Friday, July 24, 2009

Weeks 2-5 in Ireland

Sorry it has been so long since we updated! When we do get internet time it ends up being about 15 minutes each which is barely enough to check our email. We are having an amazing time here though!

Week 2: We did a holiday bible club in Convoy (the tiny town we were staying in) in the afternoons with help from a Belfast team. We also did a teen drop in event in the pool hall under our flat at night. The first night we had about 10 kids, but after that word got out and we had between 30-40 kids coming through on Thursday and Friday. They asked if we are coming back next year, which was really encouraging. Even though it didn't feel like we were really evangalising, it was obvious that we were helping them out by giving them a place to hang out off of the streets and engaging in conversation with them. We were very blessed on the 4th of July- the family that was hosting us planned a huge barn dance/ social for us, and there were about 175 people in attendance. There was lots of dancing. And American flags. :) It was bittersweet leaving Donegal since we spent two weeks there and met lots of great people, but we were excited to move on and experience new, it was onto our holiday!

Week 3: Vacation!! We spent two nights in Downhill, at a hostel owned by a former Inn-goer. It was so beautiful- right on the ocean. We managed to pack all of the North Coast tourist attractions into one day- the rope bridge, the Giant's Causeway, PortRush, Mussedin Temple and the Downhill estate. The last we stumbled upon on our walk home. It was absolutely amazing. It was about 10:30 at night (thank goodness it stays light until at least 11 pm each night) when we found it, so we were the only ones there and looking at the beauty of God's creation definitely helped us to connect. We realized how small of a world it was when we met the two hostel employees- both from Seattle. One was best friends with Chase's brother from UPS and the other a fellow Inn-goer and classmate of Lindsay's. We invited the latter to join us for the rest of our holiday and became Team Ireland +1 or rather Team Scotland for 3 days. Edinbrough is the most beautiful city we have ever seen. We went to the castle, museums, a couple of walking tours...basically we packed as much in as we could. We also tried the traditional scottish meal of haggis, nips and tatties (sheep inards, potatoes, and squash like veggies). Though it sounds horrible, it was actually pretty decent. Holiday was great, but almost more tiring than actually running the holiday bible clubs. We had one day to recoup at the Presbyterian Residence Halls and then it was off to Ballykelly for Week 4!

Week 4: We were on our first official PCI outreach team this week. Basically that means we were living and serving with 16 other Christians (aged 17-29) from Northern Ireland. It was absolutely amazing. We didn't have the best turnout to our activities because it was the week of the 12th of July (a national holiday over here) and a lot of people were off on holiday, but we are confident that the children God wanted us to reach were present, and the low numbers allowed us lots of time to bond as a team. We ran a holiday bible club in the mornings- the theme was Joseph, and we had a complete setup with a mummy and everything. It was pretty impressive for a holiday bible club. Chase and Thoma got to participate in the drama each day and Lindsay had some fun with the bible quiz on Friday- she got her face covered in whipped cream and the kids threw cheetos at her face for points. We had outreach activities in the afternoon, which involved things such as Rounders games (which is just like baseball), pea hunts, football games (soccer), and face painting. In the evenings we had teen events, which involved SingStar and Mariokart tournaments on the Wii and the sharing of testimonies. It was really great to be with people our own age for a change, and allowed us the opportunity to build lots of great friendships. But as soon as we were starting to form a little family, the week was over and it was onto Tullycarnet!

Week 5: This week has definitely gone by the fastest of our whole trip. It was easy to come into this week with low expectations, especially after the amazing week we had in Ballykelly. But we have been blown out of the water with our week of service here. In the afternoons we have been cleaning up the area through a Streetreach, picking up rubbish, clearing public walkways, and tending to people's gardens. It has been great to finally be doing something where we can see the difference we are making. We've also had a lot of theological discussion with our team leader, which Thoma has really enjoyed. We've been doing various activities in the evenings- Monday was girl's pamper parlour and boy's football, Tuesday we had the Christian Motorcycle Association bring their bikes in, Wednesday we had crafts and activities for the kids and an inter generational tea dance for the older folk of the community. Thursday was a bbq, and we finished off the week with Tullycarnet's Got Talent on Friday. Lindsay entered with a cheerleading routine, and Tyler and Chase got to judge. Though it's a smaller and younger team this week we have still been able to form some great friendships.

Please pray that our team is able to stay focused during our last three weeks. We have another week of holiday starting tomorrow, where we will be heading to Dublin and Dingle (for the U2 concert and then a few days of rest and relaxation), followed by a week in the Presbyterian Residence Halls for a tech camp, and finally a week of outreach in Lisnabren.

Much love!
Team Ireland

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