Original post by Dana, [Comments by Chris]
If you were among the many praying for our journey to London yesterday [two years ago] afternoon through today, I want you to know I truly felt as though we had the most care-free journey our family has made to date. [We have made many journeys since then and the kids often do VERY well.] Both children enjoyed themselves during our 10 hours of flight and 6 hours in airports, and they even managed to catch some good sleep in the air. Thank you for your prayers! [Yes! Thank you many times over for those who have prayed for our family.]
Sitting in the back of a station wagon taxi (a “state car” [actually called ‘estate’] here in the UK, we learned) at 8am today, I experienced a feeling similar to my emotions just before walking down the aisle to marry Chris – I knew I couldn’t know what lay ahead, but I felt undeserving of the wonderful chance to take that leap of faith. We rode through Surrey County in silence – watching the fog lift to unveil the last of England’s fall color. Orange, red, and yellow trees poked out among the ancient yew and climbing ivy on the roadside. One minute you hear car horns honking in morning rush hour, the next you’re on a private county road with no one but horses and English farm houses around. Then – BAM! – suddenly you’re back on a main road merging into bumper to bumper traffic on a roundabout. [Congestion and traffic haven’t changed.]
At one point in our trip from Gatwick Airport to Sutton, our driver rolled down his window to pull his side mirror in. I saw just a few seconds later why he’d made that preparation: we turned onto a windy, one-way, NARROW road with tall shrubbery scraping our windows as we whizzed through the tunnel they created. [We haven’t seen that road again.] Our driver laughed when Chris told him we don’t have traffic jams in Oklahoma City and said, “Where in the world is there a place like that? Incredible!” Our driver also laughed when Blake asked us if people in England have slippers to put on when they wake up in the morning, too.
Imagine watching school children dressed in slacks and blazers with crests on them, carrying bags of books as they walked to school. [At that time we couldn’t even imagine that our children would be in school in England, wearing uniforms as they have.] We saw business men wearing suits and long dress coats carrying brief cases as they walked to work or waited at bus stops. Many folks rode their bikes past the motley mix of cobblestone homes and hip, European restaurants to get around town in the early morning hours. I hope I’m conveying clearly enough how captivated I was to watch this new community of ours in silence. It’s true I’ve been to England twice before, but never had I looked at this country as a place I’d be calling home for as long as God wills.
Once in our hotel room, we ordered some full English breakfasts to fill our bellies for a nice nap. We slept soundly, took showers, then walked around Sutton to find our bus station (planning to hop over to Wimbledon tomorrow to look at flats), a market, and enjoy some people-watching. From the moment our plane landed, an older Pakistani couple who spoke no English offered (through gestures) to carry a piece of luggage and carseat for us in exchange for pinching the kids’ cheeks. Fair trade! A British woman who sat several rows behind us on the plane yelled up to me that Mackenzie was “brilliant” for having behaved so well on our long flight. Even a customs employee gave us the benefit of the doubt when he misunderstood something Chris said and temporarily thought twice about letting us stay in England. [Passing through Passport Control still makes me nervous every time. We’ve had a few close calls.] People at the market this afternoon enjoyed seeing our kids in their double stroller and struck up conversations with us quickly.
In line (or “queue”) to go through Immigration, we encountered a large group of South Africans in full tribal dress [We would no longer assume that tribal dress is related to being South African as most of our friends from the country dress in everyday clothes], many Asian people, a man behind us having a phone conversation on his cell phone in French, and several Indian people. I loved imagining for a moment that that could be what heaven is like – people from all over the world interacting and enjoying eachothers’ company…[We have never given up on thinking that London is an amazing place to experience world cultures.]
…but they likely haven’t all received Christ as Savior of their lives, therefore they won’t all be in heaven, you’re thinking. And you’re correct. Just minutes after getting our bags into the hotel room, Blake asked us when we’re going to start telling people about Jesus, God, and Life Church. “Tomorrow?” he guessed, as Chris and I laughed at his sudden burst of energy. He’s our little man full of purpose, for sure. I explained that all we have to do is get to know people first, make some friends, and then use the opportunities God provides us to tell them about Christ. Looking back on our first day, I have no doubt that opportunities to make connections will meet us each day. I praise God for carrying us safely here to a place I trust He will cause to feel more and more like home for all four of us.
We’re not sure if we’ll be online again tomorrow – it’s expensive to have Internet access in our hotel, but do look for an update in the next few days. Next goal: finding a home! I’m off to sleep…at 4pm OKC time, 10pm UK time.