As told by Roxy Odiorne of Team Rigney: Yet another day in beautiful London! Every day has been so incredible, and I am falling deeper and deeper in love with this city!!! Today was a work day for us, helping our outstanding missionaries Chad and Lynsi by doing various projects up at their church. The boys mission was to repair a fence that had been knocked over a few weeks prior and the girl’s job was to repaint the doors and wall trim in their upstairs room. After doing our morning devotional, the ladies got straight to work, unscrewing metal plates off doors and sanding the doors in order to paint them. Brett and Chad also came to be with our group today, and jumped right in to help us out. We worked for several hours, beginning our painting project and getting subsequently coated in sawdust and splashes of paint. About halfway through the day, we stopped for lunch, going to a kebab place for lunch. While there, my group got to have an excellent conversation with the two guys making our food, allowing us to share about our lives and explain what we are here to do. After getting our lunch and saying good bye, we headed back to the church to eat and get back to work. Our group worked for a few more hours, getting all the trim done and nearly all of the doors done. The guys were incredible, fixing the entire fence so it was standing once more. It was such a blessing to be able to come out and work for the family who has so lovingly welcomed us and works so hard to share the Gospel. After wrapping up for the day, we headed back to the hotel to clean up before taking the train into Central London for dinner. We ate at a place called Wahaca, a delicious Mexican restaurant, and then went to an amazing ice cream place for dessert, Milk Train. The place featured soft serve ice cream with a cotton candy cloud, which was incredibly delicious. After finishing up our treats, we said goodbye to Chad and Brett and headed home to debrief and go to bed. I am so utterly blessed to be here. It is such a beautiful thing to be able to do things to aid these missionaries who are giving their life to help a country lost from Jesus’s love by sharing of the goodness of our Lord. Something that hit me today is that it’s not about painting doors or fixing fences – it’s about sharing Jesus. And while making an orange door blue might not exactly be sharing the Gospel, it allows us to create a better space for Him to be shared and for that church to be encouraged. And I am so grateful to have the opportunity to love on this church community, through relationships and labor. Thank you sweet Jesus for giving us all the opportunity to serve you and love you all the way across the world.
As told by Hannah Pogue of Team Mark: Today our group was still split into two groups. My part of the group was working at The Grove putting mulch down and clearing weeds. I was helping with the mulch. Later on around 3ish we destroyed an old shed with a dead fox in it and then cut a bunch of bushes so we could pick up trash that was stuck in the bushes and the shed. Then the other part of our group came back and we unloaded 300 50lb bags of soil and flowers. It was pretty tiring. God is definitely helping me have patience and strength as these are difficult tasks and I am a small, lazy, but hardworking person. Also, our host, Mark, has helped me to see that there are different ways to approach mission work and that I need to let go of things and give them to the Lord to be able to receive things in return. I hope God continues to work in my group and the other groups as we continue on this journey in London.
As told by Josh Palmer from Team Jon: Today my group went site seeing. We had a tour through the Tower of London, where Kings and Queens lived for a span of more than 500 years. One of the things that I thought was very fascinating was about the prisoners that were held at the Tower of London, and how they were some of the worst people out there. We got to ride in the top of a double decker bus on our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Riding on a bus like that was one of the things on my bucket list, so it was really cool being able to do that. St. Paul’s Cathedral was flat out beautiful. The architecture was astounding and the art was breathtaking. As a group we went up to the whisper gallery where you can stand with your ear against the wall and another person can stand on the other side of the room and you’re able to hear them. It was so cool to see (or hear) the brilliant minds that brought that together. After that we went to the TOP of St. Paul’s cathedral that overlooked the entire city of London. We got to see the shard (tallest building in London) and the London Eye from that vantage point. The height was 111 meters up (364 feet and 2 inches). Needless to say, I was a bit scared. After site seeing, the church along with my group hosted a Texas Night where we had tacos made for them along with a 40 question quiz about Texas and America. One thing that was very encouraging was that one of the older ladies there told me that this was the best trivia night she had had at Woodford Evangelical Church. Later I felt even more encouraged because I was told that she was one of the hardest people to talk to about Jesus, and she took the gospel of Mark home with her which was very encouraging. Shortly after the quiz, everyone left for the night, and I returned to my host home to get a good night sleep, and prepare for the next day.
As told by Burke Bridges of Team Armacost: The moment I got placed on the “street evangelism team,” I had some worries and some assumptions. Based off of what I had heard about street evangelism, I assumed that I would be handing out tracks or reciting a scripted gospel sharing technique that involved symbolic hand gestures, and I wasn’t too excited about doing that. I also assumed that I’d be doing evangelism in a certain part of the day on a street corner and be eating and touring in London another time. Thank goodness I found both of those to be inaccurate predictions.
Ben and Judy, our missionary contacts, have been employed by the International Mission Board for enough time to gather experience and wisdom in building God’s kingdom around the world. I guess that they learned yelling at people to repent doesn’t work, because they are not the people who warn you of the apocalypse tomorrow that you must be saved from. I was really pumped on the first day to finally get to see how they go out into the mission field and turn on their “missionary superpowers,” but I wasn’t given that. Instead I was given what I believed to be a trip to the Crystal Palace and a talk with an old man on the way over there on the bus. What I didn’t catch was the important difference between me and these veteran missionaries’ thought process. They started conversations with anybody they could, all with the same goal to get to understand the person’s spiritual life and how they could help them. Ben and Judy explained and demonstrated the “conversational dance” that allowed them to have a captive audience, rather than a fleeing one. Their eyes were always watching for people that weren’t momentarily occupied in anything that could stop a conversation from starting.
When my time came later that day to try it out, I noticed that in order to effectively talk to someone, I had to change how I thought. The moment my thought process changed, I understood what an evangelical lifestyle can be like. Thankfully, my group has had the privilege to take our mission on buses and on the street wherever we go.
Today we went to a small town outside the London metroplex called Shere. The trip made me feel like I was on vacation, but we actually were using it as a time to talk to anyone we could while we were touring the town. In fact, at a stop that looks out over the surprisingly vast English countryside, we talked to an atheist man reading a book on the 2nd World War. Though we didn’t have the privilege to get immediate results, we sure got him to think about what it means to have faith.
Tonight as I write this blog, much later than I am supposed to, I am still most excited about the tools that Judy and Ben have given me during training to change the people around me, and live a life that makes me walk with a purpose of creating disciples.
As told by Gracie Bridges of Team Scott: Our stay in London has been incredible, but today held some of my favorite moments so far. The host home we are staying at are actually Texans that moved here because of work a couple of years ago, and when I realized this I was a little bit bummed because I wanted to experience a little bit of the British culture side of living, but I have absolutely loved it. They know where we are coming from being thrown into this new culture and can help us out where we need it. They also have tortilla chips! Heidi, the wife, walked with us this morning to the church for English classes she helps teach every Tuesday that we all got to join in on. It was such a neat experience. I was nervous for it… how would we teach English if that’s the only language we spoke, but it went so well. I was so encouraged by the people going there to learn something new even though they were at a place in life where it would be hard to. They all had different things to drive them – their jobs, their families, or just to make life easier for them in general. Their determination was so inspiring and honestly made me a little bit emotional. It was a very humbling experience and one of my favorite I’ve had so far. I love that the church is meeting that need in the community. They offer a Bible study after, but you can stay or you can go, and that’s it. The option is open. They are meeting people where they are at and building those relationships, earning the right to be heard. In the afternoon, we did street evangelism work. We went out in pairs to busy streets with surveys to ask the people of London on their religious views, needs that need to be met in the city, etc. I was very excited about it going into it and was expecting at least a couple conversations to go somewhere, but it didn’t really happen that way. I was able to talk to a few people, but nothing really further than the surface level questions. We are going out again tomorrow, and I am praying for flourishing conversations tomorrow and for God to begin to move in the hearts of people tonight that I will be talking to tomorrow. We had dinner at Scott, our missionary’s house, tonight, which was a real treat. Amy and I walked with him to go and pick his kids up from school, which was so much fun. We all ate lasagna together, and for dessert we tried about 7 different British chocolate bars that we don’t have in the States. The meal was filled with laughter and Scott’s 2 year old son went crazy over broccoli and chocolate. He was ecstatic. We ended the night with a group gelato date. We got to splurge a little since we didn’t have to pay for dinner, so we all got our scoops of gelato and a fondue bowl to share with waffles, brownies, strawberries and blueberries. It was delicious and I’m stuffed!! I have found it hard to be present the past couple of days because of how crazy life can be in our own little worlds, but today I felt I was able to let go of that a little bit. God is working through this church in incredible ways and I feel so blessed to have a front row seat and get to watch it all.