Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In between courses

So you might ask why I haven’t been updating my blog very diligently.  I’ve probably just been through (part of at least) the busiest time of year for Bridge Builders.  We have a section during the winter months where we have a course in February followed by a course in March followed by a course in April.  Adding to this were a couple of one-off workshop days.  I just got done with the March course and didn’t really take any time off following it (like I normally do) because I’m now going on holiday for a week.  Following my holiday (in Athens and Greece) I’ll have about two weeks before the next course (a week long course) followed by two weeks when my parents will be visiting.  Needless to say it’s a very very very busy period of time for me.  The only fortunate part of all of this is that the courses are relatively similar in that they are all the foundation course Bridge Builders offers.  The differences between them are: location, people on the course (two are for anyone, while one was just for “Senior Church Leaders”), and trainers.  The first course in February was co-trained by Alastair and Liz.  The March course was done by Alastair and Colin and the April course will be done by Colin and Sandra.  In all of those I’m the ‘observer/assistant.‘

I saw some fireworks from the Chinese New Year, but didn't get any good pictures.  Too much smoke from Leicester square, but fun to watch.

This summer is looking pretty nice considering how busy we’ve been and I’ll continue to be.  Given that I’m taking a week off in between courses means I’ll just be hyper busy for the days I am in the office.  I worked a normal day monday (9-6) and then a longer day Tuesday (9-6 & 7-9:30) followed by a couple of hours before I left for the airport on Wednesday (7:30-9am).  This really isn’t that bad, but coming off of a course where we typically were busy/on from 7am till 10pm M-F with an 8 hr day on Sunday it adds up.  Plus the fact that I got a bit of a cold at the end of the course.  Fortunately I’ve shaken it (as of last night) and have really started to feel better.

Some pictures from Sheffield (the March course).  The conference centre was right on the edge of Sheffield (pop. 1 million maybe???), but had access to a nearby farmish type area.  I took some pictures of the chickens and lambs for the benefit of my mom.  I thought she’d appreciate.  Interestingly the lambs seemed to have numbers which corresponded to a momma sheep.  Some of them were a little camera shy, but I caught a couple off guard.

The real difference between the March course (for Senior Church Leaders) and the other courses is that it is designed for leaders who have a large amount of oversight over many congregations.  Many as in some had responsibility for over three hundred....not light work at all.  The course was then structured slightly different toward the end of the week with a larger emphasis on analysing the level of conflict and appropriate interventions.  The people on this course were really high quality.  Questions were high in quality and very engaging.  They really didn’t let you take a moment off.  Higher stress for Alastair and Colin as co-trainers, but just more interesting for me (at this point).  Had a lot of really interesting conversations over the course of the week.  The one that stuck out to me the most was with a man named Adrian.  Over lunch we discussed the change in British society from being a more supporting society to one that is much more individualised.  From Adrian’s perspective the change came about from Margaret Thatcher’s time pushing for education on a “for me” basis and influence from what England saw from the United States in push for the “individual.”  Interesting to me because England now is suffering from much of the same problems of individuals in the states (have education but no jobs available and saddled with debt from such education).  Prior to Thatcher’s administration the country didn’t have as many higher degrees, but people also didn’t have debt from education.  Now funding for education is in the tubes and people are paying out of pocket in the US and suffering when they can’t find decent work to pay off loans.  Not sure that I see a “solution” anywhere, but it’s a difficult to deal with because the government preaches getting education, but when the jobs don’t follow, it just doesn’t make for a good situation down the road.

Andrew Bontrager was also in London while I was up in Sheffield.  Before I left we went on some walking tours around central London.  Saw a lot of the palaces/guards/etc.. and then some of the older parts of east-central London.  Two tours in all.  Well worth it, but now that I know most of the information so they probably wouldn’t be much interest to me anymore.  Oh well, maybe I can give them for others when they’re around London.

I haven’t really given too much thought to what I might do/where I might go this summer, but a couple of ideas floating in my mind are either traveling around England and doing some hiking (perhaps the three tallest peaks in the England/Scotland/Wales) or getting a continues rail ticket and traveling around Europe going to Paris and going to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, etc...we’ll see how adventurous I am after I get back from Athens.

I should have some time to update my blog regarding my Athens trip once I’m back since Easter weekend isn’t that far off from when I get back (and I get Good Friday / “Easter Monday” off).  Cheers!

Waiting for Godot

(meant to post this a while ago, but here's a short update)

So I'm into a fairly busy time with work/life in London.  Just finished a week long course that was held in London (in Feb) and will be having two more courses over the next two months.  Basically is a set up of: prepare for course, do training course, recover from course, catch up from where you left work before you left, prepare for next course, rinse, repeat.  It'll likely leave me very ready for holiday time I have coming in March (heading to Athens, Greece) and when my parents come in late April/into early May.

Before the last course I did a little bit of sightseeing.  Some pictures of an ice sculpture made for the winter olympics.

Two pictures of a Roman wall that still runs throughout London.

After the last course I decided to go to a show - waiting for Godot.  It had Ian McKellen, who for those of you who don't know was Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, as one of the main actors.  Pretty darn good seats (cost 11 pounds and were front row - special tickets I got by waiting outside the box office on the day of) where I really could have grabbed the actor's feet at one point.