It Will Be Hard For The Ireland/N. Ireland Team To Leave

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It is hard to believe that we will fly back to the USA one week from today. Our “home” in Northern Ireland has been so wonderful, it will be hard leave. The generosity and hospitality of our hosts has been overwhelming and inspiring. We have learned much from their example! Mountpottinger church dates back to 1869. Although many updates have been added to help it operate in a modern world, one of those updates do not include laundry facilities, for washing by hand or by machine.  As a result, the congregation is doing our laundry for us! On Tuesday and Friday, people come to take our dirty clothes. They return them freshly laundered and folded and always with some sort of sweets included. Some of us are having a hard time believing this is a TMI mission’s trip because of it! Our buckets no longer serve their original purpose of scrub tubs but now have become home to the many treasures and valuable souvenirs we will be bringing home with us. Our hosts have also taken it upon themselves to see to it that we see as much of Northern Ireland as we can in two very short weeks. This past Saturday, we were taken on a grand expedition that included a rope bridge, mythical legends and, of course, delicious food. Our first pit stop was Carrick-A-Rede, which means the rock in the road. The road mentioned is the sea route for Atlantic salmon on their westward journey past Carrick Island. For over 350 years, fishermen have strung a rope bridge 30m (90 + feet) above the sea to allow them access to the best places to catch the migrating salmon. Crossed regularly by local fishermen, the bridge now presents a challenge to thousands of visitors each year who come to enjoy the same view and high thrills. Those who do are rewarded with an abundance of plants and wildlife and spectacular views of the Irish Sea and its coast. All of us crossed the bridge, some more courageously than others! Next, we had a picnic lunch on top of a high cliff, which also afforded some magnificent panoramic photo opportunities. After refueling our bodies, we traveled to the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant, Finn MacCool, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Finn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In the story, Finn hides from Benandonner when he realizes that his foe is much bigger than him. Finn’s wife, Úna, disguises Finn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the ‘baby’, he reckons that its father, Finn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Finn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this. We enjoyed the 1/2 mile walk to the site as well as clambering across the edge of the sea stepping from one stone to the next. I can definitely see why it is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.  ur final destination was Benone Strand, a beachside town, where we were invited by a former TMIer to be the guests of honor at a BBQ. He ambitiously took on the classic meal of burgers and “sausages” for a bunch of hungry American and Canadian teenagers, and reaped the reward of very satisfied tummies! We lolled down to the beach for another dip in the arctic waters of the Irish Sea afterwards. There were many bolder teammates this time and all of us have braved the frigid waters now. I love this crazy team!!!  We warmed up with tea, dessert and a time of worship with our new mates before returning back to our “sanctuary”.  On Sunday, in less than an hour, the sanctuary was returned to its normal state and one would never know that it housed 19 people…unless they peeked their heads in the back room where all of our stuff was stored! The team was asked to do a presentation for most of the service. They performed dramas and puppets and sang songs. Yoonho Cha has earned the nickname, Pastor Cha, after he shared a heartfelt testimony with the packed church. After the service, we ate and practiced our memory verses before whisking off to Mersey Street Church, where the team was invited for “tea” (we would know it as supper). Traditional minced meat and chicken pies were served among the many other goodies.  We stayed for the evening service, where we were asked again to share. Evan Dean shared his testimony and exhorted the audience to be bold in our witnessing through it.  We sang and performed 3 dramas as well. Our coming week’s project will be at the Mersey Street church. We will be running a similar type program to the one we did last week. As always, we covet your prayers as they can definitely be felt.  We are a happy, healthy team that is growing closer to the Lord and to each other everyday!

 

 

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