London Times
It’s been 4 months…time for an update?

I knew it! I knew I would be a crap blogger! I DO feel bad for all the people who I know care about my life and are relying on Facebook status updates for info! They don’t say much really do they? Except that I’m in love. Not that exciting to anyone but Matt and I really is it? But…just in case anyone was curious or not informed…I’m in love. ;)

Anyways, LONDON is pretty interesting. It’s been funny to watch my view change as I’ve been here. I went from thinking it was this glamorous, historical, fashionable city (which it is in some parts) to thinking of cramped streets with food vendors everywhere, stinky fish, ugly shopping trolleys, and public transportation that will never get you ANYWHERE on time. But yet it’s all in the best way. I went from thinking of Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park as icons to thinking of estate housing (like the ‘projects’ back home), teenagers in school uniforms walking in big groups from school, and markets where you can buy “any bowl of fruit or veg for a pound” as icons. Not so glamorous and yet…my heart beats faster for this place than it ever has.

I ended up getting an amazing place to live with a great friend of a friend called Dani. She runs a theater program for kids and teens that’s doing great work here in Peckham. Yes, Peckham. Where I live now. Notorious for gang crime, dangerous parks and streets and an altogether “rough” attitude. whenever I tell someone I live in Peckham I get the double take and the “what???”. But to tell you the truth, I love it. And I feel safe. Honestly. Walking down the high street is like being transported back to Africa but just with pavement and a lot colder. I feel comfortable here and I love the people. I talk to people all the time. I don’t want to live in fear. Why would I fear the people I’m here to love and serve? Apparently the little area in Peckham I live in is quite religious too. I’m not careless, stop worrying! But I think that people don’t give places credit for the good in them. And Peckham, has a lot of good. (but not the smell, THAT I could do without!)

I ended up getting that job I blogged about before! Where I showed up late and in the rain? ya that one. XLP is one of the most hardcore and inspiring youth charities out there. They live it. It’s small (although it’s tripled in size the last couple years!) and everybody works like 5 jobs in 1 I have no idea how anyone does anything else with their time but that is one of the million reasons I love it. Like I said, they live it. Check out XLP online to see all that we do at www.xlp.org.uk and www.fightingchance.me there’s no way I can summarize it all in this blog that’s already way too long.
Long story short-ish, I got a different job than I applied for and wow did God have his hand in that! My job title is Lewisham Borough Leader. What that basically means is I’m the XLP youth worker in the area of Lewisham in south east London. London is divided into “boroughs” which are kinda like little cities all with their own flavours, councils, and issues. The woman I took over for was going off to have a baby so the timing worked out perfectly. I do a lot of things, and more to come. A combination of working in schools teaching lessons, supporting in class, assemblies, and lunch clubs, and working in the communities running girls groups, dinner clubs, and taking our mobile youth center (a pimped out double decker bus!) onto some of the estates that we’re involved with in the area. None of this I could do on my own. I have an amazing team of Gap Year students who are like a full time mission team for a year working with me. I love them. Part of my job involves managing them for the year! Good thing I got some practice with the NYC team last year! I’m also working to develop some new programs and actually getting to know the kids I’m working with on a deeper level too! Ya…I don’t sleep.

This kind of work is never ending and probably not the kinda thing you get into if you’re looking for a lot of thanks and easy days.
Some of the things that break my heart:
-walking a girl home and finding she lives in a 3 bedroom townhouse on the estate with a grandma and somewhere between 8 and 16 kids.
-a 16 year old boy being shot and killed on Christmas day in my neighborhood
-a developmentally challenged boy we work with being stabbed in the street for not giving up his phone to a gang
-the fact that kids from the small area of Lewisham are not free to go where they like in their own neighborhoods because of rival gangs on different estates
-the fact that teenage girls answer “what makes a good relationship” with “when he doesn’t hit you”
-a girl I met last week was locked out of her house on her birthday because her mother said “its always a day I regret because I wish I never had you”
The list goes on, but hear my broken heart when I say I am here for a reason, and these kids in these circumstances are it. They need something to live for, or someone I should say. Jesus please help me love til my heart breaks and yours is all that’s left.

Some small but great moments so far:
-last night one of my girls from the girls group we started in December spontaneously came up and gave me a hug and said “I’m going to miss you Carlie” I said “when? I’m not going anywhere.” and she answered “I know, but one day when you do, I’ll miss you.”
-On tuesday a few of the kids and my gap year students were talking at our after school club and they were discussing what the world would be like if everyone would just love each other all the time. One of the boys answered “it would be just like this group”
-I was on an estate a couple weeks ago at night and a man starting walking close to me and making some intimidating comments. I decided to call him out on it and he said “who are you?” when I answered “I’m Carlie, I’m with XLP” he was no longer an intimidator but a friend, his step son comes on our bus.

Patrick, the founder of XLP, is often quoted as saying “We’re called to love the hell out of people” SO here I am…trying anyways.

Most days go by so fast I hardly have time to breathe. Somehow I still manage to miss home, miss friends and family, New Hope and Hermosa, and yet…I know I’m here for a reason. I know I’m doing something right. (sometimes I do need to be reminded though!)
So thanks for caring, thanks for loving me long distance, and thanks for your prayers. Please pray for the work XLP is doing, for the relationships I’m building, and for my terrible administration skills which are crap but vital. :)
My team and I are heading off to Ghana in February to a school XLP funded there for a week long mission trip as well! If you’d like to remember us in your prayers for that one that would be great too!

Alright well…I’ve learned my lesson. If I do this more often they wouldn’t have to be SO long! Late New Years resolution? I’ll see what I can do.
For now though, cheers!!

Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. A human life is a beautiful mess.
Gabrielle Zevin (via kari-shma) (via quote-book)
Giving blogging a go…

2010, I decided on January 1st, was going to be the best year of my life so far. I was determined. It worked! Most New Years resolutions fall flat somewhere around my birthday (January 27th), but not this one.

The year started off with a bang preparing for the youth mission trip to New York City! It also surprised me with a job as the interim Youth Ministries Director at New Hope which I loved every second of. I was scared out of my mind (which I find is the general state I’m in whenever the greatest things in life are happening to me), but what an adventure. Amazing. Those kids are going to change the world, they’ve already started. I hope they never stop. This sure was an adventure, but it was an adventure with an end date. At least for now.

Camp Hermosa was adventure number two of this year. June-September found me working my ass off (in every sense of the word, I actually walked so much part of my ass did work it’s way off). Hard work, hard situations, hard to leave. I love that place and the people in it. I also love end dates and the chance to keep moving through life with amazing memories to hold on to forever.

Adventure number three came in the form of a man (don’t worry, he’s Canadian). A surprise I was not anticipating, but I’m going with it. It’s one of those things that I can’t let pass me by, even though the timing seems pretty crap. God, what are you doing? More on that later…maybe (might just keep this one to myself for a while). ;)

Adventure number four: LONDON!!! Time to do a city swap for a while! How long? I’m not sure. I signed up with SWAP in May, got my Visa papers accepted in June, and September 27th I flew to London town.

I am a kid in a candy shop with only a broke bank account to slap my hand and keep me accountable. I am in love. Vintage shops, little twisty streets, double decker buses, food, lattes, history, pubs, friends!! There are so many adventures to be had and stories to tell (or modify). I’m going to try and keep up.

So far this week has just been a crazy whirlwind of fun with Helen. She picked me up from the airport Tuesday morning, and it’s been nonstop ever since. Nothing of serious significance, just a lot of fun. Already meeting loads of people, and at the moment my biggest concern is learning how to use the crazy bus system…oh ya and phone credit. How have I gone through twenty pounds of phone credit already?
I’ve applied for a job that looks and feels amazing…that was an adventure that involved traveling across the entire city in the rain, sitting in a pub writing furiously all afternoon, traveling across the city AGAIN (in the rain of course), and handing it in with two minutes til the deadline and hair all over the place. Ya, I make great first impressions. So we’ll see what happens with that one.

Until I get a job I can’t really get a flat, and until I get a flat I’m bunking with Helen my amazing friend and guide who is getting me through this crazy adjustment! I love her.
I miss people, but I don’t miss home (other London) yet. I’m having an amazing time and I’m trying to make the most of it. Homesickness will come, it always does. But until then, I’m looking for the figurative bright side (its gray and horrible here 24/7 at the moment) and investing my entire self into adventure number four. I’ve waited years for this!!

Umm…how do you end a blog? Does anyone even read these?
Whatever…until next time, The End. I guess.

Swapping Londons means amazing fish and chips in a paper bag!

Swapping Londons means amazing fish and chips in a paper bag!