Day 17, LONDON!

WOW!! London was amazing! It was such a surreal experience. We took a train into town, then transferred onto a “Underground Tube” and our first steps out of “the Tube” was to the sight of Big Ben!! We came out right in the middle of Westminster. Right there by the station was Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, and the London Eye.

The best word to describe I already used earlier, surreal. I’ve seen all these sites so many times on TV and in movies, then I arrive in London and see these in real life. I had this weird feeling like I have already been there and seen these things. It was amazing though to actually see those iconic sites.

We then made our way to Trafalgar Square, where we met up with a few of our friends that we met from Birchington. Then after a quick lunch, we used “the Tubes” to make our way to Brick Lane which had some interesting culture that some locals thought we might like to experience.

Then for the rest of the day, the group split into two groups. One group made it’s way to Buckingham Palace and the other group went to another part to do some shopping.

Overall, this was a fantastic experience, but we definitely left room for more to see. For myself, visits to Piccadilly Circus and Westminster Abbey and a ride on a Double Decker would have made my day. Even though we didn’t get to do those, that just means I have something new to experience if I ever come back to London. Tomorrow is our last day before leaving back for the States.

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England, Day 14

What a wonderful end to a wonderful two weeks. Today was the last day of the holiday club and it is a little bittersweet. Sweet in the fact that we can finally received a well deserved break and get some much needed rest, but definitely bitter in the fact that our time is done.

As much as we were able to accomplish, in my heart I feel a tug from God that the work here is not finished. There is still so much more that needs to be done. But I’m still thankful for the part of God’s plan in this town that I was able to be a part of.

I came into this trip, not knowing what exactly to expect, but God has blessed me and my experience here. It was definitely something I needed and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve Birchington. Be sure to pray for safety in travel as everyone goes back home from the holiday club. Pray for the lives of the kids that we ministered to. And just praise God for such a wonderful 2 weeks.

England, Day 13

So there is only one day left on the mission. I can’t believe how fast this whole experience went by. There have been a lot of good things done here, I only wish that I had a little bit more time here in Birchington to follow up on all this work we’ve done.

It’s been interesting reflecting back on the 2 weeks. There are definitely some awesome and amazing things happening during these two weeks, but like anything else, it isn’t perfect and there is some room for improvement. But that’s the joy in things like this, knowing that even thought it isn’t perfect, God still uses it to transform people’s lives.

As for me, this has been a very positive and encouraging experience. I was at a point in my life and in my walk where I was frustrated and struggling and these 2 weeks really re-energized my spirit. It made me remember why I wanted to be in vocational ministry and reminded me of what my gifts were.

I am already considering and praying about returning next year, the bridges and relationships I’ve started to build aren’t complete and I would love to continue what I’ve started here. This truly can be the begining of a life-long relationship with the community and organization.

Pray for God to breathe life into the last day. Pray for the children and young people – that they will hold on to Jesus’ teachings and will want to know more. Pray that this is only a beginning in the work that God is going to do here.

Thank you for all of your love, support and prayers during these two weeks, we have really felt them.

England, Day 12

We’re keeping on going. From my perspective, this second week has been more of a test against exhaustion. The tempter has tried and use our tiredness against us and has tried to use it as a barrier against the work that is being done here in this community.

Today we had a worry about the weather, it was forecast to rain all afternoon and if was the case then the afternoon event was going to be canceled. But fortunately the rain held off until later in the evening. The Afternoon Extravaganza took place on the beach once again, it was an activity called the Sand Village where participants were broken up into teams and together they build a village out of the sand (think sand castle like structures).

Then in the evening we had events for each of the age groups once again. The Twigs (ages 5-7) had a fancy dress party, the Tramps (Ages 7-11) had a talent show that even the leaders in that group had a chance to participate, the Trogs (ages 12-14) had originally planned to do something on the beach but due to weather moved to the location of the morning club and just watched Up.

Continue to pray for us…. pray for energy, we are all feeling tired but there is still work to be done. Pray for health, many of us are still suffering from nagging illnesses. Pray that our community action is blessed and that we can make a positive impact through serving.

England, Day 11

What a good day today. We had some fun, revealed Jesus just a little bit more, played some sports, built relationships and spent time relaxing.

Morning clubs were great today, the weather was beautiful so many spent more time outside than usual. I can only speak for the Trogs (12-14) because that was my group, but we had an especially good day today.

The Afternoon Extravaganza was back at “the Dip” again today, Avtar (the director of the Holiday Club) made a keen observation about the how impactful the work they are doing there is. The Thanet District Council (local government) had set up some very nice sport equipment (volleyball net, etc) in the Dip before we had arrived. It was some very nice equipment, but only a few kids were out there enjoying the free use of the equipment. But once the Holiday Club arrived with their “rubbish” (by comparision) equipment, kids started flocking out to “the Dip” and would rather play with us.

Avtar’s observation was that even though the nice equipment was there for everyone to use, since there was no relationship, there was no real interest in using it. And even though we didn’t have great equipment, the relationship brought the families. This goes back to what I mentioned in Day 4 about how vital relationships and relationship building is in ministry.

Tonight’s evening event was another team social where we drove to a little town called Deal where there was a nice little sport club. There we were able to play in a leisure pool they had with a small slide, play tennis outside, table tennis, air hockey, and (even though it wasn’t available to us) there was a nice football pitch outside.

These Team Socials that we have are such a relief. We have to be “On” so much during the two weeks while we are with kids and what not, it’s nice to be able to turn off, have some fun and have great conversations with each other.

Continue to pray for health, even though it isn’t as bad as it was earlier in the week, there are still some nagging illnesses going around. Also, please pray for an extra portion of spiritual and physical strength so we can finish off these final days of the Holiday Club strong.

England, Day 10

It was the first day of the second week!! it was so energizing to see the kids and having the opportunity to spend time with them again. We all had a great time at morning clubs!

The Afternoon Extravaganza today was the Tide Fight. We went to the beach of Minnis Bay and separated into teams and began to build giant mounds. The point was to make them as strong as possible again the rising tide. It was quite impressive to see how fast the tide comes up at this time of the day. So each team had to frantically build these giant mounds of sand. They had to stop building once the tide came up and hit the first mound.

During this next part it was funny to see how not only the kids but the adults yelling at the tide and the waves to stop. They just yelled and yelled but the tide was stopping for no one. Before we knew it, the tide had overtaken and knocked down the mounds, the one that was the last standing was declared the winner.

In the evening we gathered with our age groups again for an events. The Trogs (12-15) did the same thing that we did last Monday which was gather at “The Dip” and play rounders and “proper” football then finished the evening with English chips! Tramps (7-11) had a game night based on their new theme for the week – “Reach for the Stars.” The team then finished the night with another Epilogue that is always a good end for the evening.

Praise God for His faithfulness; He has been so good to us during this mission. Pray for strength, tolerance and patience as the team continues to work together. And especially pray for health: we had one of our (FBCR) kids out the entire day due to illness and several members of the entire team (including myself) who are suffering from some kind of cold bug that floating around. So if you could just pray for health so that this doesn’t drag down the productivity of the mission.

England, Day 9

Today was another fairly chill day. We only had a couple things on the agenda for today. Like last Sunday, we spent the mornings at various local churches. This time we shared a quick update on the first week of the holiday club mission.

After that most of the day was a prep day for the next week in the mission. The evening was what made today different. At 6:00 we held a community-wide event, at the local Anglican church (All Saints) a Celebration service was put together that featured testimonies from various members of each age group, a few songs of worship and an uplifting message from the head of the Holiday Club mission, Avtar. It was a wonderful time for sharing and connecting with the local community about the past week and what was in store for the next week.

On a personal note, after I came to my host family’s house, I sat down and had a great conversation about the Church in England. I was able to learn a little bit about how things were done in this community and I shared a little insight about what I see is going on here. It was great conversation because I was really able to see the hearts of their ministry (husband is the pastor at the local Baptist church).

Pray for our first day back with the children in morning clubs tomorrow. Also pray for our afternoon activity where we will be out on the beach at Minnis Bay tomorrow.