Back Home to a Fresh Start

•January 12, 2011 • 1 Comment

Samantha and her beloved candy corn!

It is great to be back home in East Kilbride to our second family! Although still jet-lagged, we have started our activities in full force. Last night was the first night back for the youth club, and what a night it was! The kids were so excited to be back, and they loved the American candy we brought them. I (Mary) have started something new for the year with the young ladies. I had them fill out a “Bio Sheet” to explain more about themselves, submit ideas for activities, and also to gauge their level of interest in spiritual things. All the girls said YES to “I want to learn more about God,” with a couple maybes. I was so encouraged by their response! Richard is doing the same thing with the boys. Our plan is to start a 15-20 minute bible time before the club meetings each Tuesday for those children who are interested. Please pray that this endeavour is successful! This morning the youth club staff had a planning meeting, which was very successful. Our theme with the kids for 2011 is “The Golden Rule.” We are excited about this and many other new ideas!

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Chick-fil-a, Kiwi, and the Old Truck

•December 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After a very busy month of youth events and trips, we are home on our support raising furlough! We left a very snowy Scotland and arrived on U.S. soil Wednesday. Jet lag is a factor, but we are getting over it very well. A busy schedule lies ahead of us with many congregations to attend. Our first meal had to be none other than Chick-fil-a with a tall glass of COLD sweet Tea! The things we take for granted aye?

We have so loved being home with our family!! Not to come in second to Chick-fil-a; we have our priorities right, I assure you! We have spent quality time with our puppy Kiwi, who watered the living room floor for us as we crossed the threshold! Couldn’t blame her excitement. I drove my old truck (now dad’s) yesterday and was very comfortable driving on the left side of the road for some strange reason (I’m ruined haha)!

Even though it is great to be back into our “old” way of life, we already miss our new church family in Scotland. We are so thankful for our closeness to them and for all they have done for us. It was hard to leave the teens who are just beginning their studies of the Bible, and especially hard to leave Kalina, our brand new sister in Christ. But we are excited to see their progress in a month’s time, since we know the Christians there will be helping them and studying with them while we are away. What a blessing to have Christian family all over the world, like many of you who are reading this post. Thank you for your support and love!

 

4 Months Ago to the Day!

•October 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

4 months ago to the day, Mary and I kissed our family goodbye and boarded a plane bound for Scotland. This was 5 years of planning that brought us to the threshold of the terminal and the plane door. What would happen in our future? Sometimes I feel like I did not step into a plane that day, but rather a roller coaster of ups and downs. The eldership of East Kilbride Church of Christ dissolved just two weeks before we arrived, and shortly after the initial confusion as to why this took place, one of those elders announced he would leave East Kilbride. This was a difficult pill to swallow for both ourselves and the congregation. There have been tears shed and questions left unanswered.

Now that the “downs” are out of the way, let me explain to you the “ups!” We have had an overwhelming response to our various programs in such a short time! We have mentioned many of them on this blog and in our Thistle Epistles. (If you would like our thistle epistle just send me a quick message via email harphouse@hotmail.com).

We have been experiencing a constant rise and interest in the youth club (Tuesday), art club (Thursday) as well as our Friday café (this is our devotional time). Mary had a one-on-one study last night with one of our girls. She is very serious about studying and she has encouraged us with her exceptional commitment to her growing Faith. Please continue to pray for this effort, specifically this young lady.

We have introduced a biblical focus at the end of the Tuesday youth club with devotional singing and a devotional thought. We have lost some children due to this; however, we expected this would happen. We still maintain the same amount of children because more have been coming. We have had 4 new children in the last week. Beginning in January, we have decided to begin the club with a proper bible class setting 30 minutes before the club. This way, the children have a choice to come to the bible class and it could not come across to them as an “afterthought.” We pray that we will reach more children this way.

Sure there have been “ups” and “downs” along the way, but that is just the nature of our roller-coaster. When I think back on that threshold between the terminal door and the door of the plane, there is no doubt in my mind that we did the right thing when we boarded 4 months ago to the day.

Youth Weekends

•September 22, 2010 • 4 Comments

Road Trip to Morley

We have had two youth weekends this month, which have been very successful! The first one was in Aberdeen (north Scotland) and the second one was in Morley, Leeds (north England). It is hard to believe that the distance between the two places is shorter than a one-way trip between Mary’s parents and mine. Being in Glasgow, we can make it to London in 6 hours by car.

Back to the weekends: Several of the kids from the youth club have been coming and loving it! We had to take our personal vehicle this time because the church mini bus has been loaned out. We had an outstanding time! The theme of the Morley weekend was very appropriate and dealt with dating, relationships and chastity before marriage. There was a panel for the young men (very productive) and a panel for the young ladies (I hear it was good, I obviously was not there).

Personally, I was renewed and pleasantly surprised to see such a large representation of youth in the Lord’s church in Great Britain (Ireland and Wales excluded). There is still much to be done in the Kingdom and we ask for your continued prayers that our efforts are not in vain! We are trying to organize our own youth weekend here in EK. This will encourage our young people who are just beginning to develop their Faith. Their questions keep coming, and so do the answers, which have continually strengthened Mary and myself!

As a result of this, I realize just how much I have taken for granted all my life. How many worship services, gospel meetings, and Christian university lectures did I allow to become almost commonplace? To me, Faith has largely been based on sight. The evidence was largely seen in my Christian brothers and sisters. The many faithful I have been privileged to be around, in turn, strengthened my own Faith. This is good; however, a balance must be found.

When I allow those around me to be my main source of Faith, my question must then be, “In whom have I trusted?” Faith in Christians is not Faith in Christ.

What am I talking about? When you receive the following question, “Why did God put the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden? Did He want Adam and Eve to fail?” Does finding the answer not strengthen your Faith in God? Yes, it does! This was asked by one the 14-year-old girls who has influenced us so much. The tough questions we are hearing have strengthened and stretched us more than ever. We in the Lord’s Church must not be afraid of questions because they will truly strengthen our Faith in God!  Once our Faith in God is established, we can then seek to gain encouragement from each other.

Mary and I came here to bring lost souls to Christ. The amazing discovery is that our souls are being brought closer to Him as a result!

For Such a Time as THIS

•August 29, 2010 • 1 Comment

We apologize to everyone for not updating our blog for a while. We have been moving in, getting settled, and starting full force with the work! Now that things are become more “routine” we should be able to update more frequently. Thanks to all who have been keeping in touch with us and encouraging us along the way.

So many things have happened since our last update, but we will just hit some of the high points here. The most important is that a consistent group of 5-6 teens have been coming to church and youth group activities regularly! This is largely due to the influence of Camp Heatherbell, the Christian camp that they were able to attend for the first time. (For more information about this, please read our “Thistle Epistle” Issue 8.) Ever since, they have been asking questions and coming to Bible classes. We are so excited to see God working in their lives already. We just arrived home from a youth rally with the kids this weekend and it was very uplifting for everyone. Please keep these children in your prayers!

Our days have been extremely busy, especially as the youth club started back last Tuesday from summer break. There were 35 children there on the first night! We also began the new art club on Thursday night, with 15 in attendance. We are planning to begin what we call “teen cafe” on Friday nights as well. This will be a bible study as well as a game night. We will be focusing on Christian evidences and also introducing basic biblical principles to our children! Needless to say we consider the words of Mordecai to Esther, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (esther 4:14b) God has continually shown us that Scotland is a field white for the harvest! Please continue to pray for our efforts! May they be a continuation of the work of the Lord and not our endeavors alone!

In Him and for His Kingdom,

Richard and Mary

Meeting the Kids!

•July 3, 2010 • 7 Comments

Our first meeting with the children of the youth outreach was a success (which is really an understatement)! We met Tuesday night in the building and as the children began pouring in, so did the blessings! They are wonderful little handfuls! And wouldn’t you know Mary and I had a blast with them the entire time. The kids decided what they wanted to do at the last meeting: a talent show. What a wonderful way to get to know these children by witnessing their talents and sense of humor! Mary and I also participated and gave the children an opportunity to get to know us as well.

After the show, we had pizza & ice cream, followed by karaoke! It was hilarious to hear some of the kids’ song choices (several of the guys sang Mariah Carey’s “Hero” in a very serious manner)! Before the kids left, I was able to share with them some of the future plans we have for the youth club and asked them for input on activities they would like to incorporate. We are excited about starting afresh in August. Also, some of the children will be attending bible camp (Camp Heatherbell) in July. This is the first time kids from the club have attended a long while, and they have probably never heard God’s Word spoken. So please pray that their hearts will be open during camp.

We were told that there were more children at the club this week than there has been in years! Over 30 kids attended, and with parents and workers we had approximately 50. I have already learned most of the boys’ names and they really seem to have taken to Mary (I wonder why?). The girls loved Mary as well and were very excited to hear about the addition of art to the club in August!

We were also thankful to meet some of the parents and hopefully develop relationships with them as well. There was a girl there who has been volunteering her time to assist with the children the past few weeks. Although she is just 17, she seems much older than her years in maturity. She is very caring and has a wonderful personality, and we are praying for opportunities to share the Gospel with her as well. I also connected with one of the older boys named David, who is 16 and will be attending bible camp for the first time this summer. He and I hit it off and he offered to come to the building to help with the gardening this summer! The club, as some of you know, is an after school program and school is now out for summer. Last Tuesday was the last club meeting till August. The children will still be coming to the building periodically throughout the summer to help in the garden as we prepare for our agricultural program.

We learned a little more about what to expect and what direction we need to go with the club. For several years, the members in East Kilbride have organized the club but have not been able to go and visit the families. Also, no bible teaching has yet been incorporated into the activities. These are the goals Mary and I have set for the fall, so please pray that doors of opportunity will be opened in these areas.

Please continue to pray for our efforts as our main goal for the time being is to help strengthen the brethren here.

God bless you all for your interest in spreading the borders of God’s Kingdom.

Note: This week, we just discovered that UK lawprohibits us from posting identifiable pictures and video of the children unless we receive written parental consent from all of the parents in the youth club. We had some wonderful videos, etc. that we were planning to post but unfortunately cannot at the moment. We are hoping to receive permission from the parents as we begin the club in August so you can have a better vision of the work we are doing in Scotland.

We Are Here!

•June 25, 2010 • 10 Comments

We are here! Two days later, it is still hard to believe. The picture above shows us just three days ago with our family before boarding the plane. Upon waking each morning, remembering we are in Scotland is a surreal experience. We wanted to give everyone an update of what has been happening the past couple of days.

Our travel experiences were promising. In Chicago, we had a wonderful conversation with an Irish couple who had been visiting the States. They were extremely kind and expressed interest in the work we are doing in Scotland. We also met a young man named Gordon, who overheard our conversation and said, “East Kilbride! I used to live a few minutes away from there!” Obviously, we had much to talk about and time to do so, since he was on our next two flights. Although he lives in the US and was just coming to Scotland for a visit, he was also interested in our work. He gave us his e-mail and we are hoping to continue correspondence with him. Please pray that something good may come from this contact. How wonderful it was to see the kindness of people from this part of the world before ever entering it!

We were not altogether surprised that after changing planes three times, our luggage was lost. However, we were surprised that no one questioned us at immigration when we arrived in Glasgow. They checked our visas when we changed planes in Dublin, but that was all. We expected that entering the country could involve some difficulties, and how thankful we were that we were allowed to walk right in!

Another surprise came at the airport. Unsure of who would be meeting us, we were expecting one or two people. Instead, there were six members of the church who greeted us with hugs and excitement!

Exhausted but happy, we arrived at the home of Jon Galloway, who is one of the ministers in East Kilbride. We spent the afternoon visiting before going to our first meeting with our brothers and sisters at EK. What an amazing feeling to arrive at the church building. The members covered us with love and made us feel like family right away. We excitedly chattered with them about our future plans and then had a wonderful Bible study period. After services, we were invited to fellowship at a member’s home. Although jet lagged, we played a game with them until past midnight.

Yesterday was an errands day. Jon took us out and helped us try to get some things set up. Our main goals were setting up a bank account and looking for a place to live. Apparently, you cannot get a bank account in Scotland without proof of residential address. And you cannot get an address without a bank account! So really, it is an endless circle. However, talking to the “right person” made a huge difference and she created a loophole for us. We should be able to open an account tomorrow. After visiting two real estate offices, we did not find many places for rent on the market. However, last night we found quite a few possibilities online which we will pursue. We are hoping to get settled as soon as possible so that we can begin our work!

Thanks to all who have been praying for us and supporting us!