Whoa yeah! And don’t it feel good!? (Seriously so much sunshine over here! Yay!)
I can’t believe how much I’ve done and seen and experienced and changed already just in the short time I’ve been here and in the past two weeks particularly!
I left you last on a Saturday night – the Saturday before Easter to be exact. And let me just tell you, easter was AMAZING. Started my morning out right by doing an Easter brunch at Bill’s with 8 of the girls in my program. I had a proper English breakfast (of course) and right after breakfast we all walked toward Covent Garden market. Before we reached the market I stopped by a little bakery right across from the Theatre Royal that Kelsey and I had visited before attending Hillsong for our first time last summer and ordered the most delicious latte and chocolate mousse ball filled with ooey gooey caramel – Absolutely delicious!
[I tell you these little details with the intention that should you ever come to London you’ll follow my suggestions of good places to go and get food/sweets/coffee/etc].
At the market, there’s a variety of things to buy and try and I wound up walking away with two homemade extra jams – “Gooseberry with Elderflower” and “Blackcurrant with Sloe Gin” each of which is absolutely delicious and I enjoy on my toast in the morning (if I ever happen to wake up early enough to not just sprint out the door with a banana in hand).
Easter service was easily the highlight of my day. There was a queue winding around the Dominion Theatre, down the block, down another block, and maybe ANOTHER block, and around the corner….. but we (myself, Elisa & Eunice) made it in for the 3:30 service in balcony seats and after an awesome worship service, we sat back and enjoyed watching the Easter story unfold as if it were a actual show at a theatre.
(I apologize right now for the number of times you will read “awesome, amazing, beautiful, wonderful, seriously, !!!,” etc during this post).
I’ve tried typing out and explaining the Easter service nearly 5 times but my words can’t really capture how mesmerizing and heart-gripping and beautiful the service was. There was singing (more like SANGing), acting, dance battles (Stacey Jones if you are reading this I was thinking you would have LOVED it!). I wanted to get up and dance! I wanted to sing praise at the top of my lungs! I was moved to tears several times, and am constantly amazed at the heart of Hillsong church in London and the lengths that they go to in order to reach people and win them for Christ.
At the end of service, the pastor said something about how Jesus came and obliterated YOLO (you only live once) but through Him we get a different YOLO – You Obviously Live On. I am so thankful for the love of Christ, His sacrifice on the cross and His amazing resurrection. The curtain was torn from top to bottom and we no longer must be separated from Him! #hallelujah #praisejesus #whoopwhoop!
I ended up attending the service again, this time from the floor “priority seats” with Elisa, my roommate Emma and another girl (Rebecca) from my program because we were smart enough to get in the queue about 1.5 hours early. I was equally moved the second time through, and a different pastor wrapped up service, this time expanding on the grace and love that Jesus extends to us ALWAYS. It’s a love that changes you. Or rather, it’s a love that’s changing me. I’m experiencing His provision and care and guidance and joy in new ways and I’m so so so crazy in love with God. I hope you all had as good of if not a better Easter than me. I know I’m a bit late in proclaiming it but HE IS RISEN!!!!
Oh and did I mention Easter was a beautifully sunny day? Because yeah, it was a BEAUTIFULLY sunny day. And come to think of it, I haven’t remembered much rain or cold since…. it’s been an early summer – lots of sunshine. I even have a Toms tanline on my feet! (Don’t worry mom – I finally caved and bought sun screen.)
In my Contemporary Britain class I’ve taken a few strolls through London parks and roads. We went through Hyde park and visited Hyde park corner to look at monuments and see the types of things that they like to memorialize in London. I was particularly moved by the memorial to the tube bombings (photos available on my facebook). It was a tragic series of events planned for maximum death and the memorial is actually quite nice and interactive. Even with the knowledge of all those tube bombings, I have never felt unsafe on the tubes so don’t worry about me! (But keep praying for my safety if you so wish).
This week in that class we walked around the east end – sort of – and noticed how a lot of the old is making way for the new. Docks are closed. The City is right next door. The east is getting built up and revamped and while progress is a good thing, some historical markers as well as local quirks are being sacrificed for the new develpments. This is particularly unfortunate when you take in to account all the street art in London – if they took a vote (and if I were allowed to vote *where’s my husband at?!*) I would vote to preserve the art!!!! Some of it is seriously amazing and the east end will be losing a lot when they start to tear it down!
In my Art, Architecture and Society class, we’ve thus far visited St. Paul’s (just the outside), the London Museum, Hampton Court, Stourhead and Avebury Henge.
The paintings I’ve seen! The ceilings I’ve seen! The stained glass I’ve seen! The chimney pots I’ve seen! [Seriously the chimney pots are cool]. The gardens I’ve seen! THE UNDENIABLY AWESOME GARDENS I HAVE SEEN!!!
I mean, the estate at Stourhead is imho the most aesthetically pleasing place to visit in all of England **on a nice day**! (Hampton Court comes in second, I’d say a close second but I am really so enthralled by the Stourhead estate right now – though HC had a lot of really interesting things about the monarchs and different types of gardens and the world’s largest grape vine…)
Still, Stourhead (though a much farther distance away from London) is superior. The air at Stourhead is fresh, the walk through the grounds is spotted by “beautiful, picturesque and sublime” images [and yes those are technical terms], there’s a number of cool things to see: a pantheon, gothic church, massive man-made lake, spooky grotto, neoclassical villa (used in the filming of Pride and Prejudice) that has an awe-inspiring personal library, Apollo’s temple (with ahhh-mazing acoustics — I got my little mermaid, my sound of music, and my phantom of the opera on in that temple and it was a highlight of my day)!!! Keira Knightly also apparently leaned against one of the pillars of Apollo’s temple for the P&P film, and it was set in the rain so they made it rain for her since it had actually been a dry day lol. #pointsEngland
Avebury henge was cool too, though the stones here were not as large as Stonehenge – the whole experience was much more rewarding tha a trip to Stonehenge would have been. At Avebury we were allowed to touch or lean against the large stones, get right up next to them and walk around the whole village, where as at Stonehenge you can never really get THAT close. Still, I did snap a quick pic of Stonehenge as we drove by!
I’m so thankful for this A/A&S course because it has allowed me to see things I would have never known to plan on my own and I’m seeing London (and England) in brand new ways 🙂
I’ve also seen two more plays for my Theatre course since we last spoke: “A View from the Bridge” starring Mark Strong who was just awarded the Olivier award for his performance and a semi-fringe production of The Royale starring Nicholas Pinnock.
Both shows were minimalist and highly dependant on the ability of the actors and I thoroughly enjoyed each one. As a general rule, if you’re ever in London I would definitely definitely (ps have I said definitely yet?) Go see at least one show in the west end and one fringe production. The classical training, artistic culture and variety of shows available in London make this lovely city a dangerously exciting place for theater lovers like me.
As for my Englishes course, I’ve been observing the people (foreigners and locals alike) and becoming in-tune with the unspoken rules of conduct and behavior – whether that’s on the tube, in a restaurant or while I’m out for high tea! It’s interesting to try and approach London from a linguist’s perspective, especially considering how diverse the city is and how many tourists (not speaking English) are ALWAYS there.
And that’s just my course work! I haven’t even mentioned my *fun*!
I’ve gone out with my cousin Nicole a few times and it’s great to see her and hear what she’s got to say about living here. She took me to this great little spot called the Cereal Killer Café where I ordered a bowl of Hershey’s Cookies & Cream cereal topped with Nutella and served with chocolate milk. YUMMM! Another spot you MUST visit if you ever chance upon London.
I’ve joined a connect group through Hillsong and met a ton of cool people – and through that I was told about a cool filming opportunity for a new show that you can find out about by searching the hashtag #FearlessTV or looking up @FearlessLondon on instagram. I was a part of the audience for a number of musicians/bands which meant from 9AM until nearly 6PM last Saturday I was jumping around, singing along, clapping, dancing, waving my phone in the air like a lighter, moshing and praising Jesus. The show airs in London on TBN in June and I doubt my face will ever even be seen (which honestly isn’t the point because it’s all about introducing new/up-and-coming artists from the church) but I had a REALLY great time. I got to hang with some friends I’ve already made at Hillsong and also meet some new people, too. Apparently everyone else that was there was a leader in some way and they all knew each other so at times I felt a little out of place by not knowing EVERYONE but that didn’t deter me from having a great time! My calves hurt the next few days from all the moving I was doing but I’d say it was worth it — Funny note: before we began the director (I’m assuming) came up and whispered to the crowd “Hey guys, you know this is for tv so you’ve got to look alive. And I know we’re doing this for TBN but I want you to go crazy. Forget it’s for TBN. I want BET.” LOL
At the end of this post [and once I get my back to my laptop] I’ll try to add links to a few of the artists I was supporting. They are all EXTREMELY talented and a blast to sing along with/groove to.
Other than that, I’ve been hanging out with my roommate and the other girls in my classes, visiting a local palace, Notting Hill, Kensington Gardens, the Southbank, Covent Garden…. still having a blast!
Thanks for all your prayers and if you’ve made it through this entire post, you are an angel.
PS. I wrote this on my phone on my flight to Copenhagen! I can’t believe I’m headed there!
PPS. Plans for my “midterm break” are official. Paris and Rome here I come!
PPPS. Though I wrote this on my flight, I’m posting it after now being in Copenhagen for about 7 hours. This place is lovely and I’m so blessed! (Though I don’t understand their money….)
PPPPS. I have just officially applied for entranve to the Creative Writing program at UW. Prayers and well wishes are appreciated!
“Go everywhere and tell the good news to everyone.” Mark 16.15
[Videos coming soon.]