Those First Impressions
If London’s streets are her veins, then diversity is the blood that flows through them.
I had already known London was one of the most international cities in the world; but I didn’t expect that in one single day I could easily feel like I’d wandered through at least three different countries. As I traverse the streets, I seriously think English is the language I hear least of all. I’ve actually probably used almost as much Spanish as English since arriving.
I had also already known London would be gorgeous, of course, with the typical touristy eye-catchers (which I haven’t actually even seen yet,) but I hadn’t suspected I’d find as much (or more) beauty in the hidden spots — the places she doesn’t post all over Instagram or Pinterest. It’s the type of beauty that she self-consciously tucks away in her deserted alleyways for fear nobody would find it attractive.
You have to really get to know her to discover it.
I hit the ground running when I arrived, and I only really paused when the jetlag caught up and tackled me to the ground.
I propelled myself into pretty much every opportunity I could squeeze into. Being the new guy, I’ve been getting tossed between the different ministries and projects quite a bit, but I think I’m learning the rhythm of it all now. So far, it’s been a medley of everything from joining an official borough meeting to discuss refugee relief and care, to hosting an Argentine barbecue for a lovely old-people church, to acting as assistant cameraman for the most posh British summer party I’ve ever been to.
All right, fine — the only posh British summer party I’ve ever been to.
People here at the base are spectacular. Everybody runs on a fiery passion driven by the intrepidity for progress, change, and improvement of the world in general.
Some of them are heading up trafficking awareness events in the city; others are holding influential meetings within Parliament. The list goes on.
Love After First Sight
Call me the naive foreigner, but I’ll admit I was surprised to find aspects of London much darker than I’d anticipated — like the fact that the city does actually have a red light district, for example. Or perhaps the instance from last week, when I met a pastor from Asia who leads a literal underground church here, because the women who go there would be beaten at home if their husbands found out they were attending Christian services.
Nevertheless, life is perpetually blossoming. I’m continually encountering unsung heroes thriving in the face of apathy and enmity; and though it may not have necessarily been love at first sight, the more I get to know this city, the more fond of her I become. It’s only a harvest of delight when I pass through a park and hear kids yelling at each other in a language I can’t understand, or when I’m engulfed in the smell of garum masala as I walk by the street shops.
Keep an eye out for my updates on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll try not to be too elusive.
And of course don’t ever hesitate to reach out or chat. I may be on the other side of the world now for some of you, but let’s not be strangers, yeah?
Thanks again for caring, and thanks for the part you all play in this.