Thursday, August 30, 2007

Greetings from Grampian!

Amusement area near Patio HotelWell, it's been a busy week here in Aberdeen (part of the Grampian region of Scotland) – long days of rheology training (with me filling the roll of trainer). The picture on the right is of the amusement park area across the street from my hotel, that I've not had time to visit. I'll be headed home tomorrow, so the trip is nearly over. I sure am looking forward to that 6:10 am flight! The hard part of the week has most definitely been the taxis, as in they’re hard to get. The mornings have been alright, getting a taxi to the hotel in five to ten minutes. Afternoons, though, are a different story: Monday it took and hour to get a cab and Tuesday was little better with a half-hour wait. Apparently, they can’t get to me to pick me up because of traffic gridlock.

Dunnottar CastleBut the week has not been all rheology games. I've managed to have a (small) life outside of work here. I was on my own Sunday and Monday nights, just walking into the City Center to eat some dinner. Tuesday night, however, I teamed up with a couple of guys over here from Tulsa and we went for dinner in Stonehaven (around ten miles outside of Aberdeen) for dinner at a nice restaurant on the harbor. It was good getting to know these people (and as a bonus finding that we share the same faith in Christ). After dinner we made a slight diversion and swung by Dunnottar Castle to get a couple of pictures, and then some shots looking down on the harbor and restaurant.

Wednesday night was a treat, as I got together with some friends who live here in Aberdeen. I enjoyed meeting their new son (who is only a few weeks older than Lil'er Euphrony), having some dinner in a house (much better than restaurant food when you’re traveling) and going to their church services that night. One of the two Tulsa guys was there, as well. Very different from the churches you get used to in the States, they have around 50 members (our church in Houston has around 1100) and the focus of how they do things is very different (based on the different attitudes of most Europeans to Christianity, and religion in general). It was great to see them, and hopefully I'll get to introduce them to Mrs. E and the family when they visit Houston in December.

Tonight (Thursday night) I plan on taking the training group out for dinner. I figure I own it to them, since I've grilled them all week. Today is going to be the worst; I told them that they are doing all the work and I'm just going to sit in the lab, reading a book and watching them. It's funny, though, as I sit here vaguely wondering when I became an "important" enough person at work to be taking others out for dinner.

In case you’re wondering, the UK is
cheaper than Norway, but not by much. Housing costs are high, and just about everything here has the same numerical cost in British pounds as do things in the USA in dollars. So, since the pound is worth roughly two dollars, everything here is twice as expensive as back home. And don't get a hamburger over here. They have good beef, but for some reason it just doesn't make for good-tasting hamburgers. I was talking to a lady from the US who lives here, and she said she would buy local ground beef and make a hamburger at home and it still didn't taste right. And I have pointedly ignored the “Mexican” restaurant near the hotel – I've sampled Scotch-Mex before and came away laughing.

William Wallace statue in AberdeenAlso, in case you are wondering, William Wallace doesn’t look a thing like Mel Gibson.

I’m glad to be getting out of here this week. There's a huge oil expo nest week and the place will be a madhouse. There's no hotel rooms for miles; they are bringing in a cruise ship to dock in Peterhead (30 miles away, a £60 cab trip), with the cheap rooms at £1500 for the week, and it’s full up. People are staying as far away as Inverness, a couple of hour drive! If the taxis have been bad this week, next week will be a nightmare.

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Douglas said...

"the focus of how they do things is very different (based on the different attitudes of most Europeans to Christianity, and religion in general)"

Now, I'm curious. How so?

euphrony said...

Sorry it's taken a couple of days to get back to you on this, but I was trying to get home and tired.

People in Europe have become, more or less, indifferent about being religious. I mentioned this was a congregation of around 50 people; churches of all types tend to be smaller (no always, but most often). Large cathedrals are filled by only a small fraction of the people they could hold. I've know churches in the UK that have closed their doors, started meeting in homes, because they could not afford the upkeep of a building that was constantly being vandalized. At the same time, the schools invite ministers to come into the schools and teach the children about Christianity (more in the way of a well rounded, moralistic education than proselytizing).

Their emphasis is very much on how they can reach other people, people who have little or no biblical knowledge. I was talking to my friend there, and she was telling me that just about every single person in the church was involved in a personal bible study with someone. How often does that happen in the USA? How often do you have the whole of the congregation involved?

The churches I've been in, in my life, have mostly been good ones. But, inevitably, the focus seems to be more on "us" and maintaining "us" than it is in reaching and touching "them". There in lies the beg difference I was seeing hat night.

Douglas said...

Interesting. I know in the US, one of the big reasons for empty cathedrals is suburban flight. I wonder how much that plays in over there. Certainly, the pervasive secularism has taken a tremendous toll. There is an interesting transition among Christians when a country goes from a Christian country to a secular country.


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