Meet the New Autumn 2016 Students!

 

Autumn Semester 2016 Students

LizzyLizzy Tewksbury
I was born, raised and have lived in Williamsburg, Virginia for my whole life.  I am a member of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in America in Wiliamsburg, and while I am at Geneva I attend College Hill RPC.  I am going into my junior (third) year, and I am studying Psychology.  For the past four summers I have been working as a camp counselor at a small Christian sleep away camp.

 

LaurenLauren Della Piazza
I am from Berwick, Pennsylvania.  I am a junior (third year) at Geneva this fall, and I study history.  I am in the process of joining College Hill Reformed Presbyterian Church in Beaver Falls and am very much looking forward to meeting my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!

 

MaryMary McCurdy
I live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I attend Trinity Presbyterian Church in America, and have been attending it my whole life.  I am a writing major, and going into my sophomore (second) year.  This is my first time traveling outside the country, and it has always been a dream of mine to get to visit Scotland.

 

LouisaLouisa Masemore
I am from Pennsylvania and grew up on a farm about an hour from Philadelphia. I currently go to a nondenominational church called Lighthouse Community Church.  I am in my second year at Geneva, and I am majoring in communication. I also love reading.

 

Autumn Semester Schedule

Arrive
23rd & 25th August 2016

Leave
17th & 20th December 2016

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
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 – Nicki

NickiI cannot believe that the semester has come to an end, and that I am technically now a senior in college.  Where has the time gone?  That is such a cliché saying, but as I lay out on this warm, sunny, absolutely beautiful day (I am starting to have hope in Scotland’s weather) thinking back on the semester, I am recognizing that I couldn’t think of a better way to have spent these past four months.

In a mere four months Scotland has become like a second home.  I have met some of the most incredible people and built friendships that will last for eternity.  I have gotten to live in a different culture, and although it is pretty similar to America, there are definite differences.  I just love all the various accents.  I love the fashion; people here are so classy.  I have tried a lot of new foods, haggis being the big stand-out, and I am currently trying to figure out how much tea and Irn Bru (Scotland’s famous soda) I can fit into my suitcase to bring home.

We have also gotten to travel to a lot of incredible places!   We have been all over Scotland, including Skye, Perthshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Glencoe.  We went to London, Oxford, Venice, Rome, Dublin, and many amazing places in Northern Ireland.  Rachel and I have gotten to read a plethora of wonderful books, including Westminster Confession of Faith, Foundations of the Christian Faith, and MacBeth.

Some of my favorite memories have been helping at Kids Club, hanging out with CY, leaflet distribution with the Go Team, going to people’s homes for Sunday lunches, church services, METs, traveling, and really just being with the people that I have grown to love.

This semester I really learned in a new way what it means for a Christian to live a life that is different from the rest of the world.  It means fleeing evil and running as fast as you can towards Jesus.  Sometimes I think God shows us such grace by shifting our perspective.  I recognized in a fuller capacity the privilege it is to be a Christian. That is what this semester was all about: sprinting towards Godliness.

Since Rachel and I are leaving tomorrow to go back to America, I am filled with so many emotions.  While I am thrilled to see my family and friends back home, it is going to be very hard to leave the family that I have acquired here.  I just want to say a quick ‘thank you’ to everyone who has made Scotland feel like home.  Everyone at Airdrie RP church has been so loving and hospitable, and I truly love you all so very much.  Being in Scotland has changed my life, and the only way I am able to leave is by telling myself that I will be back, Lord willing.  Anyhow, it’s a guaranteed “See ya later” and never a “Goodbye” for fellow Christians.  You will all be in my prayers. God bless.

Nicki Losh

Final Reflections – Rachel

RachelThe day is warm and sunny. Leaves are starting to come out on the trees and it is finally beginning to feel like spring here in Scotland. It is quite a different scene to the snowy landscape we entered four months ago. It seems impossible that the semester is over and that our time here in Scotland is coming to a close. The time has gone so quickly, and it is going to be so hard to say goodbye.  Coming to Scotland and doing the Semester program really has been a dream come true.  But it far exceeded all my expectations, and while it sounds cliché, has been a life-changing experience.  I have learned so much in my time here, grown in my relationship with the Lord, and made life-long friendships.  What I have to say is nothing really new, it is just about the same as what most of the other students have posted in their final blog posts, but perhaps many of us have come to find many of the same wonderful things here.  Being part of this program has been an incredible privilege and blessing that I wish never had to end.

I am so thankful for all the incredible memories that have been made this semester and for the wonderful people who made it possible.  Memories of splendid landscapes and picturesque towns, momentous historic sites, meaningful classes, deep conversations, laughs, memories from Kids Club, CY, and so much more – all are things which I will treasure.  It has been incredible to see so many famous places in a relatively short amount of time. Yet, it has really been the people here who have made Scotland a second home to me.

First, I am so thankful for the Airdrie RP Church family. You have taught me so much about what it means to be the body of Christ and have reflected Christ so clearly in your lives. I am so thankful for all the people who opened their homes to us every week after church. Going to MET each week has also been an immense blessing and encouragement spiritually as a time to study God’s Word during the week with other people in the church. The hospitality extended to us I can only describe as abundant. The love shown to each other has made me more greatly appreciate the living reality of Psalm 133:1: “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” and Psalm 122:1: “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” The semester program has been an incredible opportunity to live around others whose faith is evident in every area of their lives and who have been a great encouragement in my own walk with the Lord. I am so thankful as well for Pastor Quigley bringing God’s Word to us each week, and his passion for the church and the gospel.

I am so thankful for each of our professors who taught us every week.  I have loved each of the classes and learned so much from them. I think the best part is how practical each class was and how in every class we were pointed to Christ. I have been deeply challenged, convicted, humbled, and encouraged. Each was the type of class where I did not mind if it ran over time, and I wish in many ways every semester could be like this one. I deeply appreciated our professors’ care for real learning – knowing God on a heart level. The kind of knowing that changes our lives, not merely knowledge that has a spot in our brains for a few weeks. More than just lecture, I have loved that our professors have been living examples of what they were teaching us. One thing I have come to see is how much more I need to think on God’s attributes and just how unfathomably beautiful He is. I have also learned how much I need to remind myself of the truths of God’s Word, and how I need to be disciplined in following him. There is so much I could say for each one of my classes but if I had to boil it all down, all our classes have been about growing in conformity to Christ and knowing Him more fully. It has caused me to ask questions not only of my mind but also of my life – how can I grow in holiness?

Each of our Wednesday excursions with Jimmy and Helen has also been so wonderful and memorable. I will greatly miss our weekly “mystery tour,” since we generally did not know where we were going ahead of time due to weather, and after all what’s life without a little suspense! I am so thankful for our Reformation Tour and how clearly and memorably Jimmy was able to tell the stories of the Covenanters. The Martyrs Monument in Greyfriars Kirkyard and the monument to the two Margarets in Wigtown are among the many things which were so moving and which I will always remember. I will also miss the fun stories and the banter in the car rides. Thank you for being our adoptive parents this semester and checking up on us!

I have also loved being able to help out with Kids Club each Friday. It is such a delight to spend time with the kids of the church to have fun and to learn about God’s Word. It is so encouraging to see that so many of them look forward to coming each week and how much energy and joy they bring. It has also been great to spend time with the young people in CY and be built up by other young people in the church. I certainly have enjoyed the times we have spent together.

I don’t know what I would have done without Beth, and I am so thankful for the amazing friend which she has become. From helping us get to and from the airport, teaching our class, giving godly counsel, going on Saturday adventures, and so many laughs, I am so thankful for the immense blessing she has been. I am also so immensely thankful for Nicki and her friendship. From the stress of flights to the great conversations, the laughs, and the hard times she has been there through it all. Thanks for putting up with me! The semester would not have been anywhere near as good without you.

This blog post is probably far too long and I feel I have hardly scratched the surface! This past semester has been so meaningful and such an incredibly opportunity to grow in Christ. I am so much looking forward to seeing my family and friends back home, but I am also inexpressibly sad to have to leave Scotland. I will miss everyone so much. I am so thankful for everyone who has helped and supported me in my time here in Scotland. The saying goes, “all good things must come to an end,” and in this case, I suppose that is true. But I think this fact makes the never-ending love of Christ even more precious. As we learned in our last memory verse in class, “His mercies never come to an end” (Lam. 3:22). In Him we have life that will never end and in eternity we will all be together to praise His glorious grace. Now that is truly beautiful and a wonderful truth!

Rachel Mack

A Week in London

As an extension of our Humanities course we took a week long trip to London. It was a  phenomenal week, and I am still astounded by how many famous things we saw in only a  few days. While I could say so much about each piece of the trip, here is a rundown of some of the highlights from each day.

Day 1 – Museum Day
We left Airdrie bright and early on Monday morning and caught our flight to London.  When we arrived in London we still had a good part of the day to sightsee. Our first stop  was the Museum of London, which tells the story of the city from pre-historic times to the present. It was remarkable to see the remains of the wall that the Romans made around  the city of London so many centuries ago. I also really enjoyed the displays of historic  costume from the 1700s up until the present. Our next stop was the British Museum which displays some of the most famous historic artifacts in the world like the Rosetta Stone, Assyrian Reliefs, the Parthenon Sculptures, and the Celtic treasure of Sutton Hoo among many other things. The museum was a bit like walking through all the Western Civilization classes I have taken in real life, rather than just through pictures and text.  After a whirlwind visit here we traveled on to the British Library with its fantastic exhibit of famous manuscripts. From Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Dickens, Bach, Mozart, and the Beatles, there were original works from many of the most famous figures in Western Culture. My favorite was a 1526 Tyndale Bible – one of only three copies of that edition which survive until today!

Day 2 – London Tourist Sights

On Tuesday we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, climbing all the way to the top of the dome for  breathtaking views of London. Our next stop was the Tower of London, which I was surprised by as a whole castle complex, not just a single tower as I had imagined it.  While much of its history is grim as a prison and place of execution, much of its history is not so horrific, simply as a castle and palace. Today it houses the crown jewels as well.  After  touring the Tower, we walked past Buckingham Palace and enjoyed the beauty of the blooming flowers and trees near the Mall. Next we dabbled in a number of shops near  Piccadilly Circus and ended up in Covent Garden for dinner. We were able to get a fairly good sense of London and some of its most famous and iconic sights.

 

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

London from top of st Paul's

London from the top of st. Paul’s Cathedral

Tower of London

Tower of London

Day 3 – Day Trip to Oxford
We took a break from the bustle of London on Wednesday, and took a trip to Oxford.  Taking a bus tour around the University City told a lot about the history and main  attractions of the city. It is easy to see how Oxford has been nicknamed the City of   Dreaming Spires with its beauty and numerous spires from different eras. We stopped at the Martyrs Monument that commemorates Bishops Latimer and Ridley who were  executed by Bloody Mary at that spot during the time of the Reformation. We also enjoyed lunch in the Eagle and Child Pub, where C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien would meet and discuss their most recent writings. The University is broken down into different colleges and we toured a couple of these in the afternoon. The architecture of their buildings alone is remarkable.

Day 4 – Westminster
On Thursday we spent the better part of the day in the best-known areas of  London – Westminster. The moment we left the underground station we had amazing views of Big Ben and the houses of Parliament. Despite seeing the iconic clock tower in so many  pictures, I was delighted that it was even better in real life. The architecture of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben was gorgeous! The beauty of Westminster Abbey also astounded me. It was mind-boggling just how many famous historic figures are buried there:  Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Edward VI, William Wilberforce, David Livingstone, William Chaucer, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the list goes on. Next we walked up Whitehall and stopped at the Banqueting House of James I which had an ornately painted ceiling. We also spent time in the National Gallery where again we saw so many famous pieces of art including one of my favorites –Monet’s “The Water Lily Pond.” A warm and sunny day, we enjoyed some time relaxing in Trafalgar Square after a long day of walking.

Westminster

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Girls in London

Day 5 – Home Again
Friday was our day to travel back to Scotland, but before we did, we stopped in the nearby Bunhill Fields Graveyard where John Bunyan is buried. We also saw the grave of William Blake and Daniel Defoe. A number of other famous Christians are also buried there including John Owen, Susanna Wesley, and Isaac Watts. Following this we made our way to the airport and eventually back to Scotland. It was an incredibly memorable trip and I so much appreciated the range of things we were able to see, from history to art, famous landmarks, to shops and beyond.  I am also so thankful for Beth who led the trip and Nicki who were both the greatest people to travel with!

Rachel Mack

Humanities Week as Well as Mission Week

The week prior to our trip to England, Rachel and I had our intensive, weeklong class with Tim Donachie.  The Humanities in England and Scotland course was designed to expose us to the history, art, architecture, and literature of England and Scotland that illustrate the main themes and patterns of Western civilization.  We read works such as Macbeth by Shakespeare, Old Mortality by Sir Walter Scott, and A History of Scotland by J.D. Mackie.  This class was very beneficial and really helped me appreciate our trip to London even more than I would have without it.

Banner2This was a very busy week, as we had lectures all day and then a church service every night.  Mission Week was a week focused on inviting people into the church from the community, and all the sermons focused on some aspect of the Resurrection.  If you’ve been reading the Semester In Scotland blogs just because you maybe think “Rachel is a great writer and very insightful,” and “What crazy thing is Nicki going to say next” or “Scotland sounds exciting, maybe I should read about it”…well those are all valid reasons for reading our blogs, but ultimately, none of that is the point.

If I am honest, I struggled to sit down and write this blog post; I just did not want to do it this week.  What is the point?  Well conviction soon hit me like a wall.  The point of this blog is the same point as my entire life: Love Jesus and share His love with other people.  Folks, if you don’t know Jesus as the Savior of your life, if you don’t know what  Resurrection I am talking about, I would really encourage you to start reading through the Bible, seek out someone in your life who is a Christian and ask them the hard questions that you may have (I would be more than willing to have a conversation with anyone reading this post about why I have the hope that I have in Jesus Christ).

Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.  Even if you are a Christian reading this, I challenge you to consider what it is that you want your life to be about, and chase after that with passion and single-mindedness.  God has given you a life, and you can work in that life to achieve what God wants you to achieve.  Jesus changes everything.  Being a Christian does not make life easier, but for me, it makes life worth living.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Nicki Losh

Skye – A Dream Come True

Sunlight filters through the patchwork of clouds casting shadows, which play games on  the green landscape. The mountains jut out of the earth, but do so softly, being covered by a carpet of greens and browns. There are two little lakes in little valley below us. The hills are almost uninterrupted by the single-track road which zigzags up the hillside. In the distance you can see a little village, and not far from that, the sea. The ocean and sky meet in a blue haze. It truly is an idyllic and majestic scene. This was the beautiful landscape that we had the privilege to walk into last Saturday. Though the ground was a bit soggy, we ate a picnic lunch on the hillside overlooking the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye; it was magnificent. There are just no words to accurately describe it.

Quiraing

This past weekend we journeyed to the Isle of Skye – one of the places I have wanted to see most in Scotland. We left on Friday in the rain, but despite the clouds, the scenery was beautiful. We drove through some of the most scenic places in Scotland – along Loch Lomond, through Glencoe, and to Fort William. After a long, but enjoyable drive we reached our destination in a small village called Plockton. Nicki and I were both delighted to find that out the window we had a lovely view of a quaint old train station which looked as if it was straight out of Anne of Green Gables. Then on Saturday morning we crossed the bridge to the Isle of Skye which was even better than all the pictures. We stopped at many spots to take our own photos. We drove all the way up to the north part of the Island to a village called Uig, which had a harbor and looked right into the sea over to the Isles of Harris and Lewis. We then stopped for lunch at the Quiraing, going on to see an incredible waterfall whose water plummeted straight into the clear sea below. We also were able to see the lovely town of Portree with its colorful buildings on the harbor. After bidding the lovely Isle a grudging goodbye, we stopped to look at the famous Eilean Donan Castle. We also saw Urquhart Castle on Lock Ness (No sightings of Nessie, I’m afraid). Our final stop was Cawdor Castle near Inverness and then we came back to Airdrie. We definitely saw a good bit of Scotland on our trip and lots of stunning scenery.

Plockton

It was one of the best trips I think I have ever taken because of the incredible scenery everywhere around us. The trip was made even better because of the wonderful people I traveled with – Nicki and Beth – and the fellowship we were able to have. Not to mention the many memories that were made as well. Skye really is the kind of place that I have dreamed about, and now I have actually seen it!

Kilt Rock

The whole of the trip definitely reminded me of the beauty of God’s creation. I was also reminded of God’s majesty and his care for little us. On one of the plaques naming the mountains around us, Psalm 121 was inscribed. What the Psalm speaks of is so important, reminding us where our safety truly comes from, and it speaks from every direction (a sense most pervasive as I looked at the hills on the Isle of Skye). “I to the hills will lift mine eyes, from whence doth come mine aid. My safety cometh from the Lord, who heaven and earth hath made.” (Psalm 121:1-2 Scottish Metrical Version)

Rachel Mack

Leaflet Distribution

Rachel and I have had an eventful and fun-filled week!  Wednesday evening the Go Team arrived from Northern Ireland.  The Go Team is a group of young adults that comes over to Airdrie RP Church every year to help with leaflet distribution.  Thursday through Saturday the eight members of the Go Team plus some members of the church handed out 15,000 leaflets through letterboxes, inviting people to come to church.  Let me just say, we were not lacking exercise those days, and I have more empathy for mailmen when it comes to dogs!

Airdrie Go Team3

When we were not handing out leaflets, we were either bowling, playing some crazy made-up game, or playing Gestapo.  Now let me just take a quick minute to explain what Gestapo is.  It’s a night game, so picture a dark field, thick shrubbery, high grass, lots of holes.  Now sprint to avoid the “Gestapo” and make it to safety.  I think I was the only one who ended up in the pond, but plenty of others came away with scratched up faces.  It may sound horrible, but it was a lot of fun!

I say all of that because I was just reminded so clearly by God this week through all our different activities and service work that Christians know how to have the best fun!  So often I think it can be a struggle for young Christians (even older ones) to feel like in some twisted way they have to “miss out” on some of the “fun” things the world partakes in: under-aged drinking, hooking up, whatever it may be.  But the bond that we share with our brothers and sisters in Christ allows for a far greater depth of friendship and mutual love than non-Christians can experience.  This bond allows young people to be fully themselves, without fear of rejection, and thus experience true joy (as well as sadness) together, in community.  It allows people to “be real” together.

People who see Christianity as impeding their freedom to have fun need to reevaluate.  It would do us all good to consider what freedom is, and what role God plays in allowing us to live in freedom.  Because only in Christ are we free to live a life apart from sin.

The Go Team was a huge blessing this week and definitely reminded me how much fun it can be to serve along side your peers.

Nicki Losh

Recovering from Break, Of History, and Baby Animals

This past week, after returning from our Spring break in Italy was honestly a wonderful break from vacation. Our Spring Break trip to Italy was marvelous but also exhausting. This week was still full with wonderful things, but compared to navigating foreign cities and having all the pressure on Nicki and myself, this week was quite refreshing! It was also wonderful to be back to the church family. Even though we did not miss a week of church on our break, being away from the people in the church we usually see during the week made me realize how much I missed everyone. Seeing everyone again brought so much joy. It so good to see the love of Jesus expressed. Psalm 133:1 is so true – “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” After being away, hearing the Word of God preached was also so encouraging and refreshing. Perhaps being away just makes me more greatly appreciate what I have.

But this week was hardly a week of inactivity! On Monday we had the privilege of going to dinner in South Queensferry outside of Edinburgh. Driving there we witnessed a beautiful Scottish sunset as we entered this quaint little town along the Firth of Forth. The Hawes Inn where we went to eat was right next to the Forth Rail Bridge (a Victorian engineering wonder). Enjoying the swashbuckling tales of Treasure Island and Kidnapped growing up, this Inn was especially fascinating to me. As I found out, the Hawes Inn was where Robert Lewis Stevenson would often come and where he began writing Kidnapped. Parts of the story were set here as well. The Inn was very picturesque, and because I love almost any historic building, it was a captivating place to be. The food was delicious too! After dinner we enjoyed strolling the village listening to the waves of the Forth lap quietly against the shore. It is easy to imagine the scene in times past because the town has changed so little since the 17th or 18th century.

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Our other outing this week was with Jimmy and Helen. As a change of pace we still went to a historic site but with a little twist. The National Museum of Rural Life starts with a museum where there are displays of what life would have been like for the average Scottish farmer in the past and how agriculture developed in the area. We then took a tractor ride up to a historic farm which is preserved by the National Trust for Scotland. The farm was founded in the 1500s and is still a living farm today! Some buildings from the 1600s survive and the main farmhouse was built in the 18th Century. It was given to the Trust and is preserved exactly as it would have been circa 1950. It is incredible how even a house of an average family can tell so much history. In the late 1600s the owners of the farm were Covenanters and participated in the battle of Bothwell Bridge. During World War II a German POW also stayed at the house as a farm worker and even after the war stayed in touch with the family.

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What was unique about this outing was that the farm is still living history and the beauty of the farm itself was delightful. Surrounded by old trees and fields separated by hedgerows, it was like walking into a picture. The garden in front of the farmhouse was filled with snowdrops, harking the beginning of spring. The farmyard was classic with the stone buildings and various barns and stables for the animals. We could see pigs in one field. In another were sheep and huge Clydesdale horses. Watching the first lamb born this year was quite enjoyable and a large part of our time was spent in the barn with the calves. The calves were so incredibly cute! We enjoyed petting and admiring them. We also were able to see the cows brought in for milking time. We were certainly able to enjoy the whole farm experience. The slowed pace, enjoying the animals and beautiful scenery was rejuvenating and memorable. Everything made for another wonderful week.

Rachel Mack

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Excursion to Italy – Rome

This past week Rachel and I went on our Spring Break trip to Italy, specifically Venice and Rome.  As Rachel is writing a post more about Venice, I am going to focus mainly on recapping Rome.  But let me just quickly say that Venice is absolutely enchanting.  With all the famous art, quaint streets, and canals, everywhere your eyes turn offers a new scene to behold that could’ve come straight out of a fairy tale.  This is why after reflecting back on the trip as a whole, Rachel and I agreed that going from Venice to Rome in many ways parallels the movie Enchanted (if you have not seen it, I highly recommend it).

When Rachel and I arrived at Termini Station (you can ask me for stories but in short that station is the culmination of all the fears I have with traveling) it felt a lot like what princess Giselle must have felt like when she was banished from her magical, musical, animated land, and popped out of a sewage hole in the middle of a street in modern-day Manhattan.  Trying to cross the street for the first time was impossible until an Italian man walked right past us out into the street where a car preceded to slam on its brakes for him.  Moral: travel to Rome, but never drive there, and sometimes crossing the street means you put your life very much in the hands of another person.

Despite being a little overwhelmed when first arriving into the city (Rome has about the same population as Scotland as a whole!), and having a few issues making it to the location of our new hostel, we ended up packing our days full of so many amazing experiences.  We got to see the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and Spagna, many significant churches (there are 1300 in Rome alone) including St. Peter’s Basilica along with the Vatican. We ate amazing food: pizza, gelato, spaghetti carbonara, gnocchi, coffee, basically all the good things Italy is known for.

Rachel and I also got to walk on the Appian Way, which is a road that the Apostle Paul walked on.  Having this experience along with seeing all the other historical sites that date back before Christ really just made the history so much more real and significant to me.  Walking on the same road as a man like Paul is stunning.  It shows how accomplished the Roman Empire was, how good they were at what they did by creating structures that are still in use today.  But more astonishing is how God used the Roman Empire to spread the gospel.  Without their road system it never would have been able to spread the way it did so quickly.  God’s timing is always perfect and well planned out.

In case y’all were left wondering how far the Enchanted analogy goes, neither Rachel or I fell in love with any Italian guys, although a few tried to offer us roses (tip: in case you didn’t know, don’t accept roses from strangers in Italy).  I only got yelled at in Italian once, but I mean what is an adventure without taking some risks?  (That is a story for another day).  Overall, everyone was very good at speaking at least some English, but we used grazie and ciao (pronounced like chow) a lot, which I greatly enjoyed.

I won’t lie, there were definitely times I really wanted my mom—traveling can be a whole lot to handle, and it requires a great deal of “adulting.”  But I was blown away by how Rachel and I were able to figure things out that we didn’t think we would be able to at first, like all the different transportation, finding our hostels, and getting out money from an ATM in Italian.  There were definitely times I was nervous, but I knew we weren’t alone.  How comforting it is to know there is a God in Heaven who rules over all the nations.

Thank you to everyone who prayed us through that trip; your prayers were very much felt.  We had the adventure of a lifetime!  If you have any questions, I love talking about Italy so feel free to ask!

Nicki Losh

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Trevi Fountain

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Colosseum

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The Forum

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The Pantheon

Excursion to Italy: Venice

Last week we enjoyed having a week long Spring Break and took off for an adventure in Italy.  The whole of the trip was marvelous.  It is still hard for me to take in all the famous and beautiful things we saw this past week.  Our first stop was Venice where we stayed for the first three days of our trip.  The moment we crossed the bridge from the bus station over the Grand Canal into Venice was a bit like walking into a fairy tale – beautiful  buildings surrounding us with roads of water and scenic bridges all around. But the fairy tale feeling wore off pretty quickly as we were tired and soon found ourselves rather lost trying to find our hostel. The streets are a maze and we quickly found that Google Maps does not always work!  Thankfully, we finally found where we needed to be, and having a place to rest for a bit was a wonderful feeling. After enjoying true Italian pizza, we walked to St. Marks Square and were astounded by the beauty that surrounded us.  Since the main tourist sites were closed for the evening there were no crowds and we could just enjoy the beauty of the square illumined by lights. It was an incredible feeling to actually be  standing in such a famous place.

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St Mark’s Square

After this we rode the vaporetto all the way up the Grand Canal. Because it was later at night there were few people on the boat and we were able to sit in the very front with the best views of the city. The soft lights of the city reflected off the water and we enjoyed incredible vistas. The sites were just breathtaking. It is no wonder that so many artists and authors have flocked to Venice over the years; it is certainly a place of inspiration and imagination.  Nicki and I both agreed that if we went to Venice just for that boat ride, the whole trip would still have been worth it.

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Despite the rain on Tuesday, starting into Venice was once again like walking into a storybook.  We were able to visit several art museums, which again astounded me with the amount and quality of art concentrated in one place.  We also enjoyed a walking tour, which was excellent because we learned much more about the city, and which took us to places off the main tourist track in Venice.  Our tour guide led us down many beautiful little streets and squares, crossing scenic bridges over the water.  We then visited another art museum called Accademia, which had many works by famous Venetian and Renaissance painters like Veronese and Tintoretto.  We also enjoyed the Museo Correr in St. Mark’s Square which was once a nineteenth century palace.  On Wednesday morning we also enjoyed the Doges’ Palace – another famous site filled with artwork.  This was not, as you might expect, a few wonderful paintings hung on the wall.  Rather every wall and ceiling was a great masterpiece depicting a story from Venetian history, a great religious, or mythological scene.  The historic greatness and wealth of Venice was evident throughout the city.  The palaces were certainly some of the most impressive places I have ever seen. After quickly touring St. Mark’s Basilica, we took one last ride on the Grand Canal to the train station where we got ready to head off to the next stop – Rome.

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Doges’ Palace

Rachel Mack

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