Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Nice and Newsy

Dear All,

See the picture gallery of life back in England so far here!

Hurray! Second installment of news from England! I won't even comment on how I hope to make this quick because we all know how it ends up anyway by now, don't we? Nonetheless, I will promise to keep mostly to the practicalities and save most insights and passions for another mailing :)

I so love my college.
I cannot believe this is my third year here.I cannot believe how far He's brought me since showing up on the college doorstep an exhausted, frightened, and fragile, 19-year-old chock-full of hopes. As my darling cousin Emily said this summer as we discussed this call to Europe, "I blame it on the books!" He has so carefully drawn me to believe in His bigness-- a bigness that used to only seem to show itself in other peoples' stories. Suddenly I find He's written my life into a big story of His own. And I can only gaze up at Him with eyes wide-open and hold on tightly as He turns the pages!

It is such an incredible blessing to be able to look back and see how I've grown/am growing. And so far, no regrets. Sadnesses, obviously, at missing out on everything back home with the family I do so love. But no regrets. Suddenly Amy Carmichael's words ring true when she wrote, "You will regret nothing when you look back, except lack of faith or fortitude or love. You will never regret having thrown all to the winds in order to follow your Master and Lord." I am so thankful for how carefully He leads...

So, I have reached that mystical third year and somehow find myself a college senior! The classes, though led by the same profs (in England they are called "Tutors") have suddenly taken a huge step up in workload and expectations. I find myself often feeling very intimidated and not quite up to snuff. But also hopeful.

The studies I'm following this semester are:
Religious Experience with Rob Cook-- Analyzing the experiences of other religions and how they fit or don't fit within a Christian outlook. It is so very very interesting but also really demanding and Rob is the ultimate in intimidating academics so... I sort of sit there trembling every Tuesday morning hoping he doesn't ask me for any input! I think I'll quite enjoy writing the essays, though, because it fascinates me.

Isaiah with Derek Foster-- Exegeting the book of Isaiah. Wow... I've always known Isaiah was an incredible book but THIS incredible?? It just illustrates so profoundly the character of our God and that is an awesome thing to behold... For this particular class I must prepare a grand presentation on the theme of Justice and Poverty in Isaiah and I am quivering at the thought, believe me. But also drawn into the word of God and praying for strength and confidence! I despise presenting anything but it's all the more horrible when it's Derek doing the marking because the man is brilliance embodied and he's typically English in that he's keen on being critical!


Biblical Narrative with Richard Johnson-- Biblical narrative is great because it's basically teaching us to look at the books of the bible as you would any book of literature and as such to see what can be drawn out of it that you might otherwise miss. I loved studying English Lit. at Concordia so this is a particular treat for me! It's amazing to see how the word of God was constructed and laid out only reflects back on His sovereignty all the more...

Each class is a challenge because they always feel over my head-- even after two years of studying theology! But there are two sides to every coin and I have a twisted love/hate relationship with it all :)

Block Placement
I still haven't got one!
I've thought about taking up the offer of a Masters student I met here last year to go and help out a Children's Home in Hoima, Uganda which he was on the board of directors for-- and, who knows, God could still pull it all together-- but I feel somehow that I need to keep looking within Europe. I've spoken with some Italians here at college who are thinking about where they would send me in Italy! And I'm always hot on the trail of some ministry or another in Ireland. Of course, I could do a placement right here in England as well! Any experience within Europe is helpful, I think. Of course there's always Australia, Asia, South America, North America and even Antarctica if that's where He said to go :) So, we'll see. I'm praying, though, because my placement must take place in January and February and those two months will be upon me before I know it with hectic college life!! Any prayers you might offer for direction and for finance for this upcoming mystery placement would be more than greatly appreciated!

Everything Else
I don't know where the days go! But I love it.

I have a beautiful new prayer group-- just three of us; me, and my lovely English friends Amanda (from Sheppey in Kent) and Abbie (Milton Keynes, near London), who just got married this summer to my friend Paul! So far we've met three times but each time has been so full of catching one another up on our heart stories-- accompanied by copious amounts of tears and laughter, of course-- that we've only actually prayed together as a group once! I do miss my fabulous Leticia, Jenny, and Sarah of prayer-triplets-past at these times but feel confident that God wants to do just as much in this new triplet as he did in the past ones!

Two weekends now I've had the GREAT JOY of quick trips to Wales to visit "my Welsh family" in Ruthin!! Beth was a second year student here when I arrived in my first year and between her friendship and my "sisterhood" with her 16 year old daughter, they are a pretty special family to me. Over the summer, Beth graduated college and was married to the lovely Mike, so seeing them again was very very special after so much had happened. Do check out the photos because they are nestled in an outrageously beautiful part of the world.

I also visited a beach in North Devon with some Redcliffe friends last weekend so look out for those photos as well! God is forever using the sea to refresh my soul. For how much I love it it's hard to believe I was born in the very land-locked state of Minnesota :)

Last week was filled up by a WONDERFUL visit from one of my best friends who came back to England for his first time since leaving college after the first year! We had to do all the things we used to in the first year-- talked sitting up on the roof until the wee hours, played lots of Dave-and-Adriaan-4th-Edition-Uno (we even taught our rules to some of the new first years!), visited our lovely Gloucester Cathedral, played some pool (even though we're both pretty rubbish at it, right Adriaan?), worshipped late into the night with the guitar (he's prolific on it) and prayed through our long lists of things we're needing to bring before God together! We also spent a day and most of a night in Wales with our friend Dave who was also in the first year with us and our friend Anne who has a car and loves Wales so was delighted to take us (she even let me drive some of the way :))! I love the fact that one of my best friends in all the world is a Dutchman. How random is that? And he's about 10 feet tall (or so it seems from my meager 5'2") so God must really laugh when he sees us wandering around together in weeks like these :)

I think, though there's ALWAYS a trillion more things to say, I will have to send this out now so I can get back to work! But for those of you who are interested in keeping up with me, I like to get something out to you! Do expect to hear from me on "this side of the pond" again soon :)

Love in Him!
Leah <><

(link to Photo gallery)

"The eternal God is our hiding place;He carries us in His arms."
-- Deut. 33:27
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