It is an interesting climate here both in terms of weather and social restrictions. We’ve had some really sunny days (hottest yet in the year) followed by a full week of rain. We’ve also had a few relaxations on the restrictions here in Wales. Please note that our restrictions are different than England’s and the rest of the UK, much how restrictions will vary from State to State in the U.S.
Here in Wales, we are now allowed to meet with other people from one other household as long as the meeting is outside and people keep to the 2m rule. With this being the hand dealt to us, we decided to invest into a pop-up gazebo, so we could have folks over regardless of the weather.
Gazebo Rain or shine
This worked out very handy for Ethan’s 4th birthday. We set up the gazebo and had family over in stages and blew out the candles outside. It was a “Transformer birthday” as he is crazy about Transformers at the moment (no influence from me of course).
We found using the gazebo to be a great way to re-connect with others in the midst of this “social famine.” To be clear, it has been over 100 days since we’ve been allowed to meet with anyone outside of our home. Of course, we’ve stood at the gate and bumped into folks in town, but it’s all very tense and limited. Children are largely not allowed in shops and you can only stand at your gate with your neighbour restraining their dog for so long. So, the back-garden gazebo meetings were a much-needed reprieve from isolation.
Virtual Meeting Spaces
Another shelter, so to speak, that I’ve put a lot of work into, is providing a virtual space for young people to gather. Remember we’ve not been able to meet as youth groups since March 23rd (and we’ve not yet been notified as to when that will be lifted…in fact on July 6th the latest update is that we will be able to drive beyond the 5 mile limit and also that one household can “merge” with another household indoors, but this is limited to only one exclusive household – so choose wisely). In all likelihood the next time we will be able to gather with the youth will probably be in about a month’s time, in some form of informal outdoors gathering, perhaps on the beach. So, until then, in the “here and now”, I’ve been working on ways for us to “gather” in the midst of our isolation.
Lydia has recently started playing Minecraft and then I came across an article of a church using it as a form of ministry.
I was instantly curious if I could replicate this in some fashion. I quickly discovered there are many versions of Minecraft and many ways of people playing together and that it is a bit of an online safety nightmare in terms of providing a safe space that is easily accessible for young people.
In short, I’ve had to do a lot of research, but I’m happy to say that I’m very close to launching my first Minecraft Youth Ministry play session. I’m hoping that by the first weeks of July I’ll be up and running and we’ll be building virtual church buildings and meeting inside of them. How cool is that!?! Also worth mentioning, is that I’ve been able to create a Bible Reading Group through YouVersion that I and our church’s youth are currently reading through “together.”
Zoom full steam ahead
All that being said, we’ve still been very busy maintaining our youth and church meetings through Zoom.
We have a Zoom Meeting for: Youth Connect (church youth group), Children’s Connect, Llandudno Youth for Christ, Shuffle and Shake, and of course our church meeting where we have been leading live worship. We’re a bit “zoomed out” if I’m honest, but it has been a good way to try to stay connected.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention that I’ve been given another opportunity to minister to a local school. As last month, again I will provide a video devotional for their online chapel session. I’m really thankful for this and looking forward to it. Yes, it has been a strange season, but I’m thankful for the opportunities God’s given us to provide shelter for others…whether with a gazebo, a Zoom meeting, or a Minecraft server…the shelter is Him and we are thankful to be with Him and point others to Him. Please keep praying for us here. Namely, that we can meet with people again as soon as possible and in the meantime provide shelter for others in the best way possible. God bless!