The Dress Up Game

This week has been quite fun and one of the few times I have felt like I’ve had a mini vacation!  This has been half term week, when all the schools are off for the week and the poor, tired out students get a break because they are so mentally drained and can’t squeeze out any more knowledge from their brains.  I laugh and think they would never have survived at Pettisville, with our 4 day pauses during Thanksgiving and Easter. haha!!


On Tuesday I traveled by train to Birmingham for a training day in Halesowen at the YFC main office.  It was a great thing that I had Sean, Chantelle, and Sidione to travel with..because I would have been totally lost once I got into Birmingham and had to walk to the other train depot to catch the next to Halesowen.  Oh though we were miserable, it was raining like cats and dogs.  We did a stop at KFC to get some food for Sid, and by the time we got to the other depot and Chantelle asked when the next train would be…we found out it was already at the Platform…so all of the sudden you hear Chantelle yelling “PLATFORM A!!! RUN!”  So all of us are literally running to get to that train, and we got on it just in time.  Total Amazing Race action right there Krysta.  So while everyone was eating their KFC, I was munching on my dried apricots…that I had so lovingly offered but for some reason they all refused.  😛


Our day of training was on the topic of “Hard to Reach Young People”.  It was quite good, and it really did get me thinking about the situations I am in over here and how I can effectively deal with them.  Plus I loved the statement made “Don’t look at it as a situation, look at it as an opportunity.”  There are a couple of boys that I have to deal with every week, that can be a handful for me, one we quite lovingly call a stalker and another who is very disrespectful towards me and honestly towards his teachers too.  I pray that God will grant me patience, but also wisdom with how to deal with each of the ‘opportunities’ I am put into.  My teammates know how much I had struggled with the one boy the other week, so I really do hope that this week kind of helped with the attitudes that were beginning to appear.


So besides the training that was great, there was the added incentive of seeing friends again!! We had some great chats, hang out time, and a wonderful walk around Halesowen looking for a store to buy sweets at about 10 pm.   Plus it snowed! Which made the walk a wee bit icey.  My friend Kirsty and I were the grand geniuses who found the off licence store and came back to the church with the grand bounty of chocolate for everyone.  Oh it was so wonderful to see everyone!  Rachel, Heather, and I stayed up and chatted till about 1 am, and then fell asleep, but then I woke up at 4 and couldn’t sleep after that…so I was quite shattered for the rest of the day.  I wrote in my journal and my prayer was God I love you….but please can’t I get more sleep? 


Wednesday we had training for the rest of the day until 3:30, and basically all of us that hadn’t left already went back into Birmingham together, and chilled till it was time to catch our trains.  Matt, Bekah, and I had to leave basically right when we all decided to go to Cafe Nerd and got settled in the seats.  We got to the train platform, and went up and down and the train was literally packed!  So we walked to a different platform and had to wait for the next train…to which they were quite sneaky because as we waited and we didn’t realize it was the train already at the platform down a bit from where we were sitting.  SO by the time we realized it, the train was filled again, but we got a space where we dropped all our luggage and just sat on it.  It was a great ride.  haha.  I was so tired though, Matt and Bekah got off two stops before mine and I had the worst time trying to stay awake, then when it stopped at Long Eaton I had about a 30 minute walk back to Margarets…so I got home a wee bit later.  It was wonderful to be home.


Tomorrow I have another day of training!  Woot woot!!!  It’s for our G-SUS live trailer.  Basically it’s this trailer that gets parked at the schools and we do R.E. lessons all day at a certain school each week.  So it’s basically training, and then there will be a meet the staff time, and all of us get showcased. haha I’m just kidding…kind of.   It will be interesting, hopefully.  🙂  I’m looking forward to it. 


I can’t wait to get back into my normal routine again.  Twill be beautiful.  🙂  I’ve noticed this week that a lot more people are dressing up.  Last night Emily and I saw this guy that was all decked out gothic style/vampirish and I didn’t know if that was his normal garb..or if he was going to an early Halloween party.  Just walking through town today was interesting…and the stores were a hoot to walk through.  I miss dressing up for Halloween at Supervalu, haha…it always made work so much more fun.  AND I was so sad because I just saw on the news that Nottingham had this HUGE MASSIVE CROWD dancing to Thriller and I totally missed it!!!! AWWWWW  It was for the world record again, and I totally could have participated.  sad day.  oh well….I didn’t really feel like looking like a zombie..but it would have been so fun to do the dance with all those people.


I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I loved so much…

One thing I love about England is how many coffee shops there are.  Literally there is one in every corner, so if you don’t enjoy Starbucks you can head to Costas which is across the street.  Or if you aren’t preferring Cafe Nero, just head to Bean Around the Corner in Beeston or the many others scattered around the shopping center.  The best part is that when you sit in one of these shops you automatically feel important, only you know the fact you have nothing to do and just need to waste an hour or two before your next appointment.  Which is normally what happens with me when I arrive in Beeston really early from Billborough.  On Thursdays Cafe Nerd (Nero) is inhabited by Emily and I for an hour or two while we wait till Girl’s Brigade starts.  We have a routine down really, Em has a weekly magazine which she fills out the word puzzles while either drinking tea or fruit juice…and I have my treat of the week a Chai Latte while I either write or read.  It’s a great time to just relax, and I enjoy Emily’s company so much. 


I’ve become a people watcher while I sit in the shops drinking my chai latte, or coffee.  You learn a lot about people when you just watch.  For instance there are people who stroll at their own leisure, people who have one purpose in mind and are dead set to accomplish it, there are the little boys who run around the statues while their moms keep walking, the college students who are doing their weekly grocery shopping, and then there are the people who you know are down to the last minute before the bus they need arrives at the station.  My favourite though is to watch the older couples who are just out for the walk and are enjoying each other’s company.


So what is it that I love about coffee shops so much?  The atmosphere? The drinks? The people watching? The company? Or maybe it’s just I feel so posh when I sit in one and am reading, haha.  I don’t know really but what I do know is that they are a good thing.

Autumn’s Grand Entrance

As I was walking to school I smelled a fragrance that brought back a memory of home.  Suddenly I was whisked back to Oak Openings on a chilly autumn day, just like today, and I was walking along the path wih Mom, Jane, Diane, and Tiff.  I remember how I felt, the terror of my future, hating and wishing I wouldn’t have to go to school that following Monday.  All I wanted was to stay in that moment, the pure tranquil feeling I had walking along those paths.  For me..being there was like a refuge, a place where I didn’t have to feel like I was in a battle every hour.  Being surrounded by the trees and just seeing beauty all around it became a safe haven, a place where time stopped and the worries of tomorrow vanished.  I remembered that today as I was walking to Chilwell and when I got into the staff room I opened up my Bible.   Psalm 124 was what I read which states this

 1 If the LORD had not been on our side—
       let Israel say-

 2 if the LORD had not been on our side
       when men attacked us,

 3 when their anger flared against us,
       they would have swallowed us alive;

 4 the flood would have engulfed us,
       the torrent would have swept over us,

 5 the raging waters
       would have swept us away.

 6 Praise be to the LORD,
       who has not let us be torn by their teeth.

 7 We have escaped like a bird
       out of the fowler’s snare;
       the snare has been broken,
       and we have escaped.

 8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.


As I was reading that verse I realized how very true it was.  Even when I didn’t know it, when I was the farthest away from God, He was there still.  When I was wiling to give up, He fought for me. 


I love those moments where you just feel God’s love surround and give you peace at the times when you are at a low.  When your eyes are opened to how much God really loves you and you get blown away by the whole reality of that realization.  In those times I am humbled and remember if it weren’t for Him I would not be here.  So I live for Him, and I give Him all my disappointments, heartbreaks, worries and just….let them go.  For I will not let the world gain a victory over me.


I finally found a friend and lost her in one weeks time.  Really sad about that.  Her name is Fanny and she came over from France to learn English (didn’t really know a lot when she came)  but during that time we hung out (did a lot of hand guestures and little conversation) but I finally had someone to sit by at church, and just go out and hang.  I was so happy about that, and she told me last night at bible study she was leaving today to go was just to difficult for her. 


Next week is half term, which means a week break from school.  Except I don’t get a break really, well yeah I do.  We just have stuff that is going to be happening…like training in Halesowen Tuesday and Wednesday, meetings, more training etc.  I’m looking forward to it.  Plus I was given homework by Graham to learn a piece of music on the violin, it sounds gorgeous…so we’ll see how I do. 

Cute story from last week.  I was walking home from William Sharp when I passed a bus stop where some of the teens were waiting that I work with.  They said “Hi Erin, hi Miss!!” and I said hi back and ( I think he was the little brother of one of the boys ) one boy goes “You can’t talk to her, she’s a stranger!” and they replied back “Yeah we can, she’s our friend!”  and that made me melt and really brightened up my day.  I don’t think I have said how much I really love that class.  🙂

Better When We’re Together

I can’t express how much I love what I am doing.  I was telling Jenny how this really isn’t work to me, I could call it that, but everday I wake up and think ‘Yes!!!!  I get to go too (wherever) today!”  I remember my old Spanish teacher saying you should never say “Oh…I have to go to work today”, but “Oh… i GET to go to work today!!”  I always laughed at that, but now it’s true for me!


Some funny stories that happened this week…well funny to me at least because I saw it happen.  At one of the schools, a boy was being naughty and not listening to the teacher.  He went and got a drink of water even after the teacher had said no.  When the teacher found out, he yelled and told the boy to leave the room to which the boy proceeded to go sit back down.  This wouldn’t do, so the teacher kept telling him to leave and was heading the boy out the door, when the boy grabbed the door and hung onto the top of the door just swinging there in the air.  So here you can imagine the scene of the boy hanging onto the door, with the teacher trying to pull him off with these shouts of “Get DOWN!” “NOO”.  Later on I had to go the room where the boy was banished too,  and we talked about what was bothering him, what he didn’t like and I told him “I just want you to are the first person I have ever seen hang on a door like that.”  and I burst out laughing..and then I said “Don’t do it again.”   We had a grand old chat and I helped him with the homework he had to do. 


I didn’t have the greatest day Thursday with the bus system.   I took out my bus pass and layed it on the table which was stupid of me to do, because I didn’t realize that I forgot it until I got to the bus stop and it was already to late for me to head back and get it.  so when I got on the bus to Billborough I found out that my bus driver hadn’t worked that specific route in ages, and he had no idea where he was going.  So all the older ladies were helping him telling him which road to take and where to go.  It was way too cute.  I had some really good chats on the ride over with some of the older ladies on the bus.  My day at William Sharp was great!  I really enjoy working with the teens there, and I found out that 80-90% are hard profile cases..and were told some of the teen’s stories.  Oh my goodness, my heart broke for them and I wish none of them had to go through any of what I had heard and what they are still going through.  I didn’t meet any mean students this week, haha.  They all seem to get along with me really well, to the teacher’s astonishment.  I don’t know how long I have with this particular class but for the time being I will continue on encouraging, loving, and building relationships with each of those teens.   I hope that somehow their life will just be touched by God, that a seed will be planted.   So after working at William Sharp I waited for 40 minutes for the bus that comes every hour.  It came, I flagged it down, and the driver completely ignored me.  I was fuming!!  So I decided instead of waiting for another hour, I would walk back to Beeston.  It took me an hour to get back, I got some exercise in..but oh how I was muttering under my breath the whole time. haha It was a great thing I pay attention to the routes, otherwise I would have been completely lost as to which way to have gone. 


I was blessed to have on last Saturday to have gotten to see my Burton Boys and Ashby Girls!  Tom, Tom, and Matt, and Abi and Emma.  My friends from training, they came into Nottingham to do some coursework towards a youthwork program.  It was absolutely brilliant!!  I was walking down the road looking for them, and all of a sudden I saw Tom and Matt down the road and we literally ran to each other!!  It was a joyful experience to be reunited with them.    I tried to put a picture on here of us on we’ll see how it goes!!


Also news!  I will be staying with Margaret and Teddy!  Joy!!!!  Turn of events, and a talk with Richard and Margaret lead to staying with her.  I’m so happy. Today was also YFC Commissioning!  Which meant that I got to see my friends!!  Oh how glorious that was.  Good times, lots of hugs, and plenty of laughing and smiling.  Both of those events equal a beautiful thing.

I’m going to add the link which shows you the pictures from The Meet Up with the burton and ashby girls, and also commissioning.  If you click on the pictures there should be subtitles that will kind of give you an idea what’s going on.   I also added some more pictures to the photo album that gives you a taste of Long Eaton and Nottingham.  Enjoy!!

What A Wonderful World

This week I was quite disturbed by news stories that I watched, which quite frankly broke my heart.  I watched a story on a 17 year old boy who commited suicide by jumping off a building.  Yes that is awful, but what is worse is that he had paced back and forth for a couple of hours deciding whether he wanted to do it or not with a crowd of onlookers taunting him to jump.   I weeped when I watched that story, and I literally shouted and yelled at the tv wanting to strangle all those people who taunted that poor boy to jump.  The end result was a loss of life, a life yet to have fully lived, a life at the end who didn’t know what it was like to be wanted or to be loved…only hearing what the crowd was saying which in a sense was “Go ahead and die, you aren’t worth anything”.   I cried for a long time after that story aired.   A life should not be treated so carelessly. 


Another story was a lady who has MS, but is considering planned suicide.  That one really cuts deep since dad has MS too….and I realized how blessed my family is.  How proud I am of dad.  It’s one thing to go through life with an illness without God, and it’s another to live that life with God.   I can see the differences in people, the bitterness, the hate for life..and then I see my dad that even at the most difficult times he clings to God, and he has one of the best attitudes ever (even if he does grumble over the food we sometimes prepare for him for dinner haha), and his humour never seems to fail.   I am proud of my mom and my dad, because even though the times are difficult they don’t curse God or walk away but they hold onto Him and believe that He has a plan and a purpose for all that happens.   Their life has been such a blessing, such an example to me and many others.  For that lady I hope that somehow God will touch her life. 


This past week really was hard for me mostly because I’m missing the daily friendships that I had at home.  I have yet to be able to find a ‘home’ church, and am quite frankly getting tired of church hopping.  I’m visiting a church on Sunday that hopefully I will like and feel at home with, and join a bible study group that has a lot of students my age.  I love the people I work with and enjoy hanging out with them, but I also want to find a group of people that I can form friendships with outside of work.   Of course not feeling well didn’t help my emotions at all.  My leader Rich could tell something was up since he said I wasn’t “Up to form like normal”.  Of course his other news of moving me to another host family didn’t really help either, since I’ve grown quite attached to Margaret and Teddy.  The next week or so I will be moving to Beeston (which is about 15 minutes away from where I am already) so I will make sure I make weekly visits hopefully. 


Do not worry though after that paragraph I am over my little slump, and even though I may go into a slump or two…. I really love it here, I love what I am doing, and I really do feel at home.   Someone asked me if I would ever consider moving here and my honest answer was “yeah, I would…though my heart is still in Russia and that is where I really would love to be..but England would be another definate place that I would totally consider.” 


I started working at two new schools this week…Hadden Park (finally in a classroom) and William Sharp.  At Hadden Park we run a school lunch club, and then an after school club…but also on Tuesdays and Fridays I also help out in the classroom in the afternoon.   Today I helped out in the special needs class.  I am working with two boys, and absolutely loved it.  Though the teachers do care, I think they get quite overwhelmed with all the attention each one of the teens need in the class, so they purposely put me with the two that needed more help and that don’t have very much social interaction.   The one boy caused quite a lot of commotion though, I think he may have ADD, but I’m not positive.   The other was a gem, though his self esteem is quite low and he has a lot of difficulty in reading, writing, and spelling…I’ll definately be working on that this year as I help out.   Chantelle, Sidione, and I experienced our first fight in the lunch club today.  It was quite intense, and to be honest I didn’t realize what was happening until I turned around after hearing Chantelle shouting to get a teacher, and saw the boy throw a chair at them.  Hopefully though after this week we won’t be seeing many more fights soon.  The boy was quite beat up up, I felt so bad for him.


William Sharp I had quite the experience…I am helping out in the Health and Social class, where the teens are learning right now about alchohol, drugs, stress, etc…and making pamphlets on the affects of each of those, how you can get help, and what you can do to relieve stress.   I have more of the ‘hard street’ teens, I guess you can call them.   I absolutely loved working with them, they were a fun lot to talk too.  The teacher said they seemed to have accepted me well, but then again he said the ‘mean’ ones weren’t there this week, so next week we’ll see what happens. haha. 


I’m really enjoying helping out in the music department at Chillwell.  The teens are still working on their compositions, and the 8 year students are still on reggae.  The 8 years had to write their own reggae song, and started putting down chords to it…quite funny.  Some of them wrote about ‘weed’, some wrote about the fire that happened at the school that day.  Yes I experienced my first real fire at a school, not a drill.  Others wrote about sandwich’s at Subway.   This guy who is a ‘sub’ wants to record my voice because of my authentic American accent.   Graham (who is the music teacher) thinks he is quite crazy and sympathsized with me saying “Doesn’t that make you feel like a freak?  People do that with my accent also.”  He’s from Australia.   My demeanor changes whenever this “sub” guy comes up to me, I don’t know quite how to take him.  


Next week is the YFC Commissioning.  I’m quite excited to see all my friends again, it will be a great time.  Of course I know it will be hard to let them go when it’s over.   The thing about it is, I really love what I’m doing, all the teens that I have met and I work with on a weekly basis are wonderful.  Some are challenging and quite hard to work with at times, but it makes me love them even more.   Those are the teens that don’t know what it is to be loved, to have that unconditional love.  Remember that 17 year old boy that I wrote about at the beginning?  That is why I am here, because so many  teens now these days feel unloved, that they don’t think their life is worth anything or living.  Those are the teens that touch my life over and over and they are the reason that I want to do this kind of work.