Autumn Break

Hey there! I hope all is well with you and yours wherever you may be.

We have been working hard studying and learning from some pretty great people. We’ve been loving the community we are in and the church family that has welcomed us so selflessly into their lives.  Sometimes the best way to ensure that you don’t forget all that you have been learning is to take some time to reflect and relax.  This brings us to our recent autumn break.

For break my parents were able to come and visit.  It was great to have them here, not simply because we were able to spend time together, but because they were able to get a glimpse into the whirlwind of adventure and learning I have been blessed with these past few months.

Since the public transportation is a lot better than what I am used to, we were able to use that great system to experience multiple parts of the UK.  Of course the adventure for break began with a tour of Airdrie and a small day trip to Edinburgh.   During the week we spent a few days exploring London, a part of a day in Glasgow, and a few days exploring Inverness.

I could go into ridiculous detail telling you each and every amazing thing we were able to experience, but that would take way too long.  So I thought that I would pick my top moments.  My parents and I were able to see the crown jewels of both Scotland and England in a matter of three days.  In three days we saw jewels of such immense worth that I will never be able to fully understand.  We were able to see the amazingly large display of poppies at the Tower of London.  Each handmade poppy represents one allied life lost in World War I.  The sheer number of poppies were a reminder of the frailty and shortness of life, which we often take for granted.

In Inverness we were able to take a boat trip on Loch Ness.  It was a gorgeous day and the best part was that we were able to experience it while relaxing together.  Perhaps my favorite part was that my parents were blessed to experience not one, but two Sundays at the church here in Airdrie.  They witnessed the body of Christ coming together to worship their Creator, half a world away from where my family lives.  They witnessed the community that has welcomed the Semester in Scotland students with open arms and has extended hospitality far beyond what we could have ever asked for.  They were able to see that though the world seems so big sometimes, when you are part of a family with a Father who created that world, the miles between His children who love Him seem to fall away.

-Jennie Smith

Jennie and parentsOutside the entrance to the crown jewels inside of the Tower of London.

The poppies outside of the Tower of London​

The Christian Ministry

When last we met, I told of some of the adventures we had that week, galavanting through the country.   However, this time, there was something in one of the  classes that really stuck out to me recently.   So here it is.

Evangelizing.  Matthew 28:19-20, known as the Great Commission, tells us that we are to go and make disciples.  The Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John echo this, and in Acts 1:8, Luke tells us of Jesus’ declaration, that we will be His witness in “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (ESV).  So Christ commanded us to evangelize.  I’m sure most of us knew these passages and this command.  It wasn’t these verses that stood out to me, but there lay the foundation for what I am going to say.

What stood out to me was not in our Reformed Evangelism class, but in a book Ethan and I were reading for the Christian Ministry class, a book titled The Christian Ministry: with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency.  This book is written mainly about the office of the minister, his responsibilities, things that can cause his preaching to not be productive, and sections about how he should build his sermons and preach them.  Now, I have no plans of being a minister.  I loathe speaking in front of people, and I’m terrible at it.  I think the professor of my Intro to Communications class was being merciful to me when he passed me with a high grade.  So when I started this book, I wasn’t very interested because I wasn’t going to be a pastor (also because it was hard to read at first, as it was written in 1829).  I didn’t realize how applicable it was going to be for me.

The part of the book that really impacted me was in the fourth section: “The Public Work of the Christian Ministry”.  This part focused on the actual preaching of Scripture: the preparation for composing and preaching sermons, how to preach God’s Law, the different aspects of preaching the Gospel according to Scripture, the types of preaching, and the spirit of preaching.  The types of preaching, whether on specific topics or a whole book of the Bible, or whether it was written out or preached without notes, didn’t really mean that much to me but the rest of the section I realized I could apply to my own evangelism.

“The Scriptural preaching of the Gospel” and “The Spirit of Scriptural preaching” were very applicable, as they spoke about preaching the various doctrines, as well as the spirit and the attitude behind the preaching.  Preaching in boldness (being unashamed), wisdom, plainness (making it clear to someone who wouldn’t understand the words we normally use), fervency (showing our passion and that it is important to us), diligence (not slacking off), singleness (solely for the glory of God), and love (love of God and love of others).  I looked at these and thought to myself, “Wow.  This book was a lot more applicable than I originally thought.”   It’s true what they say: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”   Even if you don’t like an assigned reading, that doesn’t mean that you should just disregard it.   There can still be beneficial knowledge that you might otherwise miss.

Philosophical thoughts from the American Mathematician,
David Beer

Reading the Word

Something I love about this semester in Scotland is all the time we have with  people from church!

We had a night recently when Jennie and I went to a café with about a dozen ladies from church. We enjoyed hot drinks & yummy deserts, laughing together at some of the café’s art:

cafe art









We talked about chocolate, we talked about people we love.

I heard stories about husbands and children, and I told stories about my own family.  We discussed knitting sweaters, owning dogs, and reading books.

I remember we had a particularly interesting conversation about reading.

It was mentioned that attention spans lessen as we age.  We can’t remember what we’ve just read; it’s harder to concentrate than it used to be.

This was a rather sad train of thought… until we remembered our favorite book!  Whether we’re old or young or anywhere in between, we will *always* have God’s help understanding and remembering His Word to us in the Bible.

Paul writes that we understand the things of God because His Spirit is in us and in those who teach us (1 Corinthians 2). Also, since all who belong to Jesus have His Spirit (Romans 8:9), He will *always* be there to help us understand His living and active Word.

This is beautiful news! It is encouraging for the Lord’s dear, gray-headed saints… and it is encouraging for clueless blondes as well.   Praise the Lord.

Pick up and read the Word, my friend.

Pray… pick up… and read.

Even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you. –Isaiah 46:4

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
–Psalm 19:7

Rosie Perkins

The Continued Adventures of the Quintessential Quintet

Last week was a quiet week for our titanic team.  With two professors out for various reasons, the fantastic five only had one class to attend on Thursday night.  What lay before them was a week of reading and opportunity.  Admittedly, the students took the week a little easier and devoted time to other things, such as Skype conversations with friends and family from home, work on wedding plans, playing video games, and catching up on television shows.

Four out the five students decided to break out of the sitting and the screen watching, and get out of Airdrie. They hopped on the train and went to Glasgow.  The couple of the group had not ventured to the big city yet, so the other two led them through the streets.  They visited several shops without buying anything, just enjoying the experience of stretching their legs.  As they traveled through the streets full of brick buildings, they hunted for a store of fabric that would bring the two young men of the group warmth in the coldness that was approaching the land they were studying in.  (In short, the boys needed coats, so they went to Primark.)

Once the valiant men purchased their coats of warmth and wonderful comfort and put on that cloth that fended off wind and cold with the awesomeness that permeated every stich—and the girls did their thing and bought various article of clothing—the group ran to Greggs for a bite to eat (this chronicler assigned to record various adventures of the Quintessential Quintet cannot remember which Greggs they went to, as there seemed to be one at the end of every street in the city).  Then they ran back to the train, so that one particular girl of the group could get back to home base (i.e. the girls’ flat) for a quick nap before she went off to walk a friends’ dog.

The rest of the week was filled with more reading and much screen watching.  The couple and their faithful friend finished Legend of Kora, the first season and began the second season.  The mighty men of the five also diligently trained their beloved Pokémon on their video games.  One of the men searched on his game for a certain Pokémon of incredible strength for several hours, of which he comments in a recent interview, “I see now that it was pretty much a waste of time.  I have a feeling if I actually spent more time reading and working on my studies, I wouldn’t be as frustrated as I am and more inclined to be patient.  Now I am behind on my work and all for nothing.”  Well, folks, looks like even the quintessential quintet are human.  The same young man (i.e. me) later on found the Pokémon he was looking for, though now he is putting his free time back in its place, not letting it push out responsibilities, in order that the day would be better used for God’s glory.  Thanks be to God that He is patient in our foolishness!

Ethan Mathews


So after a week of touring around lots and lots of places (on the Reformation Tour), this week was a bit slow in comparison.  Nevertheless, it was still fun!

Sunday, we went to church, had lunch at Beth’s, I went back to the flat and took a nap, then we went back to church, and after the boys and I played Pokémon (what else is new?).

On Monday, we had worship, and read in the morning, and had lunch.  Then David, Ethan, and I went to the charity shops in Airdrie, looking for coats for the boys.  We didn’t find any coats, but it was still fun traipsing about the town…in the rain.  The three of us usually have fun together no matter where we are though, so the rain didn’t bother us.  We went back to the church and read some more, and then we went to the boys’ flat for dinner.  Afterwards, they played Pokémon and I read some more for class.

Tuesday, we had worship, we read in the morning, and then we ate lunch.  We came back to the church and had Church Ministry with Andrew where we talked about making space to spend time with God.  It was another great class that was very thought provoking.  Next, we had our class on Paul, and then our book discussions.  After, we went to our respective flats since the boys didn’t have MET. I read some more, and then went to Tesco with Jennie for groceries.  I finally had dinner (it was pretty late) and read some more before I went to bed.

Wednesday, we had worship and then had Systematic Theology with Kenneth Stewart.  It was another mind blowing seminar as we learned about the Law.  The most mind blowing part was when Kenneth said that in Exodus 20, God literally spoke the Ten Commandments to all the people from the mountain, and then it happens again in Matthew 5-7 when Jesus is on the mountain and speaks about the Law. (Sermon on the Mount).  It was pretty cool.  After class, we had a quick lunch, and George took us to Edinburgh and dropped us off near the castle.  We explored there for a few hours and then had dinner at George and Jeanette’s.  It was scrumptious!  After, the girls went to their MET, and the boys went to their flat.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle
Students at Castle

View to Arthur's Seat

View to Arthur’s Seat

Looking out to the Firth of Forth

Looking out to the Firth of Forth

Thursday, we had worship and then read in the morning.  After lunch, we had a catch up Paul class, and then we went back to our flat.  I decided to take a nap because I didn’t feel well, and I was super tired.  After a quick dinner (just a snack, really), we went back to the church for our Reformed Evangelism class.

Friday, we had worship, and we read in the morning.  It was a bit cold in the church that day so David, Ethan, and I sat in front of the heater.  It was pretty funny.  I made lunch for the boys back at the girl’s flat, and we watched an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Then we went back to the church to get ready for Kid’s Club.  I baked cupcakes and decorated them like pigs!  While they were baking, I got the craft ready too.  We made Pom Pom Pigs!  They were sooooo cute!  And Fluffy!  When the kids came, we played a game, but it didn’t last very long.  Then we had the Cupcakes for snack!  Everyone loved them.  We then had the songs, Psalm (that I made motions up for), and memory verse.  Then Rosie told the story of The Prodigal Son.  I led the craft, and they played a time-killer game (Pig, Pig, Farmer).  Since there wasn’t CY afterwards, David, Ethan, and I went back to their flat and we chilled, and played, and watched Pokémon.

pig cupcakes

Rosie telling the story

Rosie telling the story

Craft of pigs

Craft time

Saturday, I slept in and then cleaned our flat from top to bottom while Jennie and Rosie were out.  David, and eventually Ethan, came over to keep me company.  When I was finally done, we went to the boys’ flat and made dinner.  Then we watched and played Pokémon, and when it was available, we watched the new episode of Doctor Who.  After a long day, David walked me back to my flat, and I went to bed.

Debbie Shafer

Reformation History Tour

Hola.  Hallo.  Bonjour.   How’s it going?  Hope all you guys out there in cyberland are doing great.  We here in Scotland have been getting along fabulously!

We’ve been here for about a month and a half, it’s crazy how time flies.  This week, after studying Scottish Covenanter and Reformation history with the brilliant Professor Jimmy Fisher, we embarked on a journey through time.  The amazing Helen Fisher navigated us through the twists and turns, while Prof. Jimmy was our guide.

Jimmy Fisher - our Tour Guide

Jimmy Fisher – our Tour Guide

Monday we began our eye-opening journey in the beautiful St. Andrews.  At the castle, we climbed through an old tunnel half dug by the Covenanters who held the castle captive and the other half dug by professional French miners.  The tunnel is still standing, despite being constructed in 1547.  After some more exploration through the history of St. Andrews, we traveled to Magus Muir.  Magus Muir is the site of the execution of Archbishop Sharp.  Not far from the memorial for Sharp, is a grave in a field marking the site where five random Covenanters were killed as a repayment for the death of the archbishop (even though they did not commit any crime).

Going into the mine.

Going into the mine.


In the mine.

In the mine.

Memorial to the Covenanters at Magus Muir.

Memorial to the Covenanters at Magus Muir.

Tuesday, we traveled by train to Edinburgh, and Jimmy guided us through many sites in record time.  If I had to narrow down my favorites from Edinburgh to two, they would probably be the National Covenant and the site where the Covenant was signed.   In 1638, the National Covenant was signed in Greyfriars Cemetery.  Some of those who signed the Covenant did so in their own blood.  We were able to see the grave that the Covenant was signed on, and then we were able to see that actual Covenant.  It was amazing to see a document that held so much weight for the church and for the country as a whole…and we got to see where it was signed.

Painting of the signing of the National Covenant.

Painting of the signing of the National Covenant.

Greyfriars Kirkyard where the National Covenant was signed.

Greyfriars Kirkyard where the National Covenant was signed.

The National Covenant

The National Covenant

Wednesday, we traveled around to some new sites.  The two that stuck out the most for me were the Talla Linn and the Devil’s Beef Tub.  At Devil’s Beef Tub, two Covenanters had been staying at a red farmhouse in the valley, when the dragoons arrived.  They ran and attempted to go to a part of the hills where the horses could not follow them.  Unfortunately, John Hunter lost his life, but the second Covenanter got away.  We were able to see the spot where John lost his life and the farmhouse (it’s still standing).  At the Talla Linn, on the 11th of October 1682, 4,000 people met for a conventicle, and God’s provision is displayed in their meeting.  The dragoons were close by, but the Covenanters remained safe and uninterrupted during their worship.

The Devil's Beef Tub, and the John Hunter farmhouse.

The Devil’s Beef Tub, and the John Hunter farmhouse.

Talla Linn

Talla Linn

Thursday, we traveled to some of the battle sites and graves of Covenanter martyrs.  We saw Bothwell Bridge, Drumclog, Ayrsmoss, and Muirkirk.  Perhaps the most moving and memorable part of the day was not a great Covenant victory site (such as Drumclog) or a site where many Covenanters lost their lives (like Ayrsmoss or Bothwell Bridge), but a quiet, peaceful, often forgotten grave of a young martyr.  On the property of a farm in Muirkirk, a short walk from the farmhouse is a quiet stream where 18-year-old farm hand William Adam would meet his fiancé for lunch and Bible study each day.  One day as he waited for her to arrive, the dragoons came by and saw him reading his Bible, without a word spoken they killed the young Adam.  His fiancé found him dead and buried him in their picnic spot.  After Prof. Jimmy told us this story, a silence fell.  Debbie mentioned that the peaceful spot reminded her of Psalm 23.  We got out our Psalters and sang Psalm 23 at the grave of young William Adam.  When was the last time a Psalm was sung in that spot?  Jimmy estimated that perhaps the last time would have been when Adam’s young fiancé was burying her love or when the two had last met for lunch.  Regardless of when a Psalm was last sung in that spot, the simple faith displayed by this young martyr is a reminder to all of how we should live our lives.

Grave of William Adam.

Grave of William Adam.

Singing at Covenanter sites.

Singing at Covenanter sites.

As Jimmy told us about the Covenanters, “They simply wanted to live their lives with Christ at the forefront.  They lost their lives because they would not let the king come first.”  These men and women who lost their lives would not want to be remembered with any sort of a high regard.  They would want us to remember to listen to God and not compromise our faith to conform to the ways of the world.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7

-Jennie Smith


That Time We Took a Three Hour Tour…

Well, it wasn’t really a three hour tour, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

The week started out rather slow.   Monday was our usual reading day, but  something was different that day.  Reverend Quigley had to leave town for a few days for a pastor’s conference, and since he normally leads our morning Bible reading and prayer, he told Ethan and me to lead for the next few days.

Tuesday, I led the morning reading and prayer, and then we went about our reading as usual for that day.  However, since Reverend Quigley was still away, we didn’t have our Paul class that day.  The girls still met for one of their Christian Ministry seminars, but since Ethan and I usually have a seminar with Reverend Quigley, we just had an off day for that.

Wednesday, we had our Systematic Theology class, but it was also the day of our “three hour tour”.   Ian Shaw took us on our day trip to various locations.   We visited a hotel built in 1625, that was painted pink for some reason, and had a beautiful view overlooking a pond.

Following that location, we visited the town of Callander, which lies just south of the Highland Boundary Fault, which is a meeting point between the Highlands and the Lowlands.  Callander is a beautiful town, with many tea and souvenir shops.  While here, Ian took us to look at a small art gallery, where people had made various pieces of art and were displaying them there with the potential of them being sold.  That was our first stop in the town, as we also adventured into some of the souvenir shops and a fudge shop.

From there, we traveled to what felt like the middle of nowhere and met……a Highland cow named Hamish, and two other Highland cows that had no names that we were aware of.


Stop number four was Loch Katrine, where our boat ride was.  Before that started, we took some time and explored Loch Katrine’s souvenir shop.  We then hopped on board a 100 year old steamboat, which was named the “Sir Walter Scott”.  It was a lot of fun, and we didn’t end up stranded on a desert island.  Ian then took us to Aberfoyle, where we had a fish and chips dinner from a local restaurant.  We then returned to Airdrie and our group separated, the guys returned to our flat while the girls traveled to their MET (small group).

Sir Walter Scott

students at Loch KatrineLoch Katrine

On Thursday, we had our last seminar in Scottish Reformation and Covenanting History, then some relaxation time before returning to the church for Reformed Evangelism that evening.

Sheep cupcakesFriday arrived, and this time, we got to have our seminar on the Spiritual Disciplines book.  Reverend Quigley took his time on the topic that day, stewardship with the money God gave to us, a very convicting topic for us all.  After the seminar, we all went and did different things.  Ethan, Debbie, and I returned to the girls’ flat, ate lunch, watched Pokémon, and got the craft ready for the kids that night.  The time came to prepare the church for Kids Club, and we got to work making little sheep cupcakes for the kids.  Jennie and Ethan played a game with the kids where the sheep crawl around and hide, and the shepherd has to look for them and bring them back to the sheepfold.  We gave the kids the snack after that, they sang Psalms, Jennie told the kids the story of the lost sheep, and Debbie got the kids started on the craft afterwards.  Jennie and Rosie then went to watch a movie with the youth while Ethan, Debbie, and I returned to the girls’ flat for some dinner and rest.

Saturday came, and we were going to take an adventure to Glasgow on the train.  However, I came down with a short illness (whether a virus or something I ate the night before, I am not sure…leaning toward something I ate the night before), and Debbie stayed behind with me, while Ethan and Jennie continued onward to Glasgow.  They had a great time, and Debbie and I plan on adventuring there sometime soon as well.

To Be Continued…..

David Beer

Highlights Near the Highlands


One of the highlights of our fourth week was reading a few chapters from Douglas  S. Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

Dr. Whitney writes that at the core of a disciplined spiritual life is a disciplined use of time.

This plays out practically in our time alone with God. If we do not consciously set aside time to pray, read the Word, worship, and so on, we will neglect our time with Him.  Let’s be real; life is busy.  Making responsible use of our time, then, is necessary if any of the other disciplines are going to happen.

This chapter was based largely on Jonathan Edward’s sermon, The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It. (  Pastor Edwards suggests living each day as if, at the end of that day, you had to give an account to God of how you used your time.  Sobering, beautiful stuff.

I dare you to read his sermon; Puritans aren’t as hard as they’re made out to be. ;) You can do it!


Our highlights for exploring Scotland this week were visiting both Cairnpapple and Linlithgow Palace!

Cairnpapple is a burial and ceremonial site dating back to about 3000 BC.  It took a little while for the age of this place to sink in… Three thousand years before Jesus was born!  It’s amazing.

Cairnpapple Hill

This hill was the burial mound. There were graves all around. (Photo credit: Debbie Shafer.)

We quite behaved like adults, all things considered…

Debbie and David in grave

Dearly departed Debbie & David. (Photo credit, Debbie).

Ethan in grave
Ethan lives again! (Debbie’s pic).

After Cairnpapple Hill, we went to Linlithgow Palace.

Both James V and Mary Queen of Scots were born here.  The roof is no longer there, but you can climb all sorts of stairs and explore the different levels.  The place is immense!


Jennie & the Fishers outside Linlithgow Palace.

Linlithgow Palace 3

The palace and the loch! (Debbie’s pic)

View from Linlithgow

The view once you climb a few stairs. (Debbie again.)

Thanks for checking up on us!  Please keep us and the church here in your prayers, that we’d keep learning lots and bless the folks here. TTFN!

–Rosie Perkins





Adventures of the Quintessential Quintet in Northern Ireland

Two weeks ago a team of young Americans landed in Ireland for the Young Adults  Weekend.  What they didn’t realize was that for an entire day they would have nothing to do until their boat left for Scotland.  So what do they do with all that free time?

Tour, of course!!

The fantastic five hopped on a tour bus around Belfast.  For a nice 10 pounds they were able to get a hop-on-hop-off tour of the capitol city.  The ride was not the greatest in the world: the students managed to get a cloudy, chilly, windy day.  When the bus hopped on the highway, the wind was blistering cold.  Most of the students huddled together as penguins in Antarctica.

Yet, in spite of the freezing experience and the tour guide’s bland jokes, the brave students saw beautiful murals from the “Troubles”, when Northern Ireland faced turmoil in the midst of its cities.  From 1968 to 1998 (approx.), groups of Protestant Irish and Roman Catholic Irish feuded in the streets of Belfast (along with other areas of the country).  Both sides used various weaponry to terrorize the other side, including bombs.  The quintessential quintet passed by several street where simple shops and bars were bombed for little reason than one side making a statement.  During the thirty years, Belfast constructed a gigantic wall between the Protestant and Roman Catholic sectors.  The students took several photos of the site, of which a major part still stands, and five gates between the sectors are still in operation (four of which routinely close at sundown).

Other sites the quirky quintet quickly passed by: the quiet old jail house, the quaint capitol building, the giant yellow cranes, Samson and Goliath, registered as landmarks that were so tall it made your stomach queasy, the Titanic museum at the yard where the massive ship was built and passed all the qualifications (as the Irish say, “It was fine when she left!”), C.S.Lewis’ boarding school where one could not count the quantity of lampposts lining the property, and the Botanical Gardens right next to Queens University.

C.S. Lewis Reading Room

The last stop of the day was visiting a reading room of the Queens University library that is dedicated to C.S.Lewis.  On the second floor of the modern library, the wooden door to the wardrobe from the book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe resides magnificently in a wall with a massive rug with Aslan in front of it.  Step through it, and you enter into a small, quiet room with a table containing the map of Narnia and windows with quotes from C.S.Lewis’ various novels.  It stole the breath of the tired team of students.

After the visit to the reading room, the crew hopped on a ferry and rode the waves back to Scotland, to continue their adventures in Scotland.

Once in the land of the kilts, the team of rested students diligently tackled their reading assignments.  With 18 chapters to complete, they had their work cut out for them.  While very formative for their faith, the size was daunting.  They wrestled with Reformed doctrine, muscled through Calvinism and T.U.L.I.P., frolicked through the delightful fields of spiritual disciplines, and sat under the historian sharing stories of the Apostle Paul’s life.

Games at kids club
CKC helping with singing

To end our week, the first Kids’ Club of the semester was held at the church.  It was a blast to spend time with kids, who, while very hyperactive, could not hide their delight in seeing new people to befriend.  The kids learned about how Jesus healed blind men, and the fantastic five assisted in the crafts, snacks, and games. After Kids’ Club, the Covenanter Youth began, which was for anyone over the age of ten (in other words, everyone who was too old for Kids’ Club).  The team and the kids went out and got ice cream at one of the best tasting ice cream shops in the world (as one of the students would testify).  When everyone returned to the church, the two men of the quintessential quintet decided to built the best mattress fort ever.  And they succeeded.  After the fantastic fort frenzy, the youth played a fun game of sardines (or as some call it “Reverse Hide-and-go-seek”—one person hides, and the others seek him/her out, and once a person finds him/her, that person hides with him/her).  After that, all the kids were sent home.


And thus another week of adventures ended.  Turn in next week for another exciting addition to quintessential quintet’s adventures in Scotland!

Ethan Mathews

Stirling to Northern Ireland

I am so excited to be here in Scotland for my last semester of college!  I’ve been dreaming of doing the Semester in Scotland programme for 10 years, and now I have the opportunity to live that dream.  You see, my sister participated in it 10 years ago, and the summer before she came, my parents, and my little sister, and I flew to England for my cousin’s wedding.  While we were on this side of the pond, we drove up to Scotland to see where she would be staying for four months.  I fell in love with the people I met and the astonishing scenery I saw.  This year is promising to be just as exciting as my first week in Scotland was a decade ago.  It’s been three weeks since I arrived, and I’ve already learned and seen so much.

This week, we attended the Airdrie RP church on Sunday and had lunch at Stacy  and Fraser’s.  They are a lovely young couple who fed us a great meal and  provided great fellowship (and their puppy, Milo, is adorable).  In the evening, we went to church and afterwards went to Stephen and Brenda’s for tea and some friendly discussion on various topics.

Classes went well during the week, albeit not on the regular schedule due to an unforeseen event that popped up and a weekend retreat.  One of the advantages in this program is that the teachers are all flexible, so if something comes up, they can easily adjust their class.  Also, even though there’s a lot of reading to do for the classes, we have scheduled times to get some of it done, which is really nice. Wednesdays are my favorite because in the afternoon we get to go see various sites in the country.

Students at Wallace MonumentThis week, for our Wednesday trip, we went to three places.  First, we visited the  site of the Battle of Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce defeated the English and took back Stirling Castle.  Then, we went to a 900 year old Abbey where we saw the grave of King James III of Scotland and his wife, Margaret the Princess of Denmark.  Finally, we went to the Wallace Monument that was put up in honor of William Wallace (aka Braveheart), who fought and died for Scottish freedom, and we climbed the 246 steps to the top of it for an amazing view of the landscape below.  We finished the day with our MET and went back to our respective homes.

David at Carrickfergus CastleFriday, we got up early to catch the ferry for Northern Ireland for the Young Adult Weekend (or YAW for short).  The trip was uneventful and we arrived safely.  We were picked up by the Loughridge family who fed us lunch and then dropped us off at the Carrickfergus Castle for a couple hours.  The view from the lookout tower was over the Irish Sea, and it was beautiful!  It was fun looking around there and seeing the different rooms too.  We found one room that used to be used for processing meat that had a mural of a butcher on one wall, and the rest of the walls were painted white.   (The weird part was that there was also a pillory set up in the room.  Not sure why it was in there).  It had a curved ceiling and great acoustics, so we stayed in there for a bit and sang some Psalms.  When it was time to go, we rode with the Loughridges to Annalong, Northern Ireland for the YAW.


The talks at the retreat were quite good and were about God’s covenants with Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jeremiah.  Between talks, we had meals and free time and seminars.  The place we were staying was a farm/conference center called Mullartown House.  It was only a short walk away from the Irish Sea and so during the free time in the afternoon, David and I would walk to the beach.  It was glorious.  It wasn’t a sand beach like they usually are in the States, it was a rock beach with a fantastic view of the Mourne Mountains.  I took many pictures and had a fabulous weekend.  Sunday night we stayed at the Loughridge’s, and Monday we went to Belfast and got a bus tour (where I took many, many more pictures).  Then we caught the ferry again and returned to Airdrie in the evening.


These past three weeks have flown by.  It seems like only yesterday I was trying to figure out what to pack and how to fit it into one suitcase so that it would weigh less than 50lbs.  All of the reading material and the classes are extremely thought provoking, and I am so happy I have the opportunity to study here.  I can tell that God is working in my life here, and I’m excited to find out what the outcome will be at the end of the semester.  But for now, I’m just going to take it one day at a time and enjoy the ride!  Cheerio!

Debbie Shafer


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