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!


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