Chapter One – Austin’s Journey
We arrived at Faith Church a few minutes before the scheduled departure time. There was and excited yet nervous anticipation in the air. Many people including parents, family members, and elders of the church were present, ready to send us off on our grand adventure. The bags had already been packed the previous night, so we were all set to go.
We started off with the usual pre-mission trip prayer circle, and had a great time of prayer and preparation. Then, we were off. The van ride was surprisingly uneventful and smooth. We arrived at DIA (Denver International Airport) and unloaded our bags, where we said goodbye to the drivers and headed inside.
We then had to receive our boarding passes and dropped off our checked bags. Josiah, Emmy, and I had to go separately from our group, due to the fact that we were staying longer and therefore had purchased tickets separately. We received our boarding passes and dropped our bags off smoothly thanks to a very helpful airport employee and waited for the rest of our group. They all got through smoothly, except for one young lady (Emily) who had a misspelling of her name on her boarding pass. Thankfully, it was sorted out.
We then gathered into our travel groups in order to go through security. My travel group was headed by Stetson and included Alex, Josiah, Nate, and Brian. We went through security and although basically everyone had to go through some extra security measures (including Josiah, who had to have his sausage tested), no one had any major problems. We were then released to eat if we desired to, and it was time to wait.
Time flew extremely quickly, and we boarded the plan on route to Detroit. The plane ride was pretty uneventful, yet boring. I do remember seeing one of the Great Lakes outside the window and that was decently exciting.
We then landed in Detroit and waited for the next flight. Detroit was very enjoyable, and I remember doing such things as eating Subway, watching a piano play itself, riding the train they had, and playing Mafia. In case you didn’t know, Mafia is one of my favorite games, and if you’ve never played it, see me and we’ll try and give you the opportunity to play the game.
We boarded the next plane which was not a very enjoyable ride. I made the mistake of trying to sleep through 80% of the 7 hour ride and getting just 20 minutes of sleep. It wasn’t fun. When we finally landed, we were very excited and happy, and we then headed to customs, the final step before finally being able to leave the airport atmosphere.
Customs was uneventful. I didn’t say a word. Our group leader, Dr. William “Bill” Ackerman did all the talking and I simply agreed with what he said. I am super thankful that the process went so smoothly without any hiccups. We then exited customs and arrived in the arrival’s area, where we had to wait for 5 members of our group who were coming in from different flights. The time passed quickly though, and we prepared to board the bus to the place we were staying.
The bus ride went smoothly. I definitely noticed the cars driving on the wrong side of the road. We arrived at “The HUB”, the place we were staying, which is situated in High Wycombe. We were greeted by the local youth who went to Union Baptist Church (part of The HUB) and proceeded to get situated at our new “home”.
Chapter Two – Faith Trip (Austin)
The next day, we proceeded to go on our tour of London. We got to see a lot of amazing things, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower’s Bridge, London Bridge, the Guard’s Palace, and much more. It was an awesome experience, and we had several of the local youth come with us to act as our guides. We got to eat lunch in Trafalgar Square, which was pretty enjoyable as well.
The next day, we began preparations for “Lighthouse” which is the giant VBS that occurs every year and serves thousands of kids. They have several sites and we helped set up the Hazlemere site on Friday. It was a lot of work, but it was still great. Afterwards, because they needed people to stay there 24/7 as “insurance”, a couple of friends and me stayed behind until 9 and had some fun. We got to try fish and chips that night and I must say, I’m not impressed.
On Saturday, we set up the other of the two largest sites, Highcrest. This one did not allow for us to do a lot of work, and we went home pretty early. That night, we had a barbecue with the local youth and hung out at the local park. (By the way, England’s parks are way better than American parks)
On Sunday, we went to church in the morning and had lunch afterwards. We had a Lighthouse leader’s meeting in the evening, and some of us didn’t get back until pretty late due to our shuttle having to take us in 3-4 different groups. I was a part of the last group of 5 people, and when we arrived, there was a wedding going on at the church, so we couldn’t go up to the rooms we were staying in. That was so much fun…
The next day, Monday, arrived and some of us were given the opportunity to have breakfast and take showers with a host family for the rest of the week! I was one of those selected along with three other guys, Micah, Alex, and Josiah. Our host family was very kind and provided us with plenty of food every day to sustain us. Then, we headed to the Lighthouse location (Me and my group were at Hazlemere, the largest site) for a brief leaders’ meeting. Then, the fun began.
I was an assistant leader in the 10’s. My group was very calm and collected, which I am thankful for. It was awesome to be able to establish connections with those kids and pour into their lives. I have been praying for them pretty often as well. The Lighthouse week passed by neither quickly nor slowly, and soon, it was over.
During the week, we had plenty of events going on in the evenings. The main event that I wanted to tell you about is something called Fresh Café. Basically, it’s a two-day youth group for the youth Lighthouse volunteers. The Holy Spirit definitely moved during those two nights, and I established some great connections with some of the people there, and am still in contact with them.
After Lighthouse was over, we had to help with the tear down process. It took a little while, but we eventually got it all done. It was an amazing opportunity to bless the leaders of Lighthouse.
That Saturday, we went on a tour of Oxford. It was absolutely stunning, and we had some amazing adventures that day. On Sunday, we went to several small churches throughout the city and provided encouragement for them. On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday we had several events occurring throughout the day and evening, which allowed for some great opportunities to pour into peoples’ lives. We also watched Sherlock one evening, which was definitely interesting.
We left The HUB with rather tearful goodbyes as many good relationships had been established with the youth there. We then boarded the bus and headed to the airport where we had even more tearful goodbyes. It was hard to imagine that this group we had gotten so close to and shared so many moments with would be leaving, and that we would soon be joined by another group. We then settled down to wait for the dance group we were meeting up with. I remember going on a food hunt with Emmy and getting some decent snacks. I then began communicating with one of our team members arriving from Paris in order to coordinate where we would meet her. Then, the wait began…
Chapter Three – Prayer Requests (Austin)
I have a couple of prayer requests:
For Pete, and all the people at Union Baptist Church who blesses us by letting us stay there and helping us figure things out. Please pray for boldness and protection for them; that they would be able to shine the light of Jesus in an increasingly dark and hostile world.
For the leaders of Lighthouse; that God would grant them peace and sound minds as they continue to organize Lighthouse every year. Also, please pray that they would continue to pour into the lives of so many children and bless them immensely.
For specific people we met there (On both trips). Please pray that they would be blessed and that Jesus’ love would pour out onto them. Also, some of them do not know Jesus. Please pray that their eyes would be open and that they would no longer be able to deny the existence of Jesus. Specific names are: Caroll, Shasha, Pete, Kallum, Ben, Joel, Henry, Natalie, John, Mateus, Kate, Deborah, Mark, Haydn, Freddie, Sam, Justine, Matilda, Matthew, Freya, Sophie, Amy, Cianna, and Jared.
A large portion of the kids/teens I might do not know Jesus. Please pray for them.
Pray that Creation Fest would continue to have a massive impact on the surrounding community!
That’s about it!
Chapter Four – A Few of My Favorite Things About This Trip (Austin)
We played several enjoyable games as a group such as Mao, Mafia, etc.
I met some awesome people and established some lasting relationships with them.
The WYAM base owned a stretch of woods, a cemetery, an old factory, and much more!!! It was so cool to explore!
I had several awesome God-moments. It was so amazing to be able to talk to Him and learn more about Him and his purpose for my life!!!
Several of my relationships grew SO much on this trip! (Especially on the first trip)
I got to see greats such as LZ7, Wildwood Kin, and CYBADRUMMER perform on the Lighthouse Dance Trip!
I also got to see legends such as Oliver Pengilley and Kay Arthur!!!
I got to teach some dance classes! It was amazing to be able to teach again after a year of not doing it.
I learned how to skateboard (sort of) from a new friend I met in England!
We went on several awesome excursions! Some of the places we went to include: London, Oxford, St. Michael’s Mount, Some Old Churches, Castle Tintagel, Several Beaches, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The London Eye, London Bridge, Towers Bridge, The Tower of London, The Guard’s Palace, and much, much more!!!
That’s about it from my part of the story.