A Little Love from Leceister

Last week the Transformational Index team ventured to Leceister, a city just an hour and a half away (as the train tugs). I was thrilled to accompany them to be a runner/photographer/eager observer as Shannon, Andy, Becca, and Jim facilitated some intriguing and inspiring conversations about what “good” looks like. I think I speak for us all when I say it was a productive two days spent with the Leceister Diocese working on impact measurement in their prospective churches and projects! While our camera is currently sick and at the doctor’s, soon we will post a few photos from the week, so you can see them in action!

A highlight of the experience for me was seeing the TI being used four different times, with completely different personalities facilitating, and see that the same kind of conversations and processes were occurring! I think the TI is truly a tool in this way, and all the more useful for a wide variety of future clients and beneficiaries (shameless plug!). I’m quite excited to see it in action again tomorrow, when some of us use it to evaluate the Learning Lab!

While I suffer to leave you on a sad note, I’m afraid I must inform you that this will be probably the last or second-to-last time that you hear from me on this lovely blog… (Some of you may be thinking, “Yes! No more poetry!” ;)) As I am Texas-bound in just two short days! It has gone all too quickly, and I have cherished every second with these rockstar people in this rockstar city. Perhaps I’ll continue my sappy goodbyes (correction: see-you-laters :)) later, but for now, I must tend to some packing!

Cheers, mates!

Old and New

Hello there! As Liz mentioned, my name is Lauren and I will be interning with the community this summer. I am so pumped for what’s in store, and can officially say that it’s been one whole week here in London and I’ve cherished each day!

While I have had time to experience some typical London adventuring (Shout out to Liz for the grand tour!), we have pretty much hit the ground running as the summer is such a busy time for MH. Monday marks the beginning of a trip to Devon with the TI (Transformational Index) team, where they will brainstorm and discern what the next steps are for that project. At the end of the week, a charming group of new American friends (whoop!) will be joining us for a Learning Lab—and they are in for quite the treat! We’ll keep you posted on these goodies so you can feel informed or pray alongside of us!

Perhaps I will share with you some “highlights” from week one… Though I daresay distinguishing them is quite difficult as there are no low ones! The first day I arrived, my friend Shannon McLaughlin (she and Shannon Hopkins have endured many a name confusion like champs) and I got off the plane from studying in Ireland, expecting to say goodbye to one another as I was beginning this internship and she was going for a holiday jaunt. However, Shannon H. welcomed her to join us for the week at any point she wanted, and I am so thankful for having a familiar face around my first week here! Below is a picture of Shannon M. and Liz as our “royal racontour” (Not sure if she would appreciate the pun, but she can always punish me I suppose!)

Liz giving Shannon and I the classic London tour

Liz giving Shannon and I the classic London tour.

That same first day, Shannon H. pointed us in the direction of “The Wapping Project,” a lovely restaurant and art exhibit down the corner from her flat in Wapping! Some ridiculously sumptuous chai ice cream was consumed and the first English cup of tea sipped, and then we explored the re-purposed building (it used to be an old factory, and cogs and wheels are everywhere!) and the art within. I sat at the top of the building and looked out over the Thames River, noticing a Tennyson poem someone had hung on the wall next to me. It became so apparent that London is a fascinating, unapologetic blend of the old and the new, married and yet distinct, like the sea and the shore brought together by some greater Tide.

The theme of old and new continued to abound as I went to aid Andy S. and T with their new home- weeding the garden of seemingly-plant-like green to make room for true plants… Washing windows that many have peered out of, that their darling son Jacob will now see some of his first sights through.

Another afternoon was spent with the Shannon(s) pilgrimmaging to Shannon H’s old flats and hearing the stories of each, what dreams were held within, what glories were seen. Something I noticed about her first flat in Bow, is that it was the home for the London Matchgirls’ Strike of 1888, a serious incident of justice in the city. This flat for Shannon was another incident of justice, for women in particular: the birthplace of The Truth Isnt’ Sexy campaign to change the conversation around human trafficking. This flat in Bow had held both old and new… with dreams for match girls and prostitutes. The Lord is so evident to me in this city through little details like this to the big, beautiful things that result.

Shannon H. explaining the Match Girls' Strike at her first flat in Bo.

Shannon H. explaining the Match Girls’ Strike at her first flat in Bo.

I believe that God is a God of old and a God of new, that He sees our pasts fully and yet invites us each day into something more fresh and beautiful, made for that day alone. It is my prayer that while I’m in this old-and-new kingdom of sorts that I and Matryoshka Haus as a whole will recognize His story among it all, and live it, and love all the sweet souls along the way. I wish you all a happy day, and stay tuned!

Date for your diary…

There’s nothing better than a quirky night out, especially one that involves music, competitiveness and prizes – Sweet Notions’ forthcoming Musical Bingo night is just that.

Musical Bingo? It’s like bingo, only with songs instead of numbers and prizes instead of money.

Why are Sweet Notions holding this event? Basically, it’s a way of marking the transition of the Design Camps at the Marylebone Project from Sweet Notions to running under their own steam. The night will raise money for the Marylebone Project – which exists to help women affected by homelessness – so it’s for an excellent cause.

So, if you’re free on Thursday November 22nd, come join us!

Taking the TI to TX

My first trip to Texas. My first trip with Shannon. My first “work trip” to somewhere more exciting than Brussels… why?

The TI.

The Transformational Index helps organisations measure their impact more effectively and meaningfully. It helps organisations say “This is what good looks like”. And the aim is that it can be used by any kind of organisation, anywhere in the world. So – I found myself in Texas in June, helping Shannon & Andy S to train facilitators, start a pilot project and deliver TI workshops.

There are now six Texas-based trained facilitators. Eight organisations taking part in the four-month pilot project. Six other organisations who have completed TI workshops. And new partnerships formed, and friends made, all over Texas.

And, it seems, this is just the beginning. We’re going back in October. And I, for one, cannot wait.

– Becca McGowan

Shannon, Andy S & Karen


Jacob the hoover

Jacob Scofield, offspring of Thomasin the cop and Andy the consultant, will always be a healthy child and adult. His parents have assured this by allowing him – nay, nay, by encouraging him – to graze across my colorful carpet.

During his and his parents’ May and June stays in the Houston home I share with Robin the public relations lady, I thought he was just an unusually quiet seven-month old, a toddler saving his vocal efforts for the terrible twos. But as I observed him wiggling across our moderately-price imported carpet, I realized he was too busy to say anything: He was licking the rug. and it is one offering an enriched nap of imbedded dog hair, crushed tortilla chips, and a fine crumb of imported shortbread, enhanced with the dried yet heady aroma of tequila, Texas corn whiskey and a splash of soda water. And, afterwards, no reaction. The level of immunity he has built must be incredible.

Jacob takes his own photo with an iPhone

Jacob’s self-portrait

I have yet to vacuum the carpet hoping Jacob might soon return and save me the trouble.

– Richard Paoli

[Mr Richard is the Matryoshka Haus’ head chef and favourite story-teller…]