London–week 2

It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago I was still in the US and asleep for my last night in my bed for seven weeks. I feel like we’ve been here for a while, but at the same time that we haven’t. I’m really growing to love this city and the people that live here. I wasn’t expecting to meet nearly as many people from other countries as I have. Most of the people come here from throughout Europe and many are here to work and learn English. I think it’s cool that we can come to one place and get a taste of so many different cultures without leaving our borough.

Throughout the first full week we were here we had orientation training. Each morning we went to a talk down with a few other groups. The other groups were only here for a week or so. I really enjoyed these topics because I feel like they are really applicable for not just here, but also when I get back to the United States. I think my favorite one talked about discipleship. A lot of times I think I (and probably many others) have the idea that discipleship is something that only goes on after someone becomes a Christian. However, our talk gave reason for it beginning at first meeting. In the United States people are often around the church beginning at a young age, even if they do not attend regularly. Churches hold charity events, bbqs, and it is not uncommon for one to attend church with a friend even just for Easter or Christmas. Even just these brief encounters are brief encounters with the gospel that can bring about discipleship or even evangelism. In England this isn’t the norm. People here do not often grow up around the church. Discipleship involves teaching moments to impart the gospel, and this occurs in daily life (where it is most applicable). Because it involves daily life it is important that you are with people daily (or at least frequently) and you know them very well. You know what people are like, what their struggles are, how they learn, what they relate to, what they enjoy, what they do not enjoy… In knowing this you are able to best minister to the person you are walking with through life. Discipleship is just life on life evangelism–living life with someone and incorporating gospel teachings into what goes on between you two and around you. For me, all of that was especially relieving to hear. I know I often work up discipleship to be a big, formal endeavor, but in reality it isn’t. Furthermore, we aren’t called to bring someone all the way to salvation. Take the story of the Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-35). The Eunuch had just returned from worshiping in Jerusalem and is reading scripture from Isaiah in a chariot; however, he doesn’t understand who the scripture is about. Philip tells him that the prophet is talking about Jesus and he tells him the good news about him. Afterwards the eunuch sees a pool and asks to be baptize. He becomes a follower of Christ just through Philip telling him who the scripture was about. We celebrate the reaping of the story, btu we forget about those who discipled him beforehand. We forget that someone taught him to read scripture and go to Jerusalem for worship. If someone hadn’t taught him all of that before then it is uncertain to whether or not he would have believed. Philip’s message wouldn’t have made sense without the part that came before. All parts are important, and even if you never see someone come to salvation, it doesn’t mean they never will through someone else. I find that especially encouraging considering we will only be here for 7 weeks. Even if nobody enters into a relationship with Christ it doesn’t mean we haven’t made an impact in this city.

This past weekend we took a trip to Brighton just to enjoy being around each other and celebrate our first week in London. Brighton is this really beautiful city in the south of the UK on the coast. The beach there is all pebbles, not sand like back in North Carolina. While there we got to go to shops and explore. My friend Caroline put it well when she said, “I feel like I’ve spent the day shopping on Etsy!” Everything was really adorable. I bought a dress, which many of you know is my favorite item of clothing. I also got to have my first cream tea. It was so amazing, and Caroline and I have said that when we get back to NC we think we should open a place that sells cream tea. Cream tea is basically a pot of tea, scones, clotting cream, and jam. The scones taste much like biscuits back in America (biscuits here=cookies in America). I got peppermint green tea and she got caramel cream rooibos tea, which was absolutely amazing. I plan on ordering some before I leave to go to the States. After our tea we went to spend some time on the beach reading our books. It was really relaxing, and not nearly as hot as it is on the American beaches right now. The weather was warm and sunny, which we were really grateful for considering most of our days here (including today) are very cloudy and stay mainly in the mid 50s. Sunday and Monday were also really beautiful. On Sunday we had a picnic in the park and invited our friends we have met to join and on Monday we had our Sabbath. I really enjoyed our first Sabbath in London! We slept in and then did our individual time with God outside in the sunshine. I wore my new dress from Brighton, and then we went into the city to Patisserie Valerie, a small French cafe, near Trafalger Square. When we got off the tube we began to search for the cafe, but began heading in a different direction because I heard an orchestra playing! I knew that the London Symphony Orchestra was doing a concert in Trafalger Square that evening, but we couldn’t go because we were having dinner with someone. However, I got lucky that they were having a rehearsal right when we walked up! As if the day couldn’t be any better! We listened to them rehearse for a bit and took some photos, then continued on our way to the cafe. At the cafe I got cream tea with raspberry tea. After our tea we headed out to see Big Ben again since our last time there we didn’t get to spend much time there and were very cold and tired. It was a great day for photos. It started to get to be time for dinner, so we headed home and I took a nap. I hope our next Sabbath is just as restful. It definitely put me in a great mood and perspective for the rest of the week.

If you’ve gotten this far then I’m definitely impressed. I didn’t expect to write nearly that much, but I’m just really excited to be able to share this experience with everyone! Please continue to pray for peoples’ hearts here, that they will be open to hearing the good news of Jesus Christ and that we would be bold in our conversations with others. Help us long to see God glorified in this place and see people redeemed. Help us seek God daily in even the smallest, most insignificant of things.

Much love,

Bethany

The five of us spent our Sabbath together in the central city. Left to right: Macklyn, Christa, Tori, me, Caroline

The five of us spent our Sabbath together in the central city.
Left to right: Macklyn, Christa, Tori, me, Caroline

My first cream tea!

My first cream tea!

Me and Caroline about to take our first sips of tea

Me and Caroline about to take our first sips of tea

Me and Macklyn on Brighton's beach. Notice the pebbles! Pretty cool

Me and Macklyn on Brighton’s beach. Notice the pebbles! Pretty cool

Me and Caroline with the London Symphony Orchestra! They were playing Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz.

Me and Caroline with the London Symphony Orchestra! They were playing Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz.

Advertisements

London–week 1

We have officially almost been in this big city for a week now! It has been crazy at how quickly time passes. Each day seems so short, but that’s okay. I have loved every second of it. 🙂

We arrived in London around 7 AM and met Krissy and two of the interns working with us (Tara and Antoinette) at the airport. They had oyster cards for us to take the tube to where we are staying (oyster cards are the little passes for using the tube and bus system). We took the tube in via the Picadilly line and got off close to our borough, Ealing, which is in the west part of London. We then took the bus, double decker of course, to where we will be staying for the next few weeks. While here we are living in a girls hostel run by some Italian nuns. It is right across the street from Krissy’s house and we have spent quite a few nights over with her just talking and eating dinner. She is so kind and an amazing listener. I feel like I’ll learn a lot from her. She has a degree in counseling and is very wise and full of insight into the culture here and living missionally. After dropping off our stuff at our hostel, we freshened up a bit and took the tube into the central city to see the main tourist sights: Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Millennium, Big Ben, Westminster… you name it, we probably saw it. We will have many more opportunities to go into the city, so this was a pretty quick glance at everything. We spent about 7 hours in the city (I think…) and then went to dinner at this place called Nandos. I went to one when I was in NZ, but they have mainly chicken dishes. We were so exhausted after having been up for essentially 31 hours straight and we slept really early! The nuns have breakfast for us every morning, which usually consists of toast, drinking chocolate (aka, hot chocolate… cadberry of course), and coffee. They also provide us dinner if we ask, but so far we have only eaten there once.

The last few days have consisted of orientation in the morning. I usually get up at 7 or 7:20 to shower and get ready for the day. After eating breakfast I do our daily Bible study, usually with my good friend Macklyn. We have a list of verses that we are studying each day while here that all relate back to our theme, which as I mentioned before is “glory” and comes from Romans 8:18 (For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.) We have a book that we are reading as a team as well called Questioning Evangelism which I really like because it gives you a new way to look at evangelism and how to discuss God with others in a way that brings about more discussion instead of us just giving answers. After that we leave for our morning talk. This is usually done by Krissy or Chris, both of whom are living here through the IMB (International Missions Board). We have discussed the gospel, the church, planting the seed of the gospel, and discipleship, to name a few topics. After this meeting we head out to Simple Church. I really enjoy this part of the day. Our team of 10 is divided into smaller groups of 3-4 and are assigned a cafe to go have a Bible study in. Our group of four goes out with Tara, one of the interns, to Caffe Nero, a cafe chain in London. There we study passages of the Bible and ask a few basic questions about them every time. Many of the churches (like, organized establishment) here need to be revived and just are dead now, so considering that the church is really a who in that it is a body made up of PEOPLE they bring church to where the people are. This is why it is called Simple Church. One who has never been introduced to the Gospel may be more likely to attend a small group discussion like this than enter in a church building. It’s so different in America in this regard. In America many people grow up around a church even if they don’t attend one every day. Here that is just a foreign concept. People literally come from around the world to live here, and many of those countries have barely any religion. Religion here seems to be like, something that is an ancient artifact in a museum. Yes, it’s a part of the ancient and historical story of this country, but nothing that would be of value for the present day. Being a Christian can be difficult because you see the brokenness of this place and just want to be like “No!! What you have isn’t joy, but I can show you true joy. I want to give you this treasure that is Jesus!” but obviously it’s not that easy. You have to establish a relationship with people before they’ll give a lick about what you say. Chris described it really well in this way: People have a cup of attention, and the people of London have cups that are full (imagine a full cup of water here). Then we come along and give them something else to pay attention to (that is, Jesus Christ). They physically cannot add that to their cup because it’s already full. Therefore, either something that has previously captured their attention has to leave or what you have to offer has to be disregarded. If they don’t know you well then why would they care about what you have to say?! Simple Church is also great in that it establishes a presence. Think of the cafes you frequent.. you probably see some people there all the time. You may smile and wave at that person. I’m sure you would feel much more comfortable talking to this person for the first time than a complete stranger. After Simple Church we have the afternoon free to meet up with old contacts or to make new ones. On our first day it was really sunny, so the park was a great place to go! We met three girls and two guys and are hoping to get to hang out with them more. It is a bit difficult right now because the schools are in exams, just like the schools back in America. I’ve hung out with one girl that I met at our hostel named Ana quite a bit. She is from Spain, and I think we’ll become good friends. I can even use Spanish with her, which has been a great blessing.

This weekend our team is taking the overground train to Brighton, which is on the coast. I’m really excited for this team bonding day and hope it’ll be really nice weather 🙂 On Sunday we’ll be having a BBQ as well, but obviously not with American BBQ unfortunately. We are all missing some American food, such a sweet tea, chick fil a, bojangles, American biscuits (here biscuits are cookies)… typical southern food. Haha, but we will get along. I’m really looking forward to the friendships we form and exploring more of this neat city!

Also, on a side note, I’m not sure if many of you heard about the attack in London yesterday afternoon. I’m not anywhere near that attack (yes, in the same city, not in the same borough). My place is in Ealing, which is in West London and that was in Southeast London. We are all safe and know to avoid protests. Please be praying for this person and their group, that they wouldn’t take any more lives, their families, and the family of the man who was killed. We are all broken because of our sin, and it just makes my heart long more and more for this city and these people to see the glory of Jesus and be redeemed. Just as our theme verse says, when Jesus comes all of the sufferings of right now will seem like nothing. How amazing is it that in the midst of such tragedy that we can put our hope in such a loving and powerful Savior?! I’m just blown away by his mercy and faithfulness every day.

Much love,

Bethany

306760_10200877834726675_255674621_n

Girls in front of Buckingham Palace

Team infront of Buckingham Palace

Team infront of Buckingham Palace

969071_10200877836486719_271796011_n

Today is the day!

Today is the day!!! We’re currently sitting in the RDU airport waiting for our flight to London, England. I can’t believe that this entire semester of preparation has finally led to this moment! It’s a day that has been long-awaited and, to be honest, I’m still in shock that it is finally here. Thank you so much to all who have supported me financially and have been praying for me and my team throughout this entire process. You all mean the world to me, and putting the amount of gratitude I have for you into words would be pretty much impossible. I have learned so much about God’s grace and provision throughout this time support raising. The Lord has brought me to my knees in tears just because I was so in awe of His goodness and grace. While raising support has been difficult at times, I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything. God knew exactly how to make it happen and He had a plan for getting me and my team to London! 

Cheers, friends!!! 

Bethany

PS–below is a picture of my team! We’re excited to be leaving in such a short period of time!

Image