Well, I can safely say that I've managed to survive my first week back in Derby! I got here in one piece and thankfully so did all of my belongings that were shipped over. Sam took this week off of work which was lovely because it meant that we had lots of time to catch up and also visit lots of our favourite spots in the city that we can now call home to both of us again. It feels strange that this is now 'home'. I still feel like I'm going to be packing up in a few days time and flying back over to Belfast; not actually settling down, living and working here. I get a huge rush of excitement though, every time I remember where I actually am and that I have my whole future ahead of me in the country that I love (God-willing of course).
One of my main priorities in moving back to Derby was/is to find a church that Sam and I could potentially settle in to and last Sunday we actually began that quest! In terms of churches we are honestly spoilt for choice so I knew that there had to be at least one, if not more, that we could easily call home. The first church of interest on our list was a relatively new HTB plant right in the city centre which was recommended to me by one of my mum's friends. I come from a very modern evangelical/non-denominational background and I had heard that this church may be slightly more traditional than what I'm used to but none-the-less, Sam and I decided to go with open minds and open hearts.
To try and experience even an ounce of the excitement that I had when we first walked in I'll need to give you a wee history lesson. Firstly, this church is old...and I'm talking 1500's old! The oldest surviving part of the church is the tower which was rebuilt in 1601 with the chancel later added in 1699. In the 1800's the rest of the church was rebuilt however it was later made redundant as a functioning church in 1990. In September, 2017 life was breathed back into the stunning building and it is now host to delightful services every week. Knowing that the building is old I was expecting to walk into quite a dark, cold atmosphere but it was actually the complete opposite - this is why I was so excited! The architecture and the decor of the old building is simply breathtaking in itself but there was an added homely warmth to the atmosphere through the addition of bunting and fairy lights; two of my absolute loves in life haha.
Also, just to let you into a little secret of mine - for years I've always had a mental image of the kind of church in which I'm eventually going to get married and you'll never guess what... the church that we visited on Sunday aligned with that mental picture exactly!! Coincidence or not I had a little giggle with Sam as we joked about it maybe being a sign that we should stay here ;) Don't worry though, we're not ones to be persuaded just by looks or mental fantasies haha. The people were very friendly and welcoming, I really enjoyed the worship and the service was sweet albeit a little more traditional than what I'm used to. Overall, Sam and I both enjoyed it and we've decided to try it out for a few more weeks to see if it's where God wants us to be. If not, then it's on to the next one!
In terms of job hunting I've applied to a few retail positions and also an exciting opportunity to be a learning mentor within a school for children with learning disabilities. Job searching is something that usually strikes fear and anxiety within me but I'm really trying to stay positive and hopeful in the knowledge that God has a job picked out and will open the right doors for me soon.
Homesickness for my friends and family back in Belfast has actually hit me quite hard this week, I think because they were like my security and over here there are still a lot of unknowns about my future, however, as I said before; I know that God has a plan for me and I just have to keep holding on to that! Sending hugs to my loved ones across the sea - S xo