Our lovely friends the Jones’ (Kevin, Lydia and their kids, Edith, Johan and Barnabus) moved to Helsinki, Finland just a few weeks after we moved to Lille in 2013. I asked lovely Lydia to share a little of her experiences over the last few months and she has written this beauty of a post below. Enjoy.
Ahh to belong! To belong is so great, when I was younger I was proud to belong to Invicta Running Club, it was great to be part of a team. I went to Loughborough University, I purchased my Loughborough sweater and tracksuit and suddenly I felt like I belonged. Often it can be easy to take for granted this sense of belonging. It’s not until we are suddenly in a situation where we don’t belong that we grieve and yearn to belong once more.
Two months ago we moved to Finland. During my last few weeks in Canterbury I was a bit of an emotional wreck. I couldn’t bare the thought of saying goodbye to such precious people, to no longer directly be an everyday part of our church community or belong to them. I wasn’t quite sure how we would cope without being with them.
When you move to a new country it can sometimes feel like all of the signs, letters, labels have deliberately been put into this different language just to constantly remind you that you don’t quite belong here. There have been times that I have tried to learn bits of Finnish to try and fit in a bit more, I look up a phrase in my not-so-faithful phrase book and then nervously try to sound as Finnish as I possibly can, only to find people shaking their heads saying ‘no we don’t say that here – that’s too formal’. Things like the traffic and road system feel different to what we are familiar with, does the zebra crossing mean I stop or keep driving?! One day I went to a supermarket to buy some cream, I hadn’t looked up the word, I thought it would just be obvious, but suddenly there were 20 pots jumping up and down on the shelf in front of me all looking very much like cream, I couldn’t even start to decipher which one was the type of cream I was looking for. I resorted to asking the lady next to me if she speaks English and once again felt reminded I don’t quite belong here in this Finnish supermarket! I moved round the corner to the cheese aisle and there before me was English Seriously Strong mature Cheddar! So I do what all us Brits normally do when we see English mature cheddar – I burst into tears because it reminded me of home. Home where shopping was easy, cream was easily found and I knew whether to stop or not if I saw a zebra crossing!
When I was growing up I was the youngest of four sisters. Gradually each sister moved away to university or got married. Each time I really struggled, it rocked my sense of security, familiarity and identity. Coming to Finland I was so nervous that this was what we were walking in to. I was expecting to feel like a child whose brothers and sisters had been taken from them. I’m thrilled to say it hasn’t worked out like that!
Being here, 1356 miles away, and still sensing that we are a part of The City Church Canterbury and its apostolic group, Relational Mission, has been breathtaking. It has been so wonderful to have people’s support, kindness, encouragement and love, through letters, emails, twitterwoos, skype and facetime chats, even people visiting in real life that we could smell and touch! To know that in spite of the distance we are not going on this adventure alone but with God and with our brothers and sisters is amazing. It’s felt great to know that we still belong, and this is talked about in Romans 12:5 where it says:
so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
I’m obviously a bit slow but it has taken me to move to Finland to more truly grasp the treasure that Jesus won for us on the cross, that He saved us to Himself but also that He saved us into His family and we are adopted into that family and to one another.
It is such a privilege to belong to God and His family. When we experience that sense of belonging, we can sense that with God and with His people alongside us through genuine relationship and support, we can go anywhere and do anything He wants us to do. So ‘just do it’, those things that God has laid on your heart but you feel scared of doing because you might be alone, you are not alone, you have God and you have His people, they might even jump aboard and just do it too!