Back to life, back to reality…

Well hello world. I have been busy and absent for so long that I feel the need to re-connect and let you all know what is happening with Julia. As most of you know, I have just finshed a Cambridge course in teaching English as a foreign language. A course so intense that after a month of running on pure adrenaline, triple espressos and very little food, my body decided to quit being healthy as soon as I was done and settled for a long and nasty cold! Not exactly how I was planning to celebrate my freedom. Oh well, a small price to pay for what was accomplished!
We have lived in London for almost 4 months but feels like years…really. So many opportunies have presented themselves and we have made good use of them. I had started thinking of getting an upgrade to my degree a few years back when I knew the time would come for the kids to be at school and for me to find better occupation than Facebook surfing. I wasn’t quite sure what was available to me but I knew that my passion and calling, regardless of me fighting that for years, was teaching. I personally couldn’t think of a more rewarding job than equipping someone with the tools necessary for life. And the first of them is the ability to speak and be heard. Not many of us move around and start their lives somewhere new and unknown with a language-words and sounds-completely foreign to our ear. But for those of you who have done the transition can appreciate the diffulties of such life. With poverty added to the list of challenges, access to language learning becomes quite impossible and therefore crippling.
There is probably no place more diverse than London. Statistically, every 8th child in school system speaks language other than English at home, which often means that the parents speak very little to no English at all! It’s becoming rare to hear English speech on the streets with immigration expanding so rapidly. Sounds like a good place to get into the industry but unfortunately, the UK government has recently made some drastic cuts to the ESOL program, which used to offer free courses.
So where does it leave me…with or without a job? Not sure but as always I don’t gauge my prospects based on the economic climate but trust God with my future! This past month I got a reputation as an innocent person by my fellow students…something that annoyed me and something that I tried to fight. And rightly so, seeing that I passed the age of innocence! As I was contemplating my faith and my trust and dependance on Jesus the verse from Matthew 10:16 popped into my head: “Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Shrewdness is the flip side of the coin. And if that’s the truth I am okay with being seen as innocent!


A Canadian in London

Timing is, as they say, everything. And good timing for a Canadian to move to a non-hockey playing country is not immediately before playoff season. It seems to bring up a decent amount of homesickness. And when the Canucks, for the first time in approximately 18 years, do more than flail unsucessfully around the ice, it only makes things that much worse. Our poor Canadian loves his new home-London being a great home-but certain old-fashioned Canadian activites such as tubing down the river or taking a mountain bike on a muddy trail are dearly missed.

Getting back to routine will help, as Julia’s course has been more intense than we had ever expected. Fortunately, it’s all over in just one week. It’s been a tough road for her, but one worth taking. We are hoping that she’ll be able to find a part-time job at the end, so please pray that we’ll find that door open at the right time.

Meanwhile I, like many before me, have been dealing with the added stress through shopping. Not for shoes, although I could use a new pair for tennis. I’ve become a big fan of the outdoor market one borough over in Lewisham. Getting there is pretty simple: jump on the somewhat-reliable 122 bus (the one with the stop a whole 8 steps from our front door), take the left at the Lithuanian restaurant, and get off after about 15 minutes. The market gathers every day right outside a shopping centre, and while many items can be found for sale, it’s the fruit and veggies that are the most fun. Mixing bowls are filled with pretty much anything, all for £1. I have no idea what I’ll do with all of these mushrooms, and I’m still working through last week’s limes, but we’ll try. I’ll post a few low-quality pictures (taken with my phone) below to give you a taste of the place. As one of the most energetic and ethnically diverse places I’ve been so far in London, plus the best place to get carrots, it has become one of my favourites.

Royal Wedding and Other Happenings

It has been a seriously long time since anything new has made its way onto the blog. Please understand that we here in England have been very busy lately, what with the wedding preparations and all. But now that Will and Kate (or is that Catherine?) are man and wife, we can return our attention to other matters. Unfortunately, as our invitation seems to have been lost in the mail, we are unable to offer a firsthand perspective on the wedding ceremony, but from what we saw on our TV from the comfort of our living room, it was all very nice.

It has been especially entertaining to watch patriotism find expression in marketing. Our very informal survey would suggest that the market has been dominated by Pimm’s, as expressed on much bunting, but our personal favourite is a new ale sold at less prestigious stores everywhere: Middleton to Windsor Ale. We expect the massive amounts of commemorative china to go on sale any day, so place your orders while you still can!

Today is the first day of school for Julia, something she’s been looking forward to for a while. In order to remove a barrier to employment as an English teacher both here in England and later in Italy, she is spending the next month working towards CELTA certification, with CELTA standing for something unknown to me, except that the last two letters represent “to adults” and the rest refers to teaching English.

The hope is that upon completion she will be able to not only get a job (which is a challenge, as government cuts are in the process of gutting the ESL industry, but then again, we are people of faith, right?), but to help set up a program in the church, along with a close friend here, to bring in recent immigrants for English lessons. This seems like a great way to make a difference in the city, plus great training for Italy, where we hope to do similar ministry.

It is interesting that we came to England without thinking about Julia getting more certification, or that it may be necessary for the work we want to do in Italy. It turns out that it will be essential.

Which is yet another reminder that God knows what he is doing.