Friday, December 26, 2014

A St Andrews Christmas

This year, we enjoyed our first Christmas in St Andrews since moving here nearly four years ago. On Christmas Eve, I went in to work for a half day, and then came home to make toffee, iced oatmeal cookies, and overnight cinnamon rolls. Midway through the sugar-fest, we took advantage of the sun and my new tripod (thanks, Garrick!) and spent a few hours wandering around the cathedral.

That evening, the Brewers hosted us along with three other couples for drinks and appetizers. Time spent in their living room is always fun! As usual, Rachel's decorations were very festive. Their boys each opened a new pair of pajamas and we all participated in their advent reading. 

On Christmas morning, Garrick organised our presents into piles while I prepared breakfast. Some gift highlights were a new pair of slippers for me, and plaid pajama pants for Garrick. We bundled up and walked to the harbor, hearing many "Merry Christmas!" greetings along the way.

The Nickels hosted us for Christmas dinner along with other dear friends (group photo will be added soon). Liana took care of the turkey, and the guests brought the sides. We did a gift exchange, relaxed, and ended the night with cookies and Catch Phrase. Garrick and I stayed over and woke up to warm croissants and coffee. We'll be over again soon!

Although we weren't in Washington with our families this year, Garrick and I made it a special Christmas. He is my family, and I couldn't be more grateful.

I'll close with one of my favourite verses, Isaiah 6:9: For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


It is finally time to talk about our next adventure: we're moving to Germany on 1st April 2015!

We've been making plans, changing them, and changing them again since we first heard the news in early August. Now we have a place to live, dates, and a good grasp on what our life will look like. 

Garrick was offered a three year research post at the Kirchliche Hochschule (Ki-Ho for short), a university associated with the protestant church in Wuppertal, Germany, beginning 1st October of this year. As this would have been far too soon for us to say goodbye to St Andrews and for me to learn German, we requested a later move date. We need to be there for 1st April as the funding body requires, and until then Garrick will continue working from abroad. 

There are six Biblical scholars on the project  and they will create a new critical edition of the Greek text of Revelation. Garrick will read manuscripts, translate manuscripts into English, manage the student helpers, and possibly teach Hebrew and Greek (in German!). The post goes until September 2017. 

Wuppertal is in Western Germany near Dusseldorf. Spend two hours on a train, and you can be in Amsterdam, Brussels, or even Paris. It has a suspended railway that cuts the city in half and has a population of 350,000. It was mostly destroyed after the war, and has since been rebuilt. It's fairly industrial, but has lots of green space and amenities. I've visited once, Garrick twice. The people have been friendly and welcoming, and it's good to picture ourselves there. When we moved to Scotland, we got on a plane having never seen our new town!

We've been blessed to meet Moritz, a current MLitt student, and his wife Kim, who are from Wuppertal. They have given us lots of information and will even be moving back to the area in June, two months after we move! They are wonderful friends here and will continue to be in Germany. 

Transition isn't easy. We love our life and friends in St Andrews. A woman came to look at our flat this week and after she left, I cried. This season has been one of the best in our lives and in our marriage. We've lived in Scotland longer than the US since marrying in 2008. But, we can't stay forever; our visas tell us that. And soon our friends will start leaving, and we've already said goodbye to several others. I still remember thinking during our first year here that leaving was a long way off. Time flew!

It's great to have an answer to the question of "Where will we go after St Andrews?" Plus, GARRICK HAS A JOB! We still have hopes of settling in the Seattle area (or anywhere on the West Coast) after Germany. This research post will likely make that goal more achievable. If all goes according to plan, Garrick will graduate in June 2015 and officially be Dr Allen, although I'll never call him that. :) 

So, the over the next few months, you'll find us at the beaches in St Andrews, reading in our favourite coffee shops, and most importantly, spending time with our cherished friends. Oh, and I'll be learning German with the help of Rosetta Stone and our German friends. Upon arriving in Wuppertal, I plan to enroll in an all-day German immersion course at a local university. At this point I can say most colours, numbers, and body parts. I have a long way to go!

Thanks for reading. As always, we give thanks to God for his provision and guidance. 

Here is the Schwebebahn (the suspended train) that we'll be riding very soon!

Monday, September 29, 2014

St Ives and Cambridge

Last Thursday, we both left work a bit early and made our way via bus to the Edinburgh airport. Again, we were reminded of how we live in a fairly remote area. Our travel time to the airport was longer than our flight to London! Julie and Mark met us at the airport and we enjoyed catching up for the few hours we had before bed.

In the morning, we ate breakfast at Mark's mother's home in St Ives before going for a walk. Then we were joined by some special women (Mark's mother, Joan, Mark's Gran, and Audrey, a close family friend) for a delicious lunch at the Windmill in Somersham.

Our evening was spent at the cinema watching "What We Did on Our Holiday" set in Scotland. Julie and Mark were kind to drive us around and arrange for us to stay with Mark's Gran for our time down south. She was a wonderful hostess!

Cambridge is such a lovely place to visit. This was our third time in this large University town, and we saw the sights, ate good English pub food, and ended our day punting on the River Cam. For dinner, we went with Mark's brother, Steve, and his wife, Helen, to a Chinese restaurant they recommended, and we were not disappointed!

On our last day, we met Mark's Dad and his wife Di, and they hosted us in their beautiful home and garden in Huntington. I particularly enjoyed seeing the thatched roofs and old English homes in this village. Then we caught up with Mark's brother Martin, his partner Lisa, and the talented Sam before driving to the airport. 

Sunday night came quick and we were back on the plane for our 50-minute flight to Edinburgh. Thanks again to Julie, Mark, and Mark's family for a wonderful weekend away!