The last chapter in my gap year life ended with us preparing for the final Grace Academy of the year and as with the previous two was another great week! It was potentially the hardest of the three, with some of the kids not being as receptive as others and certain classes not paying attention, but we battled through and had a good week nonetheless! The weather was superb, with the sun shining all week and we took the usual Year 7-11 lessons from Monday to Thursday, with Friday being a little different. Instead of the normal school day, it was actually a Primary School taster day and so we spent the day with Year 5s from Primary Schools in the local area. We taught the lessons on the theme of Grace, tying in how people are often gracious towards each other and we can sometimes get things that we don’t always deserve, with a little added twist involving some Haribo at the end!
It was amazing to end a slightly trickier week on such a high; building relationships with the younger kids and bringing them a message to think about.
With one day to recover, it was then the turn for us to head to Hereford; something which I was very excited, although a little nervous for! Not only were we taking both Nomad and Stance to where I grew up, but the 3 boys were also going to be staying in my house. It was going to be an interesting week!
It was a really great week, with top weather and some great laughs! However the week wasn’t without it’s troubles and whilst we were on our way, one of Stance was on her way to hospital with an infected leg! Alas, not the start we wanted to the week, but we took it in our stride and soldiered on!
With one member in hospital and another recovering from an operation, Stance were working on halves, but did incredibly! We spent the Monday taking both PE and RE lessons in St. Marys – my old rival school! – which was a great start to the week! The students were incredibly receptive to everything we had planned and it started off the week very well!
Tuesday was our day off for the week and so I took that to, of course, show the teams the incredible sights of Hereford! This involved me actually driving the guys around, and I’m pleased to say I managed to do so pretty well! We explored Dinmore Woods, – which was lovely in the sun – watched movies and had a great day! With Wednesday morning off, the afternoon was a biggie and had us setting up in front of the church, so that people could see it from the street as they walked past. We set up just in time for when the students would be finishing college and then school later on and held it is a small youth event with other various activities such as video games, table tennis etc. being held inside the church itself. For us as Nomad, this was actually one of the first detached sessions that we had really done during the year and so was something very different! It was initially quite hard for us, as it was so different to how we normally worked within a school setting and despite the free ice creams (!), a lot of people still weren’t stopping. Naturally, the longer we were out there, the easier it got and people did begin to stop and take interest! It turned into a really great day in the end and we managed to talk to a fair few young people, with a good number coming inside and asking why we were doing what we were doing! A great afternoon led into a great evening, in which we then went along to my youth group and led part of it, including a little Q and A with us.
Thursday and Friday were particularly exciting for me as we headed into Bishops – my old school! Although it was incredibly weird to be back, it was amazing and I absolutely loved it! It was great to be able to see teachers that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years as well as students that had still been in school when I had left! Everyone responded to the cage really well and seemed to enjoy it, as well as being nice and surprised that I was back! We again, took a variety of PE and RE lessons, as well as leading a couple of assemblies too.
Saturday was very similar to the Wednesday, in that it was another detached session, however this time we set the cage up in the middle of High Town with a small gazebo and let it attract the attention of those who were around. As with the Wednesday, it was another day that got easier the longer we were there. Although we didn’t get massive numbers, there were several groups of young people that hung around for good lengths of time and that came back repeatedly during the day and we were able to have some really good conversations!
Sunday was the last day of the mission week and we were all very sad to be leaving! As an end of the week closer, we led part of the church service, enabling us to let people know all about what we had been doing during the week and how we had connected with young people. It was a great opportunity for me personally to really show the impact that the year had had on me as an individual, as well as how I had been able to reach out to those I had grown up with!
All in all it was one of my favourite weeks of the year as I was able to show people that support me and encourage me about the year exactly what I do and why I do it! I think it was definitely a positive week, with some great conversations had and impact made on the young people of Hereford!
Leading on from Hereford we had a good few days of downtime before our next mission. This time was just a brief day visit to, first, Pingle School in South Derbyshire, and then Clevedon on the Saturday; both of which were great days! We spent the Wednesday doing lessons in Pingle School and despite the awful weather, we were able to really connect with the school and build the relationship between them and South Derbyshire YFC. Saturday was a lovely return to Clevedon – where we had started the year – in which we had the cage setup in the town square, working alongside the local churches for a Hope in the Square event.
After an intense few weeks, we then spent a weekend in Cheltenham, relaxing and meeting up with friends and just last week we were at Cliff College for Cliff Festival until Monday!
This was another one of the great weekends of the year and we had a great time as Nomad and individually! We were working on the Pulse team – the older youth venue and the weekend ran very similarly to Spring Harvest in that there were daily meetings in different venues, age according, as well as seminars and other activities going on in the afternoons. As Nomad we set the cage up, on the only part of flat land on the whole site(!), and ran open cage sessions all afternoon which were ace! Not only were we able to meet and interact with so many people, but we were really able to build some great relationships with the guys that we spent the weekend with and even gain some interest in Nomad for future years!
For me personally this was one of my favourite weekends of the year so far, as although it was only a weekend long, it was something a little bit different to the normal schools work and we were able to build some great relationships throughout. Whether it was through watching Pitch Perfect and singing the soundtrack at 2am, playing several games of cage football with a young person who didn’t have a partner, praying for someone during the meeting times or mutual appreciation of a football team, there was a great vibe over the whole weekend!
With all that fun and good stuff done, we come to now! It has been an absolute whirlwind since Christmas and I have a feeling it will continue to be! The next few months have pretty much filled up and we have a good few missions set in the diary for the last term! June brings around missions in Cheltenham, Chislehurst, Southall, Liverpool and North Breckland in store as well as the ever famous Nomad Reunion! It’s going to be a great last few months!
As always, thank you so much to everyone for your prayers and support; both financially and prayerfully, I appreciate absolutely everything and it has been a really great year! I couldn’t have done this year without everything that has been done for me and your continued prayers are all I can ask for!
God Bless 🙂
Cage in Coventry Grace Academy.
Set up in front of church in Hereford.
Looking busy in High Town!
The team in Clevedon!