It’s been a hectic few months and although that is no reason for it to have been so long since the last blog, we have been very busy! We’ve been all over the country from Crawley to Oxford and all the way up to Scotland, meeting some great people and sharing the gospel and I’m going to try and share some of the excitement in as succinct a blog as possible..!
Crawley (14th-16th Jan)
Crawley was the first stop in the diary post conference and although only for a few days, it was an absolute blast! We linked up with Street360 (a local YFC Centre in the area) and worked alongside Sarah, Erin and Ross (2 of whom are former Nomads!) to spend a little time working with the young people in the area, as well as chatting all things Nomad! It was such an encouraging time for us as a team to not only get back into mission, but really chat and share some encouraging stories and struggles.
Ignite Weekend Away (29th-31st Jan)
All of a sudden we found ourselves once again, back at Whitemoor Lakes, this time for the Ignite Weekend Away, working with the guys from Wade Street (our placement church last year). Myself, George, Oscar and Joel all went along, helping to lead various sessions as well as helping out where needed! It was a great weekend to reconnect with some top young people from last year as well as have the chance to take part in some of the activities at the centre, not forgetting playing some epic games of Table Tennis!
Grace Academy Solihull (1st-5th Feb)
This saw us visiting the last of the 3 Grace Academies, this time being the turn of Solihull. The week ran identical to the other 2; working alongside The Sense, Stance and Happi, sharing PE lessons all week, topped off with the Friday night event! It was an absolute blast and with all 4 teams sharing the Scout Hut, space was limited, but many good times were shared. Amongst the chaos we even managed to squeeze in a visit to George’s house for dinner as he lived nearby and it was lovely to be able to properly get to know his family and hear some embarrassing stories – something I feel will definitely be repaid when the team visit Hereford…!
The week was not without it’s problems however and we managed to find ourselves in the middle of a slight safeguarding issue. Things were miscommunicated and having thought we were allowed to film during the week (with the idea for me to compile the footage and make a video), we were informed that this was not the case. Footage was deleted and no harm was done, but it definitely came to remind us that despite all the good work we do, it can take one small miscommunication to ruin a week.
Despite this though, we had a great week overall! The kids responded really well to the cage (regardless of the fact we were on a freezing cold balcony!) and I even got pied in the face during the Friday Night event – a highlight for many people!
We had a fair bit of time off after a busy few weeks and found ourselves in Nottingham for a good amount of time. Pancake day happened (3 times for me…) together as a team, along with a few days in some local Nottingham secondary schools, before Half Term was upon us!
Chawnhill Church (17th-19th Feb)
Half Term for most people means time off, however its often a prime time for Nomad bookings! We did manage to get a few days off and so I took the opportunity to visit Emmy – one of the other amazing Academy girls – in her hometown of Cambridge!
Some of you may remember Nomad being booked for February Half Term in Cambridge last year for an event called ‘Be The Change’ and this happened again this year. It ran all week and I was able to help out for the first day, seeing friends I hadn’t seen for a year, as well the brilliant guys from Cambridge YFC and the ever lovely The Sense!
The visit was brief though and the latter half of the week was spent in Stourbridge at Chawnhill Church, where Stance and Becci (another one of the amazing Academy girls) are based for the year. The church were running a half term club from 1-4 each day and alongside Stance and Saltmine Theatre Company, we ran sessions for the kids to get involved in, before a cheeky tournament on the last day! Although only brief, it was a great few days hanging out with some great people as well as getting to know some top kids!
Abingdon (21st-26th Feb)
With a day to wash kit and get some sleep, we were soon on our way to Abingdon in Oxford; a repeat visit for me and James from last year! This year we were working in Fitzharrys School (alongside Stance once again) doing the classic schools week of PE lessons and lunchtime sessions, with a few after school clubs thrown in as well. The week initially started off quite tough, with the lunchtime sessions being pretty manic and the kids not really respecting us or each other. There was one lad in particular that caught our eye right from the start and he was one of the main instigators; skipping lessons, hitting other students and throwing various things into the cage! This carried on during the week and we got to know the lad fairly well, even having him in one of our lessons. Then, on the Thursday evening we held a youth event at one of the local churches and to our surprise, he actually turned up and seemed a little more subdued than normal. He seemed to be really affected during Oscar’s testimony in particular and later on in the evening Oscar found him crying outside. After chatting to the lad, he opened up about his struggle with depression and how he wasn’t coping with things very well, enabling Oscar to share his own battle with depression and how God got him through it and also pray for him too.
Although we didn’t necessarily bring this lad to faith, it was a reminder just how we can help the young people we meet and sow those seeds to them; who knows, the team could go back next year and find that this lad has started going along to church – it’s all a journey!
Mid Year Retreat (29th Feb – 4th Mar)
After a busy few weeks and with a busy few ahead, Mid Year Retreat came at a perfect time! It was a long drive up to Patterdale in the lovely Lake District, we met up with everyone else on YFC One and the party (retreat..) began!
The week consisted of many great meetings and seminars from various members of staff as well as plenty of free time to allow everyone a chance to retreat, relax and reconnect with God! I took advantage of the beautiful scenery and went on a few walks in the mountains and had a great time with some great people! Not wanting to disappoint, I also managed to expertly end up on my bum several times, prompting many laughs and muddy trousers…
One of the highlights for most during the week was the Wednesday evening and the annual ‘Posh Nosh and Talent Show’ evening. Everyone was required to put on their finest attire and be served a meal by the staff before an evening of hilarity during the talent show. Nomad of course put on their best effort (Yes. I wore a dress. Again. YFC is ruining my reputation…) and wrote our beloved team leader an epic (?) poem, but alas, 1st place was awarded deservedly to Abi, who sung a brilliant self-penned song!
South Queensferry (4th-13th Mar)
South Queensferry was the first stop on our Scotland tour and we headed there straight from Mid Year Retreat with a few days off before we were first needed on the Sunday. Having thoroughly enjoyed my time in Queensferry last year, I was delighted to be returning and seeing great friends! I was to be staying with some of them, but started off my week staying with another family – a lovely couple with two young children and spent lots of my time off playing multiple games of FIFA, jigsaw puzzles and some arts and craft – something that I thoroughly enjoyed! – as well as visiting the Kelpies with the boys!
Sunday saw us in various churches in the area (I was at Kirkliston Community Church alongside Joel) and interviewed about the week ahead, followed by a lunch for all those involved in the week ahead.
It was a classic schools week ahead, with the slight difference being that we took RME lessons as well – a first for this year! It was a nice change however and offered a new perspective to what we do and meant we were able to go a lot deeper into our faith than normal.
Outside of the school, it was a top week for social time and it was so good to be able to reconnect with some great friends from last year and spend time together, playing Sardines and waiting for the Northern Lights for well over half an hour (sidenote – they didn’t show)!
Dundee (13th-19th Mar)
After a long weekend, we headed a little further north to Dundee for the second leg of the Scotland tour and this was different to usual for a few reasons, with the first of these being our accommodation for the week. Typically we will be hosted by families across the local area, but this week we were all living together in a Mission Manse, with the first of our tasks being to construct our beds… I am a big lover of Ikea furniture (other flatpack furniture is available) and so had a great time building beds; the boys perhaps not so!
Another difference was that we visited 3 different schools during the week, as opposed to being in one for the duration and although odd, it was nice to have a bit of variety!
One thing that I’ll take from the week was a Christian lad that we met in a school called Menzieshill – where we spent the last 2 days of the week. We’d met him in one of our lessons last year and been really encouraged then and fast forward a year and we had him in one of our lessons again! We ended up spending a fair amount of time with him and it was incredibly inspiring to see how open he was with his faith and how was respected by people all over the school!
All in all, it has been an amazing few months on tour, full of plenty of fun and good times and some really inspiring stories from all over the country! As per usual I have loved every single minute and am constantly reminded how lucky I am to do what I do! The next month or so is a little quieter, with the team headed to Skegness for Spring Harvest before 2 weeks off for Easter – Hereford, watch out!
Once again, thank you massively for all those who have supported me and the team and have kept us in your prayers, I cannot stress how much I appreciate it all! It would be great if you could keep some of the students mentioned in your prayers, as well as the team as they head back home for a bit!
I hope you all have a great Easter and have enjoyed my ramblings once again!
God Bless 🙂