Friday, October 22, 2010

Final Thoughts

Its funny how I'm back in Pittsburg, in the middle of college, and just NOW getting around to writing some final thoughts.

When I got back from Spain, I had about a month in Oxford before I headed back to stateside. I am trying to figure out why i didn't blog about that time and the only explanation i
can come up with is, it felt like i was going back home. I suppose in my mind, Oxford was home and not like nothing exciting happens at home, but I didn't feel the need to blog about it. Or
maybe, the fact that i was leaving my 'home' and going back to my 'home home' was setting in, and i didn't want to actually write it out. (I'm sure this rambling only makes sense to me. My apologizes for anyone who dares to read this)

Many great things happened in that last month though that I regret not mentioning until now.

After everyone was back from their tracks, we had two
weeks of KBC left. The first week was lectures on how to leave well, how to integrate back into the 'old' places yet still be the 'transformed' person you are, and how to keep fresh in God always learning and never settling. The last week was filled with testimonies, emotions, and graduation

Here are a few highlights from the last week as a year group:

The last week was filled with emotions. People were crying almost everyday. I had managed to not cry, until we all started singing under this silly tent. KBC made us to many things i thought were kind of silly, and when we all crowded under this tent, i thought the same thing. But when i heard the choir of voices, voices i'd never hear singing together again, i lost it. It was such a memorable moment.

Everyone had a chance to share a little of what God had done in them through the course of the year. This is Nigel, sharing what great things God had restored in him.

We burnt pieces of paper with things written on them that we wouldn't miss, like walking 45 minutes into college everyday.......
A beautiful sunset caught on the way home from Rachel's house.
Rachel and I at the pub.

Another amazing thing that happened is I managed to graduate!! Here are a few picture of the graduation ceremony. What was so great for me was that my parents were able to make it and the Richards were there for me too. It meant so much to me to have people I cared about make the long journey to come see me graduate. Thank you mom and dad!


Testimonies from the North Africa/Third Placement Group.

Andrew Clark receiving his certificate from Steve Thomas and Simon Shaw

Thomas Hext receiving his certificate.

Georgina Clark sharing her testimony of the year.

Before graduation, KBCTC had a banquet for all the students, staff, and lecturers. It was a fun time to get all dressed up, say thank you to all the staff that had poured into us that year, and enjoy a lovely
evening together.

Enjoy a few pictures:
Year Group 2009-2010
30 Pinnocks
Not all of them, but a few of my favorite girls.
Thomas and myself
Emmaus Group.

Another fantastic thing that happened in that last month, was my parents came to visit! This was a great time for me and them. They were able to meet people I had just shared the last year of my life with and were able to travel and see new sights. I enjoyed having them there, even if my dad's snoring was trying at times! :D

My beautiful mom. :)

At Las Iguanas. This was the first time they met Thomas and got to know a little bit about him. Great moments.

This is the place where Ridley and others were burned at the stake. I told my dad to act like he was burning. This is what he came up with. :) Love him!

mom and dad enjoying a lovely Oxford afternoon in Christ Church Meadows.

My parents visit was precious to me. They were able to make it to the KBC graduation and it meant so much having them there. It was precious to have them meet people I had grown to love, and see places where I had spent my time. They were able to make it to West Church in Baskingstoke, where i had my church placement, and were able to meet the pastor there and people in the church. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did!

God did so much in me in that year that i can't begin to unpack it here. There are things He started in me that will take years to complete. He opened my eyes to who I am in Him. He showed me His unconditional love, not only for me, but for even those who don't want anything to do with Him. He shared with me His eyes for people.

Although I'm back in Pittsburg, I know the Big Adventure isn't over. Its only just begun.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

España es el campeón!!

I figured with the results of the World Cup, now would be a good time to blog about my month in Spain...

After North Africa, I had about five days to recover then fly out to Madrid, Spain to spend a month living with Az and Abby Hobbs. During those five days, I was violently ill, so it wasn't much of a recovering time.

Abby, Me, Holly, Brenda

I made it to Badajoz, Spain (Same place Christian

Bedore is now) on May 25th. The month was spent being part of the Hobbs' family, serving any way I could, having lunch and amazing Spanish coffee with people, practicing Spanish, and getting into the World Cup!
Me and Bethany

This month was what KBC called our "Track Placements". There were some people from the college who went to France, some stayed in North Africa for another 5 weeks, and the others were spread out through the UK. I was the only one to go to Spain. The four to five weeks in different churches was a chance to learn different ways of doing church and to put into practice all that we had learned from the previous two terms.

Living with a family was so refreshing for me. It was wonderful to have two kids running around all the time. I miss that. I miss loud, obnoxious noises.

Daniel wanted to take a "cuddle picture" :D

It was great to see Christian! We had a great couple days together catching up and walking around the city. I left two days after she arrived, but it was wonderful to see someone from home. It's always a bittersweet feeling actually.

After coming back from Spain, we had a presentations night where we heard from everybody else and what they did for the last month. I was beginning to feel like maybe some how I had missed out on something because I didn't come back with story after story of things that I did, but then I realized that I had spent the last month building lasting relationships with people, and that is something I brought back with me and will last alot longer than a story. I did think that while I was in Spain, God would speak to me clearly about whether I would end up in Spain or not after I get my nursing degree, but He didn't give me any direction on that. And I'm okay with that. I know what I'm doing for the next four years (my nursing degree) and He'll direct me where He wants me to go in His time. I'll wait.

Az and Abby were inspiring people and I learned so much about church and being a leader whilst (one of my favorite words :P) livin
g with them. I'm not sure if I'll ever move to Badajoz to live, but I know for sure I'll be back to visit.

I was sad to leave Badajoz, but I was glad to be back home, Oxford home. Being alone, away from my KBC community, was harder than I thought it was going to be.

Here are a few pictures from my time in Spain:

Brenda and Daphne

Badajoz Castle:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bringing the culture back...

Lou might kill me if she knows this is on here. Shhh..don't tell her.
This is a friend of Lou's from Uni. We introduced her to a little African culture.

We were very pleased with ourselves, but it didn't compare to what we had been fed.
It was still alright though.

Our nice set up.

Preparing dinner...

We arrived in Oxford around five or six in the evening. My roommate and I took showers then headed straight to Co-op to buy some food for the next few days.

We were having company that night and we wanted to give them a little taste of Morocco.

We made some veggies and couscous and placed it in a tagine dish that Lou bought.

Also, we bought some fresh mint leaves we we could attempt to make some mint tea in my new tea pot and glass tea cups.

We showed them how to make a ball with the couscous and how to flick it into your mouth. Its quite messy and sometimes unattractive. :)

and continues....

I accidentally posted that before I was finished...
Also, Im sorry if the pictures don't quite line up with the words. Its hard fitting in the pictures in line with the words.

Where was I?

Right, the Prayer Expedition.

The second weekend we were there was what they called the "prayer expedition" and this was the part i was most worried about. Basically, they told us to pack our rucksacks, split into our track teams again,they gave us a map that was about fifty or sixty years old, and told us to pray over the map, see where God was leading us, and don't come back to the center for the next 48 hours.

The choice of the title 'prayer expedition' is quite self-explanatory now. I don't think I've prayed so much in my life before. It was intense, we had to pray for food and shelter for every day and that we'd get to a village before night fall, that some kind-hearted someone would invite us in, feed us, and give us somewhere to sleep.

On our first day, on of the girls in our group was really struggling with her knees. Another girl prayed that we'd encounter a 'good samaritan' to help us on our way with directions and such.
It wasn't too long after that we met Fahtima and her oh so helpful donkey. She offered Rach a ride on her donkey to save her knees for the next few days we'd be walking AND she carried a the rest of our rucksacks between her and her friend's donkey. Not only did she take a load off our backs, she walked ahead of us and showed us the way!
This is Fahtima, Rachel on the donkey, and myself.

The first day included a lot of walking and our estimation of how long it would take us to get to a village was way off. So, it was getting close to night fall, we actually had no idea where we were on the map because Fahtima took us on an unmarked path, and we weren't in sight of a village. I was starting to panic a bit, but held it in. I found out later though, that both the leaders were starting to panic as well, but kept it inside as well. :) It would've been nice to know others were inwardly freaking out! But i suppose it's good we all kept our cool. Finally we were in sight of a building but it was just one solitary building, but we saw white people on the roof! We figured they spoke English, so we stopped to ask them where we were on the map.

They actually were a French couple living in Marrakesh who work as travel agents. This house was some travel home they were promoting, but they wanted to come and check it out and take pictures. They happened to just be staying that ONE night, the same night we needed a place to stay. Ironic?

They helped figure out where we were on the map then invited us in for dinner and a place to sleep! They had actual beds...AND sit down toilets! Hallelujah! They offered us some mint tea which was delicious. So sugary. And Minty. Hence, mint tea. ANYWAY........the view was outstanding. This is us drinking tea after just arriving and the glorious mountains. I know it doesn't look like the sun is about to go down, but after we found out where we were on the map, we realized we would've been walking in the dark before we made it to the closest village.

That evening myself and one of the other girls helped make the tagine. We had a delicious meal with the family and played UNO with them and their nine year old son! How wicked is that? (Um, im not sure why its underlining everything and making it blue? And i don't know how to stop it. Sorry!). We slept in nice beds that night, woke up in the morning, and were offered breakfast. Not any breakfast though, pancakes and French coffee and mint tea! Above and beyond what we expected! We were on our way that morning to another village, with even higher expectations, which was maybe a mistake........

We were on the right track though, a couple hours into our walk we met Abdullah, well, one of the five Abdullahs we met. :P We asked him where the specific village we wanted to go to was just to make sure we were on the right path and he told us he was going to that same village. Wonderful! A guide who knows these mountains like the back of his hand. Just what we need. Not only that, he offered to take a few of our bags as well! Woop woop!
This is myself, rucksack-less, Henry our group leader, and Abdullah following behind the wonderful donkey. Poor thing, but I appreciated it for sure!

It took us a long time to walk to the village, but it was actually a nice leisurely walk. We finally made it though, thanked Abdullah with some money and English tea bags. He kindly took the money and offered our tea bags back to us. Not a English tea drinker I guess. :) We sat at the entrance of the village for a bit, played with bouncy balls with some of the kids, and tried to make it evident that we were staying for the night. A few people past along with a simple 'salam'. We tried to chat to a few of the women, but they didn't seem interested. Finally, a younger looking chap came into the village and seemed to speak a little French. He tried to work with our little French to see why we were there, what we needed, then offered us a place to stay in his home. Well, his parents home, but his room. He welcomed us in, offered us tea, bread, and oil. Very generous. It seemed to us that maybe staying with him was putting him out, but it didn't seem like telling us no was an option for him. He let us rest for a bit then offered to take us around the village.

While on a walk around the village, we met one of the groups from our year group! We were amazing to see people we knew and who spoke the same language! They apparently were staying in the same village, but were staying in the hostile. Once Rashid, the gentleman, realized we knew these people he seemed to offer us the option of staying at the hostile with them. The problem was, we actually didn't have enough money to stay at the hostile AND get a taxi back to Amizmiz the next morning. We told Rashid that we'd rather stay with him if it was still an option and he simply said, 'no problem' without a smile on his face. We said good bye to the group and continued on the walk. This was a beautiful walk whilst the sun was setting. The breeze was nice and the views were astonishing. But, as the sun was setting and darkness started to settle, there seemed to be a new level of spiritual darkness that none of us had noticed before. As we continued walking, scrambling up rocks, getting higher and higher, farther and father away from the village, I started to worry about where on earth Rashid was taking us. We soon came to a stop though, and the view in front of us was so serene.
This is Rashid and Henry looking at this peaceful view.

Although this was a very peaceful spot and probably a spot Rashid comes to often to just think, my spirit felt very unsettled. As we were up there no one spoke a word to each other. Actually, no one really spoke to each other the entire walk. Everybody was consumed with their own thoughts. Later, I learned that Henry had the words 'family break down' and 'father' running through his head while he was up there and was unsure what it was about. Rashid simply sat. And thought. Throughout the walk he seemed to want to get us further and further away from his home. It was a very strange experience. Finally after a few minutes, i felt so unsettled that I had to stand up and and once i did that, we all started walking back. As we re- entered the village, Rashid stopped at every man we past and conversed with them for awhile. After a bit, it became evident that he was trying to get someone else to take us in, but no one else wanted to. The atmosphere in the village after the sun had gone down was an extremely unpleasant one. The darkness seemed so thick. Finally, we were getting closer to Rashid's house and Henry asked one final time if it was still ok if we stayed in his house. He looked at us with ashamed, sorrow-filled eyes and explained that he had absolutely no problem with us in his house, but his father would not allow it.
He seemed so upset with the fact that he couldn't be hospitable towards us, but we tried as hard as we could to reassure him that we understood, that we didn't want to make anything more difficult for him, and that we were so thankful for the hospitality that he had already shown us.

By this time, the sun had already set and we only had one option left. The hostile. We arrived about 9:30 at night, paid to get in, and were welcomed by the other team that was there. We explained the situation, and went off as separate groups. Our group prayed for Rashid and whatever family issues were lurking in his house. We prayed for the spiritual darkness that seemed so evident in that place. We prayed for light to break through. We were unsure as to why God had shown us to this village, but were reminded of a word that had been given earlier. Someone in our group had a word that we were to bring light wherever we went, and that where ever we put our feet that a trail of light would be left. Maybe that was the reason we were supposed to be in that village that night?

We slept in beds again that night after a late night dinner of chicken and potato tagine. The next morning we were up early and ready to walk to another village to get picked up by the taxis that would take us down the mountains and back to Amizmiz. Before leaving we took a group photo at the hostile:
ONe thing to mention is our group, by God's provision, had enough money to stay at the hostile AND to get a taxi the next morning! Which was fantastic. Both groups walked about an hour's distance to the next village, sat on the rocks and awaited the taxis. They came right on time, took us to the center. We had to delouse once we arrived at the center, just to be safe.

It was an amazing, trying, unforgettable experience. God's provision was so above and beyond and it made me realize just how effortless it is for Him to take care of His beloved ones.

The next day was a well needed reflection day. The days following that were market days and henna days. We are off to the airport early morning and on our way back to Oxford. Thank you Lord!

I hope this gave you a good idea of what the two weeks were like. I am in the process of making a scrapbook of the whole experience. And when I get back, I'll be sure to show you it!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Adventure continues:


I was able to share about my North Africa adventure to some of you, but to all of those who didn't get to hear it from me, this is for you:
And, to all those who were in my parent's home group and did get to hear it from me, you should probably read this as well. I wasn't in the right frame of mind to be explaining anything at that point, meaning I was beyond silly tired.

So, yeah. I want to Africa. The end.

KIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiddddding.... calm down....

Right, so, we left Oxford one in the morning on May 5th. Of course I slept on the coach ride to Luton airport and on the four hour plane ride into Marrakesh. Once at the Marrakesh airport, we were split into our five different 'track teams' and were told to figure out how to get from the airport to where we were staying which was about three to four hours away. We were to do this with no maps, no prior knowledge, no nothing. So, my group managed with the little French that we know (I'm including myself, but actually I know ZERO French. Well, does 'wee wee' count? What about 'croissant'? That's the extent of my French.). Sorry, rabbit trail. ANyway, somehow with the little French that my group knew, we managed to get a taxi from Marrakesh airport to the city center. From there we did a little looking around, eating, and walking around the city.

This is a mosque in Marrakesh.

From Marrakesh it was a two to three hour bus ride to the town where we would be staying called Amizmiz. We finally made it to the center (or centre) and were welcomed with showers and tagine. Chicken, potato, and olive tagine with freshly baked bread. Divine. We ate bread every meal of the day! The best part?? We eat with our hands. Thats right. Total communal eating. This should be adopted everywhere.

One of the first days we were there we did some language learning. The language they speak there is some form of Arabic called Tashlahyte. (Spelled something like that). We learned the basics like "How much do potatoes (batas) cost?"
"Whats your name?", "I need change", "Please", and "Where's the bridge?". All the vital questions you'd need to know. We were sent out into the city in groups of threes with a series of questions to ask random vendors and people. One particular vendor got upset because there were too many people asking him how much his potatoes were and not buying any...... ooops.
Some of us found this a challenge. Actually, I think everyone found it a challenge at some level, but some got one really well with the people they met. Mainly because they cheated and used their French! This is Kass getting some directions from some highschool girls who just got out of school.

The whole two weeks was filled with learning about the culture in many various ways and coincidentally, a lot of it revolved around food. :) I didn't mind. Some of you might thought eating out of a communal dish was revolting, but don't worry, we wash our hands! Look! Completely hygienic. :)
The center in Amizmiz is right in front of 'The Sleeping Lady", which is part of the Atlas mountains. The views are so picturesque and breath-taking. The day after language learning, we were getting ready for our Erdouz Expedition. Some of us learned navigation skills, others learned leadership skills, I, along with a few others, learned how to put up a tent and build toilets, and the last group was in charge of the food and cooking for the weekend. We were going to go to Mt. Erdouz, camp at the base, 12 of us were going to climb to the summit which was about 3600 ft above sea level I think, then we were going to return. Hopefully. :) Some of the group left around 11 in the afternoon to walk to base camp which took them until 6 or 7 at night. Others drove up on Land Rovers to get there before the walking team so we could set up camp before night fall and have dinner on its way. It WAS supposed to happen that way, but it didnt happen that way. I was part of the Land Rover team and we had to get out about three or four times on the way up the mountain to re-build a road, or build a bridge with rocks, all so the land rover carrying all the gear could get across. It took us as long as it took the walking team to get up to base camp. Outrageous.

We were finally there though and we put up tents at once.We didnt' manage to get them up before dark so that was an adventure all in itself.
The next morning everyone was up and ready by four or five, I can't remember, but it was some silly o'clock time. The twelve people in the summit team and other people who were going to various other altitudes for various other reasons were off by six in the morning. Nobody could stay at base camp all day so every one rotated out at least once. There was a communications team at Point B located roughly 2600 ft. above sea level and then there was a Point C that was where some people went to cook sandwiches for the summit team when they came down from the summit. Point C was higher than Point B, somewhere around 3000 or 3200 ft above sea level I think.
Here is our summit team! This wasn't the summit but it could have been it was so high!!
We lost them after this point.
THe days were hot and the nights were cold. It was a physically intense time of the trip, but being so close to the majestic mountains, seeing the tremendous stars (Ellen, you would have loved it), and smelling the crisp clean air which occasionally smelled like sheep and goats as they herded past was so amazing and in all of it I felt so incredibly close to God.

Since I didn't walk to Mt. Erdouz or climb to the summit of it, it was only fair that I be part of the team that walked back to Amizmiz after this long, tiring weekend. So, we left again at an ungodly hour and the rest of the team stayed to pack up the tents and leave when ready. Again, I thought I was going to hate it, because its a ridiculously long walk, but above that it was going to be scorching, but I surprised myself and really enjoyed it! And again, tremendous time praying and walking and being wrapped in God's creative and gorgeous creation.
Here are a few pictures from the walk:

It was an amazing time. Once we arrived back at the center. We were again welcomed with food and showers or some showers and then food. I could wait for showers. :)
The next few days were pretty low key including a trip to the market. I bought shoes. Of course. And a trip to the olive grove for some reflection time. The days following that were community project days. We split into groups and helped with different things around the town. Some of us went to the highschool and did a garden project there, painting a murel on the wall and planting flowers and trees around the garden. Others of us went down and helped dig a trench and build a wall, and others of us basically just kept the kids distracted with bubbles and balls and ballons so they wouldn't try to help with the pickaxes and shovels. I was part of the trench-digging team and rock re-locating team. I really enjoyed it and felt very tough and manly afterward. :)

The kids are absolutely darling. Their smiles are so infectious. The simple things in life make them smile, like tickling Bex:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Easter Break

The night before Easter break, we celebrated the Passover as a college with a Passover meal.
Here are a few pictures:
We walked through the doorposts painted with blood.
These are the goofballs I had a table with. :)
OH! One funny tradition for the Passover is when you take a drink you have to lean to the left. I'm sure there was some reasoning behind the madness, but I couldn't tell you! It was just a fun thing to do!
The Passover food was good too! I was a bit worried, but it was all very tasty, aside from the horseradish you have to eat before the main course. Also, before the meal you do this thing of dipping parsley into salt water and eating the bitter herbs as a reminder of our sin or something like that. I thought it was going to be disgusting, but I really liked it and ended up eating all the parsley at our table!

After the meal and cleanup, it was breaaaaaaaaaak time!!! WOOOP WOOP! Well, so I thought.
There was a break, but we also had an assignment to do during. A five thousand word assignment precisely. Which I left until the very end.............


The first weekend of break Rach and I went to Harlesden.
I'm not sure if I have said anything about the church there, but I'll just say it again. They are a group of about thirty 21-30 year olds who live in about six houses throughout the rough, rundown town of Harlesden, located right outside of London. I met a few of them at the ELC and through them study breaking at KBC. I wanted to visit their house and see how they live life and how the reach out into the community. It was an amazing blessing being there and being a part of an outreach they did to liven up the town for Easter Morning. This project was called "Flower Power" and involved us guerrilla gardening at 1 A.M. in the morning.

My group at 630 daffodils to distribute around the town. We focused on one area specifically known to the locals there as the 'valley of death'. It is a long alley way you have to go through to get to and from the tube station. We took bunches of three daffodils and tied them to the gates with cable ties every three feet or so. The transformation was amazing. I didn't expect it to make that much of a difference, but it's massive what just a few flowers can do!

If you wanna look, there are pictures on my facebook.

Since we were just a hop, skip, and a jump away from London, we did some touristy stuff. We went to the zoo one day which was a blast. The next day we went on a proper walking tourist day. We spent all day walking from The Houses of Parliament, down the South Bank, through the Tate Modern, and back again. We went up the London Eye and saw it all from above.

(So, this is where I left off for a couple days because I haven't had time to sit down and write stuff. I still really don't have time, seeing as I'm leaving the country in a few short hours, but I don't wanna leave you all with nothing for the next two weeks!)

So, after the London weekend, Rach and I came back to Oxford. We went up to Birmingham for a day, but the rest of the break for me was spent doing touristy stuff in the Ox and finishing up an assignment.

Our first week back was full of Mission Prep. The year group is headed to North Africa for two weeks. We will be doing an Erdouz expedition, the Erdouz mountain that is! We all have giant rucksacks and sleeping bags and re-hydration sachets and most importantly, immodium! Instant, melt-in-mouth- Immodium! :D

We are five different groups for this trip and the first group went last night. Everyone else is leaving today. The team I'm a part of had breakfast together and prayed about the trip and heard God for each other and what He wants to do in each of us through out this trip. Apparently in the years past, this trip has always been life changing, so we all have pretty high expectations about this trip.

We will also be doing some community projects and some prayer expeditions. I wish I had more details on both of those, but that's all we were told. So, who knows! I'll let you know what it means when I figure it out!!

We get back on the 19th, and on the 25th I'm on a flight to Madrid! Presuming I make my flight that is!!
My last term here at KBC will be spent in Badajoz with Az and Abby Hobbs and their church there. I am really thrilled about this experience!
The aim of the third term placement is to help put theology into action. So, everything we learned about over the past two terms will be put into action when we are actually out and among different churches and the society and learning to do what we've been taught.

THe church in Badajoz is about thirty people who meet in each other's homes. I have a rough idea of some things I'll be doing which include: 1) Leading a few of their meetings as a church 2) teaching kids English 3) Helping put on a holiday for the kids when they get out of school in June 4) learn Spanish more fluently! (Please pray for me on this one!!)
Also, if there is an orphanage around or something of the sort, I'd like to see if I could volunteer my time for the month that I'll be there.
SO yes, I arrive in Badajoz on the 25th of May and I leave the 25th of June. That gives me a month to soak up and learn as much as I can about house church and the community life they live there!

Also, for the last five days I'm there, so will Christian Bedore! I am absolutely thrilled about this! :) It will be fantastic to see her and get to hang out with her and speak in Spanish with her!

So, I get back here on the 25th of June and reconvene with the rest of the college on the 28th. Everyone else would have spent the last month on various third term tracks as well. Some of the people are staying in North Africa, others are going around France, some are staying in Oxford, and a few are going to Manchester. I'm really excited to hear all the stories of what God has done when we all get back!

I'm sure there is more stuff to say, but as of right now, everything that I need to take to North Africa is piled on my bed so I need to get to work packing it and weighing it and all that jazz!

Again, apologies for the late late late late posts...

Hopefully its nice to hear a little snippet from my life...

I miss you all!

Pray for me whenever you think of it....

Talk to you in two weeks!!

I'm BaAAAAaaaaaaaack!!

That's right, I'm back to bloggity blogging.. Its going to take a few blogs to catch you all up.. but this blog is dedicated to apologizing for my laziness and lack of blogging!!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

I brought in Palm Sunday with my wonderful church placement crew.
Saturday night we drove over to Basingstoke to have a sleep over with Earl and Rebecca, the pastors of our church.
We all went to the Carvery. Every Sunday morning, we drive passed the Carvery, our bellies start rumbling, and out mouths start drooling, but on this Saturday night, we pulled into the car park and we all knew what was coming.
£3.50= all you can eat gammon, roasted turkey, roast beef, peas (don't worry, i left plenty for the people behind me), corn, boiled potatoes, and roasted potatoes.
It was divine.
Earl and Rebecca live with a German couple and another girl named Lizzy. It was all of us out at the Carvery and it was a great night of great food and great conversation.
We headed back to their house and played some games. We played about five different games! After the games we watched Michael Mcintyre, a real thigh-slapping English comedian.
We didn't get to bed until about 3:00 A.M. and that was the same night the clocks were supposed to spring forward!
The next morning I heard Earl got a little talking to from his wife about keeping us poor tired students up so late. :)

Church on Palm Sunday was amazing though.
We walked into the building and there were two tables in the very front of the church with a gigantic cross laid across and bread and wine surrounding it for communion.

We worshiped the entire morning unable to ignore the cross.
It was a tender, emotional, heavy morning.

Did you know that Charles Wesley wrote over 9,000 poems and 6,500 of those became hymns?
But, he said he would have given up all of those to have written this one:

When I survey the wondrous cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

We love You for the cross, Lord.

There was such an intense presence when we sang this hymn together, all standing at the foot of the cross.

We read the story of the Last Supper and all gathered around the table with the cross and shared the bread together. Talk about impact.

Also, during worship Rebecca read the story of the "Three Trees". If you haven't read it, you should. It's a kids book, it won't take you long.

After communion,we prayed then settled in our seats to hear from what God had put on Earl's heart.

He suggested there was a fourth tree. The one that we should have been on. The one that was on either side of Jesus as he was pouring out His blood for us.

The cross that was assembled for criminals.

One thing that Earl said that stuck with me was, "What Christ did for us should never cease to remind us of the tree we didn't deserve, but also remind us of the tree we did deserve."

You know how sometimes you can read something in your Bible and it doesn't mean much to you that day, but than other times you read it and its like hammering you in the face?

Well, we read 1 Corinthians 1:18 and it made so much sense to me today.

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being redeemed, it is the power of God.

What does redemption mean to you? (I'd actually really love to hear your comments, so comment!)

Earl ended with saying that the cross is a sign of Jesus' victory and the Enemy's defeat, and the Enemy knows that. He is doing everything he can to soften the power of the cross and make it seem dull and yesterday's news.

Before we left, we surrounded the cross one more time and prayed for persecuted Christians we knew all around the world.

I'd like to leave you with the same challenge.

Lets pray for the people we know or don't know, our brothers and sisters all around the world who are toiling endlessly for the spreading of the power of the Cross. The Enemy is trying, but he won't prevail.

Here are a few specifics:

North Africa-Extremely Islamic area. Christians who have been toiling for 20+ years are being expelled from the country.

North Korea-Over 100,000 people, including many Christians, are believed to be imprisoned in North Korea’s barbaric death camps. The brutal dictatorship of Kim Jong Il suppresses all religious activities, and imposes a personality cult based around the ‘Great Leader’.

The places could go on for ever, but these are the top two on my heart, but I don't want to limit what you want to pray about, so I'll put the top ten persecuting countries: Burma, China, Egypt, Iran, Laos, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Vietnam.

Please, pray.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You know you're busy when.....

You can plan the next week and a half down to the last minute....
....AND that doesn't include sleep.

Things to do on my list before the term ends:
  1. Write a 1800 word essay about "What is the Gospel? And how should it be presented?"
  2. Make 150+ cookies for the Tumbling Bay residents
  3. Clean the KBCTC building
  4. Write a 800 word essay on the Spiritual discipline of Praying and what I have learned through the Lent process.
  5. Read.
  6. When I'm done with that, Read.
  7. Read some more.
  8. Have Emmaus Group
  9. Have bio Group.
  10. Go to London (for an EMERY CONCERT!) This one I'm pretty stoked about.
OK OK.. I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but there is more I didn't write.
But everything is really time consuming!!
And there are so many things to be done...............

BUT, Life is Good. Hard Good.

Just thought I'd write a little now, so if I don't write much until Easter break, you know why.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Information Overload...

This picture basically sums up how I have been feeling as of late.
No need for explanation.
This is tea by the way. Not coffee.

I guess I'll explain it further.....

This week and last week, well, ever since I did the last proper blog post, I have been feeling like this cup.
Can't possibly absorb anymore.
Completely full.

Now, this isn't the "Oh-God-has-blessed-me-abundantly-and-my-cup-overfloweths" kind of overflowing cup, but more of the "God-is-dealing-with-so-much-at-one-time-and-i-can't-possibly-process-anymore" kind of overflowing.
Apologies for all the dashes.
They help me think.

Don't get me wrong, God has abundantly blessed me. I'm living my dream for one example. I'm in this amazing city of Oxford, but who knew that living 'your dream' was so difficult?

Transformation hurts.
Birth of new vision hurts.
Good hurts.

I'll explain that last bit. In the college here, we all know what we mean when we say 'i'm good'. What we mean is not the "fluffy-everything-is-just-fine-and-dandy good" but more the "stretching-you-feel-like-you-might-snap-any-minute good".
(There are those dang dashes again!)

That is the good that hurts.
That is the good I'm living in.
That is the good I'm feeling overwhelmed by.

BUT, I choose to believe that although I'm being bombarded with information and knowledge and envisioning and re-igniting and empowering,
and I feel like I can't absorb all that I need to,
and I can't process all that is happening,
God will finish the work inside of me.

And in the years to come, I will still be drawing on stuff that I have learned in the few precious months I'm here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Instant Messages

Slacking.. I know. And this blog is going to be about nothing much. But hey, its an update!

I just wanted to say, I LOVE technology!

Any messages I send my mom on facebook or through gmail go directly to her phone. Which is perfect! Because anytime I really need her encouragement, her whereabouts, or her recipes, I can send her a quick message, and I know wherever she is, whether shes hard at work in her cute office, or sun bathing on the beach without me, she can reply and I'll receive it within a few minutes.

This wonderful "fast-feedback" happened again the other day with another good friend of mine. It helps when I'm being dramatic and worrying about stuff i don't need to be, and someone is there to calm you down and get you back on the right track, even through instant facebook messages.

Immediate results.

Just what I need when I feel completely removed from the ones I love.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canada vs USA

I have never been so into men's hockey in my entire life!

I came home from church placement today to see my house decked with Canadian flags, Steven
and Loralie and three other Canadians wearing Canadian attire, and even some red and white desserts. All ready to watch Canada beat USA.........

I had to represent.

So I watched the intense game projected on the wall with about eighteen others filling my lounge.

Intense is an understatement.

At one point the BBC internet we were watching the game from kept freezing up so we could only hear what was happening through the annoying commentators. So, when USA scored in the last 34 seconds of the game I had to ask someone if that really happened and when they said yes, I jumped and screeched and clapped.

I don't even like hockey.

Don't ask what came over me. The feeling didn't last long though....

As most of you probably know, USA lost.

It was good times though :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wisdom from Josie...

"Just take life as it comes. And enjoy it!"

Josie. Sweet sweet Josie.
Josie is one of the old ladies at Tumbling Bay that we visit on Thursdays. As we chatted today, the above quote was what she told me to do with my life. Simple, yet profound wisdom.
Don't worry about tomorrow.
Enjoy today.
My new life motto.
Josie is 95. Born in 1915. Not many people get to say that. I love listening to her, watching her laugh, even get a little frustrated because she can't seem to remember things as well as she used to.
Tumbling Bay is becoming a real joy for me, something I look forward to.
We only have a few precious Thursdays left.
BUT! I'm not worrying about tomorrow.
I'm enjoying today.

My housemates aren't enjoying today so much. Steven, Loralie, Dalia, AND Lydia have all been sick this past week. Off and on. With vomiting and all that jazz.
Not good.
Not good at all.
Lou and I have been blessed enough to have not caught anything yet, and we're hoping and praying it stays that way!

Lent has been going alright. I don't think I've explained what I'm giving up/taking up for lent yet, so i suppose I will do that now.
There are a few things I'm doing or not doing everyday. 1) Going through a devotional book called "A Guide to Prayer for all God's People".
2) Praying creatively. Type a prayer. Write a prayer. Pray scriptures. Pray while walking. Pray not sitting down. Pray in tongues. Pray. Pray. Pray.
3) Only allow myself 10-15, which really means 15, minutes of Facebook a day.
These are all habits I want to instill in myself during this time of Lent.
I'm doing a few other things, but they aren't everyday, but only once a week. Things like fasting or reading a book.
Anyway, its been good. We do communion during every chapel and last week we did it a little differently. Usually everyone will just take a small pinch of bread and a little sip of wine and be done, but last week, in the spirit of starting lent, Jem said he didn't want to see any of the bread left over. So some of us had to go back for more bread. Basically Jem was trying to portray that we shouldn't be content with little bit of Jesus, but when things get hard, when we're trying to be spiritually disciplined, when life isn't how we thought it should be, we should keep going back to Jesus. Asking for more. Taking more. Not being content. That really stuck with me and has been really good for me during this week when I feel like I haven't done very well with being disciplined about the lent stuff. But I'm not going to give up. I'm going to keep going back for more.

I haven't really talked about the ELC either have I? Wow! Sorry again for how lame and detail-less my blogs have been lately!

The ELC was really good. The best part of it all though was seeing familiar faces! I saw and chatted with Pat and Kristen Forbes, Don, Cheri, and Stephanie White, Ben Pawlitschek, Dave and Kris Richards, Buck and Jenny Hudson, Hakan and Gunilla, and quite a few of the Danes from the house in Denmark. It was so good to catch up with people.
Jenny and I talked about some dates for me to come visit Denmark. It should work out sometime in early April if I can find some cheap tickets! I met Abby Hobbs, who is married to Az, and they lead a small Salt and Light church in Spain. Abby, myself, and Simon, principal of the college, met together and talked about details for the move in May. Oh yeah.. I guess i should mention to anyone who doesn't know, that I'll be moving to Spain in May after I get back from North Africa. I'll be in Spain, helping Az and Abby for about 5 to 6 weeks. We talked about me doing things like teaching kids english, working with Abby to do a kid's "Holiday week" when they get out of school in June, talking at "church", things like that.
As I heard Abby talk about what kind of church they have and how they meet in houses and not in a building and other things she was explaining, I grew more and more excited. I've been really asking myself lately "what is the church?", and I've been really excited to be given different opportunities like Denmark, North Africa, and Spain to catch different glimpses of church and see different ways its working and outreaching into the community.
I bought a book titled "The Passionate Church" and I'm stoked to read it, but its put aside until I can really focus on it and no other books. I'm reading a few others at the moment. One is titled "Irresistable Revolution: living as an ordinary radical". That book makes me want to do some radical things! Hence the title. It makes me want to do things like sell everything and live on the streets with the poor, walking in their shoes, hearing their stories, letting them show me Jesus. But, realistically, it just makes me want to be a REAL christian. To not be confined in the four walls of a church but to go where Jesus would've have gone and to talk to the types of people Jesus would have engaged with.

PS ( I just took a 2+ hour break from whatever I wrote before. I just skyped with Stephanie for the first time since I've been here. Man is it good to hear her voice.)
Speaking of Stephanie, Pat and I had a chance to have some tea together during the weekend. It was lovely. He had a picture about me being dough used for bread or a pie crust. He said he knows that I'm being stretched a lot and that sometimes it feels like I might break any moment, but he told me to be encouraged, because when that dough is rolled out flat, it can be used to cover a lot. He told me also that he was "proud of me" and that even if he doesn't talk to me much, him and Theresa are thinking of me and praying for me. All in all, it was a wonderful, fatherly encouragement and just what I needed at the moment.

I am being stretched. Kneaded. Rolled flat.
I'm not sure how to go into it in detail, but God is just working on things in almost every area of my life.

I can share one thing specifically though.
I've noticed I'm quick to say "No" to God using me prophetically. Not 'no' as in I have a word or a picture and I'm just not going to say anything, but 'no' as in God just doesn't use me like that because I don't see pictures or get words. Well, once I realized how ridiculous that was and how I don't get to choose how God uses me, but my job is to remain open and moldable, He started using me in ways I never thought He would.
Don't get me wrong. I'm no Scott Squires or Buck Hudson or Michael Newman. I'm just me.
Me being open to God.
God using that openness.
God speaking through that openness.
The day Ellen arrived, a couple students and myself had an Emmaus meeting. We did some praying for each other. Then Steven proposed that we should pray for Ellen and get words or pictures for her. Immediately I ruled myself out of that second group. I can pray. I can't get words. Well, the second I made up my mind, a picture came into my head. I instantly smiled and told God I thought He was a funny guy. I did wrestle in my head for a few minutes about whether or not to share it, but then I decided that its Ellen and she would be a good guinea pig for me. So I shared it. There were no tears and it wasn't some massive, problem-solving, revelation, but it was from God and I think it encouraged her. There have been a few times since then where God's popped stuff into my head. And can I just say, I love it. It doesn't come followed by thunder and lightening. Or a loud orchestra playing in the back ground, but instead, its just sort of plopped into my head. Ha. I love how it works.

Remain open to God and He will use you.

Tomorrow is a day off for me! Some students have to go in, but not me! We are doing these seminar type things and tomorrow's is on "Capitalism". We had to choose two seminars to attend out of the four. I chose the "Poor and Marginalized" and "Politics". The last choice was "Environment". We have to write an essay for one group, but read for four hours on the topic of the second one your attending. Fortunately I'm writing on the poor and marginalized, a subject I'm quite interested in, but unfortunately, that means I have to read for four hours on the subject of Christians and Politics, a subject I could care less about.
See? Stretching...........

If you're wondering why I haven't put up any pictures of my recent voyages lately, its because MY CAMERA IS BROKEN!!
My camera has been a little demonic since I came here, but now its broken broken.
But! I did have it since 8th grade, so it had a nice run.
My birthday is in April. (*Wink Wink*)

I think I'm running out of exciting, new things to say.

I'm going to go do some reading.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This is for Michelle

Stop all the withdrawals! :P ha ha... I wish I had something awesome-ing-ly exciting to tell you..
but alas..
there isn't anything.

On a sad note though, Ellen left this morning. We both woke up at 5:30, got ready in half an hour, and rushed to the bus stop to catch the bus at 6:26 precisely. We caught the 4C and we headed into town to walk to Gloucester Green Square to buy Ellen's bus ticket from Oxford to Heathrow.
She left at 7 A.M. I stayed around for a couple minutes as she sat on the bus, then waved one final time and walked around the corner.

Classes don't start until 9 A.M. and town is only a 15-minute walk from the KBCTC center, so there was no way I was going to go all the way back home to then have to walk 45 minutes back for classes. So I stayed in town. I walked around an open market for a few minutes, enjoyed watching the town wake up for the morning, and enjoyed a nice espresso frap to wake myself up for the morning. Sat around Starbucks for awhile, then did a little window shopping.

Started my walk to college at about half eight....

Thats really it so far. My life is pretty simple, yet so complicated. God is really working some things inside of me. Some foundational things..
All the tough, tough, tough, yet, good, good, good, things.
I feel like I'm just rambling now.
I love you Michelle and I wanted to write a blog for you letting you know what i was up to, no matter how mundane it was. :D

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I don't think I expected the reaction I had to come out of me. The moment I saw Ellen, a shrill, loud, excited scream proceeded from my mouth. Followed shortly after, was me running towards her, with iced white mocha in hand, and flinging myself around her.
It was Ellen!
It was familiar!
It was home...

Having Ellen here is fantastic! Life has been hectic lately, as you could probably presume by my lack of bloggage. But, there's nothing like a little Ellen to get you recharged and ready to go again.

Starting tomorrow is ELC, European Leaders Conference. I'm very excited about all that God is going to do. Not so excited that my weekend is probably going to be busier than this entire week, but I can easily get over that. :)

Oh! And Lent starts today. Yes, I, along with the rest of the college, am participating in Lent. 40 days baby! God is going to really start working some stuff in me, more than He already has.

Apologies for the short and sweet blog, but I'm gonna go catch some shut eye.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hug me please....

I know my last few blog posts have been impersonal, just giving little snip-its into what I've been doing.
This one is going to be a bit different.
I'm not going to write much. The video below speaks clearly about how I've been feeling towards God and what He has been doing in me lately.

Apologies if you don't enjoy or understand that kind of poetry reading, but I thoroughly enjoy it and it really speaks to me.

Today I spent all day in college. Literally, all day. I arrived at quarter to nine and arrived back home at a quarter to ten.
Lectures are centered around Psalms this week and today focused on the practical aspect of poetry and imagery and parallelism and symbolism. (and there were a lot of "ands" in that last sentence).

MEETINGS! MEETINGS! MEETINGS! This is the theme of my life at the moment.

After lectures, I had a lunch meeting with my church placement group talking about what we wanted to do for Sunday. WE have a span of about fifteen minutes before worship where we will be getting the people together and focused on God. Sounds pretty easy to me, but we had a discussion about that.

Then another meeting! Half one was our applied practice part of the week. This time we read the whole of the Gospel Mark out loud in preparation for Lent.

We finished around three and I was running late for another meeting. This one was more to do with how I was doing academically and if I needed any help with assignments and what not. Of course that one ran late and I was running late for my next consecutive meeting...

This one was DRAMA REHEARSAL. On Friday, the whole year group has to present a play of the entire Old Testament. I am playing the part of Bathsheba, but with a different twist. We are doing it as a monologue from Bathsheba's perspective and then Bathsheba and David are going to sing a duet, which is actually David's Psalm of Repentance. Should be pretty good, but we just have a lot to do before Friday!

Before my NEXT meeting at half seven, my communal assignment group worked on props for the play. We made some pizzas in the KBC kitchen, snacked on some flapjacks, and made some cardboard swords. We chatted about things God was doing in us, listened to some good music, and laughed together. Fun times.

Seven thirty came unfortunately. That sounds absolutely horrid of me to say, but if i were to speak honestly, at this moment, I was shot. This was another lecture, but one about "Art and Imagery". We had to be creative at one point and that was really difficult for me. I'm not the "artsy, creative" type person. I prefer to stick with words and not so much images.. We did get cake and tea after wards though!

Grace! Grace for tomorrow. Grace for this week. Grace for myself. Grace for others.
This is my prayer.