Last week, I wrote about moving around a lot and how that was both difficult and life changing emotionally. But I want to shift gears today and talk about doing missions.
If you know me, you know I am passionate about missions and what God is doing in the world. I did a few U.S. inner city mission trips in middle/high school: Indianapolis (2004), Washington D.C (2005, 2006), and NYC (2007). Each of those were about a week long.
Then in 2012, I did a mission trip to Thailand to fight human trafficking for 3 1/2 months and in 2013 I went to Northern Ireland/Ireland for a month and then met an organization there and moved back to Northern Ireland for a full year.
Specifically, I want to talk about Northern Ireland.
I returned to the States from my year away on July 31, 2014. So this past week was 2 full years of being back. It hit me pretty hard emotionally. I could show you this quote and then end the entire blog there, because it explains my emotions entirely (but we all know I can’t stop talking that easily)!
The year I spent in Northern Ireland was challenging, but amazing. I fell in love with the people, the sights and the culture.
I worked at a drop in centre for teenagers, it was a safe, warm and fun place for them to be. I’m not going to go in to too many specifics of the ministry (but I’d love to if you’d like to see a blog on that) and due to their child protection laws, I cannot post pictures of the kids I worked with.
I want to talk more about the people and the culture.
In Northern Ireland, I just fit.
I’m going to add another quote and again I could end the blog with it because I wholeheartedly agree (please excuse the curse word).
“In Ireland, you go to someone’s house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you’re really just fine. She asks if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don’t need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn’t mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it’s no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting.
In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea.
I liked the Irish way better.”
― C.E. Murphy, Urban Shaman
The people I met there made me feel so accepted and cared for. I can’t tell you how many times my roommate and I got home to find food on our front porch, people had leftovers and brought them to us. How many times someone invited me into their home for a Sunday roast (if having a Sunday roast in Northern Ireland is not on your bucket list, take my word and add it immediately). How many cups of tea or coffee I was handed (some people even knew exactly how I liked my coffee and handed it to me already made that way). How many people asked about my family, wanted to know about me.
When my roommate moved back to the States earlier than I did, a family opened their home to me so that I didn’t live alone. They treated me like one of their family members, they threw a barbecue for me when I left and invited all of my friends.
Even the young people I worked with (though extremely challenging at times, no denying that and even though they didn’t always show it), were very caring. I remember during our week at summer camp I got to dinner late & it was spaghetti night. I grabbed my plate and sat down and realized I had not gotten there early enough to get garlic bread, it was all gone. One of the young people noticed and gave me his last piece. I resisted of course, but he insisted I have it.
In that year, I learned and grew so much in my relationship with Christ and I truly believe it was because I was surrounded by some of the best people I’ve ever met.
Sometimes, I think about the fact that I have friends (quite literally) all over the world and I can’t believe God called me into this life. I write this and reminisce on my year there with tears streaming down my face.
But if that is the price I pay for loving people all over the world and walking in the life God called me to, then I will take it. Heart break and all. It is so deeply worth it. Difficult, yes. But worth it.
And of course, I can’t end a blog about Northern Ireland without some pictures of the scenery (the most beautiful scenery on the planet, in my biased opinion).
Giants Causeway, North Coast.
At the edge of Dunluce Castle, North Coast.
A lookout point, Carrickfergus.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, North Coast.
*sigh* what a beautiful place, what a beautiful year.
My heart is forever longing for you, Northern Ireland.