Hi again! Quick update from me…
After a wonderful (and busy) summer of traveling, some holidaying, visiting people and working in different places, I’m very happy to be now back in Gloucester for the time being. It’s been so lovely to come back home to Redcliffe and see friends here again, get to know the new students and settle back into life a bit. It’s been great to have my own room back and sleep in my own bed, surrounded by my own stuff and with my own decorations on the walls etc – such creature comforts seem so trivial after having lived and worked in third world countries but they do make a difference to life both here in the UK and abroad.
It’s also been so nice to return to my church here. I’ve felt very blessed by individuals in my Gloucester church supporting and praying for me as well as keeping in touch while I’ve been away, and although no longer officially working for the church I certainly plan to maintain my involvement in the different areas of mid-week and Sunday church life.
Second-year lectures and the like seem to be going well thus far; I only have three regular class-based modules this term but they’re bigger (longer hours of classes and longer essays) than last year’s modules. Those are Luke and Acts, Theology and Ethics, and Living and Working Across Cultures – all of which sound quite vague and basic but the teaching is great. The Ethics classes have thus far been VERY FRUSTRATING, with horrible ethical decisions to debate regarding cultural issues, but it’s been a lot of fun, sort of. I think I’m going to really enjoy that class, even though I find the ethical dilemmas frustrating. Luke and Acts seems to involve some more in-depth exegesis work on specific passages, but also a general overview of the bigger picture and the social and cultural implications of the writing in its original context, regarding each chapter and theme, and the impact it would have had on the Early Church. Living and Working Across Cultures looks at many different issues and questions faced by those involved in cross-cultural mission work, such as coping with mission organisations and local churches, communications with home countries, culture shock – and much more, and I’m so glad I have the opportunity to study and read up on those things this year!! My lecturers are amazing. I love being here. Even studying is fun, because it’s applicational and interesting and useful!
Oh and on Tuesday evenings I’m meeting with my last year’s New Testament Greek teacher (who has now retired) to revise some Greek and read through the parables and other interesting passages in Luke’s Gospel in the original text – with Ben and the two other friends who took the class last year. That module took more time and effort by far than any of the others, and after all the work I put into it I really don’t want to forget how to read New Testament Greek, so I’m glad of this motivating opportunity to keep it up.
It’s so good living in Christian Community and being surrounded by people from different cultures and denominations and ages and walks of life, who are all to some extent interested and involved in long-term cross-cultural mission. We have so many weird and wonderful conversations, coming at life’s questions often from unbelievably different cultural attitudes and backgrounds – the social side of life here is just as educational as the lectures! I love having opportunity to get to know such quirky people. It’s obviously not always easy (those who’ve lived in Christian Communities for a time will know), but such is life, and I love it. However, I’ve found at times that it can get frustrating being surrounded by Christians 100% of the time. It’s been nice to get out to the pub for an evening each week and spend some time with some non-College people (please don’t judge me, anyone reading this who is morally against Christians going to pubs – if it bothers you then let’s discuss it), but I’d also like to have a part-time secular job (such as a till worker at the local Tesco) so as to spend some more time regularly with people I don’t know from Redcliffe, and also to give me a bit more financial flexibility to be able to do things like going out for meals sometimes, giving to organisations that I’m passionate about, and pursuing some of my interests such as the Gloucester Tango group. Obviously time is limited, and with study, church commitments, a part-time job AND other pastimes I’m not sure how well it’d all balance, but we’ll see.
Ben also seems to be happy to be back at Redcliffe, having had a slightly more restful summer break, and is very much enjoying the modules and the Community here. I’m appreciating seeing him again after about six weeks of not seeing him at all 🙂
Thanks again to everyone who prays for me, keeps in touch and reads my blog…! I appreciate it! God is good, all the time 😀