Thursday and Friday were fantastic days of ministry! Thursday we had the Bible school in the morning, the Summer Scheme in the afternoon, and then did a full presentation at Island Street City Mission. What a blessing the people of Northern Ireland are!! As I mentioned before, the kids (and leaders) will certainly not go hungry. They love to feed us, and at any gathering there’s been a variety of snacks and fizz. They definitely have the gift of hospitality! Friday morning we finished out the Bible school and then in the afternoon after the children played a bit of ‘snookers’ (pool) and some other games, parents showed up at about 3:45 and we all ate burgers and sausages (hot dogs), with crisps (chips), drinks, and cookies. It was a nice time to spend with the families of the kids who attended the week’s activities.
Saturday was probably the most beautiful day, weather-wise, of any we’ve had since being here. (All the days have been mild, misty, partly sunny.) Saturday was bright and sunny and perfect for the sightseeing that they (Johnston and Karis) had planned for us. We woke up bright and early so we could accomplish personal devotions and a few other things and then left about 9 a.m. for the day. We started out and headed first to Carrick-a-Rede in Ballycastle on the north shore of N.I. It was a beautiful drive (the leaders may have napped a bit on the ride) and arrived about 10:30. Just for a little background, the area has been fished (salmon) by fishermen for over 350 years. They strung a rope bridge 30 m over the sea to allow them to get over to Carrick Island where the prime fishing is. It is a walk of about 7/10 of a mile just to the rope bridge that we walked across and the way back has very steep steps! It was a beautiful place with all the rugged shoreline of the north shore all around.
From Carrick-a-Rede we headed to Giant’s Causeway, which is certainly a one-of-a-kind geological wonder! We picnicked in the parking lot on a little path before entering. The story of Giant’s Causeway says that it was carved from the coast by the mighty giant, Finn McCool, who left behind an ancient home full of folklore. The stones are all shaped like hexagons and it’s an amazing sight to see! Apparently, there is real magic in between the stones. (Scientifically, it is a result of intense volcanic and geological activity). To us, it seemed like just another example of God’s unique and amazing creation. It was a hike down and back as well so everyone certainly got a lot of walking in Saturday!
From there, the team headed to the beach at Port Stewart where we were allowed to drive onto the beach. A few brave souls, Meg, Kaitlyn, and Kayla took a dip in the very cold Atlantic with our hostess, Karis. Most of us didn’t want to even dip our toes in! Some rested while others played a game on the beach called, “ “, much like our baseball but played with a plastic paddle, tennis ball, and plastic cone bases. On the way back to Belfast, we stopped at a restaurant and ate a meal of fish and chips or whatever caught our fancy on the menu. All of the food was delicious. We had a phenomenal day and loved seeing more of Northern Ireland!
Sunday found us at Mountpottinger in the morning service helping finish out the Bible school week. Many parents and non-church children came for the program so it was a good turnout. John led the service and the team and children were able to show the parents what had happened during the week. They demonstrated how they learned the Bible verse, sang four songs, David told his Bible story, and then adults and kids did some of the ‘challenges’ (think minute-to-win-it games) that made for some fun during the week. John closed with a good challenge. We were invited to dinner at Johnston and Karen’s home so the whole team definitely enjoyed the chicken, potatoes (three kinds), corn, green beans, roll, stuffing, and for dessert ice cream and fruit with topping. It was delicious! In the evening, we headed over to the church we begin working in on Monday, Rathcoole City Mission. We put on a full presentation and it was received very well! We look forward to this week of ministry with Pastor David and Steven, who is in charge of the teens. We will do the children’s program (similar to this last week) early afternoons and then three evenings we will have time with the teenagers. We have a full week ahead!
All are doing well and we’ll share how they feel about their time so far in Northern Ireland. (We’ll start with a few today!)
Kayla M- These last couple of weeks have been such a great experience. I’ve learned just how much God really loves me. I really enjoy getting to know all my teammates so much more. The missionaries who are helping us here are so great! We are all convinced they are trying to make us fat! After every performance we do there is tea, chips, candy and soda. Mr. Shonn said that’s just their way of hospitality. I am so thankful for this experience! Love you, Mom, Dad, and Taryn. Proverbs 18:24 Also from Kayla: Summer schemes last week was such a great experience. I had so much fun interacting with all the kids and others there to help. My favorite part of sightseeing yesterday was the Giant’s Causeway. I loved seeing the amazing beauty and the beach after. I went all the way in.
Rachel F – My favorite thing about this past week was being able to spend time with wonderful kids and seeing the joy in their faces when we did challenges, sang songs, or did Bible stories. Saturday was amazing. One of my favorite parts was just getting to know my teammates better and just being able to hang out with them and laugh. Another favorite was just being able to see God’s handiwork in the Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede, the ocean and the beach.
David- So far so good! Summer Schemes was a blast! I looked forward to coming back every day. The sight-seeing day was also wonderful! The one con is that I wish I could take an infinite amount of photos. I am so excited to hang out and spread the Gospel to more kiddos!
Josh – This past week we have had a lot of fun playing and teaching the kids at Bible school! It was fun getting to know the kids and how their everyday life is so different from ours. Yesterday we had a lot of fun exploring the Giant’s Causeway and touching the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We had fun playing a game of Rounder on the beach. It’s a game similar to baseball. Can’t wait to see you Mom, Dad, Abigail and last but not least, Sarah. Love, Josh.