29 Jun 2015

RP Mission Team to Scotland 2015

To fully get the picture of what a Reformed Presbyterian Missions trip to Scotland entails could easily take up many journal pages, enough cups of tea to fill a loch, and a Tesco full of biscuits.  Since we are in Scotland and have access to all these things, here goes.  The Mission Team 2015 to Scotland actually began back in January/February when Matt Filbert notified the seven of us that we were on the Team.  Team members are as follows: Joseph Dunlap, our fearless leader from the Semester in Scotland program, Rosie Perkins from Arizona, Shea Welch from Tennessee, Abigail Parnell from Oklahoma, Emma Moore from Pennsylvania, Alissa Terpstra from Kansas, and last but not least, Dudley Yacinthe from Florida.  The next few months were filled with applying for visas, fundraising, and educating ourselves about missions and Scotland.  Also packing; we found after arriving that we all had different ideas as to what summer in Scotland was like.  It turns out we didn’t need shorts.  The team officially started the week of May 20th, with team members flying in from all over.  Airdrie Reformed Presbyterian Church was to be our home base: we slept in the dorms and cooked the majority of our meals in the hall kitchen.   Friday and Saturday, the team got a little taste of the coming weeks by participating in the congregation’s Kid’s Club and Covenanter Youth group, and also traveling to Loch Lomond with the youth, admiring the countryside to and from.  On Sunday, we worshiped with the Airdrie congregation, finally meeting face to face the people we had prayed for in the past months.

The first official week of the mission team was spent preparing our testimonies and presentations for the local primary schools.  This went well, despite the fact that we were missing a vital part of our team; Shea.  She and her guide dog Oleta were still waiting on their paperwork to go through.  In the end Shea made it here on Thursday bright and early, although sadly Oleta had to stay behind and has been sorely missed.  Under the guidance of Rev. Andrew Quigley the team honed our testimonies, drafting them over and over, so that we could clearly and concisely share what God has done in our lives.  The point was not to make them a speech that we would pull out when necessary, but to give a simple, understandable account of how God has changed our lives, and how He is the reason for our hope and joy.  We also chose the parable of the Good Samaritan for the primary school presentation, as it presented an opportunity for a sharing of the gospel (and we had the right amount of actors!).  On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, the team attended M.E.T. Bible study groups with various members of the Airdrie church.  On Saturday, the team explored the town and castle of Stirling.  We had beautiful weather for it, seeing all the way to the Highlands.  On Sunday once again we were able to worship with the congregation in Airdrie.  It was a restful day, filled with praising the Lord and a bit of rain.

The second week started off with the team in Edinburgh under the direction of Peter Loughridge, pastor of the North Edinburgh church plant.  Our first endeavor was sharing our testimonies at the Craigroyston High School, where the church holds its services.  This was a good beginning to the week, as the kids that we met in Religious Education classes lived in the flats where we were distributing flyers. The letterboxes we spent the majority of the week filling had faces and names we could pray for.   In fact we often met the high school students on their way home.  The leaflets advertised the three mission nights of outreach services that week where we would be studying the parable of The Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  Also during this period, the team enjoyed a Covenanter Tour of Edinburgh and St Andrews guided by Jimmy Fisher.  The highlights of which were viewing the National Covenant of 1638, the reading of Samuel Rutherford’s “Christ Dying” beside his grave, and finally taking a quality team picture in Greyfriar’s kirkyard.  After worshiping in Edinburgh on the Lord’s Day, the team came away from this week very much encouraged by Peter and Emma Loughridge and the people of the church.

On to Glasgow!  This week was quite full in different ways than the weeks previous.  The team participated in a meet and greet with the members of Glasgow RP church, a prayer night, 3 school presentations at 3 unique schools, Kids Club in Airdrie, and a Covenanter battle site tour.  Since we were well versed in delivering leaflets, the team along with Craig Scott, (member of Glasgow RP) passed out more leaflets, this time among the flats of Partick. (The area of Glasgow where the RP church is located.) These flyers were an invitation to a question and answer session over Christianity led by Rev. Kenneth Stewart on Thursday night.  Many of the questions asked provided profitable discussion for all involved.  On Sunday, the team traveled to Glasgow by way of the blue minibus for worship.  And after the evening service the congregation was invited to tea, biscuits, and a Q & A with the Mission Team.  We were able to share what we’ve been doing over the past weeks in the community and also thank the congregation for their hospitality and prayers.  We know we have not gone on our own to share our testimonies and spread leaflets, and we are thankful!

The week of June 14-20, was a week of rest to catch up on laundry and prepare for traveling to Stornoway.  We were able to practice our primary presentation a bit more before putting it to good use at the Sunrise Christian School on Wednesday.  Shea shared her testimony and a little about Oleta with the young pupils.  (They have been sponsoring a guide dog as a school, so it was a great opportunity for Shea to share.)  On Thursday, we set off for the Isle of Lewis and for Stornoway.  Again in the faithful blue minibus with Stephen and Brenda McCollum at the helm.  The road up through the Highlands to the ferry was beautiful.  Once in Stornoway, we split our time between visiting the Lewis Christian School, Bethesda Nursing Home and Hospice, the stunning beaches, and being hosted by many members of the Stornoway Reformed Presbyterian Church for meals and fellowship. Mr. D.R. MacDonald was our knowledgeable guide and bus driver, educating us on the history of the island.  At the fellowship, Sunday evening after worship, the ladies of the mission team plus Brenda shared our testimonies.  The people of Stornoway shared a bit of the Gaelic Psalm singing that they are famous for.  It was truly an unforgettable evening to top off a remarkable week.

Monday morning bright and early at 5 on the dot, the team set off for home by way of Harris, ferry to Uig on Skye, through Portree for lunch, a stop at the battlefield of Glen Shiel, dinner under the shadow of Ben Nevis, down further through hauntingly beautiful Glencoe, all the way back home to Airdrie.  The Scotland Mission Team of 2015 officially ended on 23rd June, with debrief and dinner.  The food was delicious and the company, more friends then members of a team.  It’s truly amazing how God took our group of individuals from all over the United States and blended us into a team of personality and character, working together for His glory.  We have been so blessed by the places we have visited and the people we have met.  And we are going our separate ways thankful for what we have learned and with the knowledge that God has used and will continue to use this time for His eternal purpose.
Alissa Terpstra