Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm at the middle mark

5 months ago today I arrived in England. I can't believe how time has flown while being here. I remember when I was at training in Nottingham all the new volunteers were told that this was going to be one of the most challenging years, I disagreed at the time. However, much to my dismay I was definitely wrong. 

This gap year has been nothing like I expected. To be honest I'm not actually sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. This year away from home is BETTER than anything I could have ever hoped or dreamed for. God has challenged me in every possible way, and I'm so thankful for that. If the Kelsey I was 5 months ago could meet the Kelsey I am now I don't think either one would recognize the other. It's unbelievable, but I am finally starting to become the person I'm supposed to be. I think I'm finally living up to the potential that God gave me, which is scary but at the same time possibly the coolest thing ever.

Also, in exactly 5 months from today my gap year with Youth for Christ will end and I will make the long journey back to Texas. I really feel like these next 5 months are going to fly by. 5 months ago I was excited to do this year, but I also was excited to come home at the end of it. But, now I cannot begin to express how sad and heartbroken I'm going to be when my 5 months are up and June 26 rolls around. I know the next 5 months are going to be amazing though, and I'm so excited to see what God has in store for me.

I have met some of the greatest people alive, and I seriously don't know how I'm going to survive 4000 miles apart from some of them. Sad day.

It's also going to be really weird not living with Nicole anymore. Throughout this year in England she has been my constant and has kept me stable. She's my roommate, accountability partner, best friend, and most of all she's my sister. The kind of relationship I have with Nicole is a new one for me, I mean yeah I have best friends but it's kind of different with Nicole and I. A couple of days ago Nicole found out her grandma had about 24-48 hours to live. Not fun news to hear when you're in another continent. But, after Nicole told me this news I found myself actually crying with her and mourning with her. I wouldn't say I'm not an emotional person, but never have I done anything like this with another person who wasn't a family member. Haha, I think Nicole and England are making sure I really get in touch with every single emotion possible this year. 

Please pray for Nicole and her family. She left England early Sunday morning for California to see her grandma, however she passed while Nicole was on one of her flights. Just please keep them in your prayers this next week.

I didn't mean to get all serious in this blog, my fingers just seemed to take over and do the typing.

Hope everyone has a great week!


Friday, January 23, 2009

New Ideas

My last post was a little lame, and not terribly informative so I thought I would write a better one and recap my week for you!

Monday: I had the morning and afternoon off due to the fact that I worked on Saturday. It was nice to sleep in or have a "lie in" as they call it over here in the UK. Then at about 6:45 Gavin, my minister's husband came and picked me up for Monday night bible study. This really is the highlight of my week, I love all the kids I work with. They're just all so different and fun and they're just awesome. I don't think I would be doing what I'm doing this year if it wasn't for them. 

Tuesday: Always a relatively easy day in my world, which is nice. I went in to school at about 10 or so because I had to take the bus and it was a tad bit late. So, I just waited in the office for Neil and I had a cup of tea. Can I just say that tea is really starting to grow on me? I mean seriously, I love the stuff. I drink it loads more than coffee, but another reason for that is the big thing over here is instant coffee and I kind of snub my nose at that. I know, I know I'm a coffee snob, sue me. Anyways, we had our usual Religion Education class that consists of three Year 11's, who are all quite clever. I didn't partake in this lesson though seeing as I was editing and sprucing up Neil and I's newsletter that goes out about twice a year. We then had our Tuesday lunch club which is for 6th formers (11th and 12th graders) and I always like seeing and spending time with them. It's a very small group that comes, but they're a good core group. After lunch Neil and I headed back to the youth center and I planned our Wednesday time lunch club while he emailed our newsletter to our main office. Then it was time to head home, glorious day.

Wednesday: So my hump days are the total opposite of Tuesday. My day started at about 9:40 am and doesn't finish until about 5, on a normal day. Neil picked me up at around 9:40 and we immediately had to go to our tutorial group for about 25 minutes. Then 10:30 rolled around and Fiona, my locations manager picked me up from school and we went to a local cafe to have our monthly chat together. Fiona then dropped me back off, and it was time for another RE class for Year 11's, except this class only has two students in it. It's alright though, because they're awesome too so I don't mind that there is virtually nobody in the class. After the lesson we had our lunch club called Mettle for Year 10's and 11's. We talked about the difference between spiritual gifts and fruits of the spirit, and it went very well! Happy day! We Mettle ended it was time to head over to the dining hall for a weekly event known as "Midweek Challenge", sounds exciting right? Yeah, not so much. The school pulls all of the Year 7's (youngest in the school) out every Wednesday and they don't have any lessons on, they just do random activities. It doesn't sound so bad, but in reality it's really chaotic and it stresses many of the teachers out and the kids I've talked to aren't really fans. However, this particular Midweek Challenge actually ran quite smoothly. About 20 or more adults came to the school and we all sat at a different table in the dining hall and a group of about five Year 7's would come around and interview us about our jobs. Can I just say how precious these kids are? They're just so tiny and adorable and I love them. Anyways, I had about six or seven groups interview me total and they would ask me about my job as a youth worker and it normally went along without any bumps. Haha, I did have this one kid that asked me if we have any lizards in Texas. Precious. My last few groups though were all girls and once they heard my accent, their faces lit up. I was then asked things like "Do you go to the mall everyday?" and "What's your favorite shop (clothing store)?" and so on. So, needless to say sometimes my American accent leads kids to take a detour from what they're supposed to be doing. I'm sure they were really bored though of asking the same questions over and over, I know I was tired of answering them. What a crazy Wednesday, fun times!

Thursday: Ah, what a great day. I didn't go in to work until about 12:30, because Neil had something to do that morning. We did our Thursday lunch group which is the exact same kids as our Wednesday one. Neil showed them a video from when he went to India, and I sat quietly and planned for our Friday lunch group, Rock Solid. After the club we had nothing to do, so it was time to head home only working for about an hour. I got home and the two new episodes of LOST were finally done downloading from iTunes! YES! I watched those and my spirits soared. I was a little disappointed not to be watching it with my normal LOST buddies, my dad and brother but it's okay. Surprisingly a lot of people over here in the UK are LOST fans as well, it actually premieres here on Sunday night, but like the true and devoted fans could wait that long. Psh, yeah right.

So, I'm really excited about something at the moment! I'm about to begin two girls bible studies pretty soon! One for ages 11-15 and the other 16-18. I'm meeting with my minister, Catherine on Monday before youth group and we're going to look at dates and start to plan this thing out! I'm really thrilled beyond words, I love working with girls and ministering to them and I can't to see what God will do through this! If you could please pray for me and the potential girls I'll be ministering to that would be greatly appreciated!

Lately Nicole and I have really been into making list, well Nicole got started first and I followed in her footsteps. I really like it, and yeah. Ha, just thought I would share that random fact about my life with all of my faithful readers.

I officially put down a housing deposit for the University of Arkansas next year and I'm really thrilled about that too! It means I'm one step closer to college, and that's kind of scary but also so exciting at the same time!

I was kind of in a weird funk last week, and just little things like LOST, making lists, and future girls bible studies are really lifting my spirits! 

Happy early birthday to my fabulous grandmother, Elizabeth Sue Flanagan!

Happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend!


Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm still alive I swear.....

So, I know I haven't blogged in ages but what can I say? I guess I'm just a horrible blogger, which I'm not even going to try to deny.

December is always one of the busiest months for me, and it seemed to double this year being a youth worker. It seemed like I was doing a lot more since Neil jetted off to India, and I was left in charge of everything Stokesley. It was an exhausting, but good month to finish 2008 off with.

On December 19 Nicole and I found ourselves making our way back to the beautiful state of TEXAS! To say we were excited would probably be the understatement of the year. We were both so thankful that the missions committee allowed us to spend Christmas and New Years at home with our family and friends. We considered ourselves very lucky since the majority of the other foreigners over here doing a gap year got to spend their Christmas in the UK. But, during one of Gary's sermons he said that Jesus never went "home" for Christmas and that really stuck with Nicole and I. 

Our two weeks at home were absolutely amazing, but before we knew it January 2 rolled around and it was time to make the long trek back to England. It was kind of bittersweet, but we knew going back was what we were called to do. We were only in the Northeast for about a day and a half before the entire Youth for Christ organization met up in North Wales! 

Staff conference was exactly the boost I had been looking for. It was so good to see everyone from training, and just catch up with them. Our speaker for the week was Leonard Sweet, a fellow American! He said some things that really stuck with me, and I know I'll hold on to them for the rest of the year. 

I returned back to my normal routine of work last week, which is good. But, it just hit me the other day that I have already completed half of my time with YFC which is really odd. I know the next 5 months are going to fly by and I just want to take in every possible second. 

I apologize again for being such a horrible blogger, but hopefully I'll start writing more and more frequently. Lord knows I have enough free time on my hands, so I really have no excuse.