Monday, September 30, 2013

I Love My Job!

Today's post comes to you live from this lovely park...

Before I tell you why I love my job, here is another story of my acclamation into British life:
While skyping my mom I came to this realization...
"I have decided I love the Dollar store, although here it is called Pound Land, which if you think about it, really makes it the "Dollar. Fifty" Land, but oh well."

So the minister of JMC, Rob, has such a loyal faith, which I can only hope will rub off on me as the year goes on.  He trusted God would bring someone to build up the student and young professional ministry and Time For God called him about bringing me in. He trusted people pull me in and I would feel welcome, and I feel more than comfortable here. He trusted passionate people would find us, if JMC is what they needed and we've had many new students seeking us out on their own.
It is a matter of trusting things will happen if they are meant to, if it is right. It is that trust in God, which has shaped my time here so far.

My work is now in full swing: meeting new people, welcoming freshers into our church family, creating outreach events, and seeing potential play out in this community. I have had so many coffee dates in the past week that I think I have developed a permanent caffeine buzz...definitely worth it! We had our first student events this week (a Free BBQ and a Sunday Lunch after church for the students and young professionals), and they went so much better than I could have ever imagined. But today I want to tell you about the BBQ.

We set up for a free "Barbie" to welcome the students back, fit with food, drink, goodie bags and all. What I expected, was for some people to be too afraid to accept free food from the church (thinking there must be an ulterior motive such as sitting through a condemnation of their sins, or conversation of why they should convert: as is sadly the only view some people have of the church here in England). I expected people to grab a free barbie and exit as quick as they came. This is what I was prepared for, hoping they may simply know that we are present in Jesmond. But of course, God had another plan for the afternoon...

Just Kidding We Had No Troubles With The Authorities, But They Did Come For A Barbie And We Couldn't Resist A Photo.

Not only were the students happily indulging in free food, they were so appreciative of the event and developing a positive view on the church as an important part in their community. Even more to my excitement, some students were taking time to chat to us, with others even feeling welcomed and comfortable enough to sit and enjoy their food and conversation in the sanctuary.
I will admit that there was one bloke who joked about possibly bursting into flame as he cautiously entered the foyer to get his barbie, which provided a good laugh all around :)
Even still many of the students were asking what other events we were going to host throughout the year!

As the afternoon turned to evening we ran out of food, but were filled with great connections and the students left knowing that we are here, we are welcoming, we are friendly, and we are loving no matter what...and that, no, they will not burst into flame as they step through our doors :)
All it took was to open these very doors, smile bright, and have that trust in God I have come to see as apart of Rob's very nature. (Although I'm sure the wafting smell of cooking sausages didn't hurt either).

So It is official, I LOVE MY JOB!
Carl Grilling up a Storm (goodie bags beside him)
Chris manning the barbie and Me with the goodie bags

Photos of the Jesmond Dene


 Top: Road above the Dene

 Right: Ruins of St. Mary's Chapel at the top of
            the Dene

 Below: Three shots of the entrance I take into the Dene

Pictures of more Ruins found in the Dene.


Now I hope you have a feel for my new city escape :) and have been entertained at my attempt at being artsy with a camera.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The waiting game...

Beyond my belief I'm hitting the 4 week mark on my time in England already!
This is officially the longest I haven't been in school since I was in pre-school, and although I'm still in the stage of exploring my new community and job, I have passed the point of this seeming as though it is just a vacation. And yet the University students haven't arrived quite yet....

So I am playing the waiting game: waiting to find a place to live, waiting for the students to come back for the year, and therefore waiting to get into a normal rhythm.  And yet, I am thoroughly enjoying the "sport."  This down time has given me such a spacious introduction to JMC and the people I will be with this year.

As well as given me time to pick up knitting! A group of women from Jesmond get together on wednesdays for tea, and knit things to send to places in Africa. My goal...a blanket. I'll continue to show you my progress :)

   A tall, outspoken woman from Scotland who gives the absolute best hugs you could ever imagine.  She is passionate and loving with just the right amount of sass to make you smile. She has a very welcoming nature about her, which has shown me that she will most likely become my go-to person if I'm down.

Rob and Katie:
   The best Jesmond roommates I could have asked for to start off my year. Rob has a joyful obsession with jokes which make me laugh, but make most everyone else roll their eyes. (His latest include "I just got a new computer and it requires a passcode with 8 I chose Snow White and the 7 Dwarves)
And Katie is his loving wife with amazing hospitality and a love for "Strictly Dancing" (the British version of "Dancing with the Stars"), which causes Rob to roll his eyes :).
I have so enjoyed living with them and getting to know them through great conversation over Tea (dinner) each night, exposing me to the great shows of British telly, "Would I Lie to You?" being my absolute favorite, and the exchange of American verses British English. Rob is convinced that by the end of the year I will speak like a true Brit and he a true American...he already has "perfect," "tomato," and "howdy" on lock.

The Blokes:
     I have found that everywhere I go the "Bro-mance" is alive and well, although it may be more fitting to call it a "Bloke-mance" here. In the absence of most of the younger Jesmond population I have met only a few young professionals since I've arrived, including 3 young lads who are very active in JMC: Chris, George and Pete. They're JMC's own 3 Musketeers leading the worship band and providing for great entertainment with their banter.

From left to right: Margaret, Kay, Katie, and Rob at our Community Harvest (an event where we give away surplus produce donated by people who grow it fresh in Jesmond, and collect donation for the Oxfam Syrian Appeal).

My City Retreat:
    Living so close to the city center and considering the general British architectural theme, there is not much open space to be found here in Newcastle. And although I'm loving being so close to the ocean, providing a different open air retreat than the mountains, I was hit with the reality of city life when I could only count 12 stars across the entire sky. So it was such a blessing to find my new city retreat: the Jesmond Dene. It is a lush ravine in Jesmond that feels like miles away from the city.

   I've always felt closest to God in the open spaces and being engulfed in the beauty he made, and now I am living in a city that leaves not a block untouched (although it is such gorgeous architecture). So even with my new retreat, I will have to fully lean into the times I experience God through people in this city life. It is not as easy as walking out the door to simply be in Natural awe as it is at home or camp. Or even as easy as the walk through the GU campus to the Spokane river for some down time. It will take initiative and genuine out-poor of myself and an effort to relationship.

    I should imagine that nothing this year will be handed to me, or land in my lap (although I will happily embrace the moments that do), instead I will need to get up, be positive and motivated to making these connections.  Of course I will do this for JMC and my role with them, but also for my sanity and still having that jaw dropping experience of God from day to day.

    It seems only fit that I found Jesmond Dene while running only the morning after searching for invisible stars in the "12-star" sky. I had to get up, I had to get positive and motivated to run, and I had to take the risk of getting lost in the thick green of the ravine to find that city escape. God is more versatile than I have made him, I just have to open my eyes and meet the invisible stars of Newcastle.

Cheers for now!