Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scotland Update 4

Having sent out my newsletter last week, I thought I would share some funny things that have happened since I've been here.

Like last week when I was having a conversation with a few people after a prayer meeting. Cathie (Pastor David's wife) was telling us about her niece and said this: "She's growing up so fast...and we all know she's going to be quite a cracker!" My mouth dropped open, since calling someone a cracker in California is a negative way of calling them white trash (right? is that just me?). I had to ask her to clarify what she meant...and we all had a good laugh when I explained what I THOUGHT she said, verses what she meant (calling someone a cracker is saying she's stunning, from the word firecracker). =D

Or, I could tell you about the different words that SOUND very different from how they are spelled. For instance, the first week I was here, I was at a dinner and we were playing a game where you take a word out of a hat and have to get everyone to guess it by acting it out. The word I pulled was Kilncadzow. I explained it was a VERY Scottish word, but had no idea what it was and everyone kept guessing things that weren't right. One word they kept guessing was "Kill-Kegg-eh". But time ran out and they finally took the paper from me and, between laughs, told me they DID guess it right...it WAS "kill-kegg-eh." Apparently, this is how Kilncadzow is pronounced locally...although, I still can't figure out how they get that from this word!!

Here are some other word phenomenons or differences:
Milngavie, a town, is pronounced "Mull-guy"
Dalziel, a local community, is pronounced Diehl.
Any towns or names ending in "burgh" are pronounced "burr-uh".
Zucchini here is a courgette.
Snow peas are mangetout.
Cilantro is coriander.
Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate.
Cornmeal is polenta flour.
Pants are Trousers (and saying 'pants' refers to undergarments...)
Trainers are Running Shoes
Jumpers are Sweatshirts

I'm sure there are many more...but these are the ones I can think of right now.

Settling in:
Lastly, I'll share a story about how I'm settling in here. When I was coming back from London, I had to take an 8-hour bus ride from London to Glasgow and then get on a 1/2 hour train from Glasgow to Motherwell. After that long trip, I was so excited to curl up and go to sleep: I was looking forward to getting back to my flat. Well, as I was on the train, we came around a corner and I could see in the near distance the distinct skyline of Motherwell and the first thought that came to my mind was "ahhh, I'm home!" And then, suddenly, I realized I had just called Motherwell my home. It was a strange feeling, that I was at a stage of not just visiting here, or settling in, but that it was home.

Then, a few days later, I was wandering in and out of places in the city centre and walked into the library to see it for the first time (and borrow their wifi). As I was walking up the stairs, I heard someone say "Erika" and thought "oh that's funny, someone has the same name as me...I haven't met another Erika here!" Then I heard it again and closer, so I turned around and realized, it was someone I knew...calling me! It seems like such a small thing, but to be around in town on my own and have someone I know see me and say Hi...it spoke volumes, since I am so used to being in SLO and constantly seeing either someone I know or someone I am related to. It was like the Lord was giving me a little assurance that He has me here in this community and that He wants me to keep being a part of it. =)

Praises and Prayers:
Pray with me:
-For unity in the body of Christ. For our time of praying this week...and beyond.
-For So:Love, a community outreach June 10-15th (I think I got the dates wrong last time) involving multiple churches in the area
-For the upcoming missions team (June 27 - July 8) and their outreach to the community.
-Continued work on the New Believer's Guide

Praise the Lord:
-Fusion, a bible study through Motherwell Calvary, was at my house last week and Alex and I led the group in a time of prayer and worship...praise the Lord it went well and, although neither of us are gifted with musical talent, we made it through worship! haha...
-A refreshing time at the conference last week
-for coffee mornings and the continued ministry that is going on there each week.

Erika Bennett

Donate or become a monthly supporter:  Shepherds Staff, Account 1061
Email: erikamarie82@gmail.com
Blog: erikamarie82.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Scotland Update 3

Hi friends and family!

I am in the process of getting a newsletter together (with pictures and everything!) that I will be sending out by the end of this week, so my update today will just be prayer requests and praises. But rest assured, you will all get another email with the newsletter in it when it's finished!

Praise: I was able to go down to London for a few days to see my friends, David and Trista (and Adelle!) before they moved home to America. It was a great time of fellowship with their church, the Holydes, and the Parks.

Prayer: this coming weekend, Calvary Glasgow City is hosting a few pastors from the Santa Barbara area for a conference. Being only about 15 miles away from me, I am planning on attending. Please pray that this time is fruitful and that the Lord uses it to minister to the pastors and leaders.

Prayer: there is a small team coming over to serve at the church in the end of June (you will probably hear more about it as the weeks draw closer) and I have been asked to help administrate their time here. As many of you know me very well...you know that this is right up my alley! Please pray that I use my time wisely and that they Lord directs each step and administrative detail to be used for Him.

I am looking forward to getting my newsletter out and give you guys a little bit of the "big picture" of my last two months here (I can't believe its already been that long!). As ever, please email me back and let me know if there is any way I can be praying for you!

Erika Bennett

Donate or become a monthly supporter: Shepherds Staff, Account 1061
Email: erikamarie82@gmail.com
Blog: erikamarie82.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How does your garden grow?

In my new home, I have a garden. If you know me at all, you know that a garden is the last thing you would expect me to have. When it comes to growing things, I excel at yeast for breads, mold, laundry in the hamper, craft projects, and to-do lists.

In my garden, I have a few small flower beds that are overgrown with weeds. Some weeds were even so pretty that I thought they were flowers. I was told otherwise.

I keep thinking "I ought to get out there and fix up the garden! Maybe plant some herbs (side note: here in the UK, the "h" isn't silent), put in some pretty flowers, maybe a berry bush or some string beans...? Doesn't sound too hard, right? Hah...you're not me. In the words of a common colloquialism here, "I canne' be bothered to do it."

The problem is, I don't have the tools to get out there and pull all the weeds. I don't have the shovels and rakes to aerate or till. I don't have gloves to keep my hands protected. I don't have a means to get to the garden center and buy the seeds and seedlings. And I certainly don't have the wherewithal to know what the heck I'm doing.

So, the weeds continue to grow. The flowers left from the previous tenant continue to cry out for attention, and the dirt sets there...getting dirtier and harder and wishing it had something in it to grow.  And every day I look out my window and think "I should get out there, even for ten minutes, and pull a few weeds." and every day I look out my window and think "you know, those weeds don't look that bad. They're kind of more like wild flowers. Pretty in their own accord. I need to just let them grow and see how pretty they become."

And every day nothing happens except a continued creeping chaos of widespread weeds and dead plants. Except for the rain coming down and the sun coming up, my garden is neglected. Those weeds aren't getting smaller; in fact, they are most prolific in their short life span.

As I look out my window today, I think how amazingly quick a garden bed, so ripe for planting, growing, and feeding, can become a bed of death with weeds choking out the growth; the ground now hardened because of a lack of tending. When I finally work up the courage to step out there and start clearing weeds, tilling ground, and planting seeds, the work will be multiplied because I let it set for so long. It might even be too late in the season for me to start planting some seeds.

I'm sure you know where this is heading.

Because, greater than the garden bed outside my window is the garden that must be tended in my heart, mind, and soul. Sitting there, with soil rich in nutrients to plant it, is a garden bed asking to be tilled, turned, planted, and tended.

In that garden are sweetly smelling flowers of joy, kindness, faithfulness. Bright colored plants of service, humility, encouragement. The growth of love, peace, gentleness, long-suffering. It's where weeds of gossip, discontent, frustration, and idleness can begin to grow. It's also where they can multiply into distrust, anger, bitterness, and hurt. And where I can look out from a window and think "you know, those weeds aren't so bad. They aren't hurting anything right now. I'll just let them grow..." only to find out too late that they are choking the plants to death.

It's where I must spend my quiet time with the Lord...using the spade of the Word, the shovel of prayer, and the gloves of accountability. It's where I need to get my hands dirty, ripping out the roots of those weeds so they don't choke the growth of life. The scary part is how often I don't choose to be in my garden. And how quickly, when that happens, I find one...two...25 more weeds to turn.

This garden, where I could afford to spend more time--instead of just looking at from a window and watch as the weeds start to overtake the growth--is just waiting for me to step inside it and get to work. The greatest part? I won't be out there alone, blindly tearing up soil and plants alike, hoping for the best (much like I will be doing in my physical garden). The Gardener will be with me every step of the way. Showing me what needs to be yanked, what needs to be nurtured, and where I need to start new seeds.

I'm ready to move past stopping and smelling the flowers of others gardens...to planting the flowers that others can stop and smell...and ultimately, I pray, they will desire a garden of their own.

Some verses to meditate on: John 15:1-5, Psalm 1, Isaiah 58:9-11, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Galatians 5:16-26