Well.. I’ve had a nice relaxing few weeks off and we began the new year on Tuesday 14th with rehearsals and a team catch up getting ready for our schools week in Scotland!
We travelled over two days to break up the journey, leaving on Saturday night and stopping off in Northampton over night to make the journey feel easier. We had been asked to lead the service in the evening on Sunday and so we set off for the rest of the journey at 6:45 on Sunday morning. It was a very long trip; we rocked up at around 2pm in North Berwick ready to set up the equipment for the evenings event.
The theme for the week was Relationships. We were going to be looking at the relationships with people in our lives and how we need things like forgiveness in our relationships. The service on Sunday night saw us leading the worship, Foolproof Theatre Company performing their ‘boxes’ sketch, and a message.
This week we were going to be working alongside Foolproof Theatre Company and we got to know both Fiona and Kirsty very well throughout the week! After the service on Sunday we joined the whole team for a dinner together and I got to try my first piece of Tablet! I loved it! Here’s a picture of us taking our first bite!!!
I was going to be staying with a lovely woman called Fiona who was from a local Church of Scotland church. I got to know her very well over the course of the week. She lived not too far away from the high school itself and just round the corner from where the rest of the band were staying. After the meal on Sunday I moved in with Fiona into her flat and I was able to tell her all about where I come from and a little bit about what we have got up to so far this year. She was brilliant at praying for me through the week and it felt great to have her support. Her house had a beautiful view of the famous Law mountain which we were very close to climbing during the week but unfortunately didn’t get round to it.
The church held their service in the school that we were going to be working in for the rest of the week, which meant that Monday morning wasn’t such an early start and it meant we could leave the gear set up. We got into school for about 8am, sound checked and then began our day with 3 assemblies. The assemblies that we had were combined with Foolproof; we gave the school an introduction to the theme for the week by playing them some of our songs and Foolproof performing drama. The unfortunate thing about the week was that we were missing 2 year groups … S2 and S4 were unavailable for lessons and one of those years were away on a ski trip which meant that they weren’t even on the school grounds to get involved. It meant there were a considerably smaller amount of pupils for us to get to see and know over the course of the week. However, those years that we did get to see, we saw them regularly and this opened up more opportunities for us which we were very pleased about. Our timetable was slightly thinner on content because we were working alongside Foolproof and they also separately took some lessons; teaching English and Drama. On Monday, myself and Josh joined Shiona, Fiona and Kirsty in their English lesson where they were teaching about Romeo and Juliet. They were going to be having this class for all 4 of their English lessons during the week which was a brilliant chance for them to really get to know the class. I enjoyed being part of their lesson and contributing by reading the Prologue!
A fantastic start to the week and we finished the day together sharing a meal together at Peter and Hilda Kimbers’ house; a couple so on fire for seeing revival within the young people of the area.
The lessons on both Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of talking about friendship, forgiveness and music! In our friendship lessons we emphasise how important forgiveness is for the relationship to be healthy. We express that God is the perfect example of the perfect friend by the way He sent Jesus to die so that we can be forgiven. We also took some music lessons and in those lessons we demonstrate a particular instrument, how it works and tell them how and why we want to be in Taste and use our gifts in this way. It is then their turn to either show us what they can do or to be taught how to play that instrument by a member of the band! Usually there are many hands that shoot up as soon as that offer has been made!
We tried to encourage the students to come and chat to us in the hall during lunch times and this resulted in a new band being formed called ‘The Five Senses’ (obviously inspired by our band name!) and we had the privilege of hearing these S1 year boys perform a few of their own ‘original’ songs each lunchtime. One lad in particular took a shine to Andy and spontaneously wrote a song about his love for him! One of the lines quoted ” I shouldn’t have favourites but Andy you’re my favourite”. He got a great crowd and we followed them by also performing some of our songs for them to get involved with. It attracted quite a large group of mainly S1 students into the hall and we were able to have some conversations with them after the music.
On Wednesday afternoon there was a course held as part of this ‘Personal Search Week’ where they were looking at how to resolve conflict. We were asked to help by taking one of the lessons (a spontaneous lesson as the man they had booked hadnt turned up on time!) and we talked about ourselves and about breaking down walls that stop us from having good relationships. In the later sessions when the conflict resolution man arrived, Josh went into the session ( along with us for moral support!!) and he shared about how he conquered his anger and how he found God helped him through his tough times in school with friendship issues. They were good at listening to what he had to say.
On Wednesday night we were able to meet up with an ex-tasty singer Sarah who was in the band 2 years ago. She lives in Edinburgh now and we organised a little catch up with her, to find out about how her time went while she spent time working in Peru and to hear how she is getting on in Uni now. It was great to see her and to tell her how we are getting on so far this year!!
Thursday was our busiest day out of the week. We usually have our end of week concerts on a Friday but this week it was organised for the Thursday evening. To begin the day we had some lessons and we had 2 music lessons planned. I was asked to do some different things on Thursday; I had to introduce the lesson for the first time and also present the music quiz which we have where they have to guess the song title and artist within the first 10 seconds of the song. The S1s were really up for getting involved!
At lunchtime Josh, Reece, Elliemae and I went to the schools lunchtime club where we met about 5 Christians in the school whose ages ranged across the years. We had some interesting discussions about how they cope being Christians in the school and they admitted that it’s really tough because their friends often laugh or people don’t want to give them a chance because of what they believe in. Reece shared his testimony about how he was a Christian in school and how he coped with the pressures that it threw at him. I then shared a bit about how I got into Taste and the girls from Foolproof talked about how they work with drama and encouraged some of the girls there who were interested in drama. It felt really good to be able to share some things about how we coped with being Christians at school and to be able to know who to pray for. A great bunch who have real potential as leaders within the school.
We had the afternoon to prepare for the evening gig; Josh and Andy set up more lights, we sound checked the band who were going to be supporting us that night, Pray for James. The venue was all set up and we had a quick turn around to have tea with the team and then we arrived back at the school to get ready for performance time!!!
The plan for the evening was to have Pray for James to kick off the show, followed by a sketch from Foolproof, music from us and a talk from Shiona. We began the gig and the adrenaline kicked in. I had been struggling with a really sore throat all day so I was worried about how I would manage to get through the night! After a lot of prayer and endless amounts of drinks I was ready to sing all night! After the break we sang some more and then there was another drama by Kirsty from Foolproof and with a special guest Josh ! They acted a mime talking about how God gives us the perfect love.
Shiona shared a message with the pupils about Gods love and how it was better than any other thing you could experience. We did a demonstration using white tshirts and Josh and I got to smear ketchup and chocolate sauce onto the tshirt to show the dirt and muck that sin causes. But then Jesus takes that away! We wanted this part of the evening to be really reflective and so there was a time of response where Shiona said a commitment prayer and asked whoever said the prayer to raise their hand and to go and grab a ‘check it out’ leaflet and to talk to someone outside the room where there was a gathering of volunteers from the local churches who were ready to pray for them. We sang Down and Out to finish the evening, singing that there is hope! We were so pleased with the amount of students who had appeared interested and had gone to be prayed for. I really pray that God will use Thursday evening to speak to those who responded and to challenge them about what they believe in! Thank you God that so many took a leaflet and went for prayer!
Our final day in North Berwick High School was a fun but short one. We said our goodbyes to our hosts in the morning which was sad because I had gotten to know Fiona well by the week and I think she was enjoying my company!! We had 2 lessons to finish off the week; one was a Friends lesson and the other was a Music lesson. I was beginning to do more activities in the lessons and on Friday it was my chance to have a go at presenting the ‘friends game’, which I feel went very well!
The S1 classes that we had were up for joining in and we were sad when it meant we had come to the end of our time with them! we had to pack down quickly as we knew that it would be a long journey ahead of us! Thanks to the help of our brilliant team the pack down and load up went smoothly and we were able to gather together with the rest of the group to debrief and to pray together before we set off on the road. All really encouraging comments were made about how it had gone! The staff had been complimentary about the effect that we had had on the school over the week and we had a lot of use out of the Prayer Room which had been set up along the corridor from the hall as a reflective space where the students could choose to go to have time to themselves.
Managing to get away from the school at 1:30pm meant we had a long journey ahead but it was a brilliant time with the guys in the van and we could have a sleep!! We made it back to Essex at 10:30 and the last drop off was nearing towards 11:30 but we arrived safely and have enjoyed having today off to rest before we travel to Southampton tomorrow for another exciting few days away!