Well, England must be keeping me pretty busy since I haven’t written for nearly a month. I am continually amazed by how fast the time has gone. I think that means I must be enjoying myself, but at the same time, it is all going by too quickly! So much has happened. God has done so much for us. I still have to pinch myself sometimes to decided whether or not I am actually here. Being away from home has been a challenge, but there is no better comfort that knowing that I am living in God’s will.
Fall in the U.K. has been quite nice actually. I found a Starbucks nearby so I have had my pumpkin spice lattes. The leaves changing colors here are absolutely beautiful. Also, I have to say that England has some of the best sunsets I have ever seen. I have had to pull out my coat a few times, and there has been some ice on the windshield some mornings, but the weather has been decent. It hasn’t rained too much either to be fair. A few weeks ago it rained for almost two days straight. There were a ton of roads flooded, but I was assured that it was not normal. There is limited daylight now though. I wake up while its dark, and it is dark again before seven. Apparently, it is going to get much worse as we get into winter.
We have been pretty busy during the week. Our Stockton YFC team, which includes me and five others, works in three schools each week, and we have been invited into two more. Basically we are there to build relationships with the students. We sit in loads of different lessons, talking to kids and helping them with their work. I absolutely love the work we get to do in Rosebrook Primary School. I worked in that school when I came with the Southcrest team in July, so it had been such a blessing to be able to go back. So many of the kids remember me, and are so excited that we are going to be there for a whole year. On Tuesdays we run an after-school club for some of the older kids. They seem to really enjoy it, and I love their enthusiasm during the Bible lessons. I think it is so awesome that the schools let us come in and be involved, and I can’t wait to see what God does there.
My favorite part of the week by far is the girls’ bible study that I lead on Tuesday nights. I started going a little over a month ago, and there was about 6 girls that went regularly. It has more than doubled in size since then, which I think is amazing, because coming to a bible study outside of church is something that these girls choose to do. We have great conversations, answer some awesome questions, dig into the Word together, and have loads of fun. We are growing so much closer, and I know that God will work through these new friendships. I want to see this girls ministry continue to grow, because it is something that I really have a heart for. During my time in my high school youth group, I was blessed to have an amazing mentor, who I could go to for anything, anytime. I can only pray that these girls will begin to rely on me in the same way that I relied on Lauren for four years of my life. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without her, and I want to give these girls the same opportunity and a chance to find true life in Christ.
I have been so blessed by my new church home, Stockton Parish Church. The staff is absolutely amazing; they are so supportive of our work and our ideas. The congregation is unlike anything I have ever experienced. The people are literally from every corner of the world, yet there is a sense of family that is absolutely undeniable. Anyone is welcome, and you can feel that as soon as you walk in the door. These people have some awesome stories of radical faith. Although the congregation is smaller than what I am used to, that has been such a blessing because I get to have a personal relationship with everyone. Don’t get me wrong, this church is continually growing and opening up new doors for God’s love to flood into Stockton.
I run the youth group there along with Sam (my new brother/teammate/partner in crime). I have loved getting to know all the kids, and everyone has been really receptive. Honestly, the idea of leading a youth group still makes me nervous. That is not something I saw myself doing. I want so badly to make an impact on the lives of these kids, and be a role model through my own lifestyle and relationship with God. This experience has already stretched me in more ways then I could ever have imagined. I have no sense of my comfort zone anymore, because when God leads me to do something I just have to dive in and do it. I try not to get nervous about anything, because if I do it to the best of my ability, God will take control.
I could talk for ages about all the great things God has done since I’ve been here, but I can’t stay up all night because I have school tomorrow. But I will say this, today I was thinking about how much need there still is in this place. Even the ministries that are here are growing too fast to keep up with. During our church staff meeting, we were searching for a solution to our growing pains. We have too many groups of people meeting on a Sunday morning. What an awesome problem to have! We are also about to launch a new cafe church on the High Street in Stockton. We are continually presented with new opportunities to share God’s love, and it is unbelievable. I can’t think too far into the future, because it is hard to imagine going back to America and leaving this place, so for now, I will seize every opportunity.
Believe it or not I have had a little free time to do some sightseeing. I went to York one Saturday with Sam and our incredible host parents, Steven and Carlie.
They just don’t make cathedrals like that in the States, probably because this building is far older than our country.. It was a great day, so if you’re ever in England and have some free time, I highly recommend it.
I also got to go to Saltburn for the day. Its an adorable little town on the coast, and it was probably one of the best days I had since I have been here. I spent it with my best friend Kayla and Mary, the lady that we stayed with while we were here for a week in July. It was so great to be able to catch up, and the town was absolutely amazing. It was one of those days that makes you appreciate the little things in life, and I saw what I believe was the most breathtakingly beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my entire life. Of course my camera died about an hour before the sun went down, but you couldn’t capture that beauty in a picture anyways.
I am so thankful that my best friend is a part of this adventure. We don’t get to see each other too often, but just knowing that she is here is such a blessing. I never would have imagined that we would have been doing this together, and I love that God works that way!
I’ll end with an incredible truth that God continues to amaze me with. I have been reading through the book of Leviticus, which has not been easy. Its a lot of laws that are hard to understand, but somehow I always seem to learn something that applies perfectly to my life. In chapter 17, Moses is writing a law explaining why the Israelites were forbidden to consume the blood of any animal.
For the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.
How incredible is that truth when we applied it to the blood of Jesus, shed for us. Moses wrote this so long before Jesus was even born, yet it describes exactly why he had to come and die, to make us right with God. He lost His life so that we could be purified. He filled the void and provided the missing link. The life of the body is in its blood, but my eternal life is in the blood of Christ. That is the news that I want to proclaim in this place.
I appreciate your prayers and support more than you know. I promise I won’t take so long to write next time.