Summer 2016 is going to be a busy one around these parts. Camp meeting starts in a matter of days (Mo just left for camp pitch), next month we will be visiting family, and August includes some out-of-state responsibilities. But the truth is, our midyear journeying has already begun. Mo and I launched our summer travels over the Memorial Day weekend with a trip to the United Kingdom.
Mo had been there once before, but I have never had the opportunity to leave Heathrow airport. GYC Europe was hosting a Focus Event in Leicester City, and Mo decided it was important to attend, and for me to go along. I’m glad he did!
I always knew that I would love the UK if I ever had the opportunity to visit, and it did not disappoint. Between the time spent in worship and the opportunities we had to take a peek around the country, every moment was precious and relished.
Here are a few highlights.
The primary purpose was for us to attend these meetings and encourage our friends. I was tempted to think, “Man, yet another youth conference.” But the days spent at the Leicester Central Church quickly changed my attitude. Even after being involved with GYC for well over a decade, I see that there is something profound about getting together for the purpose of study, worship and fellowship. I was personally challenged and encouraged by the messages, particularly Sebastien’s evening thoughts. I also found Daniel Pel’s charge “Immune to the Gospel” very thought provoking, an essential listen for anyone who has been “doing church” or attending conferences for years on end and start to think they have heard it all. These meetings took up the majority of our trip, and were worth the hop over the pond.
It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love food. The food we had was no disappointment. We had home cooked meals at the church for lunch and supper during the meetings that were great. We enjoyed full English Breakfasts while we stayed in London.
We had the best pizza ever, that just happened to be vegan, in Birmingham. I would have never known that it was vegan–the cheese was not weird and nasty, but melty and yummy. We even had veggie pepperoni and sausage on the pizza. Amazing!
Our food in London was mainly of the Asian variety, where we enjoyed Korean and Japanese food. But my absolute favorite food while we traveled? Chips. Hot, crispy, salty, vinegar, and satisfying. Yum! They were the first meal that we had when we arrived in the country, and our last the night before we flew home. The second place where we ate them happens to be Jamie Oliver’s favorite chippy in London.
My parents are known for educational trips and vacations (when they aren’t on a cruise that is), and what we were able to accomplish in less than a week would have made them proud. We were able to visit the church where John Wycliffe pastored and translated the Bible into English for the first time. We were in the home city of the football team with the greatest sports upset of all time (you can see in one of the photos above the bunting still decorating the city in celebration). Our pitstop in Birmingham for pizza meant we got to visit the Detroit of the UK, because they manufacture Jaguars and Dunlop tires there. We roamed around Oxford, including the pub where C.S. Lewis would hang with the other Inklings.
And we hit London. Oh did we see London. According to my FitBit, we did 10 miles and nearly 24,000 steps in a single day. We were able to see the Supreme Court, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the British Museum, John Wesley‘s home, church, and museum, the British Library (Magna Carta and a draft of the Hallelujah Chorus!), and Camden Locks Market. We did not waste a minute, and while there is so much we were not able to see, I am happy that we knocked all of our must sees off the list.
Friends, Hosts, and Tour Guides
Probably the best part of the trip, though, was reconnecting with friends. I was able to see many European friends who I had not seen in four years, and make new ones. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to catch up with Sebastien–I didn’t even realize he would be speaking over the weekend. But the biggest shout out goes to Adam and Aiko, who were our gracious hosts, capable chauffeurs, and knowledgable tour guides. They put us up in their home during the course of GYC Europe, shuttling us back and forth to the meetings, and we enjoyed lovely breakfasts and evening tea together. They also were the ones who took us to every site and restaurant we were able to enjoy. It was such a blessing spending time with them. We can’t wait for an opportunity to repay their kindness toward us.
We started the summer with a bang, and if the rest of our trips live up to this one, we will have made quite the memories indeed!