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.