Coming from Dallas, I’ve noticed that they do a few things differently here in Yorkshire, England.
One of the best things about traveling is experiencing a different culture and learning a few things about the history and people who live there. We’ve been here almost a month, so I thought it was a good time to reflect on what we’ve learned:
Before we got here, we had heard that the north of England is a friendly place – I happened upon a great example earlier this week at home in Halifax.
I went to the post office to buy a few stamps a send a letter. After speaking to the clerk, I moved over to some empty counter space to address an envelope. Apparently the return address belongs on the reverse side of an envelope in England, and not the top-left corner of the front. I debated writing the return address in the top-left corner as a sort of protest, but I really wanted the letter to arrive…so I caved. This internal debate took much longer than it should have, but it gave me time to witness the following.
Last weekend, we got the chance to go up to Edinburgh. I (Albert) have been a few times, but it was Katy’s first time.
There is a running joke (not even really a joke…more of a recurring comment) in my family that it always rains in Scotland. This came from a time when I was young, and we were visiting dad’s side of the family in England and Scotland. We had been in England for a few days and, though it was cloudy, it never rained. We drove up to Scotland and within a few minutes of crossing into Scotland, it started raining…and didn’t seem to stop until we drove back south, and the rain stopped.
Much to my surprise (and to the sad death of that inside joke…) it was the opposite this time. We left a rainy, snowy, nasty Halifax in the morning and enjoyed a beautiful train ride through the bright, sunny countryside up to Edinburgh!
When I was younger, I – like many boys – went through a phase where I wanted to be a spy. I watched all of the Bond movies. (At the time there were only 17. We lived close to a video rental store. My summers were uneventful.) I played the video games. I read the novels. My brother and I even made some very exciting home videos of us doing James Bond-y things. Thankfully these have been lost or destroyed.
Obviously, my life took a different path, and I’m not a secret agent*. I mourned this fact until Tuesday, when Katy and I tried our hand at Breakout Manchester. I had a ton of fun… but it was humbling. I am not cut out to be a spy.
We took the train into Manchester, England for a day trip yesterday. It’s a bright and buzzing city, full of life – and an unusually stark and beautiful contrast of old and new. Modern glass and steel skyscrapers sit side by side with gorgeous, ancient stone buildings. It was a bit surreal to take a picture of the National Football (ahem, soccer) Museum, and then to literally turn around and take a picture of the stunning Manchester Cathedral!
Hello, Halifax! We are finally here – and have taken the last two days to explore this calm, wintery town. It’s beautiful here! The architecture is stunning: beautiful town homes and churches line the streets (some still made with stone). I can’t help but look at every building or street and say, “Oh my gosh, Harry Potter!” Albert just laughs at me.
After a long day of travel, we are safe and sound in England! Both flights were wonderfully uneventful, and all our luggage arrived intact.
We did encounter one tiny hitch at the airport – the border security officer decided we looked pretty sketchy, and interrogated us for a while. Maybe he was bored. Maybe he was surprised that anyone would want to come to England in the wintertime. He kept questioning us until the rest of the plane had been through the line.
We’re sitting at the airport, waiting to board our very first flight, and have a LOT of thank yous to pass around. I can hardly believe today is finally here – and though I’m excited about our journey – it’s more than hard to leave behind our incredible community of family and friends. So without further ado:
To Bob and Bertha: Thanks for the home, the warm bed, the food, the support, and the amazing steak for dinner. // To Laurie and Gina: Thanks for all of the advice, love, and excitement you’ve sent our way. // To Patty: Thank you for your encouragement, support, and the warm socks. // To Maggie: Thank you for surprising us on Christmas Day! To think we would have had to leave without seeing you was heart-breaking. // To William: Thanks for the warm wool. // To Fae and Wally: Thanks for taking in the cats and making them feel at home. We are forever indebted to you! // To the Boys: Thanks for endless games of pingpong and laughter. // To MeMac: Thank you for your support and encouragement, and sharing sushi with us one last time. // To Peggy and Susie: Thanks for the awesome travel gift. We love it! // To Kevin and Melissa: Thank you for our amazing friendship, your excitement and support, and prayers as we planned our journey. // To Steph and Jeremy: Thanks for the first aid kit we hopefully won’t have to use, for being there always, and for promising to Skype when baby #2 is born. // To Sushi and Queso: Thanks for love and cuddles. // And to everyone reading this post: THANK YOU for prayers, for encouragement, and for all of the fun comments on Facebook. We love you all.
Here we go!
What do you pack when you’re going everywhere? Good question.
There’s a lot to gather when you’re traveling across the world – through different climates and different cultures. We’re sticking to one backpack and one bag each (and we’re super impressed by those who do it with less!). Thanks to smart thinking, research, and help from other bloggers and travelers, we’ve somewhat figured it out. We’ll wear the heaviest items on the planes, and stuff the rest in our bags. Here’s what we’re bringing with us:
As Americans, we’re expected to follow a lot of patterns – one of the most important being that so-called “American Dream.” What is the American Dream, exactly? Everyone defines it a bit differently. Some say it’s a steady job or financial security. Others, a husband or wife, two and a half kids and a dog. And to others, a pretty house with a white picket fence. We follow the patterns our parents followed, their parents before them, and their parents before them. Get an education, get a job, get married, buy a house, have children, teach those children the pattern, work, and retire. Sound familiar?
But, though it may sound nice or simple, ultimately, this pattern can be totally unsatisfying. Why? Because, though it’s hard to admit, I don’t think my God believes in the American Dream.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
God calls us to a life of love, service, sacrifice, and great adventure. He tells us to leave our possessions and to follow him (Luke 18:22), to give away our last penny (Mark 12:41-44), and to take up our crosses (Matthew 16:24). But we rarely do it. Instead, we succumb to the “pattern of this world,” earning and spending our money in comfort. But, as Switchfoot so aptly put it (listen below), “success is equated with excess.” We measure our lives in dollars and material goods, all while worshiping a God who measures life in love.