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

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