Lots of updates since this blog post includes everything about the next part of my gap year program! Happy reading…
Wednesday, 10/7: Ella and I went to Burgh Elementary school again to help lead the Bible club that Zoe does there, but it was unfortunately the last day doing that. It was such a joy to be a part of, especially since me & Ella’s church placements weren’t very involved. I’m so glad Zoe asked us to help out! Seeing the excitement all the kids had about coming to Friends and Heroes (the Bible club) made my heart happy. I hope the club continues to grow (both in number and for the kids to grow in their curiosity/faith). Wednesdays were one of my favorite days of the week because of Friends and Heroes, but also because of the lovely dinner Ella & enjoyed with Zoe and her family in the evening. I will miss Wednesdays for sure.
Thursday, 10/8: I can’t believe the FirstServers last full day together came so quickly. Although geographical distance separates us, I know the friendship between us will stay close & hopefully only grow closer. The girls already agreed that we are inviting one another to each of our weddings, ha. I truly could not have asked for a better group of people (both the Firstservers and the Tilsley students) to spend the first month of my gap year with. I couldn’t thank them all enough for making my time at Tilsley one of the best months of my life. To end our time together, the FirstServers took a nice, wee road trip to Loch Lomond. It was absolutely stunning. The photos I put up do not fully capture the breathtaking beauty of it. On the dock, we chatted to a wonderful Australian couple for a while. They have traveled a lot and it was so nice to hear about all their past adventures and share about the beginning of each of our adventures. Meeting and talking to random people has happened so often since being here, I love it. It’s refreshing, intriguing, and fun to just chat to others. You never know what you could learn from them, share with them, teach them, or just create a great memory of. Furthermore, your speaking skills will improve which is extremely important in a world so dominated by cellular communication. After some time hanging out by the water and taking photos, we went to the town of Luss, which was right next to Loch Lomond, to find a spot for dinner. Luss was the most adorable town I’ve ever seen. The highland village looked as if it was out of a fairytale. All the buildings and cottages had flowers and ivy growing up the walls and there were cute, colorful gardens. We decided on The Village Rest for dinner. It was charming, both the food and the atmosphere. What a beautiful day to spend with my beautiful friends for our last day together.
Friday, 10/9: Ella and Sam departed after dinner 😦 After hugs and tears, we waved them off farewell. All the best to them for their UK church placements, hope it goes swell!
Saturday 10/10: There were more hugs shared and tears shed as Jayne and then Lottie departed. Finally, it was my turn. I was picked up by Zach (an elder from Greenview Evangelical Church) and spent the day with his family. It was great to catch up with Nichola, a second year Tilsley student who’s staying with Zach’s family. We all went to Pollok Park to go for a nice, autumn walk. On this walk, I finally got to see my favorite (spirit?) animal, a scottish highland cow!!! In fact, I got to see about 10 of them and a couple calves. I was ecstatic. I’ll definitely be spending more time there. In the evening, Greenview put on a men’s choir event. They sounded fab and their liveliness & joy was contagious. Finally, I moved into my host family’s house (Martin & Margaret Boyd). The house is lovely and the hosts are alright too, I guess. (Just kidding, they are marvelous!! Love them.)
Sunday, 10/11: I spent my morning at Greenview for their two morning services, one of which I was introduced/interviewed at. In between and after services, I met lots of people. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming, it is heartwarming. After church, I had a wonderful afternoon eating lunch and playing games with a few families from the church. In the evening, there was another church service and then dinner & youth hangout time at a church family’s house. I’m blessed by the generosity, kindness, and care from everyone at Greenview. Although the day was laid back, I was exhausted from meeting so many people all day.
Monday, 10/12: Today, I started my involvement with Greenview. From now until I leave for Peru on Dec. 11th, I‘m placed at Greenview Evangelical Church in Glasgow by FirstServe (my gap year program) to get experience working in a church before I go abroad. Each of the FirstServers get placed at different churches in the UK during this part of the program. My schedule this week will be a bit less involved than the following weeks because some church programs aren’t running due to it being a holiday week in the UK.
During my time at Greenview, I’ll be helping Jacqui (the wife of one of my professors from Tilsley) with her position as a CAP (Christians Against Poverty) worker. CAP is a phenomenal organization. They provide debt counseling, money management courses, job clubs, and release groups to people in need for free! Even more significant than the programs they provide, this charity funded organization, through their faith in Christ, provides hope, optimism, security, comfort, loyalty, and encouragement to people experiencing despair, hopelessness, and depression due to their financial situation. Check out the CAP website so I don’t keep rambling on about how amazing it is (https://capuk.org). For my first day on the job, I got to do a CAP first visit with Jacqui to a woman who contacted the organization recently. Although it was heartbreaking to hear this woman share her story and cry out of despair, misery, and shame that she lives with everyday, my heart left full because of the hope and positivity the visit provided her. Because of a short CAP testimony video, Jacqui’s explanation of CAP and warm company, and prayer time (that the woman was open to), she is now more optimistic and at peace with her situation. I’m incredibly blessed to be involved with CAP and am eager to do a second visit to this woman and see more of what CAP does. This opportunity was so very humbling (which is always challenging, but never a bad thing). I’m reminded to strive for selflessness rather than selfishness. By littling yourself, you greatly expand your opportunities to help others who feel that they are worth little. Furthermore, my eyes were opened to how much God has graciously provided me with. This woman was so grateful that we bought her a loaf of bread and butter, just a couple of the many things I take for granted. We must always give thanks to God, even for the basic needs He provides.
In the evening, I went to one of the three classes that Greenview offers. Every Monday evening, Greenview hosts dinner for the class attenders and then the three classes break off. I sat in for the Christianity Explored class. It was super cool to see adults understand the basics of Christianity and explore faith through discussion and asking questions. It prompted me to come to the Bible with a childlike mindset. Erika (my mentor who I already know well from Tilsley) drove me home and after chatting in her car for a while, I went into my host family’s house only for it to be the wrong house! I literally walked right into the wrong home. Since I’m only using wifi for cell service while I’m here, my options were slim. After standing in the front, enclosed hallway for what felt like eternity, I took a deep breath and pushed open the door in front me to the living room while loudly exclaiming “I’M SO SORRY, I WALKED INTO THE WRONG HOUSE AND I’M AMERICAN AND MY HOST FAMILY’S HOUSE LOOKS JUST LIKE YOURS etc.” The young, teen girl on the couch stared at me with a shocked and slightly disgusted look, but the mom was very friendly and walked over to help me out. After she could comprehend my frazzled words, she had her older daughter walk me to the correct house. Although this is now a hilarious, unforgettable memory, I still want to know why someone would put a 14 Brent Road and 14 Brent Gardens in the same neighborhood where all the houses look similar?! I had a very full day and couldn’t wait to get some sleep in the right bed once I finally got there.
Tuesday, 10/13: I spent my morning and afternoon at a CAP job club to see another part of all CAP does. Following the job club, a money management course took place. The more I get involved with CAP, the more impressed I am! I had great fun talking to the friendly (and hilarious) people pursuing jobs and trying to get back on their feet.
Wednesday, 10/14: Well, after just a few days away, I was back at Tilsley again. I met with my mentor, Erika, and we began going through the discipleship course that FirstServe provides. The discipleship course includes a binder of devotional readings, theological articles, and podcasts saved on a USB for me to work through during my gap year. Having a blithesome afternoon with my dear Tilsley friends fulfilled the part of me that missed that place and those people, but it’s not the same as being there every day and the other FirstServers are very missed. Saying goodbye to Tilsley for good in a couple months will not be easy in the slightest.
Thursday, 10/15: In the evening, I attended a young woman’s Bible study where they are going through a series on the Holy Spirit. A challenging, yet vital topic to learn about and discuss. How crazy cool is it that as Christians, God dwells in us by the Holy Spirit He’s given us?! This astounding truth serves as a challenge because of the unfathomable reality of it and, for me at least, the topic sparks conviction that I don’t “keep in step with the Spirit” in the constant, lifestyle way I should. Let us not ignore this incredible gift God has given us, but rather, let us communicate with, rely on, and be in touch with the Spirit. Surrendering to be led by & follow the Spirit will result in being filled by the Spirit which further results in living the greatest, most fulfilling way you could. (read this to know/understand more:http://www.gotquestions.org/Spirit-today.html)
Friday, 10/16: No Friday night football, but my Friday night did include rugby! I cheered on the Glasgow Warriors at a home game against some Welsh team. I went with a sweet girl from church who had an extra pass for me to go.
Sunday, 10/18: Church, of course. Then, another wonderful afternoon of delicious lunch, great company, and card games (mainly Dutch Blitz) at a church fam’s home.
Monday, 10/19: I had the pleasure of learning how to make lattés and cappuccinos at the church café that I’ll be helping out at on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. The first few drinks I served weren’t the best looking, but I have plenty of time to improve and already did by the end of the morning. It was lovely to chat to people from the community and the other cafe workers. I’m amazed and touched by all the opportunities, generosity, and events that Greenview offers the community.
Tuesday, 10/20: On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, there is an event called Tots – a time for mothers (and their toddlers) to make friends, enjoy community, and hangout. I’ll be going to Tots on Tuesdays to serve as an extra pair of hands and eyes (for the little ones) and to get to know woman from the church and community. The children are adorable and so well behaved! I’m looking forward to spending my Tuesday mornings there.
This is the absolute best time of my entire life (thus far). I love the people, experiences, sights, memories, opportunities, and just everything about my gap year, and most of all, I love the Lord – in a more abundant, constant, real way than I ever have. I’m completely in awe and constantly grateful for the gracious way He’s lavishly blessing and providing for me. The dream of doing this gap year is reality and it’s better and more than I could have asked for, furthermore expected. My heart is full. I’m living – for God, in step with the Spirit, with Christ as my role model. I’ve never felt more alive, full, purposeful, content, and me.
What I’m learning, how I’m growing, and what I’m striving for is pretty well summarized in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-24:
14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
Until next time…
lots of love,