Life in Scotland 2019… the final entry!

I’m going to shove the last 3.5 weeks of my time in Scotland into this blog entry. Eek!

After my day trip to Glasgow, I went on a random, last minute jaunt to a little party in Grangemouth with 2 sisters from my congregation. We got to meet some new people and I was reunited with some friends from Pioneer School. Those new friends we made came doe Edinburgh to our Sunday meeting the next. All in all, a very interesting weekend.

The following weekend we had a longer road trip to Manchester, England for the Spanish Circuit Pioneer Session and Assembly (w/ branch rep). It was a fabulous weekend shared with friends with a feast of spiritual food. And a couple from our congregation (technically the Portuguese group) was baptized at the assembly! It was a joy to witness that event!

Manchester Assembly Weekend

The next weekend I taught a POUND fitness class for the ladies of the Edinburgh Spanish congregation. I hadn’t even practiced on my own since I left the states, much less taught a class. So I was a little worried. I practiced a few times before the class but it was still difficult. But it was a lot of fun too! Manuela was kind enough to be my photographer and she captured Noemi making the most HILARIOUS face while stretching. See the collage below.

And then I went out for drinks with friends from my congregation at “Panda and Sons”… a speakeasy-like bar. Good times! Good drinks!

At my 2nd-to-last Thursday night meeting with Edinburgh Spanish, we all got a personal copy of the updated Spanish New World Translation of the Bible! Yay!!! It was released at the international convention in Madrid in June 2019 but copies hadn’t made it to the congregations yet… until right before I left. It was the best parting gift!

Then on Saturday I crashed the English Circuit Assembly… but this time the assembly with the Circuit Overseer because my Ohio congregation was scheduled to have that same assembly the day after I land. There was NO WAY I was going to be coherent for that haha! Anyway, it was also a chance to say goodbye to people from the English congregation… some that I had been in Pioneer School.

Then I attended my last Sunday meeting with Edinburgh Spanish and then bunch of us went out to eat. A good time was had by all lol.

I had 1 final shift for the metropolitan public witnessing and then my last meeting. I legit cried a little that last Thursday in the Kingdom Hall bathroom. Obviously, I was sad to be leaving… but also I was tired and SO STRESSED out about getting all my stuff in my luggage. It fit… but it was totally overweight. Ugh! Also stressed about getting a seat on the flight… I was flying standby.

Oh and I thought my flight was at 11 am but apparently it was changed to 10 am. My google was keeping track of the flight number information but got some reason my calendar entry for the flight didn’t get updated. *sigh* It is a good thing I naturally wake up early anyway! Hilary and I rushed to the bus stop for for me to catch the airport bus. Below is the last picture I took in Edinburgh… from the back of the bus.

The trip home was stressful the whole way because at each flight I was waiting to see if I could get on the plane… and some of the flights were pretty full. I flew Edinburgh to New York to Atlanta to Dayton. I was awake for almost 24 hours by the time I got into my house. Why didn’t I sleep on the long flight to New York? Because I rushed so much to get to the airport that I barely ate. So I had to stay awake so I didn’t miss the food service haha. My layovers weren’t terribly long but once I got to Atlanta got me some Popeye’s Chicken!!!!!!!!!!! Didn’t know I missed it until I had it again haha. And having been traveling almost an entire day, let me tell you that I looked a HOT MESS when I got off the plane in Dayton. And you know how you always seem to run into people you know when you look a mess? Well when I walked off the plane at midnight, my friend Les was working that gate at the airport! Ugh! But on the plus side, he helped me with my bags. I got home at 1 AM. I was pretty much dead! But I had to get back on Ohio time so I was up by 7 am unpacking and getting my life together. Well, it’s 6 months later and I still don’t have my life together haha. Oh well, it’ll all be put together in the new system!

October 2019 – My last complete month in Scotland

This month was so full of activity that I will split it into 2 entries.

As previously mentioned, my friend Amanda arrived at the end of September. On October 2nd, we embarked on a short mid-week road trip towards the west coast of Scotland… to Oban. On the way there, we stop at Finnich Glen and hiked down to a ravine called Carnock Burn. We walked barefoot in freezing cold water to get to the rock in the center that is called The Devil’s Pulpit lol. Despite the terrible name, the entire area is BEAUTIFUL! But I suggest going in the summer so that the cold water feels refreshing. I just felt colder remembering my feet in that water. I think I just shivered.

Finnich Glen

Then we drove up the western side of Loch Lomond, stopping in the village of Luss to have FABULOUS soup for lunch at the Coach House Coffee Shop. I don’t like tomato soup but I had a taste of Amanda’s and it was SO GOOD!

Luss… on the shore of Loch Lomond

We continued on to Oban taking the longer route through Glen Coe because it is amazing and everyone needs to see it! Then we finally made it to Oban as it was getting dark and had a little dinner.

Glen Coe, Castle Stalker, Oban’s Kingdom Hall, Oban bay at night

The next morning we walked around the town a bit. We had breakfast at a local restaurant and then stopped at the distillery. I bought to bottles for my dad and brother. I got a small one for myself. I ALMOST bought of bottle of the “Old Teddy” but thought I should save my money to survive my last month here. They only made 4000 bottles and it was a special bottling to commemorate the 3 generations of the same family running the distillery. I was able to taste it and it was very good! After coming home, I thought about getting a friend to buy it for me. I would call to see how many bottles were left. I finally gave in when an Instagram post showed me that a friend of mine was spending the weekend in Oban. I called and paid over the phone and had my friend pick it up haha. Now I only have to get back to Scotland to pick it up. With the COVID-19 situation, who knows when that will happen! On the way back to Edinburgh, we took the route on the east side of Loch Lomond National Park and stopped at Doune Castle and Stirling Castle.

Oban, Doune Castle, Stirling Castle

The next day, Friday, my friend Priscille arrived from France. The 3 of us went out to eat and had a lovely conversation about travel with a sibling duo from Israel. The gentleman was VERY good looking (#swoon). Sadly, Amanda had to go home Saturday so it was just me and Priscille. After ministry in the AM, we spent a little time on The Royal Mile. There was some kind of march going on. I don’t remember what it was about but it was LOUD lol. Then later we joined my former landlords, Phil and Sharon, at a ceilidh in Kilmarnock. The dancing was so fun to watch and do. I watch more than participate because I was a little scared of some of it haha! Priscille’s last day was going with me to the meeting and then walking about town in Edinburgh.

Hangin’ out with Priscille

A few days after Priscille left, my next door neighbor from back home in Ohio, Chrishan, came to visit me for the day. She’d been traveling and was in London and decided to just pop up for the day and spend the night. We spent part of the day exploring the city. I had to work so she went off for the rest of the day with a friend of mine.

Edinburgh with Chrishan

The next day, my friend and former roommate, Lovina, did the same thing haha. I took Chrishan to the tram to go to the airport then went to meet Lovina at the bus station when she arrived from London. We went out on ministry all day. That requires a lot of walking through town so she got to see Edinburgh that way.

Edinburgh with Lovina

I think the most exciting part of the month was going to Glasgow on a ministry trip looking for Spanish speaking people. I wish I had gotten pictures of the group that met that day but it was neat to see the public witnessing cart in Gaelic. One of the sisters that lives in Glasgow is originally from Connecticut and used to be in a Spanish congregation. She married a Scottish brother and now she has a Spanish Bible student in Glasgow. And, small word, she knows people in my best friend’s congregation in Connecticut.

Glasgow

There is a lot more for October but I will save that for the next blog entry.

September 2019 – New flat… who dis?

LOL I crack myself up! Well, after Pioneer School, Brittany returned home to Ohio and I was all set to move in with my friend Hilary. But first, I spent a few days in an Airbnb smack in the center of town with some friends that were visiting from Ohio. It was lovely. I didn’t have to take a bus to my metro shift. It was just a few minutes walk. There as a some pics of the outing we had through town and into Dean Village. We met up with a sister from Australia. I had met her 2 days earlier while I was on a metro shift and she was just in town for a few days so I asked her to join us.

Edinburgh with my Columbus Crew haha

So moving into a flat on the top floor of a building is no fun! But I got the fabulous flatmates – Hilary and her cat Seamus – so it was worth it.

Seamus Khan

The next week, film crews & actors started coming in to film portions of the next film in the “Fast & Furious” franchise. I tried to track down Vin Disel for my cousin but I couldn’t. I did get a glimpse of Ludacris and Tyrese. I had fun with an American friend (who lives in Scotland so I’m low key jealous of her) trying to squeeze through the crowd and climb on things to see the filming. They set up RIGHT next to the public witnessing cart haha.

Ludacris filming scenes from “Fast & Furious 9” – I didn’t get any clear pics of Tyrese

I had yet another set a visitors from Ohio, from my congregation back home. They stopped by after leaving London and on their way to Dublin. While I still had to work I did have a day to spend with them seeing a bit of the city, visiting the castle, trying some Polish vodka that tastes like Skittles hehe.

Good times with my Ohio friends

At the end of September, my friend Amanda from Indiana arrived. She rented a car so she had a some time exploring on her own. But thanks to her having a car, I was able to go with her to sight see a little bit out of town and be back in time to start work at 2pm. One day, we went to Dunbar and visited John Muir’s house. As a child, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and I have been to Muir woods… but I didn’t know the Scottish connection. He moved to the United States and explored SO MUCH of it! John Muir’s love of nature turned him into basically the father of national parks in the United States. Dunbar is a beautiful place and I wish I had more than a day there. More adventures with Amanda to come in the next post.

Dunbar
North Berwick

August 2019 Part 3 – Scottish Highlands road trip & Pioneer Service School

Our little road trip had some lovely stops… the first of which was a little golf pilgrimage. We went to the St. Andrew’s Old Course. Terry had to take a photo on the “Swilcan Bridge” and we got a few souvenirs for some of our gold enthusiast friends back home in Ohio. Got some great pics at Dunnottar Castle. Photos from the golf course and castle are after the 3rd paragraph with the other photos on the mainland. We caught a ferry from Aberdeen to Kirkwall on the main island of the Orkney islands… 6 hours! Good opportunity to study for Pioneer School.

Our time on the Orkney islands included going to the smaller island of Hoy, which included a visit to Rackwick Beach. A fabulous day! We also visited a few spots on the main island… Highland Park whisky distillery, Yesnaby cliff, and Skara Brae prehistoric village. Now I have had the Highland Park 12 year and enjoyed it. On the tour we asked if we could taste the 18 year because I didn’t have $120 to spend on an entire bottle. Ohmagoodness it is SOOOOOO good!!!!!!!!! One day, I’ll buy a bottle.

Main Island of Orkney – Skara Brea Prehistoric Village, Highland Park Distillery,
Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses
Standing Stones of Stenness, Ring of Brodgar surrounded by heather, Brittany & I with Yesnaby cliffs as our stunning background.

When we returned to the mainland of Scotland, we stayed in Inverness. I was able to have lunch with an old friend then we walked around town a bit. We stopped into Leaky’s Bookshop and found some neat old Bibles. One of them was in Scottish Gaelic. In the photo collage below you can see Matthew 28:19, 20 in Gaelic.

St. Andrew’s Golf Course, Dunnottar Castle, Clava Cairns, Glen Ord Distillery,
Leaky’s Bookshop

The next day, the rest of the group dropped me at the bus station as I had to return to Edinburgh for Pioneer School. They drove to Skye so I was a little jealous. I LOVE the isle of Skye! Everyone should go one day.

So many blog entries ago I mentioned that the house that Brittany and I were living in while in Edinburgh was sublet to us by my friends Sharon & Phil while they spent the summer in Romania. Well, they came back home while we were on our road trip. They are in my Pioneer School so I always had a ride to class haha! We had such a lovely week. I made new friends, ate fabulous food, and took in a lot of spiritual food.

Pioneer School 2019 – Edinburgh

August 2019 Part 2 – England

I got home from Holland on a Friday morning and I spent the weekend studying for Pioneer School (which was coming up at the end of the month). Tuesday night Brittany and I took an overnight Megabus (because we’re broke and cheap haha) to London. So began the 2 most ridiculously exhausting 2 days of travel I have ever experienced…

We got to London at 7:30 am on Wednesday. Within a few hours, we had freshened up, changed clothes, and were on a train heading for Newbury to see Highclere Castle (a.k.a. Downton Abbey). Sad news… You are not allowed to take pics inside… which is ridiculous to me because it has already been on TV. We all know what it looks like!!! Anyway, we walked the gardens and it was a fabulous day, despite the rain. I was totally geeking out! We were feeling adventurous and thought that we could walk back to town to the bus station since the cab ride there didn’t take long. We were wrong! We couldn’t handle it. It was still raining…not hard but enough that we were damp and unhappy. Our feet hurt. We were EXHAUSTED! We finally gave up and went into a Starbucks to dry off and call a taxi to the bus terminal so we could get to Alton. BTW, Alton is too cute!

Thursday morning, we walked from the hotel to the Jane Austen House Museum. We wore the shirts that Brittany made for us especially for the occasion. The front lists the leading men in the Jane Austen novels and the back says “Jane Austen: Giving women unrealistic exceptions since 1811.” We got so many compliments on those shirts! We also walked from Jane Austen’s house up to her brother’s house, Chawton House. The gardens were lovely and the library was awesome! And then we took a train from Alton back to London that same day. When we got to the hotel boat that we were staying on, I was basically dead… and I was going to the Spanish Regional Convention the next morning!

Thankfully, we were staying close to the eXcel Center in London, where the convention was being held. I ran into an old friend while on the tube getting to the convention. That was lovely. Similar to the convention in The Netherlands, there were different halls for different languages… but here it was just English and Spanish. It was a fun experience. In the evening, I joined Brittany for some sight seeing.

Saturday, I skipped the convention (gasp!) but I had heard it in English in Glasgow already and I did the morning in Spanish in Holland…so it’s fine. That day, I went with Brittany and my friends Terry and Julie (visiting from Ohio) to do a Bible tour at the British Museum. I have done that tour a few times and it’s great! That museum is HUGE and I’m sure there is so much more in there that is Bible related that we could spend days in there! Then we stopped by the British Library to check out some old Bibles. There is a Gutenberg Bible on display there. There are some Bibles with some STRANGE illustrations in them. I have attached a photo of a French Bible with a drawing that I thought was HILARIOUS! Then we went to Greenwich and took pics at the Meridian line.

Sunday, I went to the convention again and then we kinda relaxed because we were flying to Edinburgh the next morning with Terry and Julie.

Monday we were off to the Highlands! Stay tuned!

August 2019 Pt 1 – International Convention in Utrecht, The Netherlands

Y’all… August was jam packed full of activity for me. It was ridiculous, but worth it. Anyway, since there was SO MUCH going on, this month may take up 3 blog entries. Bear with me.

The 1st major event of the month was the International Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses that took place in Utrecht, The Netherlands. SO MANY pictures to share… it is going to be difficult to narrow them down.

July 30th – Arrival
The welcome that we, the delegates, received was outstanding! The local branch made a deal with the Hilton that is connected to the airport to use the conference rooms for checking in the arriving delegates. There were refreshments and fun accessories to use for photos. There are brothers and sisters welcoming us just outside baggage claim & they helped us with our bags to the hotel lobby. There was another welcoming committee at the hotel. The check-in process was all so organized. We got our delegate badge lanyards with our name & group number & hotel code. The different regions where the hotels were located were assigned different colors so you could get on the correct shuttle. The delegate badge had my groups schedule on the back too. I LOVE being organized so this was SUPER exciting for me lol. I got to see an old friend, Jennifer, from my old Spanish circuit in Ohio! She married a Dutch brother and lives in the Netherlands now. She was at the hotel helping people check in. Then I met a sister from the Los Angeles area that is in the same congregation as my Aunt Lydia! Then I met up with a friend from Ohio, Leila. I knew she was coming to this convention but I didn’t know we’d be arriving at the airport at the same time. That was a treat! Once we got to the hotel, we got our delegate “swag bag” haha. We got invitations to the convention to give out while we were out and about (or if your group had a ministry day before the convention, which we did not), and a water bottle with the convention logo on it.
From our group, Tiffany arrived first and went to the hotel ASAP so I didn’t meet her until we got to the hotel. I arrive 2nd and then Pam. Mari and Cherry’s flight leaving the US was canceled. They were re-booked and then I think they had a delay on a connecting flight too. Pam and I waited in the hotel lobby for them for HOURS!!! A lovely volunteer brother shared his provisions with me… He made me a peanut butter sandwich. It was greatly appreciated.

July 31st – Bethel – Dutch Branch Office of Jehovah’s Witnesses
The next day we went on the 2ish hour bus ride to Bethel. It was raining so the brothers in the welcoming line had umbrellas to cover us 🙂 As we were getting off the bus, I saw a friend of mine form Washington state, Breanna, getting off the bus in front of me. She is the cousin of my my BFF. We had discussed trying to meet up but it was nice not having to track her down. Various departments had little displays set up. It stopped raining and we went out to the gardens. There was a family playing kingdom songs on their violins. The cleaning department had an exhibit that was a window to the paradise. It was dirty so you had to clean it to see the new system. It was good fun! There was a stand offering traditional pickled herring. I passed but my cousin, Mari, tried it. She said there was a weird texture… and I don’t do well with weird textures so I was right not to try it. There was SO MUCH good food! Oh and the cheese! It was magnificent! Poffertjes… tiny pancakes with butter and powdered sugar… DIVINE. I was rushing back to the bus and was able to snag another helping of poffertjes for the bus ride home. Yay! I believe I mentioned in a past blog entry that there 2 brothers in the Spanish congregation with me in Edinburgh that are originally from The Netherlands… Jim and Ryan. Anyway, their aunt and uncle work and live at Bethel. So I spent a good portion of my time there trying to track them down. I had their picture and I knew they were assigned to give out poffertjes… but there were several poffertjes stands all over the Bethel facility. I finally found Jeffrey and Vanessa in the basement, in the shipping area. We got a picture and I got some dessert lol. They were so lovely! I’m glad I tracked them down. And in the basement we found more exhibits. Pam and I took pictures with Caleb and Sofia, we painted tulips and our names on the mural… it was good times.

August 1st – Netherlands Open Air Museum
This place was adorable! It has antique houses, farms, and factories and historic trams from different parts of the Netherlands. They have re-enactors demonstrating the old way of life. I got to go inside of a windmill! Our tour guide, Tirza, was so sweet! The branch rented out one of the buildings for a reception, of sorts. There was a video made by local congregations that were volunteering and snacks were offered. I got to eat more poffertjes!!!!! Then on our way out, we were given lunch bags so that we would not be hungry on our long bus ride back to our hotel. Our hotel wasn’t really in a big city so we didn’t go out to cool restaurants for dinner. We ordered Domino’s pizza online… delivery. I still sometimes get Domino’s emails in Dutch lol.

August 2nd – Day 1 of the convention
For the Friday session of the convention, I wore my red Puerto Rican dress (borrowed from my Aunt Donna). It was raining pretty hard when we arrived at the convention center so walking in was an adventure. At the front entrance, there was a giant music box organ thing playing kingdom songs. There were so many welcome banners! I got separated from my group but it’s fine because we had planned to go to different languages. Cherry and Mari decided to try out Dutch Sign Language and see how different it is from American Sign Language. Apparently, VERY different haha. Tiffany went to Spanish, Pam went to Portuguese, and I went to English. The English hall was PACKED! A good hour into the morning session, people were still trying to find seats. Dutch brothers and sisters who came into the English hall to be with delegates were giving up their seats. And then during the intermission, there were lunch boxes for the delegates. With our delegates “swag bags”, we got little cards to give to teh volunteers in exchange for our lunch, 1 for each day. The day was written on it and there was a little cartoon person in Dutch traditional attire and a windmill. SO CUTE that I asked to keep mine. At the end of the day, an announcement was made in the English hall asking those to who are not dependent on English to go to another language. So… I guess I’m going to Spanish on Saturday haha. I would prefer English but since I already heard Saturday in English in Glasgow. Anyway, the sister that I ended up sitting next to on Friday is from the area of Massachusetts where by BFF’s family is from. So I asked and it turns out that this sister used to babysit my BFF’s cousins! Small world! Brother Herman Van Selm, a helper to the Governing Body, gave a talk in the morning. He is originally from The Netherlands but he hasn’t given a talk in Dutch since the 1970s so he apologized if his Dutch sounded old school haha. He gave the talk in the main Dutch hall and the video was transmitted to the English hall while a brother on the stage here translated it for us. Brother Jackson of the governing body delivered the closing talk in the main Dutch hall so it was translated into Dutch…so we got to hear it in both languages. After a long day at the convention, we were exhausted! But we needed food so we walked 20 minutes towards the Sassenheim train station because there is a McDonald’s nearby. Yup… fast food. We’re so glamorous! Then we sorted through our gifts. Exchanging gifts at all of these convention events is so much fun. Sure we got some at the previous days events but at the actual convention there are SO MANY more people. I got SO MUCH stroopwafel… and it was delicious!

August 3rd – Day 2 of the convention
So for Saturday’s session, I decided to switch it up. I attended the morning session in Spanish. At lunch, I met up with Alisha (who visited my in Scotland the week before). We ate outside and it was fabulous! Then I saw Leila again! Yay! For the afternoon session, Alisha and I decided to try going to one of the Dutch halls. We sang the songs in Dutch. I’m sure we butchered the language. I apologize to all Dutch people. The video presentation giving reports from branch offices from around the world was played in English (Yay!) with Dutch subtitles. So I didn’t have to try to decipher as much Dutch as I thought I’d have to. But it was really nice to not be in the English hall because I got to meet more local brothers and sisters. Then again, when we got back to the hotel, we ordered Domino’s and sorted through our gifts. I noticed that I got more gifts when I was wearing my Puerto Rican dress. People love traditional garb haha.

August 4th – Day 3 of the convention
Sunday I was sporting another Puerto Rican dress that I borrowed form my Aunt Donna. Even though I listened to the session all day in English, I tried to spend time before and after the convention in the Dutch halls so that I could meet more locals. A lot of the locals were volunteering helping the local elderly brothers and sisters so they really didn’t get to leave their area and meet the delegates. For lunch, I met up with my friend, Rachel, from Ohio. We had lunch outside. We saw members of the official Bethel photography crew taking pictures and video. At the end of the session, I found my other friends from Ohio, The Lewises. There was a sort of conga line leaving the Portuguese hall of brothers singing the new song “Unfailing Love”. When we got back to the hotel, we made sure to get a photo of our bus group. Such great people!!!

Since Sunday ends earlier than the other days, we weren’t so tired when we got back to the hotel. So we changed, walked to the Sassenheim train station and hopped over to Leiden. I took the advice of my Dutch friend, Jim, and found some Chocomel. It was fan-freakin-tastic! Then we met some other delegates from Covington, Kentucky. It turns out, the sister, Misty, was in my friend Jenna’s wedding! How crazy is that!?

August 5th – Ministry with a local congregation and Evening Gathering
On Monday, we had 2 events. First was field service and lunch with a locan congregation. At the meeting or field service, we were taught a presentation in Dutch. Look at the word for “invitation”…uitnodiging. I gave my presentation twice and I’m sure it was awful! But my partner was very helpful. The congregation that we were assigned to actual is host for a Spanish group. The family to whose home I went for lunch was actually a Spanish speaking family. Brother Serrano was from Spain and his wife, Nubia, was from Colombia (I think… oh man I feel terrible that I can’t remember!) She cooked a fabulous meal for us. And their children were just so sweet… and gorgeous! Look at that fabulous red hair on their boys!

After a short rest at the hotel and some times to change… get all dolled up… we went to the Swifterbant Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the Evening Gathering. Outside, there were friends with banners welcoming the delegates. There were tables and booths with food and snacks and beverages. There was a stage and the local friends were singing kingdom songs and some of the original songs from the broadcasts. Then, once we got inside, the local friends put on a show telling us the history of Jehovah’s organization in the Netherlands. They asked us not to post pictures of that so that is why I haven’t included any but, let me tel you, it was a lovely show. I cried! And then it turns out that the sisters I was sitting next to are from Pennsylvania and my friend Sanoma is one if these sister’s hair dresser! Wild!

August 6th – 8th – Amsterdam
For our final 3 days, we stayed in Amsterdam. I found a boat for us to stay on but apparently there was a miscommunication and no one was there to meet us when we arrived on Tuesday. We couldn’t figure out which boat it was that we had booked. I tried calling the number on the booking and I got nothing! Some people staying on a nearby boat knew the owner and had the phone number for the maintenance guy he used. We called him. Apparently he was in Belgium but was able to give us the code to open the pad lock that was keeping the door to the boat locked. Once we got our stuff in the boat (no easy feat, mind you), we headed into the city center. First stop… FEBO! Jim & Ryan’s mum told us it was a must-do. It’s a fast food place and they put the food into little compartments. Then the customers put in coins (or use their cards in some newer locations) and pick the food items they want, like a vending machine. Then you open the door that you paid for and get your krokets or frikandellen or hamburger. Then we ordered fries from the counter. Fries are the only thing that you can’t get from the vending compartments. And it was fabulous!!! That afternoon and evening we just explored the city a little bit. We ran into an American sister that had been living in Holland for several years now. She suggested visiting a little tourist attraction called Zaanse Schans. More on that later. We went to the Bloemenmarkt and then ran into some local friends that were showing some other American delegates around town.

BTW the pictures below are not in chronological order. I know… so unlike me! But I did dedicate 1 collage to food so there is a theme.

So on Wednesday we had booked entry into the Van Gogh museum for the morning. Then in the afternoon we went on a canal cruise. On the way, we saw more delegates from the convention sightseeing. We had SERIOUS trouble finding the boat! It turns out, we initially went to the correct location but the boat wasn’t there because it was delayed. Engine trouble. They called to tell me but when I’m out of the country, I have my phone go right to voicemail so I don’t accidentally get a phone call and get charged outrageous fees. I didn’t get the notifications for the voicemails. It was a mess. But we finally got on the boat tour and it was lovely. The boat was 100 years old! Then engine wasn’t though. I think the issues were that the engine sucked up some rubbish that was in the canal water lol. Anyway, for dinner, we met up with a sister name Ingracia & her friend Ulyssa. Ingracia was a delegate at the International Convention in Monterrey, Mexico. While there, she met my aunt and uncle, Carmen and Raul… my cousin Mari’s parents. So Mari tracked her down at the convention on Saturday (I think) and we arranged dinner for Wednesday. We went for dim sum and had a blast! We walked around Amsterdam at night. Tiffany discovered Matcha KitKat bars and fell in love. Then one of them fell on the ground and was stepped on. She cried. It was tragic.

On Thursday, we went to the Anne Frank House museum in the morning. It was a great but sad experience. In the afternoon, we went to Zaanse Schans. The “tourist trap”, as Jim calls it, was worth being trapped because the air legit smelled like chocolate! There is a chocolate factory right by the train station. It is a bit of a walk from the train station, over a bridge, to the little village. There was a cheese shop, a chocolate shop, a little musuem of baking… so many intricate cookie molds! We had waffles covered in melted chocolate, stroopwafel, speculaas cookies. I had a snow cone. I saw wooden shoes (klompen) being made! We met a group of delegate from Brasil (3 Bethelite brothers), from Korea, and from Australia. And we ran into a local couple that I met at the convention. it was so much fun!

Friday the 9th we got up CRAZY early to share an Uber to the airport, even though we all left at different times. While Mari and I waited for our flight’s, we re-watched the Van Gogh episode of “Doctor Who”. Fitting. We cried a bit, as we usually do during that episode.

Well, that is the end of this entry… That was a lot and I’ve only covered the 1st 9 days of August! It’s gonna take forever to cover all that happened in August!

July 2019 Part 2 – London & Edinburgh

As previously mentioned, we left Paris for London Tuesday morning instead of Monday night, as planned. Le sigh! We had a Bible tour of the British Museum scheduled for 10 am but our flight was now arriving a little past 7 am and we couldn’t take our luggage into the museum. We had to leave our stuff somewhere but didn’t really want to pay for storage at a tube station. Also, we were kinda gross so we needed to change our clothes. Travelling on public transportation with luggage in the summer is less than glamorous. We decided to still go from the airport (which is quite a bit south of the city) to the home of my friend who was putting us up on the north east side of London. We dropped off our stuff and cleaned up and changed our clothes. While traveling from the airport I was trying to get a hold of the tour guide, but I was using the number I had of the brother that did my last tour… today we had someone else assigned to us. Oy vey! Eventually I got a hold of the brother that organizes everything, and he agreed to do our tour at 11 am. We had the museum Bible tour combined with a city tour and it was great fun and very educational. We got to taste some crisps (potato chips for the American readers) that were roasted chicken flavored. Strange but I kinda liked it.

On Wednesday we slept in a little and then made our way to the British branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The new British branch was nearing completion so not a whole lot was happening at the existing location but the museum of the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the British Isles was great! And there is a mini museum of old Bibles, too. After that we went to Camden and we shopped! Kiersten and Anna got souvenirs and I got a dress for the convention. We met back up with my good friend Asie, with whom we were staying. We ate and drank on a fabulous rooftop terrace. Ah good times! Then we took an overnight Megabus to Edinburgh. Yes… I know… we’re insane but it’s because we’re cheap lol.

London

We got to Edinburgh at 7am on Thursday and I had to work all day. The girls did not sleep well on the bus and, let’s face it, they’ve been going nonstop for DAYS! They slept most of the day and then we went to the meeting. The poor girls don’t know a lick of Spanish but I dragged them to the meeting of the Edinburgh Spanish congregation. For most of the girls’ visit to Edinburgh, they just tagged along on my everyday life stuff. I was able to organize a little dance party using my friend Jim’s house… his floors are better for dancing. We spent a little time exploring the city and participating in the ministry in both Spanish and English congregations. I was nice enough to take the girls to an English meeting that 1st Sunday they were in town. On their last full day with me, we took a train to Glasgow to attend the Regional Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is the only one that takes place in Scotland so every Jehovah’s Witness in Scotland attends. That’s kinda cool to me, IDK why. Anyway, I got to wear the dress that I bought in London to that Saturday session of the convention. Sadly, the next day, my youths had to leave me and go back to their home.

Edinburgh
Edinburgh… view from Arthur’s Seat
Glasgow

The last 2 weeks of July were mostly routine life with 1 exception… a few days with a visitor. Months before I left for Scotland, a fellow JW sister form Kentucky found my blog and contacted me for information about visiting Scotland. She’d always wanted to go and she was already on her way to Europe for the International Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Utrecht, The Netherlands so she figured “Hey why not go to Scotland, too.” Funny story… I was also selected as a delegate for that same International Convention and would be living in Scotland when she wanted to come visit. And to add to that, her last name was familiar. So I asked and she was the sister-in-law of someone I already know! Crazy! A few days before she was scheduled to arrive in The Netherlands, Alisha came to Edinburgh. I showed her around town and took her to an English meeting. Then we took a day trip… a tour that took us to Doune Castle, Inverary Castle and Loch Lomond National Park. That day was literally the hottest day in all of Europe in 2019. It was 104F/40C in Amsterdam… where Alisha and I were flying into the next week. We were REALLY hoping that it would cool down for the convention (I’ll let you know in a later entry). In Scotland that day is was 89F/32C. For those of you who do not know about the weather in Scotland, that is pretty unheard of! I was SO GLAD that I wore sandals that day. I would have DIED if I had worn my trainers. I regretted the undershirt. Too many layers. When we got to Loch Lomond I was so excited to get my feet in the cool water. Everyone and their grandmother was there at the lake. Everyone I know in Edinburgh was posting on Instagram that they were basically dying of heat stroke. *For those of you who know what John Mulaney’s voice sounds like, please read the next line as he would because it IS a direct quote* “No one could handle it!” Now, when people ask me about the weather in Scotland, I tell them all nostalgic-like “I remember the day summer came to Scotland… it was a Thursday…it was wild.” Also, while Alisha was in town, I organized another dance party. A good time was had by all!

Next stop… International Convention in Utrecht.

See you next post!

July 2019 Part 1…adventures in Paris!

Once my friend, Eve, went home to Ohio, I got new visitors. Kiersten and Anna from California. So it was cheaper for them to fly into Paris, so I met them there. Brittany was also supposed to come but she had a different flight. She got stuck in Birmingham and had to go back to Edinburgh in the end. That was a hot mess of a situation.

Anyway, we left the airport, got on the metro and after 2 stops, we stopped for a LONG time. It took a while for me to understand what the French announcement over the PA was saying but I finally got that there was a piece of unattended baggage at Gare du Nord (the big, central station in Paris). For security purposes, all incoming traffic was stopped. We sat there in the heat for probably a hour and a half. By the time we got to our Airbnb, we were exhausted, sweaty, and gross so we didn’t go anywhere. Cool showers and resting. Day 1 in Paris – wrapped.

Day 2 – Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles)
Even though we got tickets online in advance, there is still always a line to get into the Palace. So we worked on our tans for a good hour or so in the 90F degree weather. Thankfully, the palace staff thought it’d be nice to set up sprinklers so we took turns going to play in the water to cool off.

After the palace and gardens (which is definitely an all day trip, if you ever plan to go), we headed to the Starbucks near the train station so I could get a good WiFi signal. It was about 12:30pm in Ohio and my little brother, Dorian, was getting baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses that afternoon. My sister, Lauren, flew to Ohio from California for the occasion. She video called me on WhatsApp so that I could be “present” for his baptism.

Day 3 – The Louvre museum
This place… I think a week in Paris would still not be enough to see it all! We were there for 3 hours and we had JUST gotten to Napoleon’s apartments. I love this section. I was so excited for the girls to see it… and then the alarm starts blaring! Then comes the announcement…”For security purposes, please evacuate the museum” or something like that. We still have no idea what the issue was but we decided to go to lunch. After lunch, we were just exhausted from the past 2 days and we didn’t want to try to figure out if they would let us back into the museum… so we found a movie theater and went to go see “Spiderman: Far From Home”. Then we saw the Arc de Triomphe & then met up with my lovely friend, Priscille, at the Luxembourg Gardens. The girls will be flying home from Paris but I will not be able to go with them. So they will crash one night with Priscille so I wanted them to meet her first. We got some food… walked around the city a bit. It was lovely!

Last day in Paris – We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and got so fabulous views of the city! Then we had a flight to London. I learned that I DO NOT like Terminal 3 in the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. It’s not easy to get to and apparently, any flight leaving out ff gates 1-7 requires that you get your passport stamped BEFORE leaving France. I was unaware of this. We saw our flight on the screen that said “Gates 1-7” but there was no gate number. The Costa cafe was outside the gate area. We stayed there and ate. When we saw our gate number, we headed to that area only to find a million people in line. Yes, I know I’m exaggerating but it was a really long line. And then one of the airport staff let 20 people cut in front of us like they had to be some place sooner than us. We and SEVERAL other people kept telling this woman that we need to get on the flight to London. There were 2 guys working the desk to stamp passports. And they kept stopping like there were issues with some people. I don’t know. FINALLY the airport sent someone to get all the people that were in line for the flight to London. We got stamped and we all RAN to the gate. It wasn’t even that far away but by the time we got there, the gate was closed. 11 people missed that flight! The airline booked us on the 7am flight to London but since it was not their fault, but the airport’s, they didn’t pay for a hotel. A very angry woman was trying really hard to fight for them to pay for a hotel but we were exhausted, hot and sweaty. We found the cheapest and closest thing possible and left. We got dinner and a drink and finally got to bed around midnight. Thankfully, it was close by the airport so the shuttle took us there in the AM rather quickly and we got on the flight with no problem. The fact that we didn’t leave when we planned did throw a slight wrench in our London plans… but I’ll discuss that in my next entry.

Palace of Versailles
The Louvre & Eiffel Tower

Let me tell you about a little trip that I took…

In May, I told you all that I was going to Scotland for an extended stay, nearly 6 months. I also told you that I would be posting every few weeks while I was over there.

Haha sorry. I really did think I was going to post while I was away. Well, here’s the thing… I wasn’t exactly on vacation. I’ve posted on past trips but they were legit vacations. I was essentially living in Scotland (with a few little vacations mixed in) so it was just as busy with life there as I was with life here.

So I will post my story 1 month at a time. Some months may have to be broken into 2 posts. So… without further ado!

June 2019!!!

The beginning of June was pretty normal. I basically worked, went to my congregation Bible meetings, and went out in the ministry. In between, I did a little sightseeing, showing my flatmate, Brittany, around Edinburgh since this was her first trip to Scotland.

Just before I arrived, a data protection law was passed throughout Europe. That law seriously effected the way we Jehovah’s Witnesses perform our ministry. We can still go door to door but if we find someone who is interested in having more Bible discussions, we can’t write down their address in order to come back. The data protection law prevents anyone from keeping anyone else’s personal information without their consent. One could say that since we told the person we’d come back and chat again, it is implied that we’d have to write down their address to come back, but that is too much of a grey area. So we had to come up with creative ways to remember where people live. Also, being in a foreign language congregation (in my case, Spanish) becomes difficult because we used to have a list of addresses of Spanish speakers, or that were potentially Spanish speakers. Those lists had to be scrapped. So until the territory situation was figured out, we mostly did street witnessing… walking all over Edinburgh, listening for Spanish speaking people and starting conversations and seeing if that led to a Bible discussion. I did a lot of walking over those 6 months.

June 19th Brittany & I headed to Dublin to meet up with some friends of mine from my home congregation in Ohio, Eve & Derricka. In Dublin, we went to the Jameson Distillery and I got a Distiller’s Edition bottle with the name of the group chat that I’m in with my roommate Hannah, our former roommate Nichole, and our should-be roommate (cuz she’s always visiting) Bonnie. We are “The New Ya-Ya Sisterhood”.

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After 2 nights in Dublin, we started on our Irish road trip. We stopped at the following locations:

  • Ireland
    • Limerick
    • Great Skellig Island (what I call Great Star Wars Island because that is where Luke Skywalker hides away in that old monastery building while Rey basically stalks him)
    • Dingle
    • Dun Chaoin
    • Cliffs of Moher
    • Galway
    • Slieve League (Sliabh Liag) Cliffs

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  • Northern Ireland – While here, we met up with  my Aunt Marcela and Uncle Steve, and my cousins, Nicole and Allie, and their husbands, Spencer and Nate.
    • Carrick a Rede
    • Ballintoy
    • Portrush
    • Bushmills Distillery
    • Giant’s Causeway
    • The Dark Hedges
    • Belfast (we drove through it and stopped for lunch so I don’t think it really counts)

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Derricka had to go home when the week was over but Eve was able to come back with me to Edinburgh. We also took a day trip to the Highlands, on the east side of Scotland. We went to:

  • Arbroath
  • Fettercairn Distillery
  • Craigievar Castle
  • Burn O’Vat (in the Cairngorms National Park)

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While in Edinburgh, I took Eve with some friends on a historic tour of the underground part of Edinburgh. We had dinner, got caught in a ridiculous summer downpour of rain. Good times! Then Sunday after the meeting, we went out in the ministry and walking along Water of Leith.

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So I signed up for this thing…

So my roommate has been an independent consultant for Arbonne for almost 2 years (I think). I have been a Preferred Client for a while… for the discount. I like discounts. And I like the products.

Now I’m home from my stint in Scotland (yes I know I haven’t posted about that because I’m a terrible blogger. I promise I’ll get to it.) I am realizing a few things.

1) I need to eat better. A lot of people (in Scotland and here) have told me that I look like I’d lost weight over the last 6 months and, honestly, I didn’t even try! I walked more, sure, since I didn’t have a car. I was on the move so much that half the ttime I didn’t cook. I ate out a lot (and spent too much mone haha). Well, the food in the States is full of so much more junk than food in Europe. While I have been wildly irresposible with my food choices in the 2.5 weeks that I have been home, I know that I have to do better… and Arbonne’s stuff is plant based, organic, and adheres to European standards. This applies not just to the nutrition products but also to cosmetics! The U.S. allows almost anything into cosmetics. I think they ban 12 harmful items. Europe bans over 1,000.

2) I need to have a side hustle to make a little extra cash because (a) I spent too much this summer, as mentioned above, and (b) I want to save up to go back to Scotland, my dream home.

So, what’s the deal with Arobonne? As I mentioned, their products are plant based and organic. They are also delicious! I love the protein shakes and the fizz sticks (little packets of powder you put in water & mix up to make an energy drink). I brought the RE9 Skin Care line with me to Scotland and it was amazing… and it lasted me almost 5 months. So it was well worth the money.

If you become a Preferred Client ($29/year) you get 20% off of regular products and 40% off value packs (like the entire line of RE9 skin care). I have been a PC for over a year and I thought it was about time to upgrade myself. As an Independant Consultant I get 35% off instead of 20%. So even if no one buys from me, I’ll at least get the discount haha.

So check out the products at EirelNapoles.arbonne.com and see if there is anything you like or if you know someone that might me interested, either in the products or in the business. There is a 45 day return policy. Message me here or on WhatsApp 937-503-0691 if you have any questions.