Mike and Fran's Trip
To Scotland

5/13/04  - 8:10:30 AM

We made it ... minus one suitcase ... mine. British Airways says they'll deliver it when they find it. They have until the day after tomorrow, then we're off to Inverness. That's OK, a little adventure. My watch says 1:00 PM, which means it's 8:00 AM there. I got some sleep on the plane but Fran watched movies. Guess who's asleep now? The flights were great and even though the weather forcast for Edinburgh was calling for rain, it's beautiful here ... but cold. It was really strange to watch the sun set behind us and six hours later see it rise before us. Takes a little geophysics to figure it out, but there's a sermon in there somewhere. Just thought I'd account for myself. I'll send a few pictures when I have some to show you. God bless and we'll see you in a couple of weeks. Mike

 

5/17/04  - 2:51:14 AM

Dear Friends,

Well, my suitcase caught up with me on Thursday. I wish I knew where all it went to get to me. It might have had quite a tour. We spent all day Friday in Edinburgh walking the Royal Mile. That is the main street in old Edinburgh with Holyroodhouse (the Queen's residence in Edinburgh) at one end and Edinburgh Castle at the other, with John Knox house is between ... lots of shops and pubs all along the way in ancient buildings. In the States we think something is old when it is from the 18th century. Over here that's relatively new. Old is from the 10th Century. I have three pictures to send, but I'm sending them separately since last summer some folks had trouble opening them when they came in batches. The first is a shot of St. Giles' Cathedral. It is also on the Royal Mile ... near the castle. This is the Holy See for the Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian and our denomination's direct ancestor. It is the church where John Knox, the person who brought John Calvin's version of the Reformation to Scotland, was pastor from 1559 - 72. It is beautiful inside! The stained glass windows are awesome. I have pictures. The next shot is of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness in the Highlands. We visited it yesterday and the weather was beautiful. This is a castle held variously by the MacDonalds and the Grants and the Jacobites since around 1200. It is also where St. Colombo is said to have come evangelizing. It is amazing just to walk here. See if you see the Loch Ness monster in the background. The third shot is of something Fran discovered. There's no escaping it. Driving on the wrong side of the road is going OK ... so far. I think I'm getting used to it. It's like putting contacts in for the first time. Every reflex says not to put your finger in your eye. Every reflex says not to drive on the left side of the road. You just have to get over it. I tried haggis. It was good! I think it is to Scotland as BBQ hash is to South Carolina. If you get beyond what's in it ... it's pretty good. I'll close and go take some more shots. We're in Inverness until Thursday when we go to Fort William. Today we'll head north. God bless you all. We miss you and will see you soon.

Grace and peace,

Mike

St. Giles' Cathedral

Urquhart Castle

5/17/04 - 2:56:22 AM

Look what Fran found

5/20/04 - 12:01:39 PM

Greetings from Scotland!

We got to Fort William today from Inverness. It's a beautiful drive down Loch Ness and through the Highlands. I'm taken by how varied the countryside here is in a relatively short distance. Mountains come straight up from the sea. And where there are no mountains there are rolling hills. And it is so very green to be so cold. We have been very fortunate with the weather ... a few showers on a couple of days, but other wise absolutely beautiful. But the temp has hardly left the fifties during the day.

On Sunday we went up the NW coast to the fishing port town of Wick. The road wound along the cliffs above the sea with ancient stone buildings all along the way. The first shot (I'll send these separately again) is of an abandoned stone church just south of Wick with a newer (but still very old) stone church beside it which is also abandoned. That seems to be the story of the Church of Scotland today. Even the Scots will tell you it is moribund. The second shot is of Elgin Cathedral. This is a village at the eastern edge of the central Highlands. It was begun in 1224 and was complete in about 1400. It was the seat of the pre-Reformation Catholic church. After 1560 (Reformation) it was neglected and has declined to its state today. The neglect happened because there was already a Kirk (church) in the town in 1560, and all religious activity moved there when they fired the Pope. The oldest grave is that of one of the cathedral's bishops from the early 1400's. The photo does no justice to standing in the middle of it all. It is absolutely massive!! Tomorrow and the next day we'll be seeing Iona and the Isle of Skye. Y'all stay safe and keep us in your prayers as you will be in mine.

God bless,

Mike

Church from Wick

Elgin Cathedral

5/24/04 - 3:02:23 AM

Dear Friends,

Back to Edinburgh today to get ready to fly home Wed. Everything about this trip has been wonderful. Gentle people and great hosts have been with us the whole time.

I want to share one more shot with you. This is the Abbey on Iona. It dates back to the sixth century when St. Columba landed on the shores of this small island and established a monastery. He came from Ireland and is credited with being the one who brought Christianity to what would become the British Isles. Worship at the Abbey continues today. One of the great stone crosses standing in front dates from around 945 AD. Keep us in your prayers as you remain in mine.

God bless,

Mike

Abbey on Iona

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