New York – Day 3

On our third day we started off by taking the free commuter ferry to Ellis Island to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. It is amazing that the ferry is provided free of charge – that would never happen on this scale in the UK. It was cold and all of us, bar Hannah, decided not to take a coat – big mistake! Anyhow here is a picture of the statue: We then went on to Times Square – it is amazing to see how many huge video screens that exist in the middle of the city. We had lunch at Burger King which was nice except for the rude nun – we wonder why Christians and Christianity have such a bad reputation.
This was followed by a great trip to Central Park. As the sun had come out we thought we would take a horse drawn carriage trip around the park. It was really good and led by a random Irish tour guide. Well worth the money. Here are some photos of Sam and Sarah, and Hannah and I on the tour:

The park has some great views – I am sure my photos don’t do it justice but it is a great place which combines both views of the city but also of nature. And whilst the park is big the most striking thing in comparison with many UK city parks is that it is not flat. Anyhow here are a couple of photos.



We then went on to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum having gone past a whole load of others which where closed as it was Monday! We went in and the building is amazing but decided not to pay for the exhibitions as it was fairly expensive and we didn’t have too long.

New York – Day 2

Sam and Sarah live in the middle of Manhatten just a few minutes from Wall Street, and Broadway:

And here is the view from their apartment. Wow!

In the morning we went up the Empire State Building. The views were amazing. I especially liked this ‘arty’ photo with the light cutting across the image and the way the gold on the bottom right reflects on to the building behind it: Here is a picture of Hannah and I up the Empire State building:
New York has loads of skyscrapers but there are a few around the city that look like the one below – they look 2D or flat. They are actually parallelograms but they look really bizarre.

These are some pictures we took when on Brooklyn Bridge. The view was awesome but the photos aren’t great so I blame the camera! First a picture of the view from the bridge and then pictures of Hannah and I, and Sam and Sarah on the bridge.

New York – Day 1!

Hannah and I are in New York. We are visiting our friends Sam and Sarah. Sam works for Harper Collins and is out here working till Christmas and we thought it was too good an opportunity not to visit them during half-term.

Here are some photos from our first day – most of which was spent travelling.

First up here is Phil, Hannah’s brother who drove us to the airport:


This is the sunrise we saw as we drove:


And this is our view from the plane. We had seats by the window and because we were by an emergency exit we got loads of legroom which was great!

Busyness before a rest

Today has been spent preparing for and running our two lunchtime CUs that we are involved in and tying up loose ends in the work, such as those funding applications, before having a few days off. It is always so silly the way that we try and cram everything in just before we go away. When I was young the day before a big event such as a summer holiday or Christmas was always fraught with preparations and tying up the loose ends. It seems like it doesn’t change when you get older!

We did hear some great news today. My brother in law, Phil, got married in the summer to Liz, after they graduated from uni. They have both been on the lookout for jobs and then a place to live and Liz, has today been given a job working in a special baby care unit in Southend which is great as it means her and Phil will stay fairly close by so we can still go and see them regularly.

With it being half-term I won’t be posting for the next week!

School in local newspaper

One of the schools I regularly work in recently held a community tea so that the new head teacher could meet other heads, community leaders, church leaders etc. It seemed to go quite while and as part of it the Brentwood Gazette came to interview her and took a photo with some of her ‘key community volunteers’ which includes me! It is always nice to get publicity in the local paper – something that as churches we are not very good at doing – something we need to improve.

Doodle – arrange your meetings

I saw this on PastorHacks.Net and thought this looks quite useful. I have a couple of groups of people who meet with but we don’t have fixed regular meetings so it can be quite hard to get everyone together. Doodle sorts this out for you. As Bob Hyatt says:
1. Create a new poll with a title, description, your name, and possible dates and times.
2. You get a link to your new poll. Send this link to all participants.
3. The participants use the link to visit the poll and select suitable dates.
4. You use the same link to watch the poll’s progress and the result.

Check out Doodle!

Funding opportunities

I wanted to post this last night but I didn’t get the chance – the first time I have not posted on a weekday!

I sit on a local town-wide committee that brings various different agencies and providers who link together through youth work and puts them around a table once a month. I sit there and don’t understand all that is said, many of the bits I do understand are fairly irrelevant to my specific role and ministry. But often there are useful bits.

The last two meetings there has been some information regarding funding opportunities through Challenge 2000 and the Children’s Fund where groups of children and young people in Essex can apply for grants of up to £4,000 to panels of young people. We were sharing this with some of our youth groups last night and encouraging them to dream about some of the resources they would love to have. It is has ended up with us looking like we will put in three bids for a large amount of money all because I sat in some meetings which while not the most relevant at first are providing opportunities to quintuple my budget.

Let’s just hope we managed to get some of the money!

My Chemical Romance – Welcome to the Black Parade

My Chemical Romance have a great single out at the moment which has just got them their first UK number one. I like the tune with the wide variety that exists in just the one song but I think the words are really interesting.

For example:
He said, “Son when you grow up,
would you be the saviour of the broken, the beaten and the damned?”
He said “Will you defeat them,
your demons, and all the non believers, the plans that they have made?”
Because one day I’ll leave you,
A phantom to lead you in the summer,
To join the black parade.”
and
We’ll carry on,
We’ll carry on
And though you’re dead and gone believe me
Your memory will carry on
We’ll carry on
And in my heart I can’t contain it
The anthem won’t explain it.
and
Do or die
You’ll never make me
Because the world, will never take my heart
You can try, you’ll never break me
You want it all, you wanna play this part
I won’t explain or say I’m sorry
I’m unashamed, I’m gonna show my scar
Give a cheer, for all the broken
The words remind me of so many images from the Bible. Jesus comes and shows us what God’s love is like by defeating overs, how he is there for the broken hearted etc etc.
Update: their website says: “the album tells a hair-raising story in song. ‘Half of it is about making a deal with the devil’ says [vocalist Gerard] Way. ‘The other half is taken from our experiences as a band’.”

Who’d be a goalkeeper?

After the Reading v Chelsea game who’d want to be a goalkeeper. Both the Chelsea keepers took quite big hits – with both ending up having to come off Chelsea finished the game with John Terry in goal! Check out BBC Sport’s report on the game.

What is interesting is listening to the comments afterwards with Jose Mourinho wanting the FA to investigate the challenges and then Steve Coppell and goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson saying there was no intent shown by Hunt and Sonko in their challenges.

What is fair to expect off a goalkeeper?

Simply Youth Ministry Podcast

I love listening to the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast. I really enjoy the mixture of some good youth ministry content but also a whole load of banter and laughs. This week’s show (episode 32) is great including, as summed up by Josh, stuff such as :

How do we create a team that motivates each other?
I feel like an indentured servant!
How far is too far with authenticity?
When should you split up your group in a small church?
How do I deal with arrogant student leaders?
What’s Matt’s beef with elders?

Check it out and have a listen.