The Skinny on London

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(Note to the reader: This is an interactive post! Everything that is bolded black is a link! Click on the link to see the stuff I’ve been talking about! There are even a few videos I edited just for this post, so be sure to click on everything!)

It’s hard to put in words how London was.  So when people ask me, I just default to  “London was good.  Seriously it was amazing and I want to live there one day.”  Yep…that’s pretty much how every answer has been.

So here, I will try to be more precise.  And I will do so by answering more specific questions…a tip I picked up from one of my co-workers.

But first.  An overview: Back in January, I applied to be on a team of people who were being sent by the Salvation Army to London to serve during the Olympic games.  We were being sent under an umbrella group called “More than Gold.” This group or program capitalizes on large sporting events by doing intense outreach to natives and visitors alike at churches across a given area.  During the Olympics, that area was London.  The idea is that we take the spirit of brotherly love across national, ethnic, and socioeconomic boundaries.  We use the excitement of the Olympics as an opportunity to bring people from around the world into the city of the event to be lights of Jesus Christ and to shine brightly.  The team I applied for from the USA was actually to be comprised of three smaller teams: A creative arts team that would do street performance outreach.  A sports team that would do sports related outreach.  And a hospitality team that would largely be responsible to meet and greet and serve water, coffee, and tea.  I was on the creative arts team…1 of 6.  In total though, there were 18 of us.  And we were assigned to the Notting Hill Salvation Army Corps off of Portobello road.  Together as a team of 18, we served tea, coffee and water, gave out free pins (badges) and stuffed animals, and offered free face painting to kids and adults alike.  We performed skits and songs for passerbys.  And that was just on Saturday.  (You can see what we did here!)

But I took more than service points away from the trip.  And here is my perspective on the 10 amazing days:

Favorite site in London: Big Ben at dusk/night.

Favorite food: crisp chips with ketchup

Favorite mode of transportation: Overground train.

Favorite morning: The morning the creative arts team had off.  Gabby and I found this little nook to have breakfast in, and then I bought this really awesome bag at one of the shops on Portobello Road.  It was wonderful.

Favorite day: Any day that we served at the school.  Monday thru Wednesday, the Creative Arts team served with the Sports team at a school for their Play Scheme (fancy term for summer day camp).  We were supposed to teach the kids a performance piece, but as it turns out, the kids were allowed to come and go from classes as they pleased.  Not all-together conducive to a good learning environment. So we taught kids drama games on Monday, and then Tuesday and Wednesday we just played outside with them for hours.  I loved it! I learned a lot of their names.  One of my favorite girls was named Saskia.  She was so prim and proper.  But she was good at rock climbing.  Go figure.  Tuesday afternoon, we played hide and go seek and it was awesome! I was running around like I was 6…climbing under tables to hide.  The Play Scheme workers thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care.  I was there for the kids, and they didn’t seem to mind a grownup child.

Favorite Evening: Now this is a tricky one.  We did a lot in the evenings.  But every night was different.  Mostly the group did whatever they wanted to do.  And I usually ended up in the more chill groups.  But every night I was with a different crowd doing sightseeing.  One night I walked across the Millennium Bridge and saw where the original Globe theater stood.  One night I went to Buckingham Palace (well, I did that a couple of nights…).  One night, Gabby and I went off by ourselves to the National Gallery.  That was a nice night.  One night I went to Les Miserables (and fell asleep…apparently THE cardinal sin of the musical world…but I was tired and it got slow).  But I think my absolute favorite night was when we went to the London Eye.  That was the night that most of our group of 18 was together…which was nice.  We weren’t all split up like we usually were.  That was the night I first saw Big Ben…the night London captured my heart forever.  That was the night we saw Carlton, and the night all of us went out for fish and chips at 12am.  I’ll tell you…those were the best chips I have ever had.  I didn’t even care how many calories I was consuming.

Coolest moment: Nerd alert.  One of the coolest things that happened to me was that on my first evening in London, a girl from the Canadian team came up to me and said, “Hey, it’s the Ministry Toolkit girl.”  For those of you who don’t know, I run a website called Ministry Toolkit.  I do a bimonthly podcast that posts to Youtube, and it was cool to have a girl from Canada recognize me.  The second coolest moment was towards the end of the trip.  One of the last days that I was there, a Canadian officer serving in Germany came up to me and said he liked the podcast.  He said he thought he knew me from somewhere but couldn’t put his finger on it…and then he figured it out.  He had seen the podcast.  It’s a podcast I had more than seriously considered scrapping.  Their words may have just saved it…or some form of it at least.

I was glad to get to know my teammates better.  And not just those on the creative arts team, but those on our collective team of 18.    I feel truly blessed that I was able to go.  Some people have asked me what God taught me in London.  To be honest, this trip wasn’t necessarily a spiritual mountaintop experience with huge lessons from God every moment (not that He doesn’t teach in our everyday lives).  I loved serving and felt right in my element.  And I loved the city and felt at home.  So if He’s taught me anything…or if I’ve taken away anything from the experience, it would be to affirm my acute desire to live abroad.  This trip has taught me to hope and to dream again.  And I now have a dream to live in London.  And it’s a big dream.  London is expensive, and you need a job before you can obtain a visa to live there.  How would I get my stuff over there?  Where would I live and with whom?  There are details to nail down, and it’s overwhelming.  But it’s exciting.  It’s not like I’m moving there next month, but if I’m thinking this detailed, it means that I’m seriously considering it.  Considering something that before my visit to London would have been a mere pipe dream.  “Oh, it’d be nice to live in London or Paris or anywhere other than the US someday.”  Yeah, it will be nice.  Even if just for a year or two.  Sigh.

Dreaming big is good because it allows God to be Big as well.  I mean, He already is, but sometimes we like to box in His power.  Well Lord…if I’m gonna get to London, I’m gonna need your help at every turn!

For those of you who have been praying for our team, thank you.  For those of you who have supported us financially, THANK YOU!  To the Salvation Army USA Southern Territory who sent me over…words cannot express how grateful I have been for the opportunity.

I leave you with one last performance (Love! Filmed by my sis, Chelsea):

2 Responses to “The Skinny on London”
  1. laurajdake says:

    thanks lindsey. i also love london and seeing it through your eyes brings back nice memories for me. I love your bag and have to get one for me!! 🙂

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