Friday, October 31, 2008

Utter weakness

" O LORD, all my longing is before you. my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes-it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off. Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth. I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes. But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O LORD my God, who will answer. For I said, "Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!' For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good. Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O LORD, my salvation!" Psalm 38:9-22 (emphasis mine)

Valley of Vision page 188 titled "Weakness"

O Spirit of God,
Help my infirmities; When I am pressed down with a load of sorrow, perplexed and knowing not what to do, slandered and persecuted, made to feel the weight of the cross, help me, I pray thee. If thou seest in me any wrong thing encouraged, any evil desire cherished, any delight that is not thy delight, any habit that grieves thee, any nest of sin in my heart, then grant me the kiss of thy forgiveness, and teach my feet to walk the way of thy commandments. Deliver me from carking care, and make me a happy, holy person; Help me to walk the separated life with firm and brave step, and to wrestle successfully against weakness; Teach me to laud, adore, and magnify thee, with the music of heaven, and make me a perfume of praiseful gratitude to thee. I do not crouch at thy feet as a slave before a tyrant, but exult before thee as a son with a father. Give me power to live as thy child in all of my actions, and to exercise sonship by conquering self. Preserve me from the intoxication that comes of prosperity; Sober me when I am glad with a joy that comes not from thee. Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom, not asking whether the road be rough or smooth. I request only to see the face of Him I love, to be content with bread to eat, with ramient to put on, if I can be brought to thy house in peace. (emphasis mine)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Christ Community this is Janelle."

A day in the life of work at a church office! It felt so much like I was back in Charlottesville answering phones and doing the bulletin for Christ Community. Who would've thought that 3 years later I'd be in Wales working for Christchurch? Not me!

Today the girls de-cluttered cuboards, drawers, the bar in Junction 26 (a room where we're having a coffee house for the Uni students tonight) and the Info table while the guys went to a recent widowers house to help him clean out his wife's old shed. Sounds like the older man, Peter, was incredibly blessed to have company let alone the help. I think the guys are planning on going over again tomorrow to help him take some stuff to the dump. They are all servants!

Then we (the girls) cut 28 cm of gold ribbon for about an hour. (By the way, the metric system makes way more sense...) I think the ribbon is going to be tied around candy canes. And for the rest of the day- I'm talking HOURS, I folded, taped, and stuck cards in these little folders. I got to listen to a message on my ipod (thanks, Vanessa!) and I was jammin' out to some really good music, too. It was so fun! I'm not sure where the others were when I got the camera out- I think Toms filled in some pot holes in the parking lot ("car park") and Taige was maybe setting up PA stuff for the coffee house, and Kat was meeting with Mike. We are all rotating meeting with him and he's caring for us in the midst of transition, work, etc. - last week was my week. Anyways! Off to make some stirfry before heading off to the Coffee House! Hope you're having a great day!
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frost and Psalms (really boring title...)

I'm not in Florida anymore...

This morning was the first frost! (Ivy has been eagerly awaiting.) It was -1 last night!!! (Granted, that's Celsius...but we'll stick with it because its more dramatic that way- and makes my freezing toes more justifiable.) We finally figured out the heat in our rooms! Wahoo! This morning I woke up and it was almost WARM in my room. Oh my goodness- amazing. I sleep with a big sweatshirt and warm pj trousers and fuzzy socks every night. My feet are in a constant state of near numbness. I must just have terrible circulation or something. Asking for slippers for Christmas.

On my run this morning, I had a tank top on, long johns, a t-shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, a jacket with the hood up, a hat, gloves, Calvin College sweatpants (thanks to Joy!) and wind breaker pants...and it was still painfully cold. (Oh, and I look ridiculous.) It takes about 3.2 seconds for my lips to be entirely chapped. Needless to say, my runs have become less enjoyable in the physical sense-- but I still love the time out and away, and mostly at the top of the hill. And I'm always grateful the rest of the day that I got up and ran. It's good for me to practice discipline. And I love being up before everyone else.

This week is "Half Term" for the kids. Basically that's a week long fall break. So we've been at the Building yesterday and today working on film stuff and brainstorming for assemblies to do in the schools. We're going to be putting a GAP video together to advertize for next year and to keep the local church updated on what we're doing-- I'll try to post the link when we finish it so you can see if you want.

Recently I've been struck by three words found in Psalm 37. I've been studying this chapter (along with Proverbs 3) for four days (thanks to the encouragement of Sue Rees), and I can't seem to get over these words: "He will act." I'm commanded to commit my way to the LORD. And HE will act. It's a promise. It doesn't say, "And then you go act". He does the work. My Loving Father.

Now, that's not to say I'm free of responsibility- I'm not. And earlier in the chapter I'm commanded to Trust Him and "do good." But just as HE acted in my Creation, just as HE acted in my will HE act in the much smaller things in my life! Oh what rest this brings to my heart! I can nestle myself into His promises- snuggle up in His Word- find comfort in His ways. Psalm 62 (one of my favorite chapters of Scripture) says, "Trust in the LORD at all times, O peoples, pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us." I love rehearsing this over time and time again knowing "at all times" includes THIS MOMENT. Just as I'm commanded to CAST my cares upon Him, so am I encouraged to POUR my heart out before Him. He is my fortress. My stronghold. My Shelter. He delights to carry my burdens. He loves to be my Help.

Oh, the cross is amazing! Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace. PEACE. I have peace with the Holy Judge because the Perfect Man was chastised in my place; on my behalf. Baffling. I should only know His judgment- but instead, I know only of His love. His perfect love. With no admixture of wrath in it whatsoever. Because Christ bore my sin. He became my sin for me. Completely satisfying the Father's just wrath. Entirely. Unbelievable. Oh, rejoice with me!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

On the Home Front

A dramatic week for lil J. Stitches, neck braces and the ER. Two separate trips! This is how he tells the story: (this is ice hockey by the way...)

So the first game of the weekend after the first period against the Charleston wolverines. we were down 5-0. and we dont lose. so coach walt was freaking out. then we scored five unanswered goals in the second so we were tied. We ended up losing 6-5 and we were in a lot of trouble. The next day we played and we were dominating them like 3-0 after the first. then 5-0 in the second. In the third we had a "line brawl" which means everyone on the ice fights. The funny thing is we put our worst line out against their best line. The puck dropped they all fought. So they were out their best players and it didn't hurt us other then subs. We were only down to two defense men so me and miracle (the other captain) dropped down to d. Our first shift we were regrouping to attack their zone. He passed the puck to me i played it off the wall. then took two strides and thats the last i remember. i got an elbow to the back of the head and head-butted the wall. blood everywhere. very dizzy hard to remember.

This past week i only practiced one day and took it easy. My first shift of the weekend i had two hits and they were both people i absolutely crushed. then we won our next two games 5-0 and 3-2. A team dropped out of the tournament so it was an automatic win. But we played one of our rivals just for fun. In the first i got checked from behind and into their goalie. I got up in the guys face after. Then i was very upset i wasnt playing much cause our coach wanted the people that dont play much to get ice time. He finally put us out in the second. I played it off the wall once again to miracle. he lost it i picked it up and someone hit me i played the puck then got another elbow to the head and fell to the ice. Trainers came out. I told them about last week and how i have stitches in. They IMMEDIATELY called 911. backboard, stretcher, IV, everything. I was absolutely terrified. Rushing into the ER is something no one should experience. So i sat in the ER with my parents the medics and then eventually my coach. Fortunately everything was okay. Except i had to sit in my gear forever which smells.....
Both of the kids who hit me got thrown out of the game. The first one is suspended and they are trying to throw him out of the league. for intent to injure. the second guy was very apologetic and gave coach walt his number so he would know how i was doing. The sponsors of when i got my stitches are actually related to coach walt. They saw the hit and told the rink they aren't going to provide any more money for them cause it was such a cheap shot.

Hope you feel better soon, Justin!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

High School Musical 3

Haha, so fun!
To McDonalds first before the cinema! So, is it just over here or have all the McDonalds changed to be attempting a more "upscale" look?

...I know...getting a little obsessive with the pictures...
Back row: Rachel, me, Rowanne's eyes, Lois, Carys, Izzy (Cary's visiting cousin), Caroline
Front row: Alex, Eleri, Lowri, Megan

We had an absolute BLAST. We were a little eager about the whole thing-- ordering tickets days in advance...getting to the theater an hour early...ya...none of that was necessary...but hey! we were PREPARED!

Two nights ago it started "sprinkling" homesickness in my heart. Kyle Davis' voice came on my ipod and my mind was instantly in the Davis home. In their living room. And then Home Group. Ah, dear friends. Close relationships. The "knowing" and "being known." Watching kids grow up over blog posts is not my first choice. And, as lame as it sounds, High School Musical added to the *missing people*. American accents. A school system I understand and can relate to. But it was good-- sort of refreshing. A little visit to the States for 2 hours! No flights and no jet lag!

I love what we're doing here. I know this is a short short time- and I'm learning to treasure it. To cherish my walks to Spar down the road. To enjoy this home. To POUR into these girls. Only 10 months left!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Offensive Roadshow

Today we had the "Offensive Roadshow." It was an 11 hour conference at Christchurch on Evangelism. A man named Dai (spelling is probably off-- pronounced "Die") who I've mentioned in a previous VJ post spoke the majority of the messages. Excellent. He is passionate about the Gospel, loves people, and is obsessed with Truth. I am so encouraged and cannot WAIT for the messages to be available online so I can re-listen to them.

I sat with my LIFE girls. From left to right we have Alex, Rachel, Caroline, Carys, Lois, Lowri, Rowanne and myself. I also got to build relationships with some Uni students and talked to a guy who grew up in Sudan for a while during one of the breaks. Ben Greasely led us in worship and did an excellent job. Christchurch doesn't have as much worship time on a Sunday morning as Metro does- so it was an added blessing to have extended worship...and numerous times in one day!

Rowanne and me.

She's such a goober.

My favorite message from today was the last one Dai preached. About us being the salt of the earth. I didn't take any notes I was so engaged in what he was saying! (and I love taking notes.) He talked about how Christians are the salt of the earth- and what that means. Salt has TASTE. When Scripture tells us to taste and see that the LORD is good- that doesn't mean we go into a candy store and order "some of God," but that as Christians, our lives should be "appetizing" in a sense to onlookers. They should want what it is we have. And we get to be arrows. Showing them its nothing in us...but its HIM. It's Christ. He also talked about another use for salt I'd never heard of. Back in Biblical times, they didn't have toilets. So everything that would go in a toilet (sorry, I know this is a little gruesome) would be piled on a hill. A dung hill. And they would throw salt on that to kill bacteria to stop disease from spreading; to stop the stench. And in this world, that reaks of sin, and pain, hurt, and disease-- we are to be salt. Offering hope, healing, and a cure: The Gospel.

My favorite analogy he made was about us being light. We are the moon. God is the Sun. He is Light. With a big "L." We are light. Little "l." We merely reflect His light. We don't produce any of our own. He said that the "bushel" that the Bible tells us not to hide under-- his consern (Dai's concern) would be that we hide our light in one of two things. 1. The Church. That we would be so consumed and wrapped up in our lives- our church lives, our Christian friendships...our "bubble"...that our light is in fact being hidden in the Church Building. Ah, I can see how evident this is in my own life. I want to POP THIS BUBBLE!!! and 2. Shame. That because we aren't perfect and we still sin and mess up, that we would be ashamed of that, and carry the shackles of guilt around...when in fact, we are FREE from sin! Jesus said, "It is finished!" That means, "PAID IN FULL." There's no more debt to pay!

Ok, now to my favorite part: He quoted the verse in Matthew 5, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." He focused on the word set. You don't accidentally put a city on a hill. It's a lot of work. One is PLACED there. Intentionally. Purposefully. For people miles and miles away to see it. He encouraged us how EACH of us are different cities on different hills. We each shine light- but to different people, and in different places. The places where other people shine light are places I can't reach. But there are places God shines light through me, that others can't reach. Oh how easily I forget that God is INTENTIONAL and Sovereign. I'm in contact with the people I'm in contact with on purpose. I work with the teachers I work with on purpose. Nothing is an accident-- or even unimportant! How encouraging that is. How I need to hear that everyday!

So tonight I'm going to bed refreshed. Encouraged by God's promises. Blessed by His pursuit of me, and kindness to minister to me. We gain an hour tonight (wahoo!) and after the church service tomorrow, my LIFE girls and I are going to see High School Musical 3!

I pray something I mentioned that Dai preached on encourages you, and that the beauty of the cross would increase in your eyes as your love for the Savior grows with a deeper affection in your heart. Hugs!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fire, Schools, Galaxies, and Romanians.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my flat iron broke earlier this week- of this you were informed. However, you notice in a below picture, my hair was straight today. "How is this?" you ask. Well, I decided to try once more. Yes, I saw sparks before, but maybe if I angle it just right I can make this thing work until Christmas. INCORRECT. About half way through straightening my hair, the sparks ceased to be sparks, but were FLAMES! A full blown flat iron ON FIRE in my hand in my room. Thankfully, none of my hair was damaged and nothing was burned. Whew. Moral of the story: believe your flat iron when it tells you it's dead.

Wednesday at Mount Pleasant with the year 1s (Kindergarteners) Taige led us in the song that goes, "I just thank you LORD for making me, me." I think one of the kids mis-understood...because each time they were instructed to draw a picture of something they were grateful for...he drew himself...

Several of the GAP Teamers gathered leaves from the cemetery across the street from our house and we did leaf rubbing with the kids- turning it into cards.

Then we filled this leaf in (it was supposed to be with a picture...I cheated...) with what we were grateful for. I love coloring. =)

First highlight of my day today: Little background, first. A boy at Bettws and I had a conversation on Sept. 11th after a memorial thing we went to- about sweets. Chocolate. Candy. The whole walk back from town where the service was. He told me his favorite was a Galaxy bar. This year 7 boy looks like he knows his candy well if you catch my drift. I told him I'd never had one, but would have to try. He seems like he's got a tough home life, but has such a sweet spirit about him as well. Everytime I see him, he asks if I've tried one yet. A few weeks ago he got in big trouble and was sitting in the hallway in a chair. I felt like the LORD told me to pat him on the back as I walked by. I did.

Today he came up to my classroom (which he's not in) and waved me over to a nearby table...and got out of his backpack...a Galaxy bar. I wanted to hug him but that would've been totally illegal...I felt like crying. I couldn't believe it-- its not the chocolate (though I THOUROUGHLY enjoyed it...) but what it all represents. We are here for something. And God is moving. Even when I can't see. Oh, praise His Name.

Second highlight: On the ride home, a Romanian man was trying to flag people down. Toms' response to things is usually, "I can't be bothered...," but when something for real comes up- he is willingly inconvenienced. We drove the Romanian truck driver to where he needed to go (he followed us...he didn't ride with us =) and while it required our masterful Taige with the map out, on the phone with Sarah at the Church office who was googling the address, and while we did go around one round-a-bout 3 or 4 times...we made it. And he was grateful. (The whole time we were driving I kept checking behind us to see if he was there- like every 45 seconds. It reminded me of our American flag on the back of our antique wooden boat growing up. I never enjoyed the boat ride because I was so afraid it was going to fly off. One time it did...and Daddy, aren't you glad I saw it RIGHT away?! ) I didn't get practice any of my Romanian (which consists of "thank you" and "you're welcome") because I was in the back of the car, but we communicated with thumbs ups and smiles. Ah, tower of Babel.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just another manic Monday

...well, not really.

But it was what I expect will end up being a "typical Monday." The usual run. Always beyond words. A walk to Tescos- our grocery store. (*here, grocery's are specifically fruits and vegetables...they call everything else "food shopping"...) The walk is nice-- its all down hill. What's the killer is the walk BACK...let alone with all the groceries- its over a mile.

I look like a homeless person when I go out of the house on days off. My hat is extremely practical and almost mildly cute when my hair's down...but otherwise...ya, not so hot. Multiple coats ("jumpers"). Gloves. (None of which match...) A massive bag (that Steph got me for my birthday! Thanks, Steph!) and extra grocery bags tied around the outside of it. Man, it is HEAVY.

I kept stopping at bus stops-- but not to wait for the rest my legs and my sholders! It's the strangest feeling...sweating, and freezing at the same time. Oh but I love it. I love walking everywhere. It makes me think of Scripture more...and of analogies about "walking" and "journeying" and "pressing on."

The walk home is literally uphill the entire way- with the exception of a little dip inbetween streets, where then it goes up steeper afterwards. As I was huffing and puffing, Third Day came on my ipod.

And even though the journey is long
and I know the road is HARD
Well, the One who's gone before me-
You will help me carry on

And after all that I've been through
Now I realize the Truth:
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God

The bridge is, "Sometimes I think of where it is I've come from- and the things I've left behind. But all I have and what I posess: nothing can quite compare...with what's in front of me!"

And that's what my heart exclaims. As I CLIMB up the hill (both physically and metaphorically) I hear Him telling me over and over again, "Here I am. I'm with you."

I know it'd be "easier" to have a car. To be able to drive to the grocery store. I know it won't be fun knowing my nephew is being born and I'm over 4,000 miles away. Things here keep breaking- my headphones and my flat iron broke today. Replacing those would be feasible and half the price in America. But...oh, but nothing compares with this! I wouldn't trade it for anything. The lessons I'm learning, the things I'm experiencing, the relationships I'm building (even in the States!)...I see the Savior so much more clearly when things aren't easy. When they're not how I would've chosen them. Ah, and He is so kind. To change my heart-- to make it conform to His will.

Now, THIS is what I chose. I chose this life. Life in Wales. Life at Christchurch. Life in this house. And I don't chose it because, "Well, its just easier to have a positive attitude," but I chose it because HE is the only wise King. And He has not left me! He is here! And I am learning more of Him! Growing closer to Him. Going deeper into the glories of Calvary. His precious blood REDEEMS US! We are FORGIVEN! ALIVE! RESTORED! SET FREE!!! This is precious, precious time. And I'm cherishing it...because it is a season.

I've heard there's a "rumor" spreading around that I'm planning to stay in Wales when my year on the GAP Team is over. I didn't start that rumor. =) I have no idea what God has for me. I'm praying He'll show me what to do and where to go. And He will. My heart has been in Orlando for 3 and a half years...but I don't know if that means I'll ever live there again. I hope to...but what do I know? (The answer is nothing.) I want my life to declare, "Here I am, LORD, send me"...whether that means I stay here, go to Africa, Virginia, Antartica, Florida-- whether I am single forever traveling the globe, or home all day everyday serving a husband and training children, or somewhere in between. This isn't our home anyways, guys. It's all fading away.

Love to you!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Student Walk

Today after service we all piled in the minibus and headed to a nearby mountain. We drove 3/4 of the way up, and walked the last bit- just taking pictures, and talking...getting to know each other better. I LOVE it!

This was the view at the top! Can't find rolling hills like this in Orlando...


Ives and I at the top!

Vikki and her new dark hair!



Yours truly


Everyone at the top


Heading back down, Ivy and I used our imaginations of what a perfect day would be on this mountain by ourselves. I'd have my blue motorbike with silver lightning bolts on it- no helmet, my Bible and my journal, and nice sunny weather with a cheeseburger for lunch. Ives wanted to have a cream colored flowy dress and ride her horse Elionwey with her Bible and packed lunch- Apple, granola, and banana with she could share with her horse. =)

After we got home, we hung out for about an hour, and then took a walk to the guys house. This is the little mail box on the way. Isn't it so cute? Just built right into the stone wall.

(notice the car driving on the left hand side...)

We finally have put Peter's birthday present to good use! We sat around the fire for about three hours and Ben came over too.

Ew, ok, gross. So, this past week, Toms has found evidence of a mouse living in his room. He was woken up by rustling at 5:30am one morning, his shortbread has been eaten (see below) and his ipod headphones chewed and ruined. We thought it had died in the wall because apparently the upstairs REAKS. (By the way, don't feel bad for Toms. Peter went in his room to give him some pointers and tips of how to keep mice away--ie. pick the shortbread up off the floor (before it had been eaten), etc...and Toms ignored it. He picked up the shortbread only to put it back on the floor because his bin [trash can] was full and he "couldn't be bothered" to empty it.) Anyways, we just received a phone call that the mouse is currently frantically running around Tom's room and the boys are attempting to...I don't know...kill it? catch it? Who knows. But apparently they're dying laughing. Oh, LORD, thank you so much for this mouse-free home!!!

Couple Welch vocab words for you:

Hiya, Alright?- Hi, how are you? They ask "You alright?" or "You ok?" instead of saying, "What's up?" or "How are you?" This still catches me off guard sometimes. In America if someone says, "You ok?" That normally implies, "Hey, something looks wrong- are you sick? hurt? bothered? Are you doing ok?" So I still sometimes reply, "Ya! I'm fine, why?" And then I do the, "oh ya, nevermind...doing good, thanks!"
Car park -parking lot
Petrol Garage- gas station
boot- trunk of a car
bonnet- hood of a car
multi story car park - parking garage
The letter "Z" they call "zed" and they pronounce the "h" in herbs. They also say "H" with a "h" sound. I don't know how to type it. H a ch. Wierd, huh?
Toilet- bathroom
Proper- real. Like, if you're saying, "No, I want to go to a real beach." They'd insert "proper" where "real" is. We're picking up on this as a team...
Ok, that's all I can think of right now...but I'll keep an eye out. It'll be funny to see what I come back saying in 10 months time!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Friday night we had LIFE (youth group for the kids at Christchurch)- it was so fun! We played Burger Queen- where your ankle is duck taped to someone else's ankle- one of you wears a crown, and the other one defends "the queen." Here's a video of Peter and I verses Toms and Paso- we were the "example." We lost. Check it out:

Burger Queen

Then this afternoon, I had my LIFE girls over to hang out. I introduced them to soda and milk- a staple drink in the Leach family. I haven't had it in so long. Many of the girls "fancied" it and kept commenting that it was "quite nice." That's how they describe things over here. I love it.

...taking funny pictures on Kat's mac...

Doing hair. Of course. They call hair things "bobbles." I quite like the name and plan to use it for the rest of my lifetime.

This is Alex!

And this is Megan!

Ives and Lowri...

Top: Me, Lois, Ives, Caroline (who broke her big toe last night playing Bull Dogs at LIFE =/)
Bottom: Carys, Rowanne, Lowri (who's sister is Lois and they are Rowanne's cousins) and Alex (Caroline's sister.)

I absolutely love this group of girls. Hanging out with them is my most favorite thing so far! I am so challenged by their humility and honesty at where they're at. It is so encouraging to me!


On Thursday at Bettws I taught french plating. (Braiding.) It was color coded and everything, but it didn't go well. It was too complicated. I know for next time I need to simplify it MAJOR.

On Friday, Milbrook had a harvest assembly. It was so weird having it not be "Thanksgiving" based. They did throw in some American things though. Ivy's class did the story of the pilgrims and indians. We watched as though we were proud parents.

And this just cracked us up- the little girl in the middle with the hot pink cowgirl outfit is representing America (thus, the flag). And the boy next to her is holding the type of food we would bring to a harvest...cereal. WHAT?! haha, I love it!
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