my time at RVA is finished! I flew out of Nairobi a week ago today, and since then have been in Bristol, England where I’ll be working until the 23rd of this month. I’m staying with AIM’s International Director and working for some of his colleagues on special projects around the office. Its been a bit of a slow start, but things are coming together. I’ll be working on some newsletters and other materials that are related to AIM’s work in unreached people groups, and Lord willing I’ll be helping launch a web-based information system for communicating with AIM’s prayer support networks for their “adopt a people” prayer program. A lot of what I’m doing is contingent on information from outside the office, so it seems like a “hurry up and wait” game a lot of the time.
This first week in England has been fun! The culture and landscape here is so different that both the USA and Kenya…perhaps somewhere in between, with its own flare added into the mix. Everything here is so, SO green (in both the physical and economical sense) The grass is beautiful…. Our house looks out over a small park and its lovely in the mornings. Today it was covered with frost and looked almost like snow… It hardly snows here, so frost is likely the closest it will come.
Everything is so compact and efficient! I love it! The cars are tiny, the kitchen appliances are tiny, and compost separation and recycling are almost moral matters. The garbage is only collected once every 2 weeks…i can’t imagine an American family only filling one “wheely bin” as they’re called here in 2 weeks. It just wouldn’t happen! And once again I am reminded of just how many wasteful habits its easy to develop living in the States, where space and cost aren’t as much of a problem in many areas as they are here.
Every day I like to walk home from work at the end of the day, along what is called a “high street”. It about a 2 mile walk, and takes me past every kind of store anyone could need… a veterinary clinic, a lawyers office, an appliance store, a grocery store, a music store, a Native American art gallery, an organic hairdresser, a car store, bookshops, charity drives, multiple cafes, a pharmacy, a gas station, and numerous others I am forgetting. This is why you can get away with living in England without a car! Buses run up and down main roads, and side streets, and you can get anywhere from anywhere by foot or public transport quite easily.
Today was my first Sunday in Bristol, and we attended Christ Church, an Anglican parish about 10 min drive from the house. It is a beautiful cathedral, and if the architecture wasn’t enough to draw my spirit heavenwards, to hear the gospel so clearly preached from the pulpit was even more of a privilege. Carla told me their cathedral wasn’t that old….only about 150 years or so (this made me laugh, because anything 150 years old in America is “old”). After church we drove down to Bath, famous for the Roman Baths that were formed when England was conquered by rome around 600 AD. Bath is only about 10 miles from Bristol, so it was a short drive down. We rode a bus into the city and shopped around the local Christmas market. There were street performers and statue imitators which were hilarious. I’ll post pictures once I figure out how to get them off my computer onto one that has internet.
We also were able to attend the evensong service at Bath Abbey, a church that far outstands even the Christ Church cathedral. The cathedral is incredible…the floor and walls are entirely composed of tombstones that date back into the 1700’s, and there are several large tombs, one for a former bishop of Bath and Wales. There are hundreds of stained glass windows telling bible stories, and flying buttresses outside provide the support for the granite walls since there are so many windows. It was a beautiful service, and the choir was wonderful… and I got a glimpse of what Bach and Mendelsson and all the famous composers were trying to do by composing music that would draw the worshipper’s thoughts heavenwards with their choral music….. The music and words of the prayers were beautiful, but it was also somewhat disconcerting to hear the gospel so clearly in the words of the hymns and prayers, and know that it wasn’t resounding in the hearts of a majority of the people that sat through the service.