It is a curious thing for a country of which you’ve only read about and seen pictures of to be underneath your feet! Ethan and I arrived safely in Scotland on Thursday, January 12th, and I think I speak for both he and I when I say that we have already had a little over a week full of unexpected adventures, blessings, and growth here in Airdrie.
Our time here began last Thursday with…sleep. Lots and lots of sleep. Beth Bogue, the secretary of the Airdrie Reformed Presbyterian Church that runs our Semester in Scotland program, invited Ethan and I over for dinner and we had a great time of fellowship, even in spite of our jet-lagged states of mind. (We probably said some embarrassing things that we would regret, but Beth has been kind enough so far to not remind us of them.) We had time over the weekend to unpack (which of course we put off until this weekend), explore the town, and meet the wonderful and welcoming people of the church. I even had the opportunity to attend a ballet in Glasgow with the ladies of the church on Saturday since an extra ticket was offered to me.
Of course, just like both mine and Ethan’s parents so dutifully reminded us when we left Pennsylvania, we are here to learn from our studies as well as our travels and relationships. Our parents would be happy to know that we were diligent in our readings throughout the week and thoroughly enjoyed our classes in church ministry, systematic theology, and the ministry and theology of Paul. (We will also be studying the humanities of England and Scotland and the Scottish Reformation in the upcoming weeks.)
On that note, if you know Ethan and me, then you know that we each have a deep love of history. As you can imagine, Scotland did not disappoint in providing us with rich, tangible history, and we can’t seem to get enough of it. There’s enough history here to keep us captivated for years, so we’re excited to see all that we can over the next four months. A couple in the church will be taking us on a trip every Wednesday to a different historical or cultural site in Scotland, and this week we took our first trip. We visited the preceptory of the Knights Hospitaller (built in the 1140’s) and Linlithgow Palace, used as a place of retreat for the Stewart kings during the 15th and 16th centuries and also the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. Aside from our Wednesday trip, we also visited the art gallery in Glasgow and Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh. The enormity of the castle was stunning and we were able to watch the fog lift from around it and witness the sun paint the castle with gold as it rose over the nearby buildings of the town.
The beauty in the landscapes and buildings around us are nothing compared to the magnificence of our Creator, and I am reminded of that each time I look at a loch or a field or a castle. An artist is always present in his artwork and if one is aware of that, glimpses of God are everywhere. No more is God revealed though than in the hospitality and friendship of the people whom we have met in the church and many whom we have met in town or on our travels. It really is true that the body of Christ transcends distance, age, gender, culture…and whatever else marks differences by earthly measurements. Even upon meeting people for the first time I was aware of the relationship that I already have with them as brothers and sisters in Christ, and the fellowship is that much sweeter.
Please continue to pray for us and our growth here in Scotland. I could easily write more concerning what God has already taught me through the study of His Word, enriching conversations with others, class discussions and the reading of our textbooks, adventures, time spent with Ethan, and so much more… I imagine we will never lack something to tell you each week!