Monday, November 30, 2009


November 28-29 (traveling days 27, 30)
I just returned from a weekend in northern England with my flatmate's family. She invited my friend, Christina and I up to her house a few weeks ago but she was unable to come with us. It was a funny situation at first, being at my friend's house without her, but it turned out just wonderful. We became daughters instantly. Her mom took care of us as if we were Amy. She fed us, gave us a warm bed, and constantly tried to give/buy us stuff. She was so good to us! We could not possibly have asked for more. The small little town that they live in is called Maryport and it is right on the coast. If you walk down the street you can look over the Irish Sea and see Scotland. It is amazing! They are less than an hour from Scotland and less than an hour from the Lake District. It was so nice seeing a different part of England. Northern England is much different from Southern England... not just the appearance of it, but also the way people speak. When we first arrived early in the morning, 6:45am to be exact, it was dark and cold. Our bus dropped us off in the smallest town of all of England, Carlisle. In this small, itty bitty town, nothing opened until after 8... and most places did not open until 9 or 9:30. After walking around for awhile, we decided to sit in the waiting room at the Railway station that we stumbled upon. And we just waited for something to open. Finally a little cafe opened at 8 and then the pub next to it opened at 9. We got some hot drinks and then a nice English meal. We decided to get the Traditional English Breakfast. I mean why not right? We are in England! Might as well :) The breakfast came with fried eggs, sausage, hashbrowns, ham, and a choice of either a flat mushroom or black pudding. I got the black pudding and she got the mushroom, so we could try both :) I like them both! Christina did not really like either... but she did try them both. The black pudding tasted like something had just been burnt really badly, it was a peculiar taste and I did not find out what it was until we met up with Jeanne ( Amy's mom). I am not going to say what it was for those who want to try it first, but let's just say I will not be eating it again...
We took the train to Maryport which took only about 30 minutes and then we walked to their house. All the houses are connected. They did not have backyards and they are really tall. I think there were probably 4 or 5 different floors but they are not very wide. It was a good sized house and there were little laced curtains and paintings around the walls. There was a small little fire in the common room and we all huddled around there to keep ourselves warm. After Christina and I settled into Amy's room, we got a nice little tour of Maryport. We walked down the streets and went to the little coastline. It was a beautiful view.
The sky shone bright blue with a few decorative clouds. The perfect day. We decided to "pop up" to Scotland for the day, to a place called Gretna Green. A town where young lovers used to go to get married when England changed the marriage age to 21. Although many things have changed, people still go there to get married in the notorious blacksmith's shop. We had a great time there, it was a short visit but it was lovely.
As the months begin to get colder, it is harder to see scenary in northern England because the sun does not come up until after 8am and then it starts going down before 4pm.
But we made great use of the little time we had.
After Gretna Green, we went back to Amy's home and had a real traditional Scottish dinner. Haggus, Neeps, and Tatties. :)
More fun stuff to explain hehe.
Haggus is kind of like meatloaf... Scottish style.
Needs is this vegetable that the English call Sweed.... maybe like a turnip?
And tatties are potatoes!
It was a very interesting meal, I loved it! Oh and theeeeen we had a Clohty Dumpling ( which means a dumpling in a cloth... it is a dessert). It was all delicious!
Jeanne gave it to me to bring back to share with my flatmates and friends, but I left it on the bus when I was getting off in London :/ Sad. I guess I will just have to learn how to make it :D

After we had a very filling meal, we made mincemeat pies!! Contrary to what many people think, they are not made with meat. They are made with a mosh posh of different dried fruits. And they are absolutely delicious! Those I did bring back.
Jeanne let Christina and I pretty much make the entire pies with her instructions. They are very easy to make and I am excited to hopefully be able to make them for others. They are really good with cream or custard or by themselves. Mmmmmm.
We enjoyed the fire for quite sometime before heading up to bed with our wheaties ( hot packs).
It was so nice to be in a home with a family that was so welcoming we felt as if we were at home. Made me realize how much I miss my own family and how blessed I am.

The next day, Sunday was the day we decided to go around the lakes in the Lake District. We had our beautiful day the day before, so it was time for some rain. And there was no holding out on this one. We got buckets of rain and wind and the whole lot. Luckily we were inside the car and Jeanne was nice enough to drive us around to see the lakes without us needing to get out of the car much at all. It was so much fun. One of my favorite things about the Lake District and Scotland was all the sheep. EVERYONE seems to have sheep. They are so cute! Black ones and grey ones and white ones and multi-colored ones. They just walked around eating their little grass. It was precious. We drove up windy mountain roads around and through the Fells ( which is what they call the mountains in that area). The lakes were beautiful and the mountains came right down to the water. It was lovely. Beacuse there has been so much rainfall lately there has been a lot of flooding and the rivers and lakes were very very high.
The first time we got out of the car was when we toured William Wordsworth's cottage and museum. We also got some gingerbread from a little shop that has been making it for years with their secret recipe. It is nothing I have ever had before. It is not really like bread at all, it is more like a biscuit. It is good though... very ginergy.
We drove around the lakes for hours and it was really quite nice. Even though we were in the car, we were still able to see everything and experience the vastness of the nature around. The area reminded me of Vermont and Maine, the narrow roads with all the trees and mountains.
Our last stop before heading home was at a little small church. Jeanne wanted us to get a chance to have our own little Sunday service since we were missing our regular church service. We went to the smallest church in all of England. And it was this little room a little ways off the main mountain road, surrounded by big green trees. It was a treck getting to the church because the wind was pressing against us so badly we could hardly walk. I was so glad I wore my wellies because then I could just stomp around without getting my feet wet. Hehe.
The small little church was so serene. No one was there and it was dark with a few benches, but you could still tell there was good news being spread there. The few moments we spent in there was really nice, even though it was cold and dark, I knew God was there.
After leaving the church, we walked over to the pub to get a nice warm meal. We started with some warm drinks and then we all got a traditional Sunday roast. It was so good!
We had a nice time at the small little pub. Two guys came in with their dogs and the dogs stared at us as we at our roast beef. They kept giving me those big sad brown eyes, oh it made my heart melt. When we were done, we had a few pieces of meat left on our plates and asked if we could give it to the dogs. The men agreed and the dogs licked those plates clean!
It was a really nice time, we talked with the men and played with the dogs. They were so cute. One was a black and white collie, the other was some sort of terrier that looked like a pit bull.
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.
In the short amount of time we were able to be there for, we saw everything we wanted to see and more. We experienced a different part of England and we were blessed with a little piece of home.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Je t'aime Paris <3

November 10-12
Today I arrived back in London, from Paris. It felt so good to be home again. I loved Paris, but I missed London so much during the three days I was away. I realized how accustomed I have gotten to the English ways when I went to Paris and no longer knew which way the cars were coming from. Crazy how just a few months can really change your view.

Oh but let me tell you about Paris... I fell in love the moment I stepped out of the metro and the Eiffel Tower appeared right in front of me. It took my breathe away, it was so beautiful!! It was more than I expected, the three of us stood staring at the tower for a couple minutes before we could get ourselves to move closer towards it. Then we took about ten minutes just taking pictures of it and enjoying it. I felt all giddy around that Eiffel Tower, I just knew I would love that city! We got their early in the morning, at about 8:30 and France is an hour ahead of London so it was more like 7:30 to us. Luckily the cold kept us awake...and the fact we were in Paris!! The only thing I did not enjoy about being around the Eiffel Tower was the mobs scattered around the base selling cheap, fake, Paris souvenirs. They would come up to us trying to get us to buy little cheap Eiffel Towers and other random things with Eiffel Towers on them that we did not need. At first we tried to be kind and just simply say "no merci" , but when they did not work and they were EVERYWHERE I would just give completely ignore them. They were so persistent, it was crazy! However even with those guys, we could not stay away from the beautiful Tower. We walked along the Seine River and stayed near the Tower, taking pictures from other different angles. When we first arrived in Paris, it was cloudy which actually made for beautiful pictures. Hehe.

When we began to get hungry we decided we had to leave the Tower area to find some less expensive food. We wandered into a fruit and vegetable market, which had a man making crepes. When in Paris, you have to have crepes. Mmmmm. They were so delicious! He simply put butter with cinamon sugar. Oh we would have had those all day everyday if we could. After the crepes, we made our way toward our hotel. Getting to our hotel was an adventure, but once we were there it was so nice. We ended up taking a long nap after being up all night traveling, we decided we needed some rest. Also since Paris seems to be more alive at night, we wanted to be able to enjoy that.

After our nap we headed out to the Notre Dame Cathedral. I am so thankful for the London tube because it made traveling on the Paris metro system a lot easier. We took the metro to a station nearby the Notre Dame Cathedral and then just walked the rest of the night. Looking back at what we did, we realized that we walked across half the city in about six hours... no wonder we were so sore the next day! At least we slept good though, hehe. Notre Dame was absolutely picturesque! The huge stone building with beautiful wooden doors and the gargoils glaring from the top. Everything about it was so lovely, it was different from the other cathedrals we had seen before. And we were blessed to be there when they were having a service, we did not sit and listen, but we walked around the inside and got to experience it just the same. It was all in French, but it was still beautiful. They did a lot of singing and they had communion and it was just amazing. I cannot imagine having church in their, it was huge! Also I saw something I had never seen before, there were clear glass rooms with about ten chairs in rows outside of them. Inside the rooms were a priest and another person. They were confession rooms, but it looked more like a bank meeting. It was very interesting. I saw the same sort of thing in another church we went to during this trip, but had never seen it all through our traveling in Eurpope. It must be a French thing. After we left the cathedral, we walked along the Seine River just simply enjoying the view. We saw so much wonderful architecture. I really like the stone, it just looks so... ah I am running out of adjectives to describe everything in this city. And this is only the first day we were there... well all of you who have been there before will know what I am talking about, and all you who have not will hopefully understand a little through the pictures...

We walked toward the Arc de Triomphe... which was probably one of the longest walks of my life... but it was completely worth it! We took many stops and detours during the long street toward the arc. This arc is where the soliders would walk through when they obtained victory and I felt like arriving at that arc was victory for us as well. he arc is in the middle of the street and the only way to get to it is by going underground. Once we got there, we found out we were able to climb up it to the very top... so after over a mile or two walk to the Arc and just under 300 steps, we stood on the top of the Arc de Triomphe and surveyed all of Paris. We saw the Eiffel Tower doing a light show, we saw streets lit up and parks without lights, we saw in the distance places we would go and explore. I was awestuck by the view I was blessed with. WOW! And even Christina who is deathly afraid of heights, enjoyed the view from a distance. I am so proud of her! That adventure was the perfect ending to an amazing day and we headed back to our hotel to get prepared for another filled day ahead.

Versaille was our plan for the second day in Paris. Novemeber 11 was the 90th anniversary of something connected with the Treaty of Versaille. It was fun getting the opportunity to be there on that day. We had to wake up before the sun to get our day started. It was a cold morning as most of the days were in Paris, however it did warm up in the afternoon. Before going to Paris; Christina, Chelsea, and I watched Marie Antoinnette, I had never seen it before. I am so glad we did because going to Versaille held so much more value for me after seeing the history ( Hollywood status) behind it. The palace itself was a bit overwhelming. So much gold and wealth went into each room. There was hardly a place you could look that did not have some sort of pattern covering it. It was a place that would be nice to look at, but not necessarily to live. Which seemed to be the same thought that Marie Antionette had because the Petite Trianon was a place of personal retreat for her. We toured the palace which at one point housed 20,000 people! Which gives you a feel for how large this place was, it was the largest palace in Europe! After leaving the palace we walked into their backyard which was miles and miles of gardens. Our timing of coming to Versaille was perfect because the leaves were all changing and had not completely all fallen off the trees yet. We were able to just wander through the green and fall colored bushes and trees then we decided to rent bikes to give ourselves a chance to see more. It was as if we were in a movie, everything was just so wonderful. After our bike ride, we went to visit the place that all three of us agreed was our favorite part of all of Versaille... the village built for Marie Antionnette. It was the most precious little place ever! There were animals everywhere and all the little houses were just perfect with their thatched roofs and wooden doors. Even with the small village feel, you could still tell this was built for royalty. Some of the houses had wooden spiral staircases and everything was without fault. I loved it! We pet some goat, feed some sheep, and just explored. Oh I loved Versaille!!! Eventually the time came when we had to leave Versaille, it was bittersweet. We enjoyed Versaille very much, but we were heading back to the Tower we loved... ah it was as if things could not get better and then they would! We were exhausted by the time we got to our train to head back into Paris, but we wanted to take advantage of the short amount of time we had. We bought some dinner, I had a baguette, brie, and a carrot of course because I did not want to pay the ridiculous price for a sandwhich, and then got in line to go up to the tippy top of the Eiffel Tower or Tour de Eiffel. After waiting for what seemed like eternity, we got into an elevator and rode to the top. We found out that the Eiffel Tower was 120 years old this year... HAPPY BIRTHDAY EIFFEY!!!! It is exaclty 100 years older than the three of us, we were excited. Hehe.

The view from the top was beautiful, I love the lights and everything. I think the fact that I was at the top of the Eiffel Tower was more exciting to me then actually what I saw because I love seeing the Eiffel Tower and when you are in it, you cannot see it. But it was fun. The wind was so strong up there and it was cold, but it was well worht it!

Another exhausting, wonderful day! We decided that our last day in Paris would not start as early because we felt that we needed our rest. We had just a few things we wanted to see and we just wanted to be able to take in Paris because we none of us know if we will ever be so blessed to return. We woke up and left the hotel around 9:20 or so and we headed to the Moulin Rouge. We just wanted to see it. It turned out there was a lovely little crepe place right next door which we just could not pass up. I had nutella with a little bit of crepe. It was delicious! Intense... but delicious! After simply seeing the Moulin Rouge, we headed to the Louvre. It was so amazing! We got into the Louvre for free because we were students in England, it was great! I mean what are the odds of that?! We would have paid to get in, but it is sooooo nice when you do not have to. We spent about 4 hours in the Louvre seeing as much as we could. The art was magnicient! So many famous art pieces and artists in there, it seemed surreal that we were actually in there. It made me love art so much more!! I just wanted to sit and take it all in, but sadly our time did not allow that. Hopefully I will get a chance to come back one day because seeing everything in the Louvre... really seeing it all, would take weeks! After the Louvre, we headed to see Sacre Coeur... It was the perfect ending to our Paris trip. The area that this church resided was called Montmarte and it was probably my favorite part of all of Paris. It was nothing like Paris, it was more French. It had cobblestone streets and brick homes. Everything seemed to be on a hill and no matter which way you went, it felt like you were always walking up. The church was beautiful! We climbed the many stairs to the top of the dome and saw yet another breath-taking view of Paris. The sun was getting ready for its big debut and the Eiffel Tower seemed like just a spec in the distance. The climb up the dome almost made me closterphobic, luckily I am not or else I would not have been able to do it. A narrow staircase of 300 stairs was well worth the view. It was beautiful, Paris. I loved being there, I loved the people and the culture and everything about it. Now I know why so many people love Paris and why it is the city of love. Not only is the language beautiful, but the city itself is stunning! One day I hope to return and see it all again, but if I do not I am just thankful for all the memories Paris gave to me. :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

October is ending...

As I looked up on my way to class this morning, orange and yellow leaves fell from the sky. It was as if it was snowing leaves. All around me, the wind shook the leaves off the trees and rustled them on the ground. I did not see the squirrels scampering around as usual. There were no birds greeting me as I past. Just leaves. Although I love seeing the animals, there was a sense of peace this morning without them. I finished my first assignment today, turned it in an hour ago. It feels so good to have that weight off my shoulder, but I realized the workload is just beginning. I have another essay due next week and then in a few more weeks I will have another. The term is at the halfway point and it is an interesting place to be. I wish I could just sit in a tree or against a tree and just write about everything I see and ponder life... however my time does not always allow this luxury. I assume would be able to, I guess it is my priorities rather that do not allow the stillness. Tomorrow is the last day of October and thus starts holiday season. Holidays are always full of mixed feelings... everyone is excited about the events that take place, but it is always hard seeing another year pass by. Another year of working and studying and living life. I love life really, it is always full of suprises. That Forest Gump quote, although it is so cliche, is actually quite true.

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get."

Everyday I learn something new. Everyday I am faced with challenges with many different options on how to face them. Do I take the easy road or the right road? Are they ever the same?

I am learning a lot about myself here and even more then that I am learning a lot about God. He is changing me and it is scary, but I know it will be good. Through my church experiences and the bible course that I attend, God is teaching me about a new culture. He is teaching me that my way is not always the right way, but His way always is!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

London: Weekly Updates from Days Almost Forgotten

Dear readers,
I apologize for the long drawn out time between posts. I always intend to sit down and type, but the thought does not carry very far. I should be writing for many different reasons, but I always have an excuse why not to do it. Therefore I am now going to stop jumping around and start explaining my experiences thus far.

Monday ( 5 October)-
I do not have classes on Mondays which is very nice indeed. I usually have an entire day to relax and catch up on what needs to get done. Well at least this was my thought when I realized I have several free days... I have soon discovered that these days are filled up quite quickly. This day was a fun day, sadly I was feeling very very ill...but of course I still went out and enjoyed my wonderful Monday. Today was the day we went to Central Perk. That's right! They opened a little cafe and made it into a temporary Friends Central Perk for the 15th Anniversary of the show. They were giving away free coffee and they had real memorabile from the show. There was also a line wrapping all the way around the building that we had to wait in to get inside... Our friend had told us that the line on the weekend was 4 hours long! Luckily our line only took about 35 minutes. :) And it was well worth the wait. The cafe was just precious. They had the orange couch and the tall tables and the chairs by the windows. The windows all said "Central Perk" on them and they had the Friends show playing on several different TVs. They also had several different pieces from the show, it was just priceless! We took pictures everywhere and just had a great time. Monday was a nice day.

Tuesday ( 6 October)-
I decided this is one of my favorite days of the week. For many different reasons. I really enjoy my Tuesday lecture and seminar. It is my Life Writing class and so I get a chance to learn how to improve my writing. I am in the class with a bunch of writers so I get intimidated a lot of the time, but then I realize they are all just like me. The seminar is wonderful because it is going to really tear up my writing and help me to become a better writer. I am excited. We got editing groups today, we were able to chose our own. I did not know anyone in the class so a group of us got together. It is a very unique group I would have to say, but I like that. I love diversity and I think we will really add to one another. There are two of us girls and two boys. There is Amy, Bob, and Kadeem. They are very kind and not the typical English people. I am still getting to know them, so there is not a lot I can input at this moment. Another reason why I love Tuesdays so much is because the this man comes on Tuesday and sets up a fresh Vegetable/Fruit stand. It is soooooo good. I buy most all my fresh produce from him because it is inexpensive and delicious and I can get it weekly. Mmmmm... Also usually every Tuesday there is a group of us that go to HTB ( Holy Trinity Brompton) for our youth pastorate ( college group) and it is really good. They have worship, a message, small groups, and food. It is a great time of worship and fellowship. I really enjoy it! This particular night however, we had a Froebel dinner. That is the college I am apart of, Froebel College. Roehampton is broken up into four colleges, and I live in Froebel. The dinner was very nice. I got all dressed up in a black dress and Angela did my hair and we all had a great time. We had a three course meal with appetizers and drinks as well. I had a nice time hnaging out with my flatmates. We all walked over together and everyone looked so nice. Everyone got dressed to their best, it was a lot of fun. Chelsea and I sat at a table together and everyone else was spread out all over the room. There were over 100 people there from the different dorms in Froebel. It was nice meeting some new people and having a free meal in the process. I was not feeling well toward the end so we did not stay long after everything was done, but I had a great time.

Wednesday ( 7 October)

Today was another day where I have the time to sleep and in and enjoy the day. It rained today which was not a complete surprise. It had been raining on and off for about a week and I absolutely loved it! We planned a trip to ASDA today which is one of our big outtings. It is a supermarket that is the sister store to Walmart. It is huge and they have everything there. It takes hours to get everything you need and about an hour in travelling as well. This was a trip to ASDA that we had never done before. We missed the bus that we were to take to get to ASDA and instead of waiting for the next one, we decided to walk. Yup, we walked over a mile in the rain. Thank God for my lovely raincoat :D Although it was raining, it was not terribly cold and when in good company, the time always seems to fly. We walked and talked and just simply enjoyed each other's time. And we just so happen to stumble upon a trail leading to a lake that was just magical! There were a few small benches and it was so picturesque that I could not help taking pictures in the rain. It was so beautiful! God gave us a little present that we all seemed to need to brighten up our day. The rest of the day was simply that much better because of our little secret place. It was as if God showed us a little bit of Himself in a way that we so often taken for granite...

Thursday ( 8 October)
Globe Theatre!! That was today. We went, we saw, we conquered. I convinced Chelsea and Christina to come to the Globe Theatre with me even though we could not sit together because my teacher bought tickets for me... The Globe was everything I could ever imagine and more! As we were walking across the bridge, I saw the big round white dome and I felt as if I was in a movie. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion and I just could not believe that I was staring at Shakespeare's Theatre. Even more then that I could not believe that I was about to go into Shakespeare's Theatre and watch one of HIS plays! We walked up big black iron gates and I was just simply mesmorized... this was the place that so many of Shakespeare's plays were written for. He wrote them with this theatre in mind. Wow it was so surreal. And the place was simply amazing. When we finally found my professor and got the tickets, we went inside and everything was made of wood. The stage was simple, there were no backdrops ar fancy colors anywhere, but it was beautiful. So much of this theatre is appreciated based on the imagination. It is just wonderful. And the play was really good as well. "As You Like It" was the name of the play and it was a romantic comedy. The characters were hilarious! They interact with the audience so much. We were in the first set of seats above the groundlings so we were not in the action, but we could see very well. It was one of the best plays I have every seen...I do not know if it is just because it was at the Globe Theatre or because it was Shakespeare, but it was just breathtaking. After we left the Globe Theatre, we continued our evening in that part of London by going to the Tate Modern which was right next to the Globe. It was a large Modern Art Museum that seems to be quite famous. I realized I do not appreciate modern art as much as maybe I should, but at least we gave it a chance. After we left the museum, we headed off to see the Tower Bridge that was just down the street from the Globe. It is nice how closely everything is placed to each other. The Globe Theatre is right off of the Thames River and you can see the Tower Bridge from the edge of it. We walked along the inside edge of the Thames River and found many different shops, I felt as if I was walking through Diagon Alley with all the stones on the wall and old shops. It was a really nice evening, walking along the Thames River over the cobble stone, it felt like we were in a Sherlock Holmes novel. And then there is the Tower Bridge...Wow! It was as if someone placed two large castles on top of a bridge and then drove through it. It is beautiful! I felt like I was at Disneyland... I feel like that is a sad comparison, but that is the only real castle experience I have had...that is all I have to compare it to. It was beautiful. Then if this evening could not get any more beautiful, we ended it with our first taste of the traditional London and chips.
This was a day well accomplished, it was an evening of the, museum, strolling along the bridge. An evening of good taste.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

From Canterbury to the Mansion House

2-3 October

Today was a long day starting at about 6am in the morning... it was a fun day, but exhausting. Yesterday the weather changed from moderately warm to quite chilly in one quick flip. I know that this is just the beginning of the weather changing from cold to freezing... which can only mean one thing... Time for my Pea Coat!!!!! Woohoo! I am excited to wear all my winter clothes, possibly all at once. Well before I begin to venture into today I must describe the surreal events of yesterday. It started as just an average day, the first day of my Shakespeare class ( which is amazing!) and slowly it just progressed. First off it turns out that I am going to the Globe Theatre next Thursday to see one of the last shows of the season. I can hardly contain my excitement... the Globe Theatre!!! After being introduced into my Shakespeare class, I hurried back to my room to get ready for my next event. Amazingly enough I was given the opportunity to help out with a fundraising event at the Lord Mayor's House... I was a bit stressed out about what I was supposed to wear due to the fact that the only real direction I was given on dresscode was "wear a white/light colored shirt" and then after further probbing was told to "be comfortable and wear smart dress". What is smart dress????! After a lot of stress a wonderful flatmate/Biolan of mine helped me relax my nerves and dressed me in the perfect little outfit, not too causal not too dressy. It is funny when I worry about the little things and then everything works out... I guess it sort of always happens this way. The Lord Mayor's House was beautiful. There were chandeliers in every room, a couple rooms had more then one. Each chandelier was hand-crafted and the only other ones like them resided in Buckingham Palace. This we discovered after talking to the Lady Mayoress herself. The Lord Mayor was in California...of course he would be in California when I was in London...Well anyway at least we got to meet the Lady Mayoress, she was nice. I felt as if I almost broke her hand when I shook it though, she is not elderly at all, but she shakes hands as if she were a porcelin doll... Very intersting. The entire night was lovely though. No one was dressed up at all, the room was full of good Samaritan type people. It was not what I expected at all, but I had a great time meeting people and having great conversation. Also they served freshly squeezed orange juice which was the most delicious orange juice I ever had. Mmmmmmmm.

After we left the Mansion House, we headed over to St. Paul's ( not the Cathedral, a different church) where HTB was holding their launch party for the student Alpha courses. The Alpha courses are these classes where people can come and basically just ask anything they want about Christianity and God. There have been many people telling their testimonies the last couple weeks and it sounds like they are really life-changing. The launch party was nice though, they were giving out free beer and burgers ( I just had a burger). They had live bands and people were everywhere just enjoying themselves. I was very tired so I had a hard time fully enjoying the time, but I met some nice people and tried to keep my head up.
Overall I had a great time...oh London and its many different angles...I see something new each day.
Canterbury was the day that I meant to write about, I apologize. The Mansion House was on Friday and Canterbury was on Saturday. I am all mixed up... Well Canterbury was a lovely experience. We took the train there and I slept on the train. We had to be on the train at about 8am and so it was an early morning. The couple that will taking us on all of our field trips met us at the train station in Canterbury and they were very hospitible to us. They admitted their experiences in Canterbury were few, but they did a wonderful job showing us around. We got a chance to see an old Abbey that was just about in ruins as well as a Hospital ( which was not for the sick, but actually for the poor). We were given a tour around an old cathedral and then we ended our time at an Evening Song. It was so nice. Young boys and older men singing beautifully together, I was very impressed.It was a long day, but well worth the time spent.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Just An Ordinary Day at The Park

Today was a lovely day. We woke up at a decent hour and simply spent the day enjoying the warm English air. We walked to the Richmond Park today. It is about a 12 minute walk from our University and it is well worth the distance. Richmond Park is one of the largest parks in all of London and it is beautiful. It is not the kind of park that I imagined with a playground and a big green field. It is actually much more than that. Just as we turned the corner and saw the vast tall yellow grass field, we were astounded. It was amazing! There was grass that led on forever into the distance to be stopped only by the lining of enormous green forest trees. Separating the portion of the park that we were at, was a shallow brook. The brook was not too deep, but the grassy walls that led to the brook were. There were small dirt trails leading every which way into the deep forest trees and going around the park. Covering the grassy field was a large herd of deer! Thirty or forty deer covered a large area. There were doe everywhere, big ones and little ones... Then just when we thought we had seen it all, out of the brook strutted a very large male deer. He had a full head of antlers and a confidence about him that was just enough to make us keep our distance. We walked toward the deer in hopes to go behind their herd to a beautiful forest of trees... however, the male deer did not like the idea of us getting so close to his ladies. He stopped in the middle of the trail, stopped his hoof, and made a loud bark/growl noise that scared us all out of our shoes! We knew he meant business and decided we could find a different spot to relax.

We crossed the road to the other side of the park where there were more trees and a few solo deers just frolicking around. I spread out my red fleece blanket and we all sat under the big oak tree. Chelsea sat and wrote letters to her loved ones back home. Christina tried to catch up on her journaling from our traveling. Charissa enjoyed sharing stories about different events in her life and pondered about the events coming up. Angela took pictures of all the beauty that was surrounding us. And I tried to read Captivating but could not focus on the words that were coming off the pages.

After some time of relxing, we all decided we wanted to climb a tree. There were so many fun trees all around us, they were just begging to be climbed. We surveyed all the trees, judging many of them to be too tall or too thin or too far. Then I saw one that too me looked just perfect. So I decided to try to climb it. So in my black Ug-type boots, I grabbed a branch and flipped myself up onto the tree. It was so fun! Once up there, I just kept going... I climbed higher and higher until I could not find a place to go. Chelsea also joined me in the tree. She made the choice to take off her boots in order to get more of a grip. The other girls tried to climb up, but did not succeed and so they gave up trying. Chelsea and I relaxed in the tree for a few moments before climbing back down to find a differente tree for the other girls. We walked through the forest where it was a little darker and simply enjoyed the free air and God's complex and simple beauty.
Our time at the park was short, but it was not wasted. It opened up our eyes to a different part of London. Beyond all the alcohol and the worldly pleasures that consumes so much of this hurting city, beauty still remains.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

London: Change is Good

London is full of suprises...everyday is a new experience for me. I am learning so much about myself and about the world around me. Today was a nice day. I really enjoyed myself. Aside from what most of my flatmates think, you really can have a lot of fun without any alcohol. I woke up late this morning, just allowing my body to wake up when it had enough sleep. I got a full night's sleep. Eight hours, woohoo! We were supposed to have a fire drill this morning at 8am, but I guess it did not happen. Last night around 2:30 my flatmate said we were supposed to have it around 3am, but she wasn't all there so maybe she did not really know...
Anyway we did not have it which was nice. The morning was very relaxed, the maids were cleaning the flat so I did not take a shower for awhile and then did not eat breakfast because they were cleaning the kitchen and we heard there was a free meal. Oh my goodness, we have had at least one free meal almost everyday since we got here! It is insane. I feel like I never get a chance to eat all the food that I bought. There were a couple times that I actually felt like I was getting tired of free food. I know it sounds crazy, but its true. Lol. Well the free meal did not exist so we ended up making lunch. Chelsea, Joel, Christina, and I made lunch up in Joel's kitchen which was fun. Christina basically lives in my room. She is always here and stays the night quite often. It is fun having an extra person around. I love her. We shared potatoes and veggies for lunch which was nice.
After lunch we rode the bus into town to Putney. There are a bunch of little shops there and it is pretty much the closest place that has everything. I was not going to go, but of course I gave in and went. It was fun. Chelsea and Angela really wanted to go to a yarn store so we went there and it was so precious! It made me really want to knit. Everything was so soft and now I really want a little knitted beanie... Angela and Chelsea are so talented. When we got back from Putney, we went back to Roehampton which the CU ( Christian Union) were putting on a big BBQ. It was so much fun! First of all the burgers were amazing...then they also had tea which I love and I just the little CU group that we have met. They are all so precious! Mike is one of the main guys that we met last time we had a BBQ and he is so goofy. Tonight I found out about the big rivalry between Froebel College and Digby Stuart College. Ok so Roehampton University is broken up into four different colleges: Froebel, Digby Stuart, Southlands, and Whitelands. The two dorms that the Biola students are in, Southlands and Froebel. I am in Froebel College, but I will be taking my classes in Digby Stuart. I was having fun with Mike because he is from Digby College...Froebel College does not like Digby. I fought with him because Froebel is going to win the football game ( soccer)! It is called a Frigby game, which is Digby and Froebel put together. The sad part is that I will not be here for the big game because it is at the end of the year. But my school will still win! We are the zebras and Digby is the lions. I told him that zebras always beat lions in a fight... he disagreed. Digby has beat Froebel 5 out of the 6 times they have played them, but this year will be different. I know it!!
Anyway Mike is a fun guy. Then there is Jack. He is another one kind of in charge of the CU. He is a lot of fun to hang around. They are all so welcoming. He actually remembered my name this time which was lovely. He introduced me to his cousin. Her name is Michelle. She just came to study in London this year at a Music school. She already has a degree in teaching so I had a great time talking to her. I really wanna play cranium and taboo and all sorts of games with my new friends. They are all so great! Jack is hilarious. He is always messing with me. Him and Michelle kept making me say literature because I guess I do not say it right or at least not the way they say it. It was so funny. They are such a good group of people to hang out with. There is also Elizabeth who is always super excited about everything. She is cute. She did not talk to us for very long this time because she was running around everywhere, but she remembered all our names which is very good. Jack is not so good with names... He forgot Angela's name, so I taught him how to remember names. Hopefully he uses my tips.
So after we hung out with them for a few hours, we headed back on the bus and train to a college group get together. We found the most amazing church this Sunday. God is so good to us!! The first church we tried and it was absolutely amazing. They have a strong college group that meets every Tuesday night, this was our first time going. I left feeling so refreshed. The message and worship was amazing and the fellowship is so encouraging. Everyone was so sweet and welcoming. We just feel like we really belong. One of the pastor's of the church is going to make a Thanksgiving dinner for all the Americans...isn't that so sweet?! Oh they are all so amazing. It is a very young crowd, and they have such a passion for what they do. There are these classes called the Alpha classes which were started by this church and their advertisements can now be seen all over the world. The worship leader is Tim Hughes, he is a pretty famous artist. It is amazing! Tonight was so great though, I met several different people and everyone was so sweet. They always feed us everytime we go which is great. They feed us with the word and physical food as well. :)
I met the sweetest girl, her name is Liz and when I met her I thought she was like 21 or 22, but I found out she is 30. She was our small group leader and I had a nice long talk with her about culture and relationships and all that good stuff. She is engaged...everyone is getting engaged. Yeah Lisa!! ( A little shout out hehe)
Then I also met Naomi and Hetti (Harriet), they were very nice and friendly. Also there were a bunch of Americans there from different areas. This girl Liz that I met ( a different one from the first one) was from LA, but when to school in Boston and now is in London. Small world, huh? Then we met a guy just as we were leaving who was from Florida, his name was Austin. Another nice fellow. It was so great talking to all this different people. I love meeting the English people with their accents and different terminology. Like when we were on the bus going to church, Christina and I got talking to this young fellow who thought is was really strange that we went to a Christian Uni ( thats what they call University) because there are no such thing in England. Ther culture differences are so interesting here. I literally learn something new everyday.
In the service this evening different people had different images that they felt like God was giving them that they wanted to share with the rest of the group and I could just feel His presence there through the words that were spoken. I know it is going to be a hard semester. There will be a lot of road blocks and speed bumps, but I am excited for everything that is going to shape my life. I know God knows what He is doing and He brought me here for a reason. I am working on preparing myself for everything He has for me.
Thanks again for reading! There will be a lot of make-up blogs to come...

Love always, Danni