The one with the new kids

Second session for me started off with the incredible news that, yes, we would only be having five kids! The delight between my co and I was tangible, as we fist pumped out of the gymnasium with our new crew in tow. There was an odd shift in numbers, meaning that this session, there were a lot more girls than boys, so from a hellish first of seven, five with extra staff on hand should have been a piece of cake. Should.

Of the five kids, one, D, is probably the best child I have ever seen, he listens, does what he’s told, and is all around a total boss!

Of the five kids, one, S, is probably the funniest child I have ever met. He had this hilariously air-headed accent and comes up with the most fantastic lines. He becomes passionately fascinated with various things, currently Legos; “I love Legos. Legos is like a part of my life, I just can’t stop thinking about Legos”. I would love to take a peek into his brain and see what goes on as the world must be a wonderful place through his eyes! “Do you know that life is like minecraft, but you dot have any weapons”. I asked him the other day whether he’d like to be a counsellor when he grows up to which he replied: “I don’t want to be a counsellor, when I grow up ima be the president!” Look out, America!

Of the five kids, one, Sh, is a …tricky. If you’ve ever seen the film Hulk, you’ll know what I mean when I say he’s like Bruce Banner; mild mannered and actually quite fun normally but when something sets him off, he becomes consumed with this terrible rage that takes several people to quell. He will run anywhere and everywhere and is really quite a handful when he enters these fits, pulling out every card in the book to manipulate you and get his own way.

If I’m totally honest with myself, life would be a lot easier if he did get sent home like one of the kids in the tent across from us who lasted little more than three hours. However, as hard as it is for us as counsellors, having to give him 2:1 attention at the expense of the other campers, this, for him, is a lot better than home. It comes through in a lot of what he does; he’s had to fight hard to get to where he is, and it’s hard to break walls down that he’s been forced to build over the last seven years.

We did see a small breakthrough though when he went around and gave us all hugs, and there were some really lovely moments watching him “play camping” on the bed under blankets with a few of the other kids, watching him having genuine fun and laugh his age! So, for now, we’ll fight to keep him.

I feel the worst of storming is now over. A few temper tantrums, lethargy, petty arguments over who’s soccer ball it is and some time outs are the worst we’ve had, and now we’re into norming, hallelujah! We didn’t really see much of this last session but the kids are becoming settled in their groups. You still have the odd child who just loves picking fights, but at least it’s not a whole tents worth. So we have more time to relax and actually have fun doing our job, which is nice.



Live Life Loving

It’s been a pretty stressful few days in the life of Bryan, all the procrastination is slowly catching up with me, and I think I’m currently in the ‘acceptance’ phase of bereaving whatever hopes of a good exam grade I once aspired to. 

Joanna came up to me recently and told me that she’d been praying for us medics during our exams. She is an amazing human being, today we concluded that she must live outside of time because there’s absolutely  no way she manages to serve so much and generally be a university student, jeez I feel like I’m slacking off standing next to her! She told me that she wanted to help my friend and I out by cooking for us, because she saw how stressed we both were the last time we hung out. The impact of this is only really hitting me now. 

Today we were tackling Romans 13 the middle bit talks about loving your neighbour as we love ourselves. This is something that’s thrown around a lot in Christian circles, especially as a kid in Sunday School. We used to sing it all the time! But what does this really look like? In Romans 12:1-2, Paul tells us that we should present our bodies as living sacrifices, which is a bit of a ghastly phrase, in my opinion, but what it describes is beautiful. Imagine a society where everyone lived this way, where you would joyfully put the needs of others before yourself. But to do this, it says, we must first love ourselves. 

For me, this looks like taking a break when I’m really stressed out. Putting work aside and making some food, sleeping a little earlier, waking up a little later. Taking the day off to go on a bike ride when it’s really sunny. Buying myself a new shirt or a new pair of shoes. Spending time with myself, making time for friends, going out. Reading, painting, taking pictures. This list is going to be different for everyone but the concept is the same. We’re pretty good at it. Now imagine the audacious proposition of doing this for other people? Doing someone’s laundry so they can have a few extra couple of hours in bed, offering to take care of someone’s kids so they don’t have to rush home from work, offering to cook lunch for a bunch of frazzled medics!

Joanna showed me, in a completely intentional act of kindness, a little glimpse of what its like to love genuinely, and its amazing!  

As much as we should be doing these acts of love, we must also be willing to accept and receive them. Galatians 6 tells us that we’re to bear one another’s burdens. It’s telling us that we should be willing to be a burden to others, open up to them, move beyond the “I’m fine thanks” and really allow them to step into your life and share it with you, arm in arm. 

These thoughts have really challenged me recently. The culture in London, although wonderful in its own respects, is difficult to change overnight, and frankly, I don’t like thinking about what happens outside my little university bubble. There is definitely a darker side to living than I could ever imagine. However, in our own little way, we can take steps to improving the lives we impact on a daily basis. 

If you’ve ever had one thing, however small, completely make your day, then pay it forward. Let’s live life loving. 


Medical Mondays – the transition

First year was a lot about cramming, you crammed (what you thought was a big) list of drugs for conditions such as malaria, alongside lots of other seemingly irrelevant conditions that 1/100,000,000 people contract every ten years and anything that seemed likely to cause you any extra work was disregarded with a quick “I’m sure we’ll cover that next year”. Well, this is next year, and I totally regret it…

It’s quite tricky, in a sense, training to be a doctor. On the one hand you really want to pass the exam so you cram niche facts for the sake of it, but another facet that’s becoming more apparent is that one day, I’ll need to use this knowledge to actually treat people. This really challenged me because every time I skipped over an “additional information” box so I could have an extra ten minutes watching The Great British Bake Off, could be the difference between nailing and missing a diagnosis in clinics.

Ok, so that may be a slight exaggeration, but you get my point! I’m hoping that with my last week of preclinical medicine fast approaching, the fact that people’s lives may very well be in my hands one day, will spur me to change the way I learn.

One thing that makes second year that much different, is that the stuff we learned this year is more of what I always expected from medical school: limbs, drugs, chronic diseases, the brain – Stuff people would be more willing to discuss (I mean, would you really sustain a conversation about the diarrhoea you just got over from that holiday in Spain?). This does, however introduce an odd dynamic to everyday chat.

An old friend of mine recently told me she was diagnosed with a pretty serious condition, and having just finished our repro module, inside I was buzzing with tonnes of questions in the standard, slightly morbid medical student fashion, about symptoms, causes, consultation, treatment, surgery, but you have to balance this out and be there for them, meeting them where they’re at, rather than playing twenty questions.

This has become increasingly common over the last year, but I guess it’s experiences like this that’ll ultimately shape the doctor you become, and trying to find the balance between between them will have a big impact on a patient, making them feel less of a case and more like a valued individual; We’ve all had enough experiences with good and bad doctors to know the difference it makes!


A dying art

We talk so much, but it is it conversation? We’re so connected but do we communicate?  Does anyone listen? Or is everyone just waiting for their turn to speak?




So I’m at university, and it’s gotten to that time of year where we have to move out of halls and decide who we’re living with next year, which is not usually a stressful time, for most, least of all for me seeing as one of my friends ‘ uncles is actually a student real estate agent and got us a sweet hook up. So why am I writing this?

Today, I had an … unusual CU meeting in that we actually met in a pub! Some of you may think that’s strange and perhaps not even biblical but I can tell you with certainty that it was one of the best meetings I’ve been to. We sat around the hired upstairs room, on sofas and chairs, around a big table and chatted about how God is bigger than exams and what our ambitions were for our future lives and whether we felt that those were God’a ambitions for us, but that’s another story. All the while, I couldn’t help but feel this incredible peace exuding from them all, it was like I didn’t have to try anymore, no masks, no veils, no acts, just me, and they were cool with that. It just felt like such a relief from what life is with the rest of the guys sometimes, pressure of always needing to be the funny guy, re reading messages twice before you send them to the group, holding back on saying something because you don’t think people will find it funny enough, it’s hard work!

This whole shake up, I guess, leads back to that recent talk about the inner circle, and I’m finding that it actually affects more of my life than id bargained for. It’s just such a struggle all the time trying to hold on to that position when actually, there are better things to do with my life!

So that’s where I am, at the moment, I don’t know how well it will work our, but I’m hoping, praying, that God has something even better in store for me. For now, just letting go of what I think to be my life is the challenge, how well I’ll do, we’ll see!

Although very much easier said than done, this is keeping me going:

James 1:2 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, [2] when you meet trials f of various kinds, 3for you know that g the testing of your faith h produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be i perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Rom 5:3 -“rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering g produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and h hope does not put us to shame”