Half or All?

Have you ever heard of St Martin and his half torn coat? The story goes that St Martin, who was a soldier, met a poor beggar on the side of the road. It was winter and the snow was coming down thick and fast. He felt so sorry for the beggar, it was cold and the beggar looked freezing. St Martin tore his coat in two and gave one half to the beggar. 
Later that night when St Martin was safe and warm in his bed, he had a dream, in which Jesus came to him. “Who are you Lord?” St Martin asked. Jesus replied “A man with half a coat.”

Should St Martin have given the whole coat to Jesus? But, St Martin didn’t know the beggar was Jesus. St Martin’s holiness is in the fact that after this incident he gave all of his life to Jesus, not half, but all.

This story tells us that what we do to others we do to Jesus. I have always thought a little Jesus lives inside each one of us. Inside every person in the world. Sometimes He is so very little that you can hardly see Him, but you know, if you search hard enough you can find Him.

We your little sisters love this feast. We gather in choir and watch a traditional skit. One sister is St Martin, pretending to ride on a little wooden horse and the beggar is played by another sister who turns into Jesus at the end. While the rest of us sing the song “St Martin, St Martin, St Martin did not have a care...” After we process with lighted candles, singing “bright lanterns” to the community room, where we eat hot potatoes and cheese, a very special treat for our evening supper (which we call collation). 

We, your little sisters, try to learn from St Martin to give God our whole life and we try hard each day to find the ‘little Jesus’ inside each sister and person we meet. We always greet each other with the greeting ‘Praised be Jesus Christ’ for we know that even though hidden, Jesus is present in every one of us. Let’s all go out and try and find Him in others today.

On the feast of St Martin, the 11th November, let’s try to give Jesus, the Jesus we find in others, not half but all. Why not ask if you can have a baked potato in its jacket, as a reminder of St Martin and his coat.

And remember, we are praying for you, see you next week. Sr Anežka

Eppy and Lily

The other day, Eppy, our little black puppy, found a wasp nest in our garden and was stung. The poor little thing came running to me for help, she wanted me to get the horrible things out of her long coat, they were hurting her. I managed to get the wasps out and though she was sore and frightened, after putting some vinegar on the stings and a lot of cuddles she made a full recovery. 

The next day Lily, Eppy’s honey coloured sister, was sick and I spent the whole day looking after her, keeping her warm and cleaning her up.
I began to feel like a nurse and I thought ‘this is just like being at an animal hospital.’

 Do you know of St Martin de Porres? People say he was the first person to have the idea of an animal hospital, way back hundreds of years ago. St Martin was a Dominican friar and was so kind and gentle that he even cared for the mice in the kitchen and would always make sure that they had enough to eat. Can you imagine that? Making sure the little mice have enough food to scavenge. 

When little creatures were sick, the mice, the birds and the stray cats, people would bring them to St Martin and he would look after them and bring them back to health. Isn’t that wonderful? You see, St Martin loved God so much that this love spread right out to the love of all God’s creatures.

Have you ever found a baby bird in your garden or maybe an egg that has fallen out of the nest? It can be fun to play nurse and try to find its home. It is so rewarding to know that you have helped save life.

When I was very young I found a baby bird at the bottom of a little tree. I could see the nest, so I ran and found some big leaves, (mummy birds don’t like it if their babies smell of humans). I climbed the tree and put the baby bird back into it’s nest and then ran back into the house before the mummy bird returned. I don’t know what happened to that little bird but it filled my heart with such happiness to know that I had helped him and saved his life. It is so nice to do good things and to help people and animals. So on St Martin’s feast day, the 3rd November, I think we should try to be a little like St Martin and see what good things we can do.  We could save a little bird or mouse, we could be kind and help a bumble bee to escape or place a little spider outside the house away from the dusters. See what good deeds you can do today.

See you next week when I will tell you about another St Martin and his coat, and remember, we are praying for you. Sr Anežka

Autumn Fair

Next Saturday is our ‘Autumn Fair’, a very busy and joyful time here at Ty Mam Duw.

Every October we have a Fair. You have probably all been to a school fair or market day. In New Zealand we often call it a Gala, but for us it’s an Autumn Fair. We have made everything you need to keep warm this winter and with Christmas coming up there are lots of gifts to put under the Christmas tree.

Boys and girls come to get the perfect present for their mums and grandmas. There are woollen hats, scarves, mittens, jumpers and ponchos. Toys, aprons and kids things, Christmas cards, cribs and tree decorations. Plus lots of lovely books on saints and saints saying, this is always nice.

There are jams, jellies and mince slices, fruit cakes and banana cakes. You can eat hot chips and chicken and sandwiches galore. You can get a plant or some jumble and raffle tickets. It’s always exciting to see if it will be you that wins the 1st prize.

So with all these wonderful things to make, for you and your families, we your little sisters are busy stirring pots of jam and baking crumbles. It’s a lot of fun and hard work for us but, most especially it is nice for us to be able to make things for you. All throughout the year people are so kind and generous to us, giving us what we need, without them we couldn’t live our life, praying for you and the world. So it is lovely for us to be able to say ‘thank you’ by putting on this Fair for you to enjoy.

If you live near and have never been to see us, now is a great time to come and say hello. If you don’t live near enough then I hope you have a Fair near you, that you can go to, we will be thinking of you on the day.

Our Nežkits are famous around these parts, they are much more than a biscuit and depending on how you make them they can be as big as your hand. Here is my secret recipe for you to try out with a parent or grandparent. The main ingredient is FUN, so I hope you have a lot of it when making and sharing your Nežkits.

You will need:

100grams  Butter (soft)
100grams Sugar
beat these together in a bowl with a wooden spoon or use a mixer, until creamed.
Then add one egg into the creamed mixture.

Sieve 150 grams of Self-raising Flour into mixture slowly until the mixture become smooth.

Now is the fun part! Find around the house a bar of your favourite chocolate. You can use white or milk or mars bars, snickers anything you like, you could even use M+M’s,  Smarties or Chocolate Drops (if you can’t eat chocolate you can use a handful of dried fruit and 1/3  a teaspoon of cinnamon). You will need about 1 or 2 bars of Chocolate or  75grams. Cut or break up your bars and mix into your cookie mixture.
With a tablespoon put on a lined baking tray. Make sure your tablespoon amounts are about 5-7cms away from each other. Bake in oven on about 190’C (this depends on which type of oven you have, fan or gas and how hot your oven gets). Be careful to watch your cookies and lower heat if need be. Bake for 10-15 minutes until Nežkits are Golden in colour but still soft.

Take out of the oven and place in a cool place for a few minutes before removing from baking paper. Wait about 10 minutes before eating them warm or put on a cooling rack till cold. Most importantly have fun!

I am baking these Nežkit cookies for the Fair so we can be united in our work and the joy of creating. When you create you are sharing in God’s work because God is always creating. He created the world in the beginning, he created you and me and so when you and I create we are sharing in His Spirit. God loves busy hands. So get creating today!

See you one the 1st November when I will be telling you more about what happens within these walls. Explore more of the world with in the walls with me. Sr Anežka.

Pots and Pans.

Do you have a favourite saint? Or a favourite quote from a saint? Some of you are probably named after a saint or know the saint’s name of the church that you go to. I love a lot of saints but one of my favourite sayings comes from St Teresa of Avila. Her feast day is on the 15th of October. She said to her sisters ‘you can find Jesus between the pots and pans’.

I just love this saying, it tells me a lot about Jesus and a lot about prayer.
What is Prayer? Do you think it is just something you do at night on your knees by your bed? Do you think it is just saying the Rosary or going to Mass? Do you think it’s something done alone and in silence?

Yes, it’s all these things, but let me tell you a little secret, just between you and me. Prayer can be something much more. Prayer can actually be real fun and special, and that is what St Teresa is talking about. Finding Jesus, anywhere and everywhere and at all times.

How? Well, guess what! God is so big and so great that He is everywhere. He is in church, He is in the garden, He is on the street and in your home, He is everywhere. God is not only to be found at certain times like when you are praying on your knees. No, He is there when you are watching TV, digging the garden, eating your dinner, playing with your friends. You name it, God’s there!

This is exciting stuff. You could be watching TV with God, and actually you could be reading this blog right now with Him. Cool isn’t it?!

So how do we do this? What’s the difference between watching TV and watching TV with God?

Well, let me tell you a little story to help show you what I mean.

When I was a novice (that means I had a white veil, and had only been a sister in this community for about a year). I was sent to dig the garden, so that we could plant our vegetables.
I didn’t like the garden, it was hot and the garden was messy. I would get soil in my gumboots and under my fingernails. No! I didn’t like it. I went, but, I went thinking about all these things, I did it with a bad heart. Now, I ask you, was I with Jesus? No, I was not. Jesus was in the garden waiting to be found by me, but do you think I found Him? No! No, I was so busy thinking all these thoughts, that I didn’t see Him. Jesus was there, but I wasn’t with Him in the garden. So you see, this wasn’t prayer.

Well, one day, I was back in the garden, still thinking ‘I don’t like this’. I was planting seeds, I had a big handful of seeds and I looked at them, and I realized, seeds are amazing things. I looked with wonder at them, just one of these seeds I had in my hands would grow into a plant and that plant, produce vegetables, and those vegetables more seeds and those seeds even more plants, and so I saw that inside these seeds, that looked so dead and lifeless, like dust, there was so much life. Like worlds inside worlds. 
I was stunned and amazed by God’s creation and His handiwork. I said ‘Wow! God this is great. You are so amazing.’ I felt like I was exploring these seeds, these worlds, with the child Jesus, and I wanted to show Him what I had found. Now, do you think I had found Jesus? Yes! I had found Him. I was open to His presence around me and I discovered Him in the world about me. So, was this prayer? Yes!

You see, if you are open to Jesus and open to Him touching your everyday life, like He touched my life in the garden, you can actually pray all day long. Sometimes using prayers like the Our Father or Hail Mary and sometimes saying prayers that come from your heart that begin with Dear Jesus... And sometimes saying nothing but just being aware that God is with you. Wherever you are, you can try to be with Jesus in your everyday world. This is how you will find Him between the ‘pots and pans,’ just as St Teresa of Avila did.

Brothers and Sisters.

I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted to be a saint. That’s some goal, isn’t it? But actually we are all called to be saints. Some of us will be known by the whole church, like St Thérèse and St Anthony and some of us will be known only by a few people. 
 I believe my grandparents to be happily living with God in heaven and when I am going through a hard time I ask my grandma to look down on me from heaven, and pray for me. 
So what is a saint? A saint is someone who lives in heaven, they live in God’s presence all the time, they are God-like. Have you heard the saying ‘you become like those you love’.  Those you love, you admire and in loving them you start doing the things they do. People sometimes call this being a ‘copy cat’, but it’s not really, it’s natural to copy the person you love. 
Well, the saints love Jesus and they tried to live their lives like Jesus lived His. This makes them God-like and that makes them saints. Gosh, that’s a bit of a mouthful but really it is quite simple. If you love Jesus with all your heart you will become a saint! That’s easy to say but not so easy to do. What made St Francis whose feast is on the 4th October the most ‘Christ-like of saints’?

Well, one of the things that St Francis did was that he saw everyone and everything as brothers and sisters, made in love by God. He saw trees, flowers, people on the streets and even bullies, everything to him was a brother or a sister.

When I was about 5 years old, some people came to our church to talk to us about the poor children in Russia. They showed us a video of the children and I was so struck by these little children who had no toys to play with. The people asked us to give what we could. I went home and packed up all my toys, even my new doll that could walk, and ask my mum to send them to Russia for the children.

My mum thought I would change my mind once the toys were gone, and that I would want them back. I kept pleading with her and eventually she sent them.

At Christmas the people returned to our church and showed us the little children playing with the toys. I remember seeing this little Russian girl, about my own age, crying with joy because she had been given my doll that could walk. 
This image has remained with me all my life. My old teddy bears and dolls had become their new toys, and through this giving we had become ‘one’ in our love of the toys. I was so happy to see the children with the things, and I never wished for them back. Without knowing it at the time I was seeing this little girl as my sister and loving her like I would my own sister.
So you see, in sharing these toys I began to see people like St Francis saw them. This little girl was really my sister, she too was made in God’s image, made in God’s love.   
So maybe for this Feast of St Francis we should try to live like he did. We could share something that we have with someone who has not. Maybe it could be you playing with a new kid at school, sharing your sweets with your younger sister or letting your brother play with your football. 
Maybe we could try to be kind to everyone like St Francis was and show them love because we know they are loved by God. 

Hello and Welcome.

Hello and Welcome to this Ty Mam Duw children’s Blog.

I am Sr Anežka and I will be writing here each week to tell you about Jesus, our Franciscan way of life and a little bit about my own personal journey. 

I hope you will join me on this voyage to discovering Jesus and growing in love of Him. I am very happy to be able to share with you my thoughts and I hope that over the weeks we can get to know each other and Jesus a little better. 

This blog can be used in any way that you wish. Read by kids and kids at hearts. Read by parents and grandparents to children as bed time reading. My only wish is that, you will have fun and in having fun get to know more about Jesus. 

As I said, my name is Sr Anežka, I’m a Poor Clare Colettine sister at Ty Mam Duw (this is Welsh meaning ‘the house of the Mother of God’) I’m not Welsh, I’m actually from New Zealand. Do you know where that is? It’s a whole world away from Wales and the UK. I came all the way from little New Zealand to little Wales so that I could love Jesus in the best way that I knew how. I wanted to be Jesus’ bride, and belong totally to him. 

I live in a little monastery with 13 sisters, two puppies and a dog. Squirrels, moles, birds and the occasional bunny, come as go in our garden as they please. 

We live here loving Jesus and praying for the world, which means we pray for you, your family and friends. We also do fun things like grow our own vegetables, bake cakes and make jam from our fruit which we grow in the garden. We do lots of others craft things which we put into our little craft room. People can come to see us, and they can come to hear Holy Mass and best of all they visit Jesus in our chapel. I hope that you will tune in here to explore the world within the walls of our cloister with me, bye for now and remember Jesus loves you and we are praying for you. 

Sr Anežka.