Thankful for Burnt Rolls | 30 Days of Gratitude, Day 4

I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to host a big celebration, like Thanks Giving or Christmas.  It sounds like so much work, and I couldn’t imagine how I could ever prepare for that many people with that much food to make and that many dishes to clean up afterward… and yet, it seems like it would be fulfilling… to know how much you contributed to the success of an event that brought loved ones together when they might not have otherwise been together, and formed memories that might not otherwise have been formed.

My suite mates and I got a small taste of what that might be like this weekend.  We hosted “Friends Giving”, my roommates tradition with a couple college friends.  Here’s what I learned from the whole experience.

1. Very little goes as planned.

A: Turns out most grocery stores don’t have thanks giving turkeys until a bit closer to thanks giving, so we settled on mixed rotisserie turkey and chicken.

B: I made one batch of rolls that turned out wonderfully, then put the next batch in only to come back 10 minutes later with them burnt to a crisp.  My buds didn’t realize that if you turn the oven knob one way, it turns on the oven, and if you turn it the other way, it turns on the broiler.  Whoops.

C. We planned to eat at 6:00 Pm.  I think we sat down around 7:30.  Hahaha.

2. Decorations are Worth it!

One of our friends brought pumpkins, gourds, and pretty fall leaves to brighten our dinner table.  I grew up in a family that wasn’t too fussed about getting out decorations of any kind, except for the tree and lights at Christmas and the occasional wreath, so it’s kind of a novel idea to me to decorate for Thanks Giving, but I love it and have decided to adopt the tradition.

3. It’s fun to cook with other people.

If I were doing all the cooking on my own, there’s no doubt prepping a holiday feast would be enormously overwhelming, but having the opportunity to prepare a meal as a group effort was so wholesome and satisfying.  Sure, it was crowded, loud, hot, and all of us were tripping over dogs who had appointed themselves cleanup crew for the kitchen floor, but we were also talking, laughing, singing along to country music, helping each other when we needed an extra hand or spice or tool that someone else had been using, and every bit of that added to the flavor of the food we sat down to hours later.  I think, in a very dim and modern way, it reflected the way the pilgrims and Indians must have felt in feasting together after so much hard work at that New England meal hundreds of years ago.

So, today, I am thankful for burnt rolls, and crowded kitchens, and a delicious meal with friends and food aplenty.

A Second Journey: The Last Several Days

To bring you up to speed, this is a brief recap of the last several days.


1. Traveled independently through Glasgow airport, found Beth, caught up on the drive to Airdrie.  So surreal, probably partly due to jet lag, partly to Oleta’s absence, and partly just the joy of seeing Beth again, and the knowledge that I was really back in Scotland!

2. Walked into the church during my team’s worship session in the morning. Put down my things and joined in their discussion of Hebrews.

3. Discussed our drama for primary schools and testimonies for secondary school presentations.

4. Getting to know the team, personalities, voices, things to tease each of them about, etc.

5. Went to bed with my four lovely roommates and strangely had trouble sleeping.  If you can’t sleep with severe jet lag when can you sleep?


1. Traveled to Edinburgh for leaflet distribution. I got to pet two fluffy puppies and it was almost more than I could handle! Also, there was thunder, which is super weird in Scotland! It’s happened multiple times over the last couple of days too, and is currently thundering outside now.  What even?!

2. Had dinner at a local Airdrie restaurant. They ran out of fish so we forgot fish and chips and went for the ribs. Delicious.

3. Spent that evening relaxing and staying up much too late.

Saturday (a day off):

1. Went to Stirling for a visit to Stirling castle and a walk through the town.

2. Lots of stone steps, echoey hallways, tapestries, and cobble stone.  Really beautiful and full of rich history.

3. Pasties and sausage rolls for lunch. Fantastic and only like a pound to eat! So cheap!

4. Trampoline park in the evening with the youth group. Super fun!


1. Sunday school, prayer meeting, and morning and evening service in Airdrie.  So wonderful to see so many people again and talk with them.

2. Incredible meal at Beth’s with the rest of the mission team and another visitor from London.


1. Gave testimonies in Edinburgh at secondary school (ages 11-18). Went quite well.  Lots of good questions.  Hoping to see them at the church meetings later this week.

2. Continued leaflet distribution in Edinburgh to spread the word about said meetings.

3. Awesome drive home from Edinburgh with one of their congregation, singing Irish tunes and listening to celtic music.

4. The most enjoyable evening yet spent at Beth’s laughing and teasing up a storm, plus ice cream, raspberries, and The Princess Bride.

We’ll be more detailed next time, but there you are for now.  So many blessings to be thankful for!

Scotland Trip: Scottish Food, Floors, and Violence (By Oleta Renee)

Mom asked me to write this post tonight, as she says she’s exhausted, and needs her beauty rest for tomorrow… and I don’t? That’s alright though, as she’s not let me write in quite a while.  I’ll pick up the story where Shea left off.

So, Saturday… we finally got off the flying machine at around 9:30 that morning.  I was glad to finally get up, as I’d been curled in the same position for about 6 and a half hours on a barely carpeted floor.  Honestly, the least they could do is provide a cushion or something, or maybe just include built in beds for we canine passengers.  Why not?  They provide humans with seats after all.

Anyway, when we got out, the friendly immigration staff (Mom says that’s an oxymoron) gave me some water, and a lot of attention.  I don’t know what Shea’s talking about.  They were beyond civil toward me.  We waited around for a bit, then went to a room where a man scanned my micro chip and check my papers, to make sure I’m not a criminal, and we finally headed outdoors.  The air was cool and crisp, nothin like the hot, sticky air we had left behind in Maryland.  We got in a little car, and Shea tried to convince me not to sit next to her on the seat; she was not successful, as usual.  Car floors are dirty, cramped, loud, and uncomfortable; the only possible benefit lies in the possibility of food left by previous passengers.  I caught a nap while Shea chatted with the two people in the front of the cvar, Beth, our hostess, and Patrick, our team leader.  When we finally arrived at Beth’s flat, as they call it (which I don’t understand because it’s definitely not flat, you even have to go up stairs to get there!), and put down our things in our room.  I immediately got to work (this is a mission trip after all) cleaning her kitchen and living room floors.  

After a shower and a baked potato for Shea, we settled down for another nap, which for Shea turned out to be five hours long.  Can that be considered a nap?  That evening, we walked to the church for a prayer meeting for the unsaved.  There, we met two more people with funny accents, (there seem to be a lot of those around here), the church pack leader, as it were, and one of the elders.  Thankfully, the room we were in was carpeted, and I fell asleep again.  Traveling is an exhausting business.

Sunday we woke up at a relatively reasonable hour, though Shea woke up before me, which will not be happening again.  We went to the church for a morning bible study, prayer meeting, and worship service.  There were lots of new people, and a few asked if they could give me a “clap”, which apparently translates to “pet” in English.  Either way, I got lots of them from people in the congregation, especially the kids, or, as someone called them, the weans (pronounced wanes).  Human language is fascinating.

After church, we headed over to a friend’s flat, which was also not flat, and I cleaned her floors too while Shea, Beth, Patrick, and several people from the church had a home-cooked meal.  Apparently it was delicious,, steak pie.  Shea didn’t give me a taste, although I would imagine that anything with the word steak in it would be delicious… mm.

Sunday night was another church service (which meant more attention, Win!) and then the younger people gathered at Beth’s not flat for some hang out time.  For me, that meant floor cleaning duty again! and boy was I successful!  She didn’t have to sweep up one popcorn kernel after that shindig.  Oh, and Shea got pegged in the head with a mobile phone.  I wasn’t worried, since she was laughing, and since I know she has a really hard head, but I do understand now why Shea has to have international insurance.  I guess I’ll have to keep an eye on people in case of violence from now on.

Right then.  Shea can put this up later.  I’m off to get some rest.