Friday, December 30, 2005

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

There is a lot to catch up on since I last wrote. It has been a busy 8 days here in Edinburgh. After working last Thursday and Friday I had Christmas Eve off and really enjoyed it. All the volunteers that were in Edinburgh came to our flat and we made some food and then went to the city center for a candlelight service at midnight. It was a really traditional service at one of the old churches. We took communion, sang some songs, and then walked back to our flat into the early part of Christmas Day. On Christmas Day all the volunteers had to work, so in the morning I opened up my packages and cards! Thanks to everyone who sent me something in the mail, it was a blessing and made it feel like Christmas.

Around 2 pm Nick and I headed to work where we ate plenty of turkey, ham, stuffing, cake, potatoes, cranberries, and more! There were only about 7 guys in the House and the mood was fairly melancholy. A lot of the guys got emotional when we went around the flat and handed out the gifts we had bought them. It was even more difficult to turn some guys away from the Hostel when they came back drunk. They struggle at the Holidays because it reminds them of the things they don't have or have lost.

We have tried to make this past week special for the guys by holding an "activities week." I have led trips to the cinema, theatre, and held game nights. Of course another bonus of this job is the free stuff I get to do! I didn't work yesterday but I went along with staff and some of the residents for some go-carting! These go-carts got upwards of 35 mph and the track was pretty intense! I can say I represented my country well by taking first place in the second race! All that Chicago driving is paying dividends.

On Tuesday I went to go see the Edinburgh capitals, which is the professional hockey team here. But it is about equivalent to college hockey in the states, although I'm convinced MSU or Boston College would dominate.

Last night was the torchlight processional through the city center. Loads of people marched through the city with torches up Calton Hill where they shot off fireworks. There are about 4 other volunteers staying up here right now for hogmanay so we watched the procession and then went and listened to some Polish Music at a little coffee house.

Tonight there is a huge Cedhli out in the city center with a parade and dancers. Edinburgh goes to the extreme for the new year so I can't say that I have been bored of late! Here's a good link if you want to see what is going on here....

Beside that I am looking forward to doing some traveling soon. I am going down to London on Jan 16th for a conference and hopefully I'll get a chance to travel in February. It is starting to ice over here in the city and the snow is now sticking to the ground. Take care.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What's new?

Nothing much to report since my last post. I worked Sat-Mon and it proved to be a hectic weekend. We were pretty short of staff so I was busy all three days. Yesterday I finally got a chance to relax and went on a nice 1 hour bike ride around Arhurs Seat and the Crags. In the afternoon I went to one of my friends flats, she leads our house group and I showed up early to help make some mince pies for that evening. So now when I go back to the states I can make proper Scottish food! We had a good evening with the group and had some new faces show up.

I also went to a candlelight service on Sunday evening after work. It was nice that my church keeps that tradition that I grew up with. Today I had a nice 4 hour staff meeting, which was a surprise since I forgot about it. AFterwards J.P. Danny and I killed two hours by golfing, yet again! When I'm done here in the library at 6 I have to run out to the central post office to pick up a Xmas package from my Mommy! I should probably also do some shopping for some real food, we have a lot of sweets, chocolate, chips, and cookies in our flat from all the different Xmas parties we have individually gone to. It would be benefical to have some alternatives!

On Wednesdays the Cinema is really cheap here so I might hop on over to Ocean Terminal (think of a big American Mall) with Lauren, Paula and Nick so we can watch Chronicles of Narnia. We'll see...until then, since I might not get a chance to post, Merry Christmas. If you care to know I'll be workign Christmas day which will be nice. We cook up a big meal and it should be a pretty relaxed atmosphere. After work Nick, Danny, and I are heading over to another staff member's flat who is working with us that day. Many blessings


Friday, December 16, 2005

Mayo and sugar over popcorn??

So not much to tell...I went golfing again yesterday with some friends and then in the afternoons we had a staff vs. Residents football match. It was great because I am able to get all of my "revenge" against the residents by making them look funny on the pitch! There weren't enough residents to play a proper staff vs residents match but it was still a good kick about.

Tonight we have organized a volunteer xmas get together. We'll probably just make some cookies and chat before several of the volunteers head home for Christmas. About half of the volunteers are going back to their respective countries (Germany, Sweden, Czech Republic) but a lot of us are sticking around.

I'm feeling a little sore today from football yesterday and I just went to the gym for a swim. Man let me tell you swimming is not easy! I was fine working out in the gym but when I jump in the water I become a stone. I was doing laps and there were a bunch of 40 year old women passing me in the pool!!!

Lauren and I are getting together this afternoon to knock out some Xmas shopping since the volunteers are doing "secret Santa." So actually I have lucked out because this will be my only real Xmas shopping of the year!

What else....last night when I got into bed I found an ironing board under my sheets. Danny has become the practical joker of the house and I need to get some revenge, so any ideas will be gladly welcomed. As a side note we made popcorn last night and he thought it was disgusting that I put a little bit of salt on my popcorn. He put mayo and sugar on his! Mayo and sugar??? And what is even worse is he went to the shop to get us dinner and came back with 2 "Chicago style deep dish piazzas" I told him he would have to come home with me for the real experience, although I have to respect the Scottish effort put into the pizza.

I have free calls to the states on Sats in December so if you want a call give me an e-mail. Also Danny and I are leading worship again on Sunday so prayer would be great, and we are trying to kick off a coffee house ministry once a month at the church. Enjoy the season!


Monday, December 12, 2005

Golf, Kung Fu, and Carols

I went out for some golfing on Wednesday, my day off, which makes me even more Scottish. Think about it, December, cold weather, blustery wind, and yet I was playing golf! Some guys from work and myself braved the weather and shot 9 holes. My hands were so cold I couldn't feel my right hand thumb. Which in turn made me alter my grip, which actually was good because I started driving the ball farther!

Friday night was Kung-Fu night! We watched some cheesy Kung Fu movies, order Chinese food, and rented a projector from work. It made for a difficult morning on Saturday when I got up to play some soccer. We tied 3-3 when our opponents scored with 30 seconds left! We are still 3rd in the league, so we are in striking distance of first place.

Saturday night I went with a group of friends to a big Christmas concert at Usher Hall. There was a full choir, orchestra, brass ensemble, and more that performed Christmas Carols, worship songs, contemporary music, along with a brief message.

Yesterday was a realaxing Sunday and once again Danny and I led worship at church. Today was suppose to be my day off but I just finished a training course on anger and conflict mediation! I can't seem to pay attention for too long during those courses but they are beneficial to an extent! Tonight I'm getting together with some of the volunteers for dinner and then going out to listen to some music. Tomorrow I hit the grind again with a couple days of work!

I do feel like Christmas is arriving! Briefly on Saturday I went to Ocean Terminal, which is a three story mall (it looks like it has been plucked from Naperville, or any big city suburbs) and the place was absolutely packed! I was so caught up in the spirit I almost jumped in the line to sit on Santa's lap but I was in a hurry. Tis the season!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dancing with guys in kilts

I danced to a guy with an accordion last night for 3 hours! I went to my first Ceilidh with 3 girls from none other than Bluffton University! They are heading home from studying over in Belfast and it was great to have them stop by! We were able to get together over the weekend and I showed them the city, made some penne pasta (I think in retrospect I got the recipe from eating my mom's version), and listened to some good ol traditional folk music.

I realized I had not made it to the city center for awhile but since last Thursday I was down there 5 nights in a row, excluding Sunday. After work on Sunday, Danny and I led worship at church, it went well. Tonight I have house group and tomorrow I'm going golfing with Danny, a friend from work and our pastor. But the apex of the weekend is going to be on Friday. Danny and I are beginning to plan these movie nights at our flat. We are going to watch two similar movies and make food with the theme. So this Friday we are watching a Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movie, with some stir fry, instant noodles, and rice! The future holds a Western Night (beans, Mexican food) Mob/Mafia Night (pizza, pasta) and maybe an Ocean night (Seafood)!

Fun fun!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bagpipes vs. Fiddle

I read through some of my post and realized that they are pretty boring. It reads like a personal calendar. So I hope if I post more often, with smaller posts, it will be more interesting to read.

Yesterday was St. Andrews day which not one person at work knew the purpose behind. All I know is that the castle was open for free. So we organized some guys from the House who wanted to go up to the castle. Of course not all of staff can go on these little trips, since there are things to maintain at the hostel, but since I'm a tourist/volunteer it seems that I always get priority! So myself and another project worker took about 5 guys to the castle. The perks of this job!

Also the night before we had a lot of staff on and somebody suggested taking the guys to a movie. Well the other 4 members of staff had support meetings, interviews, or paperwork to do, so they asked if I would be "willing" to take the guys to the cinema. As you can imagine I decided although it sounded hard and difficult I would have no problem going and watching a movie for free while working.

What I like most about these outings is that it is a great chance to talk with the residents. In the House the environment is always a little restricted. There seems to be a barrier, or an unspoken tension, that always exists between us and the clients. But outside the House we are put on more of a level playing field. Instead of being a "assistant project worker" I am just another guy going to watch a movie with other guys. It's nice.

I got off work early and met up with Nick and Lauren downtown. On the Royal Mile they pulled out a stage for some bands. Dougie MacClean played with his band and a branch of the tattoo marched up and down the mile. Dougie MacClean plays a mixture between folk and rock. I would say he is a guy who made traditional folk music cool and was in his prime back in the 70's-80's. I really knew I was in Scotland when he pulled out a fiddle and his lead guitarist pulled out the bagpipes. With a full band jamming behind them they had a bagpipe-fiddle-sound-off. Kind of like dueling banjo's! Good times!