A Second Journey: Last Sunday-Tuesday, The Awesome and the Unexpected

We spent Sunday with the Edinburgh congregation. It was fabulous fellowship, and I was so pleased to spend some more time with many of the people I had met in Edinburgh last year. I especially treasured the conversation/crash catch up session I was abled to have with Emma L after our evening service.
We went to bed as early as we could that night, as the next morning we were due to wake at 5 Am. We needed to be on our way to the train station by 7 Am so that we could arrive in Glasgow and start leaflet distributing by 8. I’m not sure if the giggling started that night or the next, but for about three nights in a row this week we in the girls room have been helpless with laughter. That may have had something to do with our new wake up time, but it’s an indicator, too, of how close we five have grown over the last couple of weeks. I am delighted to call them my sisters in Christ, and I am glad we can laugh so easily together.
It was a busy week, but a good one, with quite a few lessons to be learned. Monday, we distributed leaflets for the upcoming Q and A session at the Glasgow church Thursday night. Idid have one direct encounter with a man called Joseph, who seemed rather antagonistic toward Christianity. There were a few suggested questions on the leaflet — “What is the Bible?” “Who is Jesus?” — and he went down the list of questions, putting them to my team mate and I in a rather mocking tone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so much a conversation as a monologue on his part, as he interrupted our explanations with his own apparent wisdom on the matter.
We walked away from that exchange feeling rather discouraged. Although the conversation remained perfectly cordial, it was clear the man had some issues and had not heard a word we had said. Before continuing our distribution, we stopped to pray together, asking God to use our conversation for change in Joseph’s life, and for guidance in future similar situations.
On our way back to Airdrie around lunch time, we stopped at the Glasgow Cathedral for a few minutes. My friend and I found some fun things in the gift shop, then we re-boarded the train and soon arrived back in Airdrie. We devoted that afternoon to studying our team book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”, and blog post writing for me.
Tuesday began with the usual private and team devotion time, followed by transportation to Caldervale Secondary School. Unlike our other school visits, we were neither giving testimonies nor performing a skit or psalm singing. We took part in three different religious education classes, sitting amongst the pupils and participating in the discussions they had.
The first class was focussed on Buddhism. The seven of us each joined different tables and assisted the students with their work, while also discussing the topics at hand. In my group, we explored the subject of salvation, whether it is something that can be attained through one’s own efforts, or something that must come from an external source, and the positives and negatives of each viewpoint. We also broached the subjects of the true meaning of self-acceptance and the human spirit. In all of these things, I attempted to include the Christian perspective. It was difficult, because the students were meant to be working on a specific task for the class, so we on the team had to find creative ways to bring Christianity into the conversation, without straying too much from the parameters of the assignment.
I think we all found the exercise pretty disheartening. It wasn’t exactly the kind of ministry opportunity we had been expecting. All attempts to discuss Christianity in a way that might actually have some spiritual value just deteriorated into academic comparisons between religions in general. Not that Christianity cannot be discussed academically (a faith with a book as long as the Bible and a longer history lends itself to academia), but I felt rather like I was trivializing it by lumping it together with a bunch of other man-made belief systems. Christianity and Buddhism are worlds apart when it comes to their teachings and world view, but God willing, the exchange got them thinking at least.
The second two classes, we discussed euthanasia. Here, it was slightly easier to include our faith in the conversation, and we were able to speak to the sanctity of life and God’s sovereignty, even in situations of great pain and suffering. When we got home, we reenergized with ice-cream and a delicious meal, and returned to Glasgow for an evening fellowship. It was a lovely time of food (pizza!) and catching up with friends.
We will finish up with the last few days (Wednesday-Saturday) in the next post.

A Second Journey: Thrumming Thursdays

Thursdays are always busy days.  I’m not sure why that is, but they have always been my craziest days in university, and the last two Thursdays here in Scotland have been no exception to this rule.

Yesterday’s mission night went well enough.  I think we had a few visitors from the community,and Peter’s first talk on the rebel son in Luke 15 was quite powerful.  We slept in Edinburgh last night, blessed with the hospitality from three households in the Edinburgh congregation.  I was so excited to get to know the couple we stayed with better than I was able to last year.  Plus, their daughter has grown so much since the last time I saw her and, at nearly two,  is talking up a storm!  She is so cute!  She was quite shy of us when she found us in her house this morning, but she did learn all of our names, and in the car on the way back to Emma and Peter’s house, she and I had a rousing game of hand tag which she found very entertaining!  Hahaha, so adorable!

Once reunited at Emma and Peter’s house, the team had group devotions, then gathered bundles of fliers to finish our last bout of leafletting.  In two hours, my group managed to finish our designated area, and Peter picked us all up to head toward lunch.  With strict instructions from Peter for “no faffing” (which urban dictionary defines as “The excessive use of time for nonsense activities”), all eight of us trooped into the Morisons (grocery store) to snag something for lunch.  We took it back to Emma and Peter’s to eat, and there was a distinct lack of faffing, especially once we started eating.

We had to hurry because we had to make the bus around 1 to get to our 1:30 Pm reformation tour through Edinburgh with Jimmy (from the Airdrie congregation).  Skilled as we clearly were at anti-faffing (which Peter says is the opposite of Faffing), we made it in time to get on our bus, and even had extra time to wait and pet a passing poodle, Brambles.  That made me very happy, as you might imagine.  She was very sweet, and her owner was adorable, letting us all pet Brambles for about 5 minutes straight, answering all our questions, and cheerfully chatting away about her and her other dogs.

I have a great deal more to recount, so I shall continue tomorrow, as I will have a free morning to write!  Hurray!  I shall detail the Edinburgh tour at that time.

Adventures in Fund Raising: THe Concert

Among many other things, missions work is teaching me how to be a bit more organized.  I am not naturally so, especially when it comes to planning, especially especially when I am planning something that has no real deadline and no grade.  If life had a syllabus, I’d be set.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t, at least, not one that contains a list of specific goals, required readings, and scheduled due dates, so I took on this particular fund raising effort with no idea what I was doing, no clue where I was going, and very little in between.  Nonetheless, my half-thought out, mid-midterm brain child came to fruition last Saturday, in the form of a (very casual) afternoon of music in our back yard.  It was a concert, of sorts, one with only a week’s preparation music-wise, little time to advertise, and two extremely allergy-affected singers, but it happened, and it went much better, all things considered, than I imagined it would.  I was expecting about 3 audience members, but we had at least 17, and our donations, all totaled, amounted to over 350 dollars.

Wow!!!  I cannot express how grateful I am for your attendance and gracious gifts!!!  Y’all are amazing!  Thank you!

Yet another opportunity that God has used to exceed my expectations in every possible way.  Thank you Lord for that, and thank you that my lack of organization skills doesn’t keep you from accomplishing your will!

A PLEDGE (By Oleta Renee)

Greetings!  Long time no write for me.  My paws were beginning to itch.  Glad to be back in the blogasphere!

If you have been following this blog since our first mission trip last year, you will know that once we arrived in Scotland, our blog posts became a bit spotty, and by that I mean, nonexistent.  Keep in mind that’s not really my fault… Shea is the one that controls the computer, not me.

Still, out of gratitude for your marvelous support, we both want to share this journey with you in the most vivid, special way possible.  This is why this year, we are making a specific commitment to you, our readers, sponsors, and prayer warriors.  Provided that we can raise our designated missions costs for this summer, we are pledging to keep up-to-date with much more frequent posts (as daily as possible) describing our day-to-day activities, experiences, and newly gained knowledge.  This probably also means I will be writing a lot more often, because Shea is a serious perfectionist in her writing, and does not like to publish anything if it’s anything less than her best.  While I admire this quality in her to an extent, I also acknowledge that sometimes practicality beats perfection.  DO I apply the same principle in my guide work?  Well, only sometimes, but in my writing?  Certainly.

So, prepare to paws more often to ponder posts from your pal, Oleta Renee.

To help make this pledge possible, you can visit this link:::

http://rpmissions.org/donate

to give online.  Don’t forget to check the “Responding to a specific need” checkbox and put Shea’s name and our trip location “Airdrie, Scotland” in the textfield.

Thank you!

A Second Journey

Well, here we are again… it’s the end of the semester, in the middle of countless assignments, projects, research papers, concerts, seminar performances, juries, finals, and not enough hours to study for them, and in spite of all that, what am I doing now?  Writing a blog post.  Why?  Because it’s about time I let you know that Oleta and I will, God willing, return to Scotland this summer to serve as missions workers!!!

I am thrilled to be able to take this opportunity a second time and cannot wait to discover what new experiences await us in Scotland this year.  We covet your prayers in this venture, especially concerning Oleta’s paperwork, and my charity workers visa, that I will be granted one and it will arrive in time for my departure.  Please pray for our team, that God would prepare all of our hearts to serve together in Scotland in the best way we can.  Please also pray that I would trust him in all these things, especially with our financial needs.

As with last year, the cost of the trip is over 2000 dollars, and we have a great deal of fund raising left to do.  If you would like to donate, please go to this link:

http://rpmissions.org/donate

Don’t forget to check the “Responding to a specific need” checkbox, and write my name, “Shea” and my trip location “Airdrie, Scotland” in the text field.

We would greatly appreciate any assistance you can provide financially and even more so prayerfully.  We are so thankful that we have you as a support system and look forward to sharing this second journey with you.

Scotland Trip: The First Week

If you think I fell off the face of the Earth, you would be right, because Scotland is out of this world!

Okay, so bad joke aside, it really is lovely here—I have met so, so many great people, and been some really beautiful and fascinating places.  Still, contrary to my assertion in my opening statement, Scotland is a REAL place, with REAL problems, especially spiritual ones.  When you’re tucked away in normal life in semi-rural America, it’s easy to think of foreign countries like Scotland as somehow separate from the everyday human experience, a far away land of music, legends and fairy tails: bagpipes, harps, fiddles, and selkies.  Of course, it isn’t.  The reality is that Scotland, like us in America, and like the rest of the world, is full of broken, God-Hating individuals that need reconciliation with their creator, which can only be found in Jesus Christ.  So, that said…

Our first Monday and Tuesday here were designated to our reformation tour through Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, getting to know the sights and history of the Scottish protestant reformation.  Until I can get all the details, suffice it to say that it was a dark and bloody time, and nearly all of the stories we heard involved imprisonment, torture, hanging, shooting, decapitating, disemboweling, burning at the stake, etc, on some level.  I liked both cities greatly, though they are very different.  Saint Andrews, with a population of only around 18,000, is really more of a town, especially when university students are on break for the summer.  It is known to many as the home of golf, and is famous for a movie, “Chariots of Fire”, that filmed a race on a stretch of it’s sandy seashore.  In classic touristy fashion, a couple members of our group ran the beech, singing the theme all the way.  In classic Shea fashion, I knew nothing about this movie, and so spent the time restraining Oleta from going after other dogs on the beech, or rolling in the sand, or dashing into the ocean and dragging me with her.  It was a delightful day to be on the beech.  Despite the chilly breeze that came off the water, the sun was bright and warm, and I didn’t exactly blame Oleta for wanting to go for a swim.

Edinburgh, on the other hand, is a thriving metropolis of nearly 500 thousand.  It feels much more like New York or Nashville, always bustling with plenty pedestrians and vehicles, full of shops and restaurants and tourist traps, and complete even with street performers, from drummers to fiddlers to bagpipers in kilts.  Edinburgh is actually built on and around several dormant volcanoes, which we were able to see quite clearly from the top of the Edinburgh castle, which I will detail in a later post. 

So, needless to say, those two days were awesome—a wonderful opportunity to get to know Scotland a bit better, and to get acquainted with our new family here in Airdrie.  We also got to taste two of Scotland’s most famous, or possibly infamous, foods: haggis and IRN – Bru.  The latter we tasted on the beech in Saint Andrews, curtesy of one of our newfound friends, who will remain nameless for curtesy’s sake.  Anyway, it is an orange, or so I am told, fizzy drink, soda rather, that to my American taste buds tastes just like bubble gum in liquid form, which is why I’m also convinced that it’s pink, not orange.  Either way, it’s basically pure sugar.  I think an entire bottle might kill me, but maybe I’ll try it before I leave.  What’s life without a little risk?

We tried haggis at a restaurant in Edinburgh Tuesday afternoon.  I wasn’t too sure I wanted to try it, but Patrick was already passing over a fork full before I could decline.  Much to my surprise, it was actually quite good, sort of like a sausage, but mushier.  I’m not sure if that made it sound appetizing, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Tuesday night we attended our first MET (mutual encouragement time), which is essentially a bible study.  They have been studying Esther, and were on the middle section where Haman is planning for Mordecai, and the Jews’, demise, and his plans are foiled when the King, seemingly by chance, recognizes that Mordecai once saved the King’s life, and deserves to be honored.  It was a fascinating discussion, and a true testament to the way God can use even the littlest things in our lives to carry out his plans.

We spent Wednesday mostly at the church, discussing the upcoming schedule, starting preparations for school presentations the following week, reading a book by Donald Whitney called, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”, which has proved incredibly edifying, and attending a second MET.  Thursday and Friday followed in much the same fashion, with a third MET on Thursday.   Friday evening we participated in Kids club, ages 3-10.  The children played games, had a snack, and I read them a story about Jesus, and his interaction with children, the point being that Jesus desires a relationship with all of us, whether young or old, and that we are to depend on God like children depend on their parents.  We had a short discussion, then they cut out and colored paper dolls, that represented the children listening to Jesus.  The kids were rowdy, but adorable, and for the most part LOVED Oleta.  I think they may be asking their poor parents for a dog for weeks to come.  Last night, at one of the METs, someone from the congregation told me that a little boy said to her the other day, “Is the lady with the dog ever coming back to the church?”

“I don’t know.” she answered, “Why? Did you like her?  Do you want to see her again?”

“No.” he replied, “I just want to see the dog.”

The nature of being a guide dog user I’m afraid… constantly overlooked in favor of the dog.  Ah well… keeps me humble.  Haha.

Friday night we also attended the CY (covenant youth) meeting, where we gave our testimonies and hung out with the young people for a while.  Thankfully no one got injured this time, and by that I mean, no one threw mobile phones at my head. 🙂

Saturday began leaflet distribution in Edinburgh.  That is an entire adventure unto itself, so I will pick up there in the next post.  I am glad to have finally caught somewhat up with y’all!  There is still last week to recount, but here’s to more frequent updates in the future!