Meet the Autumn 2017 Students

The Autumn Semester in Scotland students arrive this week!  Jordan is a student at Geneva College, and Julia is a student at Providence Christian College in California who has enrolled in Geneva’s Semester in Scotland programme.  Please keep them in your prayers for safe travels, and that they would settle in well.  Here is some more about them:

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Jordan with niece.

Jordan King
I’m from a smaller town south of Pittsburgh called Washington. I have been privileged to travel some throughout the United States, never over seas. I attend church at Covenant Life Fellowship, a non-denominational church. I am in my second year, enrolled in Geneva College’s secondary education social studies program. I’m thankful to have the time and opportunity to play men’s tennis for the school.

 

 

 

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Julia in Israel

Julia Lodder
I am from a small town in Washington state, a few minutes away from the Pacific Ocean and a few minutes away from the Canadian border. I attend Providence Christian College, which is in Southern California. I am studying History and Humanities, and, Lord willing, I will graduate this coming May! In my spare time at school I work at a coffee shop, make short films with friends, and play trumpet and guitar. Last October, I became a member of the Los Angeles RP Church.

Final Reflections – Ethan

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As the Spring Semester in Scotland comes to a close, there are plenty of things to do. Finishing up papers, reviewing our flight information, and packing are just a few. There have already been many goodbyes and final adventures with the friends we have made here. Kara and I are both sad to go but excited to be home and see our friends and family who have been praying for us during our time away. This final blog contains some of my personal reflections on the Semester in Scotland programme, what I have learned, the adventures I have had during my semester here, and my thought on returning home.

Upon arriving in Scotland in January I had this surreal feeling, almost as if I was in a dream. I mean, I was in Scotland and just a few months before I had no idea if I would even have the option of coming here. That surreal feeling is now how I feel towards going home. I keep thinking to myself “Really? I’m going to be home in two days?” Part of me is anxious about going home. I keep thinking about how different things might be. My little sisters are growing up so fast and many of my friends at school have graduated. I have no clue when I will next see some of them. This semester has really made me consider how time marches on; there is no way of slowing its pace or prolonging its inevitable effects. Initially this was a thought that stressed me out midway through the semester. Fortunately, through my classes and the sermons at Airdrie RP, the Lord has given me peace by reminding me that He is coming soon: as time marches on the day of His return is ever closer.

My classes this semester have helped me attain a better grasp on the finer parts of reformed theology, the foundations of the Presbyterian church, the line of Scottish and English kings and queens, my own family’s history, and much more. I am very thankful for the time that our professors took to answer any questions that Kara and I might have had. The fact that the only two students in the program were Kara and I and that our classes mostly took place in the church made me feel a bit like I was back in homeschool. Of course, it is a quite different as I never had the opportunity to travel Europe while in homeschool!

Traveling around Germany and Austria was particularly fantastic. Remarkably exhausting, but fantastic. Seeing places like Castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, the Reichstag Building, the Von Trapp Villa, Castle Church, Nymphenburg Palace, and many others was amazing and surprisingly inexpensive. The total cost of the trip was less than half of the cost of a plane ticket from Pennsylvania to Germany.

I am still wrapping my head around the fact that in two days time I will be three thousand miles away from castles, lochs, haggis, and all the friends I have made in Scotland. I know that I will miss all these things. So much so that one day, when the Lord allows, I know I will come back. I am sure that when I do, I will be anxious again about how much will have changed and how time will have marched on. I pray the Lord will give me peace again and remind me that no matter how much things change here on Earth, He is eternal and unchangeable and He is coming soon.

So long, Scotland.

Ethan Masters

Final Reflections – Kara

It probably won’t surprise you to hear this, but I can honestly say that I can’t believe that the semester is already ending. It seems so recent that we were just arriving here….although at the same time, January seems like ages ago! It’s when I think back to those first couple weeks here in Airdrie that I can really see how we’ve changed during our time here. I suppose that’s the way it often is in the Christian’s life—you don’t always see what God is doing in your life at the time, but when you look back you can see worlds of difference. One thing that has remained true though is something that I wrote during my first week here, and which I’d forgotten about until I was scrolling back through blog posts just now:

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.

A couple of the people that I was talking to after our last evening worship service last night touched on this point as well. We were discussing how, as a Christian, you always hear about and pray for “the wider church” as a vague term, knowing that you have fellow brothers and sisters in Christ out there in the world, but they aren’t quite real people in your mind until you go and visit them. When you do, you’re amazed by how easily you can partake in fellowship with them. But you don’t have to go to Scotland to realize this, or even any other country outside of your own; this can be realized in your own town, county, or state when you become intentional about joining with other Christians in fellowship.

God has done so many things in my life over the past four months. Among others, He’s brought me into a better state of self-discipline, He’s given me confidence in my identity and personality, He’s brought me closer to Ethan and shown us areas we need to work on in our relationship, He’s allowed me so many opportunities to travel, and He’s provided me with a wealth of new friends. Not only am I extremely sad to say goodbye to these friends, but when I think forward to returning to America—settling into Beaver Falls for the summer and schoolyear, starting up work and classes, resuming my extracurricular schedule—I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that all this work that God is doing here in my life will come to an end. It’s true that the atmosphere of our studies here has been designed to give us the time and space to deepen our relationship with God and cultivate good habits in our spiritual lives, and I’ll be robbed of some of that time and space when I start up school at Geneva again, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that the same God who is with me here will be with me wherever I go. If you’d like to pray for me, I’d love prayer that I will recognize this when I’m back in Beaver Falls and will continue to train myself to be godly, seek opportunities to serve God, travel, and invest in friendships.

Thank you so much to the people of the Airdrie RP Church: you are amazing at welcoming people and being hospitable; I so admire your willingness to do it semester after semester, summer after summer, and year after year! Like Pastor Andrew spoke on last night in evening worship, the little things really do matter, and you’ve shown me that in so many ways. The same goes for the other friends we’ve made in Scotland from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stornoway, and elsewhere; hope to see you all again soon!

Thanks so much to my friends and family back home: your prayers and contact over the semester were so appreciated. See you all soon!!

“…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

Kara Kauffman

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Castles, Farms, & Islands

This week in our semester in Scotland has been one filled with adventure; Kara and I have now seen many more castles, mountains (or ‘Bens’ as they’re often called here), and lambs as we explored Scotland. Upon finishing our writing assignments and classes this week, Kara and I have had the opportunity to do many fun things with people from Airdrie RP Church.

The first of our adventures this week was on Wednesday afternoon when Jimmy and Helen took Kara and myself out on our final Wednesday cultural trip. We went to a farmhouse near Bothwell Bridge at which a Covenanter family once resided, Kittochside Farm. The farm has since been given over to the National Museums of Scotland who have re-purposed much of the farmland into a museum of rural life in the 1940s. One particularly interesting place in the farm was a small room next to the stables where German WWII prisoners of war were housed. Contrary to what you might think, this room was not a prison; it was a lodging place for the German POWs who were made to work as farmhands on the estate. Heinrich Luckel, the German POW that spent the most time at the farmhouse, said that he enjoyed his time there and kept in contact with the family in charge of the house for years after his return to Germany. While at the farm, Kara and I also got to see piglets, lambs, calves, kittens, and a few other animals that were being raised there. My favorite was, unexpectedly, the piglets.

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Kittochside Farm

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Ethan, the Calf Whisperer

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This past weekend Kara and I traveled with our friend Karen up to the Isle of Lewis for Stephen McCollum’s ordination. Stephen McCollum has been asked to minister to the young Presbyterian congregation in Stornoway, a town on the Isle of Lewis. A few weeks back, Kara and I–along with a handful of others–helped the McCollum family load all of their belongings onto a moving truck and sent them off to Stornoway, and this past Friday evening, Stephen was ordained as the pastor of Stornoway RP Church. Following the ordination, Kara, Karen, and I decided to stay in Stornoway for the weekend and adventure around the island. We got to see several iconic and beautiful places like the Callanish Standing Stones, the Carloway Broch, the blackhouses, and the seaside cliffs at the Butt of Lewis. During our travels to and fro between Lewis and Airdrie, we were also able to visit the Isle of Skye where seagulls tried to steal all of our chips, Loch Shiel, and the Glenfinnan viaduct, the Quiraing where we got a fun hike and a great view, the Glenbrittle Fairy Pools where people wash their feet and drink (yuck!), and the Eilean Donan Castle where we got one of the prettiest views I have ever seen.

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Callanish Standing Stones–as old as Stonehenge but you can walk up to these!

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Carloway Broch

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Karen, Rosie, Kara, and I at the top of the broch.

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Cliffs at the Butt of Lewis

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Glen Shiel

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Glenfinnan Viaduct

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View from the Quiraing

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The Quiraing

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Kilt Rock

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The clearer than clear Fairy Pools

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Hamish

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Eilean Donan Castle

Things are winding down for Kara and I as our time in Scotland is coming to a close. Final papers have been completed, our books have been read cover to cover, and all that’s left to do is finish our blogs and book reviews. We are both sad to leave and excited to get home and see our friends and family. Hope that you are well and see you all soon!

Ethan Masters

Adventures…

This past week was comprised of what I think are my two favorite trips that we’ve taken in Scotland so far! On Wednesday, Jimmy and Helen took Ethan and I to Inchmahome Priory, a monastery found on Inchmahome Island in the Lake of Menteith. (Fun fact: This is the only technical lake in Scotland because it’s the only one not termed a ‘loch.’)

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We took a boat across the lake with some other passengers and were able to explore the ruins of the almost 800-year-old priory, as well as look at (and climb in…) trees that were about 500 years old.

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Not only was that in itself cool, but the beauty of the island was astounding and the peace and quiet was mesmerizing. Spring has definitely sprung here and Inchmahome Island is not the only place that we’ve seen to be full of green leaves and yellow daffodils and pink blossoms.

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The end of the week held another Saturday adventure with Beth, but this time we made a request as to the destination. Ever since we decided to come to Scotland, Ethan has been determined to see the ruins of the castle of Clan Lamont, the clan that his family was a part of before leaving Scotland for America via Ireland. (We discovered after we got here that my great-grandmother’s family the McLiman’s were part of the same clan as well!!) Beth—amazing as usual—helped us look up the castle and other Clan Lamont sites around the town of Dunoon, which is situated west of Glasgow on the Cowal  Peninsula. We were able to find the ruins of Toward Castle and had a phenomenal time exploring them.

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These next pictures are from inside the castle.

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Okay, now look again at the wall from this angle.

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Find the point where the vertical part of the wall and the grassy mound make a right angle, and then follow a straight line down. Right under the canopy of leaves you can see where the grass has parted. Through that opening are the ruins of a staircase and so we were able to climb down into some of the rooms of the castle!

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Once out of there we climbed up onto the top of the grassy mound from the other side. You can’t see it in the pictures, but up there is a doorway in that side of the wall that we went through. We sat in a window that looked out the other side and surveyed Ethan’s kingdom.

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Our other stop on Saturday was at Kilfinan Church in the village of Kilfinan. The church dates back to at least 1231; that’s the date of the earliest written records that reference the church. Not long after that, it became the burial site of Clan Lamont chiefs.

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The building attached to the church on the right is called the Lamont Vault and it houses tombstones that have been found on site, restored, and set up for display, as well as an information gallery on the second floor. The oldest Lamont chief tombstone in there is from 1295 and marked the grave of the 2nd clan chief, but there are also other non-Lamont tombstones inside that are a bit older…like a few millennia older. One tombstone dates back to the 9th century, another to the 6th century when Christianity first came to the area, and still another dates to approximately 800 B.C. Yes, B.C. And they were sitting there in an unlocked building and we could touch them. It was just a little bit cool. But even cooler were the tombstones surrounding the church—mainly from the 19th century and later—among which Ethan found some of the graves of his ancestors, the White family.

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So, like I said…definitely my favorite trips of the semester so far. Wow, has God let us see some cool things! I’ll be ever grateful to Him and all the people He has placed here who’ve shown us around Scotland and taught us about its history and its people.

Last but not least, as a follow-up to Ethan’s blog post from last week about the leaflet distribution, I should add that the mission services were held this week. It was encouraging to see the people who came to hear the messages, and it was also eye-opening to see many people not there who had expressed an interest in coming. It really is the natural state of man to act in opposition to God, but as we learned through the messages on the book of Jonah, running from God is futile. However, just as He did with Jonah, God often allows people to run in order to reveal His love to them, so we can’t give up on people who turn their backs on God. And we as believers have to remember that we run from God in different ways as well. We need to continually ask Him to search our own hearts and show us the ways in which we sin against Him so that we can walk down the “everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Kara Kauffman

Go Team Week

With the TeamAfter returning from a full and extraordinary trip to Germany and Austria Kara and I were exhausted. But alas, rest was not to be had. This past week Kara and I, along with a team of youth from Northern Ireland and Ireland, and several members of the Airdrie, Glasgow, and North Edinburgh churches, went door to door handing out flyers for a sermon series that Pastor Quigley will be giving on the evenings of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week. We all got to see much more of Airdrie’s residential areas than we had before and met many local people along the way.

All of the members of the “Go Team”, as they were called, and ourselves would be split into groups to go to different areas around Airdrie each day. At 10:00am the first groups formed and were sent to distribute leaflets into the mail slots of every house in Airdrie. We would all return for lunch at 12:30pm and head back out in new teams from 2:00pm-4:00pm at which point we would break for dinner. Then it was back out from 6:30pm-8:00pm for the final segment of distribution for the day. We did this from Thursday – Saturday, and at the end of each night the team would hang out with the CY and do some sort of fun event like bowling or watching a movie.

Despite many encounters with angry dogs, grumpy people, and fingers pinched in letter boxes, by the end of the three days we had distributed just under 15,000 leaflets around Airdrie. By God’s grace Kara and I met an older gentleman who came out to thank us for the flyer and ask a bit more about the services. It was encouraging to get a bit of immediate positive feedback for our work and prayers that seemed to be often met with general exasperation. Leaflets were pushed back out through mail slots or torn up on the ground. It is worthy of note that if these people were to receive a leaflet for a fast food advertisement or insurance company they would simply throw it away without a second thought. However, several heated phone calls and emails were sent to the church in response to the leaflet distribution. This just goes to show, as it were, that people repress their knowledge of the Lord as he reveals himself in the world around us; any prodding towards the consideration of eternity cuts through the shroud they put over the truth of the gospel as revealed to them by God’s grace.

Even still, Kara, I, and all of Airdrie RP are waiting in hopeful anticipation of who may come to hear the word of God preached here with the church this week. May the Lord work in the hearts of all the people that received a leaflet reminding them that they cannot run from God. Thank you all for your continued prayers during our time abroad! Things are winding down here and Kara and I, though sad to leave, are looking forward to seeing you all back home!

Ethan Masters

Spring Break

What an incredible week! Ethan and I got to see and experience so much during our time in Germany and Austria as well as meet a lot of really great people. Maybe it has something to do with my German heritage, but I felt very at home there! And I found out at the first place we stayed that I really did need to pronounce my last name in the correct German way of “Kowf-man” for them to find me in their computers.

Munich was our first taste of Germany, and I absolutely loved it. We spent a good day and a half walking around the city seeing beautiful buildings and parks and trying great German food.

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View of Munich from the top of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel

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Ethan made me put this one in…

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Nymphenburg Palace in Munich

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Classic skipping rocks photo: the gardens and pavilions behind Nymphenburg Palace

From there we took the bus to Füssen to visit the castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, which was one of my favorite days. Both castles were quite enchanting.

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Hohenschwangau (yellow castle) and Neuschwanstein (in the distance)

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The view of Neuschwanstein as we walked up to it

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Also in Neuschwanstein…

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Our lunch spot 🙂

We spent three days in Austria in the middle of the week, one in Innsbruck and two in Salzburg. Innsbruck was beautiful; it was nestled in the middle of the Alps and had a medieval town center made up of painted buildings, fountains, and market stands.

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Medieval town center of Innsbruck

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Medieval town center of Innsbruck

The day started off a bit rainy but it cleared off around lunchtime, allowing us to see the peaks of the mountains while we ate in the park.

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More of Innsbruck across the river

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Playing chess in the park

Visiting Salzburg was especially special for me due to my lifelong love of the Sound of Music! We were able to visit a lot of sites that were used in the filming of the movie, like Mirabell Palace and Gardens. That’s where the fountain, musical steps, and hedge tunnel are that the children and Maria dance around, on, and through during “Do-Re-Mi!” For your enjoyment, I’ve pieced together some pictures with the movie clips on top and mine and Ethan’s photos on the bottom. 😀

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Mirabell Palace and Gardens

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The Pegasus Fountain (We went back again at night.)

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The Hedge Tunnel!

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Another of the palace and gardens

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The Mozart Bridge

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The Residentz Fountain, where Maria stops during “I Have Confidence”

My favorite stops though were the ones off the well-used tourist path: the original home of the real von Trapp family and Nonnberg Abbey, the convent where Maria stayed before leaving to tutor one of the von Trapp children. Though some filming did take place outside of the abbey (at the gate for instance), none took place inside the convent or at the von Trapp house. So there weren’t any other visitors at either place when Ethan and I were at them! Between that and thinking about the stories that unfolded at each place while we were there, they were very surreal experiences. Especially when the nuns started singing from further inside the convent while we were in the sanctuary…

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Front of the original von Trapp house!

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Back of the original von Trapp house!

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Nonnberg Abbey…the gate in the movie. 🙂

We also climbed up to Hohensalzburg Fortress where we got a great view of the city and saw Mozart’s house in town.

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On our way to the fortress.

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Looking out over Salzburg from Hohensalzburg Fortress

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Mozart’s birthplace…and the grocery store where we got our lunch

We spent all of Saturday in a bus headed to Berlin, but it was worth it! A friend of Ethan’s from Pennsylvania opened up her home to us for the three nights that we were there which was a great blessing. She gave us some tips on places to visit, and we also got to attend church with her on Sunday morning. It was the first time that I’ve worshipped at a church where another language is spoken, and that was such a neat experience! The pastor is actually from Britain though, and the sermon was interpreted into German, so that meant we could understand the message. 🙂

We visited some different museums of World War II history in Berlin as well as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews. Both were very harrowing experiences. Other stops included Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery, which is the longest standing portion of the Berlin Wall.

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The Berlin Wall

And thanks to our friend that we stayed with, we learned that Wittenberg is only an hour train ride away! So we got to see the church where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses exactly 500 years ago come October!! And Wittenberg was where I got my long-awaited spaghetti eis. I saw a picture of it when I was in high school in my German textbook and had been hoping to get it when we were in Germany. It didn’t disappoint!

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Where Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses! The original door is gone but his theses are now etched into this plaque inside the original stone door frame.

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Spaghetti eis (ice cream)

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…and döner kebabs, of course.

Well, I can’t believe that I actually fit all of that into one page. It was really an amazing experience and these few paragraphs don’t do it justice… Hopefully the pictures add a bit more substance to it! Feel free to ask us more about any of our stops.

Thank you all so much for your prayers while we were away and also for your continued prayers as we finish up our time in Scotland. There’s still so much that we want to see and do and we’re also very sad to think about leaving the friends that we’ve grown very close to since we’ve been here. God has big plans for us though, and I’m already blown away by how He’s used our time here to grow us closer to Him! Looking forward to tomorrow!!

Kara Kauffman

A Normal Week

This past week, March 20th – 27th, has been one of the more normal weeks that Kara and I have had in while. Of course, that’s hardly saying something when you are living in another country. This week Kara and I had to put the axe to the grind, so to speak, and make a dent in a steadily rising pile of upcoming assignments. What’s more, Spring Break is coming up soon for us, and there is plenty yet to be done in preparation for our trip to Germany. Still the busy week did not stop Kara and I from going on a few new adventures.

On Wednesday Kara and I took our weekly trip with Jimmy and Helen to Castle Campbell, also known as Gloume Castle. The Castle, built by the Duke of Argyll of Clan Campbell, is situated on the top of a mountain of volcanic rock above the city of Dollar. At some point the brittle cliffside split and a small segment of the courtyard drifted to the side some ten feet. According to some of the few known records concerning the life in Castle Campbell, John Knox visited this castle at some point during his ministry in Scotland. Allegedly, Knox gave a sermon from the fractured piece of the courtyard to a congregation gathered below. To this day that fractured piece of the courtyard is called John Knox’s Pulpit. The attendant and caretaker of the Castle (who was a really nice guy named Finley), however, told us that he doubts that Knox ever preached such a sermon. Still, the name sticks.

Fast forward a few days and we get to Friday where Kids Club went excellently. We had a new visitor this week: a boy named Connel (I hope that’s how he spells it) who a few of the kids knew from school. After an impromptu game of… well I’m not sure what to call it… ultimate frisbee/soccer/football/roughhousing we recited our memory verse: Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Shortly after that I presented the lesson on the Creation and fall of man from Genesis 2-3. I am pleased to report that the lesson went quite long as the kids had many engaging questions to ask. Even after kids club was over Connel came up to me and asked me about how all the animals were made and some of the boys and I explained the six days of creation. After Kids Club the older kids stayed and a bouncy castle was set up in the gym for CY. Pandemonium ensued.

On Saturday Beth, Fraser and Stacy Rider, Kara, Milo the Dog, and I went on a trip to the Highlands and saw some fantastic snow capped mountains. Despite catching a slight cold and cutting my knuckle open on a road sign this was one of if not my favourite adventure to date. We saw many scenic overlooks, skipped rocks, made up games by throwing rocks, forded a stream, climbed the walls of a castle, and ate some of the most delicious food you could imagine at Beth’s favourite Chippie.

Sunday was another day of adventure. Kara and I visited a church in Glasgow of which our Systematic Theology professor, Kenneth Stewart, is the pastor. Pastor Stewart gave a lovely sermon on Ruth in the morning service and one of Samson in the evening. Between the services Kara and I ate lunch at Pastor Stewart’s home and visited with some friends we had made from Glasgow University during the filming of the Semester in Scotland promotional video. One of those said friends, Ian, gave us a lift home to Airdrie, and Kara and I, despite our best efforts to write a bit more on our papers, decided it best to call it a night.

Kara and I appreciate all your prayers back home and all the kindly hospitality we have experienced here in Scotland. Please continue to pray that the Lord would give us all contentment with his good and perfect will and that we would trust in him as our rock and our redeemer. Thanks!

Ethan Masters

Kids Club & CY

The highlight of this past week for me was definitely Kid’s Club and CY (Covenant Youth) on Friday night. The kids had so much energy at Kid’s Club (which wasn’t new), and they really directed that energy toward interacting during the lesson on Creation and in doing their craft. We decorated flower pots that night by using thumb and finger prints to make insects, and each kid filled their flower pot with soil and flower seeds. I pray that in the same way that these kids nurture their flower seeds to grow, God would nurture the seed of the Gospel in their hearts and bring them to salvation in His Son.

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Decorating our flower pots at Kid’s Club

At CY that night we had a craft night (perhaps why I enjoyed both so much—I love crafts!) which was a blessing not only because of the time spent making picture frames and festoons, but mostly because of the time spent talking, laughing, and goofing around with other friends and Christians.

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Some of the finished products of CY Craft Night.

I guess you could say that just like this great night spent with people was the highlight of my week, spending time with the people here has been the highlight of my semester thus far. God has been teaching me so much through my time spent in Sunday worship, Wednesday outings, weekly Bible studies, Kid’s Club and CY, meals with church members, and the other spontaneous events like game nights, movie nights, Saturday adventures…even just walking home with people and chatting. That’s not to say that every time I’m in one of these situations I am acutely aware of some specific lesson from God or even that He’s teaching me at all; rather, it is the culmination of time spent with God’s people and in His Word that are opening up avenues for God to penetrate me and grow me to be more like His Son. Often times I am not aware of this as it happens, but upon looking back I can see that there have been changes in my attitude and character over the past couple months. I pray that upon my return to Pennsylvania I will continue to immerse myself in the things of God and allow Him to continue to work in me, as He has been doing ever since my conversion.

As I said, this has been the highlight of my time here, but it goes without saying that my time here neither has been nor will continue to be without struggles! If you would, please continue to keep Ethan and I in your prayers. God bless!

Kara Kauffman

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One of our stops on our Saturday Adventure with Beth: Loch Tay!

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Also on our Saturday Adventure: a wild Ethan troll under the bridge at the Falls of Dochart.

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The Falls of Dochart

London Week

We are especially mindful of and thankful for the Lord’s care and protection and what we were able to enjoy and experience in London in light of the tragic events in London on the 22nd March.  – Beth Bogue

Monday, 03.06.17

Walking up the stairs from the underground onto Old Street in London was a pretty exciting moment for me! It was like that scene in Enchanted when Giselle pops up out of the manhole and stares around with an open mouth at the new world that she’s in. Minus the fact that I was not standing in the middle of the road in a ball gown, and it was also not New York City. I did do one of those classic slow spins though to take in my surroundings—the old buildings, the red double-decker buses, a couple big billboards, and some very strange outfits. Beth, and Ethan, and I walked to a cemetery a couple blocks away where we saw the graves of Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan, and others, and which was across the street from the church and manse of John Wesley.

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Feeding the birds: not at St. Paul’s, but at the cemetery where John Bunyan is buried.

After settling into the apartment we’d be in for the week (super nice, by the way!), we took the bus to the Museum of London and looked around one part of it before we were kicked out at closing. (That’s pretty much a regular occurrence at museums for us.) We headed off walking towards the River Thames and to see the sights along it and to take the river bus back up. The first place we saw as we neared the river was St. Paul’s Cathedral, and let me tell you, it looks SO amazing at nighttime. The enormity of it seemed to be amplified and the lights made the white exterior glow. I think what really sealed it though was that it reminded me that much more of what it looks like in Mary Poppins, which contributed to the eeriness and the grandeur of it. It was so, so cool. (And yes, Beth and I were humming “Feed the Birds” for probably an hour after that.) We crossed Millennium Bridge which was lit with multi-colored lights and walked on the opposite side of the river from where we could see some famous buildings towering over the shore on the other side.

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Our walk across Millennium Bridge.

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Looking back from Millennium Bridge at St. Paul’s.

The most impressive of these was the Tower of London, and we walked past it once we crossed Tower Bridge and were back on that side. (We also walked past a replica of Shakespeare’s Golden Globe Theater and heard “London Bridge is Falling Down” coming from a music box in a shop as we walked past said bridge.)

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Tower Bridge

Once we were back on the other side though, we boarded the river bus near the Tower of London and sailed up the river, from which we caught our first glimpse of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.

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Big Ben!

After travelling by car, plane, train, underground, bus, and boat that day, we were amply prepared for some rest, and we headed home for the evening, Day 1 being an absolutely brilliant success.

Kara

 

Tuesday, 03.07.17

Early on Tuesday Kara, Beth, and I got up and rushed through the many public transport stations in a sea of business professional clad men and women towards our first destination for the day: Parliament. We emerged from the underground and were met by the monolithic tower of Big Ben and the beautiful and ornate stonework of the Palace of Westminster.

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Outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

Upon entering parliament, we began a guided tour of the House of Commons and a small part of the House of Lords. We all marveled at the vast, vaulted stone ceilings, the delicately carved images and statues, and the paintings of past members of Parliament and Monarchs. Our tour guide explained to us the different uses of the many rooms, the roles of different staff, and the relationship the Parliament has with the current Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Fun Fact: Due to the rash actions of King Charles I in 1642 A.D. no English Monarch is allowed to enter the House of Commons. Thus, Kara and I saw a part of London that not even the queen herself has ever seen! After completing our tour and briefly meeting the Parliamentary representative of Airdrie, we ventured over to Westminster Abbey just across the road. Kara and I wandered the Abbey together with a guided audio tour that pointed out several incredible and inconspicuous details of the building. Kara and I saw the graves of Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, George Frederick Handel, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), David Livingston, and numerous Monarchs.

After leaving the Abbey and breaking for lunch we all hopped on one of those quintessential double-decker London buses and rode to the British Museum. There we saw a swath of ancient historical artifacts such as ancient Persian and Egyptian sphinxes, tablets engraved with the names of Babylonian kings, figures from the Greek Parthenon, and the Rosetta Stone. There were so many amazing pieces of history in the British Museum I am convinced it would take weeks to take note of everything.

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The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum.

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Epic Fist Bump

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Artifacts from the Parthenon, also in the British Museum

After the British Museum Kara, Beth, and I went to our final stop of the day and my favorite place in London: The British Library. Here we were able to see writings from Michelangelo, Galileo, Winston Churchill, Henry VIII, and more. We saw sheet music from Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, and even the original drafts of Handel’s Messiah and Ticket to Ride by John Lennon. We saw the original copies of the Magna Carta, Beowulf, and the Tyndale Bible as well as numerous beautiful eastern religious scrolls and books. The book that I found to be the most incredible, however, was the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus: the earliest complete Christian Bible ever found! This book, unlike all other historical artifacts I’ve ever seen, is absolutely priceless. It is truly an incredible feeling to gaze upon those animal hide pages that took centuries of perseverance through Roman persecution to write. Not amazed yet? Let me put it to you this way: every Bible that we have today — ESV, NIV, KJV, what have you — every Bible, uses this book as a starting point. Truly incredible.

Ethan

Wednesday, 03.08.17

Wednesday was my favorite day of the week. We took the train to Oxford and enjoyed a hop-on-hop-off bus tour throughout the city, riding on the second story in the open air with our bright red headphones plugged in to hear the tour guide and our cameras snapping away. (Tourist goals achieved.)

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In Oxford. Like I said, ultimate tourists.

On the way, we saw some of the 38 colleges that make up Oxford University as well as many shops, monuments, and pretty trees that were beginning to show signs of spring. God really gave us a beautiful day for our trip. As a result of the many colleges in the town that have been built over centuries, the architecture styles are vast, and one of the streets in Oxford is actually considered one of “the most architecturally diverse” streets in the world. After riding the bus for a full circuit, we did hop off and explore some of the city, stopping first at the sweet shop that Lewis Carroll mentioned Alice visiting in his book Alice in Wonderland and then taking a tour of Christ Church College (where they filmed some of the Hogwarts scenes in the Harry Potter films).

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Alice’s Sweet Shop

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Beth and I inside Christ Church College.

We also took a tour of the Bodleian Library, which has over TWELVE MILLION ITEMS in it. It receives a copy of every book published in the United Kingdom and, as such, has a separate warehouse used to store most of the books. The day ended on an especially high note: eating Scottish meat pies at The Eagle and Child in the exact room where C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the rest of the Inklings used to meet frequently to discuss what they were writing over drinks. And if the door in the back room marked “Narnia” hadn’t been locked, I would have had even more adventures to tell you about.

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The pub where the Inklings used to meet.

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Dinner in the Eagle and Child!

Kara

 

Thursday, 03.09.17

Thursday was another busy and incredible day in London. We started out by going to the amazing St. Paul’s cathedral. Kara and I wandered around the building listening to guided audio tours that explained to us the art, architecture, and history of the Cathedral. Unfortunately, we did not get to look out over the city as the outside balcony was closed for construction. We did, however, go up to the interior dome and were able to whisper to each other from 30ft away due to the whispering gallery effect. Next up on our travels was the Tower of London which, funnily enough, isn’t a tower at all. It’s a full castle that is far more beautiful and elegant than its reputation would suggest. We went on a tour guided by a tower guard or “Beefeater” named Kevin. He explained to us a great deal about the prisoners and executions that occurred in the fortress and the many Kings and Queens who dwelled there over the years. The one thing he couldn’t tell us was why he was called a “Beefeater”. Apparently, despite many speculative theories, no one knows. We walked into the White Tower, and saw the ancient armoury with a vast assortment of gilded amours and beautifully preserved medieval swords and guns. Also housed in the Tower of London were the English Crown Jewels. They were magnificent. Gleaming and glittering with gold, gems, and precious metals. Topping the King’s sceptre was the star of Africa, Cullinan I: the largest diamond in the world weighing 530.2 carats. The total worth of the Crown jewels was somewhere around 5 billion USD. Wow. Yet, none of it compares with the glory of the Lord.

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The Tower of London

Kara, Beth, and I then stopped over at Buckingham Palace to see the current home of the Queen and set off from there to Kara’s specially requested stop: the home of Charles Dickens.

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Buckingham Palace

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Inside Charles Dicken’s house, now a museum.

The house had been turned into a Museum, and we all wandered the home seeing the way it would have looked while Dickens lived there. The most impressive thing, in my opinion, was Dickens’ personal writing desk upon which he wrote his famous works of Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and A Christmas Carol. After a final full day in London we all slouched back to our apartment, ate as much food as we could so as not to leave any behind, and rested for our flight back to Scotland on Friday morning. Thank you all for praying for our safety during our travels! Our next big trip will be to southern Germany in the beginning of April so please pray for our contentment with the Lord’s will in that and in our continued studies here in Scotland.

Ethan