Thursday, September 27, 2007

A New Car!

We recently returned from a trip to Inverness (45 minutes south) with Angus to speak with a friend who is high up in a car dealership about us possibly acquiring a car. So far our bikes have worked well for transport around Dornoch; but it will continue to grow colder, and there are times we need to drive to farther away places.

We've considered various transportation options (buying, leasing, renting, public transportation, which is very limited in Dornoch) which all turned out to be very expensive. Insurance has been another barrier. With our Va licenses, we are allowed to drive for one year, after that we are expected to pass a UK driving test, which we've heard is extremely difficult. But without that, insurance could end up being very costly, making the idea of getting a car way more expensive than our budget allows.

So we went to today's meetings with high hopes, since it was pretty much our last option. Scott is an elder in another Free Church of Scotland and has been very generous to other Mission to the World workers like ourselves. He offered us a deal that made our jaws drop. We would use a brand new car, pay a monthly fee, insurance included, and trade it in every four months for another new car (so they could sell the car as "slightly used"). The fee for the monthly car rental and insurance is so low, we could never expect to even rent a car for a week at that price.

Seriously, we are shocked. But, as Scott said, we shouldn't be surprised at the blessings God provides!

A Glorious Day

I just walked into our friend's home from lying out front on their steps. I was soaking in the sunshine, breathing it deeply, trying to store it up for days when it won't be so fabulous.

The sun is bright, the sky is more blue than cloudy, (the most blue sky I've seen in two weeks!) and it's actually warm while in the sun and shielded from the wind.

I'm loving it.

Animal Woes

I really miss our animal's. Owen (dog) and Naomi (cat) were adopted by my parents and aunt & uncle, respectively.

We tried really hard to bring them with us, but it just didn't work out for various reasons. I'd link to other blog posts describing it in detail, but I still can't figure out how to do that on these UK keyboards.

I know they are in great homes and are well taken care of, which is a HUGE relief. It really cuts down on my level of worry. And we are so extrememly grateful for the sacrifices they have made by adopting them. But I still miss them both very much. And it's sad to think that they are seperated, since they basically grew up together from the time they were about 4 months old.

Most mornings when I wake up, still in the half asleep mode, my first thought is, "I need to go let Owen out." Then I wake up completely and am saddened once again. I'll even walk in our front door sometimes expecting to be greeted with meow's and a wagging tail.

But, we had to make sacrifices to move here, and they were all worth it since we know this is where we're supposed to be. In the grand scheme of things, it really isn't that bad of a thing, just difficult at the moment.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why the constant state of tiredness?

Jet lag is behind us. They say it takes the same number of days to recover as there are difference in hours. That would be 5 hours difference between Richmond and Dornoch. We're coming up on day #14 in Scotland.

So why are we still tired?

We don't have any trouble falling asleep, and that's pretty remarkable for me, it usually takes me at least half an hour. Not lately. But we wake up so exhausted, not wanting to get out of bed. The bed is pretty comfortable, and even though they don't like to use heat here at night, we stay pretty warm. I don't think it's exhaustion from uncomfortable or cold sleeping conditions.

I have a couple of theories, and so do some Scottish friends of ours.

We're on a totally different schedule. I'm used to working the hours of a regular day job, having a defined schedule that doesn't change too much. Now, we start the day at different times everyday, have varying things to do at different times each day, and have full days or full nights depending on the day. I think this may have something to do with the chronic fatigue (it's not quite that bad, but it's the easiest way to describe it).

Theory number two is, it's much colder here. You know how much you want to pull the covers over your head and hit snooze for an hour when suddenly it's 30 degrees colder outside? That's our life.

Now, some friends here have other ideas. They say it's the air. We've had two people tell us, independently of each other, that the air is so different that it takes a while to get used to it. One person said it's so much cleaner, your lungs don't have to work as hard, so you get tired quicker. mmmmhh, not so sure about that one. Another person said it's just the air of the Highlands in Scotland; to go to the western coast of the country, would make you even sleepier. Could it be the change in latitude (about the same as Juneau, Alaska)?

Another man says that when he moved up here from London years ago, it took him 6 months before he could wake up feeling rested. 6 months?!?

Whatever it is, I hope it hurries up and goes away, I'm tired of being tired!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mad Gab

Have you ever played this game? It's so much fun. I'd give you a link to the game, but I can't figure out how to do it on this UK keyboard; there are some differences and it's not working for me. You're on your own to look it up. Anyway, things are written a certain way: "Amen Ask Hurt". Your teammate will try to say it outloud until you can figure out that they're actually saying "a mini skirt."

We played it last night at Youth Fellowship with the kids, and didn't realize there would be certain phrases that would mean nothing to Scottish people. Turns out, about a third of the cards are useless here! Just one of the many interesting differences we've noticed.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yay for bikes!

Our bikes have arrived! We're soooo excited. And the customs tax that was originally going to be almost $400 was dropped, seriously that is so amazing. Who knows why that happened, we don't really care why, we're just glad it happened!

Another amazing thing that happened was our Visa's were approved for two years. Everything you read says only one year at a time, anything more than that, you have to reapply. Doing that would cost around $2,000 which we don't have budgeted. It's incredible the way God works everything out.

The weather is definitely colder than what we're used to. When people here ask us about the climate in Virginia, they almost pass out at the mention of 80F being comfortable, that's a heat wave to them! It's been in the 50's-60's, windy and rainy. But there is a trade-off for the not so great weather. When it's nice, it's absolutely brilliant (to use a common Scottish descriptive.).

We're on our way to getting internet in our house, which will lead to lots of pictures for you to see, a tour of our house, and way more blog posts! I can't wait to share lots more stuff with you. We've signed up, and they say it won't be more than 15 days until it's connected. The countdown is on!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

quck post

It's incredible how much we've come to rely on the internet for so many things! Hopefully we will have a local phone by tomorrow, and then we can set up our internet access at our house. I'm typing furiously from the library since I have three minutes until my session ends. Other things such as setting up a checking account, getting cell phones, deciding what to do about a car, are slowly coming together.

The people have been so amazing. We've felt so welcomed and loved already. I know there will be many times (and have been already) when I ache to be with my friends and family in the states, but having people here who are so awesome helps me know that those times won't be completely unbearable.

We've had our first Youth Fellowship meeting with kids grades 7-12, it was so much fun, they're really interested in doing tons of events, which we're stoked about!

I can't wait to share lots of pictures with you as soon as I can.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Post #1 from Dornoch, Scotland

Here we are, it's still very surreal. It's slowly sinking in that we are now living in Scotland. In 3-4 weeks when we're still here and not packing up to go home, it will become even more real!

We had a wonderfully uneventful trip. No crazy stories, which is just fine by me. Angus picked us up from the airport in Edinburgh at 9:30 am GMT (4:30 am EST) and we started the 5 hour trip to our new home, Dornoch.

Our first stop along the way...Ikea. Second stop...Asda, a super grocery store owned by Wal-Mart. As you can tell we're having a very familiar experience so far.

And I know you're all waiting to hear the results of my previous post concerning the on-going debate James and I have had about our trunks and whether or not they would fit. Down-sizing to 6 was a great idea, they and the two duffels, and two back-packs all fit in the van. And, much to James' joy, we probably could have fit two more in...James won.

Hope you're all having a great day, we're going to sleep!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Do you think James will fit on the plane?

I definitely think he will have to duck. It's a small one, but the flight's only an hour, so he'll only have to fold himself up like a pretzel for a little bit.

We're sitting at the gate in Richmond, waiting for the go-ahead to board. There's a little bit of a wait. We definitely don't mind having to sit for a while, it's been a few years since we've had the chance to sit and do absolutely nothing for this long.

After the quick jaunt to Newark, NJ, we'll head off to Edinburgh around 10:00 pm to arrive at 10:00 am Thursday Scotland time (5:00 am your time).

Hard to believe we're finally traveling after nearly two years of prep: we're super excited!

Check-in was rediculously easy. No waiting, and we didn't hold anybody else up in line. We downsized our trunk number from 8 to 6, two duffel bags, and two there might be a chance we can fit all our stuff in Angus' car when he picks us up on the other side of the Atlantic!

We had a fun send-off at the airport, thanks so much to everyone who came to see us off. And as I requested, there were no tears! Thanks for holding back, it has made the rest of the day much easier for me. It was a fun party.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Visa's Have Arrived!

Monday morning I got a call from FedEx asking for directions to the delivery address for our package. What?!?
Since when does FedEx call the recipient of a piece of mail for directions?

You can imagine I wasn't too surprised when by 5:00pm, no package had arrived at my parents house even though a 10:30am arrival was guaranteed.
We were pretty stressed. The FedEx lady had it confirmed in her computer as delivered. We looked everywhere. No Visa's in sight.

Thankfully, my dad thought to check with the pschizophrenic neighbor. Sure enough, it was delivered to him...and he opened it! I'm not being facetious, he's really pschizophrenic, I won't go into details now, just trust me on this one.

So we have them, and I will never use FedEx if I have a choice in it. I'm a UPS girl from now on.

I'm sitting here trying to come to grasps with the fact that we're moving to Scotland...TOMORROW! It's pretty insane actually. I'm very touched by the expressions of love so many of our friends and family have exhibited. They are what help keep us encouraged and excited! You have all helped us make it to this point in the journey, and I'm sure we will be relying on you even more from this point on!

I've been especially touched by my friend Valerie's most recent words of love here and here. I'm so glad you're in my life Val, you are exactly what a friend should be.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Weekend Wrap-Up

This is the last weekend review I'll do from the States for two years *sniff*

-Did all sorts of preparation stuff to get ready to go. I couldn't even begin to tell you what we did, but it was a ton of stuff.

-More of Friday's events
-Welcomed the Murphy family
-Went to a farewell party thrown for us by our incredibly amazing friends. Had SUCH a wonderful time, didn't cry once because I was having so much fun talking to many friends.

-Up early to visit my brother and say goodbye. Cried.
-Off to church at Stony Point
*Said goodbye to the 10th & 11th graders in the Sunday School class we've helped teach for 4 years. Cried.
*Went to worship, got commissioned by Pastor Frank with our parents up in the front of the church. Didn't have to say anything thankfully. Cried.
*Went to lunch for my mom's birthday with a bunch of family. Didn't cry!
*Went to Franklin Street Community. Was honored and touched by the kind things Benjamin Ferrell said about us. James and I spoke for a few minutes about our departure on Wednesday and how our hearts are feeling. Cried. Like a Baby. So much so that I couldn't speak for a few moments.
*Back to Stony Point to speak for a few minutes, Cried. But just a little. Made the congregation laugh. Was glad for the laughter.
*Listened to the report from the team who went on a mission trip to Uganda this summer. Had my heart broken again after seeing the joy on the faces of the children who have unfathomable troubles but love the Lord so much. Realized how silly my troubles are
*Enjoyed a fun dessert reception with Stony Point Family. Cried. A bunch of times.
*Bought some jewelry hand-made by Ugandan ladies.
*Home to do a little laundry, relax for a moment, and go to bed.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

An Ongoing Debate: What's Your Opinion?

We are packing up 8 trunks to fly with us to Scotland. The dimensions of the trunks are 31x17x13. We will fly into Edinburgh and Angus, the pastor of the church we will be working with, is kindly picking us up to make the 4.5 hour drive up to Dornoch. If you are familiar with European cars, you'll know they are all VERY SMALL. Last time we were in Scotland, we saw one pick-up truck and were astounded: it looked huge compared to the normal vehicle. We even saw a three wheeled car, and it wasn't abnormal to the locals. Europe is not an SUV and mini-van dominated society.

Seven of our Eight trunks, with Owen for size reference.

The debate: I think that there is no way our 8 trunks will fit in the car Angus will be picking us up in. Even though they have purchased a new larger car since we've been there (we don't know the exact size), I still don't think it will work. James is convinced it will.

I envision us renting a second car, not a huge deal, just easier if we are prepared for it.

Let me know what you think, and stay tuned for the results as soon as we get internet access in Scotland.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My "giant-sized" husband

I'm proud to be married to someone who is described as such. I'm also excited to know that my husband has the reflexes of a cheetah when someone is in trouble. You may not realize this, since he's very relaxed and usually moves at a comfortable pace.

Another exciting development of the day is, if anything ever happens to the Catrow's, we get their unborn children.

Here's an example of how children flock to him because of his giant size and teddy bear demeanor. This is a little girl Georgia, a daughter of some friends of ours who are volunteering their medical skills in Ethiopia for two years. These people are pretty amazing.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

more endings

We have a very exciting adventure ahead of us. We're actually in the middle of the adventure right now, it just doesn't seem like it since we're still at home. Sometimes when I stop and think about the fact that we're up and leaving the place and people we adore for two years in Scotland, a place we don't really know for people we sorta know, it seems pretty crazy. It is pretty crazy. But we know for sure that this is what we're supposed to do.

Being assured of a calling, and excited for the adventure, doesn't make it easy to leave.

There was a span of about 4 hours that was pretty insane today.

I left work at 3:00, realizing at 2:50 that today is really my last day, I wouldn't be working on Monday as I had previously planned. I walked out and immediately started crying, but better outside alone rather than inside around hordes of people. Then I got the kindest voicemail from Blair, one of my oldest bestest friends. I voicemailed her back and totally lost control while leaving the message. Who knows if she could make any sense of my blubbering.

Racing home, I met James at the house to get Owen in the car and off to a nice lady's house. This wonderful lady is having a 3 day trial run with Owen and her three dogs to see if it would work out for her to keep Owen while we're in Scotland and then, get this...GIVE HER BACK TO US!!! It would be a dream come true. If you think of it, please say a prayer that Owen will be on her best behavior and not do anything really bad while she's there. If this doesn't work out, well, I don't want to think about that yet because we have no idea what we'll do. So I'm missing Owen terribly right now. It's way too quiet without her.

Before and after the sleepover drop-off, I was making a million phone calls to the Visa people to try and figure out if we had a chance of getting them before our flight leaves on Wednesday (another thing I don't want to think about, because the Visa people have our passports, so if we don't get our Visa's, we don't get our Passports, and we don't fly). Turned out, as usual, that something else was wrong and needed to be changed, info had to be faxed in, our credit card had to be charged again, the mail avenue had to be altered. And of course, my phone died right when it was most important that it didn't. Then followed mad dashing to try and get to a fax machine that works. Fax machines seem so archaic, why can't I just email you?

All this to say I was super emotional. Packing up more stuff, with my mom to help, was a nice mindless way to spend the evening. It's wild being on this roller coaster of emotions. But, the only way I'm able to get through this is by resting in the peace and strength God gives me. I certainly don't have the strength to do it myself.

Seriously though, I have a pretty amazing life. How cool is it that we get to travel to another country, live for two years, and tell other people how much Jesus loves them!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

my last day at work...or not

I drove to work fully prepared to hold back the flood of emotion that would inevitably overwhelm me today. I was pleasantly surprised when I only cried twice and was able to pull it together quickly. It was no shocker when I found out both my mom and my mother-in-law had been praying for me all day.

I said my goodbyes to most people, not all since I will be back next Monday to have my teeth cleaned one last time. After everyone was gone, my boss asked me if I would consider coming in tomorrow morning since the schedule was crazy and a few people would be out. It was easy to say yes because a.)I love my job, b.)I still have some things to do to transition other people into doing the things I usually do, and c.)it's hard to say no to his simple request since he's done so much for me over the past two years.

So tomorrow morning I know I'll hear this 25x's: "What are you doing here, I thought yesterday was your last day!?" This whole saying goodbye thing is getting to be anti-climatic.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weekend in Review

-worked late (for a Friday) until 3:00 to get lots of stuff done before my last day
-home to get some stuff done

-Up around 9:30, desperately wanted to sleep later
-Rode with my parents and nephew to a friends house on the Rapidan River for a picnic, fishing, hanging out at the river, fireworks, good conversations, an all around good time

-Sunday School and Worship at Stony Point Church; said goodbye to some folks, shed some tears.
-Home for 3 minutes
-Met my friend Jess at Kitchen 64 for lunch. Was disappointed by the restaurant experience, but had a great time with Jess. If I were a food critic I'd go into detail, but nobody cares about a lay persons opinion.
-Franklin Street at 4:00, lots of great conversations, as usual.
-To my parents for a family farewell party

-Took Owen to meet a lady who might adopt her, and then give her back when we return!!! Owen will spend a couple of nights there this week for a trial run. Please say a prayer that it will work out and Owen and the three other dogs will all get along.
-Packed and did some laundry
-Went to Wal-Mart to get different containers to fly our stuff in.
-More laundry and packing
-Will continue to dread my last day of work tomorrow and try to make it through without totally losing it.