A Crawford Family Update (By Alisha)

Brodie, Jonah, and Graysen ready for school
 in the UK
A view of our street in Colchester. Our house a few houses
 down on right. Though it looks like people are driving on
the right side of the road, those are actually parked cars.
You can park any direction you want here. 
When we arrived in England on August 15th, we were still uncertain which schools would have a spot for our boys.  Though we had hoped to have all of this sorted out before reaching this side of “the pond”, that wasn't the case.  Life for our first few weeks in the UK was filled with shopping, gathering, setting up a home, meeting the neighbors, getting acquainted with EMIUK, and visiting many, many primary and secondary schools.  Each time we arrived at a school, at times visiting the same school several times, we were confronted with a kind, but firm, “No, the school is all full and we do not expect any openings.”  The teacher in me was at times panicked by this response and as the days passed, I grew more and more uncertain of the boys schooling situation. 

The neighbor kids making a pyramid. The boys
have loved having kids about their age around
our house. This picture was actually taken in
September. Getting colder here now.
Leading up to our time in the UK, Brad and I both thought it might be very likely that we would need to homeschool Brodie for our time in the UK, since according to the age-based system here he would be placed directly into secondary school (AKA high school in the U.S.) at age 11! This was an unsettling feeling.  With each school we visited, (all of which seemed huge and overwhelming), it seemed that homeschooling became more and more likely.  But there was one school, St. Benedict’s Catholic College (a catholic school but free for the public) that felt different and “peaceful.”  Although the school politely informed us that there was a waitlist to get in (and that 9 of the 10 admissions requirements related to whether you were Catholic or not!), we submitted an application anyway.  With this application, we were required to attach a recommendation letter from Brodie’s youth pastor in Colorado Springs.  I quickly sent an email to the pastor, but because he was away on a retreat, it would be days before he could get back to us.  We decided to write a brief description of our family’s plans with EMIUK instead and sent in the application with the promise of getting the pastor’s recommendation as soon as possible. 
Jonah looking at the swimhole the boys later waded in.
This was September as well, in a quaint little town called
Dedham. Very fun place for a family day.
A few days later, after receiving the recommendation for Brodie via email, I printed the letter and drove to the school with the boys to personally deliver it rather than sending it to the county where we had sent our application.  When I arrived at St. Benedict’s, the lady in charge of enrollment said, “Oh yes, I have a letter about your family right here on my desk (somehow, Brodie’s information must have been sent to the school from the county admissions office).  She then added with a smile, “Brodie has been given a place at St. Benedict’s.”  I was speechless, thankful, and on the verge of tears all at the same time, excited that God had answered our prayers, but still wondering if our prayers were even the right thing for Brodie!  I thanked her profusely and headed back to the car with a very excited Brodie at my heels.  Still bewildered at how Brodie was accepted, we headed back to the school the next morning to purchase Brodie’s P.E. kit, blazer, tie, and full uniform to begin secondary school in just a few short days. Oh my!  
My mom, Karen, came to stay with us while Brad was on his
project trip to Guinea in September. We had a great time
 exploring Colchester. We spent the afternoon on Saturday
at the Castle Park near the city center. 
The following day a notice arrived in our letter box (here the mailbox is in the front door so mail comes flying into your house unannounced, which kind of reminds me of Harry Potter with the exception that the mailman is not an owl J).  Amongst the pile of mail scattered on the floor was an envelope from the county school admissions office. Assuming this was Brodie’s acceptance letter, I opened it and was shocked to find that it very clearly stated that Brodie had NOT been accepted into St. Benedict’s and had instead been enrolled at a school I’d never heard of.  UGH! My heart dropped and thoughts of confusion filled my mind.  Being a Friday afternoon, we raced down to the school again to try and sort out the predicament we were in.  Upon arriving, one of the groundskeepers (who recognized us from days before) asked if we needed help as the office had just closed for the weekend.  When I explained the problem, he paused a moment and said, “I bet my wife can help us with this.”  She soon appeared from somewhere on campus (lovely lady), listened to my panic, and quickly called the administrator who had helped us with the uniform purchase and whom is also in charge of enrollment for the school.  After conversing for a few minutes over the phone, the lady hung up and said, “As far as we are concerned, we accepted Brodie into the school, and we’ll take him.  Bring him to school on Tuesday to start with everyone else and we will let admissions know that we’re enrolling him in St. Benedict’s whether we have space or not!” What?!J 
We spent a Sunday after church with Mike and Marietta. 
Mike is the director of the EMIUK office.  This picture
was taken near Felixstowe, on the North Sea coast. In
the background, you can see the shipping cranes from
what we're told is the largest port in Europe.
Looking back on this situation, I have two thoughts:  God is unbelievably good, and His ways are far higher than our feeble minds can ever comprehend.  I’m also remembering the story of Esther – not for Esther’s role, but for what God did for Mordecai.  God has His way of stepping in just when we need Him most, and when He does, nothing can stop His amazing plans. God is definitely watching over Brodie, once again.  And as I thank God for all He’s done in Brodie’s life, I also thank each of you who have lifted so many prayers on his behalf.  We are so grateful for the team of supporters we have praying us through this journey with EMI.  Thank you for being in this together. 

Downtown Dedham is a very beautiful
place. The boys normally complain about
pictures but since this one involved
climbing, they were all too eager.
We have been amazed at how well the staff, with over 800 students, has watched over Brodie, guiding him and nurturing his growth and involvement at St. Benedict’s.  As I write this blog, Brodie is on a field trip to a retreat center with the 20 students in his “form”.  To help the students along in their years at St. Benedict’s the students have a small core group they meet with every day called a ‘form’ – very similar to the ‘houses’ in Harry Potter for those of you who have read those books. By the way, we started reading Harry Potter this summer as someone suggested we do it to prepare for coming to the UK. Whatever your opinion about those books, they’ve been an enormous help to our boys understanding and being excited about being in this culture since so much of those books is played out in our lives here – the cultural stuff, that is, not the witchcraft!  Last night was actually my parent conference with Brodie’s form tutor, who had wonderful things to say about how well Brodie is enjoying his time and thriving at St. Benedict’s.  We couldn’t be more thrilled.  God’s plan is perfect, and far better than we could have ever imagined.  Who would have thought – Brodie in secondary school at age 11, and doing so well! J 

So that’s Brodie’s situation. You may be thinking, “What about Jonah and Graysen?”  This is long enough, so I’ll pick up the story there next time. Check back in a couple of days.


Traci Morrow said…
LOOOVE this!! Alisha you are a great writer - particularly loved the visual of your mail coming shooting through your door! :) <3 YAY for High School Brodes!! <3 :)

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