be volunteer here in Penrhys. I did not hear about the church yet. I have been proposed to come and I accepted. Now that I am here, I realize how wonderful is God’s plan and I perceive it as a privilege from Him.
Since I have been here, I learnt to serve God in a very different way to what I am used to in Madagascar. It is really serving God by serving the others (making tea and coffee, breakffast for people, helping children in homework club, playing with children, cleaning, washing dishes …). And, in fact, it is wonderful because you actually receive more by serving the others. You really see the meaning of God’s word : « It is more blessed to give than to receive ». I really enjoy the services here, Sunday school, bible study, meeting people in the cafe, visiting school, receiving children from school for morning prayers. And we even have welsh lesson !
Being volunteer here in Llanfair Uniting Church has allowed me to know more about God, more about His love through the hard work people do here. In addition to sharing love, Llanfair Uniting Church also taught me more about how to listen to others, to consider the needs of others and especially about patience and perseverance because it is a permanent and continuous mission.
I am amazed about the connections that the church has with schools and other organizations around and the great presence of the church in the community’s life. I think it is wonderful how the church has created a safe place for the community and especially for the children to grow up and to feel important, listened, considered, loved. I, personnally, felt that too right from the first time I arrived as we are really listened, welcomed and given responsibility and opportunity to contribute in the church’s life.
The church has a great potential and I think one of the greatest challenge is now to get people at different age involved such as teenagers, youngsters and young adults so that the mission help people during their life trajectory
Surely, with the good experiences I got here, I will go back to my country with many ideas to be more active as a christian, to be more creative about the way to share the gospel and to be a better person as well.”
“My impressions about Penrhys:
A French writer named Guy de Maupassant once said: “To tell all would be impossible”. To a certain extent, I agree with him. However this agreement doesn’t prevent me from trying to tell you the whole story of this journey of mine from Madagascar to Penrhys. In the following lines I would
like to give you glimpse of how I felt about it in Madagascar, how life in Penrhys has been like so far
and finally how this experience changed my perspective for the future.
I always liked volunteering, in some way it can be the story of my life. I was always willing to join volunteering opportunities. So when I received the invitation for volunteering here in Penrhys the answer was naturally “Yes”. However, I didn’t really know what to expect or what they wanted me to do. Besides this would be my first time in a foreign country, so the feeling of excitement was
mixed with wondering and unanswered questions. I started to make my own picture about it, to imagine how it would be like. Yet it was a Yes for the unknown, I couldn’t believe I said “Yes “to the unknown.
Once I arrived in the UK, all the pictures I made of it were wiped away. Penrhys was not at all like I imagined it; the work was not like what I expected to be. It was way much better, I was happily surprised and realized that it was exactly what I wanted to do. From café to Sunday school, through homework club and football, I enjoyed every time spent with the children. Moreover, Penrhys people are very nice especially those who work for the church. I was particularly touched by their dedication to serve and show love to their community. And it’s such a great honour for me to work alongside such wonderful people. Definitely it has been a great pleasure so far.
Finally, being here, in a different culture, in a different country changed many things in me. I really feel that God is using this time here for my growth. Hearing the story of Penrhys gave me ideas for my community in Madagascar. In addition to that, not only did this experience here give me ideas, but it also taught me to act and fulfil those ideas. It urged me to take a step forward and take action in my community in Madagascar and also in my personal life.
All in all, this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life so far, from a step to the unknown to the encouragement to make a step forward in my future. But it would not be fair if I don’t say anything about the most important thing that made this journey so special. The people I met, new friends who became for me like a family, my welsh family. Thank you for your hospitality.”
“- I have come here with PCW because my line manager, Hedd Morgan, because he wanted me to have a chance to serve practically.
– Over the past two weeks I have been involved with the café, the homework club on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and the football on Monday afternoons
– I’ve also been a part of the Open the Book and the Communion services.
– I paid a visit to the school with Sharon during the first week of being here.
– On the Sundays I have been with Wayne Adams, speaking in his own church, Temple Baptist church, and visiting Mount Pleasant in Ebbw Vale, preaching at Bethania Pendoylan, and taking part in the service at Park End in Cardiff.
– This visit has been a real eye opener for me, I have come to learn a lot more about the community of Penrhys and how the church serves it and is seen by it.
Impressions of Penrhys:
– In such a challenging community the most heart-warming thing is that Sharon, Rebecca and Miara know nearly everyone’s names
– Their commitment to hygiene and cleanliness is a show of how much they care about this place and that they have a desire for it to be the best facility that it can be for the community
– Their work in reaching the children is incredible because the children want to come to the homework club whilst it is so warm outside
– We have talked a little on what to do with the teenagers here but I do not know what the outcome of this will be, seeing as I’m only on a flying visit
– I would have loved to stay longer here working with Sharon, Rebecca and Miara, hopefully I will be able to come back soon.”