Saturday, 25 November 2006

So, I am reading this book at present on the recommendation of some American friends here in London. If any of you have any interest in behaviour of the English, you would truly enjoy this read, I think. It is quite interestingly done. Kate Fox is English, so it is the real deal. I have found that as I co-exist with natives here that many of these observations are quite true and add humour to my world.

I left some of you wanting if you checked on Thursday for a posting, but since it fell on a holiday, I thought you might be otherwise engaged. I spent the day celebrating, as well, though it looked different than any day o' turkey I have spent previously. I attended a church service at St Paul's Cathedral with quite a few Americans, sang God Bless America, and got to hear the American Ambassador speak. I enjoyed it, and the aesthetics of St Paul's could only be topped by some of the churches in Rome that I saw a month ago, though I believe I prefer the more understated "Paul" to the extravagantly ornate "Peter". I finished my day with Brooke, Tate, Kerry, and their friends who visit every year at Thanksgiving. We feasted as is appropriate on this American holiday that seems to focus on good eats! : ) We even watched a bit of NFL to truly remind us we are Americans.

I am on my way out the door to have feast, the sequel, with my friends who live around the corner. What a blessing to have multiple people to celebrate with, especially when I couldn't be home with my own fam on this weekend.

Sad to read about the Hogs getting beat by LSU, but hey, on to the title game, yeah?


I started this post the day after Thanksgiving, so clearly our Hogs did not pull out the SEC title. Sad again. But, I left that little bit in because, I mean, no matter what... GO HOGS! : )

I have spent the last week in a little town called Hertford (pronounced "Hart"ford), which is about an hour commute for me from my flat in central London. Young Life goes there as well but differs a bit as ministry is done with nationals, a.k.a. English kids. For three days, I attended some YL training, the second installment of the year. (The first was in Munich when I first arrived.) Wow. What an amazing time of rejuvination and uplift for me. Being with people who are experiencing the same struggles, joys, are of the same heart and mission...priceless. Truly. To be prayed over, to laugh LOUD, to be moved by wisdom and insight that Scripture and years of life and experience of others...priceless. I hadn't even realized that I was in need of some of those things mentioned prior until I received them. It is truly a great gift that the Lord is omniscient and knows my thoughts, needs, and desires even before I do. I continue to stand amazed.
I deepened some friendships with some people and began new connection with some fantastic new folk. : ) I am so energized by other people who love the Lord. We talked a bit this weekend about how truly awe-inspiring friendships are that begin so quickly, grow so deeply, and bond us so closely when we have the common denominator of a relationship with Jesus. I hope and am assured that many of you have experienced this phenomenon in your own lives. I was reminded again this week.
After training, some of my pals came back into the city with me, dropped off their luggage at my flat, and we ventured off to see the lights of London. I loved it! We laughed hard. We shopped, looking longingly at shoes, clothes, etc. that exceeded our income. We walked by the Thames, looking at the city lit up in beauty. I had a couple girls stay with me in my flat on my snazzy Ikea sofa bed. I loved having people stay with me even though we realized quickly why I am the only one who lives in those small quarters. So fun! We went back into the city and met up with the boys and a friend of theirs (who is now friends with us) to do a bit more sightseeing. Such a delight to play with friends. Fun for friends to come into my flat and compliment it. Fantastic to navigate the tubes with me and be silly. A stake digs in this past week as a time of ease, a time when I have truly begun to feel like myself here. A burden of...something has fallen off my shoulders, and I have busted through a wall of realization of my home being in England. I struggle to find the words to express all because I cannot really explain it. I just feel good, refreshed, full of joy, and encouraged to love the Lord more deeply.
I went back to Hertford after my day of play with friends in the city to attend the European Women's Conference. Also amazingly refreshing and uplifting to see and relate to women in the same situation as myself. I am thankful. Closer connection with my fellow staff women that I work with here in London is a blessing. I love my England family.

So, I come back to Arkansas in a week and a half. Wow! I am baffled a bit about that fact. I am excited! Though I love it here and am assured I am in the exact spot where I belong, I miss you guys! I am pumped that my annual Christmas gathering where we watch Christmas classics such as "Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is planned and on my calendar! I cannot wait to see my family and sweet nieces! I am excited to see many of you!

Oh, can I just say that my internet is not only working at my flat, but it is crazy fast! It takes me less than 15 minutes to download my weekly "Grey's Anatomy". Woo hoo! : )

Word/quote of the week: "loads"(in honour of stef), meaning "a bunch"
or "lots". As in...I love you loads. I have loads of friends and family to see when I get home. I have loads of things on my to-do list to accomplish before leaving England.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

In the top right hand corner...the gang that took the trip to Roma; Kerry, me, Stacy, and Chris. Adjacent you will see us smiling after my birthday dinner at this great little restaurant called "The Yellow Pumpkin". Next, you see me enjoying a Latte Machiatto that I got as many days as possible. I found it at a little sidewalk cafe across the street from the Vatican. (I went so many days that I figured out exactly how to order from the Italian man behind the counter...when to pay, when to step aside and wait. My travel companions laughed at me. Hey, when I find something I like...well, I like it A LOT! Next to my coffee bliss, a street with cool trees that I saw all over Rome. Here I am at the Trevi Fountain (on my birthday!). Also, me in front of the Pantheon. (It is enormous!) Lastly, me inside the Colosseum, and to your immediate left...ancient Rome.
I am happy to give you a proper slide show and narrative when I come home for Christmas, but I thought I would share a bit now.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Connection. So, as per usual, I looked up this word in Webster. Would you believe how appropriate definition number five is? "5 : to establish a communications connection ". I mean, come on, could that express my newly acquired internet capabilities any better? : )

Yes. It is a reality, and keeping with the spirit of previous posts, I feel "complete" as a person, no having internet in my flat to use at my whim. In my email to my fellow London staff today, my comment was, "(Sigh)...So nice!" I think that pretty much sums it up.

You are looking at the view from the platform at my tube stop, St John's Wood. (I took this picture actually a few weeks ago. All the posters are changed often, so it no longer looks exactly like this when I wait for my train.) I spend quite a bit of time standing and waiting for the tube to transport me to and fro around the city. I quite like this form of transportation for the most part. Rush hours (a.k.a. work traffic in morning and evenings) cram people in like sardines inside these trains, and I like to avoid carrying loads of any great size...but all in all, I appreciate public transport a great deal. So there is a bit of a glimpse into my world.

A friend of mine here, Min, invited me to attend a class with her being offerred through All Souls Church (one of the churches I have mentioned visiting in posts prior) entitled "Engaging Islam". I must say I am enjoying it quite a lot. As many of you know or may have interpreted, I love learning, studying, and absorbing information especially about belief and people. What amazing opportunities I am finding here to feed that part of my person. Perhaps these kinds of opportunities have been at my fingertips in the States, and I have not taken advantage due to my comfort level and lack of awareness of my need to be continuously learning. I know not. (I do know, however, that my brain has not turned off since landing on this side of the pond....which is ok, fun, difficult, challenging, exhausting, and a blessing. I can see it as a pendulum swinging amidst all of these descriptors.)
So, this class... The instructors are intensely knowledgeable about the topic of Islam and the Muslim community. I could give loads of information that I have learned in the few hours I have sat in the church soaking in all I can and scribbling frantically trying to write notes that will peak my memory when I read them again, but I will refrain for the moment and focus in on my "take-away" from this evening's time. I felt sad. I felt sad that this community is told not to question. I feel like that takes away a key part of our identities as people, our ability to think, ask questions, and discover why we hold fast to something or someone. I am even more convinced that LOVE is the answer. Always love. Part of the focus of this class is to learn how to effectively minister and express Christianity (Jesus) to our Muslim friends. Respect. I love that our teachers are placing high value on respect for the Islamic culture and their beliefs. I believe that the truth should be spoken/expressed in love. If I am to tell anyone of any faith, of my beliefs, I am to respect that person with whom I am speaking. I should not be combative or argumentative or aggressive. I should be thoughtful, gentle, honest, and loving. I am truly passionate about gentleness.

My point? I think oftentimes I worry about my knowledge. I want to be an authority on any topic I may be discussing. Though I place a high value on knowledge, I am constantly moved by"how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" (Eph. 3.18). Pervasive. Learning about other people shows respect in my mind. Taking the time (a precious commodity) to read, study, ask questions about others, what they believe, where they come from,etc. is an act of love and respect at the exact same time...commandment #2. So, learn and love; love and learn. I would write these two words on top of one another if I could. I believe they should be ongoing and simultaneous.

Ok, so in the world of central London Young Life... I am fortunate to have a few girls (who I have mentioned repeatedly previously) who will lead with me. We got together this week for the first time (for YL reasons...we have been meeting up on Sundays for church for quite a few weeks.) in my neighbourhood to talk about loving on kids. I am truly excited about these young women, their hearts for the Lord, and the sparkle in their eyes when we brainstorm about how to love kids here. The Surrey crew (Brooke, Tate, Kerry, and Zsa Zsa) are having their annual tea (banquet, which is appropriately a tea here) this coming Sunday, and I will be helping out. Basketball season is gearing up, so I am pleased to be able to watch an indoor sport as opposed to football (soccer) in the now chilly, windy climate we are now experiencing.

As for me... I have been here right at two months now. I am learning to slow down...when walking around the city, when making my schedule. But mostly, on the inside...learning to take deep breaths and truly settle in. I keep telling people that I am "still getting settled", which is quite true. I think I have been saying and writing that, though, with the expectation that at some point in the near future there will be a day where I say, "Yes, I am settled in!". I have come to believe that as I began my last post, that "settling in" is a process, as well...a process that will not be complete for some time. So here is my challenge to you... If you catch me saying anything as vague as "I'm still settling", call me on it. : )

Ok, B, here you go. Word/phrase of the week: "sorted" ex. "Did you get everything sorted?" You probably understand this statement. They just do a way with our usual "out" at the end of the sentence. I hear this all the time. It could be used..."Have you gotten your flat sorted?" or in general..."Are you sorted?" meaning "Are you ready to go?" or "Do you have everything?". It is key when you read this to speak in your best British accent.

A bit of a bonus. My favourite word spoken in a British accent... "water". Say it. It sounds so romantic. Say it like you would normally say it. Then try it in accent. See! Just gorgeous.

I think you are great. kb

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

So, the "process" continues. Good news in the progress, though. I have an appointment for tomorrow morning to have my digital cable installed and the equipment for my broadband to be up and running is in the mail on its way to me. Woo hoo!!! Perhaps my next blog can be done from the coziness of my flat. (Fingers crossed.)
I am a day early this week because I am at Starbucks with my computer, because I missed this past Thursday, and because...well, I run this show. I can blog when I want perrogative, yeah? : ) Extra high fives if when you just read that word..."perrogative", you started singing the Bobby Brown interpretation of what this word means. I did, so I will high five myself. Ok, I won't. I am in Starbucks in my neighbourhoood. I spend a lot of time here, and I cannot afford to make myself look like a weirdo.
Ok, the word/phrase of the week? "By in large..." which means, "on the whole" or "for the most part". It is one of those phrases that is used commonly here. Yet another phrase that is not all that odd but simply another way of phrasing the English language. I love it. I cannot say that enough. I love it.
At church this week (at HTB, and by the way, you can download their sermons every week at I discovered that the British accent lends heavily to my worship experience. Those of you that know me well (and/or read my blog regularly, I suppose) are aware of my love of language. I live in the right spot for that passion to be fanned into flame, I assure you. At times, "I get lost in the language", as Meg would say in a popular movie with Tom Hanks. The sermon on Sunday morning pertained to our covenant relationship with the Lord. Not any of the subject matter was new or foreign to me necessarily, but usage of works like "corridor" rather than hallway or pathway speaks to my spirit. (I truly recommend you listen to that sermon online if you get a few minutes...Archie Coates was the pastor who delivered it.) I dunno. Just thought I would share.
To be honest and real, I must say at times the language, phrasing, and speed of talking does make my brow furrow and hurt a bit after long conversations with my new pals here in the U.K. I must work harder to process and sift through meanings, sarcastic undertones, and intent. Dialects are distinct just as they are in the States. Someone from Scotland sounds completely different from someone from London. Different parts of England carry different accents, as well.
A great realization has been that people are people no matter where you reside. What a gift the Lord has given us in the commonality in humanity. This thread that runs through us all, a need for love, respect, laughter, etc... allows me to feel at home regardless of whether I know only a handful of friends here or whether I know loads as I do there in Arkansas. What a blessing!
In terms of ministry... I have met a handful of parents and kids. I am filling out paperwork this week to coach middle school and to help assist with the high school softball teams at ASL. I feel positive and uplifted about the connections that are being made. Feel free to email or call if you have any questions or just want to chat. Oh, and it looks like I will be home (visiting both Fayetteville and LR) in mid-December! Just FYI. You guys are the best, and I love you much!
Oh, I think there are more pigeons here than people, so I posted a picture of them. Let me just say that back before the cold snap that has hit us, I was a bit fearful to open my windows too far as I thought I might have a few uninvited guests. : )