Angel of the North: Largest sculpture in Britain looking out over my new home
Well I've now been in Jesmond, Newcastle for just under a week and I already feel like it's been ages with far too many stories to tell for one blog! I've been exhausted from jetlag, explored Newcastle city center (just a 3 minute bus ride from Jesmond), been to the coast to walk the beach and see a few lighthouses, met most of JMC's (Jesmond Methodist Church) steward team, visited china town, set up a bank account, conquered jetlag, bought a local mobile, moved host houses and am currently knee deep in looking for my own flat to rent for the year. It's been busy, it's been unreal, and through it all, it's become very apparent this is where I am supposed to be.
The Grey Monument in honor of the man who started Earl Grey Tea and kept the peace in England.
View of the Tyne and it's many bridges on the Quayside (Key-side) at the edge of the city center
Had lunch with Safwat (Church Steward from Egypt) at the waterside pub to the left
Me on the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, which just minutes before...
...was lifted for boats to pass through. You can't hear a thing as it lifts!!
Jan and Colin took me out to the coast for the afternoon (a 20 min drive from Newcastle). Many people were out walking their dogs on the rocky beaches with fog on the horizon. We ended the day with what Jan called a "usual British summer pass time"...sitting in the car at the beach, eating ice cream and watching the rain come down :)
From there I moved in with my boss, the minister of JMC, Rob and his wife Katie to stay while I look for a flat of my own. I think Rob and I will get along just fine, as was made evident to me at our first tea time (dinner) together. I had overfilled my water glass and was attempting to carefully sip it without spilling as he and Katie watched the debacle. As I was sitting at the table thinking "what a wonderful first impression I am giving off, struggling with my water," Rob confessed that he had an urge to yell "Boo!" as I was about to sip the overfilled glass in hopes that it would spill...yep it'll be a fun year :)
Rob and Katie's garden behind their house (and a view of it from my bedroom window shown above).
Funny Culture Shocks:
1) Trying to get into the driver's seat as a passenger of the car
(within the minutes of meeting Jan)
2) Pudding=all desserts.
So when Jan said let's get out the Puddings I was surprised to see 2 fruit crumbles, cheesecake, and a cream pastry and not the standard chocolate, vanilla and banana puddings from home.
3) "Single Room"=twin bed...."Double Room"=double bed
I had only been looking at adverts (advertisements/ tv commercials too) for "single rooms" and when Katie asked why I wasn't emailing anyone for doubles I said it was because I wanted my own room. Little did I know it referred to bed size not the number of people in one room.
4) City Center=Downtown
I told Rob and Katie I was going downtown to explore and get a feel for area, and they seemed concerned because "downtown" refers to the sketchier parts of cities and not the main street area.
On sunday they had a welcome service for me at church and to start Rob had me come to the front of the sanctuary and introduced me formally before he invited anyone who wanted to pray over me up to do so. Most of the people I had already met through Jan came to the front, but even a few people I hadn't met yet came up to lay hands on me while people spoke as they felt led.
Each person who blessed me did so with such heart and sincerity, that blessed doesn't even begin to describe how I feel to be here. All the cheesy, cliche feelings ran through me as I stood up there: I felt warm inside, I couldn't wipe a smile off my face if I tried, and I felt as if I was being physically held and embraced by this small but loving community I've only just met. As they laid their hands on me and stood in solidarity with me, I felt an overwhelming sense of home. God could not have given me a better confirmation than that moment...this had become my new home before I had even arrived.
Flight from Chicago: 4,239 miles,
Jetlag: 4 days,
Feeling so warmly welcomed and accepted into a community: Priceless.