Friday, October 30, 2009

A Guide to Kerry and Lara's Baby Registry

It turns out that both baby showers and baby registries are American inventions. Luckily ToysRUs is located everywhere. So here is a guide and explanation to this registry.

Since we live in the UK, we registered on the UK version of the site. You may not find our registry if you just type in Google “ToysRUS”. You must go to “” to find it. Then you will have to type in my email address to find the specific list. If you don't have my email address, you can email Kerry and he will send it to you. We registered in the UK so that shipping costs would be minimal and the confusion factor on the company's part would make the purchasing part simpler, hopefully. Either way double check the shipping costs because it may be better to buy things like baby clothes in the US and mail it that pay the shipping. You may also want to combine your order with others so you are only paying one shipping fee.

This now has caused a few more questions. Terms for some products are different. A cot is a crib, a nappy is a diaper, and so on. You will just have to click on the item and read the description. It is pretty clear in the description if it isn't from the picture itself. Also you may want to search the site and see things like a tens machine that is supposed to relieve pain in child labor or some of the other UK differences. It is kind of interesting. If there is anything you think we missed on our list, we can add it with little trouble.

There will be a few things that are noticeably missing from the list on purpose. This includes some furniture and a car seat. The reason for this is that we are living in a tiny furnished apartment. The second bedroom already has a dresser and a wardrobe (in place of a closet). We also don't have room to have a crib and then a bassinet or moses basket stand since we must keep the bunk beds that are in there. There is also nowhere to place a rocking chair no matter how much I would like one. If I could figure out where to put it, I will certainly add it to the list. We don't own a car and the buses don't have a place to put a car seat. We have observed many parents just holding their babies in their laps for the short trip. I would rather used a baby carrier (thanks Susan) than just hold the baby, but either way, there is no use for a car seat until we are in the US. The stroller is not for an infant because the bulky infant strollers would be harder to deal with on the crowed streets and up and down our stairs than just a carrier. When the baby is too heavy for the carrier, I will use the lighter stroller for longer trips. I also did not list blankets, because I received a great deal of blankets to put in my luggage when we flew here. They are wonderful and traveled well, but I will not need anymore. The top drawer of the dresser is already filled with them. I am certain I will use them a lot.

So why did I have the things that I do? In the UK, using cloth diapers is not as unusual as in the US. With us having a washer/dryer in our flat, it makes sense to try and save money if we can. Diapers are probably one of the biggest cost I have heard associated with having a baby. Also breast feeding is more common here as well. I have done my research and I do already have a few bottles in case, but I am certain I will breastfeed the baby. I also would have liked to vary the sizes of clothing I had listed, but I still do not know the gender of the baby so I stayed with under 6 months and mostly under 3 months. I included a baby tub because our kitchen sink is too small to work for a bath as many people had suggested. Even though most of you may not need some of these explanations, I just wanted to let you know my thoughts so that if you see something I had not thought of, you will let me know. I have done a lot of research, but I do not have a lot of experience. Some of you have suggested small things I had not thought of or read anywhere. Sometimes those little things make a big difference in saving ones sanity.

So that is our baby registry guide. If you have any problems with it from purchasing to delivery or even just some of the items, let me know. The prices may seem a little high, but it is pretty average to low compared to other stores around here. If you want to purchase the same item from ebay, I suggest looking at only those who will ship to the UK. Often they can ship it to me cheaper than you can from the US. I am not particular about brand names either though I wish I could have found more Winnie the Pooh or teddy bear stuff. Also, if you do buy something somewhere else, do let us know so we can take it off of the registry. I know that ruins the surprise, but it may save us the risk of having to return a duplicate object which would be a bit of a bus trip. Well, thanks to everyone and I hope the registry helps make things easier for you. It was fun to create and research!

Domestic Bliss

I thought I would lump together some of the observations I had of domestic life in Scotland. Since everyone speaks English and there are so many American fast food places, one could sit in Starbucks and forget you are in a different country completely. The main places to experience culture shock is in the grocery store. How can “real American hot dogs” come in a pickle jar? How in the world do they call it Mexican food or even label something spicy when I can hardly taste any black pepper let alone a chill pepper? These are a few of the surprises.

The main difference I noticed in grocery shopping is that I have to plan on carrying everything home. This limits most everyone to a hand held basket instead of our American sea of buggies or carts. This is also convenient since the isles and the store in general are quite small. This then gets to my next point. The choices of products are very limited. I do not mean that you do not have a choice of brand which is similar to the US, but that if you want pineapple it better be in season. Your choice of meat or produce will change regularly and if you are wanting to make a particular recipe, then it ought to have a limited ingredient list that is not to specialized. In general they have everything you may need if your cooking from scratch, but things like Ranch dressing and slightly unusual spices like lemon pepper seem completely gone. Some items are the same as in the US but just named differently, such as dish soap is called washing up liquid. Somethings are in one grocery store and not in another, such certain brands of potato chips (which they call crisps).

I also experience this sort of variance in shopping for home do-dads. For instance, many store have shelves of kitchen gadgets, but only one had ice trays. The department store where I was told were reasonably price were over ten times as much as the dollar store style stores. There is variance in the US, but not that much! To prove my point, Jenners, a large department store, sold duvet covers (pillow cases for the comforters) for 80 pounds while the Pound Stretcher sold duvet covers for 8 pounds.

Now why do I need a duvet cover? Here in Scotland, they don't use top sheets. You make a bed with a fitted sheet, a duvet or comforter, and a duvet cover. Nothing is tucked in or folded. It does shorted the time to make the bed to just straighting the duvet. I really like it.

While we are talking about the home, I should mention that there is a switch on everything! Every outlet has a switch and even the outlets for major appliances. I cannot say how many times I put something on the stove to find out ten minutes later I had never turned on the switch to power it. I also made the mistake of turning off the switch to the refrigerator and ended up with a puddle around it. Luckily, we had not bought much groceries yet. This switch fetish apparently derives from the super high electric bills. I have not received ours yet, but people are obsessed here about saving power. Many homes do not even have a dryer. People just hang their cloth in front of the heater.

We are still trying to figure out our heaters. There is an electric space heater in every room and no central thermostat. Kerry had I have to figure out which of the three awkwardly labeled knobs, a switch, a timer, and and two outlet switches to adjust the temperature. We then have to decide which of the heaters to actually adjust to begin with.

So back to cooking, the stove has two compartment where we usually just have a oven in the US. One is the oven and one is a grill. The tiny stove has done well so far, when I turn it on and when I remember it is labeled in Celsius. Luckily, we have not had any fire alarms go off. That would be too embarrassing.

Of course somehow this leads me to my recent observations about Christmas. Many stores have just put out their Christmas things, but so far the Christmas sections are quite small. They also have these things called crackers which are little wrapped gifts in the shape of tootsie rolls. Two people are supposed to pull each side and it give a little pop. Inside is a small gift and a paper crown. The one who got the largest side wins the gift and the crown in some people's versions and some people just give the gifts to everyone to pop open. These crackers are about as popular as Christmas cards.

Well, these are my observations for now, but I am sure there will be a continuation. So until next time, as they say here, cheers!

Monday, October 26, 2009


I want to thank you all for your well wishes and sympathy during this time. I flew back to Dallas Friday, October 9, to be with my father, grandmother, and brother. Then on Wednesday, we flew to Florida with my mom's ashes for the funeral. Friday, October 16, was the funeral. My brother, Joe, being a youth pastor, conducted the funeral and I, my grandmother, and my cousin, Andy, also spoke some words. The service was a celebration of my mom's legacy and devotion to Jesus. Afterwards, everyone met at Olive Garden to eat, talk, and visit. For a funeral, it was as pleasant as can be. My mom's faith left us the certainty and comfort of knowing we would see her again soon. Again, I want to thank everyone for your encouragement during this emotional and difficult time.

A positive side of effect of this sad affair was that I was able to see family I had not seen in two years and able to talk about the coming baby. This was a special thing for Kerry and me. I have not had such nice family time in a long while. Of course, that is my fault because I am the one moving all over the place, but I can't say I would change a thing. Either way, I felt happy to reconnect with some of the most important people of my life.

During this century long week, I also have been able to spend time looking back to see if I have any regrets. My goal in life is to live with no regrets and at the end of my life to be able to look back and be content with all that I have done. During this time of reflection, I have decided that I would rather risk everything and fail than never reach for my dreams at all. I have no regrets. I wish some parts had been easier but I am content with everything I have done so far. My life is dedicated to Jesus and that gives me a bigger focus than how many cars we own (which is zero) or how many things we possess (which is surprisingly little). I see faith, friends, family, dreams, and experiences as the only earthly things that last. That is our legacy, and being cautious in the pursuit of thee things is the only way to guarantee that you will not succeed in these areas. In comparing my goals with the accomplishments of my mom that I admire, I see that one cannot pursue a faithful relationship with God or even human friends and family with reserve. I will need to work on that more.

In light of these thoughts, I am eager to go back to Scotland to finally get settled in our new home. Home is the center of one's world in which you are able to reach out to others. Without a satisfactory home situation, it is hard to pursue any other goal. Kerry went and got our shipment of things before joining me in the US. Most of our things other than the books, are sitting waiting to be placed in the spots I had envisioned when packing them. Things that turn a place into a home such as pictures, tablecloths, doilies, and art are so important because of the memories and comfort they bring. They are the physical reminders of the relationships and experiences that make a life feel full and complete.

In looking forward to this nesting instinct, I have struggled with wanting to take everything that I feel I might need with me. A lot of household things seem to me to be unreasonably expensive in the UK. these things are simple, dumb things like hangers, rugs, towels, washrags, and even kitchen utensils. I also feel the need to take comfort objects, objects that are really best classified in the junk group. I just feel a little insecure and want an identifiable teddy bear type object that makes one feel safe in the world at the moment, but I can't figure out what that object might be. Perhaps I am wanting things to replace some lacking in relationship time I feel at the moment. It doesn't matter, the practical side of my nature will keep it in check.

Finally, I have spent more time this week thinking about Baby Lee than I have at any time in my pregnancy. I have thought about what Baby Lee should call various family members. I have thought about how my mom raised me, and how we should raise our baby. I have really just noticed the baby;s movements and started to think about Baby Lee's potential personality. I have also wondered what more I am really going to need in the UK for a baby. It appears that until we fly to the US, we may not need the car seat. I may want to adapt to some the UK child rearing sensibilities as I learn of them. The whole world of the newborn baby seem more foreign now than it did just months ago when I thought I would depend on my mom for advice. Kerry's mom will be a good source and I respect her mothering abilities very much, but my foundation has been shaken. I wonder also how this baby will see the world being born in such a different circumstance than most people. This baby will in its blood and earliest experiences be a citizen of the world. What I mean is that this child will learn about so many different ways to live at such an early age. Baby Lee will be exposed to the UK mannerisms in terminology, while at the same time hearing and experiencing American culture and being exposed to the Cuban way of life. This child will, like me, not truly belong to one cultural group, but be versed in overcoming cultural idiosyncrasies and navigating various forms of social interactions. Hopefully, Baby Lee will inherit Kerry's natural charisma and friendliness and less of my awkwardness. Above all, I want to focus on giving our child a biblical education. Baby Lee will not merely go to church to learn how to live a godly life, but will get focused family time in which we really teach the importance of prayer, study, and relationship with Jesus.

I suppose that all of this has been my week of reflection and I think that my time in Scotland will be forever effected by it. I spent very little of my time in Dallas and Orlando actually going places, but emotionally, mentally, and in every other way it was a very busy week.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Arthur's Seat

On craggy Arthur's Seat I found a bloom.
Alone and stark its violet velvet life
Persistently against the cold and grey
Did share its beauty on the stony slopes.
Then once atop the rocky heights I stood,
The sun I glimpsed through granite stratus wisps,
Descending now and glowing drowsily
As jagged shadows strengthened at its wane.
Where once volcanic violence destroyed,
where ash and lava formed a rocky crust,
I now found green and bushy herbs and grass
Reborn amidst the fertile remnant soil.
On Arthur's Seat and in its frigid breath
I learned how Nature thinks of life and death.


So much of what I could write about Edinburgh seems completely useless in the present context. Lara's mom died Thursday evening (which was after midnight for us). If you've followed this blog, you will know what has been going on, but here's a summary. Elizabeth Barnoske was diagnosed with the most aggressive kind of brain cancer back in March of this year. Less than seven months later, after repeated hospitalizations, a surgery, radiation, and two different kinds of chemo-therapy, she slipped into a coma and died quickly. She was to turn 51 this December, and see her first grandchild next March.

First of all, let me throw out the disclaimer of saying that I am perfectly aware that death is a human problem that, theologically speaking, is the result of our corporate rebellion against God. I know where death comes from and that it is the naive and uninformed atheist who justifies his/her atheism by the question, "How can a loving God allow suffering?" All we actually deserve is suffering and death. God has provided for our reconciliation to himself and the defeat of death through Jesus.

Yes, I know all of this.

But I have to be honest. God's laissez faire approach to cancer makes me mad. Sure, I can look at it from the perspective that at least she didn't suffer over an even longer period of time, at least she died relatively quickly. Only she did suffer, constantly for the last seven months, and in ways no one should ever have to suffer. There is nothing good or redeeming about this, and I have more than a little difficulty understanding how God is glorified through allowing a servant of his to suffer and die in such a horrible way. Where is the covenant benefit? Beyond feeling grief, I feel totally humiliated for having believed that God might possibly heal cancer. Is it a sign of spiritual immaturity to trust God? Surely not, but that's sure what it feels like.

I guess the issue for me, and for every Christian as they go through times like this, is what can we reasonably expect from God? It's pretty clear that God wants our total allegiance and trust. Okay, but what does that mean? Is trust that is not defined by some set of expectations truly trust? The whole Bible, from beginning to end, speaks of times (maybe exceptional) where God miraculously intervened for his people and delivered them, often through healing. This healing aspect of God's intervention seems to expand and accelerate in the New Testament. Obviously, one of the ways you can deal with these things is to dismiss them in a cessationist sort of way by saying that healing was only for the apostolic age (many of us do this even if we are not doctrinally cessationist), but I still don't think this is justified by the texts without projecting our own disappointment back upon them. Christians tend to become cessationists when their naive hopes of God's intervention are not realized. In this case, the fact that our relatives weren't healed is justified by saying that they have entered into (at least the first stage of) life everlasting.

But can we honestly push all the weight of God's blessing forward to an undefined future, saying it's okay because of the resurrection to come? The attitude that Jesus' resurrection means that God can stop intervening in earthly affairs is totally backwards based on the picture painted by the New Testament. The Kingdom of God is here, or at least that's what we are told. At times like this, the whole theological balancing act between realized and future eschatology just seems like a gigantic cop out: whatever of our experiences doesn't fit into one category we just push to the other. It feels like an elaborate hoax, a justification for a system that simply doesn't work. For example, if the supernatural ethics of the Sermon on the Mount, of self-abandonment and not caring about money, don't seem reasonable based on your experience that you really do have to look out for number one and money actually does make the world go 'round, then excuse yourself by saying that these ethics are to be fully realized in the future kingdom and we must simply live by the rules of the world around us. Or as another example, don't bother trying to identify the presence of beasts one and two from Revelation in our current governmental systems, or the Harlot in our own sub-culture's participation in the larger human culture of rebellion and idolatry, because those are images that only pertain to the last few years of human existence. I just don't see in the apostles' written words an attitude of waiting for anything, except the return of Christ.

Obviously, therein lies the time-related reason for pushing anything into the future. We await Jesus' return and the manifestation and fulfillment of his rule in the world, which includes such things as the final defeat of death and the vindication of his followers by a resurrection and everlasting life thereafter. But the question still remains, what can the followers of Jesus reasonably expect from God in this present life, especially now? Nothing? I think not. The certainty of a future total victory over death provides a foundation for what we might call peace and joy. We Christians have that vague concept of spiritual comfort, but what does that mean? I still hurt, and I know that Lara and Joe and Dave, among others, are hurting worse than I am. I know that God loves us, but I would like to feel it right now.

I'm tired. I'm tired of wrestling with death, with cancer, with God. I'm tired, but I am not going to let this issue go simply because I want to slip back into the slumber of unawareness. God is not off the hook, and neither am I. Especially in the United States we allow our prosperity to turn us into spiritual herbivores, beasts who avoid real issues by turning on the television or by going shopping or by some other escape method. If I read the Jacob cycle and Job correctly, I don't think God wants to be off the hook. Somehow, it is through this wrestling that God is actually known in all of his fulness and glory. What I want with regard to cancer is some sort of propositional guarantee of something, some sort of concrete expectation I can depend on each and every time. But when it comes to truly knowing God, propositions are a mere starting point. The real and harsh truths of life cannot be glibly reduced to mere statements. They transcend even our ability to describe them; we can only glimpse and reflect.

So today, Saturday 10th of October, 2009, I sit in my new flat, the one we had just moved into and were spending our first night in when we got the call, wishing Lara were here but also being glad that she's in Dallas with her dad. They both need that right now. When Lara's gone, I eat less and generally feel lethargic. I'm going to ty to eat, get out, and type some preliminary thoughts for my dissertation today, because that's still going on despite the events of this week. The funeral is supposed to be next Friday or Saturday, and I'll be flying to Orlando for that purpose later next week.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sprinting Cripples, Brisk Winds, and a Russian Cafe

It's funny how people and cultures stubbornly defy any attempt to reductionistically characterize their idiosyncrasies. For example, you might say of Scots that they do things more slowly than we do in East Texas, like signing leases and turning on utilities. But take that statement any further and you would be inaccurate, because there are things that Scots do a great deal more rapidly than East Texans. Talking, for instance, appears to be done with the thought in mind that this could be one's very last breath and it is therefore imperative to squeeze every bit of important (or unimportant) communication out by the time this breath ends. This also seems to become more true the thicker the Scottish accent. Apparently, those whose accents are the least discernible by non-natives are the ones most in touch with their own mortality.

Similarly, walking is done here at slightly over 175% of the capacity of one's musculo-skeletal structure. I walk quickly for an East Texan, even for an American, generally speaking. Obviously, I have had to slow down some for my pregnant wife, but we have been maintaining what I consider to be an acceptable pace in our meanderings. Over here, though, we always seem to be in the way. As early as last Friday we were noticing the conspicuously frenzied pace of walking in Old Town. At first we thought this must be because of the large percentage of University students with whom we were sharing the sidewalks. Then, in a phenomenon strangely reminiscent of the opening scenes of Office Space, we were passed by a man with a cane. He wasn't really using the cane (though he hobbled as if he needed to), so much as he held it out in front of him slightly, and set it down every now and then when it wouldn't be too much in his way. To complete the surreality of this situation, Lara and I immediately began to perform the “My Little Buttercup” scene from The Three Amigos (keyword here is surreal, and yes, I am lying about the musical number).

Scottish weather, too, defies any attempt to reduce it to some governing principle. Basically, there is weather, and it happens frequently. We are learning that you never leave the house without an umbrella, because yesterday it rained on us without clouds. I don't know how that's possible, but the only rain clouds I saw were way off in the distance. Then again, we were also experiencing what felt like hurricane force winds, so maybe the rain was coming the rain cloud 25 miles away. Sideways rain appears so far to be the main kind of rain in Scotland. I mentioned always having an umbrella, but I've had to use it differently, more like a shield in combat than a mobile pavilion. Sometimes, the rain is more like ether, existing everywhere and coming at you from every direction at once. In that case, using an umbrella just makes you feel like an idiot because you get wet no matter which way you point it. Perhaps if I have a giant inflatable plastic globe which we could role around in like hamsters...

Speaking of the wind yesterday, it was very impressive, reminding me of Tulsa, and Lara of Hurricane Andrew. Yesterday also was the day we chose to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, which are directly in front of the place we are staying. The wind was strong all day, but it was stronger in the afternoon than the morning, so we were able to see most of the Botanic Gardens before standing upright became impractical. On the way back to our residence, the wind (which did not come from one direction exclusively, but whichever way was most inconvenient at the time) resisted our approach to St. Colms such that we were actually leaning forward as we walked. At one point, I tucked my head and leaned forward while taking a few steps, only to look up and be sure I was three steps behind my starting place.

Despite the capricious weather, walking around has actually gotten a great deal easier for both of us. I was perhaps more accustomed to daily walking than Lara because of our work environments in Tyler, but even I was tired and sore the first few days. Lara has managed to strike out on her own a couple of times as I spent a few hours in a library, and like a boomerang she always came back. One thing that has helped some is learning the bus system. I can do a PhD, but this bus schedule is intimidating, particularly when they are referring to places you won't find on most maps, because they aren't street names but district names. Finally, we found a bus route number that took us from near St. Colms all the way to the main part of the University (it actually goes by New College, too). With trepidation we got on that first bus, paid our fares and climbed some stairs to the top of a double decker bus, sitting close to the front. Miraculously, we got off at the right place.

Actually, that first bus experience was loads of fun. I'm still not quite certain how the whole center of gravity thing works with double deckers, but I recommend you try it at least once in your life. While we were on that first bus, a young man who turned out to be a student at the University asked us if he was on the right bus route to get to the University. I love irony. His name was Christoph (or Cristoff or Kristoff, I didn't ask him the spelling of it), and he was from Belgium. He didn't realize it, but he had the honor of being the first Belgian I ever met who wasn't a waffle. We exchanged the required student chitchat, like where are you from, what are you studying, etc. I explained that I was a PhD student in the Divinity school and my project was a comprehensive study of spirit in the Old Testament. He looked at me without understanding, but in a completely neutral way, indicating he had no idea what I was talking about. This is not the sort of blank, dismissive look you might get from someone in the US in such circumstances which basically means, “I'm glad you care about that because I sure don't.” Rather, I honestly think he was completely unfamiliar with the Bible and what the study of it might possibly entail. I knew that there were young people in Western civilization who were so unfamiliar with Christianity as to at times never even have heard who Jesus is, but he may very well have been my first actual encounter with that reality.

Despite tackling the bus routes, we still enjoy walking. Today we walked to church, a local one called Stockbridge Parish Church, which is part of the Church of Scotland. Just as last week we had a very pleasant experience with another COS at Palmerston Place, Lara and I were warmly welcomed despite the heat being out in the building. Church of Scotland services are actually very similar to what you might experience at a Methodist church, including a section toward the beginning of the gathering which is aimed at children and young people. The sermon happens about two thirds of the way through, and there is singing both before and after. Communion is not taken every week, but appears to be a monthly occurrence. The minister at Stockbridge Parish Church is actually a woman (today was her birthday), and her sermon today was very well prepared and delivered. We were able to talk to her afterward, and she is very nice, unassuming, and mild-mannered to the point of being a bit bashful. So far, our experiences with the Church of Scotland have revealed an organization characterized by smaller congregations with vibrantly friendly and mission-minded Christians. This is not to say that missionary efforts are not needed. On the contrary, the majority of Scots are quite clearly not Christians. They don't even pretend to be, like many Americans do (I'm convinced that the statistics of Christianity's prevalence in the USA is swelled by the presence within much of the country of a cultural faith, ethnic Christianity, if you will). Therefore, whatever help the Scottish Christians can get to reach their people is vitally needed. I'm just saying that I think the Church of Scotland is playing and will continue to play an important role in that outreach.

Today after church, we ate lunch at this Russian cafe run by Russian immigrants on the corner of Brandon Terrace and Huntley St (or Inverleith Row, or Canonmills; roads often have two or three names here). We each had soup and a Piroshky (Russian for pie) for half of what we would have paid elsewhere, and the food was really good. If you've never had Russian food, it apparently depends heavily on mushrooms, but don't let that stop you if you're not a mushroom fan (as I am not). I will likely eat there again, whether we live in this area or not.


I haven't let you all know what we have been up to lately. Since the last blog, we moved into St. Colm's house where we are staying in some rooms indefinitely. There we have to share the bathrooms, kitchen, and common areas. It is quiet and clean, so we have unpacked some and bought some groceries. That is pretty much all we did on Tuesday.

Wednesday, I had to get over some of my fears of traveling the city alone. Kerry must work on his studies and I could do some of the errands nearby without much chance of getting lost. For some reason I still just had a great big desire to stay locked up in my room. I did not travel across the world to be freaked out! So we walked to New College and there I left Kerry to go to Princes Street to find a cheap cell phone and information about bank accounts. I got information about both very easily and was able to explore the Writer's Museum before the time I was to meet Kerry. I felt really proud that I was even mistaken for a local a couple of times. It probably was because I didn't look quite as lost as the hordes of tourists who were also there.

The next day we followed a similar schedule after going to some University offices trying to find all the things we needed to open a bank account. We took the bus for the first time because these offices were on the very opposite corner of the city center. We also didn't completely succeed getting the information we needed because some things needed to be mailed to us later. This time after leaving Kerry at New College, I purchased a Skype phone, found an art shop and bought some simple art supplies, visited the Museum of Childhood, and then went to the National Library (which was kind of small). I had expanded my sphere of travel a bit farther and felt pretty good.

At this point I may have traveled as much as a half mile away from New College, but I still preferred Kerry good sense of direction (though, some of his short cuts would have been easier the longer and smoother way). Today was a real test. We traveled by bus down to the main campus library so Kerry could use those resources and so we could be close to a flat we were scheduled to look at. We were nervous about whether or not it would fall through. When the time came, we were able to see the place. Someone was still living there and it would not be available until next week.

It was a first floor (in America it would be the second floor) two bedrooms and one bath flat/apartment in a quiet area, situated only about a 15min walk to New College and right next door to the main campus library. The kitchen, dining room, and living room was one space that looked like just a large kitchen (with an American size refrigerator!). The master bedroom was large with a nice window and built in bookshelf (which would be very nice!). The second bedroom was also large with bunk beds. There was also plenty of storage and closet space. It was furnished and a good price. We immediately wanted it and were desperate not to lose it. Unfortunately, Kerry needed to go to his first class, and we needed to pay the deposit. This had to be done in an area of town I had only been to once before, and I had to be there before the offices closed for the day, which was before Kerry was out of class (4:00 p.m. of course).

This made me have to muster as much of an independent spirit as I could. Kerry handed me most of the maps we owned and pointed out the location of the building I needed to go to. I had the cell phone that we bought for this purpose, but could I call Kerry while he was in class? Anyways, we parted ways. He went towards New College and I towards Holyrood Park. I was able to get there and pay the deposit. I found out later that I was supposed to fill out an application, but no one seemed to know that at that time. It still worked out well because we could just fill out the application on Monday. With the deposit, it was ours. Then I traveled to New College and waited for Kerry at the National Gallery where I did a few sketches.

Finally, we went home to eat dinner and I called my Dad. It turns out that even though Mom is doing better, the cancer is spreading and there is nothing they can do. Again, my courage was being tested, but not just mine, the whole family was in turmoil. After talking to my dad, my brother, my grandmother, and even my mom, I have to face what will I do and how will I respond.

I am afraid I cannot answer that. I still don't know. I know a few of you have gone through this. I wrote this in the blog because I know it will be the central focus for me of the next few weeks. Keep us all in prayer.