Monday, 31 July 2006

To your right, you will see the British Consulate in Los Angeles, California where I was issued a 2 year visa for residence in the U.K. this past Thursday. (You also can see my mom in the bottom lefthand corner with the sunglasses on.) The building looks a bit grand and intimidating? I thought so upon entering, but I was greeted by complete kindness from each person I interacted with in the half hour or so that I was inside.
Mom and I arrived about 9:30 a.m.(Pacific) for my 10:00 a.m. appointment. We were directed to the elevator where a man cleared us to go to the 12th floor, home of the Brits who approve this important document of which I was in pursuit. After going through the metal detector, which thankfully did not pick up the butterflies in my stomach, though I hardly think any device was needed to observe this feeling (a set of eyes would have worked for anyone in my vacinity), we took a seat and waited to be called forward. The interview could not have gone smoother. I was prepared with a file-a-fax full of documentation verifying my qualifications as a missionary, my proof of income... I needed none of these items. The wonderfully British-sounding woman who called me to her window asked me a few simple questions, asked for my letters (a letter from Tate and Brooke, my supervisors in London, that officially invites me to join their team, and a letter from Young Life here to verify my employment), and typed information into her computer. My mind was blown! "Take this ticket and wait for my colleague to call your number so you can pay her. Then, come back between two and three, and pick up your visa." I have spent more time at paying my water bill or getting my driver's license renewed! Wow! You see a bit more why I thanked you over and over. So blessed!
Mom and I caught the bus down Wilshire Blvd to the Santa Monica pier and to the 3rd Street Promenade where we shopped a bit and ate some great pizza while we killed time between interview and pick-up of visa.
The next morning we awoke early to grab Starbucks and take a brief tour of some movie star homes and pop onto Rodeo Drive. I have a million pictures of houses that I cannot now identify who lives in them. But, trust me, someone famous lives in each one. I wouldn't lie to you! Yes, we went into the "Reg Bev Wil" for a brief moment. Some of you will get that reference. : )

We flew out later that afternoon and had a rather scary ride. I sat in the middle seat on row 19 attempting to read my latest Jane Austen novel, Emma, which takes much concentration. (Jane can get a bit lengthy in her descriptions, background info, and nuances...must be why I enjoy her writing so much, huh?) The beverages had just been delivered and all were settling in for a pleasant flight, when...drop! Yes, the plane dropped. The flight attendant standing at the end of my row fell to the floor with no opportunity to brace her fall. Another attendant who was closer to the rear of the plane, near my mom's seat, was thrown to and fro against the wall and sustained minor injury. Everyone who had a drink on his/her tray flew all over the person sitting next to them. ("Emma" and I got a bit wet from the passenger sitting on my right.) Apparently, a thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere and the pilot could not avoid it as he had hoped. Have you ever seen any of those made-for-TV movies about plane crashes and such? Though I try not to watch such frightening drama, I must say I have seen bits and pieces of one or two. I felt as if for a few moments, I was in a movie. Flight attendants and passengers alike screamed in the rows behind me. My stomach was tied in knots as I tried hard to transport myself back into old England and Mr. Knightley's obvious growing adoration for Miss Woodhouse, while praying the promise that the Lord alone makes me dwell in safety(Ps. 4.8). It honestly took me about an hour "to sit back, relax, and try to enjoy the rest of the flight" as previously directed by the flight crew. After the flight, I heard mom was completely drenched during the jostle with her freshly-poured coffee and also got to overhear the freaking out of all of the flight attendants throughout the remainder of the flight. (Sigh!)
We came out unscathed, full of thanks, and happy to be back on the ground. Our trip was a success and a blessing!
Perhaps in the next installment I will tell you a bit about our driver, Rulf, who was half Peruvian, half Columbian. He is married to a Japanese woman, and speaks three languages. What an educated, trivia-filled gentleman who helped calm my nerves on the way to the consulate by making me concentrate on understanding his thick accent as he told us facts about endangered condors in the California.

Sunday, 30 July 2006

1 Corinthians 12...
4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

The promise from my last post was that I would address my realisation of my need for people in my world. I would like to gladly fulfill my word.
Throughout my life post-college, I have repeatedly come face-to-face with my need to allow friends to help me live a healthy existence. Yes, this lesson is undoubtedly learned by everyone one way or another, sometimes with ease, sometimes with resistance.
I must say that many times I resist this need to involve others. I have a tendency to think through issues/problems, decide on a plan for resolution, and take that action step. I know this behaviour can exclude people from my life, keep relationships at surface level, increase my stress level, and hinder health.
One large lesson from this process of the Lord readying me to move to London for which I am thankful? I must have friends surrounding me, praying for me, helping me, in order for the Lord's ministry, His call on my life, to be healthy, balanced, rooted in truth, and effective. The Lord knows us with such intimacy. I am convinced that He knows the need for practical example in my life to help me see his lessons. The stories he plays out in my life help me remember what I can/should do, and what I cannot/should not do. I am beyond thankful for this continued lesson!
Friends, I am very close to being able to make this move across that pond to Londontown. The Lord honors his promises, hears your prayers, and leads at just the right pace.
So, thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you again for being my friends, my teammates, my prayer warriors, my brothers and sisters. I am convinced of my need for each and every one of you in order to effectively do the Lord's work!

Saturday, 22 July 2006

"Hold a true friend with both your hands." * Nigerian Proverb
"There are no such things as strangers, only friends we haven't met yet."
-- Anonymous

Friends are my favourite. I know that this truth is what causes me to have such devotion to the fifteenth chapter in the book of John in that wonderful ancient manuscript full of faith, hope, and love.
One of my pals, Michelle, told me last weekend that she loved hearing me talk about my friends and the way they bless me so deeply. She said she was amazed by all the sweet, deep, and memory-filled relationships I am privileged to have in my life. I have known this fact, but it was so great to hear her perspective and see her smiles mixed with tears as she truly felt the love and appreciation I have for my friends. I must say here that Michelle is one of the most caring people I have encountered. I saw this lived out as her tears came in conjunction with my own. What a heart she has been given!
I had a great week of spending time with several of these dear people in my life. I went back to Fayetteville for a few days to have some meetings over quite a few meals. How could it get any better? Friends, food, and fellowship. Love it!
I chatted with current friends and met a few new ones. Each one blessed me in their excitement for my upcoming move to do ministry. Oh how I need all of you desperately to go do what I am about to go do. (Look for the next blog to address just this topic. Thanks, Ryan.) Thanks to you all that took the time to chat with me, share meals with me, and care about me!

My friends Matt and Ginny had their precious baby boy, Eliot Hartman, on Thursday! You can check out their website for more info on them...such a beautiful story of God's peace in the midst of difficulty, confusion, and unanswerable questions. The Lord is the giver of peace and hope. I have never in my life seen such an instance of the fleshing out of this verse: "And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." (1 Cor 10.13) Their story of the life of Eliot is not one of temptation, but one of the Lord's faithfulness to not give them more to deal with than they can handle. His faithfulness is present obviously in His gifts of peace, joy, hope, and thankfulness for their firstborn little boy. Their burden has been taken on by Him to enable them to "bear" life in the midst of uncertainty. I am thankful to be able to call The Mooney three my dear friends!
My trip back up to the ville to see Baby Eliot provided me a sweet opportunity to reunite with some friends from college. I was afforded the gift of hearing "the rest of the story", if you will, from one of these friends I traveled with about quite a story that I was on the periphery of in my last year or so of collegiate life.
The Lord provides such unexpected blessings sometimes! I love His surprises. It is as if He knows how much I enjoy being surprised. Go figure. : )
Touched. Inspired. Filled with respect. Humbled. Grateful. Honored. Thankful.

People are beautiful...such dynamic beings who fall, have victory, make mistakes, rise above those mistakes, provide insight, teach through their stories, set examples, know their limits, forget their limits, live in pride, get reminded to be humble, get lost, are found, do things that are not the greatest, apologize, show love ... (the list goes on and on)
I believe so much of my affection for hearing others' stories of redemption lies in my own undeniable need for redemption. I believe it is no coincidence that Jesus used the model of "story" to share His good news.
Effective. Touching. Inspiring. Practical. Intentional. Relatability.

Relation: an aspect or quality (as resemblance) that connects two or more things or parts as being or belonging or working together or as being of the same kind. (Webster, of course) Makes sense to me. Relationship: the state of being in "relation".

I adore being educated by others. I long to listen and be sensitive to not miss chances to hear. May the windows continue to open, so I may continue to have a peek into "real" life lived out by my friends (current and future).

Thursday, 20 July 2006

Just a quick note to explain the obvious update to the aesthetics of the blog. The ability to comment, email me, and set up other personalizations was hindered by that last template, so I have opted for this new one. Please feel free to comment, and if you should want to email, you can click on my profile, select that option, and it will direct you automatically to my address. So much mo better!
Look for a new update at the beginning of next week speaking of my move to Little Rock, a venture back up north to Fayetteville for meetings, and my upcoming trip to Los Angeles to obtain my UK residence visa.
Thanks, friends!

Saturday, 8 July 2006

The last move ...the last one that is until I move to Jolly Ole, as I have taken to calling England lately. My residence lies in Little Rock with my fam. currently.
Over the past month, the wave of the World Cup has washed over me, as I have been heartily rooting on "stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp stomp-stomp-stomp-stomp, ENGLAND!" in their attempt to win it all. Unfortunately, they have not made it as far as we all had hoped. I can see myself getting very involved in football, as they call it. Thinking about becoming an avid soccer watcher, where most of the time the only applicable cheer seems to be "KICK IT!", I have had my doubts about how much I would join the rest of the world in loving this game. However, the energy and excitement of this grand tournament has awakened a genuine interest and enjoyment that I am quite excited about, knowing I will not have to feign interest or learn statistics and players' names just to not sound ridiculous in conversation once living in the U.K. Much to my dismay (and the entire country) England lost to Portugal in penalties. Heartwrenching, it was. Well, we will just have to win it next year when I live there. Yes.

Also, I have come upon the conclusion that one of my new looking-forward-to's (Yes, I just made that up...if I had my own vocabulary dictionary, that one would be in it, my pal, Aaron.) about moving to England is simply the vast amount of knowledge to be learned. What a gift to move to a new culture and immerse oneself in new smells, sounds, tastes, conversation, music... you name it. Some might differ in opinion, but knowledge-gathering is one of the reasons why I have come to enjoy watching Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show. He completely cracks me up,(I mean, please, what isn't funnier in a Scottish accent. Let's just be honest.) and he teaches me all sorts of facts about Britain. Trust me. It might be worth staying up a bit later just to watch his monologue one night. He can get a tad racy at times, but overall he is just plain funny.

My goal for changing my address to Londontown is AUGUST! If you think of it, please pray that this timeframe becomes a reality. I believe it to be possible, as I have reached 60% in my fundraising.

My friend and fellow lover of England (and King Kong), Joel, tuned me into a church in London that is truly blessing my soul. Podcasts are delightful, I must say.
A great word from this past week's message was simply stated (quoted from the movie, Junebug):
"God loves us just as we are. But he loves us enough to not let us stay that way."

How poignant a statement! God is big. God is intimate. God has perfect timing.
Recently, I have had an interesting experience with the Lord's timing. I don't know about you, but most often I want difficult, awkward, uncomfortable things to go away quickly. The Lord often desires to teach me through what seems to me to be quite a lengthy process. Well, this past month the Lord has decided to work a bit quicker than previous experience would have predicted. He knows exactly how to love on me, what length of process in healing/reflection is necessary, and how to remind me what is His job and what is mine. What a wonderful God! He desires so much for us to give every inch of ourselves to him...every part of our heart, plan, hope, love...our life. He is showing me that He is faithful to fulfill what He has promised. I pray that tomorrow I will have the resolve and desire to give him more than I have today.