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.