Friday, November 19, 2010

Class This Week

Hi Friends!

It has been a long time, I know. Since I'm now living in England, it's hard to think of good things to write that would be interesting for you guys. My dad and I were talking and he suggested I share a few of the stories I told him about teaching this week, so here goes. I will try, also, to do some posts in the coming week -- during which six of my very good friends (OK, I will be meeting two of them here but am confident we'll become friends) will be adventuring through Ireland and England, celebrating Thanksgiving, and doing some other fun things. But first, some stories about classes this week.

First, I was at Bible English on Wednesday where a group of us teach mostly asylum-seekers (called refugees in America) English and use the Bible as our text. It is an interesting class with a wide spectrum of English levels and abilities. I ended up with an Afghani lady who has a lot of trouble understanding in the class. It is doubtful that she has ever had formal schooling and it is really difficult to help her understand basic concepts. I admit feeling frustrated as we went through our lesson and prayed that I would have help to love her better.

As the lesson wound down, she started talking to me out of the blue, and was able to communicate quite a bit in English. She told me about the difficult situation her family is in because they are not allowed to work here and the money they are given by the government is not enough for her to buy coats for her three children. It is cold here so I understand this would be a major concern! They can't go back to Afghanistan and don't have much hope for getting different papers any time soon.

The next day, I was at the other English class I help with. This one is a general TESOL class and is made up of about 20 ladies, mostly Pakistani, who live in this city. Many have been here for over ten years and don't speak much English. They are wonderful and enthusiastic learners, and a joy to work with.

For the first time, my friend Elizabeth and I were asked to take a group of the more advanced students upstairs in the church we use for the classes to work on the computers. We were to start making a CV (like a resume) with them. I knew in my head that they didn't know how to use computers. But I wasn't prepared...

When we got up to the room and each lady sat in front of a computer. I asked if they had ever used computers before, and they all said no, NEVER. One said that her family has one, and she has never used it.

I started working with one of the older ladies who has lived here for over 30 years. She speaks English very well but is just learning to read and write. She worked in a school in Britain for 25 years as a lunch lady. This was clearly her first time working on a computer. It was amazing to teach someone what a mouse is -- it seemed as difficult to her to learn how to maneuver it as it would be to learn to drive a car! And things like how long to push a button to make it register once, not 8 times, were terribly difficult.

Anyway, these experiences this week have me thinking more about the immense need within the refugee and immigrant communities all over the world. I also realize more how difficult it is to be a teacher (I admire my teacher friends so much), and how blessed I am to have had opportunities for education. To be able to read and write in itself is a blessing I take for granted all of the time. And it is wonderful to get to work with these incredible women who, although they have not had the same opportunities, are fun, loving, proud of their families, and have amazing life stories.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Settling In

Hi Friends,

These last two days have been good -- catching up with Bob and Kathryn and starting to get settled in. We went to the grocery store yesterday and met with a couple I expect to be spending lots of time with today. Otherwise, I'm afraid I don't have much to report, since I've been sick with a cold or flu since getting to England. I have been staying close to bed. I'm expecting to feel better soon, and am looking forward to that, so I can get out for a run at the manor and feel more like myself as I meet people and make plans!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And We're Back!

Hi Friends!

It has been a long time since my last post. The last few months have been very eventful, spent back in the U.S. They have included big decisions for the future and a lot of planning! I am back in the UK now... ready to stay until December 20th.

Here is an update with pictures of these last few months:
This is me in London as I headed back to the U.S.

I have LOVED spending time with the International Friendship Group this summer! I will really miss these guys!

Cari-Jean, John, Justin and I lead the college Bible study at Grace this summer. These are some of the girls I enjoyed getting to know!

I got to spend some quality time with Emily. This is us in Baltimore for a "Mr. Green Jeans" concert.

My sister Jenni came to visit for a few days. Here she is with Deb at dinner before an evening of adventure!

Some friends ran in the Annapolis Ten Miler. This is me with some others who went to cheer them on. I was able to run part of the race with Emily, which was fun!

Deb joined me on a quick trip to my grandparents' house in Pennsylvania. On our way home we saw a sign for a town called Forks. Since some of our friends have visited the Forks near Seattle lately, we decided to get a picture with our own Forks sign!

I spent time catching up with friends I won't get to see for a while. This is one of my favorite pictures of the summer... me with my friend Catherine's daughter, Grace. I think she is SO cute!

On my final Friday night, some good friends met up for dinner together at the Cheesecake Factory. Jess and Laura walked up together looking so cute and pregnant... I couldn't help but get a picture of them with Christy. All three are due soon!

I will be in England continuing work in inter-cultural communication here. I'll teach some English lessons, and help with other projects in the city. I plan to spend January-July in Israel working on peace-building there, and then next fall hope to return to England to start a masters program here in conflict resolution.

I hope you are all well, and look forward to hearing from you!


Friday, July 2, 2010

London -- and to home

Today I walked around London and then met up with a friend of a friend in the evening. Overall it was a nice day. Tomorrow I leave the guest house where I'm staying for the airport at 5:20am or something... which is 12:20am East Coast time... not like anyone is taking note of that or anything! I'm looking forward to arriving in Maryland in time for some fireworks:-). Seems like a very poetic time of year to come home to the US from Britain, doesn't it? I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow. Please don't expect too much intelligent conversation, though:-). I will probably be a little out of it!

I know I have lots of pics to catch up on. I'll post them at some point soon!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Phil Wickham - You're Beautiful.mp4

Good Morning,

I love this and just thought I'd share it. Have a wonderful day!

Bradford, Day 22

I had an absolutely wonderful day today. I went to Haworth today with the intention of spending some time alone with God and taking a nice walk into the moors near the Bronte house. I got to do that and God surprised me by having different plans for my time than I did, which was really good. In the evening I went to the youth group meeting for the church I've been attending here. I really enjoy the students:-)!

I'll have to post some pictures, but at the moment I'm too tired. Tomorrow if I can get on the internet. I'll be traveling to London tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bradford, Days 20 & 21

Hi Friends,

I hope everyone is well!

Yesterday, I volunteered to help out in a shop which does some neat work with youth here in the city. I washed dishes, met the youth, and even got to make an "authentic" American hamburger for a customer (authentic because of the American making it... not the burger). It's fun to be a novelty every now and again:-).
Making the "authentic" burger.

After leaving the shop I went to Leeds with a friend and had a nice time seeing the neighboring city.
Me in Leeds.

Today I went to a conference about community organization for leaders in this Bradford. The speaker was an American clergyman, and it was a bizarre situation to be the only other American in the room. I found myself identifying more with my British colleagues than with the presenter. I think it's really valuable to get out of one's culture to gain perspective on things like our attitudes about ourselves and our role in the world, our political bias, and things along those lines.

After the conference, I got back to the house around 5! This has been unheard of -- I had the first "down" night since the team arrived 11 days ago. It was fun to have tea (supper) with the family and then just spend the evening getting prepared for the next few days and catching up with a few people online.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bradford, Day 19

Today was the team's last day here, and we spent most of the Day in York. Bethan and I drove up this morning in an attempt (which worked) to beat the crowds, and then met the team there for church. After the service we had a nice lunch, did some sight-seeing and then came back to Bradford for a church service bringing multiple local congregations together. It is really exciting to see the intentional unity in the Body of Christ here in this place.

This evening was the final debrief with our hosts. It was wonderful to have a great team, and so sad to see such a fun group go in our different directions. I am thankful that I get to stay here a few more days!!!

Here are some pics of York:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bradford, Day 18

Hi Everyone,

This morning we worked with some local churches in the center of town. Then Tim and Bethan (my hosts), their daughter and another friend took me up into the Dales for a picnic and a visit to Malham. It is a really unique area because there is a former limestone waterfall which, because of the porous nature of the rocks, has had the water seep through rather than coming over the top anymore.

Then tonight we had a lovely BBQ at the Carlton's house. Fun to get to be back there for a night!

Here are some pictures from the day:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bradford, Day 17

Today our main activity was to spend time at a local mosque. It was a really good experience. We were given the opportunity to meet the Imam and were invited to observe the mid-afternoon prayer. Then we talked with some of the leaders and learned more about Islam whilst building some interesting relationships!

I hope everyone at home is very well!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bradford, Day 16

Today was really, really crazy! We were at the school again this morning, and several of the girls surprised me with cards and little gifts when they saw me again. It was so surprising and really really sweet.

After the school, we had a meeting with some local Muslim leaders. It was a really insightful discussion about the teachings of Islam as they relate to terrorism and other challenging issues.

Then we did some training for the work we'll be doing for Healing on the Streets on Saturday.

Directly following that Ben and I (a British friend) went out to follow up with people about the Jesus DVD project, which we have been helping a local church with. Families in the neighborhood have been offered the DVD and if they wanted to follow up with someone we are going around to do that. We ended our time at one of the little girls from school's house, and had a great conversation with her mom and aunt. They were really so kind and warm!

Following that project, we went to the pastor of one of the churches' house for a Jamaican dinner. It was really nice and we had a wonderful time laughing with the family.

I am looking forward to sleep and am just really thankful for these great experiences!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bradford, Day 15

Whew, today has been really busy:-)!

This morning I got up kind of late and had to rush to get to the church where we met on time. Once there we prepared for our day and then headed to a local elementary school which has a great relationship with my friends here. We put on a skit teaching about peer pressure and then went by twos to individual classrooms to tell about America. It was good but a little stressful since neither my partner or I have much experience in an elementary school classroom.

After the classes we went to lunch and recess with the kids. I had a following of year 5 girls, who were quite a bit cooler than me, talking about their favorite designers, celebrities, and cars. They were super-sweet. I have pictures but am not sure if I should post them, so I'll check and maybe put them up tomorrow. We'll be going back to the school then.

After being at the school we met with a local Muslim woman and had a wonderful conversation about holy books, true faith, and issues of modesty and women's dress. We Christians have quite a bit to learn from Muslims as we seek to honor God. Let me know if you'd like to talk more about what I mean by that.

Then we went to a local Madrasa, or Muslim school which children attend after school. It was great to meet some of the teachers.

Our dinner tonight kept the inter-faith dialog going. Bob and Kathryn invited some local Muslim men and women to join us at a nice restaurant for an "evening of sharing." It was great to get to talk about some serious Muslim/Christian issues today with Muslims who take their faith seriously.

When I got home I got to spend some quality time with my host family. They are really wonderful.

There is the update! I wanted to note on here that I'm sorry my updates tend to be sterile. There is much more going on in my activities and what I am learning, thinking, and feeling, but because of the time constraints I'm under and out of concern for the privacy of those I'm traveling with and to, I would rather not post too much detailed information in this public forum. I hope that, if anyone wants to follow my trip, this at least gives a good basic understanding of what is going on. But if you would like to know more just ask... I'd be happy to fill you in on the other stuff!

Here is me with some friends in the Madrasa.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bradford, Day 14

Hi Friends,

Today ended up being another really good day. I thank God for this great trip!

It was gorgeous outside. I didn't need to be anywhere until 10 and had already decided to sleep in a little bit, so got up around 8 and had plenty of time to get ready. Bethan, the mom of the family I'm staying with, is a phenomenal hostess, and in the mornings has set the table for me with (and I am not exaggerating) a plate, bowl, knife, spoon, teacup and saucer, pretty wine glass which she uses for everyday drinks with a red napkin in it, 3 types of muesli, a croissant, piece of seeded bread, butter, cut strawberries, yogurt, a small pitcher of milk, orange juice,and  a french-press coffee pot with the grounds in it and ready for me to just add hot water. Seriously, I am pretty sure my breakfast is better than the queen's!

I then walked to the church where my group meets in the morning, which is a really nice 2 mileish walk, which I enjoy. And I got to meet with my team, sing some songs, do some praying, and it was good. We had a productive morning and then went to lunch at a Pakistani restaurant which was absolutely fabulous. We had some kind of fried lamb and vegetable burger of some kind with FRESH naan and sauces and veggies to go with it. We also had some lovely tea. Oh, SO good! I had a great conversation with one of the local pastors during lunch also, which was incredibly encouraging.

The afternoon was spent in preparation for the next few days, when we are going into an elementary school to talk about America. I hope it'll be fun!

In the late afternoon I got to go around to houses to talk to people about a project the churches have been doing in the neighborhood. I went with a local guy named Ben, and we had a frustrating time for the first hour, finding that it was unclear where we were supposed to go, etc. Eventually, we were about to give up and guessed on a house we thought might be incorrectly recorded. It turns out it was the right place -- we were invited into the man's house and had an absolutely fabulous conversation!

After we finished that project, we went to dinner with our group at a local pub, which was really nice. I decided this was my opportunity to try sticky toffee pudding which I have heard so much about, so I ordered soup for dinner and the pudding for my "pudding" (dessert).

Here's how I found it (what I thought of it)...

Yeah, that's pretty much a full-sized plate :-/. SO yummy, though! After I got home, I went for a brief run:-).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bradford, Day 13

Today the weather was beautiful, yet again! I am glad it was so nasty when I got here... I wouldn't have believed what everyone says about the weather otherwise! It has been sooo nice.

Today we did crossing cultures training, where we learned about building relationships with people from other cultures by being a learner. This wasn't new for me since I've done the training before, but it was exciting to do it with some teammates who have had very little cross-cultural interaction. Amazing the conversations you can have when you are just there to listen!

We also had fish and chips! Not something to make a habit of, but they sure were tasty!

Sorry my entries are quite quick these days. I'm afraid I've been quite worn-out and have had little down time to write.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bradford, Day 12

Hi Everyone,

The last few days have been good with the team. It is a neat group, half living in CO and half from VA. Yesterday we helped some local churches put on a gala for the community, and it was neat to see the very diverse community come together in a really fun time for the kids. I painted a lot of faces!!! Afterward one of my teammates and I went to a family's house for dinner, which was lovely.

Today we went to three church services. It has been fun getting to know several of the believing families through various activities!

My host family is definitely the best. They are Tim and Bethan, and they have three kids in their late teens. Today we had a few hours off, and they offered to take me and some of the other Americans to Saltaire, a really nice area in Bradford. It was a hub during the industrial revolution, and the entrepreneur of the area was one of the first to provide nice housing, parks, schools, a church, etc. for his workers. Now the area has been refurbished and is a really nice young professional community.

Here is a picture:
I'm not sure how well you'll be able to tell, but this afternoon we had cappuccinos next to this river. On the other side there are chaps in white uniforms playing cricket in the middle of a park. So charming and British!!! :-D

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bradford, Day 11

I'm afraid I'm too tired to blog this evening. Actually, I guess this is blogging? I'll plan to write more of an update tomorrow. Hope everyone is well!

Bradford, Day 10

Today was another great one. After my last run near Bob and Kathryn's house I packed up and we met the American team at the train station. The team was all jet-lagged, so Bob and Kathryn's mission was to keep everyone awake until a reasonable bedtime hour. Interestingly, this 5 hour time change is a really challenging one because of the plane schedules it is often almost a full two days of awake time before getting sleep. Bob and Kathryn and I agree that it is more treacherous than some of the 13+ hour time changes we've done.

After taking a bus to the church and eating lunch with the team, we split into teams of three and went out on a scavenger hunt around Bradford. It was fun to get to know a few of my team members and to see more of the beautiful city!

Then Tim and Bethan, who I am staying with for the next 10 days, came to pick me up at the church. Since I am not jet lagged like my teammates, they took the opportunity to bless me with a trip to Haworth. Although the day started off "poorly" (bad weather) it brightened in the afternoon and was absolutely stunning in the Dales. Haworth was the home of the Bronte sisters. John Westley also preached there. We saw the Brontes' house, the church where their father was the vicar, an amazing graveyard, the stunning and quaint city of Haworth, and the hills and moors from Withering Heights.

Then, to top the evening off, they took me to a traditional British pub where they treated me to a beef stew with horseradish dumplings and chips (french fries) and convinced the waitress to add Yorkshire pudding. It was a perfect British experience!

Here are some pictures:

Just a few of the beautiful buildings in Bradford.

One of my teammates had my camera for a while and took this picture -- I love it! This is the town hall in Bradford.

The vicarage where the Brontes grew up is behind the graveyard. I could have spent days reading epitaphs there! Apparently there was an epidemic which killed many people which is the reason for the very full and fairly uniform graveyard.

On the other side of the graveyard is the church where the Brontes' father was the vicar.

This is a picture of the town of Haworth. It doesn't do it justice at all. Notice the fields in the background -- it was a perfect view.

Me in Haworth.

Here is another picture which doesn't even begin to do the scenery and the atmosphere justice. If you walk a few miles on this road, you get to the location where Emily Bronte was supposed to have gotten the inspiration for Withering Heights. It was far too charming in the gorgeous weather to set the mood put forth in the novel, but I adored it! If I lived here this is the kind of day I would write about!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bradford, Day 9

Hi Friends,

Today was the last before I am part of a team coming from the states to do join in some projects we have been preparing, meet people in the international community here, etc. I will be moving tomorrow to stay with a local family. I'm really looking forward to staying with them -- we went over to their house for dinner last week and they are really fun!

This morning I enjoyed my run. I took a little different path and ran through more woods and less road while listening to a Matt Wertz album. It was quite fun. Thanks again to Emily for the wonderful gift of my iPhone arm band which makes running and listening possible!

In the afternoon, I took a bus into the heart of the city! Even with as much public transportation as I have taken, it still makes me nervous the first time I travel somewhere. I went and met Olau, a friend who works in Conflict Resolution, and attended the University of Bradford for a degree in that subject. I am very interested in entering that field and it was wonderful that he was willing to show me around the school and tell me all about it!

In the later afternoon Bob, Kathryn and I worked on some final preparations for the team. Then we had dinner and watched a little Magnum, P.I. (a first for me) before heading to bed early!

Hopefully I'll be able to keep up daily updates after my move, but I'm not sure what the internet situation will be at the new house. I always love hearing from you!!!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bradford, Day 8

Today was lovely! I guess it's apparent that I've been having a great time here in the UK...

In the morning, Bob went to take his written driver's test so he can get a UK license. He passed with flying colors, which is quite a feat, apparently! During that time, Kathryn and I spent some time praying together in their beautiful conservatory and then worked in the garden. It was bright, sunny, and actually quite warm!

After lunch, Bob and Kathryn took me to Bolton Abbey, which is located in the Yorkshire Dales. The whole experience was a feast for my eyes. We got to go through towns that must look very similar to how they looked 300 years ago, which I find pretty cool. And here are some pictures!

Bonus, this is the gnocchi dinner we had last night. It was SO good and was so pretty I had to take a picture of it!

Bradford, Day 7

Today was beautiful! Most of the day was spent with Bob and Kathryn doing a variety of things, and I also got back to the woods to do some running and to take some pictures!!!

Remind anyone of Rapunzel? Me either, but somehow that is what I had in mind!

One angle of the ruin.

There are fields with sheep in them on the other side of those trees.

This is pretty much the whole ruin.

Me in the pretty woods with the ruins in the background.

I stopped on the run back to take a picture of these beauties!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bradford, Day 6

This morning I jolted awake with sun shining into my window so brightly that I thought it was noon! I was mistaken, though, it was only 6:30am. We are far, far north here. Knowing that rain and clouds were in the forecast, I decided to take advantage of the early morning sunshine and do my running before breakfast.

I had such a great time! I went back to the Manor grounds, and since I now know the paths somewhat, was able to run much farther along it. A ways in I came upon a ruin which looked like part of a castle wall, although I'm not sure what it was. I had a great time exploring it! I know, I'm a kid with stuff like that. It was a really fun run.

The other highlight of my day was as a girl gave me a hug in greeting she told me that I smell like America! It was one of the most funny things I have ever been told:-). Since I wasn't quite sure what she meant, I didn't know how to respond. She clarified that it smells "sweet" and that she likes it, so I took it as a compliment. Really, as much as I try not to stand out as an American whenever possible, I am glad to be identified with my country.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bradford, Day 5

Hi All,

Another rainy, but good, day in England. This morning I went to church with some friends and then did some various things with Bob and Kathryn in the afternoon. We went to their church at 4pm and then to another friend's house for dinner, where we ate Jordanian food which was brilliant!

I continue to enjoy my time here. It has been a pleasure to see some new friends in more than one venue, so I am feeling more and more acclimated here. I continue to learn a lot from Bob and Kathryn -- they are heavenly people and it is a pleasure to get to follow them around as they so naturally influence others in such a positive way -- just through living genuine lives.

I am looking forward to this next few days, which will be more relaxed than the ten days starting Friday when we will be joined by other Americans and I will jump into a much more rigorous schedule (although this weekend has been quite busy in its own right).

I hope you are all doing well also!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bradford, Day 4

Today was great. After breakfast Bob and Kathryn and I went downtown to visit a team which was praying for healing for people on the streets of Bradford. It was very cool, and great to meet some new friends!
Before praying with others, we prayed together.

Then we headed to the Mela -- a cross-cultural festival in the heart of the city. We had some wonderful lunch. I think I have a new favorite food in this city, which I will take a picture of and talk about soon. After eating, Bob and Kathryn worked at a booth while I walked around on my own. When they finished their assignment, we walked around with some friends for half an hour.
A poster for the Mela

Saying Hi.

Kathryn and me walking into a huge mass of people!

I spent the evening having dinner with some friends who used to work with my parents. It was another great dinner with wonderful people. After finishing, we went to watch the US-UK World Cup game. Although I wish the US won straight-out, a tie was the next best thing! It was a fun game to watch, and it's always fun to be in the obnoxious minority cheering for the underdog!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bradford, Day 3

Today was another good one. I woke to brilliant sunshine, got a lot of work done, went for a run, helped in the garden, went to an immigrant community and met some people, and then had a lovely (and yummy) dinner at the home I'll be staying in for the second half of my time here in Bradford.

Before working in the garden I had some fun taking pictures of some of the beautiful flowers:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bradford, Day 2

Today was really nice! After sleeping for over 13 hours, I (reluctantly) got myself out of bed and had a nice breakfast and time of Bible study. I then went out for a run, which was wonderful! Thanks to  I had a route in mind but I ended up following a random assortment of foot paths onto the grounds of Cottingley Manor ( which has beautiful woods and many, many paths throughout! It was cloudy and cool -- great running weather and a wonderful introduction to Northern England.

Bob and Kathryn and I had a lovely lunch and then went into Bradford. It is a really interesting place, which apparently was most prosperous during Victorian times where it was a center of mills. We met with someone, walked around, visited the town hall building (I can't remember what it's called here), and then went to a gorgeous bookstore and then to the Starbucks which shares it.

After getting back to the house we made a quick turnaround and drove to Manchester (about an hour and a half away) to meet with a pastor about an upcoming conference. The meeting was over dinner at a curry place :-). The drive was beautiful -- the sun peaked out for part of it, which was very exciting!

Here are some pictures of views from the house:
Bob and Kathryn's amazing garden. I'll get out there and take some more pics soon.

The view from the front of the house. It's foggy, but still beautiful!