Monday, September 8, 2014

Time is drawing nigh...

It is hard to believe that things are coming to an end for us here in Scotland and soon a new chapter in our life will be opening…to finally find out what retirement is all about.  I retired from Rutan & Tucker the first of March 2013 after working there 37 years.  The following week we moved to Arizona and on April 22 we entered the MTC (Mission Training Center) in Provo Utah.  We arrived in Scotland the first part of May.  With retiring, moving, trying to unpack, and preparing for our mission, it was a whirlwind of activity and I really haven’t had time to think about retirement life.  We are now about to go home and find out what this next chapter will bring.  We only have five more Sundays in Scotland.  We have enjoyed the beauty of both Scotland and Ireland.  Recently we have enjoyed the "heather on the hills..."

 We took a train ride from Fort William to Mallaig - the Harry Potter Steam engine.  Beautiful countryside and the heather was still in bloom. 

We have had such a great opportunity to serve here in Scotland and Ireland.  We have surely been blessed.  We have met some wonderful people through this assignment and have had some choice experiences as we have helped people prepare for work.  There have also been some frustrations in seeing some people choose not to work, but rather live on the Government dole. What we have enjoyed while in Scotland is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ – to help people help themselves.  This is the process of teaching people to become self-reliant.  When one is self-reliant they are able to care for themselves, other family members, and other around them.  Self-reliance is ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As we become self-reliant, we are also better able to serve and care for others.  

One of the best things I have had the opportunity to do while in Scotland is to study the scriptures.  In the New Testament James writes that we will do well in fulfilling the “…royal law according to the scriptures [if we] shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is to have us reach out and share what we have with others who are in need.  This is not just to give to the poor, but to help others learn to help themselves.

Our work in through the Employment Resource Centre has been to help people prepare for work.  In our Career Workshop we help people identify their skills and accomplishments.  This has brought great joy in watching individuals in the Workshop realize the skills they actually do have and the achievements they have made.  

We have developed a CV (resume) writing class that we have taught a number of times.  We do not have jobs to give people, but rather we help them prepare their CV to catch the attention of prospective employers.  The purpose of the CV is to not to get a job, but rather to get a job interview.  We have had many tell us that they had been sending out their CV “what seemed like hundreds of times” and never heard back from anyone.  After helping re-write the CV and highlighting their skills and accomplishments they often have been rewarded with an invitation for a job interview.  

We teach people the importance of building a network to help find the “hidden jobs”.  Many jobs are already filled by the time the general public learns of them.  By networking, and letting people know you are looking for work, one will find the “hidden jobs.”  One Workshop participant told us of his experience of “testing” our methods of talking to people about his search for employment and within two weeks had found a job that had not yet been advertised to the public. 

In our Career Workshop we also teach people good interviewing skills to prepare them for the job interview.  Recently we coached a Workshop participant in preparing for two different interviews.  She was successful in both interviews and was able to choose from two different job offers.  Again, we learn from the scriptures, “If you are prepared, ye shall not fear.”

Last week we taught a group of young people about the importance of preparing for their careers through obtaining a higher education.  In Scotland, young teenagers must make decisions early on as to what direction their education will take them.  Too often they have not thought enough about their education options and start down a path that leads to being poorly prepared for university.  In today’s world it is so important to make sure good skills are developed.

As we look back over the last 17 months we are so grateful for the experiences we have enjoyed, the people we have met, and the beautiful country we have seen – Both Scotland and Ireland.  Our hearts will always have such fond memories of our time here…

 A friend posted this picture of the heather on his Facebook page.  These are the hills just out side Edinburgh probably in mid-August...unbelievable.  We drove out there last week and the heather had "lost its bloom".  There was still a purple tone to the hills but not like this. 

 This was taken from the train ride...the Glenfinnan viaduct is seen in the back right.  The train crosses over this viaduct on the way to Mallaig.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A summary of Scottish History - the early years

I have been making a summary of the history of Scotland.  As we visited many of the castles it has been difficult keeping all the dates and events straight.  So, I have made a summary.  After writing much of it, I realized that it was too long to include in one post - especially when I tried to summarize the history of the events of the 14th century and later.  I will post the history in multiple posts.  So, where do we start now?  Of course, at the beginning...

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…

Maybe we don’t need to go that far back in history to understand the Scottish history.  However, I found this story that might help.

In the beginning when God was creating the world, He was sitting on a cloud telling His friend, the Archangel Gabriel, what He planned for Scotland.

“Gabriel”, says He, “I’m going to give this place high majestic mountains, purple glens, soaring eagles, streams laden with salmon, golden fields of barley, green lush spectacular golf courses, coal in the ground, oil under the sea, gas…”

“Hold on! Hold on!” interrupted the Archangel Gabriel.  “Are you not being too generous to these Scots?”

Back came the Almighty’s reply…

“Not really, wait until you see the neighbours I’m giving them!!!”

The uniqueness of the Scots has been acknowledged at least since early medieval times.  Their status as a separate nation has not been in doubt since the 14th century, even though they have had constant battles with England since that time.  There are some fascinating characters in Scottish history – Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, John Knox, and Bonnie Prince Charlie – just to name a few.  But the history begins earlier than this…

Scotland was gradually populated by nomadic people from south at the end of the great ice age, about 7000 B.C.  The sea was a highway, not a barrier.  The first people who have left any physical evidence of their presence in Scotland are the Neolithic or New Stone Age settlers who began to arrive around 4500 B.C.  

 We saw these standing stones on our trip to Stornoway.  No one really knows who built them or why they were built.  Becasue of the shape or organizaiton of the stones it seems that there was a purpose.

Many of the traces of early settlements in Scotland can be seen in to Orkney Islands and the Western Isles or the Outer Hebrides.  These early settlements were mainly from the Vikings who invaded in 8th century.

The arrival of the Iron Age brought the Celts from central Europe.  The Celtic society throughout Britain was about to meet with the Romans.  The Roman general Claudius – later emperor – landed in southern Britain.  By the late 70 A.D. the Romans had conquered all of modern England and Wales and moved on into Scotland.  The Roman presence in southern Scotland was gradually pulled back farther and farther until the Emperor Hadrian, on his visit to Britain in 122 A.D. ordered the building of the great wall that was named for him – Hadrian’s Wall.

 This is a grist mill that was operated by running water.  Below is the actual mill that was used to grind the grain.

Hadrian’s successor, Antoninus Pius ordered a re-invasion.  The Romans secured the line from the Firth of Clyde to the Firth of Forth (the line between Glasgow and Edinburgh) building a defensive wall known as Antonine’s Wall which was maintained until the 160s and then abandoned.  The Romans called the land north of this wall Caledonia.  Even today Scotland is often referred to as Caledonia.

 These are called "Black Houses".  They date back to prior to the 11th Century.  Many of them housed the weaving machines that were used to weave Harris Tweed.

The raiders from the kingdom in Dalriada in north-east Ireland established a sister kingdom in Argyll (Western Scotland).  They brought their language (Gaelic) and also Christianity.  St Columba was from Ireland who came to Iona (the Isle of Mull in Scotland) with twelve companions in 563.  He carried out a wholesale evangelisation of the Picts, in the north, and formed a friendship with the Pictish king in Inverness.  At the other end of Britain, St Augustine arrived from Rome with 40 monks charged by Pope Gregory I with the task of converting the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity.  The remote Christian church in Scotland was out of line with Roman orthodoxy on a number of issues.  This led to much friction between Augustinian evangelisation and the Columbans in Scotland.  These differences remained for the best part of the next 500 years.

This man is weaving Harris Tweed.  Even today all Harris Tweed is woven on manual looms.  The quality is supervised the the Harris Tweed Authority.  They come to all the weavers and inspect the quality.  Authentic Harris Tweed will always have the Harris Tweed label.

The Scots from Dalriada, the Picts from above the Forth-Clyde line, the P-Celtic speakers of Strathclyde and the Anglo-Saxons in the borders were all Christians.  The Vikings announced themselves in 793 when they invaded and destroyed many of the monasteries and sacked Iona.  The Vikings managed to establish colonies in the Orkney and Shetland islands and in the Hebrides.  These invasions brought the Scots and the Picts closer together and Kenneth MacAlpin ascended to the throne of Dalriada in 839.  Four years later he establish himself in the ancient Pictish centre of Scone in Perthshire.  From Iona he brought the remains of St Columba and he also brought the Stone of Destiny. 

The Stone of Destiny is now located in the Edinburgh Castle.

This stone was reputed to have been the biblical Jacob’s pillow and St Columba’s writing desk.  For the next 4 ½ centuries it was the sacred coronation stone of the Scots until King Edward I of England stole it and took it to Westminster in London.

Kenneth MacAlpin was the first King of Scotland and the common ancestor of every Scottish king for the next 500 years.  But he was not the king of modern Scotland.  He never established himself in the Borders although the Scots captured Dumbarton in 870.

The royal succession of kingship in Scotland was that a king might be succeeded by any of his male relatives who shared a common great-grandfather.  Succession with the old Picts or Anglo-Saxons to the south was through the first-born in the female and male line respectively.  Because of this, the seven successive kings in Scotland, from Malcolm I to Kenneth III died violently.  Their combined reigns covered only 62 years.

Scone Castle

More History will be summarized in later posts...