Sunday, 29 November 2009

Oh, to belong to The King of England (and everywhere :))...

I wish there were words to properly share with you all that my recent trip to England meant to me. But there's no language up to the task so instead I'll just tell you a bit about what I did for those 2 weeks-ish from the 10th to the 26th :)

First Stop: London! And an afternoon out and about with a dear
friend I graduated with and grew with and laughed with and cried with (this is a theme running through most all of the friendships I speak of from college! Basically, they are deep and true, and I love that...). We caught up after a year and half and alot of water under bridges. We had Starbucks (!!) which has always been my favourite treat, but even more so now when I live in a country which doesn't have them!!! And then we ventured into Chinatown for a meal, and then down to Trafalgar Square, my favourite London tourist site, and the National Gallery. We wandered down for me to say hello to Big Ben-- it's been awhile-- and spent all the hours in conversation. Dave is headed out to Asia for long-term ministry as soon as April. Time does march on...

Next Stop: Salisbury! To spend a few days with my lovely friends Abbie and Paul. Abbie was one of my prayer triplet girls in my third year and ours is a friendship that blossomed out of praying one another through the deepest things, and the practical things, and everything in between. And Paul is just one of the greatest human beings I have ever known :) A mish-kid from the Reunion Islands and my favourite singer in the world. My first few days in England were spent simply being with them-- taking walks through the stunning English countryside, talking, singing along to the guitar, sitting by the fire, talking, going out for coffee, talking, laughing, sharing our hearts, and just enjoying one another. God really gave my heart rest there-- Abbie and Paul are two quiet, gentle, FUN spirits who give the soul room to breathe. It was lovely. I miss you, Abbie and Paul!!!

Then on to Gloucester, my hometown :) I stayed with my English pastor's family, The Austin-Sparks, the family I lived with for the first few months after graduating from college. Stepping back into their home it was like I'd never left :) Lovely and familiar and homey. We had fantastic conversations and lots of hugs and laughter. I got to see so many old college friends in Gloucester, and I even returned to college for a lecture, being greeted by staff with hugs and happily surprised hellos. It was lovely. College feels SO very different, 2 years of incoming students gone by. I got to spend an afternoon with my dear friend Ali and meet her fiance for the first time, had a visit from Claire who is working in England with a similiar church project to mine here in Sweden, only further on in the vision so there is much to talk about and learn from her. I spent an afternoon with Rita, who is my Lithuanian sister (she has adopted me and my family-- whenever they've been to see me in England, she's had them over for meals :)). I spent a hilarious evening with Tim and James (who have a house together now!) and the lovely Adelina, who understand my heart without even trying. And, the reason I finally got back to England, I met my beautiful god-daughter Lily Joy and spent as many hours as I could with her mummy and daddy! Lily is utter perfection. I was captured from the first moment she fell asleep in my arms :)

After Gloucester it was on to London again where I spent a day with a friend wandering around for miles and seeing bits of the city I've never been before! He's a native Londoner so I was in good hands. We visited the ministry he works with there, down near the world famous All Souls Church, had more Starbucks (hurray!), visited Soho, walked through ecclectic markets and wandered along the River Thames, and ended up at a London pub with his friends. I hope I always remain in awe about how God's brought my life to a reality beyond my wildest dreams as a child-- so that I will always be mystified by a day spent wandering around London, for example, or taking a train through the English countryside, or finding my way to work in my Swedish city. Rose-coloured glasses do help take the edge off all of the hard things about living in a foreign country far from family! And they keep my heart in a constant state of worship at His grace and attentive love!!

From there it was on to Sheppey to spend a few days with Amanda! Sheppey is a little island off Kent, known affectionately as the armpit of England!! But Amanda took me home with her a few times throughout college so I feel rather fond of the place :) She has a big heart for the underprivileged island and the needs, spiritually and otherwise, of the people who inhabit it. For years she's talked about wanting to take me to the City of Rochester where she went to school, knowing that I would love it. And she was right. This pretty little city has a castle and a cathedral just up from the high street. Oh, England, how I love thee!! It is also the home of Europe's largest secondhand bookstore, called Baggin's Books, which is an ancient old high street shop which just goes on and on and on as you wind your way through the thousands of books tucked in every nook and cranny, up staircases and down staircases and around corners and on and on :) We also spent a day visiting Canterbury, another cathedral city I've never been! Amanda is one of those rare people He sometimes places in our lives who you can just be totally and entirely at ease with and our few days together-- the first time in a year-- were just covered in His fingerprints, gifts from His generous heart who knows precisely what we need and gives it to us with relish and delights in our joy over it.

I headed back to London from there, stayed with a lovely, generous friend whom I haven't seen for about 2 years, met up with a few more friends about London for lovely walks and talks and meals, and then headed out to the airport on Thanksgiving Day, feeling sad at having to leave, but feeling such a restoration in what has been my very weary and beaten down soul. There have been circumstances in the ministry which the enemy has used to just beat my heart up. Unbelievable things. And I truly feel like God gave me this trip to England (through selling a piece of writing which just about covered the airfare, and then using a stash of GBP I've had since I moved to live on!) at just such a time as this, knowing my limits, to take me away so He could just cradle me for awhile; to comfort and renew me. To restore me. He used His people-- my beautiful friends-- to be His tangible arms to hug me and tangible eyes to look at me with concern and empathy as I poured out story after story and struggle after struggle, to be His tangible faces lit up with laughter as we enjoyed one another and delighted in one anothers' presence. It is so healing to love and be loved. It's so His heart.

Oh, I love that heart!!
And so I'm back to the battlefield-- I mean, missionfield :)-- and standing in Him in new ways. Thank You so much, Gracious God of mine!!!
"My chains fell off, my heart was free. I'm alive to live for You. I'm alive to live for You.
Amazing love, how can it be? You gave everything for me, you gave everything for me!
Free to live, free to give, free to be, I'm free to love You, Lord."
-- Tim Hughes, 'Holding Nothing Back'

1 comment:

Emily Gotta said...

ah! i always forget about this wonderful spot. love you! and all of your adventures.

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