JennieSince my time in Scotland has come to an end, I have to say, I’ve been incredibly  blessed.  Regardless of any nerves or apprehension I may have had prior to arriving in Airdrie, those all faded away the moment I got off the plane.  Not only was I going to get to experience some pretty amazing courses while here, but I was about to be welcomed into a great community.  It is one thing to arrive in a new church and enjoy the service, it is another thing to be welcomed into a church family as one of their own.  The church here in Airdrie, did just that.  They welcomed five American students they barely knew into their homes, into their lives, and into their church.  To these people I am glad to have met and gotten to know, we weren’t just people passing through, many took an invested interest in each of us and showed the love of Christ through each and every action they took.  During our time here, Andrew did a sermon series preaching through 1 John.  One of the main things that stuck out to me in his sermons was that we are able to change and we are able to love others, not because of our own actions or our own merit, but because of the great love of God the Father.  I have been blessed to have witnessed this love while in Scotland, through the actions of the church members.

I will say it, I love kids.  I always have, even when I was a little girl.  I grew up with my parents teaching the preschool age Sunday School class, and I always loved helping in their class more than going to my own.  For the past 6 years I have taught Sunday School, helped with vacation Bible school, worked at an afterschool program, and worked at a summer day camp.  So needless to say, I was greatly looking forward to helping out with Kids Club and going to CY.  They didn’t disappoint either.  One of my favorite things about working with kids and youth is that no matter how much time and how much energy you put into events and activities, as long as you show that you care and want the best for them, they will have an amazing time.  That’s definitely what happened with Kids Club.  Kids are like sponges, and they will soak up whatever goes on around them.  I am so glad that the kids coming to Kids Club are being given the gospel and given the only truth that will lead them to eternal life.  Instead of being told what they may want to hear, they are told the truth.  Speaking from personal experience, they will greatly appreciate being raised in the faith when they are older and the world is pulling them away.  At CY, I loved being able to relax and hang out with some pretty great teens and the leaders.  This age is often referred to as the hardest to work with, it takes a lot of energy, and there can be little or no visible results.  As I learned in one of my classes this semester, simply because there seems to not be results, that is not a reason to abandon ship and avoid ministry with teens.  Teens are people, and they need to be ministered to and be invested in just as much as everyone else.  I had so much fun at CY, and I am glad that Airdrie has some great people investing their time and energy in the teens there.

One of the things I will never forget is hospitality.  Every Sunday after the morning service at church, all five students were invited to a meal prepared by a member of the church.  Not only was it always amazing food, but the conversations we had and the time we were able to spend with these individuals is so precious and beautiful.  We were invited into their lives and welcomed to their tables as one of their own family, and that is something one does not easily forget.

So the big question is, did this semester change me, did it challenge me, did it open my eyes?  The answer to all of these questions is yes.  This semester, I have witnessed the church alive and thriving in a town around 3,000 miles from my home.  It has opened my eyes to the work that God is doing through His people for His Kingdom here on earth.  His work is not confined to one specific country, because He has made all of the countries.  I was challenged to look at doctrines I had previously dismissed and truly look into what I believe about them.  I was challenged to read my Bible, and read the whole thing.  I was challenged to reevaluate my faith and to get more serious about spiritual disciplines.  Above all, I was bombarded with goodness of God at each and every turn.  From the beauty of the hills and trees to safe journeys on the road and on trains to the smiles on the faces of those we worshipped with, God’s provision and grace shone through.

I am forever grateful to Airdrie RP Church, to those who hosted us for hospitality, to those who drove us anywhere, to those who talked with us on Sundays, to those who helped with Kids Club and the kids who attended, to those who ran and attended CY, to those who took us on trips, and to all those who prayed for us and continue to do so.  You are all on my mind and in my prayers.  Thank you for faithfully serving the Lord, I will continue to pray for God’s work through you in Scotland.

Until we meet again, God bless.

Jennie Smith