Keeping it Real – A Smith Family Update
Our most recent post was focused on ministry activities, but I know that many of you are also interested in our family life, so we want to share a personal update as well... just a little glimpse into a few aspects of our everyday lives! Enjoy!!
Weather - These Texas bones are ready for Spring, that much I can say! We were back in Texas for 7 weeks during our first British winter (2011/2012) so we missed a fair chunk of it and, we’re told, overall last winter was quite mild. This year, however, we’ve had the full experience. There’s been less ice and snow than might be typical, but don’t let any of these locals try to tell you it’s not that cold... IT IS! And the abusive wind (yes, that’s how I describe it) makes it feel colder still. The trickiest bit for us has been learning the art of home heating. We’ve never used heating oil, boilers or radiators and the like, so just figuring out how to work it and run it properly and efficiently has been a challenge. We have a small electric heater that we move from room to room as needed to take the edge off of the cold (the central heat only runs in the morning and evening), but overall we are managing to stay warm and cozy! Last year (2012) was the second wettest year for the UK since records began in 1912, and our daily life has us out and about on foot in it every day: walking Brooklyn to and from school, walking to and from the church and to and from local shops/businesses in town. I must say, I have never quite experienced anything like the persistent rain of last year. This is a rainy country to begin with, but even the locals were put-out with the seemingly never-ending precipitation. However, we do have high hopes for 2013! Already, we’ve had more non-rainy days in a few weeks than I can recall in the last several months... and a few were even sunny! :0)
Home - We have been living in our little two bedroom bungalow for 9 months now and are so very thankful for it. We are slowly getting small things here and there to make it feel more like home. Most recently we were able to purchase curtains for both bedrooms, which make them more homey but more importantly helps block both light and cold. The light isn’t much of an issue right now, but when the looooooong days of summer arrive, we will be very thankful for them as it begins getting light at 4am and stays light until nearly 10pm. We’ve also been borrowing the television from the church flat since we moved, but a family from Norway will soon be coming to stay in the flat for a few months, so it’s only appropriate that we return it. As such, we’ve been shopping around and found a reasonable deal on a new television which we purchased. Some would argue it’s not a necessity, but in our little world it is a big part of what we do (teaching videos w/the teens, etc.) and our one-and-only entertainment outlet. So, we are very thankful to have found one. More and more this town is starting to feel like “home” as well. We went through a rough patch recently where we just missed home so very much and honestly wondered if we had it in us to make it the full 3 years, but when we asked God to help us work through it, He was completely faithful and has fully restored our joy and contentment. Not only does this feel more and more like home, but the people are like family. Not implying in the least that our family back home could possibly be substituted or replaced, but certainly it would be all the more difficult to make our home here if we didn’t also feel loved and accepted in that way. Anyone who has ‘started over’ somewhere new knows how important that sense of belonging is. We are so very blessed to have that and so much more.
Family Adventure - While the excitement and passion we have for this work God has assigned us is deep and sincere, we are human have our ‘moments’ as well. We get homesick and miss friends and family. We get tired and need a break. We get claustrophobic and need to escape our tiny town for a few hours. Having a visit from family for the last two weeks was just what we needed to refresh our spirits and remind us of what a blessing it is to live and minister in such a beautiful place! We galavanted all over Cornwall with Trevor’s dad and step-mum (Jimmy and Teresa Smith), showing them the sights and the amazing natural beauty. We didn’t tell Brooklyn that they were coming for a visit. Instead, we opened the blinds on our large front window and just watched her reaction as her “Pappy and Nonnie” got out of the car and walked toward the house. It was priceless (and yes, I did get it on video... see below). At first she did a double-take, then she was incredibly excited and literally did a happy dance for two days straight! We also got to enjoy some of their wonderful ministry as they sang for a special event, ministered at a special Souls Harbour service and at the Sunday morning service of a church in another town. Trevor and his dad even shared a special moment, singing together in ministry for the first time as adults!
School - Like most children, Brooklyn is a sponge and is learning so fast it amazes us! When she started ‘real school’ in September, she knew her letters and numbers but had never read anything. Now she reads several ‘reading’ books each week and is sounding out words all over the place. Today she read the complete ‘prayer’ from her daily devotional book with very little help! Her writing is progressing just as well, along with math and a host of other things. She is a true social butterfly and genuinely cares for others. She is kind, graceful, confident and (ahem)... spirited! ;0) She is already following in the footsteps of her daddy: playing instruments and making up songs. Yesterday her song was about loving everyone and having a heart that shines for Jesus! She’s doing great in dance as well and was chosen to be the ‘leader’ for her class’s dance for an upcoming show. Watching her grow up is fascinating, as I’m sure it is for all parents. Every time I look at her, I’m overwhelmed that God would bless us with such an amazing little girl. Watching her learn to love Him and trust Him is also incredible. She often speaks of being in God’s family and how her name is written in His special book because she asked Jesus to live inside her heart. If these are the sort of things she makes small talk about as a 4 year old, what does the future hold?! I can’t wait to see. She will be turning 5 at the end of May and is already planning her "Cinderella" party in great detail! :0)
Wildlife (sort of) - It's obvious that we are not ‘locals’ by the flurry of excitement and excessive photo taking that occurred when we recently encountered a flock of sheep near a gate by the road. But I’m sure the locals (and the sheep) found it all very amusing! :0) Unrelated, but interesting... The seagulls here are very aggressive and are known to snatch food right out of peoples’ hands -- people who are feeding themselves, NOT the birds! I wish I could have snapped a photo of this hilarious scene from Monday: After dropping off Trevor’s dad and step-mum at the bus station in Exeter, we made a stop at a shopping center. In the car park, there was a couple eating in their car. On the hood of their car, stood an enormous seagull just staring at them through the glass, watching their every bite!
Texas - Because it’s so much cheaper to buy round trip tickets, each time we fly back to England we are also purchasing the return trip to Houston. As it is now, we are set to complete our most recent ticket itinerary by flying to Houston on March 26th (just a few weeks from now). However, as was the case last year, unless God miraculously provides the funds needed to buy our next round of tickets (to get back here and so on), we will not make the trip. We have a complete peace about it either way. Of course we greatly miss family and friends and want to see them (especially for Brooklyn's sake... every single day she prays for everyone in Texas and often asks about when our next visit will be), but we know that seeking God’s wisdom and direction in ALL things is important, and we only want to go at this time if it’s what HE wants. And if it is, then HE will make a way -- just as he has from the very beginning of this incredible journey of faith!
Well, I suppose that’s enough for now. If you are ever curious about other aspects of life here, just ask! It’s such an amazing adventure and we love sharing it with others however we can. Big hugs and blessings to you all!
Serving God and keepin’ it real in Cornwall,
- The Smiths (Connie, Trevor & Brooklyn) // UK for Jesus