Kids are in bed, dishes washed, extracurricular activities are at an all-time low and so for once I can sit, tea and pear tart at hand, listening to the Avett Brothers and sifting through all the words that are vying for audience. Because now I am ready, finally, to write.
But already I've done this all wrong. Bee and I just finished doing something so colossal, it has sucked up virtually all our free time, energy and money over the last 12 months. And what I meant to do was to blog about the process, the lead up to and the time during this big thing that we just got done with. But I ran out of time. And instead spent all my bloggable evenings on Google Calendar trying to coordinate said colossal event. So it is only now that it is all over that I can really begin to properly record it.
The Back Story
We lived and worked at a Youth With A Mission training center called The Seamill Centre;YWAM is an international Christian missions organization that trains and sends people (of all ages) all over the world in a wide variety of contexts. Its mission: 'To Know God, and Make Him Known."
Charlie was one of the those dynamic, larger than life sort of guys, with surgeries in two towns, editor of the funky local 'paper', big mover with the Environmental Group. He seemed to know everyone, and everyone knew him. The last time I saw Charlie was a few days before we moved home. We stopped in at the surgery to say goodbye and to tell him our good news, that we were pregnant with our first child. He hugged us heartily on the doorstep and we said our goodbyes. Four years later, he died of a heart attack. We were grieved, and began to think about the Environmental Group, and how hard this must be for them. How could we support them? The idea was born. Taking gardeners from our church at home over to help the EG, to give them a boost during this hard time. As we talked it over, we began to see that a trip over there would further another goal, of building bridges between the YWAM base and the local community. We would stay at 'the YWAM' as it is known locally, and walk into the village each day to work. We would try to get long-term staff from YWAM to work with us as we helped the EG, encouraging relationships between the two entities. The village always seemed to hold the YWAM base at arm's length and we got the feeling that the large, international and typically gregarious community of missional Christians were a bit of a question mark for many people in the village. At the same time, we wanted to work in the grounds at the Seamill Centre, which always need help. We also wanted to come against some of the problems in the village. Like the vandalism proliferated by the local disaffected youth or NEDs (non-educated delinquents), and a sort of apathy that seemed to linger unpleasantly. Like the dog piles that were all over the sidewalks, the Johnny Walker bottles that littered the forest paths and the vomit puddles on the train to Glasgow. These sorts of things definitely belied the village's otherwise pleasant surroundings. We wanted to support what the village was doing to pull itself out of this sort of malaise.
So we took all these ideas to the missions board at our church, and laid it all out before them. And they agreed to it, amazingly. I remember standing in the midst of them, over a year ago, as they prayed God's blessings and anointing over us. I remember feeling like we needed all the help we could get in the blessings and anointing department. Typically, between the two of us we call these sorts of big ideas our HBSs, or Hare-Brained Schemes. This seemed like such a huge HBS,and as we began to advertise it amongst the church community (this was at the end of last summer), I began to wish we had just decided to go to Scotland ourselves, with little fanfare, and a lot less of an audience in case it failed. Not spectacularly full of faith, I admit it. But through it all, it became clear that it was God Himself who mysteriously wanted this trip to happen. That's really the only explanation I can give. I think somewhere around the 6 month mark I would have given up, snowed in under the avalanche of details and communication break-downs that we experienced. And I don't know how one event can be tinged at once with hysteria and tedium, but there you go. Somehow, we kept at it and things kept happening.
Soon we had people interested, filling out applications, putting down deposits, buying plane tickets, applying for visas and suddenly we found ourselves leading a short term missions trip to Scotland! Eeek!
And it all happened. All of it! The gardening, the relational stuff with YWAM and the EG, all of it. We got wet, dirty, bug-bitten, nettle-stung, sick, back wrenched (Ed), foot speared by a pitchfork (Celicia), chased by cows (Joanna) zapped by an electric fence (Katie) eye poked with a stick (me, and not as fun as it sounds), and almost swept away in the West Kilbride burn (creek). But we did it! And it was amazing. Really, really great, and I am so glad we did it. I've even caught myself saying, "You know, next time we can do it this way..." which is encouraging. At least I don't want to run screaming.
I have so many vignettes from these past few weeks, as you can imagine, and this post is really just me circling around this deep pool of a trip, trying to figure out from which angle to dive in.
I think I'll start with the gardens.....
(Oh, and photo credit goes to Celicia Fikes, photographer and mad bramble-slayer!)
items of note:
- 327 market
- a paper elephant::heidi
- an organic experience::the other
- aunty suzanne brewer
- bbc 4:: gardener's question time
- bricks in the cave::children's adventure story
- dani the poet
- esther in the garden
- esther's boring garden blog
- etsy::all things handmade
- garden rant: garden blog for the courageous and dirty
- i like it::scotland as few have seen it
- let them parachute in
- lizzy cantu
- loose and leafy::lucy
- mayor of dannyland
- neal breakey
- nori::seaweed girl
- o.t. girl::my favourite anonymous o.t.
- pictures just pictures
- polar goldie cats: (secret: i am tam's little sister)
- sarah::appearing as herself
- sir gibby::b'liciousbennet
- the molly
- vintage faith church
- YWAM Seamill, Scotland: dearly missed
Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature
- A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
- Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
- Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
- RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
- Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
- Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
- Sunset Western Garden Book
- Sunset Western Landscaping Book
- The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
- The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
- the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
- The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
- The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
- We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish
lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations
- vespertinus: flowers in the evening
- veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
- superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
- rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
- placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
- nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
- nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
- muralis: growing on walls
- mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
- formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
- carpe vitam: get a life
- Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.