Wow. Who knew that in just a 10 hour layover, I could have such an incredible day? Yesterday I left Chicago and arrived in London (2 AM my time, 8 AM theirs). My flight for Johannesburg didn’t leave until 7 that night, so what better to do than a little exploring?
I have to admit, I was quite apprehensive about the entire process. For months, I have been planning and dreaming about this trip, and today was the first day that dream became a reality. I was scared of traveling on my own, of the plane flight, of missing my connecting flight…basically, I was scared of everything. When I was sleepless on the plane, worrying about all of this, I ended up reading David’s story in 2 Samuel. Even though he faced a variety of unknowns and perils, God’s presence was always with him.
God’s presence was all around me in London. I could not have had a better day in a city that I have always wanted to visit. I ended up meeting some of the friendliest people at the airport who helped set me on my way, enjoyed a lovely coffee and croissant on my way to the Underground, and enjoyed a ride into the city. I stopped for an hour at Kensington Gardens and watched swans and ducks float lazily on the Round Pond, all with a beautifully sunny sky (which is a London rarity). Maybe it was jet lag or sheer excitement, but everything felt like it was straight out of a dream.
I had no problems at all navigating around London (another fear of mine that was quickly put to rest). I think my favorite part of just wandering around was the fact that it’s such an interesting blend of historic landmarks and cosmopolitan charm. At around noon, I had the chance to meet up with Waleed, a mutual friend of Danielle (my best friend who studied abroad in London last year). Not only was he the most gracious and kind host, we managed to fit a whirlwind tour of London in just a few hours, including St. Paul Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. We ended with a delicious lunch at a pub near St. James.
I’m in the airport about to leave for Johannesburg, and still marveling at all that’s happened today. It doesn’t seem real. But if today is any indication of the next two and a half months, I know it’s going to be more than I could ever dreamed of.