Friday, February 28, 2014

Take A Short Drive With Me Through the English Countryside (Coast to Coast)

It seems as though all the roads outside the city are quaint back country roads: rhythmically winding through endless fields, scattered with sheep and the occasional lama, dipping up and down the rolling hills. The small two way lanes are lined with shrubs and tall trees whose branches reach out to each other from across the road above your head. It's a beautiful sight on this sunny winter day, leading me only to crave the view in summer or autumn. 

Every 10-20 minutes we pass through another small village perched atop a small hill or tucked away in the next valley. Each including their own brand of cottages, terraced houses, a church or two, the local pub, and in some, an old castle preserving the country's past as if the history channel was coming to life right before my eyes. From the roman ruins to bombings in the world wars- there are so many stories, there is so much culture and so many different accents for such a small island.

From the sea side (peering across the ocean to the Scottish coast), to the snow capped peaks of the Lake District...less than 30 minutes. From the west coast, back home to the east coast...less than 2 hours. In a day trip, shorter than one to cross Colorado alone, I saw life and culture older than even the country of the US itself. England begs to be explored!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bring on the New Year!

Can't believe it is 2014 already, let alone February! Here is what has been happening across the pond...

1. Christmas events in Jesmond including: watching The Grinch, a midnight service, a onesie Christmas morning, an international student Christmas lunch, watching The Grinch, opening presents with my family over skype, boxing day lunch complete with penguin races, and, of course, watching The Grinch.

Meera and her sons joined Rob in wearing onesies!
       -I was so worried Christmas would be the hardest part of this year, but again God proved me wrong and reminded me I wasn't alone. Rob and his family took me in and I got to see Santa in action for the first time, bringing gifts for he and Katie's grandchildren.
   On Christmas morning, Rob wore a onesie during the service to portray a brilliant image for his sermon, reminding me of how much I love Jesmond Methodist Church!
  And skype is so amazing that I often even forgot I was in England and not in my living room at home opening presents with my family. Although it wasn't the Christmas I am used to, the Christmas spirit I know and love was ever

YAGM ladies at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland

2. My first trip to London to visit my cousin Kelsey, the other UK YAGMs, and my summer roommate (a former UK YAGM) joined us as well!

3. Welcoming back the students after their winter break, bringing a lively atmosphere back to the city.

4. Time in the hills of Wales for the BIG Time For God conference. As this year's YAGM volunteers, we ran a Leadership session and the final worship. Great week with great people!

All of the Time For God's volunteers in Wales for the BIG conference

5. The start of our Alpha Course that will continue for the next 8 weeks. It is a life-changing course that begs the question, "Is There More To Life Than This?" I have heard many great things about Alpha and am looking forward to see what it can give to those who are joining us! (for info-

6. A Pioneer Conference Weekend, shedding light into a revival for the Northeast that is just around the corner. (for info-

7. And a fun Super Bowl celebration, with a not so fun scoreboard.

Abby (another YAGM in Durham) came up for the night as we streamed the big game and munched on classic american snacks :)

In other words...It has been busy and it has been exciting and I can't say thank you enough to all those who lend me prayer and support :)

Just a thought...

"Here we may prove the power of prayer, to strengthen faith and sweeten care."

Sometimes it seems that prayer is all we have. When there is nothing we can do, when we have run dry of all resources, when we are blind to the future, or when we are halfway across the world from a hug that we desperately want to give.
But if in these moments prayer is all we have...then we have more than we know and more than we need. 
As I came trough the holidays with good memories and a warm heart, I will admit that homesickness is now making an appearance. I knew that it would happen eventually, but I didn't anticipate it to be such a conflicting experience. 
Yes, I am homesick for snow, I am homesick for the blue sky clear over the mountains, I am homesick for Zombie Nation in the Gonzaga Kennel, and I am homesick for my family and friends back in the States. Even now as I sit in the Cafe, Michael Buble's "Home"plays over the speakers, and it all reminds me just how lucky I am to have a home worth missing!
And yet in all this longing I feel such a strong pull to my new community I have found here in Newcastle.  So in these conflicting pulls on my heart, all I can do is pray. 
At first this made me feel helpless, but then I heard the words quoted above in a hymn last week, which reminded me that prayerful power comes not from simply going through the motions of talking to God, but in truly believing that he is listening and cares. Prayer pulls us to put our full trust in God to be with those we can't, and to sort out the path before our every step.
If all I can do is pray, then I can do more than I will ever imagine.

Hope you had a wonderful Holiday season and a good start to this new year!

The UK YAGMs in Wales. Couldn't imagine this year without them!

Christmas nights with my favorite movie, The Grinch.