Tuesday, April 3, 2012


This past week, Act 4 was fortunate enough to be invited to Jersey to share its Star Citizen program in five schools across the island. For those who may only know of NEW Jersey, Jersey is an island off the coast of France. Here's a play-by-play of my week with Act 4 in Jersey.

Friday: To make the journey to Jersey easier for the team, I ventured north to Birmingham to spend the night with Lea at her university. We managed to have some fun before the hard work began and went to see The Hunger Games in the cinema.

Saturday: In order to make our ferry, Sam arrived at Lea's university at 6:30 am to drive the four hours down to Poole. Despite the fog, we managed to make it on time and the sun even came out to greet us! The ferry stopped at Guernsey before our final destination, Jersey. Total ferry time was around five hours. We finally arrived on the island of Jersey, only to get lost a few times before making it to our accommodations with Elaine and Graeme, Reverends on the island.

Sunday: After losing an hour (Thanks daylight savings time), we woke up to join Liz, a lay worker, at her church on the west coast of the island. We attended service and ate some lunch before a four hour rehearsal to finalize our program for the following week. When rehearsals were deemed finished, Liz came to collect us for dinner at her house, but not before a quick tour of the island. The night ended with a delicious dinner, a game, and a group of youth who appreciated my American background. :)

Monday: Day One! We arrived at our school early, only to find no one was around to let us in! Luckily, we didn't have long to wait and quickly began to set up for the day. Although I was nervous to be in my first ever Star Citizen Show, I enjoyed the children's reactions afterwards. The day was such a blur, with a few hours set-up, an hour long performance, tons of workshops, and a few hours packing up, we easily put in a ten hour day. 

Tuesday: Day Two. We arrived at our school early yet again to find that we were the first in. Thankfully I wasn't as nervous this day, as I had already gotten my first performance out of the way. Things went smoothly, until I went into Year 1 and 2 classrooms to find that our trailer videos didn't work with the software! Thankfully, after seeing the videos more than twenty times before as they were once used in assemblies, I had a pretty good grasp on the themes.  While it was even more exhausting after a second ten hour day, we finished packing up a little quicker than the day before and managed to make it to the beach as a treat! 

Wednesday: Day Three. Another day, another school, and this time, someone was there to let us in! We quickly moved everything from the van to the hall, only to find that we had left a piece of equipment at our previous day's school! After a few frantic text messages, Liz had located our missing piece and promised to get it back to us in time for the performance. What a lifesaver!  The rest of the day went off without a hitch and Lea and I found that even our puppet shows (one of the workshop activities) were amazingly creative and unique. Overall it was a good day, finished up by Liz stopping by and dinner at Billy and Pauline's house (a minister on the island). 

Thursday: Day Four. Arriving at the school and getting into the building were no problem on our fourth day, although I have to admit I was hesitant about the hall. Lea and Sam spent a good fifteen minutes blacking out windows while I got started on my task, as a portion of my responsibilities have to be completed before the children come in. We set up in record time, posed for a few photos for Graeme (another minister and our host for the week), and received a few treats from Liz. The day went quickly, almost too quickly, as Lea and I ran out of time with our last workshop of the day! We cleared up and called Liz to go for ice cream as it was our last night on the island. When we arrived home, Elaine (our other host for the week) had cooked lobsters for us, my first ever! 

Friday: Day Five! Sam, Lea, and I had to be thorough in the morning before heading to our final school as we didn't have time to come back to our host's before catching the ferry home. We arrived at the school without a hitch and were greeted by a friendly caretaker and Religion coordinator. We set up quickly, despite being distracted by Liz coming in to say hi, and the rest of the day just flew by. I was really impressed this day by the complexity of the raps the Year 6's wrote. At the end of the day, after all the students had presented what they had been working on, a few of the youth Liz works with came to help us pack up. We were done early and went to Liz's to hang out for a bit before catching our ferry back home. 

Saturday: The end. We arrived in Birmingham around 3 am, while Sam continued driving until he reached home around 4 am. I spent the night at Lea's again before heading home the following afternoon, finally reaching Potters Bar around 4:30 pm. What a crazy journey!

I am really thankful I had the opportunity to experience such a unique and interesting place. Although we didn't get to see a few of the sights on the island, as we were working too much, I did enjoy all the connections I made with the people and students we worked with. Someday, I may just have to go back and visit!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


As some of you may or may not already know, I have been doing this half-term's assembly on my own after Erin made the difficult decision to return home early. While I miss having her in the office and up on stage with me, I know that things happen for a reason and, as cliche as it sounds, the show must go on. This half-term began with a few intense days of rehearsals with Sam having me run the same drama over and over again. When I finally got the drama sorted, then we spent a whole afternoon on memorizing my links. All the hard work has seemed to pay off as I've already done 17 assemblies on my own. Only 3 more to go!

This assembly begins with me telling the kids that Erin has gone home and that I am doing assemblies on my own. I review the three previous themes, Potential, Attitude, and Unity, and then say that if I was a true champion maybe I could do things on my own, but that we should watch "today's video" and see if it helps me out. The theme, same as the title of this post, is Courage, which worked out perfectly considering the circumstances. After the video, I discuss the theme and link into the drama, where I play the role of a shepherd lad looking for his one lost sheep. After the drama, I review the lyrics and actions to a song we sang last assembly, have the children sing the song, and then I close with a few short sentences about perseverance and having the courage to overcome difficult challenges. While doing this the first time was rather intimidating, I find that the pressure of performing helps me to stay in the present.

This half-term, especially the past two weeks, have also brought on the added challenge of working in the office alone as my supervisor took a much-needed two week holiday. Although I may have been overwhelmed by the prospect of performing alone and being the only person in the Act 4 Office, I thank God for the confidence and courage He has given me in overcoming any difficulties. I am thankful to have survived on my own and will be that much more thankful when my supervisor returns and we find another volunteer to do assemblies with me. As they say, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All New People

A fellow YAGM of mine, Emily, messaged me to ask if we could meet up for coffee a week or so ago. I suggested we go for dinner and a show instead, so Emily and I got together for dinner near Leicester Square and enjoyed our own private box seats at Zach Braff's play called "All New People." Afterwards, we hung around and were fortunate enough to meet him! Here's the picture!

Oh how I love London! :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, and Brussels

My my. February has flown by! Erin and I had one week left of assemblies following my last post and then we both went our separate ways for half-term breaks. While she went to Spain, I ventured into the Lowlands with my friend Jess, exploring Amsterdam for four full days, Dusseldorf for a full day, and Brussels for two full days. Seeing as it's 2:15 am here, I should probably be getting off to bed, but I just wanted to apologize for being so rubbish at updating this! I would have posted something had I had a solid internet connection, but I didn't get one until we made it to Dusseldorf and even then I had no access to my pictures. I will most definitely try to remind myself to post again tomorrow WITH pictures AND stories!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Long Awaited Holiday Report!

Hi Friends!

So as I said before, I was going to post about my holiday to Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, and Brussels with a fellow YAGM, Jessica. :)

Here's how the story began.

Learning from my mistakes with my first holiday to Spain, I elected to pick flights that would not require sleeping over in airports. So on February 11th, I took my time in the morning, hopped on a train from Potters Bar to London Kings Cross (yep, often to Platform 9!), and took the Piccadilly Line all the way down to London Heathrow Airport. Things went smoothly, I managed to find Jess okay, and we got on our hour long flight a few hours later.

The frozen canals of Amsterdam! :)
When we got to Amsterdam, we had a few moments of disbelief as we started to fully realize we were in Amsterdam! :) Jess planked a statue in the airport and I managed to stop an escalator, so we left definitely left our mark at the Amsterdam Airport! We managed to find our bags, no hassle, got on the metro, walked through the center of Amsterdam, and finally found our hostel in the freezing (!) cold. We ventured out that night, back to the metro station to get Burger King of all things, as a full meal cost 2 Euro, the cheapest meal around. We spent a few more minutes on our walk back, checking out the infamous Red Light District, and called it a night.

The line waiting to get into the Anne Frank House.
Now as for the rest of our time in Amsterdam, I won't give you a play by play, but Jess and I managed to see some hotspots. Our first order of business was to visit the Anne Frank House, the warehouse where she and her family hid with other Jews from the Nazis. The most surreal part was actually walking through the bookcase into the secret annex. After reading about it in her diary, I could hardly believe that I was really there, walking where she once walked. It was an experience to say the least and I would love to go back again someday. After going to the Anne Frank House, and since it was so cold out, Jess and I decided to walk a little on the frozen canals, which apparently, we were told, only froze once every seven years. Lucky us. It was a good thing we did, however, as the weather warmed up considerably the next day and all the ice melted!
The view while walking on the frozen canal!

The Heineken Brewery aka "The Heineken Experience".
On our second full day in Amsterdam, Jess and I were on our way to find the Rijks Museum and the "I amsterdam" sign, when we ran into the Heineken Brewery. Rather than continue walking, we went in and were pleasantly surprised by how entertaining the "Heineken Experience" actually was! Just as in the Anne Frank House where we could record and send back videos, we thoroughly enjoyed making videos at the Heineken Brewery and we even got to practice our DJ-ing skills! Although Jess and I don't enjoy drinking beer, the whole experience was definitely the highlight of our day. We did manage to find the "I amsterdam" sign in the afternoon and ate another Burger King lunch, if I remember correctly. :)

For our third and final full day in Amsterdam, Jess and I chose to go on a Countryside Tour to see windmills, clogs, cheese making, and a traditional fishing village. While the weather was not ideal, being able to see other sights was definitely a plus. By this time, Jess and I were getting used to finding samples, so we enjoyed going to the cheese making demonstration which provided additional samples of cheeses, meats, chocolate, and stroopwaffels (our favorite snack until we had too many). At the clog maker's, I got an up close and personal look at how clogs were made, so close I even had to shield my eyes from the flying wood! Last, but not least, we stopped at a fishing village on the coast, where Jess and I split a Fish and Chips dinner which was fabulous! Overall, our stay in Amsterdam was fabulous. I can't wait to go back someday and see the canals during the summer, although they were my favorite part even in the winter!

A Karneval Poster.
From Amsterdam, we caught a bus to Dusseldorf, arriving at our hostel after dark. Wanting a traditional German meal, we were advised to go up to "Old Town" on the Tram and check out a few recommended places. Despite a mix up with tram tickets where Jess put hers into a machine it shouldn't have gone in, we made it to Old Town and after much debate, found a place to eat. Since Germans tended to greet us with "Hallo" and we'd respond "Hello", sounding similar, it often took a little bit of time for people to realize we weren't German (as opposed to "Hola" or "Bonjour" giving us away more quickly). We found this to be the case at our first restaurant, where we were handed German menus and couldn't make anything out of them. When we asked for waters, our waiter realized we spoke English and rushed back with translated menus.

Our delicious hot chocolate!
The next morning, we were told that we had managed to make it to Dusseldorf for "Karneval", a Mardi Gras type celebration. Since the festivities were held in Old Town and we knew how to get there cheaply by following the tram line, we walked down to see what all the hype was about. As we were walking, we kept passing cowboys, hippies, cartoon animals, and superheroes. Feeling left out, Jess and I passed a Euro Shop and purchased our own cowgirl hats and leis (not sure why they go together, but they seemed to work for our purposes). :) After stopping at a bakery to try baked goods we didn't know how to pronounce, we made it to Old Town, where we walked through the crowds and enjoyed a few German beers. I made a point of also trying out a real life German bratwurst, which was FABULOUS by the way. We spent the rest of the day walking around and even stopped at a cafe to enjoy a delicious hot chocolate and write postcards.

McDonalds and a historic fountain.
The following morning, we got up really early to catch another bus to Brussels, our last stop. That morning was not my shining moment and props to Jess for letting me be crabby, I just wasn't having it. We drove a few hours, only to stop and change buses, which we did after a kind soul translated the instructions into English for us. We finally made it into Brussels mid-morning, knowing we had a train and metro ride, as well as a walk, to get to our hostel, which wouldn't let us in for a few hours. Not wanting to walk around Brussels with our stuff, Jess wanted to take things easy, but again I just wasn't having it. We decided to travel towards our hostel regardless and managed to meet a stranger outside the metro who led us near our hostel. We locked up our packs in the downstairs lockers at our hostel and ventured out to find food.

Jess' mystery Mykonos "small" drink!
That afternoon, as we ventured into Brussels, we came across the Grand Place. It was GORGEOUS! So many golden buildings. We walked around a bit and ended up at a Greek place called Mykonos, which is where our day turned around. While ordering, Jess said she would like to try a Belgian beer, to which I said that I would give it a try as well, but for good measure I said I wanted a small beer. To be funny, one of the cooks decided to give me a small beer, in a shot glass, about two sips worth. He and his fellow cooks thought this was hilarious! And with the language barrier, all we could do was make faces and laugh. The gyros Jess and I got were delicious AND the whole atmosphere instantly turned our day around. We left Mykonos with smiles on our faces, ready to check enjoy the best Brussels had to offer.

The Grand Place!
We left the restaurant to go back to the Grand Place and all the chocolate shops lining its sides. Jess and I splurged and got chocolates at the original Godiva shop and then went down a few doors to Neuhaus, a Belgian chocolate shop where the salesclerk allowed us to have a piece of chocolate for free. Now when six to eight pieces of chocolate cost 5 Euro, a piece for free is a big deal! The chocolate was TDF (to die for, as my mother would say)! Jess and I hit up a local grocery store to make an inexpensive dinner and headed back to the hostel to get settled into our rooms. As we had heard Brussels was sketchy at night, Jess and I made sure to head indoors before dark.

Mannekin Pis
The next day, Jess and I had to fit everything in as it was our only full day in Brussels. We walked around some of the shops, saw the Grand Place again, found a garden and museum, and went searching for the famous Mannekin Pis, a famous fountain with a statue of a little boy peeing. We managed to do everything on our list, even eating a Belgian waffle and more chocolates, and also decided we didn't like surrealist art after our museum tour. All in all, our only full day in Brussels was delightful and we even went back to Mykonos for more Greek food!

On our last morning in Europe, Jess and I decided to check out a Lutheran church. Even though the service was in Dutch, we still enjoyed the experience, especially all the kindness and hospitality we received from the church community. It was a little surreal that night, realizing that I had been worshiping in Brussels, Belgium that same morning! Jess and I finished service, took the train to the airport, and splurged with our remaining Euros to get a Pizza Hut lunch. It was soooooooooo good! We boarded our plane for London and after a freak snowfall on the tarmac, were on our way back home! What a journey!

So that's my February Half-Term Holiday Report! I hope you liked it and that I didn't drone on too long. :)

Last, but not least, here's Jess in front of the first Godiva store!! :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Waiting for Wicked

Happy Birthday Elise! (Feb. 1)
Happy Birthday Uncle James! (Feb. 2)
Happy (EARLY) Birthday Grant! (Feb. 4)

Just had to get that out of the way! Where in the world has January gone?!?! February 1st was the five month mark of my life in Potters Bar! In another week, Erin and I will have delivered roughly 60 assemblies, seen thousands of children, and made it through half the school year! These poor English kids don't start their "Summer Holiday" until July 23rd!

As I am on our work computer, I do not have any pictures to add. Instead, I will try to confuse you with some British English words. Enjoy!

Dressing Gown
Shattered (please use in a sentence)

I think that should be enough for now. In roughly another hour, I will catch the train to London Kings Cross (Yes, the same one as in Harry Potter) to see Wicked, hence the post title. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Twenty-Four and Back From Wales!

As some of you may or may not have known, my birthday was on January 16th! 

On Thursday at the office, Luisa, Derek, and Erin sang me Happy Birthday complete with chocolate chip muffins. 

On Friday, I received a Happy Birthday sticker from the Head Teacher at the school we visited. Erin and I enjoyed the final Harry Potter movie that night at Luisa's house, complete with After Eight mints, my favorite! 

Saturday, I got together with a few YAGM's in London to enjoy my "Last Burrito as a 23-year-old" at the Chipotle near the Tottenham Court Road tube station and Soho! I am not ashamed to say that I ate the entire burrito bowl as well as chips and guac. TOTALLY worth it! While at Chipotle, Erin even brought out Birthday Brownies for us to enjoy as well!

Sunday, Ann and the boys sang me Happy Birthday in front of a cake with one candle! It was one of the cutest birthday songs yet!

And finally, on Monday, my real birthday, I celebrated with Erin by getting double chocolate chip muffins at Morrison's before hopping on a bus for five hours on the way to Wales. Although my actual birth moment wasn't the greatest, spent in a bus where I felt sick a majority of the time, I did have the bus sing me Happy Birthday as well. When we got to the conference, Erin even made  a point of having the entire group of 90+ volunteers and staff sing me Happy Birthday once again.

Needless to say, I haven't been able to get away from my birthday for more than a week! Without a computer and a strong internet connection, I returned home on Thursday to find all the birthday wishes on Facebook and in my email as well as a package from my Aunt Joanie and cards from my mother and grandmother! I certainly felt the love!

The Time for God BIG Conference in Wales was an awesome experience! I met a few new friends, had the chance to step back from my hectic life with Act 4 to reflect on my own life, and spent plenty of time relaxing and laughing with others. Talking with the other volunteers from South Korea, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, and many other places, reminded me of why I am in England and just how fortunate I am to be here at all! The conference ended on a high note with a talent show where we taught the other volunteers how to line dance to Cotton Eye Joe. :) I never thought my line dancing days from elementary school would come in so handy!

Coming home to Potters Bar, I finished the week off by going into London this Friday to meet up with some Gustavus professors who were on a J-Term trip!  It's crazy how small the world can be sometimes! Although I am slightly jealous they get to return to Minnesota so soon, I know that I'm here for a reason and before I know it, it will be August 9th and I'll be the one flying back to Minnesota! Enough of the forward thinking for now! Cheers!