Letter Home

Since I was behind this week on not only my blog but also my weekly email to my parents, I decided to combine the two and give you a little bit different of a post! Enjoy.

Mom and Dad,

Hello!!! I’m finally getting these pictures sent from last week. This was the 29th-4th. [Sidenote: We left Pennsylvania EXACTLY four weeks ago from today! Seems to have gone fast.]

Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal days, except that we made these amazing Monte Cristo sandwiches!! 1I thought you would like to know that we are eating real food. They were so good. (That pile of oddly colored substance to the right of the sandwich is scrambled eggs, just so you know.) On Wednesday, we had a double history class in the morning and finished covering both of the Scottish Reformations. It was super interesting. In the afternoon, Jimmy took us down the road to a town called Coatbridge where Summerlee, Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, is located. 2The building in this picture housed displays and artifacts honoring this area’s contribution to engineering, mining, and industrial life. But get this: There were also artifacts there dating back to THE FIRST CENTURY A.D. It was crazy!! The Roman Empire had control of Scotland at that time and so Roman artifacts like these have been found in the area. 3Summerlee was more than just a museum though, and Ethan and I took a tram down farther into the property to the mining village. Each cottage has been individually restored and set up inside like it would have been during a specific span of years, so there was one for the early 1800’s, then the 1810’s, the late 1800’s, and so on, up into the 1960’s. My favorites were the 1950’s one that had fun 50’s music playing and the 60’s one that had yellow walls, orange couches, and a blue refrigerator. Also, there in the mining village you can walk down into part of the old mine. They’ve reinforced it so that it’s safe and the employees take you in and you all wear hardhats and walk–hunched over at some parts–through the dirt tunnels. You obviously can’t go down as deep or as far as the miners would have (that’s blocked off), but we did travel about 1000m underground. Along the tunnel, they have small areas carved out only a few yards wide and a few feet high with dummies inside that show how the men, women, and children would have worked during the different eras. Things changed like the tools they were using or the light that they had, but the conditions remained pretty brutal. When we left there and got back up to the museum, it was about to close, so we walked down to a little park across the bridge and reveled in the sunshine. Here’s a classy picture I took of some swans. 4

On Thursday after classes I was able to move into the Annex, my new home!! It is SO nice in here; I am so blessed. Our first dinner in the Annex was the ever delicious fish’n’chips, complete with Heinz ketchup and tea out of our Scottish mugs. 5We had a blast at Kid’s Club on Friday night. After class that day, we got lunch (and ice cream…) and then went back to the church to make cupcakes for the kids. Ethan taught the lesson that night on Daniel and the lion’s den, so Beth found a picture of lion cupcakes online and we recreated them to the best of our ability. 67I think they turned out pretty cute. 😊 Tasted good too. (Take a moment to admire Ethan’s equally cute apron. Beth told him it really brought out the koalas in his eyes.)

Saturday included yet another great day-trip with Beth, this time to Secret Beach! So unfortunately, I am not at liberty to disclose the location to you. (That and Ethan and I fell asleep on the way there, so it really was a secret.) But afterwards Beth took us to a town called North Berwick so if you want to look it up, we were near there! 😉 Anyway, we had a really nice time! It was raining that morning, but God cleared the sky in the afternoon when we left and the sun even came out. Mind you, it was not anywhere close to warm, but it could have been worse. As you can see…it was a pretty place. 8Oh, but before I send other pictures of the beach, look at this one that Ethan took on the road in: 9THERE WAS THIS BEAUTIFUL RUINED CASTLE AND SERIOUSLY, HOW MAJESTIC AND PICTURESQUE IS THAT?? It’s called Tantallon Castle. You can still go inside and climb the towers, but we just admired it from afar. Once we were on the beach we spent awhile collecting rocks and shells and poking at gooey things that I think were alive. We climbed up on a knoll there that had a view of the castle 10 and looked out over the water. 1112And it was there that we planted this rock (the one used to poke the gooey things) as a monument to our being the first Pennsylvanians there that day (which was obviously a wild shot in the dark). 13And lastly, we climbed a big rock. And Beth took our picture. 16So there’s that.

I hope you enjoyed this!!! I miss you guys greatly. I wish so, so, so much that you could be here to experience all this with Ethan and I. This is the first time that I’ve visited historical sites without you and the sibs, and I have to admit, there’s a part of me that finds it hard to fully enjoy every moment at the places we visit knowing how much you’d all love to be here! Maybe someday???

Talk to you both soon.

Love, Kara

 

Second Week

Kara and I have completed our second week of classes here in Scotland and have many experiences to share!  We both miss being at home and have had our fair share of frustrations thus far, but we are happy to be here in Scotland where we can focus primarily on growing in knowledge and faith in the Lord through our theocentric classes. Our adventures here in Scotland this week have been filled with joy, laughter, worry, and haggis. Now allow me to sum up what I can, since fully explaining every detail of our week within the confines of a few paragraphs is next to impossible.

Picking up where Kara left off: the adventures continue! She and I went to see the beautiful 12th century Glasgow Cathedral this past Wednesday with Jimmy and Helen and walked around looking at the tomb of St. Mungo, the founder of Christendom in the area of Glasgow, as well as the Glasgow Necropolis complete with some 300-year-old graffiti. It’s incredible to be living in a culture with vandalism older than our Declaration of Independence. Kara and I also had a chance to visit the oldest house in Glasgow known as the Provand’s Lordship. Built in 1471 A.D., the Provand’s Lordship was used to house the Clergy of the aforementioned Cathedral. On Friday, Kara and I returned to Glasgow on our own and walked around the city, visiting several shops, Princes Square, and the Gallery of Modern Art. On Saturday, Kara and I went with Beth–who has become a dear friend to both of us–to see Loch Lomond, of which you will see a few pictures below. This has been my favorite trip thus far as it felt so quintessentially Scottish to look out over the Loch dotted with ripples from raindrops and blanketed with a veil of fog. That mentality was likely aided along as Kara and I kept singing The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond as we gazed out onto the beautiful scenery around us. While at the Loch, I spent much of my time skipping rocks while Kara snapped pictures. That is, until she accidently dropped her phone in the Loch, at which point we switched roles. Fortunately, Kara’s phone survived after being dried out in a bag of rice for 24 hours, thus you can still expect to see plenty of pictures from both of our perspectives as our adventures continue here in Scotland.

As far as classes and church events are concerned this week, all has been well. Kara and I have continued keeping up with our reading assignments and have greatly enjoyed getting to know more people here at Airdrie RP Church. We’ve made fast friends with many of the church members this week and have been fortunate enough to be here for the birth of a new addition to the congregation. Stephen and Brenda McCollum’s first child, Zoe Elaine, was born on Saturday, January 28th, and is as healthy as she is lovely. Kara and I, like most of the congregation, are looking forward to meeting her and attending her upcoming baptism on the 12th of February.

Kid’s Club, one of the church’s ministries that Kara and I participate in on Friday nights, has been going excellently. Kara taught the lesson this week on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s deliverance from the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar and how it points to the salvific deliverance we experience today. We’ve been getting along with the kids so well, in fact, that one of them has even given me a nickname! He, having the same name as I do, has adopted the classic Scottish cry that “There can be only one!!” and has taken to calling me Bob.

I am running out of room, so the full stop is this: Kara and I are so blessed to be here in Scotland, not simply because of the novelty of being in Europe, but because of the joy that we share in being a part of the lively fellowship of the church in Airdrie. We are both transformed and renewed a little more each day through Christ’s renewal in our hearts as we learn about His Word through the specific revelation in His Scriptures and the natural revelation in His people. The Lord is shaping both of us here and we pray as the Psalmist does that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our heart will be pleasing to our rock and our redeemer, Jesus Christ, during our stay here in Scotland.

Ethan Masters

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On the road to Rest and Be Thankful

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Kara at Rest and Be Thankful

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Loch Lomond

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The Village of Luss

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Taking the High Road and the Low Road

First Week

It is a curious thing for a country of which you’ve only read about and seen pictures of to be underneath your feet! Ethan and I arrived safely in Scotland on Thursday, January 12th, and I think I speak for both he and I when I say that we have already had a little over a week full of unexpected adventures, blessings, and growth here in Airdrie.

Our time here began last Thursday with…sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. Beth Bogue, the secretary of the Airdrie Reformed Presbyterian Church that runs our Semester in Scotland program, invited Ethan and I over for dinner and we had a great time of fellowship, even in spite of our jet-lagged states of mind. (We probably said some embarrassing things that we would regret, but Beth has been kind enough so far to not remind us of them.) We had time over the weekend to unpack (which of course we put off until this weekend), explore the town, and meet the wonderful and welcoming people of the church. I even had the opportunity to attend a ballet in Glasgow with the ladies of the church on Saturday since an extra ticket was offered to me.

Of course, just like both mine and Ethan’s parents so dutifully reminded us when we left Pennsylvania, we are here to learn from our studies as well as our travels and relationships. Our parents would be happy to know that we were diligent in our readings throughout the week and thoroughly enjoyed our classes in church ministry, systematic theology, and the ministry and theology of Paul. (We will also be studying the humanities of England and Scotland and the Scottish Reformation in the upcoming weeks.)

On that note, if you know Ethan and me, then you know that we each have a deep love of history. As you can imagine, Scotland did not disappoint in providing us with rich, tangible history, and we can’t seem to get enough of it. There’s enough history here to keep us captivated for years, so we’re excited to see all that we can over the next four months. A couple in the church will be taking us on a trip every Wednesday to a different historical or cultural site in Scotland, and this week we took our first trip. We visited the preceptory of the Knights Hospitaller (built in the 1140’s) and Linlithgow Palace, used as a place of retreat for the Stewart kings during the 15th and 16th centuries and also the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. Aside from our Wednesday trip, we also visited the art gallery in Glasgow and Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh. The enormity of the castle was stunning and we were able to watch the fog lift from around it and witness the sun paint the castle with gold as it rose over the nearby buildings of the town.

The beauty in the landscapes and buildings around us are nothing compared to the magnificence of our Creator, and I am reminded of that each time I look at a loch or a field or a castle. An artist is always present in his artwork and if one is aware of that, glimpses of God are everywhere. No more is God revealed though than in the hospitality and friendship of the people whom we have met in the church and many whom we have met in town or on our travels. It really is true that the body of Christ transcends distance, age, gender, culture…and whatever else marks differences by earthly measurements. Even upon meeting people for the first time I was aware of the relationship that I already have with them as brothers and sisters in Christ, and the fellowship is that much sweeter.

Please continue to pray for us and our growth here in Scotland. I could easily write more concerning what God has already taught me through the study of His Word, enriching conversations with others, class discussions and the reading of our textbooks, adventures, time spent with Ethan, and so much more… I imagine we will never lack something to tell you each week!

Kara Kauffman

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Airdrie on a Saturday morning. (Their first snow since last February!)

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Preceptory of the Knights Hospitaller, circa 1140

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Ethan in one of the towers of Linlithgow Palace.

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Walking through Glasgow.

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Myself in front of Edinburgh Castle.

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Jimmy reading the inscription on a memorial to the Covenanters in Edinburgh.

Meet the Spring 2017 Students!

Spring Semester 2017 Students

ethanEthan Masters
First off I’m a born again Christian. I firmly believe that I have my first identity in Christ and thus it would be absurd not to begin any autobiographical note with anything other than that fact.  I am twenty-one years old and live in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania with my dad, mom, and two of my three sisters. My ancestry is actually Scottish on my dad’s side so… I hope that counts for brownie points with you guys!  I’ve attend church at Fairview Reformed Presbyterian church for my entire life. I’m in my third year at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania studying History and Philosophy. I enjoy hiking and exploring places I’ve never visited before so spending the spring in Scotland should be especially fun for me! I love dogs. My favourite sports are archery, volleyball, Frisbee, and baseball. I love music and, though I’m no good at playing it, music has in many ways been the catalyst through which God has shaped me into who I am today. I’ve been told I’m a pretty easygoing guy, so take that as you like. I also love dogs. This spring I hope to meet and befriend a lot of new people from the community of Airdrie, and I pray that we would mutually encourage each other to persevere in our faith. I would greatly appreciate your prayers in these last few days before I leave as I want to be sure that I spend these days with my senior friends at Geneva who I may not get to see even after my return to the states. Lastly I would like you all to pray that in all things I, and all other Christian brothers and sisters, would be content with the Lord’s will for the betterment of his kingdom.

karaKara Kauffman
I am in my third year at Geneva College studying Sociology and History, and I attend Fairview Reformed Presbyterian church (PCA). I grew up in Kenai, Alaska, but my parents now live in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania. I have five siblings, some of whom live with their families in Soldotna, Alaska, and some near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

 

Spring Semester Schedule

Arrive
12th January 2017

Leave
10th May 2017

Daily Schedule
Class starts at 9.15 am with worship
Mornings – They have assigned reading on their subjects
Afternoons – Seminars led by Teachers
Wednesday Afternoons – Cultural Trips

Teachers
Rev. Andrew Quigley will teach –  Church Ministry & The Christian Ministry
Dr. Tim Donachie will teach – Humanities in England and Scotland
Rev. Kenneth Stewart will teach – Systematic Theology
Mr. Stephen McCollum will teach – Life and Work of Paul
Mr. Jimmy Fisher will teach –  Scottish Christian History: 1st and 2nd Scottish Reformations
Miss Beth Bogue will teach – Women’s Ministry to Women

Final Reflections by Lauren

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In full disclosure, I came very close to not participating in Semester in Scotland at all. Circumstances beyond my control seemed for a long time to spell certain doom to all my hopes and aspirations. I had my own reasons for wanting desperately to go and for many weeks I had almost resigned myself to the reality of not going and leaving all those goals unaccomplished. I had to depend solely on God to provide the means and work out the details that finally allowed me to come here to Scotland. Since He worked everything out, I assumed that God had something big for me to learn here. I even dared to presume what that might be. Now, when all is said and done, I can say that I got out of this program everything that I thought I would and then some. Some of the lessons I learned – both academic and spiritual – were not what I expected.

I came here as a newly decided Reformed Presbyterian from a Reformed Baptist upbringing. I held my convictions strongly and I came here in the hopes of crystalizing my beliefs and becoming more acquainted with my like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ. This goal was realized in every way as I read about the history of the Reformation and the Scottish Covenanters and studied the theology of the Westminster Confession. I can leave feeling a great admiration for and connection with some of our spiritual forbears of antiquity. What a special experience it is to be able to read and see the workings of God in a time such as the Reformation and be able to rejoice in how God accomplished His will.

It was another hope of mine for my faith to be strengthened through this experience, and that it certainly was. However, it was strengthened in areas that I did not expect. Through our readings in our Church ministry class – particularly in a splendid book called Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life – I was convicted about the sorry state of my Scripture memorization. This experience helped me cultivate new habits that I hope will stick with me for life. Hopefully, in the future I will look back at when I began these practices and trace them to my time here in Scotland. I also got a chance to apply Scriptural teaching in current events. We all agonized and suffered through the uncertainty of an American election season from across the ocean, aided and guided by sound doctrinal teaching regarding God’s sovereignty and Christ’s kingship. The United States we will be returning to is a different country from when we left, but there is comfort in the fact that God knows all things and controls all things.

Another lesson I did not anticipate to learn is this: people are worth investing in, even if it may not seem that the return will be for very long. At first I didn’t want to get too close with our new friends because I knew that we would be leaving all too soon. However, the experience is enriched by the fellowship of new friends. We were able to integrate fairly seamlessly into the life of the local church congregation, due mainly to their unparalleled hospitality and warm welcome. It is a group of people like this that makes one want to serve in the church out of love and gratitude, not out of obligation. That should be our attitude towards service regardless, but brothers and sisters like the ones we have grown to know in Airdrie make this easy. We met and got to know a variety of lovely, godly people that I will truly miss.

I will miss a lot about this country I have come to love. The ease of public transportation, the rolling green hills with fluffy sheep, the sound of bagpipes on a busy shopping street, the brisk and blustery weather that lends the landscape a certain untamed mystery. I might even miss the foggy mornings that make the sunshine such a welcome sight. But most of all I will miss the people I have grown to know and the warmth of fellowship. Through the Semester in Scotland program I have learned many valuable life lessons from expected and unexpected sources which I will carry with me for the remainder of my life.

Lauren Della Piazza

Final Reflections by Lizzy

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Yesterday I sat on the train as Lauren and I rode into Glasgow for the last time. It  was bittersweet. The sun was setting and the clouds glowed in vibrant shades of orange and pink. My heart was saddened by the fact that I will never again come back to Scotland in the same capacity that I did this semester.  While this is sad, it’s a reminder that life moves on.  I can’t stay here forever.  My family and friends would definitely have something to stay if I did!  These past few months in MET we have been discussing Ecclesiastes, in chapter 3 Solomon writes that for everything there is a season.  My season as a student here in Airdrie has come to an end, it is time for me to go back to the states and continue my season of being a student at Geneva.  Our first day here Andrew told us that we would blink and it would be time to go home. It was so true.  I feel like I just arrived, but I also feel like I’ve been here forever.  Being a part of the community in the church here has really made this place feel like home.

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I have loved the classes I was able to take while here, and all of the places I was able to travel to, but my favorite thing by far has been the people.  I am so thankful for being involved in Kids Club, MET, CY, and women’s events!  Getting to know everyone here has made it feel like home, and it is what makes it so difficult to say goodbye.  If I were to list all of the amazing people I’ve become friends with and how much they mean to me, it would get far too sappy.  So I will just say that I am so thankful for all of you, for the food, fellowship, laughter, encouragement, and prayers.  I love you guys.

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There are many small moments from the past few months that stick with me:  seeing a castle for the first time, singing in the kitchen with Lauren while we made dinner, playing football in the church hall with the kids, singing Psalms around the campfire in Northern Ireland at the Young Adults Weekend, driving through the Highlands with Beth, seeing Lauren fall into Loch Tay, looking out the window while riding the train into Glasgow, seeing London lit up in Christmas lights, wading through marshy highlands with Jimmy, sitting on the floor in the kitchen of the cottage with all the girls (and Fraser) after Thanksgiving, Andrew forcing us to try Irn-bu, singing Psalms at Beth’s, going to the rugby game with CY, and so many more things I will treasure forever.

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There are so many little things about Scotland that I am going to miss: how easy it is to hop on a train and ride to either Glasgow or Edinburgh, gluten-free biscuits that are so much better and inexpensive here, being so close to mountains, coastlands, cities, and rural areas, watching movies at Beth’s and talking until late at night, Cadbury chocolate and how much better it is than Hershey, roundabouts and how they make so much more sense, Burger 7’s garlic fries and how amazingly garlicky they taste, going on adventures to unknown places with Jimmy and Helen, coming up with crafts for Kids Club, and so many more little things that probably won’t really hit me until I get home.

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I have seen so many amazing things since I came here.  I have been able to experience so many wonderful cities! I have fallen in love with Airdrie, Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews, York, and most of all London.  I have been all over the UK, all the way up to Loch Ness, over to St Andrews, across the water to Northern Ireland, and down to London, with so many places in-between!  Glasgow feels like a second home here in Scotland, it has become one of my favorite cities.  I stayed in Edinburgh for a week with my mom and got to see many of its amazing and historical treasures.  York was Lauren and my first solo overnight trip, it was so exciting.  London is by far my favorite big city in the whole world, I fell in love with it.  In general I have fallen completely in love with Scotland, and I feel like there is still so much more for me to see before I leave.  So I guess I will just have to come back to visit.

These past four months have been so wonderful, I am so incredibly thankful that God placed the desire on my heart to come here.  I know that I have changed a lot in the past few months, I have gained confidence and maturity, grown in my faith both head and heart knowledge, and I have made the most amazing connections with fellow believers.  I will never forget my time here.  Lord willing I will be back in Scotland again soon.  I don’t like goodbyes, so I will simply say, see you later…

Lizzy Tewksbury

Final Reflections by Louisa

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Hey all, this is Louisa.

This post is one that is supposed to sum up all of your final thoughts about the past semester. I don’t believe this is possible. Through this past semester, I have met many encouraging brothers and sisters in Christ, who have loved all of us so unconditionally and with so much understanding. I have learned so much and grown so much this past semester. I say semester, but it really feels like it has been so much longer, and I will miss everyone over here so much while away. I hope to one day come back and visit, but I doubt that I will ever live over here again as I have during this time. When I say that I will miss everyone, I am telling the truth, even now I am sitting in the middle of my mostly packed up bedroom, and crying because I will miss everyone whom I have met over here.

This semester had been one crazy ride, but one that I will forever remember my lessons from.  I will remember all the peaceful times and crazy times, when I was scared, and excited, and when I learned about life and other cultures. This semester was a time in which I had a chance to grow both spiritually and in information. Scotland is a place I have come to love not only for the beautiful countryside and awesome architecture, but also for the people. If I had to say it was one thing, I would say eye-opening. Eye-opening in the people, the life, the history, and the differences in this culture and my own. I love Scotland! I hope to see it again and my friends who live here!  I guess my goodbye will be “Tallyho!!, see y’all again!!”

Louisa Masemore

Final Reflections by Mary

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If I had to sum up this semester in only three words these are the words I would pick: energizing, enlightening, and relaxing. As I look back on these past four months, I see memories that I hope will remain with me. This is an experience that I would not give up for anything, and I am extremely glad that I took it. Sure, there were weeks of exhaustion as I got used to the time difference, and there were weeks of sadness as I missed my family and friends back home. However, now that I am packing up to leave, I am reminded by how much I deeply despise endings. And this is an ending. It is an ending of a semester, and it is an ending to one of the many chapters of my life, and, to be perfectly honest, I have mixed feelings about turning the page to the next part of the book.

Life here has been wonderful. Becoming a regular at some of the take-away restaurants in Airdrie is something that I will greatly miss. Being recognized by the owners and talking with them as I waited for them to prepare the food, having them take even a small interest in my life – though I am only here for a short amount of time – this is something that I have come to love, and something that I wish I didn’t have to give up.

Compared to many of the places that I am used to, Airdrie is quiet. There is the occasional loud honking of a car horn, the revving of an engine, the shrill cry of a siren. But these are only on rare occasions. From what I have observed, it is calm and quiet. Coming back to Airdrie from London – with its busy and loud streets filled with people and cars – reminded me of how much I appreciated the peace and quiet that this little town brings. As I return to the city, with its blared rap music and its fairly loud qualities, I know that I will miss the quiet of Airdrie and the safety that I felt as I walked along the streets to go shopping or to go to the church for classes and services.

From the beginning of this semester, we students have found ourselves steeped in the community of the church, and we have been deeply steeped. I have found myself coming to truly love each member of the congregation that I have come into contact with. As I got to see them at the Kids Club and CY and the two services on Sundays, as well as hospitality and METs every week, and adventures with Jimmy and Helen, I see the growth of these relationships and the integral part that Airdrie Reformed Presbyterian Church has played on my being  here. I have learned much through conversations with various members of the congregation. I thank God for His use of this church in my life to draw me into a stronger relationship with Him and a greater understanding of what He desires.

The classes also gave me great knowledge and understanding. They were well spaced throughout the week. The texts that we had to read helped to shape me and helped to remind me and reaffirm what I believe. Those who took the time out of their busy schedules to teach these classes put a lot of effort into teaching us, especially on those days when we simply could not focus.

Through all of these things, I have been grown and shaped. I came to Scotland expecting an adventure that would change me. I did not expect to be changed nearly as much as I actually was. This semester in Scotland has given me a new energy and has helped my faith to deepen and expand. This semester has enlightened my mind to greater understanding of the Scriptures and of what God desires in worship and from His children in general. This semester has relaxed me and given me the rest that my mind needed to take on whatever comes my way in the next semesters to come.

As much as I do not want my time in Scotland to come to an end, I know that it must. It is the time to leave this to my memories and return home to my family. It is the time to turn the page and see what the next chapter holds. Though it is a hard experience, to end something so wonderful, the Semester in Scotland program is something that I would not trade for anything. It is an experience that I would recommend that everyone take while they have the chance. Despite the bittersweet feelings that come with saying goodbye to the friends that I have made here, I am extremely glad that I came to study in Scotland for just one semester.

Mary McCurdy