Chateau Windsor Chez Parr

10574379_10153189216852565_4011929021929211062_n

It has been an incredibly busy spring and summer for us here in Dundee. We had a total of 26 guests this summer covering 7 out of the last 12 weeks! But we were also childless for four of those weeks, so it all evens out, somehow, right?

The Aspire Project
1526624_858661337479350_3765440170541937127_nFor three of those weeks this summer we had short-term missions teams in from the United States to help with one of our church’s outreach projects, The Aspire Project.
The teams came from two of the churches that have partnered with our ministry here in Dundee, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis and First Presbyterian Church Jackson. 10570380_1446928645589399_7724866977577582217_nThe teams were of immense help during the three weeks of activities and summer camp geared toward school-aged kids in an economically deprived area of Dundee. They grew in their appreciation of Scottish culture, and went home with fond memories of the kids whom they came to serve and their families.

Upon returning to the US, the leader of the team from Jackson, Mississippi wrote:

10452316_708412272540464_9021913619879713378_nAs we prepared to make this trip, a common question was “Why are we sending a mission team to Scotland? It’s not exactly a third world country!”  Well, certainly it is not, but the Gospel needs to go to “all the nations.” The culture of the United Kingdom is “post-Christian,” and the United States is heading rapidly in that direction. We actually have much to learn from the battle being fought by our reformed brothers and sisters in Scotland. 10448756_1446928542256076_4502171527388201809_nThey need encouragement; they need men and women who will come alongside and work to share the Gospel; and they need financial support. The heart of St. Peter’s Church is strong, but the ranks are thin.  First Presbyterian Church-Jackson and St. Peter’s Free Church stand together in a unique position to labor in the Lord’s vineyard in Scotland, as well as in Jackson.

We are very glad to have had so many working alongside us this summer and look forward to having them back again in the coming years.

Encouragement and Care from Abroad 
Ben Porter, associate pastor of the church Karsee grew up attending, Kirk of the Hills, in St Louis, MO, joined us for a few days along with his father. We had a great time and were blessed by their company and care. We even had a chance to show them some of the beautiful Highlands while they were here, travelling to Dalwhinnie for some refreshment and to Eileen Dounan Castle for some sightseeing.

We were also visited from a variety of fellow Mission to the World missionaries this summer: our supervisor and friend Jay Eastman came from Berlin for a few days, Liz and Paul Meiners, MTW missionaries to London and MTW’s European Care Committee leaders, and Ralph and Wendy Kelly from First Pres Jackson, who serve MTW  by providing pastoral care for missionaries in the United Kingdom. Each of these visitors came to check in on us and make sure we’re taking care of ourselves and are being taken care of by others. Our time with each of them was extremely encouraging and we had a chance to show them around our beautiful city and country a bit too. We have been very well looked after this summer.

Finally, we were visited by Mary Lou and John Moad from Our Lord’s Community Church, my (Brian’s) home church in Oklahoma City. Mary Lou is an Art Therapist in OKC and was led to visit this summer to see if any connections could be made with the ministries we’re involved in here in Dundee. We had meetings with several leaders at St Peter’s, at Tayside Young Lives and in the arts community here in Dundee. We’re praying now to see where God would provide opportunities for them to serve alongside us with short-term trips in the future.

Summer Getaways
IMG_2885In the midst of all of our visitors this summer we were able to get away for a few days of respite and relaxation. Karsee’s brother Kip visited us at the beginning of the summer and then flew back to the States with Madeline, Joseph and Ava for four weeks of grandparents spoiling them in St Louis and Oklahoma City. IMG_3501They had a blast with Karsee’s folks and with my mother, dividing the time as equally as possible. The kids even got to go to their great-grandfather’s birthday party and had a chance to reconnect with (or meet for the first time in Ava’s case) their uncles, aunts and scores of cousins.

IMG_2922This left Karsee and I footloose and fancy free to visit Northern Ireland for a few days and then to the French Alps for a week. We are so grateful to friends at St Peter’s (who shall remain nameless so we can keep them to ourselves), who allowed us to use their flat in Les Chattrix for FREE! And to top that, our airline tickets and auto rental were paid for with  travel rewards. We had a wonderful time traversing many a mountain and valley in the shadow of Mont Blanc.
IMG_2983 It was exactly what we needed at exactly the right time and exactly the right price.

IMG_3004Schooltime!
So we find ourselves at the end of September now, where did the year go? The kids have all started back to school, including Ava who started nursery (pre-school) at the end of last month. She is enjoying her 2.5 hours a day learning, playing  snacking, singing and dancing. And we are enjoying having the 2.5 hours per day to be able to work together counselling couples as a couple. We have been doing this over the past three years in the evenings at our home, after the kids are down for the night. It’s nice to have a few evenings free now and to be able to work together in the mornings when our brains are still fresh and bathed in caffeine. I really love counselling alongside Karsee. She is an extremely wonderful counsellor.

photo 4Madeline and Joseph are also back at school in P5 (4th Grade) and P2 (1st Grade) respectively. They like their new teachers and are enjoying being with their friends again. Madeline is taking cello at school, after school piano lessons, evening National Youth Choir of Scotland and is on an junior netball team (something like basketball, but slightly different), coached by her main classroom teacher this year. Joseph is on a waiting list for trampolining and gymnastics classes. Please pray for us in this busyness.

Cambodia
IMG_3100Lastly, I just returned a few days ago from a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where I joined nearly 150 other MTW team leaders and national partners from all over the globe for a week of learning about the direction of modern missions and the global church, struggling with some of the challenges and obstacles to gospel ministry around the world and collaborating with others in seeking answers and solutions to some of those challenges.
IMG_3090It was a refreshing time with my colleagues with many challenging and insightful discussions and presentations. I am hopeful and look forward to seeing how our organisation and we as its leaders respond to the challenges ahead.

Prayer Requests
Okay so there are quite a few things going on in our lives, as you can see above. We’re back in the swing of things now and would really appreciate your prayers for the following:

  • Our work as counsellors and carers with St Peter’s Counselling Services (the counselling centre we extablished here three years ago): Our caseloads are beginning to fill up again after the regular summer slow-down. Please pray for grace as we walk with people through the dark places of their lives, both for them and their health and healing, and for us, for our own ability to stand with them and see them through.
  • Our work as team leaders: that we would have a clear vision of the work to which God is calling us, and others as they begin to join us.
  • Free Church Congregations: Our desire is to build strategic partnerships between the congregations we work with here in Scotland and churches in the US. Pray that there would be churches in the US that are also seeking such relationships that mutually edify, encourage and educate about the present and coming challenges facing the global church.
  • Workers for the field in Scotland: We have nine positions in nine very different ministry settings for which we are presently recruiting. We need the right people and the work is needed now, so please pray God would bring the ones he has for these works to us. Are you one of them?
  • Our congregation at St Peter’s Free Church: We are a growing congregation with a need for mature, humble and self-sacrificing leaders. Please pray for our pastors, elders, deacons and other ministry leaders for clear vision and direction. Pray for the members and adherents at St Pete’s for hearts to love and serve the people of Dundee and the broader community.
  • Our family: For Karsee and I and our marriage, that we would weather the inevitable storms well and consciously be moving toward each other with love and compassion and patience. For us as parents, for patience with our three, and for the grace to live lives that point them toward Jesus for mercy and forgiveness. For our children that they would know the depth of Jesus’ love for them and that they would not know a day without Him.
  • The people of Scotland: on this side of the referendum for independence, that there would be unity and work towards mutual understanding and cooperation in the realm of politics both at home and in the larger United Kingdom. For a just and equatable society and for the fulfilment of the UK’s political leaders’ promises for more devolved powers for Holyrood. But more than anything else, for a fresh work of the Holy Spirit to wake people from their spiritual slumber.
  • IMG_2804Lastly, for the needed monetary support that allows us to continue our work here in Scotland. We are presently in need of approximately $900.00/month in additional support to keep our heads above water. Please pray with us for the Lord to provide. If you’d like to partner with our ministry in this way you can do so here by setting up a monthly donation or by sending a one-time gift towards our needs.

Thank you for your continuing prayers and support,
Brian, Karsee, Madeline, Joseph and Ava

P.S. You can see what Mission to the World Scotland is all about on our team’s webpage:
www.mtwscotland.org.

Posted in Current | 1 Comment

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

It’s been 7 hours and 164 days since you read anything new about us. That has not been deliberate but a consequence of a whirlwind of changes that have occurred since Ava and I left Scotland to visit the US to try to make up the deficit in our financial support.

US Adventures
IMG_2321
Ava and I had a blast visiting Oklahoma City and St Louis during our excursion to the US. We saw many familiar faces (for me at least) and met many new people as we visited churches and were invited to homes to share about our work in Scotland. Ava got to meet her Grandpa Parr, and the rest of my side of the family in Oklahoma City. The names of those we pray regularly for became actual people for her, which was really touching to watch. She also got to spend some good time with Karsee’s folks in St Louis as well. She stayed there while I attended MTW’s Global Missions Conference in Greenville, SC. I manned the booth, talked to scores of people about our work and had a dozen and a half people express interest in joining us in Scotland as part of our team. Overall it was an incredibly encouraging time filled with hope and an expanding vision of what might be possible for MTW Scotland.

When we left the US to return to our family in Scotland, the $1,600/month deficit we had set out to tackle had been reduced to $400/month thanks to the generosity of many individuals who began supporting or increased their support for our work, and two new churches who partnered with us. Ava did the majority of the work, and God gave the increase.

Frank Robert Parr
IMG_2542A few weeks after Ava and I returned to Scotland, my father, Frank Parr, fell ill. At 92, he had been physically waning for a few years, but was mind was sharp and he posted daily on his FaceBook page random thoughts about life and love, politics and other snake-oil salesmen, and his strong opinions about the state of the world. Just after New Years he was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and a few days later died. His self-written obituary can be seen here, for those of you interested. He was an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life. I’ve been grieving the loss of my father. Things are better today than two months ago. I miss him the most when it sneaks up on me. Often I’ll see or hear something or have an idea about something and will instinctively say in my head, “I need to ask dad about . . .” Then I remember I can’t. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to again. And that’s enough for today.

Moving Day
Yes. Again. Three houses in three years here in Scotland. We found out in November that our landlord’s son was moving back to Dundee and wanted to occupy the house in which he grew up. Unfortunately, that was the house in which we were living. Most people don’t move in the middle of winter in Scotland. And so it took a while for us to find a suitable place that would fit our family of five. We did. And we’re unanimous in our opinion that it’s our favourite home so far. We’re back on Windsor Street, the same street we were on when we first moved to Dundee, but in a smaller, airtight home at the bottom of the massive hill. We’re within walking distance of most everything again and so we’re getting a bit more exercise and using the car much less. The move was long and cold and dirty, but that’s all behind us now. We still have an extra office/bedroom for any of you who’d like to come visit.

Ministry
Our work has really been the only constant in our lives of late. The counselling we’re doing at St Peter’s is still going well. Karsee is quite busy and my own caseload is building up again from the two hiatuses I had to take (fund-raising and dad’s funeral). The Rev Dr Sinclair Fergusson has joined the preaching team at St Peter’s, which has been an incredible blessing. St Peter’s continues to grow physically and expand its work and influence on the community in Dundee.

Our newest partner in the work here, Evangelical Presbyterian Annapolis, is planning a short-term trip this summer to work with the children’s outreach project we have in one of the housing schemes here in Dundee. We’re very excited about their participation and for the strengthening of relationship between our two congregations. Please pray for our joint venture.

Prayer Requests
Please pray with us:

  • for stamina, strength and health, grace and humility in our marriage, our parenting and our ministry.
  • for Brian and his family’s working through the loss of their father.
  • for our UK visa renewals that were sent in two weeks ago to be approved and returned in a reasonable amount of time and without any major hiccups.
  • for renewal and health for each person we see for counselling or pastoral care.
  • for others to come and work in Scotland as we build the MTW Scotland team.
  • for our financial support. Since returning from the US with major increases, major decreases followed from others. Please pray for God to provide what we need to stay and continue our ministry in Dundee and the rest of Scotland.
Posted in Current | 4 Comments

An Adventure with Ava

We want to express our deep thanks to all of you who have been faithfully supporting our ministry here and praying with us concerning our support levels. As a result we have had one more church to partner with us in our ministry here in Dundee, which has been extremely encouraging. It leaves us, however, with a monthly deficit of about $1,600.

So, in order attempt to build our support base and/or garner some one-time gifts to shore up our support account, Ava, our two-year-old, and I are going to be returning to the United States for a six-week fund-raising excursion. We’re leaving this Thursday, October 24, and will return on December 2. Our tentative schedule will be visiting Oklahoma City (Oct 24-Nov 5), St Louis (Nov 5-Nov 7), attending MTW’s Global Missions Conference in Greenville, SC (Nov 8-10), back to St Louis (Nov 11-18), then back to Oklahoma City (Nov 19-Dec 2) before returning to Dundee.

If Ava and I are successful in raising the $1,600/monthly support or $18,800 in one time gifts, it will allow us to avoid a more formal Home Ministry Assignment. The HMA would involve our giving up our current residence, putting all of our possessions into storage and the whole family returning to the States until our support has been fully pledged or raised again. Obviously we hope to avoid this more severe disruption to our ministry and the kids lives, and so Ava and I would appreciate your prayers for our work in the US.

Karsee will remain in Dundee to continue with her counselling and participation in other ministries while also managing Madeline and Joseph’s busy school and extra-curricular schedules. She will be well supported by our church family here, so we are grateful for that. But we would also greatly appreciate your prayers for her temporary single-parenthood. And for Karsee and myself as we spend a significant portion of the Autumn apart.

Despite having our prayers answered in this way, we’re confident if God’s goodness and faithfulness and sovereignty in all of this, and look forward to whatever he brings our way during this little mini-adventure back to the US. We suspect the grandparents and family members we have back in Oklahoma and St Louis have been praying in such a way that they would get to see their newest grandchild for a while. I’ll have to take that up with them when I see them. (c:

Soli Deo gloria,
Brian, Karsee, Madeline, Joseph and Ava

Posted in Current | 1 Comment

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy . . .

Well, not really actually. Our counselling workload normally lightens up during the six weeks of the summer holidays here, but our work has been augmented this summer with OUR NEW RESPONSIBILITIES LEADING MTW SCOTLAND! That’s right, after much prayer, deliberation and advice from people we trust, we have decided to accept the responsibility of leading MTW’s team in Scotland. In the coming months we’ll be working on developing strategies geared toward how to best serve the church in Scotland through church planting, revitalisation and mercy ministries. We’ll also be recruiting and assessing potential team members in the US who feel called to service in this part of the world. (By the way, for those of you who might ask, all of this is in addition to the counselling and pastoral care we’re providing to the church and community in Dundee, not instead of it.)

That’s our big good news. We’re excited to have been entrusted with this added work and responsibility and absolutely need your prayers for clarity of vision, stamina, encouragement and for workers to join us in the work God has called us to here in Scotland.

Our big bad news is that our financial support is still waning. We currently running at a $1,500.00/month deficit. We really need your help. If you do not currently support our ministry financially, would you please consider doing so? If you do already, would you please consider increasing your current level of support? Would you also please consider approaching your own church’s missions committee or missions pastor on our behalf? The Give, Pledge and Donate buttons above or in the menu will get you to the places you need if you are so inclined.

As it stands at the moment, in addition to the increased monthly support listed above, we need to raise $11,500 in one time donations to keep us from having to return to the US to raise support in person. Obviously, we’d like to not disrupt our ministry here. Please pray with and for us to this end.

Since our last update, we’ve seen a pretty steady influx of counselees from the community, those that have no church affiliation and/or are not believers. This is an exciting trend for us. Please pray that it continues and that we’ll care well for everyone God brings to us.

In our personal lives, Madeline has been invited to join the National Children’s Choir of Scotland (she starts in August), Joseph graduated from nursery (he starts Primary 1 in August), and Ava turned two. Milestones continue to come and go and our lives here are filled with opportunities to live out and share the Gospel of God’s grace through Jesus’ cross. Thank you for all you do to encourage and support us in our calling.

Brian, Karsee Madeline, Joseph and Ava

Posted in Current | Leave a comment

I Can’t Think of a Title for This One

IMG_1648

Brian and Karsee in the Highlands

Hello friends and family. It has been a long, long time since our last update. We have been remiss. We have a litany of excuses, all very good and well thought out, but in the end they’re all just excuses. All we can really do is beg your forgiveness.

Here’s what’s been going on over the last several months along with a few pics to let you know what we look like these days.

Our Ministry
May 10 marked our two year anniversary here in Dundee!
We can’t believe we’ve been here that long already. It feels like it has just flown by. We still feel as though we’re thriving here in Dundee and at St Peter’s Free Church. We’re continuing to serve as the pastoral counsellors for the church, providing ongoing care and counsel for many. We also have regular stream of referrals from other churches in the Tayside area and abroad.

st peters counselling

We’re also continuing to build the outreach aspect of our counselling here through St Peter’s Counselling Services. To that end, we’ve set up a presence on Google recently for anyone searching for counselling in Dundee and have been receiving calls and emails from a variety of people, both Christian and not, who are seeking our help.

tyllogo6

Karsee’s work with the newly begun Young Lives program here in Dundee is going really well also. Every other Thursday morning she takes part in their program at Hillbank Evangelical Church where she’s able to meet and care for young teen mums. There’s a structured program with a variety of projects and educational modules. There is a creche (nursery) where the kids are able to play and interact with each other and where the mums can get a few hours of time interacting with other adults. Karsee has been involved in structuring the mentor training and has taught a lay-counselling module on a couple of occasions. She also serves as a place of referral for any of the girls that would like to receive more formal care.

We so wish we could share with you the stories of healing and progress we see in the lives of the people we’re meeting with each week, but the confidential nature of our work with individuals and families here precludes us from doing so. Suffice it to say, we are very encouraged both by the work God is doing in people through our ministry here in Dundee and in us as we continue to learn more about His care for us as His children. Your support makes it possible for us to provide this as a ministry of the larger church to a population that sorely needs the care. Please pray that God will continue to bring people to us and that the light of the Gospel will shine through the care we’re providing.

IMG_1740

Ava with all her stuff

Our Life
Ava is growing at an alarming rate. She’s using more words every day and when we initially ask her to repeat new words, she often says them flawlessly, leading us to think she can secretly speak much more than she’s letting on, or has an opportunity to anyway, with two older siblings who are constantly doing the same. Her new thing over the last few weeks is disappearing after breakfast and returning from her room in clothes different than the ones we originally put her in for the day. She’ll change a couple of times a day sometimes of her own accord. Her laundry is more time consuming these days as a result so we’re going to teach her how to wash and hang out her own clothes next.

Joseph and his best friend Cameron

Joseph and his best friend Cameron

Joseph is winding down his last year of nursery (pre-school) and will begin attending Madeline’s school for P1 in August. He is excited to be moving up to “real school” but a bit nervous as well. Having Madeline there will be helpful for him. He’s really into Skylanders right now and has begun football (soccer) practice on Friday afternoons. He absolutely loves football and comes home each afternoon with at least a few goals under his belt. He appears to be developing into quite an athlete, but is also very interested in art. He’s constantly drawing or constructing. His recent idea of what he’s going to be when he grows up is a billionaire artist musician. We haven’t had the heart to tell him that the first of those very rarely goes with the other two.

Madeline on an after-school date with Dad

Madeline on an after-school date with Dad

Madeline is winding down P3 and about to enter P4 in August. She’s doing great academically and apparently is being used in her classroom to help tutor her peers in various areas. She is growing into a wonderful and caring young lady. Way to fast. She is still quite the social butterfly and is always planning playdates with friends from school or church. We have a used trampoline in our back garden (yard) and Madeline spends a great deal of time there practicing her cartwheel.

Karsee and her weeuns

Karsee and her weeuns

Karsee is enjoying spending time with her friends from St Peter’s, meeting monthly together for a women’s bible study and continuing to meet for coffee regularly with a few mum’s she met through  Madeline and Joseph’s schools. She has also met with a couple of Scottish women interested in becoming counsellors. It has been exciting for her to be able to share her love for counselling with others interested in the field. Karsee has also developed an intense love for squash which is similar to racquetball but the ball is smaller making it a much faster game. She tries to play three times a week and would play seven if time allowed. Some day she hopes not to be out of breath after every match. Please pray for her to that end. (c:

IMG_1734

Gelato in St Andrews after a 23 mile cycle through Fife

I am cycling almost every day these days, finding places between rain showers to get back and forth to work, often taking the long way. I just can’t get enough. I’ve decided to try to tackle the North Sea Cycle Route over the next several years if possible and did 123 miles of it over  two days of Spring Break. Madeline joined me for the last 23 miles from Dundee to St Andrews and we ended with a gelato at our favourite ice cream shop there.


Mission to the World

Our fellowship group at the MTW Europe Area Retreat

Our fellowship group at the MTW Europe Area Retreat

We had the privilege of attending the MTW Europe Area Retreat at the end of April in Islantilla, Spain. Over 100 missionary families, a great many of MTW staff and a variety of helpers and carers from churches in the US came for five days of teaching, seminars, fellowship and rest. The kids absolutely loved the children’s program put on by Children’s Ministry International. Loved it more than swimming and the beach and the awesome food. It was nice to see and feel the warmth of the sun for a few days. It was even nicer to catch up with friends we’ve made with others serving in Europe over the last two years.

Please Pray
In addition to praying for our ministry here in Dundee, we’d like to ask you to pray for another opportunity we’ve been offered by MTW’s leadership. Following the retreat in Spain, Karsee and I spent two days being assessed by a team of MTW senior staff for the possibility of taking on the role of Team Leader for MTW Scotland. To date, Karsee and I and the kids ARE MTW Scotland, but the needs here are great and God continues to bring others with a desire to serve here to MTW or to ourselves. At the end of the assessment we were offered the position, pending our voicing a real feeling of God’s call into these additional responsibilities and work. We have been praying for the last few weeks for some clear direction and would love it if you would join us in this endeavour.

Lastly, the plug. Our support account continues to waver and recently has again begun to dip into the area that would necessitate a ministry-disrupting fund-raising trip back to the States should this not turn around. On average, we currently are about $1,400 per month short of our expenditures. If you would please pray with us that God would provide the difference through his people. And would you please listen to see if you’re one of the ones He would ask to partner with us in this work? If you’d like to support our ministry here, please contact us and we’ll explain the procedure, or you can click here to set up giving online.

Photobook
The montage.

Posted in Current | 2 Comments

Happy Christmas from Dundee, Scotland!

xmas2012Dear Friends and Family,

Another year is coming to a close and our appointments are starting to thin out for the holidays. We’re looking forward to a bit of rest during this holiday season, time to spend together as a family reflecting on the past year, the milestones we’ve met together, the successes and “opportunities for growth,” and the work Jesus has done in us and through us here in Dundee.

The chocolate is flowing steadily from the Advent calendars each evening as we again approach the celebration of the re-beginning of the world some 2000+ years ago. Through God’s continuing work inaugurated that day, we’ve seen His handiwork over the last year as he brought our pastor and friend back from the brink of death, healed our colleague with bladder cancer who had been referred to hospice with only a short time to live, restored a marriage, freed a woman from a severe struggle with depression, brought a man to faith in His Son and created three new families here at St Pete’s. As an answer to prayer, He’s given us really great friends here in Dundee. And in answer to our prayers and yours, He has given us opportunities to share the incredible news of His grace with those who have either never heard it, or never understood it, both with those we counsel and with those he’s given us as friends. Through all of this He has been deepening our faith in His promise to Be and to provide all that we need, allowing us to identify and lay down a few of the idols to which we’ve been clinging.

We are overwhelmingly grateful for your faithful prayers, your email and blog responses of encouragement and support, and the financial sacrifices you’ve made to enable us to be about this work in Scotland. We would not be able to be here or do any of this work without you. Thank you for joining us in this work in these ways.

END OF YEAR GIVING
As we approach the end of the year, we would like to ask those of you who make charitable donations during this season to please consider making a contribution toward or work here in Dundee.

You can do this easily by visiting our Mission to the World donation page by clicking here. You can either make a one-time donation via credit card or you can set up a recurring monthly, quarterly or annual deduction.

If you would prefer to send a donation by check, you can do that by downloading our prayer card and sending it with your donation to:

Mission to the World
PO Box 116284
Atlanta, GA 30368-6284

Or, you can call MTW Partner Services at (866) 373-6133 and one of the nice people there will be happy to help set up a recurring gift or receive a one-time gift on our behalf.

We cannot thank you enough for your support in all its forms.

Soli Deo gloria,
Brian, Karsee, Madeline, Joseph & Ava

Posted in Current | 2 Comments

State of the Union

It’s been one year, nine weeks and two days since we arrived here in Dundee. Guess it’s time for a state-of-the-union-type update, so here goes:

Our Personal Lives:
We love it here in Dundee! We really had no idea we would love the people, the town and, sometimes, even the weather here so much when we set off for this place. We’ve grown very close to some and, having only been here a year, continue to meet new people and develop new friendships. Dundee is a city of about 145,000 people which has been a big adjustment coming from the nearly three million of the St Louis metro area, but we really love it. We bump into people we know everywhere, all the time, and the familiarity that that has engendered has made us feel much more at home here. The weather, well, when it’s good it’s great, like San Diego great, but that doesn’t seem to happen very often. At least that’s how it feels right now. I think we’re starting to understand the vacillating optimism/pessimism the people show toward the weather here.

Ava turned one year old on June 29. She’s a cheeky little child who continues to grow, pick up new words, cruise, stand, yell, eat voraciously, and chase her siblings around, most of the time with a huge smile and giggles. She’s an incredibly happy little kid and a joy.

Joseph has completed his first year of organised education here. He graduated from Nursery and will officially enter Pre-School after the summer holiday. He’s growing like a weed and spends more days than not with his best friend Cameron. His accent is changing slightly and we often here him saying, “I’m Scottish,” in a Scottish accent in the back of the car when we’re driving here and there.

Madeline successfully navigated P2 (1st Grade) and will be moving up as well. We had our first official progress and achievement report at the end of the year that made us very proud. Madeline has done an amazing job acclimatising to the schooling system here and was praised for her regular cheery and helpful attitude in class. After watching the trailer for The Hobbit recently she bought her own copy of Tolkien’s book and read it on her own over a few days. She’s brilliant. She has also adjusted to the culture quite well; she told me a joke yesterday: “M: Why was the car disallowed from playing football? B: I dunno, why? M: Because it only had one boot.” I think she’s going to be fine here.

Karsee is doing an amazing job of holding us all together as a family, making sure we’re eating well and healthily and keeping our home running like a well-oiled machine. All of this while learning to play squash with her friend Isla, meeting regularly with school-mums for lunches and play-dates, studying for her UK driving exam AND PASSING, and participating in the several ministry related things she’s doing (more on that below). And she hasn’t gone mad! I don’t know how she does it, but I’m glad she does.

I have been reasonably busy myself, also working on keeping our household functioning properly. We moved house in May and I have had a full plate of DIY chores and new gardening projects. Baby gates up – check, new dishwasher installed – check, barbecue grill assembled – check, field of six-foot nettles in back of property pulled and annihilated – check, football goals in working order – check. On sunny days I get the bicycle out. So, obviously I’m not getting a lot of exercise that way.

We Moved!
From the day our lease ran out on our first home here, we began looking for a new place that would be both more economical and “family-friendly” (pronounced: “with a garden”). That happened this last May and we packed up and moved a mile west to a smaller, warmer house, on a quiet street with tons of kids. We now have a bright south-facing garden and one flight less of stairs. Our new address is on the email we sent announcing this latest blog post. Please make note of the change before sending us American peanut butter, Welch’s Grape Jelly, Nabisco Graham Crackers or anything from Trader Joe’s. (c:

Our Ministry in Dundee
Here’s a breakdown of everything we’ve been up to over our first year here:

Counselling
We’ve been doing it. Lots of it. Lots more than we thought we would in our first year here. We came thinking that we’d have a bit of a break-in period as we got to know the people and how they think and feel. We also thought it would take some time for people to get to know us and trust us. Instead we found that, despite the cultural differences and our completely different usages of the English language, people here think and feel in much the same way we do. There’s an element of common grace here, we realise, that’s dictated by our shared image-bearing-ness. We have both had full schedules with those coming to us from both inside the church and from out-with. We have had the honour of sitting with people struggling with a wide variety of intra- and inter-personal issues and seeing real gospel-informed and empowered growth and healing. We’ve found people quite ready to trust and dig deep into their problems and hurts in ways that we just weren’t expecting. We see God’s grace and mercy in this, and a confirmation of his calling us to this place at this time.

Marriage Prep
In addition to the individuals and couples Karsee and I have both had during the day, we have also had the privilege of walking through pre-marital counselling in the evenings with two engaged couples from St Peter’s. One couple tied the knot last month, the other is scheduled for September. And we’ve had four engagements in the last few weeks at St Peter’s so we have another great and busy year ahead.

Referrals
We haven’t done any “marketing” for our services here in Dundee as of yet as our schedules have been reasonably busy. Regardless, we’ve had people coming to us from a variety of sources. Through word of mouth, we’ve had many people come to us from other churches in Dundee as well as a few weekly travelling great distances from elsewhere in Scotland. We’ve had referrals from a ministry that serves the homeless here in Dundee, from university students referring their friends, from a national ministry that deals with issues of sexual identity and have even been approached by a clinic from the National Health Service for information so that they can make referrals for family counselling. God is blessing us here with opportunity after opportunity to share in the work he is about, bringing freedom, health and reconciliation in the midst of darkness, pain and sadness. His work is bearing fruit in the form of some embracing Jesus’ salvation for the first time as well as Christians grasping a deeper understanding of his love and mercy and its impact on their hearts, minds and lives.

Pastoral Care
Not long after we arrived in Dundee, I was asked to develop a plan for pastoral care for St Peter’s, which I did over a few months with quite a bit of historical and contemporary research on the subject. A few months ago I presented my recommendations to the Kirk Session at St Peter’s and we are now in the process of refining the proposal and discussing it’s implementation. St Peter’s is a growing church and the need in this area becomes more evident with every member and adherent that joins our fold. We would appreciate your prayers for clarity and wisdom as we undertake this process as a body.

Young Lives
Over the last few months, Karsee has been helping to build a core team in hopes of starting a Young Lives ministry in the Dundee area this fall. Last week she helped organise a “taster” club for the women who are interested in being mentor mums for the program. The taster gave the women an opportunity to see what happens during a Young Lives club meeting and was specifically aimed to pamper them and help them to feel welcome, like they hope to do with the teen mums who come on a regular basis. Seventeen women came along to the taster and are now thoroughly excited to take part in this encouraging ministry. Additionally, we’ve been asked to put together a basic lay-counselling program as part of the mentorship training to take place in the fall and hope to provide counselling to the young mums that need and desire it once the program is up and running. It is exciting to see other Christians in the community from different church backgrounds coming together to share Christ’s love and care with this particular population here in Dundee.

Education
There have been some interesting opportunities arising lately. A few weeks ago, I had a really attractive invitation to teach an intensive week-long Marriage and Family course to pastors in Uzbekistan at the end of the summer. The door closed on this opportunity before we really had a chance to pursue it, which was disappointing. A few days after that news, though, I was invited to teach a short one-afternoon seminar on Pastoral Care at the Free Church College in Edinburgh in September. This falls completely within the realm of the work we’ve been called to do here, but is a little more formal in it’s content and delivery than we visualised. We would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and discernment as we work through how to proceed with this and other opportunities should they arise.

Emergency Fund Raising
We’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately doing additional fund-raising for our ministry here. When we moved here a year ago, we had pledges for the entirety of the monthly cost of our being here. But over this first year, many people who made pledges of support, for a variety of reasons, have not followed through with their pledges. Others who did begin supporting us, for a variety of reasons, stopped. Over the period of a year, our support account has been nearly depleted and we are in need of raising in the neighbourhood of $1,500/month in additional support.

If we don’t reverse this trend soon, we’ll be faced with returning to the US to raise the remaining support. Obviously, if at all possible, we’d like to avoid such a disruption to our ministry, our children’s academic and social lives and our own lives in general. So . . .

If you are not one of our financial supporters and you feel some inkling of desire to take part in our work in this way, we would love to speak to you. Please send us an email or use one of the links above to pledge support, make a one-time donation via credit card, or set up a recurring monthly credit card donation.

If you are one of our supporters and desire to increase you support in any increment, we would welcome the additional help.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. We’d love to hear from you via the comments section below or with a response to the linking email. We miss you.

Brian, Karsee, Madeline, Joseph and Ava

Posted in Current | 4 Comments