Project Journal

(Note: the original project journal appears to be lost. The following information is recorded from memory, from other project notes and materials, and from a project journal provided by Pastor Kurt Brandt.)

Thursday, 18 July 2002

Upon our arrival at the Kalamazoo Airport, we were informed that our flight to Chicago O’Hare had been delayed by an hour. This delay was not initially a concern, as the group had a three-hour layover scheduled in Chicago. However, this one-hour delay turned into a flight cancellation, and our flight to Chicago turned into a van ride. Due to construction and rush-hour traffic, the group missed the connecting flight from Chicago to Munich, Germany, and were transferred to a later flight to Frankfurt, Germany, and from there, directly to Manchester.

Thus, after hurrying to get to O'Hare, the team had about a four-hour wait before boarding. Due to being moved to the later flight, the team's seating arrangements were dispersed throughout the plane, with mine being the last row, center aisle, center seat of the very full Airbus A340-600. This was my first Lufthansa flight, and the trans-Atlantic trip included a full dinner after takeoff and warm towel service prior to arrival. In between, I fell asleep shortly after the start of the in-flight movie.

Friday, 19 July 2002

I was one of the only people able to sleep during the overnight flight to Frankfurt, where we arrived early afternoon, local time. So, our brief layover in Frankfurt was fairly quiet. The first thing I noticed were all the indoor smoking locations. The second thing was the very muscular security guard who scowled at us, after our hackey-sack circle got a bit too rowdy, and the sack hit the wall outside her office one too many times. Finally, we boarded a puddle-jumper for the final leg of our trip. The group arrived in Manchester about a half-day behind schedule, but no worse for the wear.

Once we arrived in Manchester, we met up with Jeff Cason, who would be our team leader. We rented a 15-passenger minibus, and Pastor Kurt received a crash course in left-side driving in England, as Jeff had him drive us away from the airport. We first went to the home of Andy Pell, vicar at a local Anglican church, and his wife Linda, who prepared an American-style barbecue welcome dinner, including burgers, potato salad, and all the fixings. Over dinner, we met five of other team members. Afterward, we settled into the flat where we would be staying while in Manchester.

Saturday, 20 July 2002

With our first full day in Manchester, we began our normal routine:

6:30 AM - Wake Up/Showers/Breakfast
8:00 AM - Team Pick-Up to WHBC
8:30 AM - Plugging Into the Mains (worship, prayer, and Bible study)
9:00 AM - Training/Rehearsal/Practice/etc. at WHBC, or Ministry Time
12:00 PM - Lunch
1:00 PM - Ministry Time
5:00 PM - Dinner/Free Time
8:00 PM - Plugging Into the Mains, or Ministry Time
12:00 AM - Bedtime

James, with his wonderful keyboard-playing skills, provided our wake-up at 6:30 AM to have breakfast and to get ready for Jeff to pick us up in the van promptly at 8:00 AM. While an hour and a half normally would provide more than enough time, our flat, which housed 10 women and 3 men, had only a single bathroom. So, in order to help facilitate things, I started cooking a community breakfast for the team, and volunteered to take the last bathroom time slot. (Thanks to previous mission trip experience, I could condense time required to shave, shower, and dress to about 5-10 minutes.)

We were originally scheduled to spend Friday afternoon on cultural training and drama rehearsal, and Saturday morning fine-tuning our dramas before embarking upon our first street ministry activities Saturday afternoon. However, due to our travel delays, the team spent all day Saturday at WHBC, first on cultural training, and then on drama rehearsal and fine-tuning. As would also become custom, Jeff's wife Nina provided the traditional English morning tea during our rehearsal time at the church.

After a full day of rehearsals, we had dinner at the church, provided by church members Bernard and Lucyanne, and their children Liam and Shannon. Andy and Lucyanne provided chili, rice, salads, and dessert.

Sunday, 21 July 2002

The team participated in the Sunday services at WHBC today. Pastor Kurt provided the message, and the team performed several dramas, including "Impressing God", "Living Water", and "The Sargeant"; and one choreography, "Mighty Good Leader." After the service, the church provided a fellowship lunch, to give the team the opportunity to meet several of the church members.

After lunch, several of the church members joined with the team to distribute information leaflets about the church's Sonshine preschool around the local area, and to engage in some street witnessing.

After an afternoon of leaflet distribution and witnessing, the team returned to the church for dinner - an incredible, traditional Iranian meal prepared by Mustafa, a church member and a Muslim convert. Mustafa volunteered his time to help the team for most of our stay, and we considered him to be an "honorary" team member because of how much he helped us.

After a Plugging Into the Mains session, the team returned to the flat for the night.

Monday, 22 July 2002

Today was the team's tourist day. Driven by church member Rush, the team trekked two hours north of Manchester, to the Lakes District. We arrived in Bowness, and took a boat tour of Lake Windermere to Ambleside. We were scheduled to take a walking tour up the mountainside, but due to the rainy/foggy weather, the tour was cancelled. The team split up to spend a couple of hours. I wandered the quaint lakeside town with Pastor Kurt, exploring and doing a little shopping, before returning to Bowness for a traditional fish and chips dinner. After a full day, the team returned to the flat for the night.

Tuesday, 23 July 2002

Today the team settled into what would become the normal routine. We were originally scheduled to have a work day at WHBC, but instead went to the Manchester City Centre (where we would focus most of our street-ministry efforts) to begin our street ministry. We arrived at our intended location, just outside the Arndale Center, but while we were setting up our equipment, the local security guards prohibited us from playing music or taking photos or video.

So, we changed plans and spread out to Exchange Square and Piccadilly Gardens to engage in street ministry - or what began referring to as "hackey sack" ministry. While at Piccadilly Gardens, several of us would form a circle, and attract the attention of the youth by playing hackey sack.  This area is rife with many, many youth and teens who are the unwanted and outcast. These youth are obviously starving for affection and a sense of belonging, and have turned to one another to meet those otherwise unfulfilled needs.

During the afternoon, we returned to Andy and Linda Pell's neighborhood, to hand out leaflets advertising that evening's service at the All Saints Church, Rhodes, at which Andy is the vicar. While doing so, we ran into a group of rowdy teenagers, with whom we spoke for quite a while and who agreed to come to the church service that evening. Afterward, we returned to the Pell's house for a traditional English dinner of roast chicken, sprouts, carrots, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding. After dinner, we headed to All Saints for the evening service. During the service, the team performed several dramas and choreographies, and several team members gave testimonies. The teens we spoke with earlier did attend, and although they were quite loud, they were also receptive to the service and open to the Word.

After the service, we spent quite a while talking to the teens and several other people in attendance, before returning to the flat for the night.

Wednesday, 24 July 2002

Today the team continued street ministry at the City Centre. Pastor Kurt and I returned to Piccadilly Gardens where we engaged a group of teens who, while initially wary of our intentions, quickly warmed up to us. They were excited to show us a Christian skate park downtown. Somewhat hesitant about going downtown accompanied only by our new friends, nonetheless Pastor Kurt and I followed them to the skate park, where we met the owner, Isaac, who showed us around and talked with us about the mission and ministry of the skate park, which is to provide a safe haven and outlet for the teens - a place where they could fulfill their unmet sense of belonging, in a healthy environment.

That afternoon in Exchange Square, the team had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Queen Elizabeth II was in town for the ceremonial opening of the Commonwealth Games, and was also celebrating her 50-year Jubilee. As part of both, the Queen made a parade processional through Exchange Square to the Manchester Cathedral, where the ceremonial opening would take place. The team lined up along the parade route, and had a front-row view of the Queen. More amazingly, the Queen, moving from one side of the barricaded street to the other, greeting spectators along the way, came directly toward two team members – me and James – and stopped to talk with us (primarily James) briefly!

Following the afternoon activities, the team had dinner at an Indian restaurant in an area of Manchester inhabited by large numbers of Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern immigrants.

Thursday, 25 July 2002

Today was the official start of the Commonwealth Games. After some drama fine-tuning at WHBC, the team headed to an urban market area near the church to do street ministry. Later that afternoon, the team headed to the Manchester Stadium area for more street ministry, and to meet up with some of the More Than Gold group with whom we would be working at the Games. We were originally scheduled to work a canteen, but found the location to be devoid of athlete or pedestrian foot traffic. So, we moved to right in front of the Stadium, where we did street ministry until about 10 PM.

Friday, 26 July 2002

Today the team continued with street ministry in the City Centre. We had absolutely gorgeous weather, and found a new home-base location for our dramas and choreographies: Saint Ann's Church. The church verger graciously let us set up our equipment on the church property, which anchors Saint Ann's Square. Due to the Games, the Square was overflowing with people, which made for an ideal location for performing our dramas and choreographies. The team would perform in order to draw in a crowd, and then would disperse throughout the crowd, witnessing and handing out tracts.

After spending all day at Saint Ann's Square, the team returned to WHBC for dinner. Mustafa had again prepared an Iranian meal for the team. After dinner and a bit of free time, the team headed to the famous Canal Street Gay Village- Manchester's "Red Light District" known as an alternative lifestyle hub - for more street ministry.

Saturday, 27 July 2002

Today the team again returned to Saint Ann's Square for more street ministry. After spending a full day in Saint Ann's Square, the team returned to the church, to a curry dinner prepared by Bernard and Lucyanne. That night, Matt Beemer, paster of WHBC, returned from the States. He joined the team for a Plugging Into the Mains session, and then led the team back to Canal Street for another night of street ministry.

Sunday, 28 July 2002

The team participated in the morning service at WHBC, with several team members giving testimonies, and helping to usher and welcome the church members. After church, the team was scheduled for some free time. Instead, Matt Beemer led the team to walk to the nearby Lowry Center, where a race-walking event was being held, for more street ministry. The team, still in Sunday clothes and dress shoes/heels, was not well-prepared for the several-mile walk, but gutted it out. We then returned (or, in some cases, limped) back to the church for afternoon tea, before heading to the flat for some down time.

That evening, the team returned to the Stadium site for more street ministry.

Monday, 29 July 2002

Today the team again returned to Saint Ann's Square for our final day of street ministry. Afterward, the team returned to WHBC with some of the church members who had helped us during our stay, to say good-bye and for some last-minute fellowship.

Tuesday, 30 July 2002

Today the team packed and prepared to leave Manchester. Our travel itinerary had us leaving Manchester at 12:35 PM, arriving at London Heathrow at 1:40PM; leaving London Heathrow at 4:50PM, arriving at Chicago O'Hare at 7:20 PM; leaving Chicago O'Hare at 9:00 PM, arriving at Kalamazoo at 10:45 PM. The team left Manchester  and arrived at Heathrow in a rainy London for the brief layover. After boarding the plane for Chicago, however, due to the inclement weather, the plane sat on the tarmac for about an hour and a half.

The itinerary provided just enough time to deplane in Chicago, clear customs, and find our departure gate. As a result of the flight delay, the team missed the connecting flight to Kalamazoo, which was the last flight of the night. The airport would not let the team into the terminal until the following morning, so we ended up spending the night on the linoleum floor.

Wednesday, 31 July 2002

After a mostly restless but otherwise uneventful night, the team finally made our way into the terminal to await our early-morning flight to Kalamazoo.

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