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Friday, July 23, 2010

Paris!

Being 2 hours journey to Paris isn't a frequent occurance, so we decided to seize the opportunity. One of the sisters from Acton is French, but unfortunately our efforts to go with her were unsucessful. Consequently, we blundered off to France alone, relying on our traveling insticts to guide us through a foreign country with an unfamiliar language. We left home at 5:30 in the morning, (Which means we had to wake up at around 415. Keep that in mind. -Eric) and took the first Picadilly train of the day to the internaitonal rail station. We had to pick up our tickets from e-booking and go through mild security, but overall the process was painless other than the reading on the clock. We were taking the Eurostar train, they are high speed and go all over Europe. The ride is smooth and quiet, for a journey under 4 or 5 hours I would much prefer this to flying. The trip was between 2 and 3 hours, and we arrived around 10 local time. We had some difficulty figuring out the train tickets, but eventually secured a one day pass. We took the metro(underground) to the nearest Seine River stop, which was Notre Dame catheldral. Here we got tickets for a river tour, which ended up being a non-guided, hop on-hop off style tour. I would reccommend getting a spoken tour, it makes it much more interesting. We cruised the river for 45 minutes, and eventually got off at the Eiffel Tower stop. Intial impression: it is an amazing large strucure, but not as glamourous as I imagined. I expected a shining metal spire, but it is painted dull brown and the area underneath is completely infested with souvenier sellers. This is no exaggeration either, which walking underneath you will be approched by at least 10 people jingling their miniature towers(each seller has the exact same merchandise), and pass by dozens of little towels layed out with more replicas of every color and size. We admired it for a little bit, and then decided we were hungry so we marched off in hunt of food. We found a nice street cafe, where my steak was only .9 Euro more than Eric's burger, and the wine was cheaper than the soft drinks. We enjoyed the atmosphere(the waiter being terribly frustrated with us, and the smokers all outside with us), and took in the sights. We walked back to the large lawn in front of the Tower, and took the classic goofy pictures leaning on. Unfortunately we're unable to show you these pictures, for my camera decided it wanted to stop storing pictures at this point in the day, and then promptly resumed storage on the train home. We then paid 4 dollars for the right to climb the stairs, to the first and second level. The view was really nice from there, and the second level was only half way up. The line was really long and it was raining, so we decided to pass on the top level this time. We went down and then walked for a bit, really just wandering around. We caught a bus out to that big square arch thing that the Tour de France finshes at. It was big and old and impressive, but not really much to do. We walked some more, caught another bus, and walked around a bit. Admittedly we were a little lost for what to do in the city, but it was nice to see it. We then found another bus down to the river for dinner. We had to walk around for 20 minutes to find a place that: 1)was in our price range, and 2)had a menu in English. We finally found one and had some nice lasagne and steak. Afterwards we walked down one of the wide avenues, caught the metro to the station, and checked in for our train. It was an easy journey back, rolled into London around 11:00, and finlly arrived home around 11:30, exhausted. (Oh and if you are ever traveling in Paris, just letting you know all the streets look the exactly the same and it can be hard to find out which road you are on because the signs are small and hard to see. So most of the time we had no clue where we were. But i thought it was nice to be walking around a city so famous as Paris. -Eric)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coaster Craziness

Early Thursday morning we woke up to meet Michael D at the hall. He ran into a little trouble renting the car, but a the wait wasn't too long. There were eventually 7 of us in the car, and after 3o minutes stuck in a traffic jam we were off to the amusement park. It's called Thorpe Park, it has about 8 roller coasters, and is a decent sized park. Right away we went to Stealth, a half sized, but still thrilling, Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. We then went over to their signature coaster called Saw. It was a very long queue, about 90 minutes, but it was supposed to be worth it so we waited anyway. About 10 minutes in it started to sprinkle, then drizzle, and then strait out poured. We finally gave it up and headed for shelter, but by then everyone was completely drenched. (It was very very cold too. So we were under a very small shelter and all shivering. -Eric) We waited 20 minutes for the rain to stop, confirmed that the ride was running again, and got back in line. We had advanced a little, but many had stayed in line so we were still an hour back in line. It was still spitting and cold, but we finally dried off a little. The ride was really fun and worth it; (The Saw is a little bit like the Maverick in Cedar Point if any of you have been able to ride that yet. -Eric) afterwards we rode one of those spinning rides, which as also a good time. We hadn't eaten and were cold still, so finally around 3 we found a Pizza Hut buffet and went to town. We then went to do a few more rides, and squeezed in another ride on Stealth and Saw right at then end. We wearily walked to the car and made the rounds dropping everyone off, and went home.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Marathon Days (cont.)

Wednesday was once again a service day, Eric and I went with Michael B and Doug. We were in one of the nicer neighborhoods, and were getting mixed reactions. One man we gave the invitation to had been contacted by the Witnesses in Pakistan, and we had a good conversation with him. (I really enjoy working with Michael B. He's old enough to have had many good experiences and done many things in Jehovah's service, yet he's young enough to be able to still relate to. And he had the energy to do a lot in the ministry and at the meetings. -Eric) At one of the doors we found the car pictured(Audi R8 to those wondering, featured in the Ironman movies if you can't remember where you recognize it from.), quite a discovery if I do says so myself. (I say so myself too. -Eric) Stay tuned for an upcoming album dedicated to the automobile awesomeness we have observed over here. I went home after the morning, and there isn't much to report for the afternoon. Eric rushed in around 5:45 and ten minutes later we were out the door again. We barely caught our bus on the High Road, and took it north for a few miles. We got off to walk to the theatre, on the way I had a slight incident with stepping on a piece of glass that punctured my shoe. Not to worry though, not a massive amount of blood loss so we went on our way. (Through our combined medical training and experiences we deduced that a pint of blood loss isn't that bad. -Eric) We met the Ealing kids(I believe about 16 of us in total) at the theatre for the 6:50 showing of Toy Story 3. Everyone agreed it was a winner, its one of the better films I've seen lately. Afterwards we walked for 10 minutes to the proper bus stop, and had to wait another 10 for the bus. It was quite chilly but we survived. We went back to Joe's house for some snacks and video games. Finally around 11:30 we headed out, had to get back so we could have more fun the next day.


(Doug, Michael B, Blythe, and I were done with the ministry by about 12. So Michael dropped us off at Doug's house. I was going out in the afternoon but i wasn't supposed to meet Estera (yeah i was with her again) until 13:00. So after about an hour of chill time I headed out again and we ate at Morrison's for lunch. There we meet some other sisters who were just finishing up their morning so we ate with them for awhile. I was doing some quick research and note taking in preparation for a call that i wanted to do that afternoon. All the sisters for some reason kept teasing and messing with me so it was kind of hard but i think i got nicely prepared. And was able to squeeze in a couple comebacks too. There is a meeting for field service on Wednesday afternoons at 14:00 but it was only 13:30 so we did some quick calls then walked over to the sisters house that the meeting is held at. There was about 7 of us which was encouraging I'm sure because i heard that usually there is only 3 or so for the afternoon group. Guess who got to say prayer for the service group the second time that day. Me of course sillies. Its not my favorite thing to do because i think its a lot of pressure but its nice to be used and trusted to do those things so quickly over here. And i think Michael B and Doug enjoy making Blythe and I say them. After the meeting we headed out to do a study that Estera had. We realized though that she didn't have a head covering so i would need to do it. So on the way i had a crash course on what they were studying and what they had already done and talked about and different things Estera thought i should emphasize because they would be especially be good for the woman. When we got there her husband, who was very nice and friendly, let us in and we got to talk to him for a few minutes. I think he might be interested one day too. The woman then came in and her friend did too. We learned that her friend had been studying too and had attended a few meetings and she was wondering if she could sit in on the study with us. We of course said yes so the 4 of us had a little study. I rather enjoyed conducting and Estera did very well adding in things and saying them in different ways so the women understood things better. We discussed Jehovah's qualities and being able to draw close to Him and being able to be called "Jehovah's friend" just like Abraham. They thought that was amazing. The study and discussion went perfectly. They asked good questions and agreed with everything. It went so well that i wouldn't be surprised if they were attending the meetings soon. She said part of the reason they didn't go to church was because of such hypocrisy and people not getting along and hating each other. I hope that when she goes to the Kingdom Hall she can feel the love that we all have for each other. I have actually met many people that became Witnesses and were drawn to the truth simply from seeing the joy and love between the brothers and sisters and how they treated new ones. It wasn't really even about the beautiful hope we have for the future. Anyways after the study Estera and i were so happy to have just been apart of being able to teach the women a few things. Its amazing to think Jehovah and the angels might be specifically using us to teach a person. On the way back we realized we were walking really fast and skipping a little bit. Which was quite humorous. Afterwards we headed over to McDonald's. After another quick battle over who's paying again we had a few more milk shakes then went to do my call. They were busy so we weren't able to talk at all. We did some of Estera's calls then headed over to do some more territory. It was only a few flats so it was over quickly. But noticing the time i had to rush back home to make it to the movie so after saying goodbyes i hoofed it back home. It was definitely one of my favorite days of the summer so far. -Eric)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Marathon Days

Tuesday was once again designated a service day, I went out in the morning and Eric did a tiny bit more. We went for a late English breakfast with Kate and Estera after service. In the evening we went to East Acton's meeting, as we had commitments for Thursday. The meeting was good as usual, and we were able to see people we had met previously at RBC work or gatherings. Afterwards a group of about 15 of us went out to eat at a Portuguese restaurant. The food was good and the association was excellent. One of the brother's is recently back from his first 3 month International Volunteer construction assignment in the Congo. He had so many good stories and adventures to tell us about, and can't wait to go back. Talking to him reaffirmed my desire to do the exact same thing. We got home a bit late, but it was worth it, a really good day.



(For some reason Tuesdays are a good long day here. It's easy to set up dates and times to work with people. In the morning i worked with Michael D again the same as last week. We met at 8 and did some street witnessing out to Chiswick again. It was about 30 minute walk there and 30 back but we needed to burn some more time so we through in a loop around Acton too. I don't remember any specific talks with people that stand out. Street witnessing is usually more about having good association with your partner. Then if you do meet someone interested it's its own special thing. Most of the time people quickly brush you aside when you try to speak to them. But we did have fun talking about and planning for Thursday. When we met the group at 9:30 we decided to keep working together. The territory that was assigned is out toward Ealing so we got to take a half hour peregrination out to the road that we were entrusted to work. Two sisters were also going to work the street with us. We thought that they took the bus because they were talking about doing that at the meeting for service. Well since we had walked there we thought they must have arrived prior to us we so walked up the street looking for them. After failing to find them however we just decided to at one end and work towards the end where they would be arriving. It worked out fine and we met midway through the road. Then i walked with Michael all the way back to the hall then headed toward lunch. The restaurant makes very good traditional English breakfasts so Blythe and I had that. I of course having the large double portion size. The meal was lavishly palatable and the company was very refreshing. I had made plans to meet then work with Estera at Morrison's at 15:00 but after further contemplation we decided to meet at McDonald's for some ice cream instead. There aren't many good ice cream shops in Acton so McDonald's is the place to go for ice cream. After a short battle over who should pay for the ice cream, the Regular Pioneer with a job or the Regular Auxiliary Pioneer on holiday, we got our milk shakes and got on the bus towards the calls and territory. So many people were not home we tried to do some of her calls. They were also not home. It can be a bit discouraging at times. We headed out to do some more territory and we finished a few blocks of flats that were partially worked earlier that day. I needed to be back at 6 for the meeting at 7 and Estera was coming over to Doug and Kam's for dinner anyway. So the 5 of us all crowded around the kitchen table and ate a good meal of rice and stew. Wine was offered to everyone but we woefully had to abstain. Only because we were going straight to meeting however. Like Blythe said the meeting was fun. And we surprisingly knew many people. Its amazing how in Jehovah's service if you put yourself out there you can meet so many people and make many friends then somehow meet them again later. It really shows we are all just a big family. After meeting we got invited to "go get some coffee" which we soon discerned is just a code expression that's used in the Kingdom Hall to mean "hey lets go get some drinks at the pub." It became very apparent at the pub when nobody ordered coffee. Who drinks coffee at 22:00 anyway? After we were there for maybe an hour and a half Michael and his sister Prisilla took us home and we relaxed for awhile then went to sleep after a long day. For me at least.
Oh and about my future plans. Well after Bethel for awhile I am just going to continue the full time ministry. And make sure I available to get called in for disaster relief whenever it is needed. For Haiti they said they had enough volunteers but the problem was some either weren't qualified or they couldn't handle doing what was needed to be done. I was a little disappointed I wasn't able to offer myself because of still being in school. But hopefully i will be able to be used soon. And Blythe and i can make a good team. I get the people out of the destroyed home and make them well again, then he can rebuild their home and Kingdom Hall. -Eric)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Return to the Courts

On Monday we were once again able to sleep in a little, and then we decided to use the beautiful sunny day for some tennis action. Much of the skill we had attained during the first few weeks was now in hiding, but we eventually coaxed it back. We ended up playing all afternoon, with only a quick ice cream trip as a break. We came back home for a light supper, and then headed out to catch a bus to Ealing again. We went back to meet the kids from the meeting on Sunday, we were doing a Watchtower study. They regularly study every Monday, just the kids, no one over 22 to be seen. This week one of the younger brothers was assigned to conduct, and he did a really terrific job assigning paragraphs and scriptures, and making sure everything was covered. We had a good discussion about some of the points, and researched a few points as well. (During the study some things that we couldn't quite understand well enough to explain to each other came up. So one of the brothers pulled out his laptop and started researching the topic on the Watchtower libraries and we were able then tot discuss the points and understand it better. -Eric) I realize I'm gushing a little here, but it really was an enjoyable time. (It was so much fun! It was really nice to be with a lot of young people and do something spiritual and everyone take it seriously. The comments were really in depth and i think everyone had an enjoyable time. We were talking about trying to try it back home so hopefully it will work out. -Eric) Afterwards we watched Toy Story, to get in the zone for the new one coming out. We talked for awhile afterwards and suddenly it was late and we needed to catch a bus back to town.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Widening Out

Once again we were able to sleep in again on Sunday, and then we took the tube to Ealing for their meeting at 1:00. We had made arrangements with Kami, the once we met during Acton RBC and the District Convention. They have a really neat old building, it used to be a schoolhouse. (We heard that when they remodeled a few years ago they numbered all the bricks so that when they put them back up it was the exact same brick in the exact same place as it had been before. -Eric) They have lots of young people in this congregation that we were able to meet. After the meeting we went and did service for an hour, once again in the "mob" fashion. It's really fun to finish off a whole neighborhood with lightning speed. Most of the group then met an Nando's, a European chicken restaurant. They are famous for their Peri-Peri hot sauce, the whole meal was really good. After that we went to one of the pubs with a few of the guys for a drink, and we talked and laughed for another hour. (Which was so much fun. I can't wait til we can do that back home. -Eric) We finally came home around 8, just in time for our new favorite show, Top Gear. If you have a few minutes you must check out the episode about the Smallest Car in the World. After that we watched an old Sherlock Holmes movie, which was strange because we recognized all the street names. After that we went to bed so we could prepare for the jam packed day that was ahead (sarcasm :D)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

British Museum and BBQ

On Saturday morning we went down to the British Museum for a Bible Tour. They are run by Witnesses, you can check out the details at the Meander Travel website. We met in the foyer area, there were around 30-40 other Witnesses there waiting, and we were all dressed up of course. As a result of our busy hectic schedule mixed with some procrastination we forgot to book one of the tours during the week; instead we just showed up and hoped for extra space. Fortunately for us there was, we were included in once of the 5 tours operating that morning. Our group had a nice family from California, some Canadian brothers and sisters, some from Germany, a group of Swedes, and a Australian group. We were on the "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" tour, which focused on the ancient Roman Olympic and Gladiatorial games. We were led to different artifacts in the museum, and then our guide read a scripture and linked them together. (It was basically an interactive talk and instead of just explaining the scriptures there were objects that made it come to life. -Eric) The stories and situations were amazing, and it made the scriptures makes so much sense. We all had radios with earpieces, so the tour guide could talk naturally and all could hear. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and cost £4.Overall, it was a great experience and I can't recommend it enough. Afterwards we went down to the Strand to find a store we wanted to go back in, but it was closed, so we went over to up to Trafalgar Square and over to Leicester Square. We then walked up Long Acre road to Covent Garden and watched the street performers for awhile. The environment was fun and the performances entertaining, but I would recommend not coming on Saturday to avoid the crowds. (I personally love the crowds so if your like me i would recommend Saturdays. Often central London is very crowded too so its been lots of fun for me. -Eric) We then went up to Oxford Street once again because we needed to exchange an item, (and yet again we bought more clothes. -Eric) and finally took the tube home late in the afternoon. We had been invited to dinner for the evening, so we went to the store to buy a bottle of wine. Wow, that was a little overwhelming, way too many choices, but we finally settled on some Cabernet Sauvignon. After arriving home we had just enough time to breathe once, and then we were out again. We walked to Michael and Mercy's house, and supervised Michael's grilling ability. Eric had requested an African food, so there was also a dish that we ate with our hands. (Literally using only your hands. -Eric) After dinner we all watched a movie, (The first one to guess which movie we watched wins a prize! Post your answers in the comments section please. -Eric) and then it was time for pictures and time to go home.