I know it is taking me forever to get around to blogging, but that's just how it goes these days. So now I will try to see how much I can remember about our time in England for the ole blog :)
I know I blogged on our first night there, very much sleep deprived at that point and I can't remember what all I said in that post....so let's start from the beginning and sorry if I repeat anything.
It was hard to leave SK on Friday, but I knew she would be having a blast (which she did) so that made it a little easier. We got to the airport and thought we would be having a bassinet seat (where there would be a place to put a bassinet attached to the wall in front of us) but we didn't. That stunk, but it was fine in the end. Evie did great on the plane really. There was actually another family a few rows behind us with a 2 week old, so we weren't the only ones with a baby onboard, so that was nice :)
We didn't sleep any on the plane (we were traveling overnight and should have gotten some sleep to make it through our first day there...), but I can't blame that on having a baby with us. It just wasn't good sleeping conditions...
We arrived in Manchester at about 7 a.m. and were picked up by our friend, Trace, who took us straight to get breakfast and meet the rest of his family there and another elder of the church and his wife. It was a yummy breakfast (esp. after the not so yummy airplane food). We made it through that day just hanging out catching up with our friends then were ready to crash by 8 p.m. Evie never really got the whole time change thing, so she really didn't do so good at night. We figured out ways to get rest when we could though. There were many nights where we just put her Praise Baby movie in our computer and let her watch those either in the middle of our bed or beside us on her "bed". We would take shifts too going downstairs and hanging with her/trying to get her to sleep while the other got sleep. It was pretty typical that she wouldn't crash good till about 4 a.m. Good stuff....
It was cold and wet many of the days we were there, pretty typical :) There were a few times that we did see some nice sunshine, which was nice too.
So I know many of you (or however many of you who might actually read this blog...) might not know why England and what we would do there if we were to go there. Maybe I should answer that first.
There is already a church (IPC) there that our home church in Alabama has been connected with for some time now. When we moved here to St. Louis, we had friends from our same home church that left about the same time to move to Culcheth where this church is. They went to work with the church and be involved with the ministry there.
Before coming to seminary, Michael and I felt a draw to overseas missions work, we just weren't sure exactly what the Lord was calling us to. Last year we truly started feeling more interested in England and the need for the gospel there. Hence this trip...
One thing I have heard when telling people we are considering missions in England, is why there? Don't they know the gospel? Haven't they heard it? The answer I have come to with that is no, many of them haven't truly heard the gospel. From what I have learned, the UK has become very post-Christian and cold to the gospel. From being with our friends there, we have come to a better understanding of how big it is just to be a Christian living in a village or town there. Sharing the gospel there is different. It takes time through relationship building. It can't be forced quickly. It isn't going to be a 1 time sharing of the gospel and then seeing huge change.
From what I saw, the church is a place where you get married, have your children baptized, and see pieces of history. But for many, that is all it is there for. More than that, many of the actual church building aren't even functioning churches. During our visit we ourselves saw a church that was turned into a rock climbing facility. I have heard of churches in the UK turned into pubs, clubs, cafes, ect.
So all that to say....people need the gospel in the UK. They need Jesus. And, yes, I know that the gospel is needed everywhere, even here in the states. We just feel like the Lord has called us to the UK and that is HIS plan for us and where He wants to use us.
So, we are praying/considering going to where our friends are and living in a nearby village/town and joining their ministry there, with the hope of eventually planting churches out of the church in Culcheth. We want to be open to what the Lord would have us do there.
So, now that you have that background I feel like that might help. Back to the trip now...
We got to spend some good time with the people from Grace Fellowship (the IPC church in Culcheth). I got to spend time with some of the ladies at their weekly Bible study. Michael got to spend time with some of the guys and discipleship meetings and leadership meetings. We also got to go have dinner one night with a sweet family, which was great too! It was awesome to get to spend so much time with the people there. It gave us a good sense of the culture there and what life is like there.
All in all it was a great time there. We loved getting time with our friends catching up and being with them. We loved getting to meet people there. We really loved England. All that to say, we truly felt confirmation that the Lord is calling us to serve there when we finish here at seminary. Our plan at this point is to focus on the rest of the semester for now and continue to pray through and process everything. Then if the Lord continues to open doors and pave the way, we would love to be able to live there and minister there in the future.