Thursday, December 18, 2014

Onesies and Doughnuts

Christmas set up at JMC!

   Christmas Music was playing, our Secret Santa gifts had been exchanged and opened, and the bill was sorted with yet another lecture on why I don't need to Tip 20% here in Britain (don't think I will ever get used to that). I sat around a table with 9 students who were laughing and sharing stories from the past week; discussing faith, tough questions, and Christmas traditions; and all I could do was smile. This bunch has grown, not only in number, but also in maturity, faith and friendship.

Over the past year and a bit, a big focus for me here at Jesmond Methodist Church, has been University students. And since then, I have come to see them take on Uni life and settle in as an integral part of the JMC family. As new students found their way through our doors this year and, as I mentioned, around the table at the student Christmas dinner, I remembered a reflection I wrote just before the number of students at JMC grew to require a booking deposit for a dinner reservation!
Christmas set up at JMC!

So in the spirit of my month of sharing, 
here is the 2nd post (my own blog version of TBT) 
from October this year...

     Tonight I saw my students come together in such an inspiring way. Each bringing their joys and struggles of the past week to share in community and laughter; through tears and prayer and, of course, over doughnuts!

It is a random mix of characters, all coming to JMC separately, but have joined together and slowly become a tight support group for one another. They affectionately call this group, "Onesies and Doughnuts," and they often refer to me as "the mom", or "the crazy church lady", and of recent..."tea slave." So, in line with this new title, I want to introduce them to you here by way of their respective hot drink order...

Coffee. 2 sugars. Milk.
   He is quiet and kind. Ready to give his time for others, with a patience and willingness that speaks volumes in itself. He is the great, listening ear of the group and forever, graciously going along with some cooky ideas: such as hiding from Elie whenever she leaves the room (or at least I tell myself that he simply obliges to these plans, when in reality, he could actually be the silent yet devious mastermind behind all the shenanigans...I may never know).

Tea. 5 sugars (yes 5). No milk.
   Our chatterbox, always sharing stories and jokes to bring smiles to others faces; he is consistently the first to offer condolence, support, and advice when needed. And the verdict is still not out on whether or not he knows that the word "no" exists, as his diary (remember this means schedule/time-table) is permanently filled, yet he is the first to offer help to run each new event: a true servant's heart.

Tea. 2 sugars. Milk.
   She is a passionate, kind, and strong young woman, who brings the perfect dose of reality to the group, followed immediately by some sass and a good cuddle (hug). She has an amazing heart to see justice and possibility for change around her; and you just wait, one day soon she will accomplish far more than she knows is even possible.

Coffee. 1 sugar. Milk.
   Wise beyond her years, she has a gentle kindness and is a sure bet for a good, meaningful conversation. She is a natural leader, while also happy to watch others succeed; and this humility makes it a joy to watch her shine, which is far from a rare occurrence.

Tea. 3 sugars (or 2 teaspoons). Milk.
   She is our "life adventurer." Smiling and laughing all the way, she takes life with both hands and runs with it! She is well in tune with how her faith can grow and strengthen, and will not apologize for who she is (not only because she is a gem, but because she knows there is not enough time in our lives to worry about what anyone but God thinks of us).

It has been such a pleasure and joy to watch these students group together into a wonderful community over the past 14 months. From strangers to family in Christ huddled together in prayer.

Tonight I looked over them, clinging to one another, some tears rolling down cheeks, hands in hands, heads on shoulders, and smiles emerging from under the tears as we prayed.

One of them asked what they were gonna do without each other after uni, but I have no fear that these five individuals will go on to do great things, make wonderful friends, find another strong community, and forever remember the night at Jesmond Methodist Church when they held, not only each others' hands and shoulders, but each others' burdens and joys in prayer.

You got one proud mamma bear right here!

Cheers - Elie

We had an Advent Evening Celebration at JMC earlier in December. It was a great night of food, fun, and fellowship!

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