Where are you from?

colloquium pic

The international colloquium at IBTS Centre

Gabriel: I’m from Norway… yes, I know I don’t look like it – I’m originally from Nigeria.
Kathryn: I’m from Northern Ireland … yes, I know I don’t sound like it – I actually come from Florida.
Tunyi: I’m from Vancouver, Canada … well, actually, I’m originally from India.
Lina: I’m from Glasgow … via some years in Prague and, before that, Lithuania.

And so it went on … listening in to conversations this past week between our students and supervisors from different parts of the world, I was struck by how many of them were born in one country, moved to live and study or work somewhere else and have travelled to study with us in yet another location. For our staff team at IBTS Centre, it’s the same. There are six of us working in Amsterdam: one from the Netherlands (although he lived in Eastern Europe for a few years); one from South Africa; one from England; one from Estonia (having worked for some years in Prague) and two of us from N. Ireland.

Providing lunches for such a diverse group is fun: some like ham, cheese and bread; others prefer spicy meats and hot food; some are looking for low fat yoghurt and salads… We work on a compromise and common denominator type of principle and mostly it works out ok. But such diversity is not all about problems – the advantages are many! Having got used to living in a strange/new country, people listen well to each other, they explain things that would be ‘obvious’ to those sharing a common culture and there is a lot of give and take in conversation and in theological discussions. Listening to the Lord’s Prayer (which we say together most mornings in our native language) is an amazing experience. We somehow find a rhythm so that we begin and end at the same time, even though some languages use a lot more words than others. Variety truly is the spice of life and we are blessed to experience so much of that in IBTS Centre.

Porridge? Yes, please!

This morning I made porridge. It was my first bowl of 2019. Breakfast cereals are fine for holiday mornings, but work days require work food – porridge. img-20190107-wa0003 And it tasted good! I was looking through the inevitable New Year healthy living/weight loss tips in the newspaper at the weekend and trying to find the least demanding and most reassuring ones (isn’t that what everyone does?) when I came across Richard Branson’s personal trainer’s ‘top 10 tips for a health reboot’. Guess what Tip 6 is? Yes, it’s ‘Eat porridge for breakfast’. Tip 1 is ‘Don’t join a gym’ and I have been totally successful in that one too. So (ignoring the other 8 more demanding tips) I feel pretty healthy and ‘rebooted’ already (especially as I bought a new pair just before Christmas).

pic Speaking of Christmas – Christmas and New Year were great. We got to spend time with both our daughters and their families – one in England and the other in N. Ireland (see photos).  We visited wider family, our home church at Windsor in Belfast and many more friends. It hardly rained at all – very unusual for the UK – so we did lots of walking in the countryside and even tackled some hills (not possible in the Netherlands). We thoroughly enjoyed the break. Now it’s ‘back to porridge’ – in so many ways! January is the busiest month of the IBTSC year, so we need to say ‘Yes, please!’ not only to the breakfast food but also to the ‘porridge’ of routine and our daily work. Happy New Year!