Time for another inspirational woman of God who actively seeks to live a life of love. This time it's a real globe-trotter who has lived in Rome (I'm very jealous!!) and now lives in England. I'll let her introduce herself...
My name is Lauren Dixon, I’m a whopping 30 years old and am married to Andy, a brit from Nottingham. I’ve been working with students in Oxford, England with Agape since Christmas but was in Rome, Italy 7 years prior. As you can tell from my lack of erranious “u” and a few extra “z”s, I’m an American, so both of those places (England and Italy) are cross-cultural for me!
2. How did you feel called to work here?
This is a tricky one. Often times I wish I had some sort of glamorous calling where God painted the continent of Europe in the sky, but even though it wasn’t dramatic, it was still beautiful. I heard a sermon at my church here in Oxford the other week about discerning God’s will. The pastor described how he recently, along with his small children, had to buy his wife a birthday present. He and his boys sat around talking about his wife’s taste, gifts she’d thoroughly enjoyed in the past, recent hobbies, what clothing might need replacing. They thought about the things that make her smile. In the end they landed on a watch. It may have been easier, he explained, if his wife would have just come out and told them “I’d like a nice watch for my birthday, please!” but they would have missed getting to know her more through the process. Really our calling to Oxford was quite similar. For us this time (and something God does dramatic callings!) He didn’t write it in lights across the blue Roman sky but we did spend months reflecting on God’s values, searching his purposes for us, coming up with ideas and criteria and weighing them against His word. We continually asked the question “What is our best gospel contribution during this next season?” We got to know Him better in the process. We sought His face and made a decision. It wasn’t dramatic, but it was still beautiful.
3. What are the biggest cultural differences you’ve had to adjust to?
When I first moved to Italy I fell in love with the country at the first bit of mozzarella and kiss on the cheek. There was also a lot of stress that came with living in Italy (as opposed to spending a holiday) like the long queues and how everything (I mean everything) takes for-ev-er to get done. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I can now see why. The same principle applies to people and Italian hearts as well. It takes a long time for an Italian to warm to the gospel and to Jesus. Maybe it’s the religious history in the city or the cultural apathy, but that was always hard to get used to. Since coming to Britain I’ve had to adjust to the differences in conflict resolution (let’s just say Brits are screaming at each other in the streets and then kissing to make up again like the Italians) and the efficiency of everything. (Yes, I did adjust to Italy and yes, I have been experiencing reverse culture shock moving back to a country where people eat 30 minute meals and meet you for coffee for 45.) There’s also the silly differences like the frequency of tea-drinking and how people don’t talk to strangers they haven’t been introduced to!
4. How do you live a life of love where you are?
I’m learning a lot about living at a savoring pace. I’m an activist. I’m an achiever. I’m driven and like to make things happen. Often times I can run myself so far into the ground that I don’t truly savor Jesus in my day-to-day life. And if I’m not savoring Christ and loving Him well I certainly won’t be able to love others well! My prayer is that I would have my eyes wide open for those “interruptions” in my day that are really opportunities to love those around me.
5. How can we pray for you?
Please pray for my continued transition into the UK. Pray also for me as I help lead our cross-cultural training in Budapest this summer. And to press ahead at a savoring pace.