Monday, April 27, 2009

God's Faithfulness

These are a couple of stories from treasure hunting a few weeks ago that I really wanted to share because they show just how amazing God truly is.

There were only five people that came out for treasure hunting, but we made the best of it and split into two groups.  Danielle and I were together for the first time along with our friend Dustin.  We went to one of the locations on our list and spotted our first clue (a man with a cane). I talked to Harry for a few minutes and asked if he needed prayer.  His daughter said he has health problems, and Danielle jumped in and asked what kind?  He said "everything but aids" and Dustin asked him if that included low blood sugar and lung disease (two health problems on our list).  They were kind of surprised and said yes he had both of those things wrong with him. Wow!  God had led us to right where we needed to be!  Harry didn't let us pray for him right then, but our group was really encouraged that we had found our treasure and that we had worked so well together as a team.  Where one of us left off in the conversation the other one picked up.  We felt very unified as a group which doesn't always necessarily happen.

Next we saw a guy from a distance wearing a 'grey hat' that was on Danielle's clue list.  We walked a ways to try and catch up to him, and as it turned out, he had stopped to lean on a 'light post', which just so happened to be Dustin's clue!  We thought this was cool, and as we were approaching him, we noticed he was wearing 'converse shoes' which was one of my clues!  We had a good conversation with him and were pretty pleased with the clues we had found that day.

We met back at the church office, and some people expressed that they're wanting to see more happen while we're out treasure hunting.  I understand what they're saying, but I'm also so thankful for God's faithfulness in all of this.  Every week we pray for clues, and He gives them to us.  Not only that, we find them!  Of course I want to see people saved and of course I want to see lives changed.  I know that will happen, but until then, I'm thankful to rest in knowing a little bit more of God's character.

Danielle and I agreed in this and were talking about things on the way to our friends Pip and Hannah's house after treasure hunting, when I saw a lady struggling to hold her child and push a stroller up the hill.  I offered to push the stroller, and she actually said I could.  (Numerous times Danielle and I have offered to help people with groceries etc. up the hills around here and no one will let us.)  We began talking to her, and she seemed so tired that Danielle offered to hold her baby.  The lady handed the little girl right over!  We found out that her name is Metumo, she's from South Africa, she just recently moved here and has no friends.  Perfect! 

Danielle told her about our friend Ira and how she just moved here and has a little girl as well. We said that we should introduce the two of them and Metumo said, "Do you think she would want to?"  In my head I'm screaming 'Of course! She moved to England to do outreach!' but instead just settled for "Yes, I think she would love to."

Metumo got excited and ended up inviting us in for a cup of tea.  We weren't able to stay since we had dinner plans, but we exchanged contact information with her and made plans to meet up in four weeks.  She was leaving for South Africa in two days for a month long trip, so we couldn't do anything until she got back.  As we were leaving, I realized that Metumo was wearing a black shirt and grey pants...two clues on our list from treasure hunting that we hadn't found earlier.  Danielle and I got so excited about this!  Once again, God is faithful.

Well it's almost been four weeks since we met Metumo, and I just sent her an email about meeting up for tea.  Our hope is to connect her with Ira, so that after we leave, she still has someone pursuing a friendship with her.  Please pray that Metumo emails me back, and that she has time to hang out with us before we leave.   I have no doubt that we were supposed to meet her that day, so I'm pretty sure God wants to do something in her life!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm Proud to be a Texan and an Aggie!

A few of my friends here have pretty bad injuries and therefore can't run or do much physically, so I've decided to take advantage of being healthy and have started running every so often, ha. Yesterday I was running through the park wearing my maroon Texas A&M t-shirt when I heard someone shout "Go Aggies!"  Whoop!  Who knew that people in Sheffield have heard of A&M?  

Along the same lines, last time Danielle and I were in London, some students asked us if we were from A&M while we were chowing down on our Cinnibon.  Confused, Danielle said yes...why?  They had recognized her Aggie ring!

Tonight after church, Danielle, Ira, and I walked around Hillsborough looking for somewhere to eat.  While I was waiting for my kebab, the guy at the counter asked us where we were from. I answered "Texas", not thinking anything of it.  He responds "Oh yeah you're from America then," and he goes on to say that he had thought that we were Irish.  (That's twice people have thought we were from Ireland.)  Anyway, back to the point of this post.

I realized at that point that I always say I'm from Texas not 'America' or 'The States.'  I just automatically assume everyone knows of Texas, and they do.  I love it!  Danielle and I then had our own conversation about how great Texas is, and how we would feel if it became it's own country.  

I know this is random, but I love that I can say Texas without having to explain that it's a state in America....I bet Ohio doesn't have this luxury.

A British Haircut

What an experience!  

I seriously think Brits speak a different language.  I walked into Le Coup to have my hair trimmed yesterday, and when I met James who would be cutting my hair, he said something to me which I didn't understand.  I said "Excuse me?"  He said it again and I heard the word "perm" in there somewhere, and I got a nervous look on my face.  He started laughing and said that Americans just don't get British humor.  I laughed but was really thinking that I just don't get their accents.

I was a little nervous about doing this, but James ended up being really cool and made me feel better.  He asked me where my family was from, and I said Texas.  He asked me where else?  I said Florida and then explained that my ancestors were from Germany.  He said, "Are you sure you're not Scottish?"  I told him yes, but he insisted I had to be Scottish because of the "warmth" in my hair.  (I have patches of red in my hair that show through every now and then) Then he comments on my freckles and says that freckles are a Scottish trait as well.  I just shook my head and said I wasn't Scottish.

Not believing me, he then asks me what my surname (last name) is, and I told him Huffman. He stops cutting my hair, stares at me, and with a confused look on his face exclaims, "That's German!"

I laughed and said I told you so!

He continues cutting for a few minutes thinking about something and then looks up at me and says very seriously, "Here's what happened.  A Scottish girl married into your family, so her name wasn't carried down!  Look up your family tree online and you'll see."

Apparently James knows more about my heritage than I do....or at least he thinks so.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Feel Stuck

I have been treasure hunting numerous times since I've been in Sheffield, but I often get put in a position of not knowing where to go next in a conversation.  I'm growing in my boldness to approach people and start conversations, and I'm so thankful for the Lord's grace in feeling more comfortable doing this; however, I don't know how to continue a conversation with people if they say things like "Well, I'm an atheist" after I explain to them how we found them, and why we believe God highlighted them to us.  I usually find myself telling them God loves them and then walking away wondering what I could have said to keep talking.

This week my group talked to an atheist, a muslim, and a hindu.

I'm not here to debate people.  I don't want to get into theological arguments or a battle of smarts, but I would like some help.  I need people to brainstorm on ways to keep the conversation going if someone seems to be putting up a barrier by using their religion as a reason that they don't or can't believe what we're saying.

A lot of people our groups approach are nice and don't mind talking, but if they tell me they're (insert religion) my brain for some reason goes blank.  How do I go from there without just saying, "Well you're wrong" and then turning them off to speaking to us completely.  



Anything you have to say would be helpful!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chatsworth House

Our train back from Scotland was uneventful, and we made it into Sheffield safely on Friday night.  The next morning we got to eat at my favorite pub here and show my mom where Danielle and I used to spend too much of our money buying the hot cocoa special.  We then headed for the bus that would take us to Bakewell...but we never quite made it there.  If you know me at all, you know that I don't have the best sense of direction, and I tend to get lost even if signs are posted all over the highway.  It's as if I have an inner GPS that does the complete opposite of what it's supposed to do and there is no way to fix it.  

Instead of getting off at our stop in Bakewell, I made a last minute decision to jump off the bus at the stop in Baslow, except I didn't know it was Baslow.  I thought it was Bakewell.  The bus driver was about to take off when I got out of my seat and made Danielle and my mom follow. I'm convinced that the driver knew all along that I wanted to go to Bakewell (I mean I did buy our tickets from him) but decided not to tell me.  He had a cheeky grin as I rushed off the bus which makes me think he was laughing at my mistake.

Anyway, we read a sign that said you could walk to Chatsworth House (our final destination) so we opted to do this instead of wait for the next bus.  BIG MISTAKE!  We walked for a little while and then saw a sign that said we had 3 miles to go, and we had just run out of sidewalk. Did we turn around? Nope.  We walked on the "side" of the road which consisted of bushes that we literally had to hug each time a car passed us.  Pedestrians are not welcome to walk along those kinds of roads, but we had no where else to go at this point.  Every time a car rounded the corner, we huddled against the bushes and prayed no one got hurt.
We walked a mile and realized something had to be done because there was no way we could keep gong on like this.  We were miserable, and I was mortified by all the buses that kept passing us.  I know everyone in them was making fun of "those Americans."  Well Danielle had fallen a ways behind my mom and I, and at one point when I turned around, she was talking to someone in a car.  Yup.  She had done what I was too chicken to do.  She flagged down a car and asked for help.  The next thing I know, the three of us are getting into the car with Barbara and her husband, and they're driving us to Chatsworth House.  Danielle saves the day!  The couple were from Wales and were actually going to the house as well, so it worked out perfectly.

So why all the trouble to go see this house?  Well the Chatsworth Estate consists of 12,000 acres and is Mr. Darcy's home (Pemberly) in the Hollywood version of Pride and Prejudice. I've been wanting to visit here ever since I arrived in Sheffield, but I have been waiting so my mom could see it too.

Later that weekend, we went and saw a new take on the classic novel Emma by Jane Austen. This isn't necessarily my favorite novel written by Austen (Pride and Prejudice is just too good) but it is definitely my favorite movie.  The play was very unique in that it had present day people discussing the play between the acts but the same people were also acting out the play set in the 1700's.  Five people acted all the parts (some of them playing 2 and 3 characters), and they did an amazing job.  There was also interaction with the audience before and after the play and these are pictures of Danielle, Jeannie, my mom and I sketching our own portraits of the actress who played Emma.  The play wasn't at all what I expected, but I loved it!

Edinburgh, Scotland

My mom came to visit me on her spring break in March and took Danielle and I on a 10 day journey through Scotland and around England.  Before picking her up at the airport, we retrieved most of our train tickets and to give you an idea of just how many we had, I stacked them next to a deck of cards.

This was taken at the airport around 6:30a.m.  Her flight ended up landing early which made us late meeting her, but she was a good sport and patiently waited for us.
We left the airport on a train headed to Scotland, and the trip should've have taken four hours with no changes.  Here's how things ended up going:

Train from the airport to Salford
New Train from Salford to Bolton
Bus from Bolton to Preston
New bus from Preston to Lancaster
Train from Lancaster to Edinburgh

Twenty minutes into our train ride from the airport, we were told everyone had to exit the train because of a power outage at the Preston train station caused by a fire.  We were dropped off in a random city and had to play the rest of the journey by ear.  It was very draining and ended up taking nine hours!  This is a picture of us on one of the station platforms waiting to hear what we were supposed to do.  When we finally made it to Edinburgh, we only had time to eat dinner and relax before we went to bed at our cool bed and breakfast.  We stayed in walking distance from Edinburgh Castle, and that's my mom and I on the front steps of the B&B.

On Friday morning, we headed to the castle and on the way there Danielle and I saw a sign in front of a fountain that said 'no bathing' and realized our plans for the morning had been thwarted.  

As you can see, the castle is on a very steep hill (those men in orange suits are attached to ropes and are working on stuff) and is more of a fortress.  There is everything you can imagine in that castle: a hospital, barracks, a place to store weapons, a dungeon, church, etc.  It's a small town inside!

The one o'clock cannon has been going off everyday at 1:00p.m. since 1861 and used to be for alerting the ships in the North Sea.  While at the castle, I was pretty much forced by Danielle and my mom to volunteer to be Mary Queen of Scots while the lady playing the part of Queen Mary's maid did her reenactment.  All I had to do was pretty much sit there and at one point time I'm going to make Danielle volunteer no matter what it is!  The carving is an American flag on an actual door from the castle's dungeon.  It makes me wonder who the guy was who carved it, how he ended up there and if he ever made it back to America.

We did a little shopping at the woolen mill after leaving the castle and saw some fabric being woven while we were there.  There were so many patterns to look at!  After that we headed to a cafe for lunch where a bagpiper was playing on our way in, which made the fact that we were in Scotland even more real to me.

This was our last look at Edinburgh before we had to get our luggage and head to the train station.  We were there less than 24 hours which only makes me want to go back and spend more time exploring.  I guess I'll just have to add it back on my list of places to see!