Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I think life over here has started to become somewhat ordinary. The things that seemed new and different my first couple weeks here have turned into the usual Monday through Sunday routine. I do apologize if anyone has been waiting to read a new blog post. Really wishing I could be with my family this week in Maryland for Thanksgiving, it would be awesome to see everyone and watch the Ravens vs 49ers (easily one of the most exciting thanksgiving games played in reacent years.) All the NFL games I remember from Thanksgivings in the past were games that I did not care about, like the Cowboys.
Since the last post on this blog, there have been a few things that stick out in my mind that you might find interesting on funny.
First, and also probably most important, the other day I was running on the treadmill at the gym and I noticed something very strange on the TV. They have four large flat screens hanging from the ceiling, normally playing popular music videos, the news or sports but for some reason TV 3 was a movie. I honestly laughed out loud when I realized the gym was playing Free Willy 2. It was this strange scene where Randolph and Jesse are in the middle of a forest doing something with a special plant near a waterfall. While the mom and dad are with the brother Elvis trying to get a giant whale into the ocean. The movie its self is funny, but I think I was laughing more at the fact that no one has ever watched it since it came out in 1995, but now its almost 2012 and they are playing it in a gym. Also pondering whether or not it was getting anyone pumped up to work out.
Second, a man from church was giving me a ride the other night and his 4 year old son was sitting in the back seat. During the drive his son interrupted our conversation to ask where my home was. I told him my home was in the United States. Then he asked his dad how far away that was, his dad said many hours and we got back to our conversation. In the background though I swear for the next 5 minutes there was this type of crying or whimpering noise. The dad finally asked him what was wrong. The son replied “I just want to go to bed; I don’t want to drive to the United States.”
Haha last Wednesday at “moms and toddlers” there was a boy who was going around and hitting all the other babies on the head. It was really annoying because he wasn’t hitting them very hard, kid can barely walk, but they would scream and cry so loud. So his mom kept picking him up and making him sit by her, but once she would get talking he would sneak off and hit someone else. Very frustrating, and it doesn’t make sense because none of the other kids ever hit anyone. Now the next bit of information I am going to tell you may or may not be directly related. Haha yesterday his mom mentioned she was tired because they had a long weekend traveling to watch her older son who fights MMA. Maybe little brother has been spending too much time with big brother.
She did say two things that raised some questions in my mind though. First, she mentioned she was really mad that the guy her son was fighting hit him in the head twice. She proceeded to say her son was epileptic, and it not supposed to have stuff hit his head. (Question 1: if he is epileptic, why doesn’t he find a different hobby instead of fighting people and asking them not to hit his head?) She also said that the guy he fought was from the UFC. (Question 2: why would anyone from the UFC come to a night club in the middle of no where England to fight an epileptic person who has just got into the sport?) I didn’t ask her these questions…
Ever felt like your head was going to explode? I think mine came close to doing it today at church with the toddlers. As if Wednesday mornings with them wasn’t already the pure definition of chaos, we decided to have a guy from the church come in and take pictures. He set up his equipment in the gym, and we had the moms sign up on a sheet so we knew what order to send them in. The plan sounded like it would work, but the children were the X factor. I was designated to sit at the lap top and show the moms the pictures after their child was done, so they could decide which ones they wanted to purchase. I don’t like computers to begin with, but it was so crazy today. It was obviously much faster to snap 20 photos of a child than it was to show them to a mom and have her fill out the paper work for which ones she wanted and what size she wanted them in while also keeping an eye on her kid. So my line was getting backed up, and the moms waiting seemed to be getting annoyed, some people just take forever to do simple things. One lady kept asking “can you just go through them all one more time.” The terror of the whole ordeal climaxed when I was showing a mom her daughter’s pictures, and her daughter kept coughing on my arm. I couldn’t move it because it was outstretched to click the mouse and the table was too small to move away. Then I felt something wet on my arm, I looked and saw that she was wiping an apple that had been chewing on down my fore arm.
Funniest part of the day had to have been when one little boy ran full speed into the back drop and knocked down the whole display. At first I thought the metal bar holding it up had fallen on his head, but once I realized that it missed his head and he was alright it was definitely funnier. None of the parents or the guy taking pictures laughed.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Covie Camp

The rain is finally here , hopefully is goes away soon. Last Wednesday night at church went really well. We showed the kids two shorts video clips, one was from Louie Giglio where he describes the size of some of the other stars in the universe. And then we showed them a video clip describing the Gospel. All of the kids sat through them both very quietly and listened. We are taking small steps to show them the truth about God. One of the older boys texted Jon the next day and asked “did you show that video clip about the Gospel for me?” Jon said “no, we showed it for everyone.” Obviously the clip spoke directly to at least one person in the room.
I spent last weekend away in a place called Exford, we took the Sunday school class, called Covies, down there for a weekend camp. It was a lot of fun; I uploaded some pictures to Facebook already. The first night we got there we had a bonfire and just hung out. The next day we went to a place called Minehead and played rugby on the beach after going for a long walk in the woods. When we got back to the house we played a game on this muddy hill where half the boys had to climb up the hill and the other half had to push them back down. Needless to say, by the end of the day everyone was very tired and ready to sleep.
I had a lot of fun getting to know the Covies, most of their parents go to church, and that is the only time I get to see them is on Sunday morning. Each of the counselors gave a short talk at some point during the camp, and then on the last day before leaving each of the kids shared what they had learned at camp. It was encouraging to see that they remembered a lot of what was said during the camp. We met last night to plan another Covie trip before Christmas because this one went so well and not everyone got to go. Loretta will be here for the next one, so she is going to be an honorary Covie haha. Before I came to England I imagined spending a lot more time with the church kids but I have spent most of my time here with the non-church kids who just use the church parking lot to skateboard and scooter.
I had an interesting day today, I met up with 3 of the skaters today at the church and we walked to McDonalds for lunch. After we went in this store called Sainsbury’s, it is very similar to a place like Target. I just wanted to see how much it cost to get a pair of pants but it was a very interesting trip into this store. The boys had taken straws from McDonalds, and they started shooting spit balls at each other. At first it seemed under control, but then while walking down one of the aisles I noticed one of them had pinned the other one to the floor and then started dragging him by his feet. There were moms with their kids walking by and just staring with their mouths open. I was trying to pretend like I did not know them in case one of the workers came over and yelled at them.
Then we started making our way across the store and I ran into a lady from the church, she asked how I was doing, I told her I was just hanging out with some of the boys and before I finished the sentence I noticed she was looking past me with a smirk on her face. I turned around to see that things had gotten out of control again. One of them was in the middle of a flying drop kick to the other one’s back. I saw a mom with one hand on her shopping cart use her other hand to pull her daughter out of the way. Story gets better though…
They wanted to go to the deodorant and cologne aisle. I had no idea what was about to happen next. The three of them started spraying themselves with stuff very similar to Axe. But instead of just a small spray, they were holding the top down until it had nothing left. Then they started spraying each other, I saw one of them spray another one directly in the face. Eyes and mouth both open because he was not expecting it. This time I really thought a worker was going to come over and yell at us but it never happened. We just left the store smelling very strange.
This isn’t funny, but one of these boys wrote an apology letter to Jon while we were sitting in McDonalds today because Sunday night while I was away at camp, he pulled his pants down and mooned some of the people in the church.
On our walk back to the church from Sainsbury’s we met a girl named Georgia who goes to school with them. She asked why I was here, I told her, and then she said “I hate God”. I asked why, she said “he made me sick when I was little and then he made my dad have an affair.” Later on in the conversation she told me she would rather go to hell because you can get a tan there and heaven is cold and boring. Sad because the truth is God did not make her dad have an affair, and hell is a terrible place. I left the conversation with the simple truth, I told her she can believe whatever she wants while she is alive on earth, but the second she dies she will no longer have the choice and she will stand before Him.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Please pray for this Wednesday night, Oct. 17th. Seems like we are going to have a lot of kids for our youth program from 8pm-9pm and we are presenting the Gospel as clearly as we possibly can.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Week Seven

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I have been here exactly 7 weeks, crazy to think I spent 8 weeks in Bosnia last summer because I would be really sad if I had to leave next week. I feel like there is a lot more that needs to happen here before I go home.
The past few days have been very exciting and also strange. We will start with the exciting, Sunday morning I woke up very tired, I was so tired I had actually forgotten what time church started. So I fed the cat (Giles) for the people I am house sitting for this week and then rode my bike to church. There was no cars in the parking lot, and I thought it was because I was ten minutes early, but I was actually 1 hour and ten minutes early.
The night before I was hanging around the church with some kids and they usually stay till about 11 or 12 (the latest ever being about 1:30am). This boy came up to me with the biggest smile on his face and said “we are sleeping over his house (points to his friend) and his mom says we don’t have to be in until 3!” I smiled too, matching his excitement, but in my head I was thinking there was no way they were going to stay here that late. (Needles to say they did) We played in the gym for a while, then we all skyped with Loretta, she showed them her house and shoe collection. Then at about 1am we skyped with Nathan and Ashley, they thought it was really cool to meet my brother. But they kept referring to Ashley as his girlfriend. We then went back in the gym until about 2:50am. Lucky for them, they did not have to be up for church in the morning.
I usually text some of the boys about an hour before church to wake them up and see if they are interested in coming, but this Sunday I was so tired I forgot. To my surprise though about 15 minutes before the service started a boy texted me and said he was on his way but might be a few minutes late. He showed up, and after the service we went to Dominoes and shared a pizza. It was good to talk to him one on one, he told me a lot about his family life and plans for the future. I shared with him how God changed my life, and how when I was his age I would have never imagined moving to England to skateboard with kids at a church.
We talked a lot about Heaven, and also what Jesus taught. On our way back to the church, he thanked me for the conversation; he also thanked me for coming to England. We skated with our friends the rest of the afternoon and that night he came to the evening service. The guy who spoke prayed a prayer at the end, and asked that if anyone was interested in becoming a Christian to pray along with him. My friend prayed it and said he believed it, I met with him after and we prayed, he was choked up as he thanked God for all the He has done. If nothing good happens for the rest of this trip, it will still be 6 months well spent because of that night.
Now for the strange;
Monday Jon and I loaded the mini bus with 15 people who have struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol and took them to a soccer tournament in Oxford. The tournament was comprised of teams from local areas who use soccer as a way to help people rehabilitate themselves. The original plan was to drop them off at their tournament and then go sight seeing, maybe take some pictures at Oxford University and get some lunch. But that morning when we arrived at the church, they told us they were a player short and needed either Jon or myself to play with them. Obviously Jon volunteered me.
I could not have felt more out of place. The shorts were way too short, I know barely anything about playing soccer, and I was somewhat apprehensive about who we were going to be playing against. Seemed to be a lot of prison tattoos out on the field, I gave it my all though. My team ended up winning 2 games and losing 2 games so we did not qualify for the next round. The other team we brought also did not qualify for the next round so we got to leave early. When I say “early” I mean 5pm, cannot imagine staying much longer. I was so hungry by the end of the day. Our team did receive a medal and little backpack filled with surprises though. Haha I got a drug and alcohol handbook along with shower gel, socks, and a water bottle. You can imagine the conversations that took place on the way their and back in the mini bus, I wont go into detail.
In a strange way the soccer tournament felt like a church camp, they gave each player a piece of paper with about 12 squares on it and you had to have each square signed by someone that you did not know. I know I have played something like that at youth group or camp before. The guy on the microphone kept saying stuff like “remember, today is all about meeting new friends and helping each other through this…” By “this” I guess he meant the addictions they were facing, it was funny though because the other players were really friendly. Had a lot of people tell me “bye” as I was leaving. I felt strange when the staff would smile at me, I wanted to tell them that I was not an addict looking to meet friends to help me through “this”, but I just kept silent. It seems like something out of a movie, but it’s my life.
Today I went into two schools with Jon, our first talk was to a younger crowd about the Prodigal Son, and then we went to a local high school and gave a presentation on marriage. After we came back to the church for the Moms and Toddlers program, Haha I got up from the chair I was sitting in today at the church and noticed my shorts felt wet, I looked at the seat and noticed there was a circle of something on it. I tried to convince myself it was water, but I think the baby that was sitting there before me needed a diaper change.
Mom and Dad, if you’re still reading this I love you guys, be home before you know it. : )

Friday, September 30, 2011

English Heat Wave

We are currently in the middle of a “heat wave”, meaning the sun has been out 4 straight days and the temperature has reached 70 degrees. It sounds funny when I hear people call it a heat wave, but honestly it does feel like one considering how cold it has been the previous weeks. Some people are saying it may stay this warm for a few more days, I hope so.
This past Sunday was a day to remember. I was standing out in the church parking lot with 4 boys who had never been to church; we were waiting for some of our other friends. Church had been going on for about 15 minutes when we decided they were most likely not going to show up so we started to make our way towards the building when we saw Josh. We were not expecting him to show up, he asked what we were doing, I told him we were about to go inside for the church service and asked him if he wanted to join us. At first he seemed unsure, said he had never been to church before, I assured him it wouldn’t be too bad considering we had already missed the first 20 minutes. When he agreed to come in I was very happy, but that feeling of happiness did not last very long. It was about 2 minutes after sitting down in the auditorium that Josh started texting the other boys who were sitting there with us and talking out loud to the boy next to him. I realized it was going to be a long service. I repeatedly asked him to stop talking, the whole experience culminated when he proceeded to hold up his phone and show me the text Calvin sent him. Haha it was funny because the only open seats left for us to sit in happened to be in the front of the church, so everyone behind us could see his phone. And although he thought he was showing me a text message, he must have clicked the wrong button or something because when he held up his phone it had no words on the screen, just the picture he had selected for his background. And of course the background picture for his phone was a naked lady.
After the service I still had two 5 pound notes in my pocket because we came in after they took the offering so I gave one to the two boys who sat there the quietest during the service. The crazy thing is that a few minutes after I gave them money, this old guy who I have never met came up to me and said he had heard about what I was doing and gave me a 20 pound note. Then later that night at the evening service the treasurer gave me an envelope containing a 20 pound note and said someone put it in the offering this morning.
A quick bit of advice to anyone interested in youth work, don’t ever have the kids try atomic hot sauce before you do the lesson, always save it for after. Last Wednesday Jon brought some of the strongest hot sauce ever to youth program, and was daring the kids to try it. Some of them took the challenge, but for the rest of the night they were going in and out of the bathroom to get water. One boy even had to call the ambulance because he had an allergic reaction. Funniest thing about the whole story is that the same boy took the challenge last year and the ambulance had to come because he had the same allergic reaction. I guess he was hoping for a better result this year.
This past Wednesday went much better though. We showed an “I am second” video, which we were worried about because Jon has had some really bad experiences with showing films to the kids, but they were all quiet and respectful during it. Earlier in the day I went with Jon to a school called Sheldon, we sat in front of 7 kids around the age of 18 and answered questions about God. It was a really good time, the one girl claimed she was an atheist and she asked some thoughtful questions, one of them being if Jon or I had ever experienced an answered prayer. We shared with her how when I arrived to England a month ago, I was told at the airport that I would probably not be allowed in because I did not have the right paperwork. Then about 5 minutes after Jon sent out a mass text message to people asking them to pray, I was unexpectedly allowed access into the country.
It is interesting because ever since the day I arrived I have wondered about that airport experience. I did not know why it happened the way it did, I thought maybe it was for me, to be a confirmation that I was supposed to be here. I also thought it have been for the church, but now after sharing that story to these students, maybe it was for them. It is possible that they needed to know God is real and actually does answer prayer. We went to another class after the first one and answered some more questions about God but it did not seem to go as well. The kids really did not have many questions to ask and they did not seem as interested.
Speaking of not being interested, Jon and I went to an old people’s home this week, during the prayer time; this really old guy to my left must have flipped through a hundred magazine pages. It was really hard for me not to laugh at the whole situation. Before arriving to this home, I was under the impression that we were just going to sit and talk with some of them. But we ended up leading them in singing hymns. They had a keyboard which looked like it was from Napoleon Dynamite, but the lady who played it was not there at first so we had to do some songs without it. Haha the funny thing is that none of the old people were singing so it was just Jon and I for the most part. Good times.
Woke up yesterday morning feeling very sick, I did not sleep well the night before or last night. I have a fever, sore throat, cough, and I am very congested. I went to the store thinking they would have Nyquil or something similar but found nothing. It is really strange; I do not know how they survive over here without Nyquil. I went to a pharmacy today and asked the person behind the counter for something that would make me fall asleep and she looked back at me as if I was some type of drug addict.
Things at the church are still going really well. There is a guy here this week from America and yesterday while I was outside with some of the skateboarders he asked me what I was going to do when I got back to the states, before I could even answer some of the kids answered for me. They said I should not go back, but rather stay here and skateboard everyday. If only life were that simple.
Lately I have been going into a lot of the younger schools with Jon and doing assemblies, we did 4 just this past week. We were at a school called Ivy Lane and they managed to fit 300 kids into the tiniest room ever. There was barely room for Jon and I to stand. He asked the kids where they thought I was from, and the first person he called on answered very confidently and said Brazil. The next two answered with Australia and Madagascar. It’s amazing how they can never seem to guess America. It is also amazing how amused the kids are with Jon’s puppets, he has one called Rebel the wolf and another called Squirtle the turtle. When he pulls them out of his brown suitcase the kids go wild. Rebel bit my hand yesterday when I tried to feed him a piece of bread and this little girl on the front row was laughing so hard I though she was going to wet herself.
I received a package today from my parents, thank you to everyone who donated some 1 dollar bills. The kids are going to be very excited when I give them out. I am headed up to the church now, we are having sports night in the gym at 8pm.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't look left

Monday, September 19, 2011 (1:46pm)
Tomorrow I will have been in England for exactly 4 weeks already. Which means I will only be here for 5 more months but when people ask me how long I am staying I still answer 6 months out of habit. Some of the kids I skateboard with have already been asking “what are we going to do when you leave?” I tell them not to think about it because it is a long way off, but it is going to be a sad day here.
Right now I am at McDonalds, using their free WiFi, I looked into getting a device which would allow me to access the internet from my house but it cost way too much money. So for now I will make the long bike rides to McDonalds.
Monday is my day off each week, which sounds kind of funny because before I left I thought I might get bored during the week because of too much free time. I have actually been quite busy. So far my average week consists of hanging out with Jon (person who had the idea for me to come to England) during the day. On Fridays we go down to the Chippenham market, he has a trailer he parks there and gives out free Christian literature. We spend most of the day sitting and talking with people that stop by. We also go over to his dad’s barn and work on the new trailer he is building.
I also go with him into the schools and help him with his talks. Tuesday we went to St. Paul’s and taught the story of Zacchaeus to a group of first graders. There were about 30 of them and it was an interesting experience. Jon read the story and since my name is Zac, I had the role of acting everything out. He would say something like “Zacchaeus was really short”, then look at me, and I would have to convince the kids that I was really short. The majority of the commands were fairly easy to act out, but when he read the line “…so Zacchaeus climbed the tree” I was totally lost. He then proceeded to say “and I am the tree”. I wish what happened next would have been caught on video, because the kids died laughing as I tried to climb up Jon. It was a really funny day. I think we are going to a high school this week to do a more serious talk.
In the afternoons I go to the church to ride my skateboard and hang out with some local teenagers. I sometimes do not get home until after 11pm. We have a lot of fun right now; hopefully the weather will not get too severely cold for a couple more months. None of the kids who skateboard and scooter at the church actually go to the church; they just really enjoy how smooth the pavement is in the parking lot. So recently I have been answering a lot of questions related to God and the Bible. A few of them have even come to the 11am service on Sunday.
Wednesday night the church opens up their gym for what is called kids zone. They allow anyone to come in and play soccer or basketball for about 50 minutes and then we sit and talk with them for the last ten minutes. From 7-8pm is the younger group, and 8-9pm is for the older ones. We had about 20 of the skateboard/scooter kids come in last Wednesday for the 7-8pm session and I gave the ten minute talk. I was really encouraged because they can be extremely crazy at times but they were very quiet while I spoke.
Someone came to pick me up from the church last Tuesday and as we were leaving the parking lot all the kids were saying “see you Zac” and “what time you coming back?” I did not think much of it because it happens everyday, but he was totally shocked. I listened as he told his wife when we got to his house, he said “you should have seen it, they were all waving goodbye and asking how long he would be gone.” For so long the people who go to the church have had a really hard time communicating and relating to the kids that hang out in their parking lot, but it has come really easy to me. I guess it has something to do with the fact that I am younger then most of the people in the church, along with the fact that I skateboard and am from America. I remember talking with my dad the day I was leaving, and he said I had nothing to worry about because I was a very likeable person. A part thought he was just saying that because he was my dad, but so far the people here do seem to like me.
Wednesday a lady from the church brought down 20 burgers and 20 fries from McDonalds for the kids while we were skating, there was about 25of us so some did not get one of each but they were super excited anyway. And Saturday some people volunteered to drive us to a skate park about 45 minutes away because Jon was unable to start the mini bus. The kids are starting to notice that the people in the church do care about them; I have already seen the gap close a little bit.
The day at the skate park was a day to remember. Haha it was an outside park and it had rained before we got there so everything was wet. We tried to dry off the bottom of the mini ramp by kicking the water off the side. It was working, but it also made my shoes soaking wet. As soon as it was almost dry enough to ride it started to rain again. This pattern carried on through out the day. We took about 14 kids, and spent most of the day sitting or standing around waiting for the rain to stop. By the end of the day, around 7pm, everyone was in a bad mood. Most of the kids, including myself were starving and cold. All I had eaten that day was candy from the vending machine. Some of the cars arrived to pick us up about 7:30pm; they did not have enough room for everyone. I had to stay with 2 of the kids and wait another 45 minutes for Jon. Driving home it was hard to feel my feet because my socks were still wet. All I could think about was what I was going to eat when we got back. Plans changed though when I got dropped off at the church and saw 5 kids sitting outside the door. One of them asked if they could use the bathroom. I said sure, I had to go as well, when I came out I saw that the rest of them were sitting in the church café. A side of me wanted to tell them to leave so that I could go home and eat but I could hear them talking about how warm it was inside the church and I decided to sit and talk for a while. After about 30 minutes of talking about random funny things that happened at the skate park one of them asked why it was called “café three hundred and sixteen” (cafe3.16) I told them it was because of a verse in the Bible called John 3:16. That then got us somehow talking about Adam and Eve and creation, I asked them what they believed and shared with them what I believed. It was a good talk; I enjoy sharing truth with them because they are not hearing it in their schools or homes. That’s why I am here. I was glad I sat and talked instead of going home to eat.
Two boys came to church yesterday morning who had never been; we got some pizza and hung out in the youth room playing pool and video games after church. A lot of other kids showed up through out the day, around 5:30pm I realized it was almost time for the night service and I had not even been home yet.
Off topic, I was in a town called Malmsbury last week, walking around a church that had been built over 1,000 years ago. We were outside looking at some of the gravestones and one of them was 200 years old and it was for a girl who was eaten by a tiger that came into town with the traveling circus. As we were walking away, someone said “don’t look left”, obviously I looked left across the river and saw a overweight man wearing nothing but hiking boots and a back pack. Hahaha apparently they do nature walks in a private park close to the church. I really wish I would have not looked left.
Off to the church now to skate.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First Entry From England

Sunday – September 4, 2011 – 9:15pm
I am home earlier than usual after Sunday night church because it started raining (soaking wet clothes from the bike ride home as proof) but the change of plans has forced me to write my first entry. Hard to believe I have been here almost two weeks, the days fly by, I will try to sum up the main events of my trip without making this incredibly long.
The flight over from D.C. to Heathrow went very well. Although I was unable to fall asleep, it did not seem like a long flight and the lasagna they served was the best tasting meal I have ever had on an airplane. The trouble started when I got off the plane. I was detained for over an hour and a half at border control because I did not have the proper paperwork needed for someone who wants to stay six months (I was under the impression that you could stay for six months with just your passport). The lady behind the desk said that I was probably going to have to board another plane back to America. She called the people who had come to pick me and up and they tried to convince her to let me stay 3 weeks, haha it ended with her saying “this is your lucky day – don’t ever try this again” and she gave me a special stamp in my passport that they normally don’t use. Handwritten inside of it were the words “six months”.
It was a bit nerve wrecking sitting in a chair and thinking how I might have to fly back home the same day I arrived, so I will definitely take her advice and never again try coming to England for six months without the proper paperwork. In that time though when I did not know whether or not I would be allowed in, I remembered something I saw in Baltimore on the drive to the airport. We were stopped at a red light and there was a guy across the intersection to our left wearing yelling pants and holding a sign. He had his back to us and Kayla saw him first, she asked us what we thought his sign said, we were still taking guesses at it when the light turned green. I thought it was a sign to promote a clothing store but as we passed him I was shocked to see it only had three words – “God never fails”. Although the majority of people that drove by him that night thought he was crazy, I was glad he held that sign, more importantly I am glad that it is a true statement.
So far I have spent a lot more time that I thought I would hanging out in the church parking lot (people here call them car parks). Yesterday I was there from about one in the afternoon until seven at night, riding my skateboard with about 15 other kids. Majority of them ride scooters, one kid even had a go kart that peddled like a bicycle. Before leaving to come here, I envisioned youth work as showing up on Sundays and Wednesdays to teach/“babysit” the church kids but so far it has been way different. I sat and talked for about an hour yesterday with 6 kids, they asked me 101 questions about America and I asked them a lot of questions about England. Funny how God uses random things like Spongebob and skateboards to help you relate with strangers. At one point in the conversation they asked me if I went to the church and I told them yes, it was the perfect opportunity to ask them what they believed. A few of them said they were not sure, but think there might be life after they die. I shared with them what I believed and they seemed to listen but not say much. Looking forward for the chance to speak with some of them one on one in the future. Really praying that one day the might come into the church for services.
There is a problem at the moment between these kids and the church members though. Most of the members don’t like the kids because they leave trash (rubbish) outside, make too much noise while they are trying to pray and “damage” the building with their scooters. The kids know that most of the church people don’t like them. So it is going to be an uphill battle convincing them that going inside the church is a good idea. Haha I was even yelled at on Thursday night, by someone who I guess thought I was one of the kids. I was riding a scooter down near the church café entrance and the guy opened the door and yelled “stay away from the building”. If I wasn’t a believer, I doubt I would ever want to go in.
The neighbor to the church doesn’t like the kids either, while talking to them yesterday they said on Friday night he came over and started yelling at them, and was even saying terrible stuff to one of their moms (“mums”). They called the police on him when he took a swing at a 15 year old; the police did not do much and basically told them they shouldn’t be hanging around the church anyway because the church people don’t want them there. Ironically enough, there was some excitement in the church lobby tonight when people looked out the window and saw the neighbor’s 12 foot high hedges in a fiery blaze. Haha it actually looked really cool, but the neighbor was very upset. Really hope they don’t try burning down the church next.
On Fridays I go down with Jon to the market, he sets up a stand where he gives away free Christian books. I enjoyed just sitting around and meeting people. One older man informed me that he was diagnosed with cancer this week; he lifted up his shirt and showed me the marks where they took the skin samples. Maybe he thought I did not believe him? The day before that though I went downtown with someone else from the church who was working with a group called Open Air Mission, they basically just start preaching on the main sidewalk and try to draw a crowd. I felt out of my element but it was a good experience watching them doing it and being in conversation with people that stopped to talk.
Food wise I have been eating a lot of cereal, also found this microwavable pizza that tastes very similar to what I ate back home. I am staying with an elderly woman in the church from Jamaica, she is super nice, but I told her I would rather buy and cook my own food. Tried Dominoes pizza last night for the first time since being here, it was funny because right before we ordered this guy brought a half eaten pizza to the register and said “umm I found this in my pizza”. We looked in the box and there was a black bug crawling around. It was definitely gross but I still ordered my pizza and it was really good.
The gym here, called the Olympiad, is very nice. Has a huge pool along with steam rooms/ saunas/ hot tubs/ etc… but becoming a member is way different than what I was used to back home. I have to go to five “introduction sessions” before I can use all of the equipment. I went to my first one Wednesday and the kind trainer showed my not only how to turn the treadmill on but also how to step onto it. It’s ridiculous that I can’t use any of the weights yet because I have not been shown how to use them but I have my second session tomorrow at 10am. At least they let me work out in the same shoes that I wear outside, unlike in Bosnia.