Hello there from sunny England! HA! It's snowing here. Big fluffy snowflakes and quickly everything has become a winter wonderland. How magical all the Christmas lights are! How magestic are the Cathedrals! How quaint are the little English homes! How insane are the motorways! In fact, we are not driving home tonight but will be staying out at the OM/LifeForce base for the night. On that note, what a perfect opportunity to finally catch everyone up on what's been happening here!
Now, I realize I haven't written since LifeForce training started back in October. Wow, has time gone fast! Let's do a quick recap though:
1. LifeForce training is happening at the Operation Mobilization base in Halesowen. It's a fantastic place with rooms for our team to eat, sleep, learn, practice, watch movies, and just hang out in! If you'd like to see it, go to http://www.luke.om.org/about_virtual.htm and you can see pictures of the place.
2. Danny and I are living in Walsall, about 20 minutes away (when there is no traffic). Typically, we commute every day between our flat and LifeForce, but on average we are spending at least 2 nights a week at the base: Danny in the boys' room and myself with the girls. Those are usually late nights, if you can imagine.
3. There are 9 of us all together at this UK LifeForce base. Three will be returning to Canada after Christmas though to carry on with their normal lives (which may never be normal again spending 3 straight months with us). Wow, exciting stuff, eh? Well, maybe I have kind of skimmed over things a bit.
The classes we've had have been excellent. There have been teachers from all over the UK come and share their experiences, their wisdom, their victories and their failures with us and each class has impacted all of us in many different ways. It amazing how God can use the same thing to teach different people different things. He really knows how to meet us where we are!
Wow, exciting stuff, eh? Well, maybe I have kind of skimmed over things a bit. I'm trying to spare you from a horrendously long email. That's why I'm keeping it to an obscenely long email. You're welcome.
Well, I should wrap this up here for now. Speaking of "wrap," I have a Christmas story already. Next time though. I will say that the UK is crazy about Christmas! Lights and decorations have been up and blinking for a good couple of weeks. There is a big debate about how much 'Christ' they should allow in Christmas. It's pretty much the same thing we deal with in Canada: don't say 'Merry Christmas' in the shops, don't play Christmas songs about Jesus on the radio or sing them in schools, should nativity scenes be banned, yada yada yada. Here's a funny thing that happened. A few local radio stations here had people from the Muslim, Hindu, and other religions calling in a singing Christmas carols over the radio in protest to a ban on traditional, religious-based Christmas music. Many people of other religions are starting to feel unsafe about the security and protection of their own faith, after all - look at how this 'Christian' country treats its own. It may not be long before more religions come under attack. They other reason for the protest though is that you don't have to be of any faith to see how stupid it is to make a fuss over these songs we sing once a year. Listen to the top 10 music charts, and the government wants to censor songs about Jesus' birthday over 2000 years ago?
Here's the real kicker: So the fear is that Christmas songs will offend people who don't believe in Jesus? The other day as we were driving, we passed a bingo hall and what was the name mounted on this massive building in bright, flashing, tacky colours? MECCA. Please forgive me if I am being ignorant and disrespectful for saying this, but if I was a Muslim, I think that I may be more offended by a bingo hall named after my religion's place of holiness than walking into a store that is playing "Joy to the World" over the speakers. Maybe that's just me though.
And that is my rant. Glad you hung in there with me. In the end though I am faced with a challenge to myself: Do I just rant, or can I do more? I can't leave it all up to everyone else to fight my Christmas battles for religious freedom. Not only that, but it is the time I like to take time to personally celebrate the birthday of some one who's become very special to me. This year, let's all send some one in office a Christmas card. Not to aggravate or harass them, but to wish them a Merry Christmas, and encourage them to at least learn about the man they are trying to cheat out of his own birthday party.
Yep, this email is now officially horrendously long. My apologies. Until next time, God bless and take care!