Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Preparing for Scotland: A Mayward Family Update

Our luggage so far.
Seven checked bags and five carry-on bags.

That's our personal goal: we're aiming to fit everything we hope to bring to Scotland with us in our luggage. I'll likely have to ship a box or bag of books for my PhD studies--I have a growing stack of art-and-theology books surrounding my desk--but for everything else, we're striving for minimalism. In those 7 checked bags, with a weight limit of 50 pounds, we'll pack all our clothing and shoes, our DVDs and toys, and anything else we feel we'll absolutely need for our time in Europe.

It's a challenge to determine which of our possessions to bring with us, what we need to store away for our (potential) return in 3+ years, and what we need to sell or discard. Looking at an item--an article of clothing, a book, a piece of furniture, some artwork--we have to ask ourselves, "Will I need or want this in 3 years?" This process has brought to light both just how materialistic we can become in our consumerist culture, yet how certain items still hold immense, appropriate value for us. In digging through closets and creating giveaway piles, we have rediscovered beloved objects, artifacts from our journey together: old journals from our college years; a coffee mug given as a gift when Katie and I first began dating; small trinkets saved from international travels and the birth of our children; a special toy or stuffed animal for our kids.

In my 20s, I used to rage against the consumeristic materialism of our culture and decry any ownership of things. Now, a little older and little wiser, while I still lament over our society's idolization of wealth and excess, I am recognizing the grace of things. I see the good gift of God's created world and the good things we make with it, and I am thankful. I am also humbled by those who have given of their own wealth to support us, and we are deeply appreciative for the generosity extended to us.
Here's a brief update about our financial situation from our GoFundMe campaign:
We've done it: our goal for this fundraising campaign was $40,000 in savings, enough for our UK visa and travel purposes. Right now, as I type this, we have $42,278.75 in our savings account. So while we didn't achieve this GoFundMe goal of $10k, it's been incredible to see how friends and family have given just the right amounts at the right time. Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU to all who have given. 
Some things I've learned from an online fundraising campaign:

1) The money will come in unexpected ways. Whether from a new writing project, a speaking gig, or the incredible generosity of friends and acquaintances, I have been repeatedly moved to tears when a significant contribution has been given when I least expected it. So many friends from seminary gave to us, even though I know they have their own tuition costs and financial strains--thank you for your generosity and support, friends! We feel deeply loved. 
2) I don't do self-promotion very well. Perhaps this is why my books haven't exactly been best sellers. I'm hesitant using social media to promote my "brand" or "build a platform." So, in spite of me, people still gave generously. 
3) God is faithful in all things. Whether we had achieved our goal (and we did!) or if nothing had happened, I remain convinced that God is present and active in our story, in good and life-giving ways. This isn't a theology of glory or health/wealth; it's simply a recognition that every good gift comes from a good God.
Since posting that update, we've also found a new (temporary) home in St Andrews, a two-bedroom bungalow in a wonderful location between the children's primary school and the Divinity school. There's a yard and a fireplace and a small sunroom. It's rather small compared to many American homes, which is wonderful--we're genuinely excited for more minimalistic living. The lease only goes from September until May, so we hope it will be a great initial home for us in Scotland.
A glimpse of our new home in St Andrews.
We also have our plane tickets. On Saturday, September 2, we'll fly to New York. On Monday, September 4, our family of five will board an evening flight and wake up 7 hours later in Scotland. We'll spend a day with wonderful friends we met in Arizona, Josh and Liz Barton, who now live just outside NYC in Connecticut. We're so excited to see our friends in New York during our layover. We anticipated flights costing anywhere from $1000-$1600 per person, as well as planned for a few lengthy layovers. However, we found some incredible prices for tickets through Norwegian Air and United Airlines. Perhaps I'm overspiritualizing it, but finding airline deals which allow our entire family to fly to Scotland for *less than $1400 total* feels like Divine providence and grace. Katie and I are making a list of ways God provides for us in this adventure to Scotland; we've added "cheap airline tickets" and "home in St Andrews" to the list.

We are experiencing a number of endings in this in-between season: my graduation from Portland Seminary back in April; finishing up my time as the interim high school director at Lake Grove Presbyterian at the end of June; saying goodbyes to friends and family in these weeks before we leave. It can be difficult and stressful to live in this liminal space, saddened by what we are leaving behind while eagerly anticipating what lies ahead. Yet we are also learning to be present and remain hopeful, preparing well while also holding our plans with open hands. Now, we await information for applying for our visas--please be praying that this visa process happens quickly and smoothly! Thanks for following our story and being a part of our journey. We'll keep the updates coming in the weeks and months to come.

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