Monday, December 26, 2016

Winding Down Around Oasis

Any teacher reading this knows how crazy school gets right before Christmas! I treated my elementary Bible classes to a little Christmas party celebrating Jesus' birth. They were so cute. Here's my Pre-K and K class. They are from America, Korea, Rwanda, France, Italy, Turkey. 

In fact, all the classes have a Christmas party. There the true Christmas story is shared and lots of fun is planned. Here's our 2017 Senior class and sponsors with Firstborn in the front left. 

Firstborn's class went out to the soccer field to play "blob," a game of chase where you become one giant amoeba trying to catch the outliers. 

And now it's time for a break for all. We will begin back in early January! 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Outreach

It just so happens that in my order of posts, this is coming up on Christmas Day! Merry Christmas to you!!!

This is my Middle School Bible class. I assigned a project to them to earn cash (any way they wanted) and purchase something for some needy families living in the village behind our school. We then took an afternoon off of school to deliver them. 

This sweet lady just kept telling the kids how cute they were, how sweet. Her daughter was home from school, sick. We found that the homes were about 3 rooms, with only one room heated. They kept that room blazing hot with the wood burning stove to try to heat the rest of the home. 

This home touched me the most. This dear lady was so welcoming. Her little girl has Downs Syndrome, which is a very shameful thing here, with the assumption that somehow Allah is judging her. We were given permission to pray for her and several of us did. The mother cried all during the prayer. One of my students prayed for her in Turkish, which touched me deeply. She said her little girl had never talked, so we asked specifically for that. 

Some of the homes had towels and rugs thrown over bare dirt floors. They had pillows stuffed in holes in the exterior walls. One boy saw us and immediately put his little hand over his eye and held it. Later I saw him without and realized he had some sort of sickness in his eye he didn't want us to see. So many needs. We can't meet them all, but we can meet some. Merry Christmas! The blessing this day was all mine. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Staff Christmas Party 2016

This year we got to host the staff Christmas party in our home. Our den is the same size as our old house, but a different shape. It's an "L." CC got it figured out how to get everyone in there. We brought in extra tables and put all the food in the kitchen to have maximum seating in the den. This little sweetie went out and hung lanterns and lit them with candles in the trees. 

She created a candle-lit path for our guests. 

When you host a party in Turkey, this is what the front door looks like! 

We don't re-think the party each year. We have guests bring appetizers and desserts. Usually, they go all out and bring treats that can't even be bought here (like pork or gourmet cheeses). We eat first. Then CC assigns the Biblical Christmas reading to those teachers who will not be returning next year. Then we sing Christmas hymns. It nice. It's worshipful. Then we do the traditional gift exchange, which always brings laughs. It's a great time to connect with each other amid the busy week before Christmas Break. We had 48 this year! What a party! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Final Stop Edinburgh

We woke that morning early, ate our breakfast, then began the drive back to Edinburgh for our flight home. We followed the GPS in the car, trusting "she" would not lead us wrong. We feel like she took us through a little bit of a wild goose chase. At one point, we pulled off to double check. I looked up and here was this centuries old church. Sigh. Let me take a picture, I'll be quick!

Our final hope was to attend St. Giles' Cathedral, where John Knox once preached. Because of our GPS routing, we got there just past the start of service times. We so wanted to attend. Tourists were peeking in the front door. CC dropped me off and went to go find parking. I slipped in the back, where there was a cafe. I said, "Please, is it too late for me to go in? I want to attend the service." They ushered me through the door and in I went. CC soon joined me.

Though we missed the start, we didn't miss the gift God had for us that day. The pipe organ and choir loudly proclaimed, "Be Thou My Vision," one of the oldest hymns and one that was played at our wedding. I knew that God had one last gift for us that day, and tears streamed down both of our faces. Coming from Turkey, this service was a gift for us.

The flowers that day? lilies. My wedding bouquet 20 years after our wedding.

All Praise to God! (I'll spare you a post about our return.... landing at 3AM, getting home and to bed at 5AM, up for work at 7AM. Lots of coffee that day, but it was worth it!) Thanks for sticking with me through my Scotland journey!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Soon to Say Goodbye

Our 4 day getaway was coming to a close. I struggle sometimes with the idea that I've been sent overseas for a purpose, which does not necessarily include vacation and travel beyond my country of service. And yet, we live in a place that puts us near to this kind of beauty and can buy a plane ticket cheaper than the gas to drive across a few states in America. But towards the end of this trip, I viewed it as a gift to me. I felt so refreshed. I felt ready to come back to my daily out-the-door-at-7:30AM-home-at-5:30PM routine, all the while security concerns buzzing around in my head. Serving my kids at school, then serving my kids at home. In His name and with his strength. Surely, this trip gave me the respite only He knew I needed.  It was a gift, carefully and totally planned by my husband of twenty years. He was proud to show me the land of his (and my! My great granny was a "Scot.") ancestors. I am proud to be married to a Campbell, especially him. The beauty, the rainbow...I'll never forget God's messages of love to me. I felt like Scotland got a rainbow that day because of me! And specifically, I felt like He said, "I am with you. No matter where you go, My presence is there."

As we left Glencoe, the road home took us through what looked like little Christmas villages I might set upon my mantle.

Look carefully for the Campbell Clansman in this picture, grinning! We spotted one last monument, parked the car, and hiked up. It was a monument built in honor of a famous Scottish author. I was tempted to stay in the car because it was so cold! But CC said, "Come on, it's our anniversary. We have to do it together." So up I went, and then down we came through snow and slush! Wet boots, laughing that we hiked such a path, not really knowing why it was there until we finally reached the top.

On our last morning in Inverary, I took this picture of our hotel.

And I wanted one last picture of us before breakfast, which turned out to be my favorite.

....and the breakfast. It was hard to say goodbye. Goodbye, clotted cream. Goodbye, orange marmalade. Goodbye, berries. I tried very hard to balance being polite with my blueberry portion, knowing I was returning to a country without blueberries! I did get seconds.

I wanted one last picture: the front of the Campbell castle. The Earl must not have been home. Surely, he would have invited us in.

One last picture of the beautiful town of Inverary, home to the Campbells. It was easier to leave knowing we would bring our kids back soon!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Glencoe

We drove further and further, hoping to get to Glencoe before the sun set. It was magnificent.

Long ago, the people of Glencoe were not paying taxes as the king wanted. He sent his warriors (Campbells) in to kill all men/women/children. They followed the king's orders and were ruthless. This incident is why thy have the reputation they do. The people that survived fled to these mountains and froze/starved. CC continues to say, "Just obeying the king." But people still tend to have strong feelings about what was done. I am told that in some pubs, there are signs that say, "No Campbells served here."

This picture taken with my phone, I feel like shows Glencoe best. Just vast mountains split by a valley.

We made it through the valley with the enormous walls of snow on either side of us. It is hard to describe, but it was really breathtaking. The sun was beginning to set. We didn't want to be in the valley in the snow when the sun went down, so we pressed on.

And this is where we watched the sunset.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Scotland for Twenty: Castle Stalker and My Rainbow

As we drove north toward Glencoe, we saw such beautiful (and peaceful) homes all along the way. Sheep were out to graze in so many homesteads.

We were chasing daylight, and CC said he wanted to be very, very brief as we stopped to see Castle Stalker. It is one of the best preserved Medieval castles in Scotland and has been in iconic movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It surely felt mysterious on that island by itself. It is owned and lived in, I am told.

There was a little gift shop and restaurant with a view of the castle. I needed a bathroom break, so CC said for me to run in and be quick. It was so cold outside! Before long, he was inside warming up too. Our short stop turned into a longer warming up visit and before long he had bought a small paperback on the history of the Campbell Clan. We forced ourselves back out in the cold to run to the car and get on the road!

You remember that I blogged about the weather. We had seen it all, I told CC, except maybe a rainbow. That afternoon, a beautiful and massive rainbow appeared in the sky. This was impossible to capture on camera, but as long as I live I won't forget it. We saw the end of a rainbow. It fell right into a forest of trees. We stopped. I could see the colors separate into individual hues and stop at the ground. I knew for certain that the rainbow that day was a gift to me from God.

And then the rainbow appeared over a field of sheep. We were pretty much saying, "Can you believe we just took that picture? A rainbow over the sheep?!"

This, of course, does not do it justice. But this is where the rainbow ended into the trees. Right there in the dense trees, it ended as 7 separate colors.

We pressed forward, starting to see snowy mountaintops.

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