Community Events

Yesterday a few ladies of the church hosted a great picnic (races, with finger foods afterward and some more games and running around).  It was geared toward the kids but anyone from the community invited.  It went really well, and thankfully we were able to stay mostly outside as it didn’t rain until near the end.  School started back this past Tuesday, and Sunday Club (kind of like children’s church in the U.S.) will start again in September, so we will probably start seeing more children in church again after the various travels of the 7-week holiday from school.


Liam in the 3-legged race


Colin in the egg (wooden) and spoon race


Sack race – Declan is in the green jacket toward the far end


Seated on the side of the church with the most protection from the wind…

Last weekend was “Stronsay’s Massive Weekend,” which is a big community fair-like event, and Scott and the boys spent a good bit of time at that.  There were team games, inflatables, crafts and other items for sale, food…. For a small island, there are a good number of community events throughout the year, so it’s helpful for getting to see and interact with more of the people here.


Inflatables – Declan and Colin leaning on the front; must have gotten worn out 🙂


One of the floats (Holland Haulage is the service for delivering things to and from the main island – everything from small packages to feed, lumber, and animals)

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Cute Boys

Not many pictures to post this week, so I will just post a couple that Scott took in our front garden (yard) with the younger boys.


Ewan and Declan on the stone bench we quickly put together a couple weeks ago.


“Selfie” with Declan and Ewan

And one of me working around the bird bath (the top is over to the side, waiting to be cleaned).  This pathway is our favorite feature.  The manse (minister’s house where we live) hasn’t been occupied long-term since 2011 I think, so one of my main projects this summer has been weeding the overgrown bits and “uncovering” the garden of the past. I am enjoying it.  The church folk had great plans to get work done before we arrived, but it was too wet of a spring, and getting the house ready was the main priority anyhow (and we are greatly enjoying the fruit of that).  They are appreciative to have someone taking an interest in the garden again.


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Island Adventures

Scott took the ferry on Wednesday to visit and explore the neighboring island of Eday.  At one time this island was linked with Stronsay (our island) for church ministry, and the minister would take a fishing boat on Sunday afternoons to go over.  Scott had some email contact with the Eday church leaders, and though small they have an enthusiastic/committed congregation.  They have a couple “lay” elders who are leading the ministry well.  Scott would love to be able to minister to multiple islands if there was a practical way to work it out.

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On Saturday a group was organized to visit the gardens (here usually means yards – often done up nicely with flowers, etc) of those interested in sharing and/or viewing.  These are just a few photos from the first of eight we visited, including ours. It was great for visiting time, getting more familiar with where others live, and coming back with more ideas to use in our own gardens.

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Below are a few photos taken by Roger Neville-Smith, one of the local doctors who does a lot of great photography as well as gardening – mostly for food which he also sells in the community. A lovely view of the church from our garden, a group photo shot (Colin, Declan, and Liam in the front center), and an adorable one of Declan!

Declan little windmill

This one of Declan is so adorable!

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Birthday and Beaches

We celebrated Ewan’s second birthday this week.  More and more he copies our words and actions and is also developing his own “antics” that make us laugh.  He loves to jabber, sing, and is a great little helper, especially to mommy.  He is growing in his independence – sometimes good, sometimes bad.  All in all, a typical two-year-old. 🙂

I (Karen) recently started going for a walk in the morning before the boys are up, and I head toward Mill Bay (pictures above) which is less than a mile from our house and a lovely view from our windows.  Being on a small island, we are in close proximity to several sandy beaches.  The reality of that doesn’t fully sink in a lot of the time – I think partly because we are in a farming community and the weather doesn’t generally get above 60 degrees Fahrenheit – not the typical picture that comes to mind when I hear “beach”.  But it is lovely, and I love getting close enough to hear the waves on the shore!  I’m thankful that God has placed us in such a beautiful location, and sometimes I need to pause and remind myself to be more thankful.

We also enjoyed Rothiesholm Beach (pronounced something like Rosum; or Bu Sands as it seems to be known locally) one sunny morning this week as a family, making a sand castle kingdom, collecting rocks to border our corn patch, and the boys playing on the sand dunes.  (I should take some of the pictures so Scott shows in the photos….) Family times and memories!

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Summer Nights

I (Karen) posted this on Facebook, but for those who aren’t on Facebook….These were taken around 1:30 am last week (awake after Ewan fell out of bed 🙂 ). It doesn’t get completely dark on these longest summer days here in Stronsay (north Scotland). Pretty cool! Though I wouldn’t mind extra covering on the window when I wake up at 4:00 and wonder if it’s time to be getting up because the sun is coming up.  🙂

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Settling in on Stronsay

We have now been living on the amazingly beautiful (pictures could never do it justice) island of Stronsay for about two weeks. The house (manse) is truly a blessing, the wonderful people of the community have fixed it up wonderfully for us, it very comfortable (we have a spare bedroom so if anyone wishes to visit just come on!) and just perfect for our family.

I (Scott) have taken two services at Moncur Memorial, the church on the island, right next door to our house. I am still seeking to get the “flow” of the service down, as every church in Scotland has their subtle differences, how many songs they do, whether you give a children’s address (and when), how many prayers (and when), and so on. At least this round I know how to give intimations (announcements) and benedictions, though I am still making a few more mistakes then I like. The people are wonderful, it is a fairly peedie (smallish) congregation but then it a fairly small island, though plenty big enough for us. The people of the island are incredibly nice and welcoming, we are already starting to feel a part of the community. The two older boys (Liam and Colin) attend the local primary school (less then a mile from our house) and Declan attends “nursery” (pre-school) a few days a week. There are two stores on the island, one in the main village on the island (Whitehall) about 3 miles or so from us, and the other next door to us. Both carry a good amount of items. Last Saturday we made a “stocking up” run to the “city” as it is called, Kirkwall on the biggest island of Orkney, to buy a few items. It takes about an hour and a half by ferry to get to Kirkwall, then we shop for several hours and catch the afternoon ferry back. Fortunately we won’t need to do this all that much as we really are well provided for here on Stronsay.

I hope to keep you all updated further as we continue to learn, enjoy, and serve the Lord on this amazing island here in Scotland. And truly if you have a desire to visit this gorgeous little “isle of the bays” and meet the loving people then just buy yourselves some tickets and let us know.

Blessings from Stronsay

-pictures are: Vat of Kirbister (natural arch over the sea on Stronsay), the sanctuary of the church, the manse (home), and on the beach at St. Catherine’s Bay near us


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A peedie thanks


It has been a very long road, as many of you know. But we have our visas and tickets to serve in a church (Moncur Memorial) on the island of Stronsay in the Orkneys. In fact we fly out on the 24th of this month (April). It will initially  be for six months, but as our biggest struggle in the past was  finding a place to serve that could get us a visa I believe this is a promising start. If nothing else it is a wonderful opportunity to serve a loving community that has been without a minister (pastor) for many years, to preach and teach, encourage and strengthen, and grow together. We are hoping and praying that we will either be able to serve on Stronsay longer or this will help lay the ground work to do similar work in other areas of Scotland. There is such a big need as many areas especially on the islands are without a “under-shepherd”.

I want to express my extreme thanks to all who have been such a blessing to us over the many years we have traveled sharing about our call to Scotland. We could not have made it for so long without so many praying, giving, and encouraging! It is amazing to look back and think of all the struggles and discouragement, yet all the times that people have blessed us, often without even knowing it. On occasion our “struggle” to get to the field is used by preachers and teachers has an example of faithfulness, I always think it is those who lovingly support us that are the ones who are faithful and special. To all who even think and pray about us, we are sincerely grateful.


Peedie = Orkney for small or “wee”

Oh and of course we will try and keep you all updated from the “field” and get some photos of the lovely Stronsay “isle of bays” on here once we are settled. And if you happen to be in the north of Scotland and we are there come and visit.

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