Cascade Lakes Relay

August 27, 2011 in Life, Sport

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity, along with eleven other crazy people, to run in the Cascade Lakes Relay, a team relay covering 216.6 beautiful miles in central Oregon. After being warned of unbearable heat, long and steep hills, and sleep deprivation, the reality was actually a lot more fun and a lot less painful than I was expecting!

My contribution to the relay was 5.4 miles on a track through a forest, 7.1 miles up a long gentle hill (which might have also been through a forest, but it was midnight when I ran so I’m not really sure) and then 7.2 miles around a lake the following morning. I actually felt great on the first two runs, finishing them in 46 and 61 minutes, although by the third (66 mins) I was ready to finish! Our team finished in around 36 hours, and had a lot of fun in the process!

The highlight for me was definitely running up the long hill in the dark, and seeing millions of stars, including several shooting stars! I’m pretty sure they were anyway, although I may have been hallucinating by that stage…

Decorating the vans in preparation...

Decorating the vans in preparation...

Friends standing around

With our mandatory nicknames...

With our mandatory nicknames...

Can you guess which one is me?!

Can you guess which one is me?!

Brad and Jeremy looking cool

Brad and Jeremy looking cool

Our van pretending to be serious at the start

Our van pretending to be serious at the start

The second van

The team waiting for me on my first run

The team waiting for me on my first run

Why does it look like I'm walking?

Why does it look like I'm walking?

The moment I realised the finish was 200m further than I thought...

The moment I realised the finish was 200m further than I thought...

David running crazy fast

David running crazy fast

Kolby, with Daniel and a pretty mountain in the background

Kolby, with Daniel and a pretty mountain in the background

Monica getting ready for the costume leg!

Monica getting ready for the costume leg!

Our van photo after we had finished our legs

Our van photo after we had finished our legs

Having finished and had a lot of fun in the process, I’m just left wondering what my next running challenge should be, and how I can be part of the relay again next year from Tanzania…

Oregonian Summertime

July 29, 2011 in Life, Sport

As our four previous visits to Oregon had all been in the winter, it has been reassuring the past few weeks to discover that Oregon does actually have a summer too, and so is not identical in climate to the autumn-winter-spring-autumn cycle of southern England. The last few weeks we have been able to get out of the house a bit and to enjoy the summer with friends.

For four weeks I was helping to run our church’s “soccer festival” (I’m highly ashamed to say I’ve now become so used to saying “soccer” that the word football sounds strange to say…) This was a time when kids from the ages of 6-12 from the local neighbourhood came to the church to play soccer/football and to hear about Jesus. The days were packed and the festival was hard work, but we had a great time with the 120 or so kids who came each day, building good relationships with them, many of whom are wanting to continue to play at the church once a week.

Immediately after the soccer festival was finished we spent a weekend camping with various families from the church at River Bend County Park. The first day was wonderfully relaxing as we sat in the sun by the river reading our books. After that the weather turned slightly wetter, and we felt just like we were camping in England! Let’s just say we were very grateful for the covered shelters where we could build a fire and cook meals, and that we were rather soggy by the time we got home…

Building a boat

The teams compete to build a boat that will sail down the river...

Our good friend Likius, who organised the soccer festival (and likes to have his photo taken...)

Our good friend Likius from Namibia, who organised the soccer festival (and likes to have his photo taken...)

Last weekend we were very excited to be able to see our friends Brad and Stephanie get married! It was a great day with warm sunshine, and was the first summer wedding that I had been to in the US!

Us with Brad and Stephanie

Us with Brad and Stephanie

Stephanie and Jennifer

Stephanie and Jennifer

Over the past few weeks I’ve also been doing quite a bit of running, training for the Cascade Lakes Relay – a 216.6-mile run completed by teams of 12 people. My three legs (5.4, 7.1 and 7.2 miles) sound daunting as they’re at around 5,000 feet and hilly, but I’m looking forward to them nonetheless (or at least looking forward to having finished them…) The relay is next Friday and Saturday (5-6 August), so watch this space to see if I survive…

Our Year in Pictures

December 29, 2010 in Life

2010 has been a year of transition for us, spending time on three continents, saying goodbye to some friends and family and being reunited with others. Here are a few photos to tell our story of 2010…

We’ve Arrived in Oregon!

November 4, 2010 in Life

After 9 months of waiting for my US visa, it finally came and we boarded the plane last week headed for Portland, Oregon. We’re grateful that the flight was uneventful, and that the immigration procedure went well! I now have a stamp in my passport which acts as a temporary green card (for US residency) and should get the permanent card within the next few months.

We’re living with Laura’s family in Keizer at the moment, which is good, and we’re enjoying spending time with them after being away for so long. So far we’ve really enjoyed meals together, especially yesterday when we had lunch outside in the 24C/75F warmth… apparently something that’s not normal for November…!

This last week we’ve mainly been getting over jetlag and settling in to life in the US. While Laura is from California, she has never lived in Oregon, so this is a big adjustment for both of us, especially having spent the whole of our married life in England up until now.

We’re now in the middle of getting all the things that we need as we set up our life here… a bank account, drivers licenses, a social security number for me, a phone etc… We’re grateful to have the use of a car at the moment, so that’s one less thing to worry about, especially now that it has a working battery thanks to Walmart…!

In addition to the practical adjustments we’ll be adapting culturally to living in the US. From Laura’s experience when we moved to the UK it can often be the small and subtle things that are the hardest to adapt to, because you, and others, may not even think about the differences. I have only ever visited the US for a few weeks at a time, so it will be interesting to see what challenges there are in living in a very different culture to what I have been used to.

I think the things you tend to notice first are the obvious ones, like driving differently, more choice in the stores, people speaking funny… but as you live in a place longer you start to appreciate some of the underlying hidden differences in our values, expectations and the way we think about life, which are often the most difficult things to take into account and adapt to.

But for now we’re happy to be here, and enjoying spending time with Laura’s family and settling in to the beautiful state of Oregon!

Our house

The house where we're staying with Laura's family

Our street

Visa fun and other plans…

October 2, 2010 in Life, Prayer

One day the whole world will be united in God’s perfect kingdom. Until that time we have immigration laws, visas and residence permits. After over 3 years Laura finally received her UK citizenship back in April, which means that she is now British and can come and go from the UK whenever she likes! Interestingly, she could choose to play football for England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland with her British passport, whereas I only qualify for England having been born in England. But that’s not something we’re worrying about too much at the moment…

Now it’s my turn to start the immigration process. Back in January we started applying for my immigrant visa for the US, which would allow us to live and work there for a while. Our plan is to be in the US for a year or so, studying and raising support for our work with Wycliffe, with the hope of moving to Tanzania potentially sometime in 2012.

After months of filling in forms and collecting documents I had my visa interview at the US Embassy in London last Thursday. After getting through the intense security (which is even stricter than that at airports…) the interview went pretty well. Most of our documents were accepted, although we were asked to provide one further document from the US before the visa could be granted. We have now had this scanned and sent to us, and it has been collected by a courier and sent along with my passport back to the embassy. So we’re hoping that the passport will be returned with a visa in the next week or so…! Please continue to pray with us for the granting of the visa, and for the safe return of the passport.

For now we’re living in Melksham, Wiltshire – a couple of miles down the road from where my parents are and where I grew up. We’re really enjoying spending more time with them and others here, and also getting to know people at our sending church better. At the same time we’re busy studying most days – Laura for her Psychology program and me working on my MA in Bible and Mission.

Our hope is that we will be able to fly to Oregon at the end of October, visa permitting. We’ll then have a busy few months of settling in to a new country and culture – although Laura is from the US she has never lived in Oregon, and has adapted in many ways to life in the UK over the last few years. We’ll be going through the joys of applying for permanent residency for me, setting up a bank account, applying for Oregon drivers licenses, working out where we fit into the tax system etc, as well as keeping busy with our studies and raising support for the work that we’re doing.

Although we’re sad to leave the UK, especially our family and the friends we’ve made over the past few years, we’re looking forward to this new stage in our lives. It will be interesting for me to be the one adapting to a strange culture, and for us both to understand more of the cultural differences between us and our countries. We’re really looking forward to spending time with Laura’s family, who we have only seen for short visits since we’ve been married, and to making new friends in Oregon.

For now we’re busy trying to finish everything that needs to be done before we leave, as well as making the most of our time visiting family and friends. Today we have a surprise birthday party for my Mum… let’s hope she enjoys the surprise and isn’t overwhelmed by all her children and children-in-law arriving all at once! (Don’t worry, she’s out between now and then, so I think the secret is safe…)

Westbury White Horse

The beautiful, but cold, Westbury White Horse

Danny

Danny – the nice dog of our lovely landlady

Phil playing tennisPlaying tennis with my brother Phil

Me playing tennis

HelenAnd his camera-shy wife Helen

Matt and Liz at LacockVisiting the picturesque village of Lacock with our friends Matt and Liz

Us at Lacock

Bath viewA beautiful walk around Bath

Laura

…with a beautiful lady

Blackberry pickingMaking the most of the free food on offer

Blackberries