Thursday, August 29, 2013

Our continuing adventure in Scotland

We've had quite a busy time here in the Highlands -- it's hard to believe that we've already been here a week!

A sweet group of believers met together on Sunday for worship. Jeff preached from Mark 5 both morning and evening, and the most common response we heard was, "I've never heard anything like that before!" Thankfully, it was meant in a positive sense; it seemed that both exposition and Jeff's style were welcomed. Later in the week, we came across a sign that seemed to sum up the current general feeling about faith in the UK -- you'll see it pictured below. A more positive sign was discovered at the church -- they feel a kinship with Texas because some in the church were saved through the evangelistic efforts of a mission team from Dallas in years past. Seeing the Texas-shaped clock on the wall made me happy! Tonight we'll join with the church family again for prayer and a Bible study led by Jeff.

On Monday, we were able to have some time away as a family. We ventured into Elgin (Jeff drove brilliantly) to visit an authentic fish and chips shop owned by a freind of our hosts. There was a Starbucks nearby, but we opted to go a bit more local and sat for a bit in Costa Coffee. AnnaKate declared it the best coffee she'd ever had (then qualified that with, "except for Daddy's"). And about the sandwich below... it contains Coronation Chicken, which is a part of British history as the recipe was developed for Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953.

One of the highlights of our visit has been getting to know our hosts, John and Rosemary. And we were glad to meet their children over the weekend, as well (their daughter, Lynsey, is shown below). And we must say that Bella, their dalmation, was a sweet surprise as we left our own Bella at home!

Our visit so far has been a mix of past, present, and a hope for the future. We're enjoying the history that surrounds us at every step (see Jared below on top of a World War II bunker), as well as the spiritual heritage that is Scotland's. As we get to know the church family here, we clearly see the present need for revival in this village and all of Scotland. In all of that, we are encouraged by the hope that has been expressed to us. A hope for the children of the village to hear of the Lord, for the people of the here to be drawn by the Lord, for the church family to be revived by the Lord. This is our prayer, and if the Lord chooses to use us to this end, it will be a privilege.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

First days in Scotland

As our airplane taxied to the runway in Atlanta, I leaned over to AnnaKate and said, "I still can't believe that we're going to Scotland." Even after all the preparation and packing, it was a bit unreal to me. This, after waking the children that morning with, "Guess what -- we're going to Scotland!"

Once we (finally) arrived in Amsterdam, it became more real to me. And as we rode the shuttle from the terminal to our plane, we were surrounded by Scottish accents to reinforce the idea.

And when we landed in Aberdeen, made it through the long queue in customs, and were driven by our host out of Aberdeen into the countryside and through the villages, it became utterly real. 

When we arrived at our hosts' home, we admired the amazing view from our window, then set to unpacking. This, of course, was followed by a cup of tea with biscuits.

Beyond that, we spent our first day relaxing, seeing a bit of the village, touring the manse, and enjoying a glass of Robinsons with biscuits and crisps on the patio at the home of a deacon.

The next day, our first full day in Scotland, was spent with the deacons and some of their wives. They were eager to introduce us to some of the local sights and history. We stopped by Culloden, then followed Loch Ness south and picnicked at a car park near Glenmorisden -- the Highland cattle were friendly and the falls of River Morisden were lovely. After lunch, we continued following Loch Ness to Fort Augustus, just in time to watch seven boats travel through the Caledonian Canal (one of a series of canals connecting the east and west coasts of Scotland).

We finished up the day with a leisurely high tea in Inverness, where I had my first fish and chips, then we journeyed home, just in time to see the sunset over the harbor.

We really enjoyed our day of fellowship and sight-seeing. Jared's summation at this point: "Scotland rocks!"

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Goodbye to friends... for now

One of the sweet benefits of ministry life is the opportunity to forge friendships with other believers. But the flipside of this is sometimes having to say goodbye when the Lord moves us elsewhere.

Even before we arrived in Indiana, we'd already begun getting to know a couple of sweet families from the church there. Jeff spoke with the men on the phone quite often, and these families carved time out of their vacations to spend a Sunday afternoon with us in Georgia. On our move-in day, these were the folks who brought groceries, then guided us to local Mexican food and ice cream places to help ease our transition.

Though our ministry took some unexpected (to us, not to God) twists and turns, these friends wrestled through the issues right along with us and, ultimately, when a line was drawn in the sand, stood on the side of biblical authority and fidelity. They encouraged us, comforted us, and rejoiced with us -- a rare blessing indeed.

And then, just over a week ago, they gathered other mutual friends together to tell us goodbye and encourage us yet again. Yet we know that this was not a real goodbye... thanks to the blessing of technology, our common love of missions and the church, and the hope of heaven, there is no permanent parting of believing friends.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel form the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless of the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11 ESV)

Have you known special friends like this, friends who have been faithful and encouraging to you? Quick suggestion: send them a note today to let them know that. And we'd love for you to leave a comment below, as well, to tell us about your friends.