23 September 2008

A Close Call

Many of you know my brother, Todd, is in Israel to share God's love and salvation plan through Christ with the Jews and Arabs there. I just received an email from him about the terrorist attack last night in Jerusalem. You may have heard of it on the news by now, though I'm sure it would have faded into the zillions of others we have heard about. Amazingly enough my brother was very close when this attack occurred. He heard the gunshots and saw the police cars/ambulance go speeding by. He doesn't even live in Jerusalem, just happened to be there for a prayer meeting last night. What I find stunning is that Todd had two roads to choose from last night -- He could go right or go left. He started down the path to the right, but quickly sensed the Lord telling Him to go the other direction. He chose to listen and turned back to follow left. About five minutes later is when he heard the gunshots (which he thought were fireworks at the time). Then the police cars followed. It was only once he was home, and then again this morning listening/reading of the terrorist attack that he pieced together that the attack occurred on the very road he was originally taking. He may or may not have been there at the exact moment had he continued on the road, but chances are he would have been close enough to see it all unfold. Undoubtedly it would have been traumatic. Will you praise God with us for his protection last night? He will be in Israel until Oct. 30th, then will be home for 3 months deciding if he is to return to continue his work there. It may seem foolish after such a close call to even think about returning, but Todd knows God knows best and is Sovereign. If God desires Todd to work for His Kingdom in such an environment, then he wants to continue doing so. Please pray for clear guidance over the next few months, and also for his continued safety as he completes his term there.

Here's the article Todd sent:

The terrorist who rammed his vehicle into a group of soldiers at a central Jerusalem thoroughfare late Monday night has been identified as Kasem Mugrabi, 19, from Jabel Mukaber in east Jerusalem.

Mugrabi wounded fifteen people, before being shot dead by an off-duty IDF officer, police and rescue officials said. It was the third such attack in the city in as many months.

Twelve wounded in the attack were still being treated Tuesday morning, Israel Radio reported.
At Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem one woman was in intensive care in a moderate to serious condition, having undergone surgery overnight. Of another five patients from the terror attack who were in the hospital's care, two will undergo surgery during the day on Tuesday. In Sha'are Tzedek Hospital two IDF soldiers were in a moderate condition, and two soldiers and two citizens were lightly injured.

The attack took place at the city's Kikar Tzahal near Jaffa Gate.
The assailant, who was driving a BMW, crashed into a group of off-duty soldiers on the sidewalk, where his car came to a grinding halt.

Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco said that the attacker was shot dead "within seconds" by an off-duty IDF officer who was touring the city with his unit. He added that there was no intelligence information ahead of the attack, but noted that Jerusalem was under heavy security alert due to Ramadan.

The city's police chief said that the lone attacker was an Arab resident of east Jerusalem. The pedestrians wounded in the attack were rushed to Jerusalem's Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, Hadassah-University Hospital on Mount Scopus and the city's Sha'are Tzedek Hospital.

The attack comes after two back-to-back bulldozer attacks in Jerusalem in July which left three Israelis dead and dozens wounded. Half an hour after the attack, dozens of angry haredi residents chased two Arab locals who happened to be in the area. Many chanted racist slogans such as "Death to the Arabs" and tried to walk toward the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. Police on horseback dispersed the haredim, ensuring that the violence did not escalate.

The attack comes after two back-to-back bulldozer attacks in Jerusalem in July which left three Israelis dead and dozens wounded. Defense Minister Ehud Barak called to expedite legal processes so that security forces could demolish homes of terrorists in order to deter future attacks.

Haim, an American yeshiva student, told the Jerusalem Post he came across the attack as it happened. Haim said he was walking near the Old City and heard gun shots, there was chaos and he saw wounded people on the ground who seemed to be "in pretty bad shape." The young man told the Post that as he was running away, he saw soldiers running toward the scene loading their rifles.

21 September 2008

The Week of Celebrations

The best thing about turning 30 was the week long celebration! Maybe 30 isn't so bad after all :)

Monday: Mark gave me an early gift by passing his driving exam.

Tuesday: Made Snickerdoodles to take to work (since they've been asking for them since the last time I brought them in, so why not spread the birthday cheer). I also made myself a whole pan of allergy free brownies to nibble on all week (a very great idea indeed!)

Wednesday: Mark's presents and sweet card at home in the morning. More cards, gifts and flowers at work, with only a few decorations. Thankfully not too embarrassing or over the top. I didn't have to wear the "Today I'm 30" badge/button that another girl who turned 30 earlier in the year threatened for months to make me wear when the big day arrived. (When I thanked her Thursday she was disgusted with herself she forgot to get it out!) Fun driving around with Mark for the afternoon seeing the great scenery of Scotland and not having to cook my birthday dinner. Also talking with family on Skype and receiving tons of greetings on Facebook and elsewhere.

Thursday: Receiving unexpectedly a small tray of cut fruit with a plastic wrapper on top, which my co-workers punched holes in to hold up the "3" and "0" candles. (I'm seeing a forgetfulness theme here.) I was impressed at how they improvised since they knew I couldn't eat cake! I did enjoy the fruit :)

Friday: Celebrating with old (as in familiar) friends, and also several new wives who have just arrived this month, by going out for coffee. It was another friend's birthday yesterday so it was a joint celebration. I think everyone in the small coffee shop was wondering why the crazy Americans were taking the place over...then we loudly sang Happy Birthday and left no more questions! Always a blessing to chat with other women. Thanks, ladies, for the love :)

Saturday: Mark orchestrated a surprise party that was mostly a surprise :) I say mostly because while I had some idea it was maybe coming from piecing together various things from the previous two weeks, I wasn't definite. God again blessed us with gorgeous weather so that we were able to actually soak in the sun during the BBQ (cookout). So nice! I was thoroughly impressed by Mark's thoughtfulness in details big and small. Again I felt the love from friends, but even more so by my sweet husband. I am blessed greatly.

What a splendid week. Guess it is back to reality.

19 September 2008

The Stillness

Today Mark and I had lunch together outside on campus to enjoy the nice fall day. What a treat!  While we were sitting on the bench I noticed how still and quiet campus was.  Part of it is because most new students don't arrive until this weekend or Monday.  But then as we were walking to the library I knew without a doubt what made it really still....there was barely any wind! Just a gentle breeze.  VERY unusual for Aberdeen....so unusual I noticed it as being quiet.  On my walk home I enjoyed the still, quiet day...savoring it knowing it won't last long!  It's weird that wind brings so much noise.  I guess it's just something else we've somewhat gotten used to. (I say somewhat, because there are days when I definitely still notice the crazy wind, it's howling, and the noise it makes on our roof!)

17 September 2008

Another Chapter Begins

It's official. I'm not old enough to be 30, yet that's what they tell me I am. The day I've dreaded for at least 365 days has come. I'm trying to embrace the fact that I'm now in my 30's rather than my 20's. At least it's been a first good day in them! I got the present I wanted most today: SUNSHINE! God is so good in His gifts isn't He? Mark and I were able to get out to the countryside for the afternoon/evening, which is something I'd really hoping we'd be able to do. Thanks to all of you for the many birthday wishes! Thought you'd enjoy seeing a couple of pics of me when I was wee, plus one Mark took today that I really liked.
I think I was 6 months in the one above, not sure about the one below.

15 September 2008

That Chapter Closed

Whew! What a long haul. Mark and I are both relieved that the "obtaining-a-UK-license" chapter of our lives is OVER! Forever. I'm pleased to say Mark overcame the driving-Nazi examiner this afternoon and walked out qualified to drive in the UK for the next 35+ years! I am so proud!

I am not sure who had more torture during the 40 minute long test - me waiting at the test center and praying like crazy for him, or him actually taking the test. As soon as I saw his examiner walk out to start the exam I knew he needed every prayer we'd prayed and a few extras! She was all you wouldn't want an examiner to be, especially a bit gruff and grumpy looking.

Thanks again and again for lifting us up through this chapter of our lives. We are still trying to grasp the reality that it really has closed!

11 September 2008

Driving Exam Update

Thanks to those of you who have been remembering Mark in your prayers this week as he has prepared for the practical driving exam. It was supposed to be tomorrow morning, but the test center had to cancel for some reason. It has been rescheduled for Monday at 2pm. Unfortunately that means he has to drive in more traffic :( Please keep praying for him and that God would enable him clear thinking and favor with the examiner.

If you'd like another crazy driving exam story, go here. Will wonders never cease?!

08 September 2008

A Love-Hate Relationship

What more can be said of the play "Sunset Song" that I saw last night than, "It was brilliant"? In case you haven't been keeping track, Sunset Song is the first book in a trilogy by a Scottish author that I was encouraged to read. It took me several months, but I finally got through it. It really is a masterpiece, and seeing it on stage (a masterpiece in its own right) made me remember how much I enjoyed the book. It also reminded me I really want to finish the other two books.

Aside from listening to thick Aberdonian accents drenched with archaic Doric for over 2 hours trying to discern exactly what was being said, there was not much I didn't enjoy about the play. I am so glad I had read the book or I really would have been lost! The music, the movements, the short dances, the dialogue, the scores of music -- all of it pointed to the song of life, the rhythm, the cycles we all go through as we live our lives. One of my favorite parts of it all is the theme that runs throughout the book about loving the land, and yet hating the land. It all makes sense since the book is set in a rural town in early 1900 Scotland. Farming was the way of life. It was both a joy to farm the land and a hardship.

I think I like it because I can relate. Many days I absolutely love Scotland. It will be hard to leave some day. It's gorgeous and fresh and full of life--I can't get enough of the countryside.
Other days I absolutely despise this place (today may count!). The grey, dreary, dark, windy, cold, rainy (known here as dreich) weather blankets the land I love....and sometimes, it seems, my entire being with it.Yet in the end the love seems to always triumph the hate. In the light and beauty the dreich seems to fade away. The book and play ended with a sunset over a stone circle (which plays a significant part in the novel), so I will leave you with an apt photo so you too can imagine your own song at sunset.

05 September 2008

What a Relief!

I passed my practical car exam :) Whew. So glad that is over!! Now we just have to pray Mark will also pass his next Friday.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support. It didn't rain, I was amazingly calm, was able to think clearly, didn't do anything stupid and passed solidly. Praise the Lord for hearing our prayers!

I can hardly believe it's over. Months of thinking about this and preparing. I'm so glad I can lead a normal driving life again :) And I do have to give credit to the UK. They put you through the ringer, but on the whole I feel like a better driver all the way around. Maybe everyone should have to go through a mid-life crisis by going through a second driving exam.....nah......

04 September 2008

You Know You've Adapted to Aberdeen If.....

What a year it has been! A year ago today we left Charlotte to venture into the unknown. It's been a busy week mentally for me as I have thought often about various thoughts and feelings associated with moving here. I look back and see God's hand of faithfulness guiding us so clearly, providing all we've needed, offering His grace when we've made mistakes and overall just blessing us as His children. How can we say thanks enough to those of you who have faithfully prayed for us this past year as we've adjusted to a new home and city?

In light of our being here for one year we thought we'd leave you with some fun, though it may be more fun for those friends who actually live/have lived here.

You know you've adapted to Aberdeen if....

1. Part of your daily/nightly ritual is hanging clothes out to dry in your living room.
2. You tell people how far something is based on how long it takes to walk there.
3. Your idea of something being close is if it is 15 (maybe 20) minutes or less to walk there.
4. You brag to your friends if you washed and dried 2 or more loads in one day (usually only if there's a sunny day and you've hung it out on the line).
5. You open your windows just about every day, even when it's cold out.
6. You write the date in the day/month/year format even in your journal now.
7. You have said to another UK person "yeah, it's warm here today" and it's only in the 60's (and you actually meant it)!
8. You take your own recyclable bags shopping.
9. You have answered "Aye" to a question you wished to answer in the affirmative.
10. You can understand most/all of what is said to you by the Scots.
11. You can say to a co-worker asking about another co-workers' whereabouts (with a straight face) "out for a fag/having a fag." (If you are confused about this, see this post.)
12. Scottish oats in some fashion comprise part of your daily intake of dietary fiber.
13. You perfer a walking commute to work over driving and hope you can even do this when you return to the States (okay, for fairness' sake...not always the case, but I do love the refreshing 15-20 minute walk to work in the mornings! So much less stressful than driving 15-20 minutes!)
14. You've given up hoping your towel will be soft and fluffy when it comes off the drying rack.
15. You are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to live in this city for this season of life!

And, how to know you've still got some adapting to do....

You don't hate the seagulls as passionately as the locals. In fact, you still think they have some charm.

You still slip up and say "pants" when you really mean "trousers" and unfortunately people laugh wondering why you are talking about your underwear :(

01 September 2008

Newest Member of the Family and Prayer Request

Sorry to those of you who thought maybe we were expecting...maybe next time :)

So here in the UK your car has to undergo a yearly test called an MOT. It's similar to emissions testing, but is way more extensive. Basically, if your car needs any work done, this test will find it. Call it a mandatory yearly car maintenance check-up. It's a good idea since it involves making the roads safer, forcing car owners to take care of their cars and removing those cars from the roads that need help. Enter our dear old Green Nelly. She was a '93 or '94 Ford Escort whose value didn't not come anywhere near the work she needed when we were told she needed a new suspension system among other things. So sadly we had to decide to get rid of her and purchase another one. A '99 Kia Shuma. We have no idea what a Shuma is as we've never heard of it before.

She's a decent car so far. We haven't named her. Mark thought of Silver Bullet (though she's not quite silver). I said it would have to be "Silver Bullet Rides Again" because I had a Silver Bullet in college. So far I'm uninspired other than that.

So the prayer request is this:I take the practical part of the driving exam on Friday morning (9:37am to be exact. That's 4:37am for all you East coast early risers). Finally, the last stage in getting my UK license. It's about a 40 minute (YIKES!) exam. I was just getting to the stage where I felt confident enough to pass the test, then we got this new car. I have been more than a little flustered at the new clutch, gas peddle, gear shift, different view out the back window for reversing maneuvers, and the windshield wiper and indicators being in opposite sides of the wheel as they were in Green Nelly (and perhaps all the cars I've ever owned). I can just see me during my test turning the wipers on as I am entering a roundabout instead of indicating the direction I'm going. The examiner would love that :)

After a rough driving session yesterday, tearful conversation with Mark about my struggles/fears, and another conversation with our instructor I just about changed my appointment for another month out. But then I had some time with the Lord and was reminded of many things, such as "cast all your cares/anxiety on Him, for He cares for you." He has brought me thus far, He will help me forward. I desire to pass this test Friday if at all possible so I can quite having it hanging over me. It's been a long journey!

Will you pray with me that....
--I can continue to be faithful to prepare as fully as I need to in the remaining days I have.
--It won't rain Friday morning when I take the test (that will help with the wiper situation!)
--I will be granted favor with the examiner
--I will have a calm heart that is resting in the Lord this week and on Friday morning
-- I will fully demonstrate my skills and pass my test

You can also pray these things for Mark. He takes his exam on Friday the 12th.

Thanks in advance!