Sometimes God has a funny was of taking us by surprise. We may walk into some situations with certain expectations and enthusiasm, and we end up walking out with a different excitement than we had anticipated; yet still somehow meeting our expectations.
This month is crazy busy, with students returning and plenty of work to do at JMC...and I am so pumped! I have such a good feeling about this year, especially for the next few weeks--to meet new students and young professionals moving to the area, and make solid connections. My diary (British for a planner/schedule book) is filled with events at the university and JMC to welcome people to Newcastle and put myself in the right place at the right time to make these connections....but it seems that each day I come out with stronger and unexpected encounters from times and places outside the ones I have penciled in.
It took three brilliant examples for me to finally see the pattern...
1- I was working a stall at one of the welcome fairs last week, thinking that I would meet students that are really looking for that home away from home, and we (the university chaplaincy team) would be there to help. Instead, God gave me a taste of home myself! One of the students I greeted, of hundreds at the fair, had an American accent, so naturally I got all "USA proud" (as I do when I meet another American...it's a rare occurrence here), and asked him where he was from. When he said Colorado, I got even more geeky-excited, because I have never met another Colorado native in the UK, let alone Newcastle of all places. And to make this world even smaller, and make the encounter a bit more unbelievable, he said he was from the Vail Valley! Completely unexpectedly, I met probably the only other valley kid to have ever lived in Newcastle. We knew each others siblings and were flabbergasted at the coincidence because, for those of you who don't know, Vail is a very small and tight community. But apparently the world can be even smaller :)
2- I was booked in to help with the international student meet and greet last week. So when I arrived at the Student Union and saw a table with another Chaplin helping hand out coffees, I walked over and started pouring hot drinks and chatting with the students who turned up. I had quite a few good conversations and welcomed students from all over the world. There were two students who I had a great conversation with and connected them to some helpful information for their first few weeks. It was a great afternoon and they were very sweet and thankful for the event. When we were cleaning up, I asked one of the student volunteers if she was going to be at the next week's meet and greet. She laughed and told me, "the meet and greet is going on in that room right now, this was the student life coffee lounge." I had been in the wrong room! Honestly I felt very silly, but it turned out that again my expectations were twisted, and although I was at the wrong event, I made those solid connections (and I don't think Student Life minded me helping out either haha).
3- And to really drive the message home: we had a few newbies at JMC's Sunday service this weekend, which was great! But, as I was apart of the worship band that morning, I wasn't able to welcome and meet them all until after the service. So when we found that one girl (who had come to the service on her own) left early, I was bummed that I didn't get the chance to talk with her or get her name.
The next day, I was working another stall at the Fresher's fair. It was buzzing with hundreds of students and over 50 stalls! So as I was leaving when my shift was done, you can imagine I was trying to sift through tight crowds to get to the exit. And randomly, through the mass of students, I bumped into that very girl from Sunday! I said hello and she explained that she's sorry she had to leave early, but she really enjoyed the service. We agreed how lucky our chance run in was and made a plan to have coffee later this week :) again God surprised me and twisted my expectations.
I don't know how, and I fully give that up to God, but I know this year is gonna be a good year :)
Cheers for Now!
Some people in the states asked me what English Muffins are called here...well there you have it! They are simply called "muffins."