Maywards --> St Andrews
The Maywards are moving to St Andrews, Scotland and we need your help!
I (Joel) have been accepted into PhD studies at the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts (ITIA) within the Divinity School at the University of St Andrews. This academic journey means our family of five will move from the Portland, OR area to the coast of Scotland for three years of adventures and education in Europe. I’ll graduate from Portland Seminary with my MA in Theological Studies on April 28, and my PhD program (“programme” in Scotland) begins on September 27. Our whole family is thrilled by this opportunity, as it will be an incredible cultural experience for all of us, especially my kids.
Why a PhD? Over the past few years, I’ve been on a journey of discerning my vocation—who God has created me to be and what I’m called to do. After being in pastoral ministry for over a decade, God has been guiding our family into the world of theological education for me to move towards a new role of professor and teacher. I want to build bridges between the church and the academy, along with utilizing the arts (especially film) to foster conversations between cultures and faiths, seeing how the beauty of God could save the world.
Why Scotland and the University of St Andrews? I will be focusing my studies on the intersection of theology, ethics, and film; ITIA is a unique interdisciplinary program at one of the best, most highly regarded Divinity schools in the entire world. It’s the best possible program for this kind of study, and I’m grateful to get accepted. (Fun trivia: St Andrews is where the opening scene of "Chariots of Fire" was filmed, is considered the birthplace of golf, and is where Prince William and Kate Middleton met while attending university.)
The way visas work for the UK, we have to have proof of adequate finances within our bank account to account for each person in our family. To cover the travel and visa costs for our family of five, we will need to have at least $40,000 in our bank account by June in order to move to Scotland. Over the past two years, we have saved up nearly $30,000 for this adventure, so we need at least $10,000 more to reach our goal. Between accommodations, visa and travel expenses, school tuition, and various fees, we recognize that we need financial help and support from others. It’s not just about me—this is about supporting theological education and the arts, about building bridges between cultures, and about supporting the education and care of my children and family. We humbly ask for you to support us.
In the past few months, we have been asked by many people how they may be of help in this adventure. So we have come up with a number of ways that you can support us:
-Give financially. Please give a donation directly to this fund, or you can send us a check (Mail: 12435 NE 20th Street, Vancouver, WA 98684). If 50 people gave $100, and 250 gave $20, we'd reach our goal! Feel free to give whatever you feel comfortable giving; every donation means a lot to us.
-Give us stuff to sell (or buy our stuff). We are planning on having at least two garage sales to sell all sorts of things, including our furniture, TV, kids’ clothes and toys, and books. If you have something you’d like to donate for us to sell, we’d love to pick it up from you if you live in the Portland area. We are also looking to sell our Subaru Forester just before we go, so if you’re interested in a car, let us know.
-Give to our travel needs. We will need enough large pieces of luggage for our family of five, so if you have any luggage you rarely use, we’d love to take it to Scotland! If you have airline miles you could donate, we are also looking to offset our ticket costs—five plane tickets to Edinburgh can get pricey.
-Hire me. I’m available to write for your publications or speak for your conference, camp, class, retreat, etc. during the months of May-August. I can also do webinars on any of my three books. Contact me: jmayward (at) gmail.com
-Share this campaign. We don’t want to add to the social media noise, but we do want to share our good news and gain the support of anyone and everyone who wants to help. Share with your friends, family, co-workers, church small group, or anyone who cares about education and the arts. Use #maywardadventures if you're a hashtagging sort of person.
-Pray. Sometimes this can feel like the Christian spiritual add-on to these financial requests, but we’re quite serious—we truly need people to be praying for us, not only for the beginning of this adventure, but for its entire three-year duration.
One of our family’s values is to live a great story. This means developing our character, choosing difficult paths intentionally, and take the harder-but-better road. We see this move to Scotland as a new chapter in a greater story God is telling in and through us, and we invite you to be a part of that story with us. Check out our blog post for more of our story.
Grace and peace,
Joel, Katie, Copeland, Eloise, and Alister
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.
We'll keep this GoFundMe open for awhile, should someone still feel compelled to donate to our move. If you want to give financially in the next few months, it's probably best if done in person or send a check directly to us (email me for our mailing address). You can also keep in touch with us through my personal website/blog ( www.joelmayward.com) or through social media.
Thank you so much for supporting us and being a part of our journey! We're eager to see what Christ will do in and through us during our adventures in Scotland. Let these words from Philippines 1 express our thanks for you all:
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Grace and peace,
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 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, a piece of 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: 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 children.
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 also am recognizing the grace of thing. I see the good gift of God's created world and the 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.
When we launched this campaign, I wrote this: "To cover the travel and visa costs for our family of five, we will need to have at least $40,000 in our bank account by June in order to move to Scotland. Over the past two years, we have saved up nearly $30,000 for this adventure, so we need at least $10,000 more to reach our goal." Here's an update: between this campaign and our own savings/efforts, we now have $38,000 saved for our travels. Still, the exchange rate between the US dollar and the British pound is not presently moving in our favor, so every small contribution helps!
We'll keep this campaign going for one more week, until June 9 (Katie's birthday!), and hope we can raise the remaining $2000 by then. Thanks again for sharing and supporting us!
Grace and peace,
I've been frequently searching Kayak.com and Google Flights for the cheapest prices from Portland to Edinburgh, keeping in mind that we'd be traveling with three young children and the majority of our earthly possessions in luggage. A new friend/colleague at the Divinity school at St Andrews messaged me about a new flight beginning in June via Norwegian Air from New York (Stewart airport) to Edinburgh. So I checked dates/times and prices, and found an incredible deal: one-way tickets at less than $200 per person, including one checked bag for free. If we could get ourselves to New York, we'd just have one flight to Scotland for less than $1000 for our family. Lots of checking online, a few phone calls with family members looking to use airline miles, and we found 5 tickets on a direct flight into Newark from Portland for $212 per person, 3 of which were payable via airline miles from a generous family member!
Side note: If you're ever thinking about coming over to St Andrews to visit us, definitely check out flights via Icelandic Air and Norwegian Air--they're some of the cheapest flights we've found.
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. Perhaps I'm overspiritualizing it, but finding these 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" to the list. In the same weekend, we also sent in the final payment for Katie's college loans *and* our car loan for our Subaru, allowing us to travel overseas with minimal debt (apart from my new student loans from seminary, of course!).
On Labor Day Weekend 2017, the Maywards will move to Scotland. So, we have about 3 more months to prepare for our adventure. Our GoFundMe campaign will continue until the first full week of June; there are only 2 weeks to go. Thanks again to all our friends and family who have generously and creatively given support and encouragement along the way!
Grace and peace,
One day on our trip, we went to a location called the Dragon's Teeth on the Maui coastline, a rocky cliff overlooking the Pacific with windy gusts and immense ocean spray. My sister-in-law snapped a photo of us facing the horizon together, and it reminded me of two of our family's core values. 1) Live a great story, and 2) We did it together. This Scotland chapter of our story is already proving to be both exciting and challenging as we face various obstacles and adventures. Yet it's also an opportunity for familial connection and depth--we're doing this adventure *together* as a family community. It's not just about Daddy's PhD and everyone else gets dragged along. It's about faithfully following where God is guiding our entire family. Preparing for Scotland has caused us to reflect and hone our family's values and mission, our distinct ethos and identity as Maywards.
We still have three major tasks/expenses we need to tackle: 1) Buying airplane tickets, 2) Finding accommodations, and 3) Getting our visas. It's hard to discern which order to do these in. Do we buy plane tickets before we have a place to live? If we wait to buy tickets, will we lose out on better deals? Can we even get a place to live without a visa? We're still waiting for some information from the university before our visa process can truly get rolling. Right now, our plan is to fly over in late August or early September, but we hope to have secured housing before we go. We're still collecting luggage, and recently sold a bunch of our belongings at a garage sale. More than anything, we've been so encouraged by those who have given financially to support us, as well as new friends in St Andrews who have been invaluable resources and rich sources of affirmation. God has been faithful thus far, and we are entrusting ourselves to that divine faithfulness.
We hope to meet our financial goal by the first week of June, so please continue to keep us in your prayers and share our story as you feel led.
Grace and peace,
Praise the Lord! He is the giver of good gifts.... whether you are a so-called "missionary" (aren't we all?) or following His call to further education so you can minister to others. He "owns the cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10) and gives good gifts to His children when we ask. I am so grateful that He provided for you and you can follow His leading. Looking forward to hearing how this adventure goes!