25 September 2007

The Fun Has Begun!

Since the whole purpose behind this little adventure of ours is so that I (Mark) can finish my education, I thought it would be a good idea for me to actually post something informing you of that aspect of our time here.

Last Friday, I was able to meet with my supervisor (Dr. Andrew Clarke) and thankfully it went very well. For whatever reason, I really made no effort to contact him prior to arriving here. At any rate, it was good to finally meet with him and I'm pleased to say that I think we will work well together. Dr Clarke seems like a man of high character and is quite personable. He is actually a Baptist and though we really did not talk much about matters of faith, I do get the sense that he is a believer.

An aspect of doing a PhD here that will take some time to get used to the reality that the relationship between a supervisor and supervisee in the UK is more one of colleagues than a teacher-student kind of relationship. So, my supervisor prefers me to address him as "Andrew" rather than the "sir" that comes much more naturally to me. It will probably take some time to get used to this, but it is somewhat flattering. A former PhD at another British university once told me that the traditional model here is that at least when it comes to his/her topic, the supervisee is actually seen as the expert and not the supervisor. This is certainly a much different way of doing things than in the US. I suppose the idea behind it is that a PhD student will someday have something fairly important to say and until then is "given the benefit of the doubt."

At any rate, over the last couple of days the library has been my second home (I should get an "office" to share with at least one more student in about month) working on my first assignment. Essentially, I'm supposed to get a feel for what others have already said about my topic (very briefly, the eschatology of Ephesians). My goal is to basically hit my research hard from 9-5, Monday to Friday, and put in a little bit of extra time in the mornings and nights as needed and as I am able. Prayers for strength and motivation would be appreciated. Thus far, God has been faithful to help me push forward. But, I know Thursday's and Friday's will be my hardest days (I can already feel it coming).

May God richly bless you all!

19 September 2007

God's Faithfulness!

Birthdays are a good time to reflect on God’s faithfulness throughout the past year and throughout one’s life. And since Monday was my 29th birthday, I guess I have recently been thinking about God’s faithfulness to me (and Mark). In church on Sunday we heard a sermon from Genesis 7. This chapter describes the flood and God’s plan to save Noah and his family, thus demonstrating His faithfulness to His plan to bring Christ to future generations. We sang a beautiful song with the words “What a faithful God have I.” Oh how true!! We have a very faithful God indeed! To imprint the idea of God’s faithfulness further on my heart and mind, I woke up on my birthday to a rainbow (see the picture taken from our front window 4 stories up)! God has been faithful to His people for generations and generations. He has been faithful to me for the past 29 years, is faithful to me today, and will be faithful tomorrow. Will you praise God with us as we reflect on His faithfulness to us the past week or so?

1. We enjoyed the church we visited on Sunday and were refreshed by God’s word. We could see ourselves attending this church and are excited to have the possibility of a good church to attend.
2. On Sunday we met other students at church in the same PhD program Mark is in.
3. We were able to get a checking account set up on Monday. We were also able to get a credit card because of Mark’s British passport. This can take a couple of years for non-citizens and was an unexpected blessing.
4. I felt good on my birthday (one of my birthday wishes) :)
5. I got to make new friends Monday night at a meeting of other PhD wives (another birthday wish!)
6. Our neighbor, Lynne, is a believer and has been ever so helpful in answering our many questions. We aren’t sure what we would do without her!
7. We were able to get into our flat quickly compared to other students and we are enjoying being here very much.
8. We have warm clothes and waterproof coats to protect us from the elements!
9. We have found many things we needed for our flat at reasonable prices in shops nearby.
10. We are greatly enjoying the company of one another during this time.
11. I have found food to eat and have felt better the past 5 days or so.
12. I have a loving and caring husband who takes great care of me!
13. We are healthy enough to walk around the city, sometimes several miles a day.
14. We have very supporting family and friends who have encouraged us during this time of transition.
15. We found out yesterday afternoon that Mark is able to pay the “home tuition” for his studies! The cost of school will be about half of what it would have been! This is a major answer to prayer and we praise God for this blessing.

13 September 2007

We are in our Flat!

This has to be quick today because we may lose internet connection at any time. We are in the process of getting ours hooked up, but it may take a week, so bare with us!

Tuesday night about 8pm we finally got to move into our flat!! Praise the Lord! We were homeless from about 10am (when we checked out of our B & B) until we moved in here. We didn't even know if we would be able to move in until about 4 hours before it actually happened. That was a hard day!

We are doing pretty well and will be in touch as we are able.

09 September 2007

Friendly Faces

Yesterday afternoon and evening we had a great treat! Heather and Gena (who work in another city about 3 hours from us) came to visit us and also brought us a few items for our new flat. We know them from Southeastern and our time there. Mark and I both decided seeing familiar faces, fellowshipping and laughing was just what we needed after a long week. It was nice to have our mind off of moving stuff for awhile and catch up with them. It was a real blessing because they had a car, so we got to see some different parts of the city we hadn't seen yet, like the coast. We enjoyed a delicious dinner outside and I didn't have many problems. They also took us to a health food store where I was able to see what was available for my diet and purchase a few things I needed. What a joy to find pretty much all I need at that store :) God is good!

We ended the evening with a stroll through City Centre and a fierce game of Spades. We are sorry
to report that we lost but not by very much!

Today has been a challenging day but we are confident our Lord is still in control. We found out through e-mail, right after out last post, that we have been approved to lease the flat! Bringing references from our previous land-lords, bank, and employers helped greatly. This was a huge answer to prayer. Unfortunately, the landlord is having a hard time getting the current tenant to move out quickly. I think we have finally settled on us moving in on Tuesday night. Not ideal, but still better than later in the week. We are learning perseverance during this time of waiting. May God be glorified because we haven't heard of anyone getting into a flat within a week of their landing here. Thanks for remembering us during this time. Miss you all!

07 September 2007

Our Latest Adventures

Yesterday we had a busy day. I think we decided we walked over 4 miles yesterday -- that was round trip to the store that is essentially Super Wal-Mart (!) and round trip to see the University where Mark will be studying. Also part of the walking was finding the two flats that we had viewings for. We were grateful both flats were nice and in good locations, though they were a little more than we had hoped to pay.

The second flat was too nice and too good for my needs to pass up, so we asked the landlord to take less than he had asked for. It seemed he and his wife were believers and had also gone through a PhD program and remembered the hardships financially. They had mercy on us and dropped the price as we asked! Praise God for this blessing. Also a blessing is the flat is newly remodeled with laminate floors and clean furniture and walls. There is also a good size refrigerator and freezer (most fridges here have very tiny freezers, more like what you would find in a dorm fridge). This apartment seems even more than we had dared hope for, so thank you for your prayers! We rejoice that the Lord is opening up the way for us to stay in this flat, at least for the length of our 6 month contract.

The hard part is that now we are stuck in the lovely bureaucracy of "letting a flat." They need all kinds of references, which we brought with us, but they still might have to verify that they are true and came from the sources we said they came from. We have been praying that this will be a speedy process. We honestly hoped it would be completed by the close of this working day, but since it's 10 minutes from then now, we think it will be Monday before we are approved. This may not seem like a big deal, but because the flat has a current tenant, and the landlord has to give them 3 days notice (which can't legally start until after we are approved), so it's probably going to be late next week before we can get in. This is frustrating, especially since I really have no kitchen to cook my food in. However, we are now at a Bed & Breakfast until we can get into our flat and will see if the owner will let us use her kitchen a little. Please pray with us about this situation. We pray that somehow we can get into the place earlier than first expected.

As for my health, it has been so-so since arriving. I can tell certain foods that are being cooked still bother me. At the guest house here there is also something (fabric softener?) or other bothering me in the room. It could be a long few days!

Now for something more fun! Here are a few photos from our first look around part of the university's campus yesterday. The above left picture is the road you walk down to get to the university. We were able to fit in a quick trip there between apartment viewings. It is set in the old part of town, and it really is like stepping back in time!

06 September 2007

We are here!

We've been in our new city for almost 24 hours now. We were welcomed to the UK in a fashion you'd expect--thick gray clouds, soupy rain, and bright green grass. Thankfully as the day went on, the sun came out and turned out to be a wonderful evening.

I managed pretty well on the various flights. There was only one time I thought I was losing my capacity to breathe (while dinner was being served on the trans-Atlantic flight), but it quickly came back. Thank you for all your prayers. I know God was answering them. I am glad to have the travels over and am so grateful that they went so well.

We stayed last night (and will again tonight) with another Ph.D. student and his family in their flat. They have already answered a ton of questions and been very helpful for us as we try to adjust. We are enjoying playing with their almost 5 year old (who has the cutest little Scottish accent!) and 3 year old boys. They took us last night to a park near their house and we all enjoyed being out in the fall-like evening weather. It was so strange to be in 60 degree weather after being in the 90 degree heat for the past month or more. The scary thing is they said yesterday had been one of the warmer days in the past few months!

We are still having trouble finding a flat (an apartment), unfortunately. Last night, two of the viewings we had set up were canceled because the flats were already leased. The one flat we did look at last night was too small for both us. We do have two viewings for this afternoon and we will just have to see what happens. In many ways, this is what we expected to happen. At any rate, would really appreciate your prayers during this time. Finding a flat really soon would obviously be a great blessing.

More to come later :-)

04 September 2007

On Our Way!

We are thrilled that in about 24 hours we'll finally be in Scotland :) It was a rough night's sleep last night and we are both ready to be on our way at last. Let's hope we, and our luggage that is over stuffed, make it safely to our destination! We'll try to let you know when we've made it. Blessings!

Here's us right before we said good-bye to my parents :( I wasn't smiling then...