1st February, 2012

Some things seem to take longer than you think and I've certainly found that there can be huge delays organising workmen. So the new disabled friendly double glazed front door hasn't gone in this month but now at least we have a firm date for February. Similarly the  new triple skin rooflights have been delayed due to illness. I get very nervous as we get near our funding deadline, so please pray there are no more delays and these things are put in this month. Last week was very busy with 3 residential groups in a row and community day groups on at the same time, so it was a chance to see how we coped with quick turnovers without the summer students available. Happily a couple of local young men could help us out and were soon shown the ropes by our cleaning lady, who only helps out herself when we're very busy. It was a real pleasure to have the Baptist Ministers training group for an in-service course. It's a good chance to catch up with churches in other parts of Scotland and to touch base with Baptist Union leaders. They were the first group to experience the difference made by the new double glazing in the chalet and the corridor actually. I believe they were duly impressed! After them was a new group - the History & Politics society of the University of the Highlands & Islands, who had a Burns Night here as well as meetings. Iain played the pipes for the procession of the haggis and our volunteer gardener Alastair, who is also an Am Dram fan, gave a hearty address to the haggis! After that a group of Church of Scotland Elders came for a retreat. It's interesting one of them had been here in the late 70's /early 80s, in the early years of the Centre when Iain was first here as a young man -  just shows, you never know when you'll meet someone again.

Two weeks ago I went to a Christian Conference Centre Managers' conference near Birmingham. It was a chance to meet other people facing the same challenges, to share ideas, to worship together and to encourage each other. It was an eye-opener for me how big some of the Centres are, making their job a different kettle of fish from ours, but also emphasising the benefits of being small, in the way we can personalise our service and get to know our guests as individuals and provide a much more cosy and home from home atmosphere. I also realised how lucky we are here to have the chance to be part of a local church and a local community, because we're not stuck in the middle of nowhere. For some conference centres life can be very isolating, or a bit of a gold fish bowl existance. Anyhow I came back encouraged that the business ideas we have been pursuing are also being recommended for other centres, which confirms we are going in the right direction  and with some new ideas to try out.

We're looking for volunteers for the summer from the beginning of June to the end of August, so if anyone is interested in a summer job in the middle of Scotland's outdoors country, Bed & Board & pocket money provided, or if you know someone else who might be, please get in touch. Please also remember that we need people to help us raise money to improve our disabled facilities and put in en-suites. We're looking for volunteers to set up fundraising events in their local church/area and for volunteers to take part in challenge events and be sponsored for the centre. Go here to find out more. NB. Places are full for the Etape Caledonia cycle challenge in Pitlochry in May, but you can still aplly for the Etape Pennines in October and it would be an ideal opportinuty to do something you love and raise money for the Centre at the same time.

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