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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Without Further Ado...

Ireland Part 1:
Our time in Ireland had three different aspects.  Since I have too many pictures for one blog post, I thought it would be much more manageable and enjoyable (for you) to have three separate posts.  

Murray and I left for Ireland a few days before the rest of the team to spend time with missionaries who just arrived in Greystones a couple of months ago.  In our denomination, the missions organization places a pastor and his wife over the pastoral care for all of the missionaries in a particular country.  Murray and I are the Pastoral Associates for the missionaries in Ireland.  When we were given this role 3 years ago, there was not a team there yet, but there were three families raising support.  Everyone expected to go within the year.  Because Ireland is so expensive and the dollar is weak, it has taken the team much longer to get to Ireland than expected.  The team leader and his wife finally arrived in May!  I cannot tell you how exciting it was for Murray and me to be staying with Kathy and Andy at their house in Ireland.  We have been talking about and praying about this day for a very long time!!!

The second day, after we had slept off a little bit of our jet lag (Murray more than me, I feel asleep every time we got in the car) Andy drove us around the coast of Southern Ireland to show us the towns where they were hoping to start church plants within the next 5 years.  Driving for 2 hours, stopping in cities along the way where there is very little going on for the kingdom and hearing the vision of where they feel God is leading and directing is very exciting!  What a privilege to be a part of spreading God's kingdom from the ground up!  We not only stopped in cities, we also made several scenic stops along the way.  The hardest part was deciding where to stop because, as you might imagine, it was all sooooo beautiful.  

Who would have thought this tiny wooded path
would open up to this!
And why wouldn't there be a beautiful old church in the middle of the field? 
The saying is true, "if you don't like the weather,  wait 20 minutes and it will be different."  We went from hot to cold, beautifully and sunny to dark and cloudy, dry to wet several times during every day.  One of the days I walked into my second story bedroom to change after getting soaked from walking in from town and was blown away by this beautiful rainbow.  It is hard to tell, but if you look very closely you will see that it is a triple rainbow.  The first rainbow is very, very faint about two inches to the left of the bright rainbow.  The other two are right on top of each other.  I have never seen a triple rainbow, nor have I ever seen a rainbow so brilliant.  Every time I see a rainbow I feel such a sense of security knowing that this is God's promise just as much today as it was after the flood.  And he is just as active and present in our world today as he was to Noah and his family in the days of the flood.  
I was going to say, "one of the most fun nights we had..." but we had so many fun nights it is hard to give it that title.  Just know it was a very fun night!  Over the past 3 years we have developed a very close relationship with the pastor of Greystones Presbyterian and his wife.  Gwen and Monty took us to the best pub!  It was literally in the middle of the mountains (for those of you familiar with Ireland, it was somewhere in Sally's Gap).  We drove for 20 minutes on tiny, tiny roads, twisting and turning.  And then out of nowhere pops this very famous, very old pub.
The music was great, which was expected.  
The biggest surprise was how fantastic the food was.  
I took this next picture for Miller.  He is obsessed with snails and I knew 
he would just love the fact that we ate snails for dinner.
Murray's favorite thing to do and what he always dreams about is sailing.  Every year we always talk about how much fun it would be to sail in the Irish sea, but we never have a minute to spare.  I thought Saturday morning would be the perfect time to try to plan a trip if we were ever going to do it because the team would be arriving a little before noon, so we would have some free time.  Monty pulled some strings for me and got a sailing trip lined up for us for Saturday morning.  Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and we did not get to go sailing :(.  However, since we stayed in town we did get to see the Greystones Triathlon.  Murray and I would normally enjoy watching a random triathlon, but this race was very exciting because we actually knew one of the triathletes!  And he was a top ten finisher this year.
Being at that race was one (of many) of the highlights for the trip for both of us because we were in this small costal town in Ireland and we actually knew people at the race!  Not only did we know them, we knew the stories of how God has been working in their lives over the past three years.   

We turned around, and there was our friend Mandy 
making the most amazing crepes!  
So often you go on mission trips and you don't get to know the impact that you have and how God is going to grow those seeds that you have planted.  So, to be a part of a team that continues to go back and continues to be a part of the work that God is doing is a blessing beyond measure.  God does not have to use me to accomplishes His purposes, but I am so blessed that He does!

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