1. London transportation is teaching me a thing or two about waiting. “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.” - Psalm 27:14

     

  2. It’s official. I’m a student in the UK. Made the language switch today!

     

  3. Sunday city exploring. (tomada con Instagram en Clerkenwell Road)

     

  4. gettin the hang of it. (Tomada con Instagram)

     

  5. London: so rainy, flowers just burst thru sidewalks. (Tomada con Instagram)

     

  6. virtual rain as art. Ok, London. (tomada con Instagram en Barbican Centre)

     

  7. At first, I did it for cultural exchange. Now I can’t stop. #afternoonteaaddict (tomada con Instagram en The Delaunay)

     


  8. making friends

    I knew coming over here that it’d be a reminder in what it feels like to start all over, with no social base whatsoever. I also expected to have to navigate the tricky acrobatics of friend-making. And friend-keeping.

    We’ll talk about friend-keeping later, but honestly, I think I might’ve learned a thing or two in college about how to make friends, or at least make friends the Abby Way. The Abby Way, I’m finding, is rather simple. Just ask people on dates. Not group dates, not dates in loud places where you can conveniently divert your attention to the singer on-stage to avoid awkward silences. Dates like tea. And cider. One-on-one.

    Australian friend Matthew and I did tea and chocolate biscuits. San Francisco friend Cara and I did (tried to do) a virtual rain exhibit [more the come later]. Flatmate Alison and I decided to visit our little neighborhood pub for some folksy music and fall cider. All in a day. 

    Good people.

     


  9. blue book

    Almost three years ago, one of my dearest friends, Madeline Swayze, gifted me “the blue book,” a devotional with prayers and thoughts from Christian writers, organized into many chapters by topics like “Soil of your Soul” and “Grasping” and “Letting Go.” I haven’t used it consistently, day to day, but it was a regular part of my prayer life throughout college, and has traveled with me to Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and now London. Aside from transcontinental traipsing, this book has seen me through a lot: uncertainty about my future, spiritual ruts, one bad break-up, transitions, questions. More than all that, it’s seen me grow a little. 

    Today, I started the very last chapter in the book: “Home.” 

    "One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." - Luke 23:39-43

    Here’s my homage to maybe one of the best gifts I’ve been given. By the end of this week, the little blue book will be placed on my shelf. Other books will come around and I continue my walk. But the little blue book will no doubt be on every bookshelf I own.

     


  10. splorin’

    A lot has happened since last weekend. I can’t tell if this is going to happen often — feeling like a month has flown by in the short span of 7 days. Maybe things will slow down once I start to own this crazy city a bit more. I have a hunch, though, that London will keep things dynamic.

    This week I:

    1. Met the people in my HCD program, and am BLOWN AWAY by how impressive they are. We’re quite the eclectic bunch: 7 of us are from the States (but one is really from Eritrea), 2 from Canada (but one is really from Iran), 1 from London (but really from India), 1 from Ireland, 2 from Japan, 3 from China, 1 from Azerbaijan, 1 from Nigeria, 2 from Colombia, 1 from Holland, and 1 from Norway. 4 boys, the rest girls. I can tell we’re going to love each other a lot by the end of this.

    2. Was warmly welcomed over Greek food at my host Rotary club, Barkingside.

    3. Attended many a post-grad mixer, pub crawl, cocktail hour with administrators of my program, who are equally as awesome and impressive as the students.

    4. Joined an informal soccer team with Brits from my flatmate Alison’s program at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

    5. Was introduced to Dutch pancakes.

    6. Went church-shopping.

    7. Explored the city with a new friend Annie from Chicago and found these guys …

    Borough Market

    London Bridge

    Annie and I ventured to the top of the towers for this view of The Shard (the tallest building in Europe), etc.

    The London Eye and Big Ben

     


  11. You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.
    — Frederick Buechner
     


  12. This weekend, I escaped to the countryside for a welcome orientation for all Rotary scholars studying in Great Britain (for a refresher, that’s England, Scotland, and Wales) and Ireland. The conference itself took place in Exeter, about a 2.5-hour train ride southeast of London, home to a gorgeous cathedral, J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley, and purportedly the narrowest street in the world … literally (Parliament St., 25 inches). I met lots of scholars studying all sorts of things in London — film, social entrepreneurship, public health — and may actually have made my first friends here!

     

    The host family fairies worked their magic once again: I stayed with Charles, an Exeter native and loyal Rotarian, and his Welsh wife Ann — introduced in December of ‘57, engaged in January of ‘58, and married in May of ‘58 — in Topsham, outside Exeter. Topsham is a small town of 5,000 “on a good day,” as Charles said, and is stacked on a river that spills into the English Channel. The pair was incredibly generous, incredibly hilarious, and incredibly in love. 

    Before meeting at the manor of another Rotarian for dinner Friday night, I chit-chatted with my parents-for-the-weekend over tea and, get this, scones with CLOTTED CREAM. I was warned about this stuff before I got here. It’s just as thick, but surprisingly more pleasant, than it sounds.

    Dinner was fish n chips (what we would consider French fries), ironically from a restaurant called Little China, and strawberries n cream (clotted as well) and about 1.5x as many wine bottles as people.

    On Saturday night, the festivities multiplied. I got to hold an Olympic torch that one Rotarian ran from somewhere to somewhere nearby; had my first pork sandwich from a real pig roast; and danced Irish jigs ‘til late with Rotary scholars and Rotarians alike.

    I loved this weekend. LOVED it — for the new friends, for the warmth I felt from the Rotarians who welcomed me and housed me, for the chance to see a small part of this beautiful country, for the reminder of how blessed I am to be here. Charles and Ann are expecting me back in the seaside village of Topsham, and said I could use them as home base if I want to get away from the noise and grime of the city. I think I’ll take them up on that offer, maybe more than once. Toodaloo!

     

  13. home sweet home.

     


  14. off again

    Well, I’m off again! Poppa H always has called me a “moving target,” so in keeping with tradition, when it came time to decide what to do after my Vandy career sadly and sweetly ended, I don’t think it surprised me nor the ones close to me that I set my sights abroad … and they landed on London!

    Back as early as junior year, I became a finalist for the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, a flat $27,000 stipend awarded to “servant-leaders” interested in pursuing graduate-level education internationally, as well as being an “ambassador of goodwill and better friendship.” Goodwill? Friendship? Heck ya! So I signed up, and will be representing the Leawood (KS) Rotary Club District 5710 during the 2012/2013 academic year as I pursue an MSc in Health, Community & Development at the London School of Economics.

    Now you might be wondering, “What is that mouthfulofa degree gonna get you?” Well, to be honest, I’m not sure yet. HCD has told me I’ll emerge with a better understanding of “how health and social development professionals can work in partnership with target communities to improve well-being, fight disease and build ‘health-enabling’ social environments.” After some life-changing experiences this summer working with victims of domestic violence in Nashville’s courts, as well as with some awesome maternal/infant health outreach workers in rural Appalachian towns, I’m pretty set on focusing my studies, research, and extracurricular involvement on women’s health as a window into family and community health. But as far as what HCD is “setting me up for” or how it’s going to “make me marketable” … d’oh. I’m opening myself up to the mystery that has always been my future (and yours, and yours, and yours) and just hoping that it lands me where my heart and the world’s need meet.

    Beyond academics, and in keeping with the trend I’ve witnessed within myself with each new place I visit or live, I’m going to walk away from this year changed. And as goes the prayer with every transition I’ve made over the past four years, I pray that that change is in the direction of Christ. I pray that Abby Hannifan of August 2013 is more of Abby Hannifan than she’s ever been. By that, I mean I hope my heart and mind grow in such a way over the next year that I become a closer approximation to the person in Christ God hopes me to be.

    Some other items on the wish-list for this upcoming year:

    • Learn to cook, and budget
    • Wear my retainers every night … for my readers who just got out of braces (can I get a hey!!), do it no matter how dorky you sound to those who see you in your jammies! Otherwise you’ll end up like me, a rebel non-retainer-wearer for four years with shifted teeth and $X00.00 out of pocket for a new “dynamic plastic” retainer
    • Take a multi-vitamin every day (in case my pocket book shrivels so much that economy takes precedence over nutrition)
    • Do it the British way and start to like tea
    • Join a book club
    • Grow an herb garden in my super cute kitchen window
    • Ride a bike to school as much as possible. For the times I can’t, learn to do something productive with my hands on public transportation.

    OH, and excuse the confusing title of this blog. I’ve decided to centralize my travel blogs, and just add London chronicles to guatemole. Feel free to read about last summer! It was the bomb!

     

  15. I’d say Thursday nights are great nights to have a fireside chat (in an old neighborhood fire station) with the guy who trained Obama in community organizing.