I was born an raised in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. I live with Matt and Heidi Filbert in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, due to a dangerous family situation. The Filberts are my second family, and a huge part of my life. I will miss them TONS while I am in Scotland.
I am a member of First RPC, and absolutely love my congregation. I serve as a Sunday School teacher on a rotation, have participated in door-to-door ministry, and have enjoyed serving and getting to know my congregation in a variety of other ways as well. First RP is my family, and I will miss them very much during my time abroad.
This year I will be starting my Junior Year (third year) of university at Geneva College, and I am a Biblical Studies Major. I am extremely passionate about the Word of
God, and particularly love children and children’s ministry. I have a ton of experience working with children. Ministry, whether or not with children, is what I plan to use my degree for. I am also a singer, instrumentalist, and contemporary ballet dancer. I love music, and singing and dancing are a huger part of who I am. I love the Lord and am excited to see how He uses my passions throughout the rest of my life.
This past summer I went on a missions trip to Laramie, Wyoming to help out with the new church there. After that our team went out to Colorado Springs to plan the children’s curriculum for the Horncreek Family Camp. While illness prevented me from staying for the camp. I planned almost all of the children’s curriculum myself and had a BLAST doing so! I also enjoyed getting to know the Hemphill’s, Ryce’s, Reese’s and all of the other wonderful people that we met and worked with during the trip. I am so excited to have served God in such a fulfilling way and plan attend and lead trips next summer.
I am super excited to meet the congregation in Airdrie, and am excited to study alongside my brothers and sisters in Scotland. I am looking forward to learning, serving, and growing as I get to know the members of the congregation, and am excited to learn all their is to learn in a foreign country. Praise God for this wonderful opportunity.
Four months ago, I had never left the country, I had never been away from home for more than a week’s time, and I had certainly never swam with the Loch Ness monster. Over the course of this semester, I’ve been to five different countries, been blown around at the Fairy Pools by hurricane force winds, and even have been swimming in Loch Ness…in December. I have walked through numerous castles, I have eaten award winning fish and chips, and I have seen more sheep than people. Needless to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here; however, it isn’t the sight seeing that I’m going to miss about Scotland, but rather my new family.
While I have been here, I have seen what the church of God is supposed to look like. On Sunday mornings, we should not feel as though we are going to a service and sitting next to stranger. Rather, there should be that feeling you get when you come together with you extended family, if you like them of course. That is what the church in Airdrie is like and over this semester I had the chance to become part of that family. It truly was a blessing, not only to be able to come and worship here but also to be able to form relationships with its people outside of a Sunday morning. It’s hard to believe that, as close as we are, I’ve only known my friends here since August. It will certainly be difficult to leave this beautiful country, but it will be much more difficult to say goodbye to a number of my friends here.
God has been gracious to me these past four months. He has provided me with a good community in Airdrie RP, friends to spend time with, great teachers to learn from, and wonderful traveling experiences.
Although I have made many memories from traveling around Scotland and Europe, I know more than anything else that the things I have learned will continue to affect me the most. The Semester in Scotland program is a very unique opportunity that I wish more ministry majors could take advantage of. We were able to spend a lot of time with Andrew. Not only did we get to learn from him in the classroom, but also through seeing him work in the church. Because he welcomed us into his life for the past four months, we were able to greatly benefit from getting a little bit more of an understanding in how ministry works.
The classes we took and books we read were spiritually challenging and caused me to grow. I look forward to getting back home and looking through them again.
We did end our stay in Scotland with a bang however. Last Saturday Nate, Tim, Kelly, Beth, Karen, two Australians, and I went on a trip to the Isle of Skye. It was really everything you could ever hope for in a trip. The drive there was long, yet enjoyable. We stayed the night in Fort William on Friday and then continued on to Skye the next morning. It was a wet day – I have never felt so wet in my life. There were also winds blowing at 70 miles per hour. Regardless, we carried on and saw several places in Skye. We went to the Fairy Pools, Portree, an inn with no electricity (which was very cool looking), and stopped at Loch Ness on the way back.
I think regardless of where we went (within reason) it would have been just as enjoyable. Being able to spend time with both old and new friends one last time was really the joy in the trip. It’s a funny thing how close people can become in a short period of time. The people I have met in Scotland over the past four months will certainly be missed.
All memories aside, I look forward to getting home. Living in the UK has been a great experience, but I feel like a giddy child on Christmas morning with the thought of being back in Pennsylvania. I am excited to see my family again, no doubt. People keep asking me what’s the first thing I am going to do when I get home, so I figure I will answer the same question now: play with my two golden retrievers Rylie and Charlotte.
Thank you to all who have made my stay here in Scotland an enjoyable experience. It continues to blow my mind how large and loving God’s church is. So many people have sacrificed their time to take us out on day trips to see parts of Scotland, made us meals, drove us to and from airports, and welcomed us into their homes. I can truly say you have made my stay in Scotland feel like another home.
It’s my final day here in Scotland and oddly enough I am not asking the question, “Where has the time gone?” That’s usually how it goes for people at this point in the trip. You’ve been away from home for months, and you lost track of time because of all the things you were doing, and now you’re wondering where it all went. I thought that’s exactly how I would feel by now, but it isn’t so. I think it is a small sign that I am ready to return home. And though this is true, I cannot neglect to recount all the great adventures I have had, all the interesting people I have met, and all the distant places I have had the pleasure experiencing. It’s a strange thought that this time of travel and learning is over. In these 4 months I have had the privilege of visiting Frankfurt, Rome, Florence, Geneva, Paris, Northern Ireland, and almost all of Scotland. And if the Lord has taught me one thing through my time away from home, it’s that no matter where I am, and how unfamiliar the land is, He will always be the same. He is the same even in my doubt and uncertainty. That truth is most reassuring. I trust that I will forever remember the things I have learned through this time.
Scotland really has become a second home for me. I can recall on multiple occasions actually calling this cottage “home”. It’s where we always returned to at the end of the day. Away for the entire day, driving into the wee hours of the night, and returning back home to this cottage exhausted was at times the most satisfying feeling. I’ll miss it, and I’ll think about it often I am certain, but I am ready to say goodbye. I have grown to love this place. I have grown to love it for the way it reminds me of God’s handiwork, for the way it brings me to a state of humility, and for the way it urges me to want to travel more. There are places here that I never thought I would see outside of a photo. It’s amazing really; when you begin to travel you just don’t want to stop. I remember my time in mainland Europe, I just wanted to keep going, and I wanted to see more. There is so much out there to experience, and I never thought I would want to see so much of it. Unique places to visit, and unfamiliar people to meet, I just wanted to be a part of that. And now, at the end of my time here, I am realizing that it is time to return home and I am content with that. I don’t want to go to another country right now, or a distant land. I truly want to return home and see my brothers, sister, parents, nieces and nephews. I want to just sit down on my couch and talk to my siblings about life and what God has taught me. I am ready for that. God has taught me (as stubborn as I have been about it) to be content these past four months. He taught me to be content whether I was in Italy, Germany, a different church, my cottage, or a stranger’s house. It has taken time for me to come into that, but I am finally getting it. And now, I am most content to return home. As I said, I will miss this place, and I will fondly remember it as the days pass by. I hope one day to travel again; to see new lands and far off places, but for now, it is homeward that I journey. I am thankful for the Lord’s steadfastness in my life.
As the semester winds down I am looking back and wondering where the time went. On one hand, it seems like we have been in Scotland forever. On the other hand, it seems like we just got here, and now we’re getting ready to leave. Whichever it is, I am so thankful that God has allowed me to have this experience!
For a long time I said that I wanted to go to England. What I didn’t know was that I actually wanted to go to Scotland. I didn’t even know I wanted to go to Scotland until about a week before the deadline to apply for the Semester in Scotland program! I had been trying to make plans to do a different study program, but every way I turned I found a closed door. I was advised to take a different route, and decided that the SIS program sounded great (plus it fit with my major)! I sent in my application and the doors opened easily. So I bought my plane ticket and came over, not sure what to expect, but expecting something good. And it has been good.
I don’t know whether it has been the subject matter, the teachers, the class structure, or a combination of all three, but looking back, this has been one of my best semesters for growth, both in the classroom and out of the classroom. I have learned practical lessons about ministry by working with people of different ages and abilities and applying things that I had read for classes on ministry. I have also learned much from the Bible as I was encouraged to read my Bible, memorize verses, study the works of the Apostle Paul, and attend the Sunday services. This has also been a time for growth as I built new relationships and learned to live by myself. It wasn’t always easy – at some points it was very hard – but I can look back and see that God has been working through it all to strengthen my trust in Him, and that is one of the best things about this semester.
Some of the highlights have been Kids Club, the Reformation Tour, fall break, and our Wednesday trips with different people from the church. I loved Friday nights when I had the privilege of playing, singing, and listening to stories with the children, and helping out with the crafts and snacks. I am definitely going to miss the crazy yet wonderful children who came every week. Going on the Reformation Tour was also amazing, as it brought alive the history lessons we had been taught (plus we got to see some neat places) and helped me to realize how important it is to stand up for the truth, no matter what people say or do to you. Fall Break was really great because I got to go to London (with my aunt and uncle who came over to visit me!) for a few days, as well as spend some extra time in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I enjoyed London because of all the places we went to that I remembered reading about in history books for school many years ago. Stories once again came alive for me as I visited places such as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. Having different people take time each week to take us to some new place has been wonderful. It was great to get to know some of the people from the congregation better, to hear their stories of faith, and to get to know what life has been like in Scotland for as long as they’ve been here.
I have been told that our group has seen more of Scotland than many other groups before us (and actually that we have seen more of Scotland than some of the folks who have lived here all their lives!). There is still more that I would like to see, so hopefully I will be able to come back sometime. But until then, I will remember and love Scotland and the people who made it better than I could ever have imagined.
Hey there friends, family, countrymen and/or women. I hope this entry finds you doing well. I guess it has been quite some time since any of us last posted, so I will do my best to fill you in on all that has happened these last few weeks and maybe even a little extra.
It is hard to believe that our stay here in Scotland will be coming to an end in just a month. I remember arriving here back in August to warm weather, long days, and barbeques. Okay, maybe not barbeques, but we certainly spent more time outside. Now, as the seasons turn and the temperature declines, and the darkness of night approaches at an early hour, we find ourselves wondering where these days have gone. Personally, I am looking forward to my departure for home, but I will truly miss this place, these people, and these memories. What, what am I even saying? We still have a month left! Sorry to get all somber on you. I will leave the sad, dreaded, farewell entry to the one who writes later on. But for now, let me tell you about a wee adventure 2 of my companions and I had the privilege of embarking on just a week ago.
As Kelly made her way to London and other various parts of Scotland with part of her family; Christopher, Timothy, and I took a different route. We set out to experience life outside of the UK, life among cultures that I never thought I would submerge myself in, life on unfamiliar soil that seemingly impacted us in a most positive way.
We first set out for Frankfurt, Germany where we spent two days living in a not so touristy location. It was nice really, to be a part of a culture that was actually inhabited by natives and not a bunch of random foreigners taking pictures of everything they came across as though they were peering at the most unique piece of architecture. This place was nice, a surprise really. I wasn’t expecting much from Frankfurt, and I won’t say that it wowed me, but I left Frankfurt with an attitude of fine contentment. The people were most friendly, and the architecture was simple and very German-esque.
From there we set out for Rome, Italy. The first thing we noticed when arriving in Rome, well for me at least, was the weather! We left the 45 degree weather in Germany and were greeted warmly by 70 degree Italian weather. After getting into shorts and t-shirts we enjoyed the famous Roman architecture from the Colosseum, to the Roman forum, to the Pantheon, to the Basilica of St. Peter, and yes, to the Vatican Museum and the painting of the Sistine Chapel. Oh what a lovely place Rome was. We even had the special opportunity to meet up with some fellow Geneva College students who graciously prepared a dinner for us and introduced us to gelato. One thing I will say about Rome, don’t take pictures with men dressed up like centurions, and don’t get on the wrong train.
On to Florence we ventured after a wee hiccup with our transportation. I call it a wee hiccup even though it was probably more than that. Just when I thought Italy couldn’t get that much more beautiful, we arrived here. Granted, the Lord blessed with two days of absolute sunshine. I had a feeling Florence was going to be my favorite place, and indeed it was. Yeah, experienced the climb to the top of the Duomo, and yes we saw the statue of David, at least one of them. But it wasn’t those things that made it memorable. It was the walking around aimlessly looking for better views of the city that made it an experience. After tirelessly walking for miles we reached a lookout point just outside the center of the city, and as the sun was setting, we caught an incredibly view of the city. I could only sit in amazement at the handiwork of God at that moment. The following day we visited the American Military Cemetery just outside of Florence where Christopher’s great-grandfather was buried. The sun shone through the cemetery and illuminated the gravestones of the thousands buried there. I know it was special moment for Chris as he looked upon the stone under which his grandfather lay. I think it’s safe to say that we will all miss Florence and are thankful that we were able to experience that place.
Our final stay was in Geneva, Switzerland which I can’t say I was looking all that forward too, but as we traveled by train through the mountain pass my thoughts were swayed. I never thought I would have the privilege of gazing out over the Swiss Alps. The location of Geneva was lovely as it rested below the overpowering shadows of the Alps but just on the shores of a massive lake. We had the neat opportunity to journey upward to the mountain by way of gondola, and hiking just a wee bit further through the woods and valleys, we reached a lookout point upon which we could see the entire city of Geneva below us and after slowly turning around could see the snow-capped Alps beyond us. Yes, Geneva is expensive living, but the creation around you cannot be price tagged.
I can’t speak for all of us, but for myself I will say that this trip was nothing short of a blessing. To see the foreign lands that God has so creatively designed and to meet distant people that God has so uniquely formed is a special privilege, and I will always count it a blessing. Traveling is something that has always intrigued me, but to really do it, and to really live in these unfamiliar cultures, among these different people is an experience I will forever cherish. Thank you, Lord.
This week began at a young adult weekend in Arbroath. We made more new friends and got to spend some time with others that we already knew. The speaker, Rev. Blaize, spoke on the topic of Christ’s work on the cross, and what his blood means for us, titling his series “Christ’s Precious Blood.” The week continued with our usual classes and a trip on Wednesday with Graham to Culross Abbey and Palace, and Castle Campbell. Thursday night the four of us headed into Glasgow to see the opera Don Giovanni, and Friday ended with Nate and Christopher giving their testimonies at the Covenanter Youth meeting.
The topic of redemption seemed to carry through the week from the retreat to the opera. Reverend Blaize spoke passionately on how Christ drank the entire cup of God’s wrath down to the last drop, taking away God’s wrath against any who will repent and believe in Christ as Lord and Savior. He shared how Christ’s death redeemed us from our slavery to sin and from the power of the law to condemn, making it so that we can freely obey and love God in gratitude for what he had done.
Our systematic theology class this week strengthened the lessons on Christ’s redeeming work. We learned about how it was necessary for the sacrifice for our sin to be both God and man – it had to be God because man does not have the ability to pay for his sin against God, but it had to be man because it was man that had committed sin against God. Because Christ is the only man who is also God and who lived a sinless life, he was the only option for removing God’s wrath and obtaining our redemption. Thursday night we were given a visual reminder of what happens to those who refuse to repent as we watched Don Giovanni.
The story of Don Giovanni illustrates man’s sinful nature and need for repentance. Don Giovanni is given many chances to repent of his misdeeds, but he refuses to do so and in the end is dragged down to Hell for his punishment. The moral of the story was that those who do evil will be damned. Perhaps it was intended to say the opposite as well – that those who do good will be saved. As a Christian I cannot agree with the latter, since all men are sinners (an important part of sharing the Gospel, as we’ve learned in our evangelism class) and must recognize their sin, repent, and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior for salvation. However, the former moral stands strong from a Biblical viewpoint. One of my companions commented that there was no redemption in the plot of Don Giovanni, and I must agree that it was lacking due to the absence of repentance. Though Don Giovanni fails to tell the sinner how to be redeemed, thankfully we have the Bible to show us the full story of Redemption and guide us to eternal life!
Another week gone by of reading and learning,
And now the leaves have started turning
From greens to oranges, yellows, and reds.
All these books are filling up our heads
My eyes have seen so many pages,
And my mind starts wondering if I can remember it all.
I sit and read for ages and ages,
But I do not think my mind will ever hit a wall.
Our books are more than food for thought,
They are a way of life – it’s what the Bible taught.
We sit and read day after day
With the prospect of hearing what the Scriptures may say.
We are taught by Godly men,
And have the honor of studying under them.
With wisdom that comes with the years,
Their knowledge pours rapidly into our ears.
Now moving on from the classroom
Some other activities we did:
Mamma Mia, Pittsburgh Penguins, (Let’s go Sid the kid!)
Bar Noodle, time with friends, a new RP Seminary,
Nate’s birthday, play dates in Glasgow, and said goodbye to the secretary.
We said “bye” to Beth for a short while
Because she left us for the states
Travelled over 3000 nautical mile
And it makes me think home awaits.
Perhaps a little homesick I may be,
But I believe that happens naturally.
I’m still glad that I am here,
Oh, and fall break is coming near!
More fun times are on their way
As well as the books and the discussion.
They must be embraced day by day
For its exposure will lend a positive repercussion.
- Christopher Little