Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Past week...and a little bit of today too :)

Oh my goodness, I don't know where to begin. Might as well talk about the Lye Christ Church I have been attending with my two GA friends (who shall remain nameless). The church is small - there are maybe 50 people in attendance on a given Sunday. The church itself feels so old upon entering - the ceiling is very high, painted black, and there is gold detailing on the cross beams.  All of the windows are stained glass pictures of Christ and his 12 disciples. The church community feels like one family. There isn't an attitude of expectation here - only one of gratitude and filled with an understanding that those who come to church come because they want to, not because they feel obligated. If you would like to pray for them, pray for the Lye community. Pray for the OM team working with the Christ Church body of believers; pray that they will be able to reach more people and tell them about the news of Jesus Christ.

While visiting the church - people stay after service for tea and coffee - there was a boy there about my age. We are going to call him Doug. Well Doug is in medical school and we got to talking about cultural stereotypes. He laughed when I asked him about the British and their tea - apparently they DO drink tea when they're upset! He affirmed it further by telling me that his mom will bring him a pot with biscuits when she knows he's upset. You can't get more British than a "cuppa" to calm down.

I unfortunately got hay fever the first few days of last week. I blame the unbelievable amount of pollen here (thanks to the rain everything is green including tree bark). I took the British equivilant of Claritin D and stuck it out. Mainly becuase the first day I got sick, we were going to go hike Marvern Hill. Since the GA teams have been dispersed across England, the only people left living on base are the ELCO students and the interns like myself. ELCO stands for the English Learning Community Outreach program. It was their outing to Marven Hill, I just tagged along because I had wanted to see the countryside :)
The view from the top of Marvern Hill!!
After we zigzagged our way back down from the hilltop, we had time to wander around Marvern. It happened to be a UK bank holiday that day, so there was a food market taking place around the base of the town's cathedral. It was mainly food and pottery being sold out of olive green tents and it seemed like the entire town was out enjoying the weather. The cathedral was huge compared to the rest of the town it was shadowed only by Marvern Hill itself. I didn't find out the age of the cathedral, but it was probably older than establishment of the USA.
This is the cathedral in Marvern, you can see the tops of the market tents in the bottom of  the picture!

Because I went and got sick, I didn't have a 'normal' first week in the office. My first week really started last thursday because while I was out of sorts with illness (I really shouldn't have pushed myself to hike Marvern Hill...but look at that view! It was totally worth it) my supervisor was also getting situated into Halesowen having just moved from London.

Here on base, every thursday is prayer night. All of the teams that are near enough to base to drive down come back for a 4 hour prayer session. On prayer nights, OM prays for the world, all of the teams stations across the globe, and any missionaries that need support with whatever. Usually there's worship of some form and then a GA team will put together different stations focused on different areas for our prayers to emphasize. Its fantastic hearing about how GOd works in people's lives. This ministry, OM, works in so many different places. It seems like as soon as I think I start to understand how God works, he keeps surprising me. If you'd like to pray for OM, pray for the missionaries out in the world facing difficulties. During the night, I had to stand on a puzzle piece that was being used to illustrate how my small, single piece of this puzzling reality matters to God. Thats a happy thought: God needs everyone to help spread his good news. No matter how small you feel, no matter how insignificant you think you are, God needs you

Last Saturday we went to Liverpool. It was quite a beautiful area we went to! We started the day at a beach. It stretched out as far as you could see (I'm pretty sure I saw France on the horizon but I'm directionally handicapped so it might've been Ireland...regardless THERE WAS LAND ON THE HORIZON). After about two hours at the beach, we drove to Liverpool and spent a few hours in town. I ended up in a park, walking around an art museum, in a coffee shop, and just wandering about the town centre!
This is the ELCO team and interns at the beach - you can't really read it, but the scarf being help up says Liverpool!
We do this thing every morning that's called Refocus. Generally one of the staff leads it - it's kind of like a mini bible study but with more prayer emphasis. We briefly go over all some of the things that OM does across the globe. It was such a blessing; I got to hear about this amazing OM team in Bosnia that created a children's club about 13 years ago. They didn't have the opportunity to return until this past month. Well, when they got to the same town to check out the area two women came up to where they were holding retreat. The women proceeded to say that they were the mothers of some of the kids from the came 13 years ago! It was FANTASTIC to hear how God brought those women BACK to the same team and they remembered the team. That OM team has the opportunity to bring those women to Christ!

Well that pretty much covers the past two weeks (at least the highlights). I miss you all - and if you'd like to pray, pray for OM's global outreaches!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Miscommunications, plane malfunctions, air traffic control and Mcdonalds - what an adventure its been :)

I'M IN BIRMINGHAM. Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way: oh my goodness. I am going to try and cram everything that has happening in the last 96 hours into this one post. Its actually more than that at this point b/c believe it or not, I'm in a McDonalds for the wifi. 

Forewarning: there are a TON of details and my brain is still a little muzzy from my travel fiascos and jet-lag. And its been disorienting being in England. And the internet is unbelievably slow and it isn't liking me uploading pictures.

Getting here:
Leaving the Dallas airport took way longer than it should have. There was a 4 hour delay to Newark due to air traffic control and the delay overlapped the scheduled time for the Newark to Birmingham flight. At the time, it was looking like I was going to have to stay a night in Newark and take the next flight to Dublin - which didn't leave till' 7:00 pm on Saturday.

By the grace of god my flight ended up leaving for Newark at about 2. It put me in New Jersey at 6:40 pm. Here's the fun part; my second flight to Birmingham was supposed to take off @ 6:50. I sprinted across the airport - knowing that if I didn't make it, I would have to stay in Newark, and wouldn't even directly get to Birmingham until Sunday. I had to find a bus to take to the other terminal, and I barely made one leaving right as I ran up. When I got to the proper gate, there wasn't a plane in the loading area. I started to walk towards the exit; I was hoping to find an United representative to get a hotel sorted out. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another 'Birmingham, UK' sign. I walked up to the gate, and asked if the plane was still boarding...it was. The lady checked my ticket and told me to run. I made it on the plane with 5 minutes to spare. 

Annnnndddd then the Birmingham flight didn't end up leaving for another 4 hours because of aircraft maintenance.

When I finally arrived in Birmingham (frazzled, sleep deprived, and quite hungry) I had to make my way to the train station. I was supposed to take a train to the New Street Station. Sadly, thanks to the confusion between my ride to OM headquarters, myself, and the United flight schedule, I didn't have a ride waiting for me. My paperwork said that in the event I arrived at the meeting point before my ride, i was to wait until someone came. Well I did, and I waited for 3 hours. I ended up calling Kees-Jan (the man picking me up) on a pay phone, and he said he'd be there in about 45 more minutes. Gotta love miscommunications, plane malfunctions, and bad weather.

Well the past few days has been crazy - between getting settled, having nonstop training classes, and adjusting to the time change, I haven't really had the time to sit down, breathe, and blog.

MOM: I made your famous hot chocolate for the people here on base, and it didn't make it five minutes. I'm planning on making it again soon, because there wasn't enough to really go around. *which as an add in, I DID make it again...and I doubled the recipe and it lasted 10 minutes instead of 5* The hot chocolate was a huge success, and it felt nice being able to bring a little bit of home here ~
I used my mom's blog for this recipe... :) 
A few days ago we went to a local park for training exercises. We took pac lunches. I still haven't figured out exactly why God put me here with these people, but Paul (one of the leaders) was talking about a "purpose driven life" through Christ. He may not reveal His plans in quite the way we expect, but that is all part of the big things he has in store for each of us. For training, we did three different team games. We had to build a bridge out of 18 short flat boards. It was probably the hardest thing we've had to do so far, except it was followed by a game called 'isotopes' where we had to remove a bottle from a forbidden circle using only ropes. But the garden park we were in was unbelievable gorgeous. Apparently, Thomas Jefferson AND Benjamin Franklin used to walk the pathways in this park. And I totally understand why.
Thomas Jefferson walked in this park

We had a training day where we learned how to face paint and make balloon art - it was for if and when we are ever in a children's ministry or VBS team and need something entertaining to do. This is the group I was with - the sad thing is that most of these people have left base to do ministry elsewhere all around england...I already miss them!

This is the GA team as well as the IPs (I'm an IP)
When I went to church today, I went to the Lyes Christ Church with my Friends Manuela, Elizabeth, Davia, and YinLung (see picture below) and the church building was over 200 years old. Manuela and my new friend Elizabeth live about 5 minutes from the Lifehope base, and its great because they are so fantastically fun.
From the Left: Manuela, Elizabeth, YinLung, Davia
Well, once all of the GA (Global Action team) people left to do their summer work, the only people left living on the base was the Individual Placement people (like myself) and the ELCO group. ELCO stands for English Learning Community Outreach (?I think?). Well regardless of what ELCO means, its for people to learn english before they go on extended mission trips. Rico and Victor - from Switzerland and Portugal respectively - built this masterpiece of a giant domino game:
Of course they didn't have enough giant dominoes to make it all across the common room floor, so books and DVDs were used as well. I mean who wouldn't think to use the library contents as giant dominoes...clearly we spend our free time well :)

Here is a picture of the dorm I'm staying in - only you can't see my bed~

You can't see it, but my bed is on the left, out of the frame!

Here is a picture of the steepled church not even 5 minutes from where I live (I can see it from my window):

This Church is on my list of churches to attend...
 I am so sorry that this post has so much information in it, but the internet on base is the slower than a turtle stuck in molasses. It took me 2 hours to upload one picture, and I promised ya'll I'd have pictures on this blog! Like I said earlier, I finally gave up on blogging while I'm on base, so I'm forced to use a McDonalds for the internet. This pretty much means that I won't get the chance to blog very often, and there are going to be very long posts about once a week! But at least I get the opportunity to blog at all, and needless to say, praise the lord for the reliability of a good Mcdonalds :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bittersweet Goodbyes (!!)

I'm at the AIRPORT. Its official; I am leaving in less than 3 hours for ENGLAND! Technically I'll be flying non-directly, but the end destination is Birmingham. Same thing. 

There comes a moment where I am so unbelievably exited that my brain is running in circles, I'm writing in run ons - I'm pretty sure I gave myself a caffeine headache by drinking too much coffee. REGARDLESS - I will be leaving soon. so, so soon.

I had a bit of a miscommunication regarding obtaining a visa..but no worries. I got THAT taken care of. *whew* And I had time to spare!

I have my fabulous sister to thank for an amazing (!!) hand stitched leather journal for record keeping and the like. I might use it to write stories in a coffee shop, who knows? The possibilities are endless. As long as the possibilities involve writing and a journal anyway.

She knows me so well (!!)
Thus far, my biggest problem will be making sure my suitcase remains under 50 pounds while there. Luckily, there are 11 pounds of wiggle room for knickknacks and touristy items. Be forewarned: if I want to bring home 11 pounds of British rocks I can. My brother doesn't know what's rockin'. See what I did there? Oh so clever. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

So it Begins

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who donated towards my trip!

IF you're reading this, you either a. got a letter from me (thanks mom for the christmas card list) b. are related to me somehow, c. are possibly connected with me socially (which may or may not mean something dubious) or d. ALL OF THE ABOVE. Pick accordingly.
Because the Vault Boy approves  of giving towards my trip....

This blog is going to document my British adventures. Consider it an unexpected journey, only I'm not a hobbit (I think). I decided to narrate my trip with a blog mostly because I blog now. Blogs are cool. (that was the Doctor for those of you who don't watch Doctor Who, in which case you must STOP READING RIGHT NOW AND GO WATCH DOCTOR WHO)
the Doctor is always relevant.

I know this entry is technically WAY before I actually leave, but today marks the deadline for my funds! That's sorta really really really IMPORTANT for the trip! See? There's relevance. I will officially be leaving soon enough (I know I've been driving Rick bonkers with talk about England), and if I haven't talked with you personally the date for my plane is May 16th.

I had people help out from some unexpected places! For everyone who helped, thank you. It means so much that so many people are willing to promote the Lord's work. I feel so unbelievably blessed to have such a wide support group. 

I'm counting down the days till' I leave! Blessings and prayers for you all, thank you <3

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