Missing Ireland, the people, the food, and the weather like never before! I created this video to show some of the places we visited while over in Ireland and you’ll see some familiar faces throughout. I hope you enjoy!
It is my turn to blog and I have been wrestling about what to post. Should I keep it simple or should I give a beautifully written poem about all the things we have done thus far? Seeing all the blogs written from each team and after careful consideration, I have decided to give you something different. I want to share where I am in this point of the trip. I am going to give you the real deal; straight with no chaser.
The reality of all missions trips is there will come a point in the trip where insecurities happen, tiredness starts to creep up on you, and the talk of community makes you sick to your stomach. These past couple days is when reality started to hit me HARD. Yes, we have had the training for these types of situation, but you never know how strong they will come and how much you’ll need to push yourself to try to keep your composer. Let me explain each of these a little bit further.
I have struggled so hard with this idea of “not being as smart” as the other members of my team. I have put my self in a box and labeled it “dummy”. We have seen so many theological sites and have learned so much about God and yet the questions that are asked by my team and the answers they share with each other never crosses my mind. Before I came on this trip someone told me, “Marcus we all are on different paths of this spiritual journey and its okay if we don’t know all the answers to the question”. That is what i remind myself everyday. Its okay to not know something because we all learn and we are continuing to learn as we get older.
Because this trip is so educational, relational, and missional we are busy many hours of the day. We have met so many amazing people and have been able to be a blessing to so many as well. Personally I pour out too much before refilling to pour into the next person. As a result I have become spiritually and physically tired. My professor once told me that, “In order to fill others you must allow God to fill you”. I allowed myself to press on through because I know that this is what I was called to do and because I know that God will give me the strength and every to make it through.
Being in community 24/7 can be a bit overwhelming. Not allowing yourself to retreat, gather yourself, and come back is even more challenging. I am the type of person who loves to be around people, but at the same time I need time to process and be by myself. This trip has tested me hard in this area. My times of retreat are few to none because i want to stay engaged, I want to be present, and I want to be active in furthering the kingdom of God. And because of God calling me to this specific country I am giving my all to the people here and being sensitive to the needs of those around me.
So how can I pray for you Marcus? Well there are three things you can pray for. One being that God continues to use me for His purpose. Two being that God gives me the strength to finish the trip strong. Lastly, that God reveals Himself to me even the more through the people I come encounter with for the remainder of the trip.
Thank you for allowing me to be transparent. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your support, and mostly thank you for your prayers!
If I could lament one thing about Ireland…they don’t really have licorice here! As Josh said about me, “I’m pretty worried about it.”
I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss my home…yet Ireland continues to delight and surprise. One more day dwindles behind us and the end of our trek speeds ever onward toward us. Soon, this surreal, once-in-a-lifetime treat will be but a fond memory. If you’re reading this, then it’s likely you’ve read my companions’ entries and already have a sense of our experience. I may not write anytime new but perhaps I’ll pose it in such a way as to make it worth your reading. Either way, it should be a different flavor than what you’ve read. I believe in the punchiness of brevity, so in hope that this will mean something to you, I’ll keep it short (and bittersweet). Lucky for you, it will probably turn out lengthy regardless.
As I was saying earlier, Ireland delights and surprises. This lush and verdant green country spills over with visual beauty and stunning architecture, the old bones of the land, still strong. The sense of permanence, of dense time packed long and wide like the ocean floor, is sunk deep into most of what you see. It’s all so untamed, the growth threatening to devour and encroaching everywhere. Here and there, the greenery of the earth violently intersects with the creation of man, creating a pleasing aesthetic of two worlds colliding. Everywhere you go, a pervading history presents itself from every pore of the land. It feels like a real tether that ties things (and the people) together. Never get any feelings like that in the States. The U.S. is a few centuries, a mere toddler! We were inside a carefully crafted and purposeful structure purportedly 5,000 years old, more than 15 times the span of our country. That’s the kind of deep history that this country draws from.
Also, it seems this structure was used for religious purposes. Ireland is also a country deeply religious. It was jarring and altogether alien to tour Belfast, as there is a literal 17 kilometer wall cutting through the heart of the city to mirror the metaphysical wall that separates the Protestants and the Catholics. The divide is full-fledged…there is no real mixing to speak of. The tension was palpable for me…a rather disconcerting feeling, sorrow almost permeating the air. Our driver, Pat, made a couple statements in regard to him being merely a taxi driver, but he was more than that. More than just a witty and humorous tour guide, he was a storyteller. In the Homeric oral tradition, he poured himself into the role. He is a safeguard of the tale, inviting us into the story of the hatred between Protestants and Catholics, keeping it alive and getting the word out to outsiders.
Speaking of people, the people here have been as delightful and surprising as the landscape. They’re the true gold at the end of the rainbow. I love their humor. They’ve all been sharp. They’ve been heroically friendly and welcoming. To put it simply, they’ve been accommodating to the utmost. Thank you for singing your lifesong to us and letting us feel the Irish heartbeat. When the memory of this trip grows dim, I shall still remember you fondly. So here’s to you, Pat, and to you David Martin, Sarah, Mary Rose and David, Carolyn, the people of the Nazarene church, and everyone else we had the honor of sharing time with. May God bless you. Keep Ireland beautiful (and by that I mean “stay alive” 😉 ).
Although today was a wonderful day, we took a bit of a tour that wasn’t so pretty. We went around the city of Belfast. Belfast is in Northern Ireland where conflict and tension is always happening. The Black Taxi Tour is a tour about the political conflicts. They take you through the city of Belfast and show and explain the differences. The city is split in half, literally. There is wall built in between them. On one side is the Catholics, and on the other is the Protestants. There is such a hatred between the both that they had to put up a wall to make peace. The wall stands, and is called the “peace wall.” The Peace wall was built in the late 1960’s; it’s 30M high and more than 10 miles long. Because people were becoming so violent, the British thought this would be the best way to make peace. The wall has 17 gates, and every evening at 6p.m. the gates are shut until 6 a.m. and also through the whole weekend. Anytime between then people are welcome to go back and forth. You would think the conflict between these two groups would be religion, but it’s more than that. These people are fighting over how to rule, and who should be making the laws. The Catholics believe, the church should make the rules, and they also believe Northern Ireland should follow the laws of the Irish. The Protestants believe the bible should be the rule maker, and also that the British should stay in control. These are two extremes, and they can’t seem to meet in the middle. We sometimes don’t think this conflict is happening today in the world, but we are seeing it here today. It makes you sad, and wonder how people live in such fear, and tension all the time. As we went from one side to another you could feel the tension. It was almost sickening. This isn’t just happening in the city of Belfast but its happening in the whole country. You think of Ireland as one big country, yet it’s split in two. The North is mostly Protestant controlled by the British, and the south is mostly Catholic, controlled by the Irish. This is something we can be praying for, that peace will come between these countries and people. They have lived so much in fear and tension that I feel like they don’t even know what it is like to feel free.
Blessings, Bethany and Team Ireland
We have been in the beautiful country of Ireland for 6 days now and I must say though jet leg had been a bummer, my eyes have been wide open to see what this country has to offer. We have done so much and seen so much to the point where I feel like I’m dreaming. I am so blessed to have had this opportunity to come along on this trip.
Joshua Bunce, our team leader, asked us this question, “How do you see God moving”? Everyday I have had an answer in my mind from knowing God always moves, but today I can confidently say I have seen God move. I had the opportunity to help Kathi with her toddler group. There were about 8-10 kids ages 3 and under there running around and having a great time. At first I was scared and intimidated because all their “mums” where there watching. It was until a little boy named, Aiden, who gave me the biggest hug once he came in. It was in that moment when my eyes widen to the Holy Spirit working inside of me to allow a kid that doesn’t know who am I open up to me and allow me to play cars and trucks with him. It was in that moment when I knew God already had this planned in my life and in his.
My prayer is that as the remaining days of the trip continues that I see God work even the more. I pray that we as a team learn to open our eyes to see what God is doing and open our eyes to hear what God has to say to us in this moment. Continue to pray for us and we will do the same for you!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
Only 20 days until departure and I could not be more excited, BUT I could not be more scared, worried about finances, nervous, and anxious about going to a foreign land trying to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. From this experience of preparation I have learn to give all y cares and worries to God and let Him take care of them for me. I know God is going to work through my team and I and I am excited to be His vessels to bring the good news to the people of Ireland.
As many of you know my prayer for the trip is that God would humble me as a student so that I may learn that which is to be learned. Also, that His kingdom come and my kingdom die. I pray that you would be in prayer with my team and I as we continue with the last few preparations for the trip.
Not only do we have 20 days until the trip, but all of my assignments are due in 10 days! Just the thought of this is stressful. Knowing that once I turn all of my assignments in, I will be preparing for Ireland, coming home for a little while, summer camp, internship, and getting ready for SENIOR YEAR!
I want to encourage you to give whatever you are worrying about, stressing over to God and allow Him to use it for His great and divine purpose. Know that He won’t put more on you than you can bare, and hey you’ve made it this far so continue to push through!