Church Family

They Made My Summer Even Brighter

Two of my highlights over the summer, which was without a doubt my favourite time of this year, were associated with church.  It’s probably obvious by now, but it was the people involved who contributed to making these events so memorable and highlights of my year.

I’ve been helping out at VBS (Vacation Bible School) for 14 years now, which is a staggering feat to me, especially as I am only 26.  I always love being a part of VBS and I will continue to help every year I can – I try to ensure that I’m available whenever VBS is taking place, getting the date in my diary months in advance.

For some reason, I enjoyed VBS this year a whole lot more than I have in a long time.  I loved the songs, I loved the set up of the hall, I loved all of the various activities and I loved my group of children – I’m always a Crew Leader, which involves supporting, looking after and taking a group of children around to the various stations.  Some of my favourite moments were when the children came running forward to splash me with water during one of their games, and the group hugs with my crew.

All my crew had a very differing set of personalities and characteristics, which made them an interesting collective that raised a varying set of challenges.  I’m always up for challenges though and we got through the week positively, with me striking up a bond with each of them.  There was one girl who was particularly funny, with her hard to please persona and who came out with the most unexpected comments.  She also took to counting how many songs we sung or were played each day, which was fun to keep track of – I’d regularly ask her what the total was throughout.  It is those little things that make the experience all the more enjoyable.

It’s also quite nice to be part of VBS with family and long-time friends.  My cousin, Sophia, was the VBS leader, assisted by her sister Rochelle, who both did an amazing job of pulling VBS together, in spite of some adversities along the way.  Sophia is genuinely made for this and I commend her for all she did.  My mum and my Aunty Debra led out in some of the rooms, making them an engaging experience for all of us.  It was great having brother and sister duo, Klavel and Si-Ann, lead out on the games – friends who are family to me.  And there was my cousin Kavan, who was a fellow Crew Leader.

A week after VBS had wrapped up, it was time for the Croydon Youth Extravaganza, which led up to our Youth Day.  The Extravaganza was well thought out and a special experience throughout the week that brought us all together, but the Youth Day was beyond beautiful.  I could not have been prouder of Si-Ann for all that she has been able to achieve and make happen with the youth this year, supported and guided by Pastor Alex, who is amazing in his own right.  I mean it when I say that Pastor Alex is a force of nature.

The whole day was emotional, well-organised and involved the majority of us youth from the church.  The four presentations in the main service were honest, relevant, useful and very special.  I was crying along with Si-Ann by the end of hers.  The play in the evening was slick, funny and made best use of everyone’s talents.  And the social in the evening was a whole lot of fun, laughter and good conversation.

For me, what made the day beyond beautiful was the people, especially being with those I had not seen for a long period of time.  I spent most of lunch with my Kay Kay – who I also had a nice meet up with a few weeks earlier along with Si-Ann – having good conversations and eating on the steps.  I exclaimed with joy when I saw my girl, Sh’kira, who I had no idea was going to be there and had not seen for a good few months – we had good chats too, as we always do.  I exclaimed with even more shock and joy when Gazza tapped me on the shoulder, as I hadn’t seen him for the longest.  We had a little conversation later in the day, but it wasn’t long enough – we fully need more time to catch up.

I swear, I filled with more and more joy as more faces I had not seen for a while began to appear.  However, I think I became full to the brim and found my heart overflowing with joy and love, when Ranen walked into the hall.  Now I literally have not seen Ranen in the flesh for years, so to be able to hug him and speak to him face to face was beautiful.  Ranen was one of the consistent faces in my life growing up, someone I could call a friend.  I also remember when he gave me his jacket to wear out in the cold at a social – a true gent.  It was great to have him around us again.

To be honest, it was just great to have so many of us in the same space again, as it doesn’t happen so often anymore.  Chilling and chatting to Arks, Gis, Sach, Charlie, Nnamdi, Ike, Ryan, Paige, Elliott, Jemel, O’Shea, JJ, Myrin, Karina and a whole lot more.  It was one of the best and happiest days I’ve had in a long time.  No matter what, I will always love my church family.

 

I’ll Miss You Uncle Clifford

Yesterday, one of my most treasured members of my church family was laid to rest.  When I learned of his death on an afternoon in December, I was devastated, mainly because I missed out on the opportunity to visit him when he was sick.  The fault was no one’s but mine.  I should have made the time to visit him and speak to him when I had the chance, but now I won’t have that chance again – not until Jesus returns that is.

Uncle Clifford was a very special individual.  He was one of the people I would always make an effort to seek out and say hello when I came to church on Sabbath.  If he didn’t see me, I know that he would ask my mum, “How are my daughters?” inquiring about both me and my sister.  He was someone who would always remember you and genuinely cared about how you were.

Seeing Uncle Clifford never failed to put a smile on my face.  I always looked forward to seeing him, greeted by his grin, warming presence and always a “Hello darling” in his distinct Jamaican tongue.  There was also always a hug and kiss on the cheek waiting for me.  Knowing that I’m not going to hear that treasured greeting again or see his smiling face on Sabbath brings great sadness to my heart, as I know that church will never feel the same again.  Having to see someone else sitting in his spot next to Uncle Jim will be a strange sight for me.

I also enjoyed seeing Uncle Clifford sitting with Uncle Jim at the church’s soup kitchen on Tuesday evenings.  Having the opportunity to see him there in the week made coming to the soup kitchen even better, as I was treated to his trademark greeting and some conversation.

His strength continued through and through, not complaining about any pain or illness he was in, which is a quality I truly admire.  He was always caring and considerate, offering me and my mum lifts home on a number of occasions.  Uncle Clifford would always want to ensure you were safe, well and happy, doing what he could to make it happen.

The moment I heard of his passing, I knew that I was going to miss him, but at his funeral yesterday, it hit me just how much I was going to miss his presence in my life.  Uncle Clifford was a simple, constant figure who brought joy to my days, but I don’t think he realised the impact he had on my life by just being who he was.  I’m glad he’s at peace now and I’m looking forward to seeing him again on that day when Jesus comes.  I love you always Uncle Clifford.

Beautiful People of 2015

As I reflect on 2015, one of the things that keeps coming to mind are the people.  If you know me, you know that I love people (most of the time) and that the people in my life play a major part.  They are the ones who support me, make me laugh and help to create lasting memories, so I thought I’d shine a light on some of those beautiful people.

I love my family so much, in spite of their imperfections.  My Uncle Keith and Aunty Cynthia made me feel completely at home when I stayed with them in Huntsville, and I loved having the opportunity to get to know my cousin Kaleem better.

Of course, there’s someone in my family who is a stand out time after time.  My sister, Rhianna, was a star again this year and despite some bumps in the road, we’ve come through 2015 tighter than ever.  She’s been my main supporter in all I do, provided a ton of jokes and supported me through my madness — I genuinely don’t know where I would be without her.  I’m also prouder of my sister than I’ve ever been, as I’ve watched her display great strength, start a degree and finally get the job she deserves.

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I also have to mention my adopted brother, Jemel.  Now my parents didn’t actually adopt him, but I’ve adopted him as my brother.  The support Jemel’s shown me this year has been amazing and touched me more than I think he’s realised.  I was incredibly thankful to him for taking part in my short film and watching him want to do well for me provided me with so much joy, as well as laughter.

Then there are my crazy, dysfunctional, beautiful, church family, who never fail to play a big part in my life. I’ve enjoyed conversations with my girl Sh’kira, who I’m always excited to see and is always interested in what’s going on in my life.  I’ve laughed with my darling Elliott, who came out with some classically weird lines this year which had me dying of laughter.  But most of all, it meant a lot to see the love and support shown by my church family on my 23rd birthday.

My 23rd Birthday

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay friends with a number of girls from school and sixth form, who continue to show me love and support year after year — I was overcome with emotion when Ope unexpectedly gave me flowers and a card at my launch.  However, I’ve got to shout out one of my special Textiles girls, Nahed, who’s been there for me big time in 2015.  She was in my short film and came out to the launch, just like Jemel, but she’s done so much more than that.  She’s constantly checked up on me, shown huge amounts of love, and we’ve been able to connect on similar situations that have been affecting us.  Anyone would be lucky to have a friend like Ned.

I’ve also made a whole load of new friends this year, mainly because of my travels to Bosnia and the USA.  In the USA, I met some lovely people, like Matthew, Glen, Kojo and Khyle, but most of all, I had the privilege of meeting Britney, one of the nicest people you will ever come across. Britney’s got a skill for writing and she’s a spoken word ninja — I was lucky enough to see her perform at Oakwood and she gave some of her wonderful words to my own spoken word script.  And just like most of my friends, Britney is funny; just last week she brought me a lot of cheer with the best Christmas message ever.

Then in Bosnia I met an abundance of beautiful people — Lidija, Lara, Katarina, Nina, Marko, Biljana, Sandra, Ellie, Amy, Izzy, Jessie, Rory, Ljubiša, Nemanja, Tina, Alex, Mikica, Nevena. My house sister Naomi, who was also in my short film, and the hilarious Julia, who was kind enough to come and support me at my launch.  The list is endless and there are so many others I would love to name, but I wanna spend a little time on my friend Filip.

My Girls at TCFT

Filip is a beautiful being, full of kindness, caring and sincerity.  He’s intelligent, serious and wise beyond his years, but fun, entertaining and witty.  He’s a writer, like me, and a musical romantic who shares my love of Florence + the Machine. I feel blessed to have found a friend in Filip, who’s bought me plenty of laughter and put many smiles on my face in a short space of time.

Me and Filip

There are so many other beautiful individuals who have been big a part of my life in 2015, including my talent coach Teresa, my best friend Mells, my girl Jhanielle, the lovely Aisha, my hilarious grandparents and of course, my own parents.  I’m so thankful for the people in people in my life, and looking back, I can see how blessed I am.  I’m looking forward to developing these relationships and meeting more beautiful people in 2016.