3 weeks. 3 takeaways (not the edible kind).

3 weeks at home is not, in reality, a long time.

3 weeks at home, after 14 months never spending more than 10 days a time here, sure feels like an awfully long time.

 

 

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog (or lack thereof) you’ll probably be aware that I’ve had the good fortune to intern in three different places, on three different continents, over the course of this last year.

The variety of places taught me an immense amount about different attitudes to all areas of life- work, communication, family, health, religion, race; I feel incredibly blessed to have watched such different world-views in action.

 

People I have seen and spoken to since being back in Poole have almost always asked me what my highlights were, a question I am unable to give a straight answer to. I find the big picture easier than the intricate, so I have settled on a general ‘takeaway’ from each place.

Each is a gradual lesson learned that blossomed into a gift, something that is a true treasure when I look back on it.

 

Jordan: I learned to love culture.

 

I felt passionate before I went to Jordan about watching others ‘do life’ and studying different countries and learning how factors such as religion and history affect the way their society functions today, but living and working in a country so different to England augmented this fascination and desire to learn more about other cultures.

 

South Africa: I learned to love communication (and getting stuff done)

 

While in Cape Town I read The Culture Map, an excellent book by Erin Meyer on the subject of communicating across culture within a business environment. As someone who had already worked with people of a different cultural perspective and communication style, I found the book intriguing and insightful.
The position I held in the church in Cape Town included a lot of organisation and implementation of events and the like; this role coupled with the excitement I felt about communicating across the natural division of differing cultures defined in me an enthusiasm to ‘get stuff done’ in a multicultural environment. Diversity can only be an asset as long as people are connected and facilitated effectively.

 

USA: I learned to love people (and to take it slow!)

 

‘Learned to love people’ sounds bit weird, but in complete truth: this year my heart has been continually softened, meaning I am getting better at loving people. I don’t mean the kind of love that is ‘oh that person is so great, so cool, so nice- I love them’. I mean the kind of love that is an action, one that you may not always feel, but one that is always right and good and precious. Loving as an action is patience, kindness, gentleness, humility- the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13. This is much harder to put into practice than one may first assume, and I am far from perfect at it. Heck, I’m rarely even ‘good’ at it! In North Carolina, the family I lived with, the church staff I worked with, my lovely friends, and the culture in general led me through example in the act of loving others before yourself.

 

Each of my experiences was unique, challenging and wonderful in their own magnificent way. Much of life is made up of routine; I got to forge my little piece of this in three new environments, something I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do.

 

 

These three weeks back in my family home, in the town in which I have spent 10 years of my life, have been challenging. For the most part, life has carried on and is much the same, but there are new things for me to adjust to, new routines, new friends, new food in the cupboards! We’re all a year older, but my change is the most pronounced due to my immersion in new experiences. I don’t fit into the same family role that I did when I left home. In fact, that role no longer even exists- they’ve all adjusted to life without me! We all have to relearn relationships and adapt to new ways of doing things. It’s awkward and bumpy, as one would expect this phase to be. My parents’ home is still my home, but I’m not a child in the same way anymore, both mentally and in terms of my responsibilities. It’s weird. My sentences are getting snappier, a reflection- perhaps- of my feelings about the whole thing. Bumpy bumpy.

 

Things shall change again this Sunday as I move to London to begin my Undergraduate degree at SOAS woot woot where I will be studying Arabic and Economics.

Yes, Arabic. Why? I fancied (*for you Americans: fancied=wanted) a challenge, as I am someone who works well where workload is increased. I love a bit of pressure. Additionally, culture and communication are kinda my buzz words (as you heard earlier) and this degree has great potential to open doors into areas where those are important. Currently, I think I would like to join the military for a few years once I have finished my degree, but we’ll see whether or not that happens. I’m holding the future lightly; I know what happens will be for good.

 

So that’s me as of now. Watch this space, I guess!

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See you soon Cape Town

And just like that, my time here is at an end.

I FEEL MISERABLE

Honestly, God has brought me so many blessings during these short 3 months that the wonderful-ness far out-shadows the tragedy of leaving.

However: I FEEL MISERABLE.

It’s totally not helping that the pressure from stopping myself crying is causing extra blood to flow to my head, which is making my piercing bleed, resulting in even more wallowing in self pity and grief (eat your heart out Morrisey, I can do tragic too).

Before I arrived here, my biggest fear was forming relationships with people; three months isn’t long to make people like you, much less trust you, which is something I massively value in friendships.

On top of this, I knew I would be entering an environment filled with people of a similar age to me, and this I found terrifying. That sounds silly but I was so nervous that I would be unable to relate to anyone. Surely, I hear you think, you must relate to people your own age best?

But I don’t, and never have. Plus, something that dawned on me only the other day: I came from my time in Jordan where there had been no-one my age at all and, although my time there was beautiful, it had been lonely.

So, basically, I was scared about people.

But God is a good, good Father and I’m sure he’s laughing at me even now as I’m sat here reflecting on the tidal wave of love and friendship that I’ve experienced here. Thank you Father God!

And thank you friends who made me feel so at home here. The student team, youth team, life group, youth group (I’m especially praying for you guys and can’t wait to see what God does with you), Jubilee staff, and Jubilee church. Plus Common Ground church who were equally as welcoming.

This is super cheese, but I’ve met new members of my family here and it’s been magical.

So thank you God, and thank you Cape Town, for treating me so well (and for sending me back to the UK with a lekker tan).

It’s heart-wrenching to leave, but I know God works all things for the good of those who love him, so my heart will now be still and rest.

Good intentions…

I am currently sat at my desk, praying for inspiration to write; for some reason or another my creative juices are feeling completely sapped when it comes to blogging.

I’ve been in Cape Town for three weeks, but feel as though I was born here. However is said that everyone who comes here wants to stay, so I can’t kid myself that I have a unique relationship with this place. All I can be is grateful that being here is so comfortable.

 

I grew up with a father working full time for the church. When I was 6 I would ask if I could go with him to the office and ‘work’ at the spare desk. It fascinated me being there.

When I got a bit older I began to question the church office. I had no idea what on earth all those people could be doing with their time, but they all seemed to be having fun. How on earth does someone work for a church? What is there to do? We just go on a Sunday, right?

Now I’m volunteering for a church. And blimey, there is a lot to do.

A church’s staff functions as a small business; people have their specialities, but there must be room for adaptability and for sharing the load of tasks in order for progress. A church’s staff should operate as a mini version of how the church as a whole does, which we see explained in 1 Corinthians 12- we all play our own role, but we all work together.

I’m not sure which body part I am playing while at Jubilee…

Wait yes I do have an analogy: say you’ve been weight training and your biceps have got bigger, then you stop and the extra muscle goes. Does this mean your arm can’t function? Of course not! So I am the extra muscle mass, reinforcing things while here, but not essential for movement.

And I love being the muscle mass (honestly being the whole arm would be way too much pressure). I’m working in both the student and the youth teams, doing general admin, communication and operations (ie. events).
I feel so excited for what God wants to do in and through the church here, in particular the young people.

Mondays and Saturdays are my free days for exploration/vegging out.

I’ve done some great things already like

  1. jumping off rocks into the sea
  2. visiting the penguins
  3. playing with monkeys at world of birds
  4. hanging out in a tree in Kirstenbosch
  5. horse riding in a random field near a main road but there were flamingos!!

I have many many many things on my to-do-and-see list still, but I have time. Right now it’s raining, which for selfish purposes is a bit sucky but we are all so grateful for the sake of the country. Please pray for rain for Cape Town- we need the dams to be filled!

I have little else to say at this point, despite the many things that are going on… I will try harder at this over the next few weeks, but babysteps!

I also have photos to share, once I have them off my camera, which is another job on my to-do list. So watch this space!