Monday, September 21, 2009

Events of this past week and expectations for this week.

So this last week the LMC had a little issue with some water. Basically the gist of it is that some construction workers who worked on the other part of the LMC (part owned by someone else) did some work on the roof and left some roof caps of some sort up there. One of the caps got stuck over a drain when it rained last week and poof we had three rooms in the LMC that had rain coming through the ceiling. Fortunately no damage was major and the plaster seemed to hold well enough for us to not worry about needing to replace it.

I went running later that evening in the pouring rain...so nice to run again. I had a cold the previous week so it was nice to feel good enough to exercise again. I also found a running group that I might join. They are called Heathside running. Basically it's a group that runs out of locations around the Hampstead Heath, training for anything from 10k road races up to Marathons. So it seems like a nice fit...local, lots of runners (over 300 members), wide variety of ages, lots of different levels. My starting pace right now (slightly sub 8 min/mile for around 7-8 miles) is around the middle of the group's ability. So far I've been near the "lead" of the group or in the middle. Either is fine with me. I just wanted to find others to run with a couple days a week. I am starting by running Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 11 am (don't worry church is at 3 pm), and might pick up Wednesdays at 7 pm if I feel like it later on.

This week I'm a "participant" in the Consulting Church Groups course run by Bridge Builders. I put participant in quotes because I literally am one, but I also get to debrief with Alastair and Colin (Colin is the assistant director of Bridge Builders and is normally up in Durham) before and after the day. So it makes for a slightly longer day, not too bad though. It'll mean next week I'll have some day that will be shorter.

The Consulting Church Groups course is for people who have already taken their standard Transforming Church Conflict course and who want more tools on how to deal with conflict within their churches. Much of what we will be doing this week will be learning systems for explaining how conflict may work and then role playing. Today focused on our own work profiles (from the Gilmore-Fraleigh work style profiles), how the profile relates to how we deal with conflict, family systems theory, and general systems theory. There's a lot of information to take in and process, but it is nice to see many other church leaders excited about learning new techniques for transforming how conflict is managed in their congregations. If you have any questions feel free to ask and I'll try to either respond to the post or post a new post. I'm just trying to summarize for my sake at the moment.

...and I got a visit from Sue Schlabach who happened to be passing through London on business. Kudos to Sue for being my first official visitor from the US. She took me out for Thai food, so there's already a standard set. Let's see who can match it :-)

Museum of Natural History, a bit of the Science Museum, Hyde Park, and some of Regents Park

These are some pictures of my journey to the Natural History Museum, through Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, and a bit of Regent Park. All in all I rode on the bus for around 35-40 minutes each way, got off early and walked for around 4 miles each way through the parks to the museums. Make sure to check out the squirrel video at the end.


Hyde Park (HP)


HP

The Serpentine

The Serpentine

George Washington's teeth

Natural History Museum

NH Museum

NH Museum

Blue Whale

Bones from a whale

Elephants in relation to a whale





Dinos...



Pretty rock...forgot what it was, something expensive I think

All admission free!!!



Monument in Kensington Garden



Hyde Park


Dark picture of me






Bottom part of Regent Park

video

Cool video of a squirrel trained to run through this course to get some food. Runs out at the end, trust me it got to the nuts.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Top of LMC and other apartment that isn't owned by the LMC

So these are pictures from the roof of the LMC. The LMC doesn't own the whole building, there is an apartment on the eastern side that is the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th story unowned by the LMC. It has a rooftop patio (LUCKY), but my room has an escape hatch that someday I will get through. These are some pictures I took of it.


Looking off the roof

Southerly View

RIGHT above my room (that glass trap door opens from the inside - 12-15 ft above my floor) - someday I will come out of it

East View

West View of right above my room

Another west view from the other apartment's roof

Ed Shirk (co-host) and the roof top patio from the other apartment

Looking south

Looking East

Stairway to roof

Stairway in apartment (3 stories - 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor)

Modernized Kitchen (3rd story I think)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brochure for Bridge Builders - i.e. a general description of the type of work/organisation

Here is some of the text from the Bridge Builders current brochure. Yes I spelled "organisation" like the Brits do...something you'll probably see me do much more over the years. It's going to mess up my spelling so much when I return to the states. You can get a sense of their philosophy, services, and a bit of background from the text. Please be sure to ask me any questions you may have.

Text of the Brochure:

Facing conflict in the Church


Disagreement and conflict in the church are inevitable. However, it is our response to conflict that is critical. Most Christians want to find better ways to engage with one other in the midst of conflict, and to learn how to handle conflict constructively.

How Bridge Builders can help

We offer a variety of services, including:
• Training, especially in skills development
• Consultancy and coaching for leaders
• Group facilitation and process design
• Mediation when outside help is needed
Please contact us for details of current fees.

Training and teaching


We run practical workshops and courses, ranging from one-off sessions to weeklong courses and extended programmes. Our training concentrates on equipping Christians to understand conflict better and to function more effectively in the midst of it. We also train Christians to mediate and to offer consultancy in a church setting.

Consultancy and coaching

We offer church leaders a consultancy service, which ranges from a brief telephone conversation to more intensive coaching – for example, giving support in planning strategies and managing oneself in situations of conflict. We advise denominational leaders and officials on handling specific cases, and on wider issues, such as dialogue processes. Group facilitation and process design. We facilitate potentially difficult meetings, and design effective processes for making decisions or processing the past. We specialise in facilitating dialogue in congregational and other large-group settings.

Mediation

We offer the services of trained mediators when disputes arise between fellow Christians, of whatever denomination. Our mediators work in a range of situations: with individuals, with leadership teams, with whole congregations or other large groups. In our experience, mediation often opens away forward for Christians who are struggling to work co-operatively together. The key is to help them address their grievances, build their own agreements for the future, and find an opening for God’s work of reconciliation.

Congregational conflict

We offer consultancy to congregations divided by conflict. A typical reconciliation process may be led over several months, and include information-gathering, healing work addressing past hurts, and problem-solving. We aim to help the congregation understand the range of factors contributing to heightened tension, to focus on key areas of the church’s life needing attention, and to develop a high level of consensus on the way forward.

The Bridge Builders’ Network

We co-ordinate an ecumenical network of people who have completed a mediation skills training course. The network has regular meetings around the country for further training and mutual support. Members of the network may co-mediate with Bridge Builders staff, or take on cases working with one another; and some, who have received additional training, offer one-day training workshops using Bridge Builders’ materials.

Our vision and mission

We have a vision of local churches and their leaders, throughout Great Britain and beyond, functioning in healthy ways with a Biblically-grounded culture of peacemaking, and reaching out to offer this life to the world.

Bridge Builders is a service of the London Mennonite Centre, and we aim to ground our work in the life and teaching of Jesus. We believe that peacemaking and seeking reconciliation are intrinsic aspects of following Jesus faithfully.

Our Staff

Alastair McKay, Director, who co-founded Bridge Builders in 1996. He has an MA in Conflict Transformation and is studying for a Doctorate of Ministry.

Colin Patterson, Assistant Director, an Anglican priest based in Durham, and author of the Grove booklet, How to Learn Through Conflict.

Sam Moyer (me), Bridge Builders Assistant, who graduated in 2007 from Goshen College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Conflict Studies.

As I saw from a crossword puzzle Alastair (my boss) was doing - Goodbye or Cherrio

Under the weather

Well it hasn't taken very long, but I seemed to have managed to pick up a slight cold since getting to London. Maybe a combination of being stressed from moving in general and everything being new to my body, but never-the-less I have an annoying little cold. Mainly the runny nose and occasionally cough stuff up type, so nothing too big, but still annoying.

On another note I recently registered for the National Health Service. It'll be basically free doctor visits while I'm here, if anything will need to be paid, it would be if I got a prescription, and then it's a flat rate (something like 6 or 7 pounds).

I'll hopefully be getting my bank account set up sometime in the next week, or at least starting the process. I had to wait for the accounting person here at the LMC to arrive so she could write me a letter that I will take to the bank confirming that I live at the LMC and that the phone number is valid.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Running in London

Well running in London seems pretty common, when I've been out (at any given time) there seems to be plenty of runners about except for the wee hours of the morning. Everything does start a little later here (9 am is pretty standard) so it seems people just aren't up yet or at least for running because people were up and about or maybe that morning was a just a bit too chilly. I was very surprised to find how hilly London turns out to be. Some of the hills could rival what I walked on in Vermont and Colorado, they just don't last near as long, but some do last for upwards of a mile or so, it just depends on where you are located. So far the temperatures for running have been near perfect, 40s or 50s, perhaps low 60s...just ideal. I could get use to running in those temps year round.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ventured into downtown london

Hello all,

After my first few days I got a chance to wander around out of the LMC a little bit. These are the pictures from that excursion. I rode one of the red double-decker buses downtown all the way to London Bridge. I then walked up to the Tower Bridge where I could see the Tower of London as well as a boat race thing in the water. I then walked west along the Thames River till I got to the Millennium bridge, walked across it up north to St Paul's Cathedral. Then back south to the river and west again until I could get a view of the London Eye and Big Ben. Needless to say it was a bit of walking and I really didn't go in anywhere, just walked to see what I could. Really nice weather today, maybe in the 50s or 60s, but sunny as well. I then walked all the way back east to the London Bridge and rode the same bus back north until I got to Islington, got off there, checked out a food festival, and then walked the remaining 4 miles back to Highgate and the LMC. The buses are pretty fun to ride if you sit up top and in the front, that way you can see all around while you are on the route. Not the fastest transit, but at least you get a sense of where you are going, which is important for me right now.



The LMC


Another picture of the LMC, my bedroom is in the middle on the third floor. It's the small window above the 5 paned window.


Looking north off a bridge above the Archway toward Highgate

Looking south toward the city

Thames River

Eye of London and Big Ben in the distance

Some important building in the distance

Eye of London

At St Paul's








St Paul's in distance with Millennium bridge to left

Millennium Bridge



St Francis Drake galleon




London Bridge

Tower Bridge

View west

Tower Bridge


Some financial building

Tower of London in the distance

Tower bridge

London Bridge



Part of my room (still unpacking)

My room with randomness skewed on floor