Friday, 22 September 2006

First Week Back in England

"Where our depravity meets His divinity, it is a beautiful collision."
-- unknown

Dear All,

This past Saturday I arrived back at college and I now write this from my same lovely bedroom overlooking the vast back garden with a slightly warm autumn breeze wafting in through the open window. It's a whole new sort of strange this year. I smiled sleepily this time around touching down in London as the sights were familiar and somewhat mine. There was a polo match on the grass of a city park, horses, helmets and all. The porter called me love as he thanked me for his tip upon setting my gargantuan luggage down by the gate of my bus to Gloucester. I felt so calm, so aware, even though sleepy!

My friend's Beth and Paris (a mum and daughter from Wales) met me at the bus station in Gloucester with the two younger kids, Georgia and Isaac. Big hugs all around and many, "I've missed you"'s and some tears : ) I am so blessed. How different this year to arrive to the greetings of dear friends rather than completely lonely newness! And that was only the beginning! Once at college there were more greetings to be made and more hugs to be had and it truly felt a sort of homecoming which so eased the pain of having just left family and home again.

The new strangeness is in the emptiness of college without the dear friends from last year that haven't come back (though, thank the Lord, many people did-- there are also many who did not and it changes everything :(). This year's student population is the largest it's been in all of Redcliffe's 116 year history (last year I was the only American student-- this year I am 1 of 6! Including two really sweet new friends from Moody Bible Institute :)) but even so there is an emptiness : ( God in His grace knew my fragility upon leaving home to come so far away and placed people in my life last year who cannot be replaced and for whom I will be forever grateful. The new crop has a few gems of it's own, I'm finding, but it is a slow discovery having come out of a year with such a family feel and into a new one that feels far more institutional. It's been such a short while, though. God has much to delight me with in the coming year!

It seems increasingly clear that my life's story is meant to be written into Europe as I find it increasingly difficult to imagine going back to live in the States indefinitely. I am captivated by the people here, the cultures, the histories, the needs... I've only been back 7 days but it can somewhat feel as if I never really left as I settle seamlessly back into my Redcliffe life. It feels good to be back in England. My heart has come home here even as it left home in America. And I feel different this year. It's hard to explain yet it's almost tangible. I feel a new sort of freedom in my Christ, a new sort of boldness and confidence. Trust. He is a firm foundation and somehow this year I feel I know it in my heart like never before. He is bathing parts of me in peace where before I have known only anxiety and worry there. He is teaching me to rest in Who He is more than what He does. I have the undeniable impression that He is up to something (not that He's ever not up to something : )) and I can't help but feel excited and honoured and delighted and joyful and thankful that He's letting me be privy to it : )

I so want you to know what I mean. The beauty of it is that He's not a secret God and He doesn't do things in the dark so I know that anything I share with you about Him and what He's up to is open for you too to know and experience for yourself. And that's what I so long for everyone sweet enough to read my massive scribblings-- that you'll seek to know this God (either for the first time or just better!) and His unexplainable Love and illogical grace and inexpressible mercy. I know I call Him "my God" but He was always meant to be yours too : ) Don't miss out on that incredible gift...

So thankful for this extraordinary time He's given me in my life to soak up and learn and take in and experience, for the lessons learned through good times and the lessons learned in bad ones... Please pray that whatever each day may bring I won't waste a moment of this grace-drenched life!!

Much love,
Leah <><

p.s. If you'd like to, please pray for wisdom in discernment in choosing which classes to take and that He will provide a job that is "just right" to bring in some finances without taking away from my studies. Expect info on what classes I decide to take this term someday soon, as well as new pictures of the start of my new year once I get around to taking some : )

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

And I'm Off!

"Let's not pitch our tents in the realm of the norm. Knowing our King is an endless frontier of discovery, passion, and depth. To pursue Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is to experience the fullness of joy."
-- Eric Ludy, God's Gift to Women

Dear all,

It's been quite a while since my last "dear all" letter : )

Just writing to inform you that I'm off to England again for my second year at Redcliffe College! I fly out Friday morning (September 15th) to arrive in London Saturday morning (Septermber 16th-- around midnight our time) but I leave Park Rapids tomorrow (Thursday, September 14th) morning to spend one last day with my niecey and my sister and my mom and probably my Grandma.

My heart's just not quite ready to leave everyone again, even while being psyched to get back to England and to friends and life there. I wonder at His plans. To think that He allows someone like me-- sooo attached to my family and friends, so shy in new friendships, so close to the ones I've been gifted with-- to move such great distances for such long periods of time is... somewhat hard to understand, but Europe has captivated me since even before I first stepped foot there when I was 14. So I pursue this : ) But this year I have an idea of what I'm getting myself into and if it resembles last year even slightly than I am bound to make some amazing friends that become like family and broaden my every horizon in ways I never thought possible-- while being challenged sometimes beyond what I think I can bear up under.

I still don't know of a specific direction career-wise for this education. I just know the experience will not be wasted, cannot be wasted. If I learn nothing else from my three years studying Him, His Word, and His ministry there in Gloucester, I will have learned how to cling to the God who knows it all and is happy to guide me along if I press in close to Him and trust.

So... here's to pressing in close and learning to trust!!

I'll be sure to send a more comprehensive report of the goings-ons once I've gotten resettled in : )

Much love!!
Leah <><

p.s. to continue in the fine photo-sharing tradition, you can see photos from my summer in the states here.
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