I thought I’d try to give a taste of the richness of my time here at All Nations Christians College by letting you live a day with me.
First thing after breakfast – tutor group. Tanya (not her real name) gives her testimony. So encouraging to hear how God brought her to the UK from Shanghai, and then brought Christians into her life both here and on visits back home! It was a long process but her story is a real encouragement and a good reminder that we often can’t see how all the different pieces of the jigsaw will fit together in the end.
Then I get a bit of a break before we meet for discussion group (as part of the “Theology of Mission” lecture). Our group is pretty mixed (UK, Singapore, Rwanda and Germany) which makes for very interesting discussions. Such different perspectives and insights into the topics – brilliant! Then the whole class come together again, we feed back and the lecturer wraps things up. We usually leave with our heads spinning – in a good way!
Afternoons tend to be spent reading. It’s wonderful to finally get round to working through some books that I’ve been wanting to read for ages! Sometimes I work in the library but then I often find more and more and more really interesting books which isn’t always helpful 🙂
Just for fun I’ve also signed up for Mandarin lessons. Not part of the actual college programme, but Tanya volunteered to teach a few people who were interested. I know I won’t get very far in the short time that I am here but it’s fun! And so far, not too humiliating either…
To end the day, a few of us get together over very yummy hot chocolates just to chat and chill.
As you can probably tell – I am having a great time!
Yesterday, I had a slightly surreal experience. I went for a walk in Hatfield Forest (National Trust property near Stansted airport). The usual mix of lovely autumn colours, kids on bikes, a lake, lots of ducks, a café. So far, so good. But then I passed through a gate and suddenly there were lots of cattle in amongst the trees. It was the oddest feeling! Now, you expect to encounter some cows as you walk across fields in the British countryside. But in a forest??? I’d never seen that before! And somehow it reminded me of being on safari in Namibia. You spot some animal in amongst the vegetation, try to figure out what is it, and whether you should be getting any closer. OK, so these were not exactly lions and zebras and giraffes – but this bull looked huge (even from a distance) and I decided that getting any closer might not be a good idea. (Isn’t the tree just amazing, though?)
I went a bit further and there were lots of cows and calves that had come up against the border of “their” area. One seemed to contemplate crossing the cattle grid but wisely decided against it. After having a good scratch on the bin and the fence posts, the disappeared among the trees.
Walking back, I was glad to go make it to the gate, as I had no idea where the bull had gone and I had no desire to suddenly come across him!
So, a mini Safari – quite fun – but to be honest – NOTHING like the real thing – not even close!
A small, fragile butterfly on the bush next to me, soaking up the rays of the sun.
Birds flitting about, from tree to bush to bird feeder and back again. Sometimes bickering, sometimes playful. They make me smile.
Leaves turning on the tree I sit under. Some still green, some yellow, some brown. And some fallen already.
The in-between time. Glimpses of summer still here, yet more and more signs of the autumn that’s on its way. The sun still warm, but when it goes in, there is a chill in the air. Memories of what was, anticipation of what is to come.
Lord, I praise you as the God of summer and of autumn. Light, warmth, abundance of colour are yours. The sheer exuberance of nature.
Endings, changing seasons, rest are yours.
The darkness, when nothing much seems to be happening is yours. You’re still at work, creating, restoring – ready for a new burst of life in spring.
(Written during a retreat day, 1 October 2009)