Eight hours and three minutes, that is how long it took to get to the place that would change everything. My mission trip to London began the second my parents dropped me off at the Houston International Airport. On the plane I glanced around at the people from my church’s student ministry. I knew all these faces, but I did not know these people.
Stairs. That is all I can say about the first couple of hours of my London experience. We were all about to give up as we dragged our fifty pound suitcases up and down the old concrete stairs of the local subway system called the tube, which all the locals pronounce more like chube. It was well worth all the hard work when we arrived at Saint Paul’s Shadwell, the church we would be staying at for the next eight days. This is the church Thomas Jefferson’s mother was baptized in. However, we were not told in advance that we would be staying in what used to be the crypt where they would store all of the dead people. We were exhausted and jet lagged but ready to start our mission work.
We were not staying in the rich part of London most people expect to see. All around us there was poverty. Our main goal while we were there was to help the church gain connections to the youth in the area. We spent a good amount of time wandering around the streets going up to children and asking them to come to the event the church holds a few times a week called Energize Academy. We wanted the kids to come hang out with us for the opportunity that we may be able to share our faith with them. The population in that area of London is primarily Muslim, so we were shocked to see how completely open these kids were to come spend time with Christian American teenagers. We made great connections with these kids, and thanks to Facebook lasting connections. We would also speak in the public schools that were 98% Muslim in an American pep rally style event to keep them entertained and interested in what we had to say.
There was never a lack of things to see during our free time. My favorite place we visited was Saint Paul’s Cathedral. I have never seen a building so spectacular in my entire life. The detail was so amazing that you could stand in awe of it forever. The images on the ceiling that were many meters across were mosaics created piece by piece, inch by inch. It made me understand something about England and other countries in general. They are old. That sounds stupid, but it is true. The United States is so young compared to these countries and yet we have become a super power in the world in that short amount of time. We think we are so amazing because of that, but do we have a Saint Paul’s Cathedral? Do we have something that people will stand in awe of a thousand years from now?
By the end of the trip I had seen more of London than I thought was possible with our time frame. I learned so much about the culture there. I learned so much about the church there. I learned so much about the people I was on the trip with. On the way home when I glanced around the plane I knew all the people around me.
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