Thursday, 12 November 2015

VLOG: Our First Trip to the Philippines 2015

As if I haven't talked about it enough, I thought I would just like to share a vlog of a few clips that I put together of our whole journey from Hong Kong to the Philippines, to Manila and to Tagaytay. It was quite a hard process putting all of these clips together and trying to make the transitions clean. I am so in love with trying to find great royalty free music it's borderline obsessive. I do hope and intend to travel back to the Philippines next summer and I'm so excited to hang out with family again. The fact that the Philippines can be one of the most beautiful places to go is bonus, ultimately being surrounded by family, people that love you and cherish you and that have your back, now that's what really matters. Check out the vlog below:

Sunday, 8 November 2015

TRAVEL & THOUGHTS: exploring Winchester for UCCF: South East Big Weekend Away!

Last weekend I went to an event that UCCF held for all the university Christian Unions in the South East area. It was a weekend where we were able to stay for two nights, eat, have fellowship with one another, meet other people, hit up the uber-cheap book stall and just relax. A weekend away from the stresses of university work. 

Winchester is about an hour away from my university on the train, me and Maddie almost missed it because we were still getting our tickets from the ticket machine. When we finally made it on we arrived at Winchester in no time.

Winchester at night, on observation was lovely and quaint however we were in a rush to get to the church and we were all trying to desperately not get lost. Although we did, twice.

Dinner on arrival was jacket potato, tuna, cheese and salad - tuna is literally  my world and then we had the evening service. We had arrived there pretty early before a majority of the CU's so we were able to get a really awesome seat near the front where we could view everything that was happening. Introductions, Worship, Teaching, Prayer and more Worship happened and God turned up!

By this time is was getting pretty late and we hadn't been able to settle into the church that our CU was staying at. After getting a lift from Rachel (thank you Rachel!) we arrived and were shown upstairs to where we were sleeping. The rooms were tiny and we had managed to already take up majority of the room despite the rest of the girls not arriving yet! We persuaded the leader of the church to let us swap with the boys downstairs who were sleeping in the main auditorium. GIRLS WON and boy was there so much more room for activities.

After we were ready for bed despite the thought of there not being any showers to wash ourselves with, I was feeling comfortable. We hung out as a CU playing a few games that involved us being in a circle, I had an awesome chat with one of my friends Abigail and it was great to get to know her more as well as many other people. Eventually it got to the point of lateness and tiredness where you don't really know what you're doing and you're remembering that breakfast is at ridiculous o'clock so maybe you should sleep now but you can't because you're basically on holiday with your closest friends. So off we slept and now fast forward to the morning of day 2.

"I feel groggy, cold and I have a feeling I'm having a really bad hair day but the lights are on and everyone can see what you look like anyway so it doesn't even matter". The queue for the ladies was long and despite the sun not rising yet I was in a pretty expectant mood for what the Lord had in store for today.

Breakfast was cereal, a croissant and a piece of fruit - it was literally perfect and I was so excited to get food into my belly (like I always am). We had to be at the Church for a morning meeting of worship, teaching and prayer and then we were allowed to be set loose on the seminars and talks.

Maddie and I decided to go to the answering difficult questions seminar, it involved getting into groups with people you hadn't met with so it was great to hear what others went through in regards to the really gritty, tough and sometimes mind-numbingly hard questions that our friends and strangers would ask us.

For outreach events such as Quench (where we give out free doughnuts to those who go out clubbing on a Wednesday and Friday night) and Text-a-Toastie (where we give away free toasties in exchange for a question about Christianity) where we're required to answer tough questions. It is easy to avoid them but sometimes you can't escape them so it's great to be able to take the hard questions we get asked and see how we can unpack this to someone in a simple, loving, gentle and kind way - always leading them back to Jesus.

Here are a few tips I learnt at that seminar lead by a lovely girl named Emily:

1 - Listen - try to understand their perspective and what is behind the question that they are answering. Try to pick up on a deeper issue that they might be going through.
2 - Pray - for help to understand and speak truth to them.
3 - Ask questions - is there a question you can ask in reply to their question? Jesus asked 200 questions in the Bible, not because he didn't know the answer but because He wanted them to understand. 
4 - Use the Bible - look at God's character. Emily used a phrase that someone coined before her naming it "home, away and home again" so if someone wants to know the timeline of history in terms of God, Adam & Eve, the fall, Jesus and His resurrection you start with "home - where we were made perfect in His image, away - when we fell, we were cast out, beautiful but broken but there's still hope and then home again in Jesus coming back.
5 - Talk about Jesus - If we only give people clever arguments and theologies we don't show His love.
6 - Follow-up - which could mean meeting for coffee, offering them a book to read or inviting them to church, you can be like "come and see what it looks like". What I'll always remember is something that our president Fergs always says and that is "don't say someone else's no for them" in other words don't assume that someone doesn’t want to come, ask them - if they say no they say no but if they say yes they have an opportunity to see what Jesus can do with the broken!

After the seminar, we went and explored Winchester as a CU, we visited the town, went shopping (although I had self-control and didn't buy anything which is a miracle in itself HOWEVER I did go a bit overboard at the book stall back in the main church, not gunna lie #christianbooksaremyweakness). We explored the outside of Winchester Cathedral, walked through their cute cobble roads, became captured by an amazing violinist and also played with the leaves because it's autumn and why not? After that we headed over to Cafe Nero and had coffee. 

The evening meeting passed and suddenly we were in the eve of our last full day in Winchester, it was a sad bittersweet moment that was quickly rectified with a hog roast and a hilarious game of Ninja resulting in 1 split pyjamas and one face full of split pyjamas (Alex and Chris). 

On the last day of SEBWA we had to be up and out of our venue so that those who were setting up for church could do so without a few dozen Christian girls sleeping and snoring away around them. We went to Winchester University which was absolutely stunning if I do say so myself and planned our events week. When the last meeting closed and we had to leave we were upset to be away from good company but excited for the rest of the year.

The highlight of the weekend was spending time with my CU family, I am forever grateful for every single one of them. The fact that we can come from different pasts, backgrounds and upbringings and still be there to encourage and spur one another on. My heart was so full on returning from the South East Big Weekend Away that it got me so excited for the incredible stuff the Lord has planned for us on impacting our university. If you take anything away from this post let it be, get stuck into your CU, I've met some of my closest friends there, they're great! 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

TRAVEL PHOTO DIARY and my OOTD: the New Forest, England.

For me, I cannot think of a better surrounding that captures the true beauty and essence of autumn.

On me: Yellow Top - H&M - £19.99 // Skirt - Primark - £10 // Black Chelsea Boots - £70 - Clarks // Necklace - £3.00 - Dorothy Perkins

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Travel OOTD: New Forest, England - Cosy Knit Sweaters over Lace Dresses

Since coming to university I have been overwhelmed with favour from the Lord in terms of making incredible friends and friends for life and I can firmly and solidly say that. I am so grateful to be doing life with beautiful, kind-hearted individuals that are encouraging and wonderful bubbles of happiness but also remain steadfast in times that are upsetting and troublesome. I know that their love and faith for the Lord is both awe-inspiring and so encouraging.

 In some ways I don't want my life at university to end, I used to not bear thinking any far into the future passed third year but since entering second year I've been more open to trusting in the Lord and all that He is doing right now in me to prepare me for my future. Although the unknown in some ways absolutely terrify me, I must turn that fear into faith and place it into the hands of the One who knows. Who knows me, my heart, my passions, my desires, and my gifts. The One who holds every single fibre of my being in Him and the One who has my best intentions at heart and although I may, at times be weak, stubborn and selfish I know that He ultimately has moved me so much to the point that I stand steadfast within Him and although my faith may shake I will trust in all that He says that He is and revel in the fact that on the cross He told me I was worth it and that I was worth dying for.

 There's something in the way that nature allows me to think more clearly, for some reason the Lord knows what moves me and allows me to be rendered speechless in the sight of His creation and glory.
 I encourage you to find the space in which the Lord woos your heart, which causes your insides to be so in awe of something that it renders you speechless. Whether it be a cityscape a sea-scape or a landscape. Ask the Lord to tell you to speak into your heart and life. Allow Him to show off His magnificent creation to you because, trust me He is more than willing to show you.

 Pictured above is one of my favourite Americans, Maddie and she, much like Viki, has an impeccable fashion sense. Her outfit is one that can be dressed up and down. Here the sweater is more on the casual side but still remains high fashion and on-trend. Both outfits have similar styles in terms of country casual looks pulled off effortlessly with jackets.

Black Lace Dress - Forever 21 - On sale for $12.00 // Sweater - New Look - £15.00 // Tights - H&M // Leather Jacket - Kohl's - £20 // Boots - Rack Room Shoes - $60 //

Travel OOTD: NEW FOREST, England - Plum Lace and Riding Boots

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of exploring the New Forest with people whom I hold very dear to my heart. Everywhere the leaves were brown and the trees were rich in different shades of green. It is hands down my favourite season of the four and Viki's outfit pictured in the photos above suited her surroundings perfectly.

Upon arrival we were so excited by the prospect of the wild horses and how we were to have the opportunity to roam around freely with them that we couldn't have scoffed down our lunch fast enough if we tried. We took a wonderful trail around just a snippet of what seemed to be an abundance of forest. We viewed creeks, bridges and gorgeous ancient trees. We stopped to admire the wild deer and picked up leaves and sticks on our journey. I laid my eyes upon mushrooms, picket fences and huge spider webs. I was incredibly excited to be surrounded by nature and countryside once again for I am a complete countryside-girl in my heart and one who misses home dearly. Amongst this small city on the sea I was relieved so to be able to escape and just be away from buildings and houses. It was refreshing being surrounded by something I consider similar to what I consider to be home. 

You would have to be pretty unobservant to not realise that dark shades of purple and red are very present in all fashion trends. It is a very royal and warm colour to adorn yourselves with this autumn. The great thing about lace is the fact that although it is simple it is also detailed and you can pair it with boots and simple belts with statement pieces of jewellery to finish the look off just like Viki has done. I love everything about her look as it gives off a vibe of country style with a modern twist. Everything that Viki is wearing is listed below:

Plum Lace Dress - New Look - £7 // Brown Belt - Primark - £1.00 // Brown Knee-High Boots - £20.00 // Jewellery - Primark - £3.00