Day Two in Newcastle

Since last blogging, I have spent a week serving and participating in the once-in-a-lifetime experience that is one’s first DTS gathering. This happened at Holmsted Manor, a YWAM base in West
Sussex (where my sister was born, coincidentally), and I had the privilege of worshipping God with 50 or 60 people my age whose only reason for being there was being passionate about their relationship with God and with the world. It was definitely a challenging week- even if I hadn’t stayed up till midnight a couple of nights, the long days would have been tiring- but incredibly rewarding. And, as we felt God tell us beforehand, full of surprises. I didn’t expect to go deeper in my relationship with God, letting Him touch areas of my life and past hurts that I hadn’t before, while kneeling on a floor-size map of the world praying for healing for humanity. The topic of the week was ‘Celebrating Real Love’- 1 Corinthians 13- as it was leading up to Valentine’s Day. Real love is a good thing to think about. Worth building your life on.

On Saturday, our DTS team split up, the dread and anticipation of four months! We only have two weeks apart, but our reunion will take place in Harpenden at the beginning of debrief week- ten days before THE END. So goodbyes were emotional and I keep expecting to find Ashley, Jenna, Seth, Joshua or Bart hiding behind the curtains or watching movies in bed. They’re not- they’re in Bristol and we’re in Newcastle and our communications are limited to extremely confusing group conversations about which city is cooler. (Clearly, the north.)

The story of how I missed the bus to Newcastle is quite an entertaining one and deserves to be told. But it’s past midnight, I’ve been up and about since seven and I have to put the soup I just made in the fridge before I go to bed. I’ll write it out in full and share it some other day. Suffice to say I got to spend Valentine’s Day roadtripping and made it to Newcastle ahead of my team.

Today was our first outreach day. I helped pick up loaves of bread, baps and teacakes from Greggs in the morning for the breakfast club we helped out in, in the middle of Byker. (I studied the Byker wall in year twelve geography, which is bizarre…) A few kids from the estate came to eat cocoa pops and play games, although I did spend most of the morning tidying up the craft cupboard. Sometimes you just have to- and also it’s so good to be able to serve stressed-out people who clearly don’t have enough time to fulfill all the visions they have for their area! I think it’s one of the most appreciative and valuable things a short-termer can do. In the afternoon we did have a chance to build more relationships- I got to don a bright yellow Scripture Union hoodie and wander around Byker with Elisabeth and a frisbee, seeing if any of the kids hanging out (it’s half term) wanted to play. Approaching people in England, and English, is vastly different and much more intimidating. But I’ve decided I would love to bring more colour and creativity to the neighbourhood, after chalk-drawing with some of the girls we hung out with (Next Wave everywhere, of course.) The people here are really beautiful and I want to connect with them and hear their stories and see them free to be themselves, which only comes from your personal relationship with God…

Finally, we went straight from ‘Detached’, as that outreach is called, to the ‘Globe Cafe’- an international students’ gathering run by a few of the churches in Newcastle, which is basically a super cool idea. I wonder if there’s one in Liverpool? As it’s Chinese New Year, there were around 250 people there and I spent most of the time bouncing up and down the corridor with flasks of coffee. It was a lot of fun though- I did get to talk to someone from Colombia, and try to make a Chinese lantern. We didn’t make it home till 11 and then I decided it would be a good plan to make soup for tomorrow’s lunch. Some people’s kids. I need to go to bed.

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