Wednesday, July 16, 2014

About 90 Days...but who is counting

Our time is running out…the reality of this hit home last week when we received a call from the couple who will be replacing us in October.  They are very excited to be coming and it made us wonder if we have accomplished all that we should have done while we were here.  This has also given pause to rethink what we have been doing the last 15 months and what still needs to be done before we leave for home. 
Over the time we have been in Scotland, the majority of the posts to this blog have been about our travels rather than about the work we have been doing.  This was on purpose as we didn’t want to advertise the private lives of the good people we have been assisting.  As we have evaluated our efforts over the last year we have had some wonderful experiences helping people realize the skills and accomplishments they have had and how to better present them to prospective employers as they search for work.

 This is our room in Edinburgh set up for a Career Workshop. 

Recently we had a very productive meeting with the Bishops in the Glasgow Stake.  That Stake does not have a Stake Employment Specialist so we have been spending more of our time meeting with individuals there.  Glasgow is about an hour drive from Edinburgh…not a big distance for us since we drove from California to Utah or Arizona on a regular basis, but for the average Scot, it is a huge sacrifice.  The Bishop of one of the Wards (a geographical area within a Stake…which is a larger geographical area made up of a number of Wards) asked us to meet with their Ward Council (the Ward leaders) to explain the resources we provide to those looking for work.  We met with the Ward Leaders and then spoke in their Sunday Sacrament Meeting.  We also set a date for a Career Workshop.

 Two of our participants in the Edinburgh Career Workshop - Stephen and Zining...and of course Sister Boden.  

We held the Career Workshop about two weeks ago and had 5 people in attendance.  The Workshop uses some building block exercises to help people identify their skills and accomplishments.  We help them develop a “Me in 30 Second” statement, teach the concept of building a network of people to help identify job opportunities, develop “Power Statements” for their CV (resume) to highlight their skills and accomplishments, and teach tips that will prepare them for the job interview.  The fun part of teaching these Workshops is when the participant understands the concept being taught and “the light goes on”.  Sometime we have participants that don’t “get it”…those are the hard ones to work with.

 These are the participants of our Career Workshop in Dumbarton.  This was a fun workshop because we were able to get everyone involved and participating.  Jordan, Rodin, Victoria, Sister Wagar, and Sandzi.

Because of the generous government benefits offered in the UK and Ireland we often deal with immigrants from other countries.  Individuals from other European Union countries can come to the UK with little trouble and qualify for benefits shortly after being here.  (That is causing a big strain on government resources, but that is another story for another time.)  Jobs in many western European countries are hard to find and people think the “grass is greener” in Scotland and Ireland…it is green here but that is because of all the rain.  Jobs are still hard to find but the job market has improved.  We have met with and helped people from Slovakia, Romania, Spain, Brazil, Latvia, Ecuador, Netherlands, Kosovo, China, Taiwan, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Honduras, Nepal,…and of course England, Scotland and Ireland.  We have helped people with a wide range of education from those who have a Masters or PhD degree to individuals who have only a high school education.  We have helped people who are desperate to succeed and are very motivated and others who struggle with the whole concept of work.  We have helped those who want full time work and others who won’t work more than 16 hours per week to avoid losing government benefits.  We have a wide example of experiences to share at some point.

 The Edinburgh Stake Building - where we work three days each week.  We share the room with the Family History Centre.  (This is the back entrance to the building from the car park.  During the week it is the main entrance)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

There are castles…and then there are castles.

We are off to see another castle today...
There are two types of castles to visit in Scotland…well, actually there are three.  The first type is a castle that is basically a ruin that has been preserved by the family or an organization like Historical Scotland.  The second type is a castle that has been preserved by the family or National Trust and the family still uses part of the buildings as their home – even if it just a summer home.  The third type is a ruin that is just sitting out in a field and is generally not open to the public.

The best example of the first type would be Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle - one of my favorites...

or Edinburgh Castle.  (Actually Edinburgh Castle is still a working Army Garrison and each night at 6:00 p.m. it closes to the public and reverts back to an Army facility) 

I never tire of looking at the Edinburgh Castle...from any angle it is very impressive!!

 Other impressive castles of this first  type would be Linlithgow Palace, 

Dunnottar Castle,

 and today's castle - Rothesay Castle (pronounced Roth - sea).


A few examples of the second type of castles would be Inveraray Castle,

Scone Castle,


Glamis Castle, 

Blair Castle.  

 Culzean Castle

 And...Eilean Donan Castle

Wow, we have visited a lot of castles, and I have probably missed a few others that we have visited.

 The third type of castles are “no-name” castles and mainly just historic reminders of the past.

Recently we visited Blair Castle and today we took the ferry from Wemyss Bay (pronounced Weems) to the Rothesay Castle.  My next posts will be pictures of those castles.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Family history and also some travel…

First - Happy 4th of July…not a holiday that is celebrated much over here but we are having our own celebration today with BBQ pork sandwiches, corn on the cob (corn on the cob is also not a big item here, but we did find some), potato salad, and A&W root beer (thanks to the commissary when we visited our son at the Lakenheath Air Force Base in England).  We are grateful to live in a country that provides so many opportunities and freedoms!!

Last week we didn’t find Sarah but we found Joseph – My sister Marge, and my two cousins, Margaret and Sue have been doing family history work on the Boden family and related lines.  My Grandmother Boden was Ruby Rutherford Irvine and they have focused a lot of their efforts on the Irvine line.  One of the ancestors in this line is a Sarah Richardson.  We had searched 3-4 cemeteries in Edinburgh earlier this year “looking for Sarah” but had never found her grave.  (I had posted a blog on that search earlier)


Margaret and her husband came to Scotland for a “Family History Holiday”.  They spent the first few days in England visiting cemeteries there and then came to Scotland.  Margaret wanted to see all of the area that the Irvine family (and other family members) came from.  We visited Dunfermline, Kinross, Wemyss in the “Kingdom of Fife” and also Edinburgh.

  This is an aerial photo of the Dunfermline Cemetery.

On Thursday we went to the Dunfermline main cemetery which is one of the largest cemeteries I have ever seen.  We drove down to the end road (the older section of the cemetery) and then up and across the top of the cemetery.  I then turned down a small road thinking I could get back to the main lower road.  As I went down the small road I soon realized that I could not get out to the bottom road and would have to turn around.  I began to turn around on the narrow road and was making sure I didn’t back into any headstones.  As I was turning around my phone rang…it was Nick (but that is another story).  Nick’s calls are never short in length so I stopped to talk with him for a minute.  As I was talking, the others got out of the car to look around.  In a matter of 2-3 minutes Margaret had found a headstone that had a name of an Irvine family member on it. 

 This is the marker we found.

Had the phone not rung, I would have turned around and headed back up the road and no one would have gotten out of the car.  We owe a debt of gratitude to the Lord for allowing Nick to call right at that time which had me stop and talk.  Here is what we found…

The headstone was half covered with a bush but it was the marker for Joseph McKinney and his wife Janet Irvine, a daughter of Robert Irvine, and a niece to James Irvine who was my great, great grandfather.  Also on the marker was the name of a son – Joseph McKinney – who died on 16 January 1885, age 2 years 7 months.

This was a son that no one knew about.  His name had not shown on any census record.  All of the known children in the family records were born about 2 years apart but there was a gap of four years between the first and the second child - almost like another child could be there.  Well, Joseph filled the gap.  The date of birth and death matched and everything else fits.  Joseph needed to be found to make the family complete.  The tender mercy of the Lord allowed us to find this little boy so he can now be included with the rest of the children.  Margaret’s diligence in doing family search, her desire to come to Scotland to search cemeteries, us driving down a particular road at random in this large cemetery, and the phone call that made us stop right next to the marker, all allowed Joseph to be found.  The Lord is watching over the efforts of Family History.  There are no coincidences with the Lord!! 

Later that morning we went to the Dunfermline Abbey and found a marker for some Irvine family members who were buried there.

On Saturday we visited the Stirling Castle again…it is one of the most interesting castles to visit because of the restoration work that has been done.  On Monday we visited the Inveraray Castle.  This castle is one of the best castles to visit of those still occupied by the family members.  For all you Downton Abbey fans, this is the place the family visited when they went to visit their Scottish cousins.

This Castle is the family residence of the Campbell Clan.  The drive to Inveraray is a beautiful drive, along the west bank of Loch Lomond and across through the Argyll Forest.   

This is the Argyll Forset - the drive to Inveraray from Loch Lomond

We were last in Inveraray in early April.  It was amazing to see how green things had gotten with the warmer weather.