Thursday, August 30, 2012

Memories from a Melody

There's a country song on the radio with lyrics that say, "Funny how a melody sounds like a memory".

Since arriving home from the U.K., I find this part of the song to be true.  There are songs I hear on the radio or on my own iPod that take me back to London.  (Although, even without music, there are days when I'm physically in California - but mentally back in London.)  There are songs that remind me of different people and different experiences.  The other night, a worship song we used in London a few times came on the radio.  Tears came to my eyes as I started to think about London and all that I was a part of, what God is doing, and when I started to think of my team and friends.

The other day I was really struggling with being back home.  I know I'm suppose to be home - there is no question about this.

As I was struggling, I decided to pull out my journal and write.  I've been a horrible writer these days by not writing much (as I'm sure as you can tell by how often I have been posting here).  I really want to write more, and hope to break this habit.  So, as I sat there, journal and pen in hand, I made a list.  Actually - I made two lists.

My first list was about "Things I Miss about London".  My second list was, "Things I don't miss about London".  I thought that this would help my mind sort out some of my experiences and how I am now feeling...To process things that had happened and are currently now going on as I adapt to live back at home.

The list of things I miss is WAY longer than the things I don't miss.  Here are a few of the things on that list...

  1. Having an unending amount of ways and chances to step out of my comfort zone.
  2. Learning a word or two in many different languages.
  3. Hearing people's stories from around the world - and what God is doing in their life!
  4. Teaching English to my flat-mates and others I worked with!
  5. Korean food. ;-)
  6. My flat-mates.
  7. Leaving post-it notes for my desk buddy!
  8. Flat game nights, especially when one of the married couples on our team would join us for dinner and the game time!
  9. Sunday mornings with on of my flat-mates.  She and I had the whole morning with just the two of us, being able to chat and catch up on a more personal level.  (We rode the bus together as we went to the same British church.)
  10. Swiss Chocolate
  11. The tube.
  12. The challenge of it all.  (It's a good kind of challenge.  A challenge of adapting, learning, and stepping out of your comfort zone.)
  13. The church I worked with on Sunday evenings.
  14. Big Ben at night time.
  15. Team Devotions!
  16. Inside Jokes.  (To bring up a few??  Knock-Knock Jokes, Peanut Butter Kit-Kats, Peanut butter, and mismatched socks.)
  17. Making videos and taking photos for my teammates. 
  18. British accents.
  19. Prayer nights where we all got together to pray for countries around the world and for issues such as human trafficking. 
  20. The work we were doing there.
  21. The free museums.
  22. Being involved with sharing people's experiences, stories, and what God was doing during my time there, with supporters and prayer partners!
  23. London's variety of Haagen Das ice cream (best brand EVER).
  24. The mannequin in our building that we would occasionally put in someone's room.
  25. Learning of British Culture.
  26. Old, gorgeous, British churches!
  27. Learning British English - verbal and written forms.
  28. All the laughter from living in an international community and having a good, tight-knit, group of friends.
  29. Introducing international friends to Butterfingers and Corn Bread!  (Thanks the the many  care packages I got from home!)
  30. The whole experience.

This is less than 1/5 of my list.  A list that could have gone on, and on, and on, and on...

I still think of London at least once a day. Then, there are days when I can't get the city, the work, and my friends out of my mind.  Again, I know I am meant to be home.  However, 6 months of my life was spent in this city with this team...With a team that became very dear to my heart.  I came home changed because of the whole experience.

Although I miss London and my friends, and everything taking place there, I remind myself on a daily bases, "Crystal - you are so blessed.  You are so blessed to have a group of friends and an experience that you miss so have people and memories so dear to your heart!!  Not everyone is so lucky to have the chance to miss so many people and memories to reminisce about."

If you want to keep me in your prayers still, please do!  You can pray for me as I sometimes feel like I'm still readapting and find ways in which I've changed.  You can pray for me as am back in school, hoping to finish college in the next 2-3 years.  Pray for me as I discover God's future plans for my life.  (Which I've recently started to have a little understanding of, but do not want to post publicly, as things can always change.  After all, I still have to finish college in the next few years - and anything can happen between now and receiving my diploma.)

Also, pray for London.  Although I have returned home, I am still in prayer for this city- and I hope you are too.  Pray for the continued work in the city...pray God will use Christians in London to love their neighbours around them, and as they share God's love and Message!

The Travelin' Chick,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What's Next??

I've been home a little over a month now.  I took time to heal from whatever mystery illness I had overseas (from my hospitalization in Norway) and from jet lag.  I gained my energy and strength back and went to youth camp with our church's teen girls as their counselor. (Which is always a highlight of my year!) Right after camp, I did a presentation on my time in London at my home church.

Since returning home I have been asked many times, "So, what is next?  What is after London?"  Well, here is an overview...

Before leaving for London I was still attending college.  I knew when I returned home, I would also have to return to college.  Today I started back in my classes.  I got lucky in the fact that I don't have any classes at all on Mondays or Fridays, and only one night class on Wednesdays.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are pretty much filled with three classes.

The different thing about this semester is...I am excited.  I am excited to go to classes again, to hopefully meet new friends, and just to be back in school.  The last time I was excited about college was around the fall and spring semesters of 2009/2010.  (And this has to do with many different reasons...going to a new school after attending a Christian college, family emergencies and struggles, etc...)

It really does feel good to be back in classes.  A month filled with "nothing to do" is a bit much for me - especially after 6 months of going, going, going!  I think I've been missing interaction with peers, having some kind of challenge in my life, learning, being more productive, etc.

Being in London also gave me a taste of what life can be like once I am done with college.  It gave me the motivation to finish what I started and more of a desire to get my degree.  While going to college is normal, college isn't really "normal" life - unless you are a career student...and I'm ready to be done with this phase in my life.  (Not that I want to wish my life away...That's not what I mean at all.  I've been in college for a few years and am ready to move onto other adventures for God that can be longer term vs short-term, like my time in London.)

On top of college, I also am planning to speak to churches about London and the ministry they helped support.

Some of you may also remember that I had to have ankle surgery before going to London.  Some of you may know, but some of you may not...But I need to have another ankle surgery.  I'm pretty much a candidate of an ankle replacement, but for many reasons, I am avoiding that option at all costs.  Tomorrow I will be having a phone appointment with my doctor to discuss options that I have that will give me the best outcomes...and I am hoping to do this within the next couple of months.  (This may only require one surgery, but it also may require more.)  Funny thing is...I'm also excited about this too.  I suppose most people dread surgeries, but I'm just ready to have a better functioning ankle that I can rely on.  It's been an ongoing issue for a few years and I am ready for it to be dealt with.

As a summary, my main things that are next are:

  1. Finish college!
  2. Ankle Surgery...
  3. Speaking at churches about London...
  4. I didn't mention it above - but my parents put their house on the market!  Hopefully it'll sell soon and we can move!

There are a few other things I'm also praying about and strongly considering for my future.  I'm not really sure where God is guiding me, but that's all part of the adventure of life!  Most of what I am praying about would more likely take place once I finish college (or possibly during a summer for one of the things I'm praying about)...We'll see where God leads!

So...What are YOU up to these days??

The Travelin' Chick,

PS: Did I mention that I am also going to Disneyland to celebrate my 21st birthday?? :-D