December 2020

Dear friends,

Happy Christmas!

St Andrew’s Hall

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for our building redevelopment. We’ve been asking you to pray that the project would come in on-time, on-budget and safely. Then Melbourne went into a three month lockdown that impacted the construction sector. For ten weeks, our contractors had to reduce the workforce on site from 60 to 14. Despite this, they have been able to keep the core of the project on track. We still expect that they will finish the buildings just before Christmas, on the planned project completion date. The external landscaping work is the only thing that will be delayed and should still be finished before our next semester begins at the end of January. 

We are giving great thanks to God for this wonderful answer to prayer, and for the remarkable flexibility and efficiency of our contractors and sub-contractors. They have been an absolute joy to work with. On top of all this, I receive a monthly ‘Occupational Health and Safety’ report. At the time of writing, there have still been no reportable safety incidents throughout the whole project. 

The new building is the big white block of cheese in the picture at the top of the page. The redevelopment dwarfs the original heritage house, which sits in front of it and is also being refurbished. The total project cost has been in excess of AU$16 million – a sum that has been raised by CMS across Australia through its members and supporters. We are all feeling slightly in awe of God’s goodness and provision for us through this project. 

Teaching in lockdown

We started our current semester in mid-July, teaching face-to-face. After three weeks, Melbourne experienced its second wave of COVID-19 and we went back into lockdown for the next 14 weeks. We emerged from this and went back to face-to-face classes for the final two weeks, ending the semester on 21 November. 

We had learned a great deal about teaching on Zoom in the earlier part of the year, in our first wave. One of the main lessons was that it is too hard to expect husband and wife to study together when their children are home schooling in the next-door room. We solved that problem this time round by splitting our trainees into two teams, which we imaginatively named red team and blue team. Husbands and wives were in different teams. Then we taught every class twice, first to the red team, then to the blue team. In order to make this sustainable for everyone, we shortened the length of class by ‘flipping’ the classroom – which means we delivered content through pre-reading and used class time for discussion. This worked extremely well and we are confident that this group of trainees have been as well trained as any group we’ve had in the past. We are so thankful for our wonderful staff team who took the challenge of teaching all their material twice completely in their stride. 

Family news

Tom and Mia welcomed Adelaide Eve, a sister for Ziggy, who arrived safe and well in mid-September. We are grateful that despite Melbourne’s lockdown we were able to see them all very soon after Adelaide’s arrival. 

Sam and Melanie are well established in their roles in Darwin, where day-to-day life has not really been impacted very much by COVID. The main restriction is on interstate travel – they have not been able to leave the Northern Territory for most of this year. We are hoping that they might be able to come to Melbourne for Christmas, but that remains uncertain at this stage. Just as we feel the distance from family and friends in England, so Melanie is a long way from her family in Switzerland during these COVID days.  

Jono and Lizzie are very well settled in married life and are handling the current UK lockdown with a great deal of wisdom, grace and good humour. 

Please note our change of address at the bottom of the letter. With our love and best wishes for a very happy Christmas,

David and Rachel

Thank God for:

  • Adelaide’s safe arrival.
  • Great answers to prayer for our building project and for God’s provision in so many ways – keep praying that it will be completed on-time, on-budget and safely.

Please pray:

  • For Tom, Mia, Ziggy and Adelaide as they established new patterns as a family of four.
  • For us as we face a mountain of work to move back into the new building and get ourselves ready for the first semester next year. Pray that we would have the energy to lead through this whole process, while keeping our staff team relationships strong.
  • For us as we re-establish our training ministry in the new building – especially that we would quickly get the culture right.
  • That Sam and Melanie would be able to come to Melbourne for Christmas. 

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