Thursday, 15 September 2005

Where to Begin...

Dear All,

I now make my home in Gloucester, England at a small, but lovely green campus. I had my first spot of English rain this morning, but could only watch it falling from the large, 19th century windows of the main lecture hall.

So much to say...

When I left my mom at the airport, I really wasn't sure why I was doing it. I sat down at my seat in the airplane, turned my face to the window, and cried and prayed and wallowed in my sadness-- all the while hating that I could feel sad over something as wonderful as the chance to study abroad in England!! Jesus cheered me up. I could feel His comfort literally and truly-- as I would go on to feel it again and again over the first few days.

The flight was long and very very uncomfortable, as I was quite sick when I left MN and would remain quite sick until... today really. I flew into New Jersey and changed planes and then flew into London early Tuesday morning-- the middle of the night our time-- and walking into Gatwick I was overcome by the horrible feeling of making the hugest mistake of my life. I believe the phrase, 'Look what you've done...' was playing through my mind over and over as I tried to gather my tremendously heavy luggage all by myself and manuever it through the airport all by myself. Then, my calling card wouldn't work and I wanted to sit down and cry. Finally I got through using money but they charge an arm and a leg for about 30 seconds... Anyway, some airport worker came up to me and asked, 'Can I help you, Love' and that made me smile. I love to be called Love and only God knows that. What a beautiful gift from Him.

I did find my way to my train into the city and a kind gentleman helped me get my luggage on as I honestly couldn't lift it myself-- that's how heavy it was. Once I arrived at Victoria in London, I had to find my way down the street and across to Victoria Coach station-- all the while hauling three suitcases, and the streets were busy and crowded and warm but the people were friendly and many greeted me with 'Cheers!' and smiles : ) I sat at the Coach (bus) station for three hours awaiting my bus, simply because I could hardly move with all that luggage. Plus, I hadn't slept much on the plane and I was sick so my energy level was nil...

My bus was pleasant. I'm afraid, despite all willpower, I fell asleep off and on throughout it and missed some of the lovely English countryside... When we pulled into Cheltenham, I knew we were getting close and grew so nervous... I was dropped off at Gloucester Bus Station and asked a sweet old lady the ins and outs of the taxi cab : ) Then a friendly, chatty, Muslim driver gave me a lift to the school, lamenting to me about the Katrina victims in America and assuring me of the safety of Gloucester (which, by the way, is pronounced 'Glosster', really, just so you know).

Shemil, Claire, and Beth met me at the door of my beautiful new school, and I was whisked away into winding corridors and brought to a lovely little square room with a long, tall window and antique oak dressers and closets. After calling my parents, I went back there to sit down and have a good long cry, wondering what in the world I was doing here. I unpacked, tried to make it as homey as possible, and fell asleep for 14 and a half hours : )

Admittedly rather silly, I was afraid to really leave my room the next morning in case of getting lost and because I knew no one but Shemil and Claire, really. But whatever it was that kept me in my room was good really. I needed that morning just to cling to my Savior and the promises of His Word and to look hard again at all that He had done to get me here and to teach myself, yet again, to trust passed what I can see. He placed Romans 8:28 in my reading : ) Very sly of Him : )

He also sent Claire and Shemil and they whisked me out of my room and through the rest of the college. Then other new students began to show up and I got to meet alot of people and have lots of interesting talks. We had a barbeque that night and I met the President's wife, who is American : ) The President's brother, actually, is a pastor in Rochester, Minnesota!

I'm being educated on the English words that aren't in my American vocabulary. It's so funny how two countries can have one common language and yet be so entirely different even in that commonality : ) My new British friends tell me they will send me back to America as a Brit : )

Today was orientation and more orientation... But it was in a lovely 18th century lecture hall done in lovely British accents! During our break, Adriaan, very very tall 'bloke' from Holland, another one of the younger students (younger being under twenty, of which there are only three of us), and I decided we ought to do something this afternoon and we planned a trek into the city of Gloucester. At lunch we got a whole group of others to come along and we all went 'marketing' in Britain : )

Tonight we spent hours just hanging out in the common room because we don't know what else to do. I'm holding out for the time when I feel so comfortable around these people-- praying it will come. I hate the lonliness of having friends but not friendships, conversing but not conversations. God's asking me to trust Him. So I'm hanging on. Sometimes by a thread.

So much to say... I'm still waiting on the right cords for my computer so I can have my laptop in my room. I also need a wireless internet card. I also need to spend as little money as possible. Ha! It is all a challenge, every last bit of it.

Oh... this makes me miss home and all the familiar people so much... May the Comforter of hurts and Dryer of all tears and Lover of our Souls be with you and reveal Himself to you ever deeper every day. Please continue to pray. It's a very tough adjustment. I'm not necessarily homesick, but lonesome. And of course there's always that feeling of not having what you expected to have. I've come to the conclusion that we shouldn't have expectations at all. God will only go on to exceed them if we're patient with Him : )

Love to all,
Leah <><

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