Honestly, I think being blunt with this title is best. 🙂
As many of you fellow Minnesotans know, the Vikings are playing the Steelers in London right now (it is 8 PM in London as I begin to write this post.) And my original plan was to head to the game after church and lunch at a friend’s house. The cost of the tickets to see the game were beyond my missionary budget, but I could easily pay to take the tube to Wembley Stadium and take some pictures of all the Vikings shenanigans going on outside. I even put on all my purple clothes before I left the flat this morning!
Very fortunately, my day did not go as planned. If you want to find out why this was a good thing, you can read on.
I was invited to church by Victoria (one of the Time for God field officers supporting me in my year of service.) I successfully navigated from Peckham to Stratford through the tube system, followed by a walk to Highway Church. I was warmly welcomed by a handful of familiar faces and many more people I had never met before. I sat with Victoria, her husband named Ben, and my new friend Dorothea while we worshiped, learned, and recharged in community. We enjoyed fellowship with other people in the congregation over tea after the service. The service and socializing ran much longer than the standard one hour time slot I’m used to in American culture, but the open-endedness reminded me of my mom’s tendency to prolong our church visits since she has to talk to literally everybody before we can leave the building.
Victoria, Ben, Dorothea, and I trekked around the block to get groceries and run errands. This also took a bit longer than I expected because we bought fresh produce and samosas from street vendors with whom Victoria and Ben were on a first-name basis. There was some chatting involved, and meandering, and relaxed conversation…not exactly like a rushed American Suburbia mission of buying sustenance in bulk. We continued on to Ben and Victoria’s house, where Dorothea and I were told to make ourselves at home – very easy given the natural, homey atmosphere. Then, Victoria and Ben showed us how to make a British style South Indian curry recipe that we prepared together.
Throughout the preparation of this meal, and the actual eating that followed, life-giving conversation ensued. Why? Because we talked about HOME – food, family, language, school, some of our life goals, interests. Dorothea and I talked about how much we had grown even in the last few weeks of living and working in London. I got to share with two Brits and a German about how much I love Minnesota hotdish and krumkake, and how the Vikings are the team my family cheers for (“Yeah, my family’s really excited that I’m here in London when they’re playing today. That’s why I wore purple…no, I’m not much of a fan myself, but I really love people-watching the other fans, especially the ones that wear the fake braids and helmets and scream at everybody!”) We watched a TV show called Agatha Christie’s Poirot, a British series of murder mysteries based on the books by Agatha Christie (it seemed very reminiscent of the Matlock and Diagnosis: Murder I had grown up with in America.) We also ate treacle tart and custard…and since that’s kind of like pie, it made me think of my family’s traditional surprise-let’s-go-out-for-pie each autumn before school starts.
I really meant to go to the stadium. Honestly, I did. People watching Vikings fans in Britain was bound to be an experience. But I hadn’t even realized I’d been missing those comfy home feelings until I was in a family’s house, cooking together, laughing a lot, and collectively trying to figure out who committed the murder before the detective explains it all. My weekends have been filled with wandering around by myself and taking pictures, and even though I can be fairly independent, fellowship with others was a nice change in routine. By the time late afternoon rolled around, I realized that I’d rather stay for more time with people who care about me than traverse to the other side of London by myself, to take pictures by myself, around people I wouldn’t know. I want to be with people, not just around them. Even if they are in familiar Vikings garb. 😉 I hope this just shows you how ridiculously happy I must have been with Victoria, Ben, and Dorothea, so much that I didn’t want to leave to people-watch at a Vikings game in London.
Before I knew it, it was getting dusky outside, and I had to get going if I wanted to be home before dark (a safe strategy when travelling alone through London.) Victoria and Ben walked Dorothea and I to a bus stop where we could catch a ride to the tube station. I successfully navigated back from Stratford to Peckham, and made it safely to my house (even alone after dark. Wahoo!) I walked in to find my American flat mate, Katharine, in front of the telly with the Vikings game turned on. We talked about our days, and then I pulled out my computer to write this with the game on in the background. Judging from all of your Facebook posts now that the game is done, all you Vikings fans had a winning day. I’m happy to say that I did, too.
Peace to you,