We had a long journey prepared for our first day of this tour… travelling to Manchester to spend the week at Bury Church of England High School.
Setting off on a Sunday morning, arriving with our hosts at about 7pm after stops for food and planning meetings! Luckily I had come equipped with packets of cookies and Haribo (which were demolished by the boys after a few minutes in the van!) to keep us going. We always have such a laugh in the van together; conversations can be both random and funny! I was dropped off first in Bolton, with a couple Paul and Hannah Schofield. Paul is the Pastor of the Metro Christian Centre Church in both Bury and Whitefield and Hannah is a teacher at the school we were planning to be in for the week.
Monday morning was a very early one… we had to be set up and ready for an assembly at 8:45 which meant arriving at the school for 6:45 and having an alarm going off at 5am! A very dark and cold morning to start with but we got to work quickly and managed to construct our things before the bell went for assembly. This school has had Taste in the past visit their school, so they recognised Andy and Josh from last year, but it meant myself and Reece were able to be introduced for the first time there. Reece felt slightly more at home as we were further North than he has been used to over the past few months! Monday was a very busy day for us; not only were we getting used to the school atmosphere and being amongst new children, but after the lower years assembly we also had 5 lessons which were timetabled for us to lead. I noticed the difference between the last schools week we had been part of in the Primary schools, how different the older year groups reacted to some of our lessons. Throughout the first day we started with year 7s and then gradually taught older years which meant we were changing the lessons we taught and made it slightly more challenging or older groups. Some of the lessons were completely new to me and Reece as they hadn’t been done in the Primary Schools or German schools so there was a lot to learn for us but as the week went on, we were given more opportunities to partake in the leadership of some of the activities.
Taste had been invited to this school particularly on this week as they were holding their Advent Communion assemblies during the week on the build up to this first Sunday of Advent. On Tuesday there were 2 Advent assemblies where the pupils were invited to take Communion together. We were asked to be part of these assemblies and we performed Down and Out before the talks took place. It was great to have our own input into the assemblies. On our schedule, Tuesday was the day with the least amount of lessons that we had planned, but we felt that for our final lesson of the day with our first year 11 group we wanted to change our plans and to think about making the lesson more challenging. We looked at why some people don’t want to believe in God, interviewed Reece, Josh and myself about what we feel the evidence has been in our own lives for Gods existence, and Reece shared his testimony about how being a Christian isn’t always easy. I felt the lesson was very powerful and I really hope that it had a good impact on the students.
Another thing that I love about being on tour is being given the chance to spend time with new people over meals after the school day. On both Monday and Tuesday I was able to spend time with my hosts Hannah and Paul; on Tuesday the rest of the band joined us and we had a great laugh all together over a meal. I love how something as simple as a meal can bring people together and we can enjoy fellowship together. Some of these moments are the best for making memories with people too!
Wednesday was a similar structure to Tuesday; we participated in some more Advent assemblies which the Bishop of Bolton led this morning. Wednesday was a very busy and tiring day as we didn’t really stop all day! Not only did we have 4 lessons to do, but in the middle of the day we had planned to do a mini concert at lunch time for the kids to come along to. The concert was so fun because we felt very hyped and the adrenaline got us going… I think some of us were disappointed that it was only for about 30 mins! We did our two new Taste songs during this concert which was very exciting because we were able to see their reactions and thank goodness they seemed to enjoy them both! I also for the first time ever, introduced a song during Wednesday, so when we were approaching singing Sitting On The Fence, I was responsible for explaining the message behind the song (which I had never done before!). But I am slowly remembering the different bits and bobs which we use in lessons and soon I imagine I will be responsible for more intros to songs and be more involved with leading parts of lessons! By this point in the week we had begun to mingle with the children more during their breaks and so conversations were under-way about musical interests and football teams! I was compared to one of the girls’ sisters.. who apparently looks like me but scarily has a few things in common with me and also her birthday is the day before mine! The year 11s were very kind in giving their private space in the school hall which is where they congregate during break and lunch times so that we could invite the other years in for our lunch time concert.
At the end of the day we headed to the Metro Christian Centre in Bury where we were being cooked a delicious dinner by my host Paul and their church intern Leanne before heading out to our evening entertainment at Andy and Joy’s hosts house. Their lifegroup had organised a ‘chocolate party’ and we were invited to join them with the tasting of the homemade chocolate created by a lovely lady Dianne. We had to guess what was inside the truffles by smelling, touching and tasting them individually. It was definitely my kind of lifegroup social! They were delicious and we could tell that Josh and Reece were enjoying it too…their faces were priceless when they were eating the chocolate!