My Story… Part 4

September 2006

I waved goodbye to my mum and watched  her car drive out of the front gates until it was completely out of sight. I went straight to the desk in my new room and wrote in my Journal…

Mum has just left and I feel quite sad, yet happy to have finally made it here!  I don’t know any of these people yet. I’m just gonna stay put until the meeting tonight. Whatever happens, I’m stuck here at least until Christmas.  But I know I’ve made the right decision. Embracing the unknown, a fresh season, a chance to have time to myself, and space. Wide open space.

Dear Jesus, Thank you so much for what you have done in my life! Thank you for leading me here.  
I’m so nervous, yet excited! There are so many unanswered questions inside me. Please help me to be open to what you want to show me this year. I pray you would have your way in me and watch over my family whilst I’m here….

I soon got talking with other students at the welcome buffet and before I knew it my first night of bible college was over.  The first year however, did not roll by quickly, but felt slow at the time.  There was so much packed into each week, and every week unravelled new experiences, each with their high and low points.  I found it exciting and challenging. I went deep in my relationship with God in my first year and my faith grew from strength to strength.  I also learnt a lot about myself and the kind of person I wanted to be.

Character building was one of the key goals for students at the College. We worked around the campus one day a week. This involved working in teams on various jobs such as, painting, gardening, cleaning windows, chopping wood, helping in the kitchen, etc….  We also got up early in the week and had a job to do.  I remember feeling tired and grouchy some of those mornings, as I hoovered. Over time, I realised it wasn’t the chores that needed to change but my attitude.

Nothing helps you fight selfishness like living with others! Living in community is challenging, yet can be the most amazing experience! Everyone came to college with their own personalities, ideas, talents and struggles, so getting on each others nerves from time to time was inevitable! But, when practical acts of love took place (doing other people’s dishes, allowing others to make mistakes and lending an ear to someone in their time of need) the real meaning and joy of community living really started to kick in!  Knowing that someone took time to intentionally put you first can be a really humbling experience.  It creates a bond that can take relationships from being merely friends to family.  For me, living in community stretched my character to a whole new level.  I believe that the best demonstration of a Christian is to love, and there is no better place to love others than beginning with those you already live with!  I look back on some of those work days and giggle!
We had some great times at college!  There was a real sense of community and family around the campus. Meal times were great, as there was a main dining room where we could all eat together. On weekends we could cook in the student lodge or sometimes we’d go to our local pub or the Indian restaurant for food.  Some of my best memories of that first year was sitting around a fire on the beach, going to an Italian restaurant in the Mumbles where they served really yummy ice cream sundaes, having music jam sessions, having a water fight, going on a trip to Cardiff, playing games with the children who lived with the families on site and just chilling out in the student lodge playing table tennis and watching films.  My favourite place to go onsite were the Italian gardens.  I found it to nearly always be empty in my first year and I could sit there and listen to the birds singing and if I sat quiet long enough I got a glimpse of the odd fox.  I loved reading in those gardens and spent a lot of time praying there.

The main thing I learnt from that first year in Swansea, was God’s father heart towards me.  I had never really thought about God as a father.  It was a difficult concept for me to grasp. I was quite happy with knowing Jesus, but I had never really learned to rest in the love and grace of the father. God began a process of change in me that year.  He used very wise and caring people during this process. People who took the time to listen to me, talk with me, and pray for me.  During that time, I read a book called ‘The father heart of God’ by Floyd Mcclung.  The book really inspired me and helped me to grow deeper in my walk with God, my heavenly father.  I stopped seeing God as the old man in the sky with a beard and stick, tutting at my faults, and  I began to see Him as a loving Father.  The one who created my very being.  He knew me as I was being formed in my mother’s womb. He had waited patiently for me all those years whilst I had gone my own way.  He was the one who had drawn me out of dark places with loving kindness.  Like any good parent wants the best for their children, I realised that God wanted the best for me too. I had only began to touch the surface of what God wanted to show me and how he wanted to use my life for His glory.

I loved my class!  We started out as quite a large group, with a mixture of people from England, Wales, USA, Pakistan, South Africa and Korea. Each person came with their own views and ideas, not to mention the big personalities we brought with us!  We had a lot of fun together in class and whether we knew it at the time or not, we were playing a part  in each others spiritual walk, our theological understanding, and character development. I found the lectures interesting, challenging, and fun. With any subject, there is much to learn. But Oh, to study God! It really is a fascinating and beautiful thing! It’s an endless study.  I realised during that first year just how tough it was going to be for me to put God into a neat little box. For starters, I would not have thought to go to Bible College in the first place.  God’s ways are not our ways and for each person He will have something different.  I hadn’t planned to study a degree in theology, and I have never been the academic type. Hence, some of the grammar errors I might be making in this blog! I really enjoyed class discussions, but did not take to writing essays with the greatest enthusiasm at first.  When I look back I wander, had I been more mature in that first year, I would have put more effort into my writing.  But then again, God really dealt with matters of my heart that first year, and I wouldn’t change the time I allowed myself to accept his guidance and healing for anything, never mind a few higher grades! I read alot of devotional books and biographies in that year. It was amazing to see the various stories of how Jesus had touched and changed the lives of people all over the world! I spent alot of time journalling, praying and reading my bible. I took the time to develop relationship with my new friends, lifelong friends! I was growing in many ways and a hunger was growing inside me to share the father’s love with others somehow.  I also really wanted to go abroad and see another country. I had been to France for a few days once and lived in Germany when I was a baby, but I couldn’t remember it!  So, I kept praying that maybe God would bring the two desires together, to serve him in another country, out there somewhere….


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