Introducing Lauren!

Every so often, the London Matryoshka Haus community has the opportunity of sharing life with someone who has offered to work with us for a short period of time. Lauren Turner is our latest intern and will be in London for the month of June, playing a key role in our forthcoming Learning Lab with Bent Tree Church later this month.

While she’s with us, Lauren will be sharing some of her experiences on this blog, so it seemed only fair to introduce her first…

So Lauren, where in the world are you from?
I’m from the fine city of Austin, Texas but currently attending Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Why have you decided to come to London and what do you hope to do while you’re here?
I decided to come to London for a lovely collision of reasons! Shannon Hopkins has been a close friend to our family for a long time, and I continued to hear about her adventures and work in London and always felt drawn to it. Also, for a while I have felt the Lord place a love for the UK in my heart (everything about it, even including Doctor Who!) as I have found a need in myself to focus on spiritual poverty versus physical poverty, the latter of which I have spent many past summers working with. All of this seemed to kind of do a little dance altogether and the Lord provided a way for me to come and serve the MH community. I hope to do just that, as well as track down Benedict Cumberbatch in an entirely non-creepy way! 🙂

What are you most looking forward to about your month with us? 
I am most looking forward to getting to learn about community from all of you lovely, varied folks. I want to see how God changes hearts through His people sharpening one another, ideas being born of conversations and “oh really? me too!”s. I want to be a servant to MH as well and bless the work that is being done in the ways God uniquely appoints for each day, one at a time.

How can we be praying for you?
Thank you kindly for asking! Well, I have a terrible tendency to get quite lost… And this city is certainly an opportunity for that sort of thing! As silly as it may seem, prayers for a sense of direction would be wonderful. I would also love prayer for a teachable spirit, a heart completely open to the Lord and to you all… I know He brought me here to reveal new things and I pray that I won’t get in the way of those!

So look out for posts from Lauren over the next few weeks and do keep her in your prayers as she experiences the wonders of our city and community!

Lauren on Wapping Beach

Lauren experiences the London sun on Wapping beach.

Giving Thanks

We intended this to be a ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ message on Thursday. Sadly, our server went down the night before, and it took a little while to get it back up and running…

In London, five days before ‘official’ Thanksgiving, the Matryoshka Haus community gathered for its annual celebration of giving thanks. While it might seem strange for a British group to celebrate an American holiday, this regular opportunity to be thankful for what we have is a special time for many of us.

Our community is at its strongest when it is gathered around a table. To manage this within a restricted space, our Thanksgiving meal took place in the garden, with candlelight, coats and scarves. We made time to remember the difficulties our community has faced over the last year, and to celebrate the many things we were thankful for. Lanterns were lit in honour of what we were grateful for, looking beautiful as they floated away into the London sky.

Thankful light

We are grateful for so many things – the blessing of new relationships, homes, jobs, health and new life – especially in the face of many struggles. Nothing represented our thankfulness better than a small person whose arrival was greeted with (actual) screams of delight. Jacob, who turns one this week, was just days old at last year’s Thanksgiving. We as a community are now rejoicing with his parents in the blessings that a year of his life has provided.

We pray that you will be blessed this Thanksgiving weekend and that the coming year will be filled with even more reasons to be thankful.

Faces lit by the glowing lanters

Thank-you for your hospital

What if emotional wounds became physical injuries?

Thus ran the plot of a story that a friend of mine wanted to write. I’m still eagerly waiting for him to get the pen out, but I often ponder this in the meantime. Would I have an arm missing, and an infected sore on my cheek? Would I change the way I acted towards my friends or colleagues if I could see instantly what they were really dealing with? Would it move the targets of my envy?

I often feel guilty about being one of the world’s wealthiest (I am – and probably you are as well – in the top 5%), especially when our churches are increasingly focussed on poverty. But – poverty isn’t just about money. It’s about our spiritual state, too. And London is one of the most difficult places to have struggles of the heart. It’s hard to make friends here. And once you’ve made friends, it’s even harder to sustain those friendships.

Lately, I’ve seen how Matryoshka Haus is making a big difference when it comes to the poor – not those living on the breadline, but those of us (I’m willing to admit it – are you?) who are living on the lonely-line. Last night I sat around a table with nine others and enjoyed one of the tastiest meals I’ve had for months. The ten of us chatted incessantly, laughed, dined and drank. We were unafraid to show each other those valuable glimpses of our inner selves. We carried on healing each other, together.

I often joke when leaving dinner parties: “Thank you for your hospital”.
I think my dear friends at Matryoshka Haus prove this to be more true every day.

– Rachel N

Healing happens much more easily when it involves awesome yorkshire puddings…

A new term begins at the Design Camp

As the posters around The Marylebone Project say, ‘We’re back’. This is our sixth ‘term’ at the project which means, as Shannon reminded me yesterday, September will be the second anniversary of the Design Camp. Expect something involving cake!

Even though I hated school, and the start of a new term used to fill me with dread, I actually quite like the rhythm of activity followed by rest, followed by activity. It allows space to reflect and re-focus, try something new over a limited period of time, ring the changes or just respond to seasonal opportunities like Christmas.

Over the Easter break we reviewed the Design Camp and decided to try some new ideas this term. This may come as a surprise to some of the women who love their weekly fix of beads and wire but we hope they will also embrace the opportunity to try something else and, as we found with making jewellery, I’m sure we’ll discover hidden talents.

So we started this term, making earrings, an old favourite, but with plans to try out a few new ideas; lampshades, gift bags and tags, and sweet smelling, pretty lavender bags. All made using some of the scarfs that have been collected. We will be grateful for the sewing skills of Katie Sampson and Shi Dolor, two of our regular volunteers who take time out from their own businesses and family life to help with the sessions.

It was good to see some familiar faces returning last week, and three new women to welcome. We’ve met around 15 new women at the design camps since January, over just 10 sessions, which reflects the turnover at the hostel but is also a challenge for us as we seek to build relationships and develop the women’s skills.

The rhythm, terms and seasons; rest and creativity, reminds me of one of my favourite hymns:

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pray with me that this term we would have our eyes open so that we can witness and celebrate God’s faithfulness, mercy and love at work in the lives of all involved with the design camps.

– Polly

Showing off London

No introduction to London could be complete without the obligatory viewing of the sights – Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, the London Eye… Personally, I don’t think your mind believes you’re in London until you’ve seen them!


This morning I had the pleasure of showing Carl & Regina my favourite city. My usual habit of avoiding tourist spots was pushed aside and we hit all of the above in little over an hour. Londoners take the beauty and history of this city for granted, so it’s always great to view it with fresh eyes and remember again just how lucky we are to live here!



From the South Bank we made our way to Wapping to visit the building the community is hoping to acquire. The excitement at crossing Tower Bridge and discovering the Tower of London was palpable and didn’t dwindle as we made our way towards Wellclose Square. British inculturation was completed by a trip to Waitrose to pick up groceries for a community meal tonight.
It’s fascinating watching people get to grips with this city and it’s so lovely getting to know them too!
– Liz Clutterbuck