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

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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

Reading the Bible

Day 5,110 of being a Christian.

Day 3 of reading my Bible daily.

I have never developed a consistent practice of reading my Bible…and I really don’t  like to admit that to other Christians. It’s been a struggle of mine since I was a teenager. At least, that’s when I began to seriously try to get into the Word every day. When I attended a Christian camp in the summer, I would read my Bible daily during the time set aside for personal devotions, and then would continue with it once camp was over for…about four days. And once I missed that first day, I never got back into the schedule.

For about five weeks now, Ethan and I have been reading and discussing in class with Pastor Quigley the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney. Not surprisingly, after the introductory chapter on what spiritual disciplines are and why they are necessary to the Christian life, the next two chapters are devoted to discussing the discipline of reading God’s Word. It was not a new lesson for me, but it was a convicting challenge that again forced me to ask myself if I really believe that reading God’s Word is important.

One reason—well, excuse—that I have neglected to read my Bible diligently is that I’ve argued that I shouldn’t read it with a drudging attitude. I know I am not alone in this because the handful of Christians to whom I have admitted my Scriptural-deficiency have admitted to feeling the same way. But as I have been taught so many times before, discipline is never easy, and often not enjoyable, at the onset. Pastor Quigley spoke on Sunday of the “plod of the Christian life” and acknowledged that though at times it is downright boring, the glories of God’s promises are found through “the Biblical plodding in the doing of that which is right.” I have decided that it is not wrong to write “Read my Bible” on my to-do list for the day. In fact, it should be at the top of the list every day. Because, as 14 years of experience has shown me, I will never get into the habit of doing it unless I intentionally discipline myself to do so.

I haven’t made a complete 180 since I’ve been here and overcome my failure of discipline. That’s actually been a part of my problem too long: thinking that after reading my Bible for four days or so I am disciplined and good to go. But a relationship with God—just as with anyone—requires diligence and commitment EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I have, however, started a reading plan. It’s the Chronological Reading Plan through the Blue Letter Bible app and it gives me three or four chapters a day to read. I’ve also purchased a notebook and have been recording my thoughts throughout my reading, which has helped me to know what to pray about at the end of my reading. Yes, I have missed a few days, but having a plan is one of the things that has kept me from the recurring theme of quitting because I no longer have the excuse of not knowing what to read.

Packer was quoted in the closing lines of chapter 3 in our spiritual disciplines book as saying, “If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible… I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorn hedges, and man traps, to frighten people off.” I believe that the ease with which I ignore God’s Word above many other things is a scheme of the devil, as well as a testimony to Scripture’s transformative power. And I also believe that one of the ways he keeps us from reading it is by allowing us to feel as if we are the only Christian in the world who struggles this way, which keeps us from asking others for help and accountability.

So, I write this to you as a confession, a challenge, and a request: I am a Christian who does not read God’s Word diligently. If you find yourself in the same situation, will you strive to cultivate that discipline? And if you will, and if you already have, will you commit to helping other Christians do the same?

Kara Kauffman

Some of the week’s (12th-18th February) pictures:

We went to Stirling Castle on Wednesday with Jimmy and Helen!

The castle is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, making it very strong defensively.

Ethan with Jimmy and Helen’s puppy, Skye. (Still at Stirling.)

Here we are with Jimmy and Helen! Couldn’t ask for a better couple to spend time with each week and hear about Scotland.

Ethan and I explored Edinburgh on Thursday on our own…

…which included visiting Edinburgh Castle!

This is the oldest building in Edinburgh: St. Margaret’s chapel inside the castle.

Reformation Tour Week

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St Andrew’s

This week (6th-10th February) Kara and I went on our Reformation and Covenanter history tour and found ourselves standing amongst the very sites where the Covenanters achieved victory and freedom as well as sites at which they suffered crushing defeat. We traveled all over Scotland and saw many breathtaking places in the countryside and many harrowing memorials that made us contemplate the persecution suffered by the Covenanters. To write an exhaustive list of all the places we’ve been to this past week would be far too long an ordeal. However, it would be an insult to the memory of the Reformation’s martyrs to not regale you with a small fraction of their stories. These people suffered and died for the freedom to teach the truth of the Scriptures, and they must be remembered. Consider this your crash course on a handful of key events in the history of the Scottish Reformation.

The first location to which Jimmy and Helen took Kara and I was St. Andrew’s Castle on the east coast of Scotland. Built around 1200 A.D., St. Andrew’s Castle was a key stronghold in the Scottish Reformation. In the early 1500s, the Roman Catholic church had become despicably corrupt by godless men who wished only for power and wealth and cared not for the lives and souls of God’s people. Both Archbishop Beaton and Cardinal Beaton used St. Andrew’s Castle as their residence and reigned over the Scottish people in an oppressive persecution of any who challenged Catholicism. Archbishop Beaton executed the first of the Scottish Reformers, Patrick Hamilton, and Cardinal Beaton executed George Wishart, Reformer and mentor of John Knox. Both of these Reformers did no crime but simply preached God’s Word to the Scottish people. The castle was attacked in 1547 by Reformers who were enraged by the unjust execution of not only Hamilton and Wishart but countless other supporters of the free teaching of God’s Word. The Reformers seized the castle, executed Cardinal Beaton, and established St. Andrew’s as their stronghold from which to defend the reforming faith in Scotland. John Knox was called by the rebel Reformers to be the minister in St. Andrew’s and after some deliberation he agreed. In the summer of 1547, the regent Mary I of Scotland (essentially the queen of Scotland as the real queen was too young to rule) commissioned French warships to besiege St. Andrew’s Castle. After months of siege warfare—in which tunnels were dug under the walls and the castle was shelled by French cannons on all sides—the Reformers were forced to surrender and were imprisoned on French ships, John Knox included.

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Inside St Andrew’s Castle

On Tuesday, Jimmy and Helen took Kara and I to see the famous battleground of Bothwell Bridge. It was at this site in 1679 that King Charles II of Scotland won a battle over the insurrection of men known as the Covenanters who refused to accept the king as the ruler over all the church. The Covenanters, a ragtag band of God-fearing men who had been prohibited from meeting for worship under pain of death by the king, were unable to defend themselves against the specially trained forces of the king. The king’s troops slew hundreds of the Covenanters and imprisoned over a thousand others who later died from the harsh conditions of their imprisonment.

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Bothwell Bridge

 

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John Hunter’s grave at the Devil’s Beef Tub

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Drumlanrig Castle

Lastly I will tell you the tragic story of the two Margarets. In 1685, during the reign of King James VII of Scotland, two sisters named Margaret (age 18) and Agnes (age 13) Wilson were arrested for attending a secret church service called a conventicle. The free preaching of the Word of God, having been outlawed by the decree of the king, was punishable by fines, imprisonment, or even death. The two sisters had been hiding in the home of an older woman named Margaret McLaughlin, who was arrested with them. They were falsely accused of fighting in the battle of Bothwell Bridge and sentenced to death. The girls, having been 11 and 7 at the time of the battle, had obviously not fought there, but truth and justice were irrelevant to the bloodthirsty King James VII. The girls’ father, upon hearing that they had been captured and sentenced to death, sold everything he owned in an attempt to buy his daughters’ freedom, but was told he only had enough money to free one daughter. Young Margaret pleaded with her heartbroken father to free Agnes rather than her. Agnes was freed and the two Margarets were taken out to the town of Wigtown, tied to stakes near the sea at low tide, and left to drown in the icy waters. The older Margaret drowned first, and the soldiers jeered to Margaret Wilson to beg for mercy. However, she stood firm and began to sing Psalm 25 to all who had gathered to watch in horror. A soldier, hearing her singing the Scriptures, waded out into the water and struck her with his musket. He forced her head underwater, silencing her praises and witness for Christ.

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The site of the execution of the two Margarets

 

I hope it is now as clear to you as it is to Kara and I that the Scottish Reformation was no small ordeal. Against vast opposition, simple Scotsmen defied the injustices of Episcopal kings and Catholic dogma for the sake of the truth. Thousands of men and women fought and died to preserve the truth of Scriptures in Scotland. Let us not forget their sacrifices and martyrdoms. Today while you are doing your morning devotions or praying before dinner, remember the Covenanters and thank God for those who died long before the establishment of America so that you might have the freedom to worship God and know the truth of Scriptures.

Ethan Masters

Letter Home

Since I was behind this week on not only my blog but also my weekly email to my parents, I decided to combine the two and give you a little bit different of a post! Enjoy.

Mom and Dad,

Hello!!! I’m finally getting these pictures sent from last week. This was the 29th-4th. [Sidenote: We left Pennsylvania EXACTLY four weeks ago from today! Seems to have gone fast.]

Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal days, except that we made these amazing Monte Cristo sandwiches!! 1I thought you would like to know that we are eating real food. They were so good. (That pile of oddly colored substance to the right of the sandwich is scrambled eggs, just so you know.) On Wednesday, we had a double history class in the morning and finished covering both of the Scottish Reformations. It was super interesting. In the afternoon, Jimmy took us down the road to a town called Coatbridge where Summerlee, Museum of Scottish Industrial Life, is located. 2The building in this picture housed displays and artifacts honoring this area’s contribution to engineering, mining, and industrial life. But get this: There were also artifacts there dating back to THE FIRST CENTURY A.D. It was crazy!! The Roman Empire had control of Scotland at that time and so Roman artifacts like these have been found in the area. 3Summerlee was more than just a museum though, and Ethan and I took a tram down farther into the property to the mining village. Each cottage has been individually restored and set up inside like it would have been during a specific span of years, so there was one for the early 1800’s, then the 1810’s, the late 1800’s, and so on, up into the 1960’s. My favorites were the 1950’s one that had fun 50’s music playing and the 60’s one that had yellow walls, orange couches, and a blue refrigerator. Also, there in the mining village you can walk down into part of the old mine. They’ve reinforced it so that it’s safe and the employees take you in and you all wear hardhats and walk–hunched over at some parts–through the dirt tunnels. You obviously can’t go down as deep or as far as the miners would have (that’s blocked off), but we did travel about 1000m underground. Along the tunnel, they have small areas carved out only a few yards wide and a few feet high with dummies inside that show how the men, women, and children would have worked during the different eras. Things changed like the tools they were using or the light that they had, but the conditions remained pretty brutal. When we left there and got back up to the museum, it was about to close, so we walked down to a little park across the bridge and reveled in the sunshine. Here’s a classy picture I took of some swans. 4

On Thursday after classes I was able to move into the Annex, my new home!! It is SO nice in here; I am so blessed. Our first dinner in the Annex was the ever delicious fish’n’chips, complete with Heinz ketchup and tea out of our Scottish mugs. 5We had a blast at Kid’s Club on Friday night. After class that day, we got lunch (and ice cream…) and then went back to the church to make cupcakes for the kids. Ethan taught the lesson that night on Daniel and the lion’s den, so Beth found a picture of lion cupcakes online and we recreated them to the best of our ability. 67I think they turned out pretty cute. 😊 Tasted good too. (Take a moment to admire Ethan’s equally cute apron. Beth told him it really brought out the koalas in his eyes.)

Saturday included yet another great day-trip with Beth, this time to Secret Beach! So unfortunately, I am not at liberty to disclose the location to you. (That and Ethan and I fell asleep on the way there, so it really was a secret.) But afterwards Beth took us to a town called North Berwick so if you want to look it up, we were near there! 😉 Anyway, we had a really nice time! It was raining that morning, but God cleared the sky in the afternoon when we left and the sun even came out. Mind you, it was not anywhere close to warm, but it could have been worse. As you can see…it was a pretty place. 8Oh, but before I send other pictures of the beach, look at this one that Ethan took on the road in: 9THERE WAS THIS BEAUTIFUL RUINED CASTLE AND SERIOUSLY, HOW MAJESTIC AND PICTURESQUE IS THAT?? It’s called Tantallon Castle. You can still go inside and climb the towers, but we just admired it from afar. Once we were on the beach we spent awhile collecting rocks and shells and poking at gooey things that I think were alive. We climbed up on a knoll there that had a view of the castle 10 and looked out over the water. 1112And it was there that we planted this rock (the one used to poke the gooey things) as a monument to our being the first Pennsylvanians there that day (which was obviously a wild shot in the dark). 13And lastly, we climbed a big rock. And Beth took our picture. 16So there’s that.

I hope you enjoyed this!!! I miss you guys greatly. I wish so, so, so much that you could be here to experience all this with Ethan and I. This is the first time that I’ve visited historical sites without you and the sibs, and I have to admit, there’s a part of me that finds it hard to fully enjoy every moment at the places we visit knowing how much you’d all love to be here! Maybe someday???

Talk to you both soon.

Love, Kara