Have you ever done something thinking to yourself, "Oh, they'll love this!" when the reaction you get makes you wonder if you've got a booger hanging out of your nose?  Well, I had one of those moments last week when I showed up to an Englishman's house during an English football match (soccer) wearing an Argentine jersey.

I found the jersey at Goodwill before the trip and thought that having a soccer jersey to wear on a trip across the Atlantic (where soccer is king) would be worth the dollar I paid for the shirt.  I found myself wearing the jersey when we arrived at our new host home last Tuesday evening.  Realizing that England was engaged in a close match in the Euro Cup competition, I entered the house in all my Argentine glory with a proud smile plastered across my face -- I was a true soccer fan -- so said my genuine Fifa jersey!

The beautiful truth of the matter was that, initially, our host made no mention of the abomination I had unknowingly committed.  He greeted us warmly, and immediately sat us down to enjoy the last few minutes of the match with him.  It wasn't until the next evening when he relayed the story to James McGimpsey that I realized the extent of my folly.  As it turns out, Argentina is the most hated international football team in the world (according to most Englishmen).  And because I'm such a skeptic, I took to the internet to confirm what my host claimed and, to my horror, found that wearing an Argentine jersey actually is (as one website put it) "the most universally detestable" thing I could have done.  I know what you are thinking:  you're never going to live that one down.  But that is where the grace of God shines through!  To think that I began our relationship with such an offense that should merit unconditional repentance and unending heckling for the remainder of our stay.  You must understand that football is very near a religion over here.  But that's not at all what we experienced.  Our hosts were the most generous, kind, laid back, and understanding people we could ever ask for!  They treated us like royalty even though I had offended Her Majesty's football team!  And with that, allow me to introduce to you this wonderful host family: the Yarney's.

I had been looking forward to this leg of our visit for reasons:  1.) the Yarney boys are history buffs; 2.) the view of the Forth River from the Yarney's house is legendary, I was told.  Our stay in Dalgety Bay was wonderful.  Michael & Anne made us feel right at home, the boys were a joy to hang out with, the garden was beautiful, and the view was even better than I had expected!
The famous rail bridge over the Forth River from the Yarney's front porch.
Calum & Struan w/ dog Chloe

On Friday a thick fog formed over the river.
 Struan represented a team in the Dalgety Bay Relay for Life event over the weekend, so on Friday night the Yarney's hosted a potato & pudding party to raise money.  Several of our friends from the Link attended as well as others from around the community.  We enjoyed the good food and fellowship.  I'm not sure how much Struan raised for Relay, but it was obvious he was passionate about the cause.

On Saturday Mike & Anne took us down to North Queensferry for sightseeing & pictures.  I wanted a picture of the 4 of us with the railroad bridge in the background.  I asked a passerby to take a picture, but it was so horrendous that I decided to take my own.  Not knowing how to change the # of seconds on the timed capture setting, I only had 2 seconds to press the button and position myself into the picture.  It took 3 or 4 attempts of me pressing the button, sprinting from the camera spot, and then quickly posing before we finally got a shot that didn't feature me looking too unnatural.  Here's the photo below.

 After the railroad bridge shoot, we took a walk across the Forth Road Bridge (pictured below).

Mike & Anne on the Forth Road Bridge

Railroad Bridge from the Road Bridge
The wind was intense on the bridge!

 Thank you to the Yarney's for such a wonderful stay!  We were truly blessed to be in your home.

On a concluding note, I will admit that I'm watching the Euro Cup quarterfinal (England vs. Italy) as I type this and that the game has just gone to overtime.  Michael, I want you to know that the Argentine jersey is put away, and even though I'm in the home of a Scot, I am secretly rooting for England in this match!

Jonathan Goldsmith has nothing on Archie Watson who, though I've never seen him with a Dos Equis, is assuredly the "Most Interesting Man In the World."
Archie (pictured above) and I share 2 interests:  coffee shops & the American Civil War.  So in order to satisfy the latter, we spent an afternoon in the Abbot House (a 16th Century coffee house on the grounds of Dunfermline Abby) discussing Robert E. Lee, the role of slavery during the war, Lincoln's changing image through history, and other Civil War topics that came to mind.  Adding to the Dos Equis title that I've bestowed on Archie is the fact that he has in his possession a letter dating from 1865 written by a Union soldier.  He showed me this letter and we attempted to crack several mysteries surrounding the nature of the sender.  What an afternoon for a history teacher!!!

Several days later Archie picked up Sarah and I for a day trip around the Fife coast.  The highlight was St. Andrews, a Medieval town famous for it's golf course & university, but our first stop was in Falkland, a well preserved historical town from the Middle Ages.  We spent some time walking the streets before having a bite to eat in a very nice tearoom.  Falkland is a well preserved historical town from the Middle Ages.  The town is very quaint and peaceful.  Most of the houses are accented by an array of flower baskets hanging from windows Falkland's most impressive attraction is the palace, which served as a favorite hunting destination for the kings & queens of Scotland for centuries.
Falkland Palace


outside Falkland Palace

 We arrived in St. Andrews just after lunch and spent the bulk of our day there.  Beginning with the Royal and Ancient clubhouse, we toured parts of the golf course and watched several groups play through the famous holes.  The wonderful thing about St. Andrews is that it is publicly owned land, so we had full right to venture onto the holes to have a look around (given that there wasn't someone raining golf balls around you).
On the famous Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course - hole #18

"The Road Hole" is arguably the most famous hole in golf worldwide.

the Old Course
 After touring the Old Course we headed into town to walk around St. Andrews University.  The university is one of the oldest in the world and has a very distinguished history.  The buildings were really pretty as we toured around the quads and gardens of St. Mary's College.  No, we did not see William & Kate, but if that's the first thing that comes to mind when hearing "St. Andrews" then you probably have an unhealthy attachment to the royal family.  We did, however, visit the University Museum which houses a number of very interesting historical artifacts (I know, not nearly as exciting as seeing the royal couple).
St. Andrews University

St. Mary's College

 Atop the museum looking over St. Andrews beach - on which they filmed the opening sequence from "Chariots of Fire"

St. Andrews
 After St. Andrews, Archie drove us along the Fife coast where we toured fishing villages like Crail and Anstruther.  These villages remind us of the small fishing communities along the northeast coast back in the States.  We enjoyed Crail Harbor as well as our Fish & Chip dinner in Anstruther.
In a small fishing village called Crail.  This is my favorite coffee shop in the world, looking out over the estuary of the North Sea.

Buildings in Crail Harbor

Thank you, Archie, for a very enjoyable day along the Fife coast!

 We got to see the Olympic Torch pass through Cairneyhill last week.  Everyone lined the street leading through the center of the village.  Paul & Kathy Bridson joined us with their granddaughter Katie.  There I am sporting our St. Andrews flag (Scotland) with Katie waving the Union Jack (United Kingdom).  The weather was perfect and the company was enjoyable.  Paul and I discussed the prospect of the US Open champion shooting below par.


Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the Torch Relay was the presentation of the London 2012 Olympic mascot.  I call him "Earthworn Jim" after that awkward Sega game character who failed to carry on the success of Sonic the Hedgehog.

If I saw that in my bedroom at night, I would cry.

The torch
 This was just one of the many highlights we had in Cairnyhill with the Altmans.  Visits to the abbey at Culross (pictured below), walks along the beach at Limekilns, Marshmallow Wars, Wii StarWars, and fruit smoothie alliances at the dinner table.  We thoroughly enjoyed the Altman's including us in their adventurous home life!
Culross Abbey is where Mike & Maureen Altman were married.

Mike Altman



Love the Altmans!

Inside Culross Abbey

I took the sun for granted last week.

I felt the need to confess that. 

While I actually do enjoy the rain and cooler weather, I did not realize that our trip to Stirling Castle last week would be the last time I really saw the sun in quite some time.  Pictures below.

A door for people who are Sarah-sized.

The ceiling in the Great Hall is crafted in the likeness of a Viking longboat.

James standing in King James bedroom

Queen's Bedchamber

A view to the south (the direction we'd all be looking if the English were invading!).

The castle is set on the parapet of a large cliff.

The Great Hall (right) was recently renovated.  The coloring is called "King's Gold" and will eventually wear into the gray that colors the rest of the castle.

The chapel where Mary was crowned Queen of Scots in the 16th Century.

Sarah & Jenny enjoyed the afternoon while James & I explored the castle.

Statue of James V, the man who built the castle into its full magnificence.

Stirling Castle

We continue to enjoy our time with the Dunfermline Link folks.  Dinner with Margaret & Ruth Patton was nice.  We enjoyed hearing Margaret's stories, and Ruth's parakeet was quite entertaining.  We also shared a spectacular lamb dinner with the Hills (Mark, Liz, & Sarah).  Their dog, Sophie, made us realize how much we miss our boy Boone!

Perhaps the highlight of the week was the Marshmallow war we had with the Altmans yesterday!  Apparently the Moore family (Luke & Julie) fashioned marshmallow guns during their stay last summer.    After much preparation and anticipation, the battle commenced.  It was initially everyone vs. Mike & Keenan, but we convinced Josh to join the 'dark side'.  This is him unloading on Sarah: 

This morning at church Sarah had the opportunity to share a bit of her testimony while I gave the message.  It was good for us to share what the Lord had put on our hearts.  We realize that while we've spent the bulk of our time building relationships and working with students in the local schools, we haven't really posted any pictures of these events!  While we can't take pictures in the schools, we will try and make more of an effort to who you the wonderful people who have been hosting us!