Friday, August 27, 2010

Jet Lag, Two Funeral Receptions and A Shower Drain.

Stuff has begun to happen since I last blogged, so here I am again.

I'm continually told that August is still slow because "everyone is away on holiday," but that starting in September, which is right around the corner, I will become extremely busy.

I think I'm finally getting over the jet lag, at last.  My first few days didn't have anything scheduled in them, which was brilliant, because switching over to an 8 hour time difference was very whacked and lopsided at first.  I meant to "stay up all night" on the flight to England, but I didn't mean to do it again; sometimes I just don't notice how the time flies at night and then - hey is the sun coming up out my window?  Today (Friday) I woke up after a night of vivid dreaming and I felt awful.  It was an early migraine.  I hate migraines, but when I'm changing time zones, it's a good sign: it means the adjustment is finally taking place, not to mention I had what I needed to nip it in the bud, so it wouldn't (& didn't) bloom.

*sigh of relief*

On Wednesday, Sara and I had to meet a lady named Pat at 8:15 in a frequently used room of the church to set up for a funeral reception.  We only needed 2 tables with 8 chairs per table, so we were done with everything in about 30 minutes.  Then we came back at about ... 10:30 to oversee everyone's arrival and make sure everyone was happy.  Then we cleared the remains into the kitchen, washed dishes (they have a dishwasher that only takes 10 minutes per cycle!!!  WOOT!!!) and put everything else away except for a few things that'd be used the next day.  As for the earlier step of overseeing the reception itself, a congregation member Sara nor I had ever seen before (and Sara had been here for a month prior to my arrival) was quite bossy with us for being a complete stranger, though we agreed that his "suggestion" (I'm being polite) of offering to wait on the more elderly people regarding hot drinks (even though the whole thing was a buffet) created a good vibe for us.  I found out that I like being a semi-waitress and it comes quite naturally.  Later on I'd talked to Sara about how friendly & warm everyone was; I was prepared - from my minimal research of life in England - that they'd all be much more uptight than I've discovered them to be.  Sara let me know that what I'd read applies to people who live a "proper British" lifestyle, and on top of these people being more down to earth, they're also part of our Seventh-Day Adventist family.  The lovely gentleman, Dennis, who picked me up from the airport made the excellent point that in the Seventh-Day Adventist church, "everywhere you go, you're family."

On Thursday, we got up at the same time to set up for the next funeral reception, which was triple the size and took much longer.  But our call time to return wasn't as early so we still had a fairly good breather in between.  Sara had another commitment in the afternoon, so by the time people began to arrive from the service, she had to leave, so it was mostly up to me, although Pat had introduced me to a couple who would liaise with me throughout.  Again, although I had to stay on my toes, it went very well and I loved taking care of everybody, repeating answers to several people asking me the same questions, etc.  When they were all finally gone, I changed out of my nice black & white stuff into jeans & a t-shirt to tackle the mountain of dirty dishes and trash.  Oddly enough, I was looking forward to it, because I stick in my earphones and get lost in my thoughts and a playlist while I scrubbed the cups & saucers to kingdom come.  It's actually therapeutic, though I used to hate doing dishes years ago.  Think about it: you're processing your thoughts and trying to figure things out or just let stuff come to the surface, listening to a playlist of your own making and with your physical eyes you're seeing coffee & tea stains come off dishes; you get to see what your effort does, rather than wrestling with feeling pointless; a coffee smear is no match for the scrubber side of a soapy sponge wielded by a melancholy young woman.  Life's mysteries can't be solved in a day, but after the 1 hour & 24 minutes of my playlist, I'd had some new epiphanies and finished all the dishes.  I moved on to another playlist in my iPod to get all the chairs stacked & moved and most of the dishes put away.  And then Sara got back just in time for us to tackle the tables together.  At that point we called it a day!  I can't remember if it was 7:00 or 7:30, but I think it was 7:30 because we were finally able to kick up our feet in the flat close to 8:00 and I realized that I'd spent approximately 10 out of the 12 hours I'd been awake on my feet.

Btw, I figure that the 3 people who said this to me would get a chuckle out of me passing it on: they were very keen on me knowing that funerals don't happen constantly in Watford.  :-)  I responded that I understood, life just happens this way, sometimes.

To conclude, there was a mini-crisis in that our walk-in shower decided to not drain properly (hopefully the unmentionable yuckiness I removed from it will help our dilemma) leaked into the rest of our bathroom and part of the carpet in the itty bitty hallway outside the bathroom door.  Almost as soon as I was finished showering, Deanna(sp?) & Dejan were calling to stop showering if possible because the water was leaking to the floor below, which included their bedroom!  I'd already quit and we got the water pushed back towards the drain.  A few hours ago it stopped dripping into the hallway downstairs, which was the last holdout; it stopped leaking into D&D's room much sooner.

Tonight I went to some of a Friday night gettogether for the youth but was picked up early for my first song service practice.  The practice was for something called Parallel service.  Time-wise and schematic-wise it is a church service held parallel to the family service at Stanborough Park Church.  It's designed for people who haven't been to church in awhile or who don't go to church often; it's more active and less traditional, but I'd say it looks like about the same amount of heart, effort & planning goes into it as into the other church service...

I'm really loving the church family here as I continue getting to know them.  They're warm, sweet, funny, caring, and all of it feels incredibly genuine.  They seem to be happy with me and I feel very blessed by this experience so far, since I'll confess that Saturday night - a little more than 24 hours after arriving - I broke down in tears in my bedroom because I felt so overwhelmed.  But I spent time with God (it felt like a reaction of survival) and did not go to sleep still crying.  Each day has been better than the one before as I make Stanborough Park Church more and more my new home.

Happy Sabbath & Goodnight.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

FINALLY my first blog from ENGLAND!

Well, it's been a little over 48 hours since I arrived here.  Whenever I'm not feeling disoriented by how new it is, I feel sort of ... the opposite!  I feel like I've been here for a few weeks and that is ONLY due to 2 things, I'm sure: God's grace before as well as during my arrival and how friendly and caring practically everyone has been to me.  I expected that people would politely greet me and warm up over time.  I wasn't prepared for such friendliness and care that caught me off guard by how genuine it was.  I've NEVER experienced anything like it from brand new acquaintances, especially people who are in a position for ME to possibly disappoint.

In the waves where I've felt disoriented, I tried to spend time with God and a calm came back.  However new 99% is, the 1% that's the same is the existence of the haven God's love is.  In the few times I've had private worship since coming here, it seems to swell really big and put what intimidates me into perspective.  God's love has an especially highlighted contrast against my status as a newcomer, and I am taking advantage of how much easier it is to want to spend time with Him to build a stronger reliance.

On Sabbath I was introduced to the congregation and met bunches of new people, today (Sunday - even though I'm typing in the wee hours of Monday morning) my partner Sara (wonderful new friend, btw) and I didn't have anything to do, and she says the same about tomorrow.  Today she showed me around Watford and we walked for a few hours.  Tomorrow I'll probably grocery shop...

I need to go to sleep since I've stayed up too late already, but I wanted to post this and say that in contrast to feeling so nervous that I was nauseated when we drove to the airport, I feel awash with the sense that God is taking care of me, and I praise Him for how well He lovingly provides and reassures.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Hello there.

I haven't actually zipped shut my suitcases yet because everything I've got is in them and I've got one more night at home.  But tomorrow I'll sit on them to zip 'em shut :-) and around noon (California Time) we'll be leaving to drive to San Francisco (which takes awhile from the house) to get me through all the airport red tape so I can be on a British Airways plane that leaves at 6:55 PM tomorrow night.  It's a 10' 05" flight.  Oh boy.

But then... ENGLAND!  Huzzah!!!  I am incredibly excited!!!  Yesterday I felt scared for the first real & extended time, but after - ahem - letting that out, I've been quite chipper about my upcoming flight ever since!  I'll start having "real" blogs for you after I get there.

I first began traveling overseas when I was 6 years old.  My 7th birthday was celebrated in Kenya, Africa - we were there for about 2 weeks.  Since Africa (my first mini-adventure), I've been richly privileged (a benefit of home-schooling's scholastic flexibility; I'd imagine it'd be hard to airlift a private school...) to spend time in Jamaica (10 days), Jordan & Egypt in 5 weeks (2.5 in each), Honduras (10 days), Italy/Austria/Germany/France-2 weeks, Jordan again for 6 weeks (longest away from home) and then Bermuda for 10 days.  I love traveling and I love other cultures and I love being out of the States.

I am about to be in a new country & new culture for approximately 10 MONTHS.

The only thing I can imagine about this upcoming trip is a possible list of places to visit in whatever free time comes my way.  I'm thrilled by this new leaf!  And on top of that, this leaf is from a brand new tree!

I pray that I'll be sensitive to God's leading and soft enough for His use of me and the gifts He's given to me.  Please pray for my relationship with God.  I can't give what I don't have.  And however imperfectly it's been, I've been pursuing God all my life: when I let my determination to spend time with Him slip because I'm discouraged for whatever "reasonable" reason, I begin to misrepresent myself and Him.  My desire is that any & all feelings of disorientation will drive me to rely on God more, rather than less.  Please pray that I'll be both teachable and giving.  Pray for a growing spirit of service.  That's why I'm going in the first place - this is not supposed to be about me, but about God- everything is supposed to lead back to Him.  It's my sincere hope that aside from informational updates & anecdotes that my blog relays to any & all reading how wonderful and worthy Jesus is.  That God is love and we know God through what Jesus did and that His Holy Spirit is always with us to comfort and to counsel.

I'm not a great one for endings, but I'm a great one for tangents.

Goodnight & God bless you.

(Err... semi-good morning: it's 1:40 AM!  Who's scurrying off to bed?  That'd be me...)