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Moving Out and On

emoticon:newspaper It's now almost three weeks since Delia and I moved out of community. After ten years in community (for me) this is a big step and a big change.

Community living, as practised by the Jesus Army and the New Creation Christian Community is a great thing. So why did I move out ?

Now that the dust has settled (a little) I'd like to explain.

The vision of community, is that living together and sharing income and possessions, is much closer to how God intended us to live than the "Normal Western Lifestyle". Lots of Christians felt the call to community in the charismatic outbreak of the seventies, but few of the communities have survived. The strong structure of the Jesus Army has not been uncontroversial, but it is what has enabled it to remain a strong movement of God thirty or more years after it was founded.

The JA has (depending on how you count membership), some two or three thousand members across the UK. Around four to five hundred of these currently live in community.

I arrived in community in a very desperate state, back in early 1996. At first it was little more than a bed and food, which was more than I could expect to find elsewhere. I gradually found my faith again, emotional healing and strong friendships. This is undoubtedly through the ethos and practise of the Jesus Fellowship. If you are interested in my story, you can read the first parts in :

There's more to come... Wink

Many other people have found help and encouragement through community and Church.

Community living obviously has its advantages and its difficulties. Nonetheless, my experience was largely a very happy one. So why did we leave ? Is it just a step backwards ?

Well, possibly the answer to the second question is yes. Sad I'm still not sure about that, and time will tell.

Community living puts a lot of constraints on lifestyle. Not the least of which is constraints on yourtime. I have always had a great interest in computers, and in recent years have discovered I have an ability to program. Particularly using the Python Programming Language.

Community means spending a lot of time with people, this is its greatest strength and its greatest problem. I really enjoyed living with the folk at River Farm House, some of whom I count as my closest friends. Along with the opportunity to really share your life comes the opportunity for relationship tensions and difficulties. Living with people who you find difficult, or who find you difficult, can be a painful thing. It certainly forces you to examine your character and be aware of your selfishness and weaknesses. The alternative of course, is to never have to face up to them; or at least to deal with them a lot more slowly.

But along with spending time with people, community comes with an enormous commitment to attend meetings. I was finding that fitting programming into the couple of hours left every day wasn't working. I'd already decided that I wanted a job as a programmer, but the elders felt that it absorbed too much of my soul and time. They wanted me to give it up altogether [1].

It wasn't a decision I made lightly, in fact I agonised over it for months. In the end I felt that I couldn't give up programming altogether and we had to move out.

So we're no longer living so closely with people, and we don't know what the future holds. Perhaps I've chosen a path further from what God wants for me. This certainly isn't the end of the story. We haven't left the Jesus Army and still attend almost as many meetings as we did before Exclamation People have largely been very supportive. Although they may disagree with my choice, they've made it clear they want to remain our friends.

There are dangers. My Faith is the most important thing in my life, and I desperately don't want to lose my relationship with God. My past experiences have shown me just how good at running my own life I can be when I do that. Community puts a lot of (good) boundaries up, and outside of it you have to maintain these boundaries of morality and responsibility yourself.

When we first moved out I was very confused. I didn't know where I stood with God, or with other people. Maintaining my commitment to the Church felt like it was going to be difficult. I was worried that I had completely blown it with God.

The week after we moved out we went to our weekly family meal (agape) and I felt a real touch of God [2]. It was very unexpected, but also reassuring. Even if I have made a wrong decision, God hasn't abandoned me and there is hope for the future. This stirred up my desire to stay involved with the Church, and I feel like this is a new beginning.

As I said, this isn't the end of the story. I still hope that in the future, when things are more settled, we may be able to move back into community. Even if this doesn't happen, it's not the end of our friendships with the people, nor our friendship with God.

[1]The exact sequence of events is slightly more complicated, I reached a decision to move out a few days before the elders were going to talk to me anyway. The upshot is the same though.
[2]A perhaps slightly bizarre euphemism, meaning to experience the love and presence of God.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2006-02-07 14:33:39 | |
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Permission to Stay

emoticon:waffle A few weeks ago I told you about my wife's clash with Romanian bureaucracy. She was trying to renew her Romanian passport. It all became too much effort; so Delia decided to wait until she was granted permanent leave to remain in Britain. Then she would be entitled to apply for British citizenship.

Unfortunately, British bureaucracy seemed likely to be as intractable as the east-European red-tape. They (the immigration office) wanted us to prove we've been living together for the last two years. This is fair enough, except for the way they ask you to prove it.

The requirement in the home office form, is that you provide ten official pieces of documentation showing that you reside at the same address. They accept as official all the sorts of things we don't have because we live in community; things like bank account statements, phone bills, utility bills, and so on.

We did actually manage to cobble together more than ten documents - driving licenses, medical cards, a letter about a NI number, and so on.

It was then a bit worrying to get the following letter, a couple of weeks later :

Dear Mrs Foord,

In order for us to process your application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, please forward to us the following items :

Failure to do this within the next seven days may result in a delay in your application...

I wrote them a slightly snotty letter pointing out that we didn't have a bank account (we'd explained about community in the original application). I also carefully listed the documents we'd provided. As well as eleven official type documents we'd sent the community residency records for every week since August 2003 - when we got married. These pretty clearly show our residence together at river farm house. Razz

We were a bit worried about all this as our circumstances are unusual. They say they aim to deal with most applications within three months, but we weren't holding out too much hope for a speedy resolution. My Chinese friend, Wei Loon, applied for a one year student visa in June 2004. In September 2004 he received a letter from the home office saying that they were processing his application.

He'd now like to apply for a work visa. So he rang the home office to ask about his application. They informed him that they were still processing it. When he explained that his course had actually finished in July 2005 and he'd like his papers back to make a new application, they said tough, we're still processing your application. Laughing

Imagine our surprise when two weeks after sending the snotty letter we got a package from the immigration department. It contained all our documents and a letter. Indefinite leave to remain granted ! Very Happy

By the way - I'm working on the book reviews I promised. Smile

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-11-14 09:29:09 | |
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May I Beg Your Leave

emoticon:halt A few weeks ago [1] I blogged about Delia's experience of Romanian bureaucracy.

Well, now we have our very own, home-grown, English version. Very Happy

To be fair it's partly caused by our odd living circumstances, but it's still frustrating [2].

Delia and I got married just over two years ago now. Delia is a Romanian national [3] and as they are not part of the EU yet, after the wedding she needed to formally apply for leave to remain in the country.

To attempt to weed out marriages of convenience they first issue a two year temporary leave to remain. After the two years, if the marriage is still intact, you're entitled to permanent leave to remain (and not long after that British citizenship if you want it - given Delia's problems trying to get her Romanian passport renewed she might just do that).

So now it's time for Delia to apply for permanent leave to remain - she's downloaded the relevant multi paginated form and we're going through it. The funny thing is that the Home Office aren't interested in whether we're married or not, nor even if we're of differing gender [4] !

In order to prove that our relationship is intact, we have to provide ten official documents; in my name or hers, at the same address (and the marriage certificate doesn't count). The sorts of documents they accept include :

etc. etc. Now I can just about manage a driving license; but because we live in community - we just don't have any of those things. All the bills are in the name of the common purse - not us. Mad aaaargh......

Naturally we've taken legal advice. It turns out that what the law says is [5] :

if after two years you still reside together, and intend to remain together permanently, you are entitled to permanent leave to remain.

The requirement to provide ten official letters is only the home office's interpretation of the law. If we can prove that we meet the requirements of the law - it doesn't have to be the way that the Home Office lay down. We've got a letter from an elder of the church, and the common purse, explaining the situation. We've also got residency records for the last two years - one page for every week, this is some package we're sending them. Very Happy

Even if they reject the application (which is unlikely) we have a valid appeal under UK law and (apparently) to the ECHR. Despite that it's still a bit nerve wracking until we get the final approval, which could take months. sigh Sad

[1]Has it already been that long Question
[2]For a better reference you could do worse than
[3]I'm pretty sure she didn't just marry me for a passport. Wink If you're interested you could read my article on Life in Romania.
[4]How thoroughly modern.
[5]Or words to the effect of.. Wink

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-09-28 18:04:10 | |
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Two Years Today

I've now been married (and living at River Farm House) for two years. Hurrah for me and Delia Very Happy .

Michael and Delia

Michael and Delia Getting Married

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-08-02 11:35:44 | |
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Value For Money

emoticon:dollars Buying cheap is sometimes a bad deal. This is especially true when buying batteries.

We buy most of our stuff from the community FDC. The brand of cheap AA batteries they supply varies regularly. At the moment I think it's Fujitsu. For cheap AA batteries they may be fine - but for a digital camera they suck. Whichever brand of cheap battery the FDC supply I get about ten to fifteen photos out of a pair, if I'm lucky.

For our trip to Romania I splashed out about two pounds on some duracell. Well, I've had over a hundred photos out of the first two - and I'm still wringing the last milliwatts out of them. I don't know what the cost differential is - but I bet it's not ten to one (and don't get me started on the environmental issues).

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-07-19 10:10:31 | |
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It's Been a Long Time

Razz It's been a while since I've blogged. Even longer since I've done a proper one. Life is hectic - better than being bored though. [1]

I took Friday off to start work on our patio down at River. I'm strictly a sedantry VR dweller - so it was an ordeal doing some real work for a change phew. Sometime I might stick some pictures up here.

Me and the Chinese Loon [2] spent a whole day laying a hardcore base for the slabs to go on. I've acquired some ex-demo real stone that has been cluttering up our yard at TBS for two years. This is the first time I've done anything like this and it was good fun. We used the farm JCB to dig out most of the soil in about fifteen minutes, and spent three hours removing the last three tonnes ourself. We then had to shovel and rake four tonne of hardcore back in and whack it down. It took all day, and I ached for the next three, but it was well worth it.

I'm enjoying writing at the moment, and have been trying to wade through the technical Strunk and White [3]. The bits I understand are very good Omit unnecessary words. I think of lots of ways of saying the same thing in more words, but it doesn't take much explanation. Apparently if you want to use more space, you can just say it three times for emphasis - Omit unnecessary words, Omit unnecessary words, Omit unnecessary words Laughing .

Anyway - I've had myself checked out, and apparently I've managed to acquire several mind viruses. I'd recommend you have an online scan as well.

[1]I don't even have a TV for goodness sake.
[2]Wei Loon to be precise. My Chinese friend from Malaysia, if that makes sense.
[3]Apparently the American bible on writing style. No one in England has heard of it.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-06-15 12:36:19 | |
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Sad The elderflower is out, the weather is beautiful, and my hayfever has started. sniff

Surprised Tomorrow I do some real work. I have the day off to start working on our patio. Me and my Chinese partner in crime will be digging out the ground and whacking down the hardcore. Great fun.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-06-09 14:48:04 | |
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Emotions Run Wild

emoticon:carrot Do you like my new 'emoticon' ? It reminds me of a new saying of the 'river lads', the boys who live with us here in community. They say something calculated to provoke a reaction... and then wait to see if you 'bite the carrot' - all too often I do sigh emoticon:bugs

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-04-11 18:23:01 | |


That's a Good Idea

Every now and then someone has a good idea which is so obvious it's breathtaking. I've just had one of those why on earth didn't I think of that moments. We're moving our bins from by the back door to beside the kitchen door - now we don't need to carry the full bin bags all the way through the house every time. Brilliant.....

And Another Thing

The changes to The Library are nearly completed. Just a few more witty quotes and descriptions to insert. Because of this I've altered the links. Now all book downloads are done from the library. This does mean that the selection of books is somewhat reduced.

In compensation, the new pages are much more attractive :-)

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-03-13 22:36:12 | |
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A Good Chat

Luke is a new lad staying with us at the moment. He's just come off the gear and is trying to get his life in order. Something else I'd forgotten, is how nice it is just to have a good long chinwag.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-02-14 23:37:20 | |
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Raw Power

I've just been listening to some of the lads jamming. I'd forgotten about the raw power of music close up. Very nice. It helps that Andy [1] is a bit of a genius on the guitar and Andy [2] is just as nifty with the drums.

[1]Andy 1 - the genuine one, carpenter come plasterer, come builder - who built the sound studio, and the office, and our bed....
[2]Andy 2 - the masterful one, fruit man extraordinaire.

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Posted by Fuzzyman on 2005-02-14 23:33:40 | |
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The Old Blog Archives

There was so much ancient wisdom distilled into my old blog, that I couldn't let it just creep ignominiously into the pages of cyber-history. More to the point I'm still getting some hits from google with the old entries. Here are the archives of my previous Blogger based blog.

The Old Voidspace BlogThe Old Techie Blog

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