It seems that I write to you in spurts-- some weeks numerous times, some times numerous weeks in between : ) Thanks for putting up with my randomness.
At Veronica's request I'm going to try to give you a few main points at the beginning and then go into detail later on in the letter so you can know a bit of what's been going on without reading the whole long, boring explanation : )
*Thanksgiving-- the week of started off really hard and I missed everyone and everything familiar : ( But all loneliness dispersed when the day of a few friends (Claire and Adriaan) and I organized an afternoon out for cocoa just so I could celebrate this holiday and about 16 of us ended up going out-- everyone gathering around just like a big, beautiful family to celebrate for my sake a holiday they didn't understand or care about : )
*Day in London-- Dave C. (Norwich, UK), Claire (Exeter, UK), Henk (Holland), and I got the cheapest bus tickets we could find and spent last Sunday gallivanting about London in order to attend the Hillsong church service that evening where Delirious were leading worship. Long day, but good fun : )
*Relieving end of term pressure-- End of term time is stressful for everyone so we invent ways to take the pressure off-- like impromptu snowball fights in the garden : )
And now for the weightier descriptions for the diehard among you : )
Thanksgiving was unconventional in nearly every way this year. But I loved it : ) From the moment I went downstairs that morning, everyone was wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving-- some even shouting it in unison. Adriaan made up a 'Happy Thanksgiving' song : ). Dave W. wore his American t-shirt (red, white and blue, of course!). Jo W. made me a pecan pie-- completely out-of-the-blue and gorgeously thoughtful! We got together in the common room that night to devour it and soon random people were wandering in to help us partake : ) Claire, Adriaan and I planned an afternoon out for Hot Chocolate just so I might acknowledge the un-ordinary-ness of the day and we made a little announcement about it at lunch and found that our group of 3 became a group of 16 as my new 'family' rallied around me to celebrate this foreign holiday that they didn't understand or remember. I thought I was feeling quite lonesome that week but I ended up changing my mind : )
It was so beautiful. My white chocolate mocha wasn't quite a turkey feast, but the fellowship was quite like a family. And I think I like this version of Thanksgiving.
We walked back in the darkness of evening with the streets alight with Christmas designs strung up between the antique buildings. His beauty abounds. But that wasn't all... to top it all off, as if my King wasn't gracious and delightful and beautiful enough... That night it unexpectedly began to snow : ) The flakes were full and airy and falling fast, just like Thanksgiving at home.
That Saturday a day student here named Wendy invited me to a Thanksgiving celebration at her church that's put on every year because they have an American family from Texas in their congregation. So, I did have a sort of Thanksgiving feast after all : )
Upon hearing that Delirious were leading worship in London, a small group of us decided to take the day (Sunday the 27th) and walk down to the bus station at 6:45 in the morning only to walk home again at 12:30am that night. We played tourists and hopped from one attraction to the next all day, managing to hit Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty the Queen herself happened to be that day (No, we didn't see her but they were flying the flag which means she's in : )), Covent Garden (It's not a garden, but a street market with busy stalls and shoppes and street performers), Tower Bridge (Tower Bridge is my favorite of the London landmarks-- so beautiful and regal spanning the River Thames-- which is pronounced "Tems", in case you're interested), Trafalgar Square (I've discovered I love Trafalgar Square. It's this massive, open, courtyard type area in an affluent area of London with huge statues of majestic things to honor the Battle of Trafalgar-- which I don't know anything about... sorry), 10 Downing Street (This is the heavily guarded residence of the Prime Minister. We happened to walk by just as a huge protest was going on outside...), and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Sarah, my friend from Essex that I wrote about visiting a few weeks ago, came down to meet us before the service and some of Dave's friends from Norwich. We all made our way over to Tottenham Court Road to the Hillsong service. The church, a branch off of the Hillsong church in Australia, is held each week in a massive, old Theatre called The Dominion. Delirious is a world-renown Christian rock band from England and they led worship as well as giving the short sermon. Back when I was looking at coming to England was the first time that I really started listening to this group and at the time I remember thinking, "If I move to England, I have to see Delirious." I hadn't anticipated seeing a free concert in a centuries old theatre during an evening church service : ) The entire thing was being recorded for Hillsong's New Years Eve broadcast so we had to have a little countdown and everything. If you happen to see anything from Hillsong this New Years, do watch for me : )
2 and a half weeks until the end of term and suddenly everything is coming due. Funny how it all catches up on you in the end. The pressure is more or less the same for all of us here, though, and we've become suddenly quite studious, locking ourselves away in our rooms or in the various libraries to research for hours on end so that we might compose our essays. Most dinner conversations these days have something to do with compiling how much work we've gotten done that day and calculating how much is left to be done! Midst the stress, though, we manage to make our own fun. One afternoon this week it snowed heavy, thick flakes that covered the ground with a white slush. Not Minnesota snow, mind you, but it was pretty coming down. I took a long walk in it that afternoon knowing that that night would be all about the Doctrine of God essay and the Pauline epistles worksheet. At tea (supper) Adriaan and I planned a top-secret 8o'clock snowman building party to take advantage of the sticky snow but around 7 as I sat trying to produce some essay (thinkthinkthink) I heard a deep Dutch voice calling my name and then -smack- a snowball hit my window, and then -smack- another and there were Dave and Adriaan smiling impishly down below. So I had to run out and join them and what ensued was more fun than playing in the snow ever was even as a child : ) Claire and I attempted to remain neutral as Dave, Adriaan, Paul, Abbie and sometimes Marge swung large globs of wet snow across the garden : ) Then, of course, there were the rollers, the somersaulters, and the kartwheelers... Ah, jolly good fun-- do check out the pictures!
There's so much more to say. Some things I'd love to articulate seem almost too much for words... Perhaps I'll try another day... For now, "be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it...
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." (1 Thess. 5:16-24, 28)
More very soon!