Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mind the Gap

June 21, Friday

We arrived in London, England a little after noon.  We had an eight hour layover, so our group immediately split up so that some of us could go on excursion into the city.  My small team consisted of myself, Naana, Audie, Cassie, Nicole, Benny, and Tori.

We gathered all of our belongings, exchanged some currency into pounds, and bought a day pass for the Tube.  Our plan was to head over to Westminster and Trafalgar Square and see the sights in that small area of the city.  The tube ride was quite a bit longer than expected, but it went above ground for part of the time.  We were able to sight-see a bit from there and watch the quaint, stone houses fly by.

When we finally emerged from the tube into broad daylight, the first thing we saw was Big Ben smiling at us from across the street.  We walked around the Parliament building, amazed by the beautiful architecture.  Each spire, each windowsill, each peak is ornate and crafted with so much care and purpose.  If man is able to create such beautiful things, imagine how much beauty has truly been put into us.  We were formed by a loving and merciful Creator whose plans reach so much farther than we could ever comprehend!

It took some wandering, but we found the entrance to Westminster Abbey.  Much to our dismay, the cost was the equivalent of $36 to go inside!  Cassie said, "I think if Jesus was here, He would be turning over some tables."  We skipped paying to enter Westminster Abbey and visited a smaller church next door called Saint Margaret's instead.  It was free of charge to enter this place.  It was small but striking with its vivid stained glass and golden plaques blanketing the walls that read, "Here lyeth ye body," which was interesting.  I found a plaque for Olaudah Equiano, whose auto-biography I read last semester and loved.

We visited Downing Street and then meandered over to the Thames River, while the great London Eye gazed at us over the water.  The river was gray and dotted with all sorts of brightly-colored ferries.  London really is a lovely city.

I left my jacket at home by mistake, so I finally managed to find a jacket for sale at a vendor along the Thames.  It's such a stereotypical tourist's jacket, with "LONDON" written across the front in bold letters, as well as a Union Jack or two.  However, it's warm.  I half-froze last night on the plane, so I'm ready to have something long-sleeved when I try to sleep tonight on our way to Nairobi.

After a few hours walking the streets of London, we made our way back to the underground.  It was perfect timing; heavy clouds were forming overhead.  We just missed the rainfall.

After a long ride back to Heathrow airport, we grabbed some snacks, went through customs, and reunited with the rest of our team with time to spare!  What a fun day this was.

Perhaps the funniest part of my day was the fact that we brought all of our carry-on luggage into the city with us, which meant I had to drag my big, white pillow across downtown London.  I certainly got some funny looks, as well as giggles from the school children who shared our tube car.  One older British man who I could only describe as jolly approached me and said, "I fancy you're dressed for a sleepover, then?"  We both had a good laugh.

I'm writing this from the plane now; we have nearly made it to Nairobi.  My sleep schedule is entirely confused, between jet lag and an over-active plane staff that bustles about through an entire night of flying.  We've been brought supper at four in the morning.  I did manage to sleep for a couple of hours, which was much-needed.  I watched Silver Linings Playbook.  Much to my delight, they bleeped out every cuss word and blurred every inappropriate scene and hand gesture.  This was definitely the way I'd like to watch every movie!

At one point, I got up to have a walk and stretch my legs, and I met the sweetest woman from a town right outside of London.  She was traveling with her daughter and toddler grandson to Kenya.  This woman and I made fast friends.  She told me all about her family and I explained Christian Relief Fund's child sponsorship program to her, which fascinated her.

"This girl has a daughter in Kenya," she told her grandson.  "She's coming all this way to help children in Africa and visit her own daughter."  The woman was so kind.  We talked for fifteen or twenty minutes before returning to our seats.

One thing I love about traveling is the people you meet.  There is kindness and joy to be found in every culture and language.  On the subway car, I watched the British and Indian school children giggling over their Spiderman backpacks and Despicable Me phone games.  I couldn't help but think, "Children are children, no matter where they live."  And they are precious.

We are landing in Nairobi any minute now.  It's 5:50am and the sun is finally beginning to peek at us from over the dark horizon.  I'll write more later. 

Four years ago: I met my sponsored child for the first time today.
Two years ago: Alphabet Blogging Challenge
One year ago: How the Story Continues

No comments:

Post a Comment