Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The first few weeks in Scotland, the nettle and the dock plant

The weeks leading up to the move to Scotland could only be described as a whirlwind of chaos.  I knew it would be, but knowing it does not give you a ticket out of living it.  My sister swooped in to help tie and tidy all the lose ends.  We set off, two vans packed to the brim with luggage and kids.  Four adults and five kids.  Good byes at the airport and loading carts, a quick security check, and last minute snack purchases.  All went so smoothly, surely this would be a gracious experience.  The plane took off and all was well with team Stables.  Even little Ian, charged up with steroids because of a breathing issues, was a happy camper.  Then the bottom fell out.
 We landed in London, our short layover, with Luke having slept the most at 4 hours and Ian the least, at 2.  Ian's howling began and lasted through a very long security check (too long to recount here, but we have forgiven the son who mistakenly packed the long, sharp school scissors in his backpack.)  We wearily made our way to where we thought we were to go, only to land in the customs line.  The line snaked through the large room, Ian's howling had not stopped and only got louder as everyone in the room turned to look at the commotion.  We reached the front, as passports opened and closed.  We were then ushered into a holding area in the middle of the crowed lines.  Something was not right with the visas.  We had two choices to make, fly home on the next flight to get it sorted, or stay with the boys on visitor visas and fly home to have it all sorted within the next six months.  We gathered the boys, Ian still piercing the air with his cries of going back home and Aunt Jenny and a real bed.  We prayed and decided to go through the long process of getting five more tickets to Edinburgh because we had just missed our connecting flight.  Six hours later (you really do not need to hear of those details other than it was still hard and Ian still was managing to squeeze out yelps and protests) we boarded the plane.  We were welcomed to Scotland (Ian still howling) and crept into soft beds with heavy hearts.

I woke up the nest morning to a feeling that a very large and very alive fish was dropped into my belly while sleeping.  The next five days was a blur of setting up the new home and accounts.  And then the American team came, along with a dear friend to help run the first ever Taybridge Young Life camp.  This whole time every picture taken of breathtaking scenery had Ian clutching my leg and crying about something.  It could be that we were walking and not scootering along or that we were scootering and not walking.  It could be that he was not wearing his blue shoes or that he was.  He just seemed to always be crying and clutching my legs and pushing me away all at the same time and it was exhausting.  He was struggling for control and I was at a loss on how to help him.

In our walks and exploring we soon found the Scottish nettle (on the left).  It leaves a nasty sting and depending on how you react to it, a rash and large welts.  Not fun.  We talked to some Scots who were not sure why God created it in the first place.  But then we learned a equally important fact.  Almost always near the nasty Nettle grows the  dock plant.  You can pick the dock leaves, crumpled them, and rub them into the nettle sting and it gives almost immedient relief.  We have now gotten to test this on Luke and Ian.  It really works.

So we felt we had a fair share of nettle stings to the heart in this process of arriving and settling.  But God had arranged dock leaves of comfort in ways we could never have expected.  First, we have met some of the most supportive, friendly, and wonderful people that we will get to call friends and neighbors here.  I joke that our house was furnished by the village of Wormit.  But truly, that is how it feels.  We have had to buy very little and it feels like home already.  Someone came with potted flowers and plants outshining anything I gave away in splendor and color.  The dishes given were blue and white print, ones I would have picked out myself.  This home has more windows than our American home.  Which is simply unbelievable.  The views from those windows make me catch my breath every time.  The sky here is like a constantly changing canvas of white, blue, and washes of grey.  We truly are in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The boys had made a "pray about it and see" wish list for the house we hoped we would get.  This was back when we did not know what town or if it would be a two bedroom flat we would be in. Levi said he wanted to be able to ride to the water or school.  Luke said he really wanted his own room.  And I wanted to be near the water and places to walk and explore.  Jeff said he would rather a house than two bedroom flat and we all agreed with him heartily.  All of them and so much more have happened.

This week Ian has had fewer breakdowns.  He says hello to people and yells he loves Scotland as he zips down a playground zip line.  Luke is trying to figure out if he can become a true Scotsman and stay forever.  He is already saying his a's differently after the camp week.  Levi is running into every new experience with a big smile and bright eyes.  (Well, except for trying haggis.)

We feel unbelievably blessed by our life here.  Our church, friends, and neighbors have been a comforting and encouraging community.  I feel like all these little comforts of home, relationships, and surroundings have clinked in like a perfect jigsaw piece.  And so thinking of packing up the boys and I for an unexpected trip home is a bit of a heartache.  But a good one.  I will travel back with three boys and a thick envelope to fix visas and visit family until the paperwork is in order.  Jeff will meet us for the last weeks, and we will all travel back to our new home in Wormit by mid August.  Jeff is staying the first two weeks to continue the work that was started last week at the first ever YL Taybridge camp.  It has been a wild couple weeks of nettles and docks.  But we are so grateful God places us where we are suppose to be.  And that He plants dock plants near the nettles.

Please continue to pray for us and our many unexpected travels.  For Ian's little heart and mind to adjust to all the changes.  I firmly believe this all happened for a reason.  Miscommunication,  misstep, and visa havoc are not out of His control.  We are trusting that this too will become good in His capable hands.  And as much as we will love our early reunion with family and friends we will have already begun the countdown to come back to our new home in Scotland.  Thanks for following along!  Internet is officially in the house so the blog will be back up and running!