My time in Sunderland and Gateshead, England has been an amazing opportunity to learn. Everyday I look forward to seeing my students, giving them a hug, and having uncontrollable laughter with them. I am amazed at how fast the students are learning and how much has been accomplished since I first came. I have enjoyed every moment however there are some real struggles that I have been dealing with. The first major one is time zones. The British Time Zone has both served as a great joy and great sadness. It brings me great joy because I am only an hour away from Croatia so I can talk to my Croatian friends very easily. However I am six hours ahead of my home in Houston, which means I am only able to talk to my family and friends in America for half the day. Even when I get to talk with my family and friends in America it is usually around 11 pm (England time) when I want to go to bed after a long days work. It is hard to only get to talk to the people I love for such a limited amount of time. It is the first time that I am not home to celebrate my best friend’s (of 15 years) birthday, and I wont get to talk to her for all of it. Since I have been in England, many of my American friends have moved into their college dorms. This has been another struggle for me. As crazy as it seems, it is difficult to watch other people experience something that I will not experience. It is hard to miss out on the college football games, marching band, going back to high school for homecoming, and traveling to visit your friends off at college. With that being said, I am overwhelmed with joy at the opportunity I have been presented with, and I know that God is going to use my life in big ways. Even though these struggles are very real, they dull in comparison to what lies ahead. I am blessed that God is giving me the opportunity to struggle because it know that it is for a reason. I want to show God and others that I am able to live in pursuit of His plan even when I am struggling. God will always be with me in the joy and the sorrow. He is giving me peace that surpasses all understanding.
The joy that I have experienced with these kids has overshadowed any hard moment that I have felt. It has been an honor to show these kids uplifting christian music. On Saturday we had an event called Tea and Praise. All last week my Aunt and I spent our time grocery shopping, baking treats, washing tea pots and tea cups, ironing table cloths, buying flowers, vacuuming (or hoovering as the English say), and preparing for the Tea and Praise. The Tea and Praise is a traditional afternoon tea where the ladies can come, praise God and listen to testimonies about how some people came to Christ. Basically the event went like this: singing, eating sandwiches, singing, listening to testimonies, eating scones, singing, listening to testimonies, singing, eating dessert, singing! It was a lot of food and music! As Texan I would not classify myself as the proper English type… this was clearly evident as I marched around the church in my tea dress and boots. During one instance I was standing on top of a table opening the high ceiling window curtains and I heard one lady say “She shouldn’t be doing that shes wearing a dress!” and another responded “Well, shes from Texas.” It is good to be from America because when you go to different places people already expect you to act differently! This is why I can do things, like stand on a table in a dress, and get away with them!
During the Tea and Praise my students were the servers for each of the tables. Before the tea, the girls were antsy with excitement, so I decided we should do some line dancing to get some of the nervousness out. (Last year someone spilled hot tea on a woman while serving, so needless to say they did not want that to happen again) We took the speaker outside in front of the church and began our line dances! At first the girls were embarrassed to be dancing outside with a bunch of people (who were not a part of the church) from the community watching. At one point a bus drove by and half the girls ran away from embarrassment- silly girls. It was amazing to watch the community look out their windows, slow their walking pace, and stop to listen and watch a Christian line dance! One family even wheeled their special needs family member to the door so he could watch. About two minutes into watching, the man began dancing in his wheelchair! While we were dancing, some of the people who were attending the Tea and Praise started to arrive. They were welcomed with a group of line dancers. Of course I got some strange looks (again) because I was in a dress, but oh well I was line dancing for the Lord. I can do things that proper Englishwomen cant!! As I continue to be a source of new experiences, new language (I will get them to use ya’ll in their vocabulary!!), and new music, I am praying that God will use me to impact the lives of everyone I meet. I want to do life big so the Lord can be glorified through me. Please pray with me that the Lord will use me in ways that please Him.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.