Monthly Archives: February 2008

Work is fun!

I am currently sitting at my computer, I have beside me a pot of green chai tea which is slowly brewing its way to lethal strength (the third mug is always a killer). I have a couple of text books open, as well as a few web pages for further references, and word is open with the beginnings of my essay already in place. I have Jack Johnson playing quietly in the background, and it’s just gone midnight.

In about an hour I hope to have finished the essay, then I can grab a few hours of much needed sleep. Right now though, I’m awake and rather looking forward to spending some time being productive. yay!

I think the main reason I’m in such a good mood is because mission week has begun, and today was really good. I will have to write a proper review of events, and there will be recordings of most of the talks available if anyone is interested. Although he hasn’t given the talks yet, I can already guarantee that Jay Smith’s lunch bar and afternoon lectures on wednesday will be excellent and well worth a listen, that is if you can’t make it there on the day!

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I’ve had a pretty manic weekend, in which I’ve been busy almost the entire time and yet haven’t really gotten any work done.

There will be no magic case entry this weekend as I’m about to go out yet again and desperately need an early night in preparation for mission week.

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Magical Case: Moldova

In the summer of 2004, between finishing my A-levels and starting my degree in Leicester, I went on a 10 day mission with my youth group to Moldova. In hindsight, 10 days is a very short time to go on a mission, and if I were to do one again I would definitely want it to be longer. That said, this was a trip with the youth, and although I was 18 at the time, most of the group were a lot younger, so 10 days was a good length really.

We drove down to Heathrow on August 1st for out morning flight, arriving a couple of hours before we could board of course. Since we got there so early quite a few of us had breakfast in the airport and my lasting memory of the outward journey is that I bought myself a cup of coffee and then we had to board about 10 minutes later so I had to throw it away.

We flew to Vienna and then caught a second plane which took us to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. This would have been exciting, except that we were stuck in the same room for over an hour waiting for the second flight with very little to do. From Bucharest we were picked up by the guy who lead the church we were going out to help, and driven across to Moldova in a rickety old dodge van which we all fell madly in love with. The van had basically no suspension, and the roads in Romania and Moldova are far from flat, the journeys certainly weren’t comfortable, but they were rather good fun!

Getting ourselves into Moldova was an interesting experience. We had all already applied for visas and such, and had been given permission to enter the country, however this did not make it easy to do so. We had to spend the night on the border whilst we were checked out, which meant sleeping on the hard floor in an empty government building, not a very pleasant experience.

After an uncomfortable night we were finally allowed into Moldova in the morning, praise God! We drove from the border to a small village where the Church was based called Tîntareni, at this point we were all separated out and handed over to our host families spread around the village. Staying with a Moldovan family was an amazing and very humbling experience, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and most of the families we were staying with earned somewhere in the region of a dollar a week, and yet they were some of the most loving a generous people I have met.

A couple of days after arriving a settling in (and getting started with the work we were doing), we had to go to a nearby town to the visa office (or something like that) and go through some more red tape to make sure we really were OK to stay in Moldova for a few more days. This all went smoothly and we managed to stay in the country with incident for the full time we had planned.

I think I shall save what we got up to whilst we were there for another time. There is so much I can say about the time we spent out there, and I have written quite a lot already. I have a whole bunch of photos from the trip somewhere too, so I shall seek them out and write a fuller entry about what we did out there in the future.

At the end of the week we travelled back across the border into Romania. We made our way to Bucharest where we had some free time before the flight so we popped into the city for some food. I discovered that in Romania (and apparently in other European countries) they serve beer in McDonalds, on tap no less! Then we flew back to London via Vienna again, and made our way back to Nottingham where I slept. It was an amazing week-and-a-bit, I learnt a great deal and was really encouraged by what I saw there, especially in some of the youth.

I’m not sure I would ever choose to go abroad on a mission again, it isn’t something I have ever felt strongly called too, and there is already so much to do in Britain! But as a life experience, I would recommend short term mission (although perhaps a little longer than 10 days!) to anyone and everyone!

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Note to self: XKCD is correct.

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Magical Case: Forum

I may be two days late, but I’m just about going to get this done before the weekend is over so I’m happy. I did say I was going to be doing these in roughly the order the images are in the gallery, but I’ve changed my mind somewhat on that. This is mostly because the first few sets of objects are all going to be pretty lengthy to talk about, and I desperately need to sleep right now!

So this week I’m going to talk about Forum, which as you can probably tell from the wristband is some kind of event. To be a little more precise, it’s a Bible week which happens in the summer, usually late August or early September. The week is run by UCCF (the body that oversees the work of Christian Unions around the country), and is aimed at CU leaders, primarily committee members but other team members and small group leaders are also catered for. It’s a national week and so it’s pretty full, which means that although it happens at the lovely Quinta which has nice accomodation, a lot of people who go have to camp.

Quinta is also the venue for the midlands new leaders training weekend, run in February for those CU members who are taking over as leaders (because that is the time of year when most CUs change their leadership). The wristbands are from the year when I was on the committee, so I had been to Quinta earlier in the year and it was a little odd coming back to a much bigger event at the same place. We went from meeting in one of the halls to meeting in a big tent that was set up in one of the fields.

Forum is a pretty awesome week of teaching and preparation for the year to come, and the year I went Terry Virgo was there giving a few of the talks in the main meetings. It was also an excellent time to spend together as a committee preparing for the next term, getting everything ready for freshers week and generally hanging out and having some fun! We actually skipped one of the seminar slots so that we could chat together about what was happening, we wondered down the road away from Quinta to find somewhere quiet and ended up sitting on the grass in the grounds of a small church.

On the whole is was an exciting week where a lot of fresh new ideas were thrown around, and without it I don’t know how we would have coped with freshers week! Forum is even more exciting for me now that I know I’ll be doing relay next year too, since I get to go again this summer! I’m really looking forward to seeing the new committee together getting things done, and that will be the first time when I will see them as a relay worker, which is equal parts exciting, scary and weird.

As a parting comment, wristbands are really gross.


The Case: two weeks of madness

OK, so this is the first proper entry from my “Magical Case”, and although I said I would probably do these in the order they are in the gallery, I have changed my mind for this week. The reason being that the first set of items will take a while to write about properly, and it’s currently 2:20am. So I have settled for the second set, which is a bunch of stuff from the summer of 2005, more specifically from my adventures at Soul Survivor that year.

Soul Survivor is a big Christian event which happens every summer, it sprung from another event called New Wine which happens in the same place also in the summer. Soul Survivor is essentially the youth version of New Wine, and it’s a week of Bible teaching, praise, and some general madness. There are fantastic teachers there every year and around 10,000 people gather each week it runs (there are currently two Soul Survivor weeks, and one week called Momentum which is specifically for students), and main meetings are held in a big top which are amazing. You don’t often get to praise God in the company of 10,000 other people!

This year was particularly manic for me, even more so than most of my years at Soul Survivor. To begin with I went to the student week, momentum. This year I went on my own to meet up with some students from another uni who I didn’t really know. This was mainly because noone else from Leicester had shown much interest, and when I mentioned it to Nikki she said a bunch of her friends were going and I could camp with them. So I hopped on a train from Nottingham down to Castle Cary, a small station a short bus journey from the campsite. I met Nikki at the station and then met the strangers I would be spending the next week with at the campsite.

Week one then proceeded pretty much as normal for Soul Survivor, there were many late nights and early mornings, we hung out and had fun, we ate terrible camping food and spent lots of money on sweets in the cafes. The really exciting bit (apart from getting to spend a week with Nikki which was ace) happened towards the end of the week. In one of the main meetings they gave an appeal for people to stay on for the following week as stewards because they didn’t have enough. I decided that since I had nothing better to do with my summer, and it would be free, I would do that.

So at the end of week one I waved goodbye to Nikki and my other new found friends, and in the lull between everyone leaving and the next lot arriving I moved my tent from the plot I was on to my new location right next to the stewards area. Then the madness really began!

There are a number of good points to being a steward (or indeed any other kind of helping hand) at an event like this. First of all it’s completely free to do aside from travel costs, they even provide meals for you. Being a steward meant that I had access to the stewards lounge (which was actually outside, but it was fenced off), which is where we spent a lot of our free time between shifts. And even though we were really busy during the week, we still had enough free time to go along to some of the seminars and gigs, and we were in most of the main meetings (all be it on the doors working). The real killer though was that I had already spent a week camping and not sleeping much, and I had to spend a second week sleeping even less, having the same smelly clothes and working pretty hard all day. By the end of it I was totally shattered and very glad to be home and able to sleep!

Some of the highlights of the week were:

  • Meeting a fantastic guy who we all called santa, he even had a santa suit with him which he wore on the last day
  • Having to use a codeword whenever we talked about money on the radio (can we have some more caviar up at the main entrance please)
  • Finding a sledgehammer in the stewards lounge and using it to smash full water bottles
  • Driving a buggy around the campsite at at least 5mph!

To conclude my epic two week adventure down south, I stood at the main gate whilst everyone was leaving holding a big cardboard sign saying Nottingham. A minibus full of youth offered me a lift as they were heading up the M1, but I declined as that would have left me stranded on the wrong side of Nottingham. Then a kind lady offered to take me to Birmingham, I accepted and she drove me all the way to the station where I used my return ticket to get back to Nottingham. I was quite excited about meeting someone new and chatting all the way home, which we did for a while until I fell asleep. It had been a long week!

Wow… having started by saying I didn’t want to write for long as it’s so late, I’ve written quite a lot… and it’s now 2:50. Anyway, there you have it, some of my fond memories from the summer of 2005.


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