Well we are finally here and settled in to our new home. It feels like the past week has been a whirlwind, but here is a short snippet of what went down in the past 5 days. We boarded our plane on Tuesday afternoon headed for DC with a connecting flight to Manchester, England. There was a lot of looking out plane windows, watching movies, reading, and trying to sleep in an upright position. As we descended down into Manchester it was obvious we were somewhere different. Many beautiful old houses with red brick, rolling hills, and roads winding every which way. As we made our way by train to Sheffield, the beauty of the countryside blew me away (even though it was really hard to stay awake after not sleeping at all the night before). Once we got to Sheffield our group lugged ourselves and all our luggage a mile (or should I say kilometer?) up some pretty big hills. The amount of people staring at us as we walked by in our zombie-like state was almost laughable. We made it to the Wilson Carlile Center and checked into our home for the next two months. We weren’t allowed to go to sleep because our body clocks would be way off, so the rest of the Wednesday was spent going over a few technical things like finding the nearest grocery stores, and getting a taste of the local food (which, contrary to what everyone has said, food here is pretty good). After dinner we welcomed the long awaited comfort of sleep.
Thursday was spent exploring the city, which is pretty large and has about 550,000 people. We were given a very tiny map with no labels and expected to find different buildings, landmarks, and parks based off of it. I’m convinced it was made really hard on purpose to force us to get help from the locals. As we were exploring the city one thing became very clear: there are hills everywhere and we walk everywhere. I have never walked so much in my life (I’m talking like 6-7 miles of casual walking a day!) Although it has made transitioning into the new time zone pretty easy, I’m out the moment I hit the pillow each night. The next two days were a mix of exploring, talking to people, and learning. On Saturday we went to campus and finally met some of the college students at the universities we will be spending so much time at. Surprisingly, most people are so friendly, and very willing to talk to us. I think we have a little bit of an advantage by being American in that we can get away with walking up to random people and asking them to talk. I think everyone on our team was able to connect with a student that we can follow up with in the coming days. It seemed to be gracious of God to give us some nice friendly people as our first interactions, it definitely helped to calm some nerves that I think all of us are experiencing.
On Sunday, we had our first gathering at the Crowded House Church that we will be attending and partnering with for the summer. It was great to be in the company of believers, after hearing and witnessing a culture that is turned off to God. Our relationship with God through Jesus connects us to people across any culture. What a beautiful picture of what heaven will be like someday (Revelation 7:9). After church we were able to meet with the life groups we will be a part of for the summer. These life groups meet together after church and spend the afternoon eating, talking, and drinking tea in each others company, but more on that later...
Overall, I think the team is excited to finally be here. Pray that God would continue to comfort nerves that we have in sharing the hope that we have in Jesus to a people who are in desperate need of a savior. Pray that God would grant us boldness through the Spirit. Lastly, pray that God would be softening the hearts of the people we interact with and love.