12/18 It was off to snowy Canterbury to visit Nat & Umberto. It’s an picturesque small city with a large pedestrian-only area. Their flat is just minutes from the train station and an amazing farmers market/delicatessen called The Goods Shed. Sunday we went to the seaside and then evensong at the cathedral. My high school English teacher would be dismayed because I couldn’t recall any of the Canterbury Tale’s Prologue which we’d had to memorize.
Our time there was far too short, for soon we were off to York. It was strange in some ways being back in the city where we’d lived for a year. Many of our old friends were already away for the holidays but we did get to catch up with our old housemates Dave & Nichole. And, of course, we had a great time with Matt & Pete. Then it was off once more, this time to a cozy cottage in Sherwood Forest where the 8 of us (Pizzos + partners) spent Christmas.
12/22 This was the true holiday portion of our holiday…. lazy days of reading, eating fabulous food, running in the snowy woods, spending quality time with Pizzos and screaming as we went down waterslides at the huge indoor tropical pool area. Christmas day I made the legendary Moll Cinnamon Bread for breakfast and then we enjoyed a time of sharing. In lieu of presents we did a book exchange where we each brought a book we’d enjoyed and swapped it with someone else. (Great idea, Dee!) For Christmas dinner we had pizza made from scratch by Nat & Umberto along with Christmas Cake, Pan d’Oro, Panettone and mince pies – YUM!
I even saw Robin Hood…. well, I saw a beautiful red fox that looked very similar to this one:
Only the fox I saw wasn’t wearing any clothes. But still!
Our time in England flew by… two more days in ‘Nam with friends and family and then we were back at Heathrow… it seemed like only yesterday we’d arrived.
This past weekend we went up to Nottingham for Sameer’s birthday. It was great having the whole Floyd crew together again for a night out. Then Saturday we went out again to the Evil Eye Lounge, a funky Moroccan style bar in York. At the bar we saw an advert for SightSonic, a Digital Arts Festival, so we headed to that on Sunday. There were lots of innovative and intriguing exhibits. I especially liked this one.
Monday we had a birthday dinner for our housemate and then an Elvis dance party. I must say Elvis was pretty hot when he was younger… and he’s got some dance MOVES.
Then Tuesday night I went cosmic bowling and laser questing with a youth group. I was helping out with the 11-14 year olds, but now I’m with the 15-18s. It’s basically going from hyper to hormonal. With the younger teens, we had trouble getting them to quiet down and sit still. The older teens, on the other hand, are plenty quiet because they’re in a lip lock with their boyfriends and sitting on each others’ laps. Really, though, they’re sweet kids and I’m excited about getting to know them better over the next few months.
Still no internet at Chalk House* my dear readers. I know you’re wasting away, eagerly awaiting more updates, but patience is a virtue. And today your patience is being rewarded!
On Thursday we ran an assembly for 4-7 year-old kids at a local school. We acted out the Creation story: Dan was a marvellous monkey and I was a fantastic fish. Afterwards we asked the kids if they remembered any of the things God had created and one cutie responded, “dragons!” Classic.
We also volunteered at a happening centre for those over 60. As soon as I walked in, a man grumbled to me, “This centre is for over 60s!” Apparently I don’t quite pass for 60 yet. We met two harmonica players, which Dan was excited about since he’s currently
learning how to play. He’s already mastered “Jingle Bells” and “Skip to My Lou.” We’ll have to post an mp3.
Saturday night we hit up McDonald’s, where our housemate works the night shift. Let me tell you, in the UK they have Cadbury crème egg McFlurries and the McDonald’s are posh!
And a sermon by our pastor, Greg, is in the Washington Times. Check it!
*Our house is called “Chalk Squat” because chalk is the opposite of cheese. And we’re not cheesy. If you don’t understand, just ask Dan.
We still don’t have internet. Yesterday we wandered throughout York with the laptop open looking for a free wireless signal. We ended up in this gorgeous bar, the Biltmore, but it had a super weak signal so we ended up switching seats 5 times in search of a stronger single. But, I’ve been surprised to discover, life goes even when you’re not on-line.
We had a incredible speaker, Ina, from Namibia last week who talked about entering the mysterious, life-giving dance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She quoted Brennan Manning who said, “Prayer is letting God love you.” Her perspective was fresh and exciting.
Friday night Dan & I helped run the Fuse Cafe, a safe, hip space for teens to hang, and then Saturday we hit up a skate park and a ceilidh.
And Sunday I was interviewed by the BBC about Transcendence, this cool multi-sensory service that’s held once a month in the crypt of York Minister in partnership with this church, Visions. This week’s reading was about when Jesus put mud on the eyes of a blind man and told him to wash in a pool and he was
healed. As part of the service we walked from the crypt to the Chapter house and then had an opportunity to write down areas of “blindness” in our own lives on transparency paper and then wash it a “pool” that had been set up. It was really cool and who knows, maybe I’ll end up on BBC radio!
Last week was Valentine’s Mormania. We had 2 Mormons round for a delicious dinner (cooked by Dan) complete with huge inflatable lip decorations.
Then the fun continued Friday night at Refresh, where a group of us gave out free hot drinks from 10pm till 2am in the city centre. We had some great chats with a huge range of people and, of course, everyone wanted to know why were standing in the freezing cold giving something away for nothing. “Why? Because you’re worth knowing.”
This week was our first outreach week. We stayed busy grooming horses and gardening at a farm for kids expelled from school or who have difficulties learning in a typical classroom setting; helping out at a youth group for 20 hyper 11-14 year olds; and fixing up a bedroom & bathroom for a single dad so his daughter has a nice place to stay when she visits. It was great getting our hands dirty!
Friday night we roasted s’mores in our fireplace. Well, ok, we didn’t have grahmn crackers. And the marshmellows were pink. And tasted a bit like coal since it was a coal fire. But they were still tasty!
But for me, the highlight of the week was probably today when we saw an old man walking down the street in this hat. Beautiful.
So, we’ve been really enjoying our first few weeks of our DTS. It’s really remarkable how well living with 8 other people is going! Our house is awesome, albeit drafty.
The lectures have also been good. Last week Olu from Sierra Leone came to speak to us about the Holy Spirit. He was a great teacher who spoke of his own experience and the Word and didn’t have an ax to grind. It was quite refreshing and insightful.
We were also pleased to have Phil, Keir and Sameer come up to York to celebrate Dan’s 25th birthday the first weekend in Feb. We spent the weekend exploring the city and went to a cool Granadan cafe & Cuban bar. And all 5 of us managed to kip down in our room!
Dan got a huge tin of candy from our housemates for his birthday and was on a continual sugar high until they were stolen. Dan’s full of conspiracy theories about it being linked to the game of Assassins we’re playing (kind of like a living game of Clue).
This weekend the birthday celebrations continued with a visit from Dee & Pietro and Matt & Pete. We went to Evensong at the Minster, ate at a funky Japanese place and an Italian place where the Pizzo’s enjoyed conversing in Italian with the cooks.
Meanwhile, the couple with the baby who were hoping to do the course with us, won’t be able to come, unfortunately, since their baby needs continued care from a medical specialist in the States. And please keep me in your prayers since I’m currently in the process of renewing my visa.
It’s Friday night and the beat is pumping around the stone church walls. A little, long-haired skater-kid is crowed surfing. Girls with thick black eye liner squeal and hug. The DJ spins by the altar. A teen in black skinny jeans with hair to match is break dancing around a circle of admirers in an area that was packed with pews only a few hours earlier.
Welcome to Fuse Night Club.
Fuse is a outreach in York that includes a cafe, prayer room and night club. It’s a safe space for young people to hang and perhaps, encounter Jesus, or at least those who follow him. But for most of the hip 170 teens who attended, I think it was basically just the coolest church event ever. And we were there to volunteer (a.k.a. dance).
I felt like I was the new kid at a school dance. But even worse, I felt old and un-hip. But then I just let the music move me and busied myself with making sure no one crowed surfed into the air or snuck behind the curtain we’d hung up. In the end it was an awesome night and got me excited about doing more youth work in York. And let me say, old stone churches make the hottest discotheques.
We had a lovely time in the Lake District and now we’re getting to know York (the coolest city eva). Seriously, York combines the charm of a picturesque village with the excitement and variety of a lively city.
It’s also been great getting to know everyone and hear their stories, especially the story of how YWAM York started. Carl & Mel stepped out in faith to start the base despite not knowing anyone, not having enough money and the fact that Mel was 7 months pregnant! But the results of that risky move have been awesome.
So yesterday we arrived in York to begin our DTS! It’s lovely to finally be here. We’re living in a Victorian house about a 10 min drive from the city centre. There are 10 of us living here and just 2 bathrooms, but we’re really lucky to have our own tub (jacuzzi!) & sink (but no toilet). The house is gorgeous, with high ceilings, wood floors & old fireplaces in almost every room.
There are 9 students, including us, and 7 leaders from 5 different countries. Sadly one of the leaders isn’t here yet because of visa problems and a couple doing the course have yet to arrived because their infant son had to have an operation. So we could use your prayers for all of them. YWAM York is also still short ƒ100,000 needed to purchase the church hall they’re hoping to buy.
Today we’re off to the Lake District (!!!) for the weekend!