Monday, 24 October 2005

Back in Fayetteville after two weeks of travel...nice. I spent a 4 days in New York City last week upon my arrival back to the States. I was glad I had that time to be home in the U.S. but not actually "home" and back to the real world. Stacy is a fabulous host, and I love walking the city with her, as well as getting a glimpse into the world of FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) where she is in school. I got to spend a couple days in Little Rock with the fam which was refreshing and fun. My niece, Ella, is preciousness personified, and I got a few birthday treats while I was home, as well.
So, back to teaching kiddos how to throw and catch, among other skills, while I continue on my quest to raise money to move "across the pond". I feel like ASL is ready for YL to be there. The parents I spoke to are excited and welcoming. The kids we hung out with are eager. It seems to be an open door into ministry there. I feel as though the Lord is preparing the way. I am excited, scared, and excited...pretty much how I have felt this whole time I have been moving in the direction of YL international staff.
Tate asked me before I left how I was feeling...
My reponse..."I still see no red flags waving. The fears/anxiousness I have are normal new circumstance, fear of the unknown feelings, not uneasiness about calling. So, I feel like I am coming...I want to be here."
He was thrilled to hear that response. I realised several times while I was there that I was a bit quiet. I am most definitely an internal processor, and I am certain at times it was hard for both B&T to read my face or actions. I was overwhelmed and trying to take in all of my surroundings. I have a tendency to be withdrawn in new settings. I need to understand norms and dynamic to know how to interact. It was really fun to hear that they are excited about me!
So, the next step? (Someone asked me this quesition today.) Pray for the Lord's provision. I would like to be there by February, ideally. I have a long way to go to reach my financial goal/requirement, but God is big and always faithful.
I am sure I will think of more stories and have more thoughts on a regular basis. Thanks for your interest and prayers! : )

Hi all! Ok, here are the long-awaited pics. A few shots of me in some famous places you will recognise...the ASL volleyball game I got to see...a typical game (one of many in the evening of Donut Olympics) at a Wyldlife (YL for middle schoolers) club...oh, and that name tag I mentioned getting when I went to ASL.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

Hi. A tidbit about the Americans I met in London. As much as they are worldwide savy, they are still quite American. Allow me to unpack that statement a bit.
The family that Liz lives with, the Davis'...Ernie, the dad, has such a strong Alabama accent, you would think he had just moved overseas the day before. Nope. They have lived abroad 20 plus years. He can speak Chinese fluently among other languages. I found that out later, or I would most definitely asked him to say something in Chinese with his drawl. His wife, Joyce, is from Florida and is the most hospitable lady ever. Her accent has a definite twang.
Ernie sat in his recliner watching the baseball on NASN (North American Sports Network) on tv, as well as, keeping track of Nascar on his computer. So as different as things are from the States, you retain who you Susan, the mom we had Starbucks with and went to ASL with, told us that there is a very large American population around the city.

So...Friday, Tate and I went into the city to do some sightseeing and to meet up with some kids who go to ASL. Brooke stayed behind due to some under the weather feelings. (Julie, a mom, set this meet up for us with her son and some other kids.) Fresh off the train, we left Waterloo station and entered the city. Now begins our touristy portion of our time. Did you know The London Eye looks like a huge ferris wheel? I didn't. I thought it was a solo venue...meaning only one group could go up at a time. This is not the case. We did not go in it, but I will post a picture of it. (It is here that I will interject that pictures will most likely not be posted until Friday due to limited resources until I get back into Little Rock. I am truly apologetic about lack of visuals. Thank you for your patience.) And on we go, in no particular order...past Big Ben, many red telepone booths, Trafalgar Square, Harrod's, Covent Garden, Wagamama's...
We rode the tube, rode a double decker bus, took a taxi...ran the gammet really on London transportation options. But, hey, with an all day travel pass having been purchased, why not maximize it, yeah? Most of that transport happened as we were doing our own version of The Amazing Race trying to make it from one side of the city to the other to meet the afore mentioned kids at a pub near the St. John's Wood tube stop. We made it there only about 2 hours late. : ) The parents had gone when we arrived, but we did get to meet Daniel, Julie's son, and Kelly, who are both very excited about YL coming to ASL. They are eager...yes, eager is the right word to describe them. They asked for direction and structure to start things. Hello? How amazing!!! Tate said later describing the events to Brooke, that he felt a Holy Spirit moment while we were sitting with them. I would agree. When we left them, we were practically skipping. It's awesome to see the doors that appear to be open for us to love on kids at ASL!
Saturday was a down day, which was nice. I slept in, read a bit, and took some time to write. In the evening we went into Staines, a few miles away to eat and do a bit of shopping. I ate a great Chiken Pitta (No, that is not a typo. They add a "t" for some reason. I like it, and I liked it.) at a cute local restaurant with a Diet Coke with no ice. I had a funny conversation with a guy about the ice machine being slow to make enough ice on the weekends. I went "easy on the ice" and thought of my pal, Laura, who would have felt right at home as her personal preference @ Sonic was the only option.

Sunday we drove into the city to go to church at Hillsong. Some of you might be familiar with this church. Matt Redman leads worship there quite a bit, I understand. The church meets in a theatre, which is a cool environment. I will try to sum up the service in a few words...jumpy, passionate, jumpy, revival, jumpy. I mean jumpy in the sense of enthusiam not paranoia. I felt the need to disclaim, so we were on the same page. Seriously, it was amazing to see that Spirit-filled environment in the middle of the city. Sunday just happened to be B& T's anniversary, so they drove me to Hillingdon to visit Liz and Mark again to see their club.
Later that night, B, T, and I debriefed a bit...
No red flags, friends. The doors still appear to be open. Meaning, I'm going. : )
Good grief, friends. I sincerely apologize for leaving you hanging midway through my time in London. I am currently at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York City in the cafeteria where I finally have unlimited access to the internet for free and a charged battery on my computer. The luxuries that seem so commonplace have been more sporadic in the last week or so. Welcome to international travel. : ) So, ok. I will most likely break up these postings as not to overwhelm. I will pick up where I left off.

My trip to ASL in the city was definitely a success and felt to me like windows of opportunity opening for loving on kids there. Going back to that time in the gym watching volleyball...I got to meet the Athletic Director, Mr. Lockwood! He is a Brit, and I had to replay many of the things he said in my head a few times to truly understand. He taught me a new word, "que", which means "line". I will use it in a sentence for all you former spelling bee champs..."When I was driving on the M25 (the major highway around London), I sat still for quite some time due to long "queues". The gist is that he thinks it truly could be a possibility for me to help coach softball @ ASL. Huge. Oh! I also found out that ASL has open lunch, meaning that all the kids in the high school may leave campus to eat. Huge! I can just hang out on the high street and be with kids (when I find out where they congregate).

Thursday I sat in on a semi-staff meeting, as previously mentioned, as Tate, Brooke, and Kerry planned for their banquet that is about two weeks away. Fun times! The three of them are most definitely a family! I love it! Tate drove me to Windsor, a 10 min. drive or so, to meet Liz, the intern on staff in Hillingdon. Liz, Paul (her boyfriend that was visiting from NY), and I toured Windsor Castle, walked over a bridge with a beautiful view of the Thames River, and walked over to Eton, trying to catch a glimpse of boys running around the campus in "tails", a tuxedo with tails is the required uniform there. (Harry and William went to school at Eton.) No such luck because it was too late in the day and all were dressed for sport. (They don't pluralize "sports" in England.)
I drove back to Hillingdon with Liz and Paul to check out what Bible study looked like there. We picked up Mark, the British guy that is on Student Staff, and were on our way to The Daly's house. The Daly's have two daughters involved in YL there in Hillingdon. About 20 kids showed up for the meeting. These kids are very sharp and eager to learn. All the kids I met and encountered are well-adjusted, happy, smart...also kids who worry about normal kid things like music, appearance, the opposite sex, etc. Tate picked me up at the Davis' house, where Liz is staying. The Davis' are one of many American families that have lived overseas for many years. The opened their home for Liz to stay at least for a few months while she get accustomed to life in England. We are praying that a similar kind of situation will open up for me when it comes time for me to go, saving a great deal of money and providing a great homebase at least in the beginning of the acclimatization period.
The last few days thoughts coming next...

Friday, 14 October 2005

Hi again! I will see if I have enough time on my computer battery to get in two days worth of promises. : )
Wednesday was a full day here. I got to go to the city, London, for the afternoon! From the Virginia Water train station, which is about 5 min. from Brooke and Tate's house and within walking distance of Kerry (who accompanied me into the city)'s house, it takes approximately 40 minutes to get to the Waterloo tube stop. We got on the tube, which is amazingly clean with upholstered seats even (much nicer than the subways of NYC, I must say), and got off at St. John's Wood where we were met by Susan, a woman who has kids who attend The American School of London (ASL). She directed us a couple of streets overto the High Street where we found, of course, a Starbucks. We sat and chatted about the future potential for YL @ ASL. Her family is American, but they have lived all over the world for many years. And, I do mean all over the world. I cannot remember all the places having spoken with so many people who have lived in so many places since I have arrived. It truly is amazing! "Where are you from?" is not a question that works here. Perhaps, "How long have you lived here?" or "Where did you live prior to moving here?" are better conversation starters.
Susan took us to ASL and checked us in as her guests. I will post a picture of my nametag that I took. (I just thought it was cool that it said my name and ASL on it.) We watched the jv and varsity girls play volleyball. The jv coach, Julie, came over and sat with us during the varsity game. She also wanted to know more info about YL started potentially @ ASL. Julie introduced me to the Athletic Director, a Brit, who feels like there might be a spot for me to help assist with the softball team. This coaching opportunity would be a huge "in" to the school since it is very secure and cautious about who comes on campus. ASL is a wealthy school with lots of government official's kids attending, not to mention celebrity's kids. (Laura and Jro, Christian Slater's kids went to ASL while he was over here filming a movie for a semester.)
I was encouraged by each conversation I had at the school and involving YL coming there. I am thankful those encounters sprang up. Meeting Susan and Julie were both things that came up unexpectedly this week. The Lord is big!
We finished up the evening at The Rose & Crown, a pub just a few minutes from Brooke and Tate's house. I ate fish and chips and drank J2O, this apple raspberry juice drink that was very yummy!
Ok, the battery is dying, and I know you are needing a snack after sitting here reading so long. I'll get more to you soon...
Thanks, friends!

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Greetings from England!
I have been here for two days now, I guess, depending on your time zone. It is currently 4:30 a.m. in Arkansas where most of you are fast asleep. Here it is 10:30 a.m. I have had some trouble getting my computer hooked up here, but all is well now. I am back in contact with the world outside of Thorpe Surrey, the borough of London where I am currently residing.
Ok, let's see...
The first day here is a bit of a blur what with the massive amount of jetlag I was battling. But, I will give you a rundown as I remember it...
First of all, I was en route for approximately 18 hours. Good night nurse! All the flights were fine; the planes got progressively bigger from Little Rock to London, so that was excellent!
There was a gentlemen (formality intentional) on my London flight that wore a suit through the length of the flight. I mean, he didn't even take of his jacket or loosen his tie. I just knew he was a Brit. Later when we deplaned, I heard him chatting with his wife...suspicion confirmed. Welcome to England where people can be very "proper".
The plane could not pull up to a gate, so they sent out busses to transport us to the terminal. I was a bit worried about getting hit as we drove on the left side (strong side) of the road. I then proceeded to laugh out loud to myself as I realized we were driving on the correct side. The guy next to me looked at me funny. So, what else is new? Tate, the Area Director here, and I walked into the parking garage at the airport, and I proceeded to get into the "passenger side" of the Honda. "Did you want to drive?" he asked. Yeah, funny. : )
Driving in Europe is crazy...weird signs, left side, yield signs that say "give way"...
(I am now sitting in a staff meeting with Tate, Brooke, and Kerry, who are cracking me up! Oh, so very Young Life.)
We went to Starbucks (there is one on every corner, by the way) and to Steins, the grocery store. We came home and made fajitas. It wasn't long until I went to the shower and to bed.
I'll update later about my day yesterday. I got into the city to The American School of London. It got me excited about the potential there!
Thanks for your prayers, friends! I have definitely felt and am feeling them...I will post some pics later today. I have yet to see many sights, so my pics are limited to ASL kids playing volleyball. Soon...