Thursday, 28 September 2006

So, here is the proof about last week's mention about the Coca-Cola machine that greeted me with "Hallo" every time I walked past of asked it to dispense a diet beverage. For you boys, you know who you are, I thought of you and laughed every time I read it. Noone else seemed to be as amused, but when are others as amused as I am? Truly. I know you guys know the proper inflection to say this greeting in. Made me think of home, and I loved it! (By the way, I took this pic with my new snazzy new mobile (pronounced with a long "i") I just got. All those that have made fun of me for my archaic cell phones in the past would be amazed by how hi-tech I am now. : )
So, I ventured into the city yesterday to meet up with a mom who has kids who go to ASL. We had a delightful late morning chat with a coffee. We sat on the high street and spoke about life in that particular area of central London where I will be living. (Each area has what is called a "high street" where all the shops and cafes are, sort of like 6th street in, more like Dickson St. Very quaint and perfect for meeting up with people.) I got loads of info about how to get more connected with others in the neighbourhood, and I look forward to moving into that area. Still praying for a flat closeby. I have a few leads, but none have panned out for sure yet. Though St. John's Wood, the area I will be living in, is technically in central London, it has not the feel of Oxford Circus, Piccadilly, or Covent Garden does, for those of you who have made a visit here. It is quite peaceful with tree-lined streets. From what I have heard, Jude Law lives nearby, so you never know when he might be bumped into at the local Starbucks. I will keep you informed, no worries! : )
My trip to the city yesterday left my feet in agony! Note to self...regardless of the amount of walking that you think you will do, do not wear heels! Walking is always a major player no matter where you are going for no matter what length of time! I have blisters galore all over my feet from trekking about London. I had to "pop into a shop" to buy some ballet-like flats to soothe. I also had to make a stop at Boots (similar to Walgreens) to buy "plasters" (a.k.a. Band-Aids) to cover my wounds to make it home. I mean...serious pain. But, hey, in the words of my pal, J.D., I'll bounce. : )
Liz, Paul, and I sort of wandered around the city on Tuesday afternoon. It was quite fun. Liz loves to absorb and share lots of random trivia, show me where the cheap places to shop are, and points out great cookie shops. Paul is Captain History, so he tells us factoids about how old buildings are, how to find our way around the city, and knows where the cool museum exhibits are. What a nice balance they are for one another. Guess this is why they are a couple. Liz, just in case you are in the dark, is a fellow staff girl who works at an international school in Hillingdon closeby. I will post some pictures from our time soon. Sorry that my pictures seem to be on average one post behind. Sometimes this site doesn't like to cooperate, and sometimes, I don't have the camera/plug with me to coordinate the download. (Yes, I just thought of "Boomerang" when I wrote that word..."coordinate". Oh how hideous that mushroom suit was! And oh, how beautiful at the same time!)
Today marks my two week anniversary of having been in England. Frankly, it seems like 2 months in some ways. I feel as though I could write a page in my journal about every hour because all is new and many "firsts" are happening.
Things I love... water bottles with cool squeeze tops; sitting on the left-hand side of the car as a passenger; saying "I'll ring you later"; that my staff team all put on their hog noses I brought them as soon as I handed them to them...then began to cough from the fumes emitted from the rubber and paint (truly, ever worn one of those? will make you high!); walking on cobblestone roads; recognising and confidently using pounds and pence; calling carry out or to go food "take away"; the mystery of walking through the city, riding the train, or riding the escalator in the underground and wondering what accents people speak with and thinking they don't know what mine sounds like either; going to a YL staff training in Munich and having a fellow staff member sneakily change my ringer to his voice that said "Pick up the phone! Do it!" and not knowing he had done it until my phone scared the living daylights out of me when it rang the first time after returning back to England...
Things I miss... you all; Pepperridge Farm Goldfish; driving my car (though not as much as I would have thought); you all.
As you can see, much more that I love than I miss. God is good! He is so taking care of me! Thanks, friends. More soon...
Oh, I've almost forgotten...
Word/phrase of the week: "lorry" (truck), as in... Lorry Restriction on this road. Zsa told me a story about a car that she happened upon that was smashed between two "lorries". She could not imagine how the people got out. Perhaps through the sunroof. Thanks be to God for Zsa, who in normal conversation teaches me several new words a day!

Saturday, 23 September 2006

Hallo! I returned from Munich last night...thus the greeting. I must say that I feel a bit less intimidated about living in England after spending two days in Bavaria where I could understand only a handful of words spoken or read. Truly. Words that made sense..."penne"(pasta), "pizza margherita" (cheese pizza), and "tomaten" (tomato). I am not exaggerating. I would open a menu to order something to eat, and...nada. I knew not a thing. The time there was nice. I went to participate in a training time to learn more about working with a committee, managing volunteer leaders, and also to spend some good time with others from around Europe who have the same job as I do. I went with three of the other staff women from here in London.

Ok, I know that all have been waiting for more detail from this side of the pond. I have promised and promised. I will do my best. You may have to read this in multiple sittings. : )
Life is fairly loaded with new information and circumstance these days.

I am currently living in Surrey, about a 40 minute train ride from central London. I am staying with one of the other staff girls, Kerry, in her flat...about a mile from the office/Brooke and Tate's house (my supervisors/fellow staff). We are joking currently that I am about 2/3 of a person here in the UK. I have set up a local bank account and acquired a "mobile". I will consider myself 3/3 once I have a home of my own, I think. But, hey 2/3 of the way to fully existing in about a week is amazing from what they tell me over here.
I am in search of my home, a.k.a. my flat, currently. I am looking for a flatshare somewhere near The American School in London (ASL) where I will be working. I have some prospects, so pray for that when you think of me. : )
I have embarked into the city a couple of times which has been possible with no issue and quite a bit of ease. I am thankful. I was not as intimidated as I thought I might have been last Sunday when I went in to meet a girl for church at All Souls. It was quite a delightful day, attending church and then going to eat at a place called Nando's, attractive for its food and for the free refill option on soda which is quite sparse in the UK. I had lunch with a girl who is Dutch-Australian, two Chinese-Brit girls, and a Scotsman. So cool! I was amazed at the diversity and the ease of conversation and relatability.
My new pal, Zsa is a delight! She is teaching me English lingo and phrases just by hanging out with her. She asks me things constantly about America and is eager to clarify all things English.
We got lost the other day driving to visit Liz's Wyldlife club. We even had a navigational GPS system, but it turns out that if the wrong address is plugged in, this device has trouble working properly. : ) We got stuck in traffic, and she exclaimed, "Oh, this is dire!!". I laughed the entire 2 hours we drove around. She is overwhelmed by the loudness of American kids..."I wasn't prepared for the volume", she remarked. Yes, we are loud, us Americans.
Strange. I feel as though I have been here a month rather than a 9 days. I feel like I could spend every moment recording a new thought due to the newness of each experience.
I went to the movies the other day with Brooke and Kerry here nearby (in Staines). The seats had absolutely no recline...the antithesis of the American movie theatre seat, not a bit of recline. Interesting. No wonder the Brits are known for having good posture, even in the movies, they sit up straight! : ) We saw "Little Miss Sunshine". Funny, I must say.
I have a dehumidifier in my room at Kerry's is that damp in that corner of the interesting. The weather here has been lovely! Today it is a Simpson cloud day, with a nice breeze and 70 degree temperatures.
Ok, I will post again at least by next Thursday, my normal posting day. Hopefully, my routine will begin soon.
Ok, word/phrase of the week... "I couldn't be bothered..." Such as, "I couldn't be bothered to go to the store to pick up groceries." Basically it means, I didn't want to do something, but it sounds so much more proper and polite, less like a lazy statement that we would think it would be.
Feel free to email with questions and or whatever. My email checking is a bit sparatic due to no internet connection at Kerry's, so I ask for your patience til the routine kicks in. :)
Love you and miss you all. Check the email for the contact info for number.

Monday, 18 September 2006

England equals good. So, I have been here for 4 days. I am supposed to be here. I can tell you that for a fact. I feel it. I know it. My mind is, as you would imagine, still swirling and a bit jetlagged. I love my Young Life team. I just got an amazing deal at Boots, the local Walgreen's-ish store on a hair straightener (on clearance, then when it was rung up, half off of that clearance price!!). I have two new English friends called Zsa Zsa and Barney. Starbucks is a staple. All is looking good. I am flat (apartment) searching and hope to find something in the city to call home within the next couple weeks. I leave for Munich for some training on Wednesday to return on Friday. I know I keep promising you all who have emailed and posted messages and comments that I will give further details soon. I am going to continue to ask for an extension on that promise. I need to get my mind a bit clearer before I can compose thoroughly. Trust this, as previously mentioned... I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. With the next post, I will have some pics of Munich and hopefully a bit of clarity to tell you stories about getting lost with Zsa and Barney, embarking into London successfully and confidently on my own, and digging English lingo. Thanks for your prayers, and look for a more depth at the beginning of next week.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Hi. I leave a week from today. Whoa. All has been going well in preparing for this momentous move. At times I feel completely on top of all the to-dos, and the next moment I feel completely overwhelmed. I don't do well going 90 miles an hour. I need a measured pace. Thankfully, the Lord knows (and made) this trait within me, so he often reminds me to"just sit with Him awhile". Now the list of necessaries has shortened mostly to the daunting task of packing.
I spent a great weekend in Fayetteville over Labor Day. I was blessed to spend precious, meaningful time with dear friends that I realised should be characterized as family members to capture their importance to me and my heart. Fayetteville has been my home for the past six years since graduation from college. One friend I have made in the past handful of months continues to be amazed by how many people I am know in NW Arkansas. "Do you know everyone up here?", she asks over and over. A smile creeps across my face. I do not know everyone, of course, but I am thankful for that repeated question becuase it does help me to continue to appreciate the vast number of friends (and family) I can count in NWA, a.k.a. "home".
Goodbyes are tough. Each person I spent time with over the course of the weekend dealt with our farewells in different ways. I loved it. I love the dynamic nature of people and relationships. I sat and chatted away answering questions with some friends, hugged and was on my way. With others, we just sat and did what we normally do, sort of avoiding the topic on everyone's mind, my leaving. Jokes were made to lessen any bit of emotion that might surface and produce awkwardness. The beauty of it all lies in the uniqueness and life of each friendship dynamic. If those who normally joke and are silent suddenly sat intently asking questions and being overwhelmed with emotion, it would have been sort of strange. If those who normally chat it up had avoided information...odd and disheartening.
Expectations. All of these observations leads me to thinking about expectations...and the Lord. Predicting people, life, interaction is selling you and those involved short. Allow people and relationships to be dynamic. Beauty lives here! Expecting someone or something to always look or play out a certain way can at times paralyse individuality and limit depth. The Lord desires that we love people as we love ourselves. I like to be free to evolve, grow, change as life and the Lord moves me. I guess, in all this rambling, my thought is to remind myself to let life happen as it happens, to let the Lord lead and to learn to be flexible in our expectations, predictions, and notions of the way things may look.
He surprised me this weekend by allowing me to spend sweet time with friends that blew my mind in depth, encouragement, connection, and love. The interactions looked different, but each moment spent was captured in my mind and heart as a moment well spent. From chats over tacos, to coffee on a patio, to a rocking chair on a porch with slow jams, to a football game with synchronized swimming done on turf, to weeping with laughter over old YL skits, to a visit with a 47-day-old blessing, to a four-year-old who laughs with me like he is my age and enjoys "two flavas" with dinner, to reuniting with old friends who recommend learning to be a "Guitar Hero", to time on Custer with my brothers watching Ali, to a ride and a sweet prayer with a best friend... I could tell you stories for days. Thanks to you all, and I have no doubt you are in my corner cheering me on as loud as you do our beloved HOGS! : )
I fly out on Wednesday, the night of the 13th from Dallas. Will be in touch!

Oh, and the sermon on Sunday focused on these words and following (Ecc. 3.1-15) which touched me. Allowing ourselves time for each is important. I am thankful that the Lord affirms us in each of these moments of life.
Ecclesiastes 3.1 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..."