Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Parents & Presents

My parents have safely arrived in Dornoch! They had a great flight, especially when they were upgraded unexpectedly to Business class on the flight from Dulles to London. Seeing them come through the gate was so fabulous!

They came bearing presents: SO MANY PRESENTS! They brought two suitcases full of nothing but stuff for us, and even limited the amount of clothes they would have brought to make more room; that's sacrifice. Thanks so much to all of you who sent gifts with them, we're so excited about every single item!

Here, take a look:

Notice the FIVE jars of Peanut Butter? James is stoked. So many things that we can't get here: chocolate chips in mass quantities, Hershey kisses, Reese's Peanut Butter cups, Grits, Oatmeal, a gingerbread house kit, Hershey's Cocoa Powder, Frank's Hot Sauce, Candy Canes, washclothes (really, they don't sell those here), Wheat Thins, Burts Bees, homemade goodies, Gold Bond, VA is for lover's stickers. Some other things: a photo album with photos, shirts, WARM socks, a great Murphy magnet and Jennifer notepad, fabulous books and DVD's, Mac makeup, ornaments that represent our dog and cat, a HANDMADE ornament by my nephew Noah, a wonderful letter from my brother Kyle, and more! It's all so glorious.

We also got some new shoes via the plane; they're not quite as sparkly in real life

But the stuff is just stuff, I'm so glad my parents are here and would be just as excited if they came with none of that stuff!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Or as British people say, "Happy Christmas!"

To all of our friends and family out there, we love and miss you so much. We wish we could be there with you, or even better, you be here with us!

Christmas isn't nearly as commercial in Scotland as it is in America. In a way, we really miss that festive spirit, anticipation, and shopping madness that begins earlier and earlier (this year we saw Christmas decorations in Wal-Mart in early September!). Being removed from that, and also being without the people we usually spend the holiday's with, has challenged me to concentrate more on the true meaning of Christmas and the real reason for the joy and excitement that comes along with the season.

PS: We leave early in the morning on Boxing Day to pick up my parents from the airport in Edinburgh! I can't wait!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Deep-Fried Delicacies

Apparently the deep-fried candy bar is not just an American State Fair specialty. Scotland deep-fries anything that batter will stick to. America's southern states are popular for foods that are fried, which probably leads to it being the country with the highest rate of obesity. Scotland has recently earned second place in this category.

Along with the deep-fried Mars Bar, some popular fried foods are pizza, fish and chips (so popular), black pudding (aka blood pudding: makes me gag), white pudding, and haggis. I stay away from all of those items except for fish and chips, it's just so good.

FYI: The UK Mars bar is just a sweeter version of America's Milky Way.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I saw these amazing spiderwebs today. The frost makes them much more prominent; God's attention to detail in His creation is amazing.

Surprise Gift

One of the girls that comes to the weekly Youth Club and Youth Fellowship events heard us talking about our love for PB & Chocolate and brought us a Nutrageous Candy Bar! I love these and hadn't seen them sold anywhere around here. It was so thoughtful, I was very touched by her kindness. I love these kids.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Loads of Pictures of the Isle of Skye

We went on an adventure yesterday to the Isle of Skye, an island off the west coast of Scotland. The day was beautiful; hardly a cloud in the sky, a rarity around here so we took advantage of the opportunity. Angus (the pastor of the church we're working with) was our tour guide; his family is from Skye and he grew up there for part of his childhood so he knows the area well. Dornoch is on the east coast, so we started by driving south and west to the other coast of Scotland.

It was an awesome day. The temperature started out at -8 C (17 F) in Dornoch and so much frost was on the ground it looked like snow; but it was considerably warmer in Skye. Maybe just above freezing? We saw some beautiful sites, it was incredible. Pictures are never as good as being there, but maybe they'll give you an idea of how great it is!

We took a short hike to the top of this hill. It didn't take long, but it was so steep!

View from the top.

Can you believe we actually fit through those rocks?

They say the middle top part looks like a Kilt, hard to tell from far away.

Today I got to see a little slice of heaven.

Monday, December 17, 2007

You Know You're in the Europe When...

You're at Borders and while perusing the "Gift Ideas for Christmas" table with books intended for any age, you come across a photography book with a photograph of 4 completely naked women on the front; no censorship, no clever camera angles to make it less revealing, just full frontal shots of four ladies.

I realized long ago that there's little to no censorship here, but I still get a shock when I come across something like that.

one of my most favorite sounds

James is taking a shower right now and I can hear him singing old hymns. I love hearing him sing in the shower, something about it warms my heart.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bloggers Block

I've had a bit of bloggers block lately. Not because I'm having trouble with thinking about what to write about, but because there are so many things I'd like to write about, but can't.

Our ministry is really growing, we're meeting and getting to know so many kids. New relationships with people in the Dornoch Free Church and in the community are strengthening. There are so many qualities of the church and people that I'd love to share with you; but, avoiding the chance of offending and not sharing something that might be hurtful to people here is more important than my freedom to write about whatever comes to mind.

I felt like all I was writing about had to do with the weather, silly cultural experiences, or people and things from America I'm missing; it was getting old to me so I thought it must be getting old to read about.

Anyway, sorry for the lull if you were checking, thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Peanut Butter & Chocolate...Heavenly

I've always loved this combination. I'm salivating just thinking about it. I don't recall ever running into an American who absolutely detests a lovely treat with these two tasty food items.

Scottish people are a whole different breed. Most of them dislike peanut butter, and maybe two people we've met have heard of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Typically the thought of PB&J's causes them to scrunch up their nose and turn away in disgust. When we tell them how popular the sandwich is in America, they're simply amazed. You should see what their smooth peanut butter looks like in the store. It's a scary grayish color. The crunchy is decent, but I'm afraid to try the smooth.

James L.O.V.E.S. Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter. Seriously, it's probably #1 or #2 on his favorite foods list. I also am a big fan of peanut butter, not as serious as James, but he's led me to become addicted to the Peter Pan way of PB. They definitely don't sell Peter Pan here. It was just beginning to be reintroduced to the American market (after the unfortunateSalmonella issue) when we were leaving the States in September, so we weren't able to stock up before we left.

We have been blessed to have to endure only a few short stints of no Peter Pan since our wonderful friends and family are so thoughtful as to mail us jars of Peter Pan (you guy's rock). No small feat since even a small jar is very heavy and therefore expensive to mail. We are so grateful; you have no idea how much we enjoy it. We've just finished a jar today that was sent about two weeks ago. We even kept the lid that was lovingly signed by the giver (thanks Lynn & Leigh!). Some of our new Dornoch friends visited Orlando in October and returned with a huge jar of Peter Pan for us, it was so thoughtful.

Reese's peanut butter cups are delicious. I've always liked them, and even have a specific way of eating them, but we won't get into my quirks right now. I was sad to discover that they aren't sold here in Scotland, not that I've seen anyway. You'll understand how excited we were to open a package from our pastor's family in America to find an entire bag of Reese's miniatures. Oh how we've savored every one.

We've described them to people here, in hopes of sharing a delicious snack with them. Most people aren't interested. I'm having trouble understanding this, but I don't dwell on it since that means more Reese's for us!

In the grand scheme, Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Reese's Cups are small and insignificant luxuries, but when there are tons of changes happening, it's the little comforts of home that make a big difference.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Climatization and Running

It's amazing how fast your body adjusts to your environment.
Yesterday it was 10 degrees Celsius which is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This is much better than the 1-5 degrees C it has been the last week or so.

I enjoy running, usually. I discovered in the last few years that it's great therapy for me. James realizes this too and is awesome at encouraging me to go, especially on those nasty weather days when I don't feel like being outside period.

There was a time when rain, wind, and clouds would mean no running for me. Since those weather conditions are common in the Highlands of Scotland, I realized early on I'd have to embrace them if I wanted to stay mentally and physically fit.

Sometimes it takes a while to work up the nerve to actually step out into the elements, and the first half mile I'm trying to run as fast as I can to get warmed up super fast, but I'm always glad I've gone when it's over.

Yesterday was monumental. At 50F, I was able to run without a hat or gloves, with only one short-sleeved t-shirt, knee length running pants, and a windbreaker that I didn't even need after the first 5 minutes. It was amazing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Advertising Works

Scots speak English, but it's definitely different from the English that I've spent 27 years learning. One of the ways the "language barrier" has cropped up is realizing how we Americans use brand names to refer to products rather than the product's specific name.

We've asked for things such as Scotch Tape and Saran Wrap, only to receive blank looks. It happens so often for certain products, that I'm hard-pressed to come up with an alternative name to use.

I've listed a few I've thought of; some might be ones I only use myself. If we've learned the Scottish Version (SV), I've listed that.

Advil/Tylenol/Instead of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen

These two take you back, don't they!? I actually still own a pink discman, it's packed away somewhere.

Chap Stick
/ I mean really, what other word would you use? I guess lip balm, but that just sounds weird.

Saran Wrap/ Scottish Version: cling film

Bandaids/ SV: plaster

Coke/ SV: fizzy juice

Q-Tips/SV: I can't remember

Scotch Tape/ SV: cellophane tape

Bisquick/ SV: Pancake Mix (which is probably what most Americans would call it.)

Karo Syrup/ SV: they don't sell it here. I tried to make Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving and had to make another dessert (SV: pudding).

Here's one that Scottish people use: they say Hoover when referring to any vacuum cleaner.

Can you guy's think of any more?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Goodbye to the Best Blueberry Donut Ever

I love blueberry cake donuts (not the ones with the yucky gel filling). It was disappointing not to be able to get them in a Richmond Donut shop. Krispy Kreme on Broad St. doesn't sell them; Dunkin' Donuts has them, but who wants to go way down Staples Mill.

When I was first directed to Rainbow Donuts by my friend Blare, I was smitten at my first bite of their glorious blueberry cake donut. Every excuse we could find, we were at Rainbow Donuts. This was during the year and 1/2 when we were constantly doing renovation work on our house, and our awesome friends and family were helping out a lot. What better way to welcome them on a Saturday morning than with a dozen donuts from the best donut shop in town. If we had some out-of-town visitors, or were hanging out with some friends who live outside the city limits, they probably needed to experience Rainbow Donuts, so we would sacrificially escort them.

Today, I was informed by WOTBN, that Rainbow Donuts is closing.

Searching my blog entries for donuts resulted in 6 posts where I mention eating Rainbow Donuts. Here is the record of my very first Rainbow Donuts experience (if you happen to follow that link, keep in mind I really enjoy running, so the title will tell you just how much I love the BCD at RD).

The donuts were delicious, but that was only part of the experience. The owner (I'm sad to say I can't remember his name right now) is a man of few words, very kind, and extremely hard-working. My favorite part about the place was that generational and economical barriers were destroyed. On any given Saturday morning, I wouldn't be surprised to walk in to find a homeless guy or gal, the elderly guys who sit there all day drinking coffee, and the West End mom in her humongo SUV with her two kids in their soccer uniforms.

Apparently the owner of Rainbow was given a deal by McDonald's that he couldn't refuse. I can only hope that he'll decide to set up shop somewhere else, but it would have to be housed in another hole-in-the-wall or it just wouldn't be the same. Who am I kidding, I wouldn't care if he sold them out of the back of his car, as long as he had that blueberry cake donut, I'm there...well, as soon as I get back to America.