Last week I attended the Time For God Conference at High Leigh in beautiful Hoddeson, Hertfordshire. Time For God is the United Kingdom organization in which Young Adults in Global Mission has a partnership. They are responsible for finding the UK volunteers’ placements. In other words they helped me to find my placement with wonderful St. Andrews in Paddock Wood!
The conference consisted of a mix of amazing TfG volunteers from all over the world. There were three conferences this September in which the TfG volunteers were divided based on location. It was a time where I was able to see some of my fellow UK YAGM volunteers and give them big hugs, as well as meet other TfG volunteers dispersed throughout the United Kingdom. It was a wonderful time to gather in a community for a few days, away from our routines and new homes, and simply laugh, learn, discuss, eat, and worship. Here are a few stories/ things that I learned /Snapshots I had during the week that made it extra great.
“It’s not wrong, it’s just different.”
During our conference we discussed how we encounter many things living in the UK that are different from what we are used to and how we are quick to jump to the conclusion that their ways are wrong and that ours are right. For example, in the UK it seems that people drive on the wrong side of the road. But they don’t. They just drive on the other side of the road. It’s different. This is something that I know I am going to constantly need to remind myself of this year. It’s important to learn about difference as well as similarities so we can grow; a great segway into my next bullet point!
I’m familiar with the comparison between being put into a new environment and seeds being planted. It is very applicable to my life right now and all the other TfG volunteers. We are indeed seeds that have been planted all over the UK. In order for us to grow and flourish, we need the right nutrients. Those nutrients, only to list a few, involve challenging ourselves, receiving and giving support, spreading love, and having fun. The TfG staff passed around a bowl of seed packets on the last morning, on which we were told to write our names and email addresses on the back. We then handed them back in and randomly received another person’s seed packet. We get to pray for, support, and stay connected with that fellow volunteer. We can even plant the seeds if we want. (Elise, I didn’t tell you this at the conference, so if you are reading this now you will know I got your packet and will most definitely be planting them.) <3
I learned that 1966 was the year that England won the World Cup. You guys, I’m learning Football facts on the daily.
Everyone attending the conference was divided up into 3 groups and then asked to prepare throughout the week something that would be presented on the final night at an event called, “West End”. Each group was given a British category of either, The Beatles, Romeo & Juliet, or Scottish Dancing to revolve our performance around. It was an opportunity to be creative and just have fun together. I was in the group, “The Beatles”. We chose the song, “All You Need is Love” as our main focus point for our skit. Basically we presented scenarios of awkward moments we have had while in the UK such as responding to the greeting of, “You Alright?”, which led to strong frustration, and then of course breaking out into, “All you need is love”. It ended with all of us having a dance party consisting of flickering lights to create a strobe affect, the dance move the “The Energy Ball”, and of course a techno version of, “All You Need is Love”.
Fellowship in a pub
We went to a pub a few times. It was a lot of fun.
A Walk through the Countryside
On Wednesday some of us went on a walk through the English countryside. One of my favorite things about the conference was the location of the event. The High Leigh Conference Center was beautiful with all the open countryside surrounding it. You have no idea how badly I wanted to run around and sing “The Sound of Music” from the musical. Not really, but kinda. One observation that I have mentioned to quite a few people, is the great amount of tall hedges there seem to be in England. Coming from the great open areas of Iowa, having tall hedges surround me has definitely been something to get used to. To me they seem to block my view of the scenery, so it was nice to see open area for miles and miles in Hertfordshire. BUT like I have learned, I’m beginning to see the beauty in hedges because they are not wrong, just different.
Friends at the Conference