Debbie ShaferIt seems like only last week that Andrew picked David and me up from the Glasgow airport.  I can hardly believe that we have been here for four months.  But these past four months have been fantastic all around.  Looking back, the main reason I went to Geneva College was not because both my parents, an aunt, and three of my siblings went there, but so that I could participate in the Semester in Scotland Program.  I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am that God led me in that direction.  I have learned so much, and seen so much, and made some great friends.  I’ve grown in ways than I could hardly have imagined.  Even in four short months, God has done so much in me through the classes, and sermons, and the people of the church.

We spent our last day here in Scotland at church with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  I don’t think there could have been a better way to spend it either.  While I’m happy to be going home to see family for Christmas and the New Year, I’m sad to leave my new family here.  They have all been so kind and loving and supportive.  After the evening service tonight, we had tea and biscuits as usual and everyone was wishing us well and saying goodbye.  I was in tears most of the night, because it hurts so much to leave.  This place has not been just some place that I’ve been staying, no, it has been another home.  A home where people love me, and care for me, and are constantly praying for me.  The church here in Airdrie is a closely knit family through the grace of God.  It was great the way that they opened their lives to us and welcomed us so warmly from the beginning of the semester.  The questions of the night seemed to be, “Did you enjoy your time here then?” and “so what was your favourite part of the semester?”  Well, the answer to the first is, “yes, I enjoyed it all, immensely.”  The second question is a bit harder to answer, but I think I would have to say the people of the church.  The day trips were great, and I got to see a lot of Scotland during them.  The classes were phenomenal, and I pray that I can retain all that I learned and put it to practice.  But the people in this small church have touched me in a way that nothing else could.

During the church services on Sundays, I have been fed spiritually and encouraged weekly.  Andrew Quigley’s preaching has been such a blessing.  He is so passionate for the work of Christ and genuinely cares that God’s people in the Airdrie RPC get the food and guidance that they need.  The singing of the Psalms is always so beautiful, and the members truly sing with joy and gladness in their hearts.  Tonight, I started crying during the first Psalm (and the second Psalm) because I am going to miss the services and the people here so much.  Everyone is so hospitable too!  Every Sunday after the morning service, someone would have us over for great food and wonderful fellowship.  And boy do they know how to do both!  I learned to appreciate the Lord’s Day much more being a part of this church for the past four months.  It is such a blessing to be able to worship with and talk with fellow believers each Sunday.

Meeting for our weekly METs (Mutual Encouragement Times) in the middle of the week was great too!  The Bougheys were very hospitable, opening their home to us each week (and their kids are adorable!).  And I learned a lot from our studies in Nehemiah and Habakkuk.  It was helpful to meet each week to discuss them because the prophets are usually hard to fully understand.  I especially liked how Stephen so faithfully guided us in applying it to our lives today.

I loved working with the kids at Kid’s Club.  It was great watching and helping them learn about God and what it means to be a Christian.  We only had them for a short while, but I can already see how much some of them have grown.  I will miss them all very much as they have all touched my heart.  It’s sad to think that the next time I see them they will be so grown up.

I didn’t spend as much time with CY (the youth group) as I could’ve, but it was fun when I did.  I appreciate that the church takes the time and energy to continue CY even though there are not that many attendees.  When I was growing up, my church didn’t have a youth group since there were only three of us who would have been in it (awkward age difference between the older kids and us).  However, I still think they are very important and think that the leaders are doing a great job here in Airdrie.

Over all, this has been a great semester.  I have made many memories, taken about 2,895 photos (give or take a few), and gained lots of friends.  I’ve grown closer to God and have learned to love Him more.  The end of this semester though, marks the end of a very great chapter in my life.  I am officially done with school.  When I go back to the states, I have to get a job, and plan a wedding, and prepare for the next chapter of my life.  Lord willing, I will graduate on May 9, 2015, and David and I will get married on May 16.  My time here in Scotland has helped prepare me some for being away from home long term, and I look forward to what God has in store for me.  I hope to return to Scotland in the future as it has stolen a piece of my heart forever.  I have never liked saying goodbye, mostly because I never know exactly what to say.  However, Billy Boyd’s song for the end of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, “The Last Goodbye”, says goodbye quite
well:

I saw the light fade from the sky
On the wind I heard a sigh
As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers
I will say this last goodbye

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

Under cloud, beneath the stars
Over snow one winter’s morn
I turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But I don’t regret
Nor will I forget
All who took the road with me

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the sea

To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

I bid you all a very fond farewell

I will miss you all, so much.  You have been such a blessing, and I can’t wait to see you again!  Love you!  God bless!

Love,
Debbie Shafer (soon to be, Debbie Beer)

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