Practicing For Heaven

When we first moved to Aberdeen, Scotland in 2005 we attended a lovely church of fine reputation. After six months or so, however, we discovered that because it had a high percentage of American postgraduate students like ourselves it was difficult to develop relationships outside of that clique. So we started attending another congregation where we found the hospitality and fellowship more to our liking. It involved people who didn't talk like us.

My reasoning was quite simple: I could foresee a day when I might have spent three years in Scotland, obtain my degree, move back to the United States, and have no lasting Scottish friends. That was an intolerable thought, so we set out to make a few.

Nearing ten years later, we've just finished hosting some of those friends. God's providence is amazing to us. And we did our best to show the Macleod clan a multicultural holiday. We whitewater rafted the Stillwater River (anything but still!); hiked up a mountain gorge, drove the Beartooth Pass (the most spectacular drive in the continental United States), and (to the delight of the two boys, anyway) shot actual firearms. They've got the pictures to prove it to their "mates" back home, who won't believe them. Montana herself rose to the challenge, too. A bald eagle the first day; the sight of a cowboy riding his horse down the Main Street of Absarokee; thousands upon thousands of Harley Davidson motorcycles lining the streets of Red Lodge; visiting with rugged outfitters loading their horses on top of the Beartooth Pass; a snowball fight in July at 11,000 feet. This was all exactly the cultural experience I was hoping for.

But it was the warm friendship and fellowship we experienced that makes it truly worthwhile. With our nightly feasting and laughing over bottles of wine and single malts, campfires and card tricks, we brothers and sisters were practicing for heaven. And I daresay our souls are in much better shape because of it.

To say the Macleods are Scottish doesn't quite capture it. They're so Scottish that English is their second language. Gaelic is the native tongue. I cannot wait until we get to have our own multicultural holiday and visit the remote, windswept Western Isles of Lewis and Scalpay.

We'll surely get in a bit more practice.

Brian Mattson