In a Fashionable Hurry// London

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It took me 3 planes, one canceled flight, and about 26 hrs from leaving Seattle to reach London, but I made it!

I spent about half of that time in the Chicago airport… unsuccessfully trying to sleep on their benches, reading my kindle as I walked in circles (I read a whole book, of course), walking from one tip of the airport to the other and back, sleeping on the floor (much more comfortable than the chairs)… after 9 hrs we loaded onto our plane, put away our carryons, settled in our seats…I did some polite starting conversation with my neighbor and we were just starting to get to her granddaughter’s names and yes she rather did think she wanted to change her will so I could inherit her fortune, when it was announced we had to move to a new plane because the air conditioning did not work in ours. Although that gave me more time to feel like the Phantom of the Chicago Airport (just not enough to run to the city and back), added on a flight, and snatched away my budding chance to become a millionaire, the plane I then took across the Atlantic from Boston was much nicer. It actually had tv screens for each chair and polite stewardesses with British accents walking through offering silver pots of coffee (popular) and tea (ignored).

I landed in Heathrow Airport 6:30am their time and easily enough figured out how to take the Tube to my hostel. I relaxed in the hostel’s lounge for a short while then joined a free walking tour around the highlights of London (by Sandeman’s tours – highly recommended!)

Our guide grew up in Greenwich and had a dashingly British accent. He carried a pink decorated umbrella with no shame (a common trait among men in London, I have noticed – lavender and pink shirts are not uncommon) and when it was not needed he used its long rolled up form to point and flourish with as he talked, like a sword. He took us to the highlights of the city, the ‘top 10′ a guidebook would list. We were walking to another palace (we saw about 4 on the tour) when our whole group broke into a run. In front of us the street was blocked off, and a band was playing – and we got to the sidelines just as the queen’s golden carriage rolled by! Because the Opening of Parliament happened that day, there had been a high chance she would pass by! Even our local guide had never seen the queen before.

The stories behind names and places were hilarious and interesting, and too many to share here. After the tour I joined a good part of our tour for lunch in an old English pub, then traveled back to the hostel with a girl from Brazil. Except on the way… we stopped at the 1/2 price ticket booth at Leicester Square. We listened to the lady list off the prices for the different shows, looked at Wicked, looked at each other with shining eyes and asked “Should we do it?” And bought two tickets. It was still $70, but hey, it was my first time in London!
I took a shower and changed into some clothes other then what I had been wearing the last 2/3 days, and went to meet up again with my friend, feeling a bit more respectable. At the theater it ended up I stood and waited for her at one entrance, while she was at the other side at the other. It was minutes from the show and we were both getting really anxious. Fortunately we managed to find each other and literally ran and embraced each other before heading in, babbling with giddy relief. The curtains rolled up right as we sat down.

The show was one I have always wanted to see, and I can’t even complain that it wasn’t Menzel and Chenoweth, because the two main actors had stupendous voices. The entire show was really, really well done.

And I’m ashamed to admit there were still two or three moments where, rapt as I was, I realized that – oh hello, I was trying to watch the show with my eyes closed! And I had to pinch myself or bite my tongue, trying to keep them from sinking again.

It all combined to make a perfect first day in London. My camera battery was almost dead so I did not take many pictures, but I’ll be coming back in a few months, so I’m not worried.

The next day I overslept and missed breakfast- so after checking out and leaving my large backpack in a luggage storage, I headed across the street to Borough Market, where I bought some juice and a muffin. The prices in London are a great diet encourager!

Everything in the market was tastefully arranged and looked straight from a farm. I ate in a churchyard nearby, people-watching. One thing I noticed about Londoners- which may be true of all of Europe or England, I don’t know yet – was that everyone was fashionably dressed. Button up coats, vests, suits, cardigans, bow ties, leather shoes, dresses and flowing blouses, most in neutral colors with rare spots of color from a scarf or coat-covered shirt.  I could tell at a glance who the tourists were, because they did not look like models! Everyone carried an umbrella and popped them up and down as the weather changed every minute.

Influenced strongly by my love for the BBC Sherlock, I saw Lestrades everywhere, as well as a David Tennant doppelganger (although he’s actually not English…)

Another common factor was that everyone walked fast. I count myself a brisk walker, and everyone was passing me in the streets as though I were a shuffling child! And I learned quickly to never stand on the left on escalators.

After the market I made my way to some of the sights I had missed. My Brazilian friend was also walking around the city, but with no phone I could not meet up with her. I went to St. Paul’s, Westminster again, the Globe, and the London Eye. The latter was not recommended by our guide to ride, because it takes 45 minutes to go around. 45 minutes. To look at the city. Wheeee.

I picked up my pack (which by the way is 25-30 lbs, and that’s with some extra clothes I will not need later: I am proud of my light packing!), bought some bananas and scones for a few pounds (which would be my next 3 meals) and caught a bus for Denmark!
Chow London! Adios! And so the journey continues.


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Betsy and Me

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In the weeks leading up to my trip, I’ve taken time to re-read one of my very favorite childhood books. I grew up with the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace – books written in the 1940s based off of the author’s life and somewhat known nowadays. You’ll find the very first books about Betsy’s childhood (illustrated by Tasha Tudor!) in the children’s section at libraries and bookstores. The rest of the series, where Betsy goes through high school, travels, and gets married, are not as popular or easy to find. My copies are beloved and starting to fall apart.

As I re-read this book, Betsy and the Great World, and saw it anew with my adult eyes, it was funny to find some similarities. Betsy is 21 when she travels, like me! She travels in 1914, which is exactly 100 years ago! But from there the similarities end and the list of differences grow…

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    The beautiful illustrations are by Vera Neville

    To start off her trip, she takes an ocean liner across the Atlantic. Scones and tea are brought to her lounge chair at four every day, there is live music and dancing every night, and stops on the luscious Azores and Madeira islands marked the trip.

 

 

 

  • IMG_6921Betsy travels with several large trunks, which have to be shipped from city to city (fortunately she stays in only a handful of places, for an extended amount of time). She collects souvenirs with abandon.

 

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  • She actually writes, and gets paid for it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Besides the above mentioned payments for her writing every now and then, her father funds her whole trip and gives her a monthly allowance. Maybe that’s why she buys so many souvenirs..?

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  • The poor girl has to fend off an Italian that falls in love with her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • And her trip actually ends right when World War I starts. After being in London when the announcement of war sweeps through the city, she is miraculously able to find a ride home through the help of a kindly millionaire (another difference – maybe?).

 

But other than the above points, Betsy and I are pretty much identical! Now if only I could look as stylish on my travels..

What Festers Within

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These are some notes I wrote down a while ago, the night after I watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. If you’ve seen it, you know how it can make one’s head reel… I was thinking about how some people claim humankind is improving… how we are getting better, and can ultimately achieve world peace. Such a laughable thought – without God, that is.
These are general thoughts on “under the sun” humanity, the ‘I’ both personal and ambiguous. Sorry if the words are intense, though again if you have seen the movie you’ll understand.. And I apologize if these thoughts are too vague to make sense of, while editing I was still on drugs from getting my wisdom teeth out. ;)

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I am a sinful creature.
You don’t seem so bad to me, you say. But you know what festers within me, for its stench permeates us all.
Since I was born there has always been a choice. A chance to do right. A chance to fail. Constantly, for years, I have had someone to reprove me. They, through repetition, tell me which inner voice to heed, for I must be told. Now that I am older, I pretend there is no struggle. I scoff the other voice, yet inside I nurse its thoughts and fantasized deeds
I reveal nothing but composure. I am never really pushed hard, so I am never broken. If I were, even I cannot say which voice would show. I avoid tension and pressure, so that I do not break, so that my insides are not revealed. I do not want to show them. I do not want to face them.
My heart lies even to itself. I am like a man building a structure that never knows its purpose or sees the entire. I congratulate myself as I do careful, precise work on every join. I tell myself I’m building something great, and my heart and nearsighted eyes are my reassurance. My hands dance across volume knobs, turning up the tracks singing my praise, drowning out the others. Truth? I tell myself my truth, and wrap myself with comfort.
On the outside,  I believe I am a good person. But I have no idea even what ruler I must measure myself by! And perhaps the standard is in liters and I’m striving for meters.
I lie, most of all to myself.
One thing remains – love. I do not even know how to begin to love. I lavish showy, flighty shadows, though I demand constancy…My faults should be dismissed over and over, while my brittle love for another vanishes at the smallest offense. The intensity of my love for someone depends on how they make me feel. If they make me feel valued, special, wonderful, I love them greatly. If they pay me no heed, make me feel slow and inferior, tell me of my faults, or blatantly ridicule me, I despise them.
I cannot be removed from myself to even know if their offending words are true. Looking for comfort, my heart calls true or false what it wants. My affections for you has its limits. If tried, my love will dwindle,  fail, even turn to hate.

All truth is relative. Yes, let’s believe that. Then I can listen politely to your beliefs but feel no inclination to truly think of what you say. If it is uncomfortable to me, it is your truth.
Then I can find what does not sting me or make me shift, patch it together for today’s creed. I have my beliefs that I stand upon, but do not test me, for I do not know how deep go my roots into them. And my head is easily turned by a winning voice and likesome face.
How fickle my heart.

~

Over the past months, I have been studying Mere Christianity with friends. It addresses these thoughts and many others so perfectly and succinctly. Here are a few snippets to end with, from the beginning of the book where Lewis begins by talking about right and wrong.

…We know that if there does exist an absolute goodness it must hate most of what we do. That is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it, and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies…
I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay.

Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.
The Problem With Pain

The Non-Wandering Traveler: Life Update

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Readers,

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged – as in really sat down and put together a blog post with my thoughts and words, not just re-posted someone else’s thoughts. Which is probably due to less thoughts floating around in my brain asking for an outlet. Not that I’m an empty-minded zombie (at least not after 10am. And a downed cup of coffee), rather that my life has been flowing lately. It has all been going grandly, without the friction that creates sparks of thoughts.

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London! Photo Credit: interfacelift.com

So here’s the update of my life right now: I’m going to Europe! Soon! My plane ticket is bought and I will be flying into London in early June, which is now less than two months away! The plan is to spend a few days in London, then to fly to Denmark, where I am volunteering on a sustainable farm, then to Germany, where I will spend a few weeks volunteering at a restaurant outside of the Black Forest before meeting up with a friend and my travel companion for a few more months of travel. Excited, nervous, anticipating, scared: I’ve pretty much got the whole gamut of emotions as I wait to embark.

Since I’ve been thinking about this trip since last October/November, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder traveling in general and why I’ve had the itch to travel… Here are just a few of those thoughts.

My middle class American peers and I are given incredible opportunities to travel nowadays. Anywhere in the world is practically a step away for us – unthinkable a mere 150 years ago! We can flip through brochures and websites, and depending on whether we feel like digging wells in South America with a youth group, lounging on a beach in Hawaii, or taking selfies with adorable orphans in Africa, all we have to do is lazily point, click, and board a plane. Crazy. As with many other things in our modern-day life, I feel we have gained convenience yet lost a form of building relationships. My romantic side refuses to heed Ecclesiastes’ advice on “the good old days”, and desires the times when it took several weeks to cross the Atlantic by passenger liners – time to build relationships and get to know your fellow travelers, who you could probably run into again after you reached your destination. I suppose that time period (early 1900s) would be the best in transAtlantic travels – earlier and you head into  time consuming and perilous trips on creaky wooden boats eating moldering seatack and hanging garlic around your neck to ward off the latest disease decimating the ship. Zoom forward in time and you arrive at the zippy, 9 hour flights of today that create “jet lag” because we’ve hopped clear to the other side of the world so fast. And we complain when stopovers make our flight up to 30 hours long, ha!

I wonder if history professors ever complain about any sort of conditions nowadays.

I think it is important for every traveler to consider why they are going. Although many of us cannot fully explain it, so we simple label it “the traveling bug”. I tell curious people that the world is so amazingly big and holds such a beautiful variety of cultures and places, it seems a shame for me to only taste a few during my short life here. God made this world large and beautiful for us. I want to see what He’s made!

Tuscany

Last year, I felt intense restlessness. I JUST WANTED TO TRAVEL. I just wanted to go somewhere, see things, otherwise I felt I’d go crazy.

We can travel to escape from something. We can travel to escape to something – or rather our perception of something. We can travel because there is something restless and coiled inside our souls, and we’re not sure what will satisfy it, but perhaps if we just keep moving we’ll find the Settler. An answer? Something that satisfies.

Recently, I have discovered that the restlessness – gradually and without my notice of the process – had been replaced with a contentment and peace. I love where I am at. I love the beauty of this valley, watching it shift through the seasons, and knowing so well this area I was born and raised in. If someone handed me some waders, a high-end camera, and a sleeping bag, I would gladly spend months walking through the local valleys capturing and enjoying all of the beauty they hold.

I love my brothers and my parents, I love my jobs (mostly) and my coworkers. I feel as though I am a part of what God doing, right now, right here, to the people in my arm’s reach.

So why go elsewhere?

Traveling is like hiking. Uphills and downhills – steps that take you to breath-catching beauty and steps that are pure torture, bringing tears to your eyes. But in the end, you come back stronger in every way. You come back with stories to tell, that will give others courage on their own journeys.

“You can always come home.” Home is a hazy idea to some. Is it where our family lives? Our spouse? Where we were born? Where we’ve spent the most time? Where we have our job? Or simply the place we love the most? Some of us feel strongly connected to one place, others consider home wherever their feet are currently standing.

A co-worker and I were recently talking about a man she knows, who moves from job to job all the time. I jokingly called him a “wandering soul” and she replied “Yes, aren’t we all? I know I am; I am searching for something, though I don’t know what it is.” Being at work and in the middle of the lunch rush, I just smiled and lightly said, “Yep, me too!” It only took a few seconds after the words left my mouth for me to realize, they weren’t true.

I am not a wandering soul.

I may travel and see things, my “current residence” may change, but that’s only my physical body. Inside – my soul – I am at peace. I am anchored. There is a line from my heart to God’s, and wherever I go, I am at home and content. When restlessness pervades my being, it is only because like a child, I have pushed myself from the Father’s arms and have looked to myself and the world for the fulfillment of my soul. Everything in this world is tumultuous and changing. Nothing can be fully depended on – except for God. That is why all He asks for is our full commitment to Him – a word which in the original sense means entirely leaning our whole weight on Him, reclining as if in a hammock. Only then can we be unshaken.

I have always known and believed this, but it was strongly reinforced in my soul a month ago. After a 6-week battle with cancer, my pastor’s wife passed away in March. At the memorial service we worshiped God, giving Him our sorrows, our broken hearts, and receiving back peace. I was reminded of the truths: that our Savior God is our Rock, our Anchor that holds, our Hope now and forever. We will not be shaken.

What are you depending on? Where is your anchor?

Where is your home?

 

Reblog: They’ll Be Dead by Morning (What Difference Will it Make?)

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There is no guilt in being born in the land of the free as opposed to a country under harsh rule.

But there is guilt if we use our freedom to indulge our petty preferences, to pad our comfort, to drift through this dark world basking in our own light rather than using it to serve those who waste away in prison cells

Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island: They’ll Be Dead by Morning (What Difference Will it Make?).

20 Things We Should Say More Often: Kid President

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I LOVE this!

The Problem With Little White Girls (and Boys)

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lilacandivy:

This is an excellent post, and just what I needed to read right now! I love how missions is taking a positive swing towards training local missionaries, and out-of-country missionaries coming as tentmakers.
What do you think?

Originally posted on Pippa Biddle:

White people aren’t told that the color of their skin is a problem very often. We sail through police check points, don’t garner sideways glances in affluent neighborhoods, and are generally understood to be predispositioned for success based on a physical characteristic (the color of our skin) we have little control over beyond sunscreen and tanning oil.

After six years of working in and traveling through a number of different countries where white people are in the numerical minority, I’ve come to realize that there is one place being white is not only a hindrance, but negative –  most of the developing world.

Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania.

Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania.

In high school, I travelled to Tanzania as part of a school trip. There were 14 white girls, 1 black girl who, to her frustration, was called white by almost everyone we met in Tanzania, and a few teachers/chaperones…

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