“And that city (Oxford) with her dreaming spires, she needs not June for beauty’s heightening.” Poet Matthew Arnold in 1865
A feeling of dread came over me. Where did she go? She was just behind me. We were in the middle of the city. So many people were crowded around me that I started to panic because I couldn't find Lauren. I also realized that we didn't have sim cards for our cell phones yet so if I lost her who knows how long it would take before we both found each other again. So I did what any calm rational human being would do in this situation, I began to scream at the top of my lungs, "Lauren! Lauren!" My eyes actually started to water up for fear of losing her and then she grabbed me from behind and said, "I'm right here. Don't worry." I had been experiencing so much culture shock that just the thought of being separated from my love in this place erupted so many feelings inside of me that I was a volcano ready to erupt emotionally. I missed home. I missed Miami. I missed America. And it had only been five days.
You are probably thinking, "But Anthony, its England! How different can it be?" That's not the point. Maybe an analogy will do. Imagine if I told you that you are going to be married to a certain person for the next two years and you've never met them. But I tell you don't worry because at least you both speak the same language. Other than that you know nothing else about them. What would most people reply back? Is it okay if I at least go on a date with them first to see if there is any chemistry? But there was no dating England for me. It's as if I am saying, "I, Anthony, take thee, England, to be my lawful wedded country, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till graduation (or not) do us part." It was hard for me to enjoy this place in the first week because of the fact that we are here for the next two years and there was no dating period if you will.
Lauren, on the other hand, hasn't had any feelings of being out of place. I keep asking here why she hasn't cried yet and she keeps replying, 'Because it's not New Jersey!" David Lopez, one of my pastors back in Miami, told us we would have a honeymoon stage when we arrive. I think I missed it. Either way, she is having a blast and that has truly made me happy. I have been here at Oxford for about two weeks now. Things have become more stable since then. We are finally in our flat (apartment). We have internet. We have a great shower that has great water pressure and actually stays hot for more than five minutes. It's great really. If you are in a home that doesn't have that I recommend you fix it. Really.
I can't deny that Oxford is a beautiful city though. I am starting to be able to take it all in now. What's great about this place is you really don't need a car because of how close everything is. We both have bikes now and have already started to do some exploring. We got to see Christ Church College where they filmed the Harry Potter films. We have met really awesome Americans and Brits who love Jesus and have showed us a ton of hospitality. Although we went on a C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien Walking Tour last Sunday and it was pretty bad. I just think it was the presenter. She was very disorganized and would stop randomly in the street as we were walking to the next location and tell us some random fact about their lives that was very general. Lauren told me let's just sneak away and do our own tour one day. I told her we could turn this into a business and make some extra money and that she was a genius. She replied that we are Americans and nobody would want to go on a tour led by us. I think I'm going to try and prove her wrong once I develop a British accent and come off as more intelligent.
On a more serious note, I have come to accept that this is where I need to be in this season of my life. There is more sanctification that needs to happen in my life before I aspire to plant a church. God needs to continually prune me and work on my character. Being away from my comfort zone in a different country reminds me that I don't exist for my own comfort. Jesus left the glories of heaven to come to this earth and hang on a brutal cross because of our sins. I am a disciple of Jesus and I need to live like Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. I need to constantly get out of my comfort zone to tell people about Jesus and serve them. Now that I have had time to reflect on God's purpose for my life, I'm really excited about building the Kingdom of God in the city of dreaming spires.