We have one last day in London, after spending 13 days here during our lay-over. After surviving Africa for 6 months, our family came here ready for bonding and relaxation, only to face strained days and disunity at first. I thought it would be a great idea to do the double decker bus tour to begin with to get an overview of the city. Not such a great idea with kids who are fatigued and who have no idea of the significance they are viewing. We enjoy the public transportation here, but it involves lots of walking in the cold to and fro. So, to get the bus tour, the kids were walking about 2 mi to the subway station, then quite a while switching undergrounds, then a ways after that. We've since figured out short-cuts. Anyway, we were all fatigued from traveling 3 days from Cameroon to get here. We spent the 2nd and 3rd days here on tours (winter special- 2 dys for the price of 1 with a boat tour on the Thames thrown in.) Overall it was a good experience but not recommended in our situation. After a couple days of 4 kids kinda fussy, we decided to stay in for part of a day and make a new start of things. We've been studying Shakespeare and Medieval times, so I was excited to learn there was a New Year's wassail at the Shakespearean Globe Theatre. I bought us all tickets for Jan 1st, and after resting for a large part of the day, we set out for the show. Our public bus got diverted due to the parade, we ended up way far away, we took the underground to get back in the right direction, got on another bus going the wrong way, got off to take a foot bridge that was closed. The night was cold, windy and dark. We tried to catch a cab and couldn't. We finally reached the theater 1 and 1/2 hrs late. They were going to make an exception and let us in for the end. I turned around in the lobby to tell my family. They were gone and I couldn't find them. Turns out later they had gone to the bathroom of course, but by then it was too late. I was actually crying in the lobby and just wanted to go home.
The good news is that after losing some, we also win some. In our perspective, once again, God came to our rescue, even here in London. Things got much better from there and we've recovered from my tears to go on and have a wonderful visit in London- I can authentically say. We're staying in a Christian owned hostel in a nice suburb and have had nice accomodations, good breakfast, and have met some interesting and fun people. We spent a couple days with another family. We went to the science museum, visited Paddington Station where Miriam kissed the statue of the bear, toured St Paul's Cathedral and climbed over 500 stairs for a gorgeous view (Elle says it's just like climbing in the Alps. How would she know?) We went to the London Zoo (reminds me the Cinti Zoo is really top notch), went ice skating, enjoyed ice cream in the cold, ate fish and chips and lots of wonderful ethnic foods, toured Wellington Arch and the Royal Mews (the working stable of the queen at Buckingham Palace), watched the changing of the guards on a rainy day (after a 45 min wait in the cold rain they merely changed 3 guards' grey capes), went to King Henry v111 Hampton Court Palace (the most interesting thing for me), toured Tower of London where we saw the royal crowns, and tomorrow we hope to go to WestMinster Abbey and maybe after a rest play some video games at an arcade (we get free tokens with our London Pass.) We did almost everything with one ticket called a London Pass which turned out to be a pretty good deal.
Just last night we finally made plans for what will happen Monday- in 2 days. Our flight back to the USA is actually Jan 17, so after London we head back to Paris where our luggage is stored. After much effort and attempts to get the Alps, and taking into consideration the need to lessen travel instead of increasing it right now, we decided to find a family friendly place for 6 in Paris- no easy task as all hotels all over the world try to refuse 6 in a bedroom. Fair enough. Turns out on Expedia that we found a really good rate at an Explorers Disneyland Hotel. We hope to use it as a base to play in the pool and relax, and make a few days trips at a slower pace into Paris.
We feel so blessed to be here together, genuinely finding time and opportunities to bond, by God's grace. I've found that no matter how much or little one has or does, it's the relationships that matter most, and genuine peace comes when righteousness and peace kiss each other. Living rightly in Christ's perspective is a doorway to peace. Living rightly starts by hearing and obeying-Luke 8- like the waves, the demons, the dead child, and even the seed on good soil (all examples found in Lk 8 God showed me today.)
Thanks for reading this and caring about us. We're in for a lot of change in our lives over the next few months- Still quite unclear of what it all means. We'll try to keep you posted.