Monday, 30 October 2006

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Michael Bolton. As I sit in the lobby of our hotel in Roma, the greatest hits of Mr. Bolton plays over me and my fellow friends and travelers, Chris, Stacie, and Kerry. You know I am not afraid to admit that I loved some MB back in the day. That guy can belt it out. Ok, sorry, tangent. But truly when was the last time and when will be the next when you sit and listen to Michael of one's own accord. I cannot forsee it happening, so I thought it noteworthy.
Rome. Wow. Bellisima! I am overwhelmed by how ancient, how full of history, how rich with talent and meaning...amazing. We have made the rounds to say the least and walked ourselves to the point of throbbing feet for the past handful of days. We happened upon the best tour guide of all time, Michael, an English guy who truly knows his stuff. What a joy to have his perspective as we looked at ancient ruins, picturesque statues, and vast buildings. He truly loves history, storytelling, and people. We even went to the extent of getting our picture taken with him...American groupies, we are and proud of it. Well, "proud" may not be the word, but we got a picture to capture our three days we spent with him on guided tours.

OK, this post was started last Thursday, on my regular posting day. I only had a bit of time to compose, but I wanted to leave it on there so you could hear some words directly from Italy. I sit presently taking a break from being on hold with the would-be company who will hook up my broadband and cable. Process. The theme for my life, I have discovered. I could write a book about all the implications of this seven-letter word in my life, as I am sure you could as well. My thought at the moment lives with the process of setting up house, if you will, here in England. I suppose moving anywhere involves time taken to get all put in place, but it seems as if another country adds a new dynamic. So, the process of constant, predictable internet access continues. I'll keep you posted on the progress of said process. : )

So, I spent my birthday in Rome. I turned twenty-eight as I toured St. Peter's Basilica, The Christian Catacombs, wandered past The Pantheon, and ate gelati. Never before in my life...I am overcome with awe. Fantastic, special, and memorable. I missed Becky, who is my twin seperated by a few years. I missed Ginny and Steph, my pals who also have October birthdays, who I would have celebrated with had I been home. I missed Bordino's from last year with my fun friends and the year before when I got surprised with a birthday ghetto dance party... My point? The only thing that would have made my celebration better would have been to have my sweet friends there to hug, laugh with, and stay up late with chatting. So, though I feel blessed to have a bit of a dreamlike 24th this year, know it felt strange to not be with you guys.
Rome is amazing. The city holds such history, story, and visual impression. As mentioned, we had a great tour guide that showed us around and increased my enjoyment of my living history lesson. I was pleased to find that a few years of life has deepened my interest in topics such as Constantine legalizing Christianity, St Peter's Basilica being worth $40 billion, and what prison would have looked like for Peter. It truly is a shame that when you learn all these facts in school, they are so crammed in for the purpose of test taking that they easily seep out of your memory. I wish I could have retained all my facts I absorbed on my trip, but though some have been lost, I do remember quite a lot and can tell you all you want to know (and more, I am sure) when I get to see you in December as I show the massive slide show of photos that I will have in my possession.

I have taken a few snapshots of my flat and will try fervently to post some of both my home and Rome. HA! Laugh, you know you want to...feel like I am there with you being a complete goof. : ) (That pun was unintentional, by the way, but I left it in because I laughed out loud at myself.) Sometimes this blogger rejects my requests to put up pics. Ah, technology!

As far as words/phrases of the week go, to be truthful, I must speak a bit of Italian to you...interesting how it seems that Italian is sort of Spanish and French put together. (Ok, it probably is not at all, but knowing un pocito de espanol was a bit helpful in communicating there.) So... "Grazie" and "Prego", or Thank you and You're welcome, were the most foreign words used this past week. Ok, that's lame. You don't wade through all my thoughts and analyzations for that sillyness that you already know...what can I come up with for the week? Hmmm...
ok, how about "spot on". It means what you would most likely think it would, but it is used here quite a lot. Our equivalent would be like "on the nose". A little boy answered a question on our tour in Italy, and Michael (the Englishman) replied exhuberantly, "Spot on! You are correct." I liked it. Tis clever.
Look for more on Thursday. Oh, and Happy Halloween! Eat candy corn for me!

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Well, I officiallly have a home in London. I moved in this past Tuesday and have been working on settling in. I cleaned like crazy this morning, and I truly was able to unpack most of my suitcases for the first time since I have been here. It felt great! I took my first trip to IKEA on Tuesday and purchased a sofa bed, desk, and desk chair to put in my studio flat. I also got some essentials to enable me to live there. : ) I am making my next massive list of little things to decorate and other items to shelve and store my clothes, etc. to truly make me feel organised and efficient in my small space.
I am jetting off to Rome next week with Kerry for a handful of days on holiday (what we call vacation over here). I am truly excited to visit Italy, eat great food, and sightsee like crazy. I will post pics in a couple weeks of that trip. I might be able to do so from Roma, but no promises. Not sure what the internet situation will be.
Tuesday was a big day. I also went to see "Guys and Dolls" at the Piccadilly Theatre. Patrick Swayze was advertised as playing Nathan Detroit, but unfortunately was a no-show. I heard he has been having trouble with his voice since he has been in this show. Oh well. It was fantastic, and I had a great seat...15th row, center! No flash photography allowed, or I would put up some photos of the show.
As I wait for my internet to be hooked up in my flat...could be a week and a half or so, I am using my new friends', Rudy and Susan's connection. I have been blessed to have met a few people who live in my neighbourhood!
I met this morning with the athletic directors at ASL, and it looks like I will, indeed, be able to coach softball at the school. Most likely it will be middle schoolers and getting to help with the JV and Varsity teams in the high school! I am super excited about this opportunity to plug in at the school.
The next couple of weeks will be a bit like it was when I first got here in my ability to be in touch via email. Just wanted you to have a heads-up, so you didn't think I was ignoring any of you!
Thanks, thanks, thanks for being my friends!

Word/phrase of the week: "You alright, yeah?"
This phrase is used in place of "How are you?" or "What's up?" I love it!

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Well, friends, I have found a flat!!! Yep, I do not tell a lie. I now have a home in England. I move in on this coming Tuesday, and I could not be more excited! I will be sad to leave my current temporary home with my pal and colleague Kerry, but I am thrilled to be able to settle in and feel like I am a Londoner. My home is also crazy close to the school where I will most likely be helping coach softball (looks like it will be middle schoolers), and close to all the shops and the ever important Starbucks! Tangent: I must say that I have a new affinity to Starbucks. Not that I didn't love the have-it-your-way coffee company prior to moving, but it is so nice to feel the familiarity that 'Bucks brings while wandering through this new city. (I am a bit of "the worst kind", "high maintainenance, but I think I am low maintainenance", so I do like the order-it-like-you-like-it way of this company.)
Ok, I will explain the pictures you see above. I know you are anxious to understand. The first one is me and the ever-mentioned Zsa Zsa (pronounced Zaw Zaw) on the train one day coming back from the city. (Hats are good in this city for me...oh the dampness of the weather.) She is a bit goofy, as you can see. The next photo is Kerry, my roommate for another few days wearing a little gift from me. I am sure you recognise it easily. In her snout-adorned picture, she is looking at the guy in the next picture, Tate, my Area Director, pal, and also a happy receipient of a hog nose. (All six of my fellow staffers got one as a gift upon my arrival, but we have not all been in the same room for me to get a pic of the lot of them thus far. Speaking of our mighty Razorbacks...GO HOGS GO! I have been keeping up! Woo Pig!) The background of both Kerry and Tate's photos is where we spend a lot of our time, the gar-office...affectionately and appropriately named because though once a garage, it has had a facelift, making it our office. Clever, I know. I love these people. : )
I went to my first vball game yesterday and met a couple of girls who I believe may come with us on our Spring Break service project to Bulgaria to teach English, work in orphanages, etc. (We do this trip in place of taking kids to the states to do the traditonal YL camp in the summer.) I have begun to meet parents and other friends in my neighbourhood, as well as wonderful people at church. I have been visiting two different churches, All Souls and Holy Trinity Brompton...both great bodies of believers.
Other great news...I believe I have three volunteer leaders to join me in working with kids in central London...two college-aged girls who are here studying for the next year or so, and a dad who has interest in helping out. Fantastic!
One of the common statements that I have heard since moving here is that coincidences don't exist. When the Lord moves, provides, or works, no doubt is present. I am not sure I ever believed in chance, luck, or coincidence before now. I always have had a sense that the Lord is in every good thing...little and big, so this conclusion is not revolutionary to me. However, I will say with full confidence and conviction that I have never seen His hand, His preparation, His timing more tangible, practical, or real in my life than at this moment.
I think of my brother who consistently and constantly reminds me to expect blessings and to expect that the Lord will take care of me. I am thankful to see this advice fleshed out in my direct frame of reference.
Dependence is necessary. Since I can remember, I have longed to be independent and self-sufficient. I still possess such a desire, but I am thankful for new perspective on dependence, "the quality or state of being influenced or determined by or subject to another";"one that is relied on". (Far too long since we visited my pal Webster.) I think you see where I am going with this one. Getting to the end of oneself is a beautiful place to dwell.
More about my flat? Of course, you want to know more. To be honest, it could not be more perfect in my convenient to where I will be spending so much time and to the tube, my gateway to the rest of Londontown. I have always wanted to have a studio apartment in a quaint neigbourhood with much character. How intimate and fun is our God! I will be sure to post some pics of the interior once I get settled, maybe even as soon as the next blog. We shall see how my progress in nesting happens.
So, this week has been significant, as I guess the three weeks prior have been as well. I am encouraged, blessed, awestruck, and overwhelmed (meant to be positive, not negative as I often think it to mean) by the Lord's work in the course of this last month.
It is "time". Time for me to be here. Time for relationships to form with parents and kids in YL in central London. Time.

Word/phrase of the week: "I'll come back to you."
Ok, I got in a phone conversation that caused a bit of confusion this week with my letting agent who helped me let my flat. He is called Daniel, and he was a tremendously brilliant gentleman who was fantastic in all the process that could have been quite confusing. When we were speaking on the phone about price, he told me he would "come back to me" with an answer from his boss about whether we could come down on the price. I replied thankfully that I would appreciate that. I sat on the phone silently waiting. He repeated himself. "I'll come back to you with his answer." I agreed once again and prepared to hold the line. So, I learned first hand that this phrase means in my terminology the same as "I'll call you back". Not a standout in the world of fun British terms, but definitely a bit of a usage difference that can easily confuse and run a bill on your mobile if you never get the correct meaning. : )

Thursday, 5 October 2006

A rainy/cloudy Thursday here in the land of Eng. What? Ok, I am a bit odd today, I think. I could erase that sentence, but why would I? It is no secret that I am a bit odd. : ) No news about a flat as of yet. I have feelers out, so we shall see. Will let you know when I do have a spot to call my very own.
I met a girl yesterday, Mallory, who moved to London from Pennsylvania to go to grad school at Sotheby's. She wants to be a voulunteer leader with me as we work with kids who attend ASL. I am excited to have met her and to get to know her better. She will be here for at least a year finishing her schooling. I am going to meet another girl, Alix, for coffee today who I know also wants to volunteer. God is good...bringing excited believers around to join his work here in central London.
I don't believe I have mentioned as of yet my church visiting that I have been doing. I have spent time at both All Souls Church and Holy Trinity Brompton. Both churches are solid and uplifting. I am praying about which one to call my home. I am going to church this coming Sunday morning at All Souls and then afterward going to eat with a friend at one of the pastor's flats. What a neat opportunity to plug in a bit more to Christian community and fellowship. I am thankful.
As far as kids, adults, and ASL goes... I am making baby steps of progress in meeting people and building friendships. I am truly excited to get to know more of the community of St Johns Wood. I have joined the SJW Women's Club to help feel a bit more a part of that area. I look forward to plugging in there.
Ok, all mentioned up to this point has been a bit informational and factual, yeah? Wondering how I am in my transition?
All is truly well. I am getting a bit anxious to live within the city rather than on the outskirts so that I can truly dig into my new world here. However, this time in Surrey is a complete blessing as I get to know my fellow YL staff better, get to have a retreat away from the chaos that is central London, and save quite a bit of money by staying with my great pal, Kerry, for free. I am trusting that the Spirit will lead in the way of housing, connecting, and ministering. He knows the pace that is approprate for me and His work. Baby steps.
Riding the train to and from the city affords me much time for reading, an activity I dearly love. I so enjoy reading and have since I was very young, but unfortunately, I often do not take the time to immerse myself in books as I once did in those younger years. My mind feels a bit more active and alert if I keep myself concentrated on books and processing information. So, the Lord is faithful in all situations to bless. This extra time allows for deeper growth in that regard. : )
I am still working on the Skype access...calling for free through the internet. I will let you know when I know how to work that specifically so perhaps more of us could chat it up with a bit more ease.

Word/phrase of the week: rubbish (trash). Truly, this word is used in constant conversation and dialogue here. I have even heard the garbage man called "rubbish man". I love this word. It is so much stronger in meaning and with the right intonation is more passionate than using the word "trash". Check out Phillipians 3.8-9..."What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." At HTB last week, the speaker focused on this passage. A smile spread across my face as he spoke and read this passage aloud. I just love words and the power they have...I tend to think God loves words and feels the importance of their meaning, as well. (By the way, HTB has a podcast you can download should you ever feel so inclinded.)