Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Slight Breakdown

After a week of looking for flats non-stop and moving in with the McGinnis family, Danielle and I hit the ground running with searching for jobs. Now that we had an address, we could put it on our resumes and fill out forms with the temp agencies here. I have been feeling so much pressure to find a job (pressure from myself and my expectation of this trip) that the last week and a half hasn't been very much fun...at all. Just ask Danielle! We have searched up and down every street looking for job vacancies (they post them in the windows of stores), we have been to the mall countless times handing out resumes and cover letters, and have signed up with all the temp agencies here.

We have heard nothing. Absolutely nothing back from anyone! I think part it is the amount of time we can work (4 months) as well as the fact that "the job market is very quiet". I don't know how many times I have heard that. So anyway, I was feeling desperate for a job and saw an advertisement for cleaning a boutique here 8 hours a week. I didn't care that it was cleaning because I needed a job and decided to go for it. Danielle and I walked into the store, and I talked to the lady, confident I would easily get it.


They didn't even want us as their janitors. I asked her if I could at least leave my resume and she said no, ha! Danielle tried to cheer me up by reminding me that I had a college degree and it's okay. When we got home that afternoon, I started crying as we were talking to Jeannie. What the heck?!?! Why couldn't I get a job? She was very encouraging though, and I finally realized I was trying to control everything. I finally let it all go. I told God I was ok if I got a job or if I just volunteered the whole time I was here. A huge burden was lifted, and I felt much better. I no longer had to worry.

Well Sunday rolls around and guess what? A girl at church mentioned two girls from the pub she works at just left for a 3 month trip and she could talk to her manager about jobs for us!!! I was shocked. It's a family style pub that closes early and isn't a party atmosphere. Wahoo!


We need prayer!!

Please pray that this will come through if it's God's will. I should find out pretty soon if they'll hire us. I'll let you know!

Oh yeah, and I saved a car a couple of days ago. Not quite as a dramatic situation as last week when Danielle and I saw a kid get hit by a taxi (he's ok) but still. A lady got out of her car and was walking towards us at the tram stop when her car started rolling down the hill. She didn't hear me yelling at her, so I ran across the tram tracks and held it so it wouldn't hit the car in front of it....no big deal!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Home Sweet Home

This is my view from the 3rd floor where I live. You can see the trampoline in the backyard in the bottom right corner.

In my last post, I mentioned that I'm living with an American family. I talked about them in another post as well and how they offered to let us stay in their spare bedroom until we found a flat. Well we looked at many flats and called on even more but nothing really seemed to work out like we thought it would. We went to look at one the day we moved in with the McGinnis family (planning on staying for just a week) and that one seemed to be our best option but we weren't completely sold. I went to bed that night so anxious and couldn't fall asleep for the longest time because neither of us were really sure what to do. We were told we had to put money down to save it, so we brought money with us the next day and decided to just go ahead and get it. Another girl was wanting it, so we had to make the decision fast.

We went in and filled out some forms on Tuesday and instead of making us pay like normal, our agent told us we could pay on Wednesday. He would go ahead and hold the flat for us, without making us put the non-refundable deposit down while he settled things with the landlord. This came as a surprise to us because he had made it clear on the phone that we had to bring the money to do this.

That night Jeanie and Daniel asked us if we had a peace about our decision, and we said yes...after hesitating a bit. I was worried about money and Danielle was worried about the location, but we didn't know where else to go. After we ate dinner with them and talked for awhile, Danielle and I headed off to our room to get ready for bed. An hour later Jeanie came upstairs and asked us to come down because they wanted to talk to us about something. Were we in trouble? She assured us we weren't, ha. We came downstairs and they asked us to pray about living with them! Rent would include all bills and food and would be much cheaper than getting a flat.

I was blown away!

Never had I imagined them offering this, especially after only knowing us a week and a half. God is so good. As I was praying about this that night, I couldn't stop laughing. I felt a huge burden roll off my shoulders and couldn't believe God's provision for us. We didn't lose any money from the flat we almost signed for because our agent happened to change his mind about paying that day. God is so good. Did I already say that?

So now we live on the 3rd floor of their house and get to be part of their family. We eat meals together, play with their two precious kids (Maddie is 6 and Aiden is 4), and serve them by helping out with the cleaning/dishes and let them go on date nights. I love it!

Language Lesson

Biscuit = Cookie
Can I have a go? = Can I try?
Cash Point = ATM
Cheers Love = Thank you
Cinema = Movie Theatre
Digestives = A type of Biscuit
Film = Movie
Fringe = Bangs
Hiya = Hi or Hey
Lemonade = Sprite
Lollipop Lady = Crossing Guard
Pants = Underwear
Plaster = Band aid
Poorly = Sick
Queue = Line
Redundancies = Laying Off
Ring me = Call me
Rubbish Bin = Trash Can
Shattered = Tired
Surname = Last Name
Squash = Juice
Ta Duck = Thank you
Torch = Flashlight
Trainers = Tennis Shoes
Trousers = Pants
Trump = Toot
Wellies = Rain Boots

I probably learn an English word for the American equivalent everyday. Living with an American family makes it amusing because I hear their young children say English words with their American but slightly British accents as if it's normal. They've pretty much grown up here so they don't think anything of it.

When riding on the tram, the tram conductors always say "cheers love" after I show them my tram card. I always say thanks in return, but I don't want to be the American refusing to acclimate to another culture so....every now and then I throw a "cheers" in to practice. However, it usually comes out with a British accent! A pretty bad one at that. I can't help it, and I'm not doing this on purpose. I just hear it said that way, and then I imitate it. So then I just go back to saying thank you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It's Coming Together


That’s all I’ve got to say.

Let me catch yall up on some Sheffield news. Still no job and no flat but no worries!

Coming into Sheffield on Tuesday was hard. Not that I didn’t want to come, but I was a little bit discouraged. Everytime Danielle and I told people we were moving to Sheffield, the responses were never very optimistic. People said it was too cold here, much colder than London. They told us people weren’t very friendly. The biggest thing I heard was that it wasn’t safe. Others told us that if we didn’t like Sheffield or if things just didn’t work out (job, housing, etc.) we could always come back to London. I wanted to scream NO! That’s not the plan. That’s not where God has led me, but I just politely smiled.

I sent an email to my family about it on the train ride up here on Tuesday telling them all the negative things I had been hearing. It was really wearing on me and Danielle. Well my family is awesome because of all the prayers they have prayed over this trip. We are looking at a flat tomorrow and the guy has said he’s willing to do a four month lease. With every other place we have inquired about no one is willing to do anything less than a six month lease. Please pray this works out.

Fridy night Danielle and I were blessed to spend the evening at Daniel (the pastor) and Jeanie’s house eating dinner with them and their two kids. We met Daniel at the church offices and on the way to the house, we were telling him about the area we possibly found a flat in called Broomhall. His response was pretty negative. He told us the area was not very safe at night and had previously advised two girls not to live in that area after checking it out himself. We were so discouraged because now we were back to square one. Later that night as we were talking to him and Jeanie, we pointed on the map to where the flat was, and they got all excited. As it turns out, our flat is the safest area and complex they know of. It’s off Broomhall St. but the area called Broomhall is somewhere else. They’re completely different. Jeanie describes the complex that we’re looking at as Ft. Knox, and they said that’s the place they rent out for any teams that come to work at the church because it’s so safe and such a modern and cool area of town.

How awesome is that?! Me cool and modern? Hmm…

So the whole night we asked them tons of questions about Sheffield, and they were very encouraging. They showed us areas to go check out and just gave us pointers on living in here. They really encouraged us to get involved with the church, which we are planning on doing of course, and they shared about how the church started etc. They also prayed for us before we left, and I’m just so excited to see what happens these next few months.

Last night Danielle and I watched Jeanie and Daniel's kids so they could go out to dinner. When they came home, we talked for a little bit, and then they offered to let us stay in their spare bedroom until we find housing. What an answer to prayer. We have some leads on flats but the paperwork will take about a week to work out once we settle on one, so we oculd really save money by staying with them. It's been really neat to find community here!

Sheffield: Round One

On Sunday, January 4th, Danielle and I made a trip up to Sheffield from Surrey (That's me on the train with my rail card), where we were staying with a wonderful family, to drop off part of our luggage because it would be impossible to bring all of it in one trip. It took us about four hours including many changes from trains to tubes (the subway) to more trains, but we made it here around 3pm with our two big...uhh massive, black suitcases.

While riding one of the trains, we had to leave our luggage two cars back due to lack of time to get it to where we were. At one of the stops, Danielle grabbed one of the bags, hopped off the train, and met me at our car where I pushed the button to open the door and she stepped back on. No problem. At the next stop, we decided to repeat this process. When the train stopped, I pushed the button but the door didn’t open. I pushed it again and started to panic. The next thing I know, the train is moving again. I flip out. I’m running around the area between the two cars’ doors and finally resort to pushing some red button that makes a loud noise. I then press my face up to the door straining to see if Danielle is standing on the platform. I begin to run into the next train car to see if she had stayed on when I spot her talking to one of the train conductors. My heart slowed down, and I just smiled at the two kids staring at me as I sat back down in my seat.

Well I was all nerves during this trip because I was about to see the city I would be living in for the next few months. Was I really moving here? Yup! We made it to the Sheffield train station, grabbed a taxi, and headed to our hotel to drop off our luggage. We had previously booked a few nights stay at The Harley Hotel and Bar (which provides you with complimentary ear plugs when you stay there) but after our experience at the Hour Glass Hotel, we decided to nix that reservation. We booked a room at the Nether Edge Hotel, and so we dropped off our bags there.

After that we ate at a family style pub and then headed to church at 5:00 for tea and coffee before the service began. When we walked in, there were people mingling and Danielle and I walked up to a lady at the front and introduced ourselves. We were on a mission to meet people, ha! As it turns out, Jeanie was Daniel (the pastor's) wife and was so sweet. We exchanged numbers, she introduced us to some people, she offered to help us in any way, and we set a time to have dinner later that week. She also mentioned that Nether Edge wasn’t necessarily a safe area to be, so we knew that we’d have to book another hotel. Flexibility is a big part of our trip!

The sermon that night at The Gathering was on Emmanuel. The guest speaker talked all about God and how He is with us in 2009. What?! Danielle had written a post about Emmanuel before we left in December, and I commented on her blog that this was the theme for our trip. Then we heard a sermon all about it the day we arrived in Sheffield! God is so cool. We needed that to be reiterated to us since we had been nervous all day about this move.

After the service, we jetted to the tram to make our connection to our train. It left at 8:11pm to put us back in Surrey at 11:45pm. If we missed it and took the 8:15pm train, we would have to stop in London until 5a.m. We were not about to miss our train!

We made it back and spent Monday packing the rest of our things to turn around and do it all again on Tuesday! We made it Tuesday, dropped off our luggage at our new hotel, grabbed our luggage from our other hotel, and headed to bed early. We were finally here for good with all our things in one place. Yay!!!!!!!

New Years Eve and Day

On the morning of the 31st, we had our orientation. We hadn't figured out the bus system yet, so Danielle and I walked an hour to the BUNAC office. It was actually a lot of fun and we even crossed Londond Bridge! (This is different form the Tower Bridge) I very quietly sang "London bridges falling down, falling down..." as we went over it. I couldn't resist. Well the orientation ended up being very helpful. They strongly encouraged everyone to move all throughout Britain since 70% of particiapnts stay in the London area. I was very happy to hear this!

Danielle and I took this picture after our orienation and on our way to set up our bank accounts. I'm officially ready to get a paycheck!

London had some amazing lights set up, so the streets were beautiful at night. I'm standing in the road after they shut down for the New Years Eve celebrations.

Before we realized the streets were being shut down, we ended up on a bus headed in the wrong direction. It left us in a dark, empty street. We hopped on the next bus, chatted with the driver until he turned the bus on to start the route, and hopped right back off when we realized he was a creep. Yup. He said some inappropriate things and then during the drive called out and asked if we were still on the bus. Weird. We left and ended up with no bus to get home because the streets shut down. We were then forced to learn the tube (subway) system, and it all turned out great once we made it home safely.

On New Years Day, Danielle and I finally bought phones with a local number and laughed when our only contacts in it were each other.

We also got to enjoy seeing a musical in London. What a treat! It was pretty much the only touristy thing we got to do while there since most of our time was spent at orientation, the bank, finding places to sleep at night, etc.

London Day 2

After leaving Sarah’s, we headed to our new hotel and on the way there, our cab driver, Paul, was very friendly. We were all having a good conversation as he pointed out some of the sights and fun areas to do touristy things. Halfway through our ride Paul suggested that we didn’t walk around at night in the area we were staying. I looked at Danielle and just smiled. Great. We took it all in stride though and decided everything would be just fine. We pulled up to the The Hour Glass “Hotel” and my heart sunk. It was awful! It looked very shady, was on top of a bar and definitely not safe for two girls traveling by themselves!

I wasn’t about to get out of the taxi and neither was Danielle. We asked Paul if he would drive us around town until we found another hotel, and he said that was a good idea because he wouldn’t let his daughter stay there if it were up to him. Instead of racking up our bill though, he pulled over, turned the cab off so the meter wouldn’t run, and called his brother Kevie. Kevie looked up hotel availability for us online and found one near the Tower Bridge of London! (I'm standing in front of it in my picture.)

When we arrived at our new and safe destination, Danielle ran inside to make our reservation while Paul and I unloaded our bags and brought everything inside. I asked him for his card, but he said that the area was too far for him to drive out again. I thanked him, gave him his money and came back inside. Danielle then looks at me and asks if I have her jacket. My heart sank for um I don’t know the 5th time, as I replied no.

I’m freaking out because Danielle is going to freeze without a coat, and she is calm but concerned because our only cell phone is in her jacket pocket. In the meantime, she’s still talking to the receptionist and finishing our booking, so I have the other lady try to call the cab company. I guess at the name (remember no card), she calls information, gets connected to some company, asks if they have a driver named Paul, and right as she asks guess who walks through the lobby doors?! Paul!!!!!!! He had turned around and brought back Danielle’s only coat and our only connection to anyone in case we got lost. Whew, that was a close one.

This was our second day in London. At the hotel we finally felt able to rest easy and showered for the first time since getting on the plane, wahoo! That afternoon we walked around for a little bit before it got dark and then headed back to our hotel early to finally get a good night’s sleep.

It was fabulous.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Couch Surfing

Ever heard of it? You can go to this website and create a profile. At this point, you can view people's profiles from all over the world who are willing to let you stay at their place for FREE. Danielle and I decided to take advantage of this and got in contact with a lady from Kenya who lives in London with her three kids.

When we arrived at the airport, we called and left Sarah a message saying we were on our way. She had previously emailed us several times confirming our stay, so before we left the airport, I called our backup hotel and cancelled our reservation. Well...that wasn't the best idea, ha! Upon arriving at our couch surfing destination, we were "greeted" by Sarah's 15 year old son Lewis. He didn't say anything to us. I asked if his mom was home, and he said she was sleeping. Here we are with 6 bags of luggage, our cab had just driven away, we had no idea in what area of London we were, and I felt a little bit awkward...

Well we finally went inside and our luggage filled their hallway and blocked one of the kitchen doors. We felt so bad and explained that we were moving here for six months. I don't know if that made any difference. We visited for a little bit and the kids insisted on letting us watch tv, even though we said we didn't need to. They left it on CNN, and we all watched a press conference with George Bush. Finally we told them they could change it, and they were so excited. They just assumed we wanted to watch news about Bush because we were American! When we went upstairs to take a nap, we realized we were taking one of the kid's rooms and felt terrible. We were under the impression they had an extra room. Because of this and some other things, we decided to find somewhere else to stay.

We called a friend in the states later that night and had him book us a hotel online (which was another ordeal I'll talk about in the next post) since we couldn't find an internet cafe. We then walked around the town that night and didn't start heading back until it was dark. After awhile of being lost and literally having no idea where in London we were, I decided we should stop and knock on someone's door for directions. There was only one house lit up on an entire row of houses so we stopped there. The lady was kind of surprosed but very helpful, and we eventually made it back to Sarah's.

We spent the evening talking with Sarah and her kids, and it was fun listening to their different accents. Sarah still has hers from Kenya but the little girls speak the "Queen's English" because that is what they are taught in school. They were really cute (pictured above) and are obsessed with High School Musical. When we finally went to bed, we slept in our clothes that we were still wearing from the plane because there was no room to bring our bags upstairs. Then we wouldn't sleep under the covers because Lewis had told us earlier that his room was really dirty, he hadn't cleaned it, and he had spilled crumbs everywhere a couple days earlier. Did I mention we had no heat? What a night!

This was an interesting experience to say the least. I would definitely do couch surfing again even though our first time didn't go quite according to plan. Hopefully I can do it while I'm here, but I will make sure to only bring one bag. Raquel, if you're reading this, I hope you'll still look into couch surfing!

** If you don't want to read these detailed posts, Danielle has a summary update on her blog with pictures so go look! **

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I'm here! I'm here!

After almost missing my plane, I made it to London! More on that later...For now, I just want to let you know that Danielle and I are safe and finally headed to Sheffield tomorrow. I'm so excited to see what it's like! I haven't had much internet access, so when I finally do, I'll write about all the funny things that have happened. It's been a crazy and wonderful trip so far.