No, not the bird, but Eastern Mennonite University. I dropped off my wife and son at Washington Airport earlier today after our 10 days tour of Virginia, and now I have arrived at EMU for a course in ‘Biblical Foundations for Peacemaking’

It feels very different being on my own now, having had the company of my wife and son for the first part of the trip. I’m adrift in new waters, looking for familiar landmarks. Driving down the freeway on my own in a rented car thousands of miles from home felt uncomfortable.

However I arrive here and within minutes I find some of those landmarks that I was looking for – that is the welcome of Christian people here at the SPI (Summer Peacebuilding Institute).

The SPI is in its third week now and I am greeted by a group preparing a barbeque. I have no food to bring to the picnic, but am made so welcome. Within minutes I am talking with Micah, who works here all year round looking after the student accommodation; and with David, and Samuel, and Ben. I soon feel more relaxed, and with a burger inside me, ready for anything.

After an hour or so, I have met people from all over the world who have come to the Centre for Justice and Peace here at EMU. From Syria, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Galilee, India … and many other countries, they have come, and I am excited at the prospect of all that we will learn together.

There’s another Englishman here, someone says. His name is Steve. I remember a Steve from some traning days I have done, and wonder if is him. Shortly afterwards, Steve arrives to claim his chicken leg from the barbeque, and sure enough, it is the same Steve. How strange and wonderful. Steve has been here two weeks already, as part of a sabbatical!

It’s now nearly 9 pm, and I am typing this on one of the computers in the lounge, as I cannot get access on to the wireless network with my trusty G4. Tomorrow hopefully.

Over the last 10 days, I haven’t got to grips with Mark’s Gospel very much, as I have been full of the sights that we have seen all around Virginia. I’m hoping t0 get back to mark very soon, as well as putting down some thoughts about the last few days, when we learnt something of American history – particularly the War of Independence, and the American Civil War.

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