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.  


Are We Holy, or Just HOLEy?

Philippians 4:11-12

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

I had a lovely, long conversation with my wonderful hostess yesterday about satisfaction, and how we can only find true fulfillment in Christ.  We, as human beings, are like a puzzle, or a ragged patchwork quilt, full of wholes–they are wants, fears, hopes, missing loved ones, etc–but there is one whole that is much larger and much differently shaped than any of the others, that can be illdd only by God himself.  Are you filling your God-shaped hole with God?  Take a moment to consider, are you Holy, or HOLEy?

Scotland Trip: GOd Can Speak Through Bagpipes… Who Knew!

I am currently sitting in the window of my hostess, Beth’s house, as the sun is out and feels so lovely after the damp chill of the outdoors earlier.  Today has mostly been cold and rainy, as many days are here I suppose.  Still, I enjoy the crisp air.  It reminds me of fall.

So yes, after a lot of hassle and stress, we arrived yesterday at around 9:30 Am, Scotland time.  There were many moments Friday night when I thought I might not be here today after all, what with terrible traffic, ratchet rest stops, packed parking lots, clueless airport check in agents, and of course the constant fear that they might reject Oleta’s paperwork for some obscure reason, I was a little worried, but we did get there in the end, and I knew we would.  On the way to the airport, and as I went through the checking in, security routine, I was sick with nervousness, for several reasons, but through all of it I had the underlying sense that no matter what went wrong, this was God’s plan, and he would redeem every situation for his purposes.  With that knowledge, I tried to calm down, though I still couldn’t bring myself to b excited exactly.

That is, until we reached the gate, where we were greeted with this:


And it finally hit me.  The music was in celebration of the fact that this was the first direct flight from Philladelphia to Edinburgh, offering the passengers and flight crew an early welcome to Scotland, but to me, it felt like a welcome from GOd.  I heard his voice in it, rejoicing in this new experience in my life, and the way it has and will continue to draw me closer to him, assuring me of his blessed sovereignty through everything.  I needed assurance, and encouragement, and He knew there was no better way to provide those things to me than through music.  He is so awesome!

With that boost of confidence, my anxiety melted away, and I felt much more secure hugging my Dad goodbye and taking my seat on the plane.  As we taxied onto the runway, I marveled at God’s providence, the way He had brought me here despite all of my stumblings and lack of trust, and how incredible it was that our All-powerful, All-loving God would choose to work through me, through any human, to achieve his purposes.  God is, as I said, all powerful.  He doesn’t really need us to do anything, but He loves us, and wants us to participate in His perfect plan, even if we do mess up and make things more complicated sometimes.  That is also awesome! 

In that moment too, I realized that this trip will change my life.  In what ways, I don’t know, but I know that I will return to the States different, with new purpose and fresh direction.  I hope others will be changed by it also.

So, after a 40 minute delay due to air traffic, we took off, and were in the air, headed to the Scottish city of Edinburgh.  They served dinner, and I ate half of my hard tack roll, and a bit of my oatmeal raisin cookie, but left the chicken and very sad salad alone.  I couldn’t eat much, partly because I was still full from dinner, which probably hasn’t ever happened before in my life, and mostly because I was too occupied to be hungry.

After dinner, I curled up with my airline pillow and blanket and tried to sleep.  About 2 and a half hours later, I awoke to the sound of the speaker, as a flight attendant announced breakfast.  Groggily, I accepted orange juice and a cynamin muffin from the stewardess, and checked my clock to see that it was about 3:30 in the morning Maryland time.  I guess it was Maryland time… who knows.

An hour on, and we were touching down onto the runway of the Turnhouse airport in Edinburgh.  I could not believe it!  We were in Scotland!

Oleta and I disemBARKED (haha, get it?), and found our way to the immigration people.  They asked only a few questions, stamped my passport, and I settled down with a friendly airport employee, Fiona, I seem to remember, to wait for the department of agriculture person to come check Oleta’s paperwork.  After an hour of friendly conversation and confused phone calls, someone called to inform us that we had to go to another room to have her checked, so, huffing and puffing on my behalf, an entire entourage of employees escorted me to the room in question, and got Oleta processed and verified.  Finally, Fiona, Oleta, and I headed out to the luggage area, and found my team leader and our host church’s secretary waiting for us there.

I am cursed with being a very detailed writer. It is late, again, and I shall have to complete this account tomorrow.  I will try to make my posts a bit briefer in the future.

Right then.  Good night.

Scotland Trip: We are here!

Guess where I am! I’ll give you three guesses… it might have something to do with the title of this post.

We are here, safe and mostly sound in the lovely country of Scotland! I am quite tired, even after my five hour nap today, so I am keeping this short. I just wanted y’all to know that yes, we did make it! I can’t believe it! Perhaps it will sink in tomorrow. I will also give a more detailed account of our trip in a post tomorrow. For now, here’s a list of some new words I’ve noticed, just for fun.

1. Lovely: this word is of course used in the U.S., but here it is MUCH more common. It’s really a nice word. “Have a lovely time here in Scotland.” “The weather has been lovely.” “oh, that’s lovely.”

2. RIght: sort of our equivalent of “okay”, or “let’s see”. Right then…

3. Hi-ya: I guess we have this phrase in the states, but you don’t hear it much. Here, everyone seems to be using it, especially to answer the phone, or at the grocery store register.

4. CHeers: a salutation, sort of a combination of, “see you, thanks, have a good day”

5. Aye: a word for yes. I knew people used this word, but I did not think it all that common. On the contrary, I have heard it multiple times from people today, throughout the airport and about. Pretty cool. It sounds so old fashioned and lovely.

The weather today was quite nice, sunny during the day ann in the mid 50’s. I was comfortable in my short sleeved shirt, though in the evening the temperature dropped, the myst started falling, and I had to put on my long sleeve shirt and jacket. Because of our northern latitude here, the sun stays up much later, and didn’t set until somewhere between 9 and 10 tonight. Weird! I felt as if it was 7:30 or so and it was really 10. We will be here during the longest day of the year, June 21. It will be interesting to see when the sun finally sets that day.

I reckon the sun will be up earlier than I’m used to as well, so perhaps I should get to bed before I lose all chance of a good night’s sleep. Until tomorrow.


Scotland Trip: T-6 hours, I am SOOOO Nervous

Oh my, I didn’t realize I was going to be this nervous.  Now that my arrival in Scotland, and beginning of my mission trip is only 12 hours away, I am shaking in my boots… or, socks, at the moment.  I am praying that everything goes well with travel, and that I can somehow be useful to someone during this trip.  I’m afraid people might be disappointed in me, or my abilities.  What if, instead of lifting people’s burdens, I become a burden?  What on Earth can I teach the people of the Airdrie church, or anyone else anyway?  I’m just a college student, a music major of all things, with no job, and little experience, and I can’t even keep track of paperwork!

But I know that’s not true.  If God sent me on this mission, which he did, he has a purpose, and will work through me, and others, as he has planned.  And it all goes back to trust.

God, this, is, terrifying, but I trust you.

Packing is nearly finished, and we are about to get on the road for the airport.  Here’s a bit of Scottish music to send us on the way!  It is a pipe and drums corps I recorded at a celtic festival.  Enjoy!  See you in Scotland!



Scotland Trip: T-35 Hours, Packing and These Next Two Days

I’m leaving for Scotland tomorrow… tomorrow, on a plane, by myself, without even knowing anyone there!  How did this happen exactly?

This morning, I am considering my packing list, which is really more of a packing “random conglomeration of ideas”, than a list.

Packing is complicated.  I meant to start a few days ago, but I had to do laundry, and now I am hovering over the frightening pile of clothing on my bed, wondering which pieces to bring.  I thought I could be so economical in my packing choices, but now… “I really like this dress, and this one is adorable!  I can’t possibly go without this shirt!  Can’t I just take them all?!”

Thankfully, I have recently acquired a pair of waterproof shoes, that is to say, rain boots.  They should be helpful in the Scottish damp.

That reminds me, I can’t forget Oleta’s raincoat, and I should probably bring her booties too, just in case.  I’m hoping my rain coat will be warm enough; I have been following the airdrie weather on my iPhone and it often drops into the lower 40’s at night.  Brr… Lots of layers?

We are spending the day today at an amusement park as a family.  If the boys ever get out of bed, it will be an exciting way to spend my last full day in the U.S. before my trip, and the last full day with my older brother, who will be leaving for his deployment in a week.  Yes, tomorrow will likely be very, very emotional for me.  Off to find some sustenance.  Only 35 hours now!


Scotland Trip: WHat I’ve Learned from the Book of Acts, Part 1

Below is a list of four things I have learned from the Book of Acts.  They are not in any particular order.


1. The Holy Spirit Is Crazy Intense!

You know how Jesus is sometimes described as the “lion and the lamb”?  If the Holy Spirit were an animal, I think He might be a dragon.  In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is not some tame, gentle voice that whispers direction in people’s minds.  He is an unstoppable force, sent down in bursts of fire to anoint the disciples of Jesus with the essence and power of GOd.  Through the Holy Spirit, the apostles speak clearly and courageously of the gospel (even in other languages), despite the negative responses from those around them, perform miracles, and even face death with unwavering faith in GOd.  Knowing we also are full of the same spirit gives me incredible joy.  God can do anything he wants through me, through anyone that carries his seal!  Let’s spread our wings and light the world on fire!

2. This is God’s Battle, and He is Undefeated 

When the Sanhedrin  propose to kill the apostles in chapter 5, one pharisee advices his fellows against it, pointing out that if the apostles are heretics and liars, the Christian following will eventually disperse on its own, and will have done little to damage the Jewish people; but, if the apostles tell the truth, and are sincere, then they will only be fighting against the will of God, which is hopeless.  I have a tendency to forget that God is in control, and in the grand scheme of things, my weaknesses are inconsequential when it comes to his will.  I am but one soldier in this cosmic battle of good and evil, and while my successes can have a significant impact, my failures will never be great enough to derail the General’s plans, to put it metaphorically.

3. Missions Work is About the Message 

In chapter 6, the Hellenistic Jews within the followers of Jesus complain against the Hebraic Jews that they have been forgetting their widows in the daily food distribution.  In trying to resolve the issue, the twelve disciples decide that it would be foolish to neglect the spreading of the Word to “wait on tables”.  Rather, they assign seven individuals specifically to the task, and continue with their greater purpose.  Practical pursuits like fixing church buildings, working in a soup kitchen, building fences, cleaning up neighborhoods, or providing medical care for underserved populations are an essential part of our responsibility as Christians, but ultimately, our primary duty is to spread the good news of the gospel.  A person’s physical well-being means little when they are in constant threat of eternal spiritual destruction.  We are the ambassadors of Christ, and our job is to lead others to become His ambassadors as well.  We want them to be on the winning side of the war in the last battle.

4. Prayer is Important!

One thing I have noticed about the book of Acts is that it is full to bursting with prayer.  It seems after every event, the first thing the disciples do is pray, whether it be together or on their own, though they do make a point of gathering together to do so.  After Jesus departs for Heaven in the first chapter, they pray for guidance. In order to determine what individual to appoint as the 12th disciple, they pray for wisdom.  To help people with diseases, demons, and disabilities, they pray for healing.  When the Sanhedrin warn them to stop preaching about Jesus, they pray for boldness.  As we humans have discovered year after year, situation after situation, nothing is successful without proper communication, not marriages, not governments, not business partnerships, not college courses, and certainly not mission trips.  Since God is really the coordinator of this whole endeavor, I must keep in constant contact with him to ensure I am hearing his directives, and I accomplish those tasks through His strength, not my own.  Maybe I should write “pray” on my hand to remind myself.  Oh wait…

Off to say a little prayer and head to bed.