Laurel has been my friend since I was 11. That is a really long time. She has seen me through some very interesting times. By interesting I mean really awful, horrid periods of my life. She was at one point my only friend. She has also shared with me some of the most fantastic moments of my life. Even though over the years our contact has been sporadic and minimal, she holds a very dear place in my heart. She always will.
I feel compelled to begin with the Laurel note as a segway into the rest of the blog. She asked me to fill her in on the detials of my life. So I did. In the longest, most detailed email I have written in a long time. but it was honest. There are good and bad things about what is going on in my life at the moment. strange things and simply wonderful things.
So I have decided to post the email I wrote to Laurel here. It is an honest and pretty complete account of the first 6 months of life in London. It ended up being a very long email, so also a very long blog. apologies. Its more for me, in a threaputic way, than anything else.
I must say that I was very excited to open facebook today and have received a message! it made me smile and I decided that I must write you straight away! how are you? how is life in Oklahoma? I assume that you are still loving married life. are you still working for the mortgage company? isn't that what you were doing? fill me in on details, I would love to know what is going on.
as for me....well my apologies in advance if this ends up long winded, but you asked to be filled in....so here goes. I live in London....watford to be exact. it is about 15 minutes from central London. and it is fantastic! I live in an old building of flats, all red brick with cobblestone drives. my door key is something out of the 17th century...its like a castle key! its a little moldy inside, but to be expected...
I walk everywhere i need to go. we only have one car between us and Rhys takes it most places. it has left hand gear shifting so i haven't even tried to drive it yet! i love being a walking commuter. walking to the high street for this and that, walking to meet friends for drinks, walking to the train station every day, i love it all. i ride the train to and from work every day. that has its ups and downs. i like having time to sit and read....or sleep...in the mornings, but its often crowded and smelly! most days its great. about once a month of so you get a 'jumper' someone who commits suicide by throwing themselves in front of the train. its really sad to be. people are always up in a tizzy because it upsets their train schedule and its always hours of delays....but it breaks my heart that people do it, and so often! this month was a 66 year old man who couldn't take the pressure of a high stress central London job. so sad.
I work in south London. I am sales coordinator for a computer technology company. pretty much its like project managing. its not too bad. i get lots of travel out of it because its an international company. they are based in the States and have offices in the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, several African countries and Greece. I was in Arizona last month on business! its good for now. not my dream job, but it pays exceptionally well and the experience is good. my office has me, one girl and 10 crazy Brits! its always a laugh going in every morning.
Rhys plays rugby for the London club. He loves it! They practise every Tuesday and Thursday and then have games every Saturday. Their season runs end of august through April so we are still right in the middle of it. It was really a blessing that he got on the team; it is really how i have met most of my friends. There are some really great guys on the team, who in turn have really great girlfriends or wives. We have made some really neat connections. Now every Tuesday while the boys are at practise, some of us girls get together for dinner and drinks and such. Saturdays are always a good time with everyone on the sideline. I really need to get some pictures up!
we have found an excellent church as well. Soul Survivor is the name. it meets in an old warehouse in the industrial district of Watford. its very relaxed and contemporary. a bit more charismatic than what I am used to, but its still so wonderful! the worship is fantastic and the head pastor guy is great. we really enjoy the community there. Early on in the rugby season, Rhys and I decided that we would make the rugby team and their respective partners our ministry. We wanted to live life with them in such a way that they noticed a difference and wanted that change. we invite the boys with us to church every Sunday and we are gradually getting more and more to come! :) we always go out on the Saturday night after rugby and although by the end of the evening most everyone is drunk beyond belief, we stay sober and manage to have conversations centring around religion. the beliefs on the team range from nothing to professed pagan to Buddhist to one other christian guy, but its great that people want to ask questions and are interested. Rhys always makes a point to pray on the pitch before the start of a game; he has gotten lots of questions about that. people always ask us why we don't get drunk, why we seem more peaceful, how we have a good relationship....we love those leading questions because it gives us such a chance to share the love of Jesus! one boy started coming to church with us back in late September. at first he thought it was kinda weird, but we kept picking him up Sunday morning, so he kept agreeing to go. one Sunday right before Christmas, he just kind of wandered away to the front of the church during the offering time. he came back, never said anything, but a week later he changed he religious beliefs section on facebook to 'I love Jesus' we thought that was huge!! It is such a great story, I wanted to share it with you.
I love the excitement that living in a big, foreign city offers. I have sushi in soho, or drinks in Camden town, or shop off oxford street. Just last week there was a big beer festival in battersea (near clapham...south London) it was so great to be able to make a stop off on my way home to sample unique flavors from around Europe....fantastic polish food included as well! I love the history that is everywhere. old buildings, museums, a monarch....everything. I sometimes just smile to myself as I walk along thinking...really? this is my life? and I love every second of it! ......one of my favourite things about all of London is Camden Town. I know you would like it to. It is a little section of off beat culture in the centre city.(kate moss, amy winehouse, and jude law all live there for some reference) There is a HUGE food market with everything imaginable being sold on the street. There is a big building, built originally in somethign crazy like the 1500's, full of stalls of crazy hippie vendors. You can find the neatest things for sale....and some crap too! But I wander around Camden for hours on end! I love it! (on a sad side note, there was a huge fire over the weekend in Camden, and the market building almost burned down! everything is temporary closed and it makes me so sad to think of it. no one was injured though which is good) there is also the Notting Hill open air market on Friday and Saturdays....crazy vendors and great vintage buys! Again, I know you would love it!
I know the preceding explanation made it sound like everything is cake and roses here, which is not always the case. The first three months were the hardest three months of my life. Not an exaggeration. I managed to get married, move across the ocean, and go from having friends and family around to knowing absolutely no one in a matter of two days! It was pretty traumatic to put it mildly!! Rhys went back to work on the Monday we landed in London. My stuff from the states had not yet cleared customs, so I sat in an empty flat, all alone, for almost 2 weeks! It was rough. Rhys and I had never been around each other, in the same country, together for more than 90 days. So that was a change as well. We were living together, finding out things about each other that most people find out while they are still dating! It was a big change. But that said, I wouldn't have traded it for the world. We were put in a unique situation, really had to learn to openly communicate all the time, lean on one another and really trust in one another in everything. It was a very valuable experience and has helped us be a long stronger now I know. And we have really grown into one another so nicely. I truly think marriage is the most fantastic thing that has ever happened in my life.
so that was the giant, really long email to fill you in on the details of my life here in London. I really like it. there are ups and downs, but i wouldn't want to be anywhere else at the moment. I am so glad that this is where the lord has put me. I am so glad that we have the ministry that we do, with the friends we have....oh laurel, you should come visit! I would love to see you and love to show you around!"