24 March 2007


We are finally here and linked up to the internet. It has taken a full month to get that accomplished.

First lesson of moving here: everything takes longer than you can imagine. We have occasionally longed for just a little American efficiency, but find that it's better to just get accustomed to waiting.

Best example of needing to wait: all our possessions are still in customs, and it may take the removal (moving) company up to 3 weeks to deliver them once they clear. The people at the church have been lovely about being willing to lend us things, but what we're really missing are our beds and our clothes. We've only had this particular collection of clothes since January 19, and we're tired of wearing them.

Other than that, our settling in is moving apace. Claire started school on February 28, Peter and I began work on March 1.

The change in Claire's life has been quite profound. She went from attending school for a little over 2 1/2 hours a day to being in school from 8:55 to 3:20 every day. Her class expanded from 17 children in a spacious classroom to 30 in a small space, neighboring on another small space classroom with another 30 children. Her teacher reported that she commented that it was very loud. As the other children are reading and writing, now Claire is, too. She's a little behind her peers, but catching up quickly. On Friday she had a spelling test, and did very well. A month ago, she was only reading a very few words.

The two of us leave the house at 8:10 each day and catch the bus. We ride for about 10 minutes, and then get off just before the bus crosses the bridge into Richmond. We walk across the bridge and up the hill to her school, about a mile in all. We pass an all girls private school on the way where the girls all wear gray pinafores (jumpers in the US), with red and white checked shirts, red tights and gray shoes. They all wear the same style gray wool coat, and sweet little hats with a red and white ribbon around it. Claire's uniform is much simpler -- she wears a white polo shirt, navy blue skirt or trousers, a navy blue sweater or sweatshirt, and black shoes. She seems very happy to wear it.

Peter is getting well settled in his new work, too. He has been a bit startled by his new work environment. A hour for lunch every day -- that he actually takes -- during which he eats and goes for walks exploring central London is something brand new for him. He's always been a very efficient fellow, but here he seems to work at the speed of light. See above comment about how slow everything is. It's taken a bit to find the right combination of transport to get him to and from work, but he seems to have settled into a pattern that works. It's lovely that he is here to wake Claire up in the morning, but he doesn't get home until past 6 most nights. We're still finding our rhythm with that.

I'm still puzzling out how to do full time ministry here. It's very different from churches in the US where there is typically some sort of committee structure that a minister fits into. Here there is the single management Committee which meets once a month. Most of what happens in the church is at the minister's iniative, so I get to create program and direct what happens. Of course, that means I don't have much guidance, too. So, it's a challenge. It's also a bit of a challenge to be back to writing weekly sermons. (And even more challenging to do so without my library!) It will come in good time, I am sure.

What's good is that the people of the congregation are lovely and eager to help me succeed. That energy goes a good long way to making it a good experience.