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Because of the people…

Our trip to Ireland, bookended by England happened because of people.

There are many memorable things about our summer trip to England and Ireland, but spending time with people we knew was a big highlight!

We forged a plan to travel to Ireland for 2016 in 2014 while old friends visited from Germany. The four of us wanted to get together again and wanted it to be sooner than the nine years since our earlier visit. The question was, “how do we make this happen?”

We discussed the possibility of meeting up while traveling and moved onto places we wanted to visit, but had not. Tom immediately said, “Ireland.” This location was also on their list.

We agreed on Ireland and the summer of 2016, figuring we had lots of time to make our plans.

Christmas of 2015, family was home from England. They suggested we visit them as well. We planned to do so, but hadn’t figured out the details. Jonny was great in suggesting a route allowing us to begin and end our trip in England. Instead of traveling back and forth in one country and then heading to the other, we would travel in one direction, starting and stopping in London. This also simplified travel arrangements to and from the U.S. Once we had that information and a contact in Europe who could make recommendations to us, the planning became much easier.

We landed in London and took the bus south where we spent the first days of our trip in the Dorchester, Dorset area. Reconnecting with friends and family, enjoying such a relaxing atmosphere was the perfect way to start a long trip. Thank you Sony, Alastair, Jonny and Abby. We had a great time!

Then we were off to Ireland. After landing in Dublin and renting a car, Tom navigated the challenges of driving on the ‘other side’ of the road. The first week we spent alone in county Kerry, Tralee.

From there we drove to county Galway, Galway and connected with our friends from Germany. What a delightful adventure, the four of shared as we toured the surrounding area and explored the seashores. Thank you Gudrun and Caj! We also had the pleasure of meeting Larena and Chris, missionaries to the youth in Galway.

We spent a few days in county Wicklow – Bray exploring by ourselves. One day was a train ride to Dublin where we explored part of the city; one we went to Waterford to visit the crystal factory and a trip to a lighthouse that has been in operation over 800 years; one we explored local gardens and old city ruins.

Then a short flight from Dublin to London allowed us to explore parts of London and wind down with Tim and Marina. This provided an opportunity to slow down a little and reconnect with family before heading back to America and home. Thank you Tim and Marina for your hospitality!

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Interactions with people are what I tie my memories of places to. This trip was so rich with those experiences and opportunities. There are many we exchanged conversations with not mentioned here; they each added to my memories.

Thank you all for contributing to my memories. It was an amazing epic trip.

 

Irish Memories Linger…

We’ve been home a few weeks and thoughts of Ireland still resound in my mind.

Here are some photomontages of different aspects of Ireland that stand out for me.If one were to ask for a quick overview, I would respond by saying –

Green! It abounded. The first photo of the trees growing over the road, shaped by the bus traffic is a common sight.

 

Water and Beaches! They were everywhere. I loved the wind coming off the ocean; the ever-moving cloud scenes; the smell of the water and the freshness of the air. The beaches varied from being beautiful sand to rocky. It was very different seeing the Atlantic ocean looking in a westerly direction.

 

Sheep! They were everywhere. They appeared so different from the sheep I see in Colorado. They were shorter legged, more rounded in body and many were dyed to mark who they belonged to. They might be found in meadow fields, climbing rocky cliffs or close to the ocean. Except when we were in a city, we saw sheep everyday.

 

Tower Houses, Castles, Abbeys – old structures

From BeeHive house structures from 800AD, a lighthouse that’s been functioning for over 800 years, to medieval streets in the heart of cities — there were so many old structures. Some were still being used, some have been restored and some are in varying states of decay. It was difficult for me to comprehend just how old these structures are.

 

The Burren! This area was a surprise for me. From a distance it lacked the intense green so prevalent elsewhere. The surprise is how rich The Burren is with small plant growth; what a haven it is; and how rich it is in history.

 

Irish Beaches

Dingle Bay

The day we drove Dingle Peninsula, approaching Dingle, we could see a lighthouse in the distance but no signs leading to it. We turned around looking for a road leading to the beach and headed toward a little village called BeenP1030592bawn. There we found a small road leading to the shore with a view of the lighthouse on the other shore. The beach area was the first of many special places we would find during this trip. We watched a few people drive up the road, look at the water and turn around and leave. Our experience was much richer. As Tom climbed the higher rock walls over looking the water, I took a path between two rock walks, ultimately leading me down to the shore. The tide was out so I walked the sandy beach. The sound of the waves rolling in and then crashing against the outlying rocks before splashing back into the sea eliminated all sounds save for those from a few sea gulls on the beach. I was the only person exploring this beach. It was heaven!

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I found colorful wildflowers, so small and delicate, growing on the sides and tops of the rock walls creating pockets of color against these dark reddish rocks. The sea was alive and vibrant; some of the waves created towering splashes as they crashed against the rocks.

 

 

This was the first of many enjoyable trips to the sea.

 

Cliffs of Moher

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As we sat, we soaked up the sun, allowed the breeze blowing off the water to tussle our hair, breathed in the fresh ocean air and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks below.

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Sea Air & Wind

 

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Not all shores had beaches…

But they all had beauty

Salthill area outside Galway

 

 

 

 

Lunch on an island at a remote golf course tee overlooking the ocean…

 

 

The Hook Lighthouse Beach…

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At one beach we met an older gentleman who had recently checked is fishing traps. He said, “The sea gets under your skin. I couldn’t live a day without coming down here.”

When You Travel – hold onto your hat!

 

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We arrived in Galway, checked into our apartment and headed to the store to pick up a few things so we could fix breakfast the next morning. By Irish standards it was a large store. We made our selections and were walking down the produce isle when an elderly man approached me. He was neatly dressed and wearing an old leather hat. He spoke with a heavy brogue and had to repeat himself several times. Tom and I realized at the same time what he was saying. He inquired of me, if he could exchange hats with my husband. Tom wanted to know why I was being asked instead of him. The gentleman replied that he knew Tom would say no, but perhaps I’d be willing to work the exchange. I laughed saying I kinda liked my husband in his hat. We all laughed. As he turned to walk away, he told us he was just making fun.

 

Between Ireland and England, several people approached Tom and asked about his hat. No one had an offer as good as the gentleman in the grocery store.

 

We had just stepped off the tube one night and were walking toward the exit. There was a gust of wind. I felt my hat move and grabbed it quickly. I mentioned I almost lost my hat. Tom said he saw that. As we continued walking toward the stairs another train blew through the station on the tracks in the opposite direction and Tom’s hat went flying. We were unsuccessful in rescuing it, before it fell into the tracks. We had nothing long enough to retrieve it. After checking the schedule and seeing we had a couple of minutes before the next train was schedule to arrive, Tom carefully lowered himself down to the walkway at the track level, retrieved his hat and scurried back up to the walk level. I breathed a sign of relief when he was standing beside me again. We were on our way up the stairs when the next train came through the station.

 

If you are traveling and like your hat, hold on!

 

Sometimes First Impressions are Incorrect…

 

We packed up and headed out of Tralee, County KP1030723erry. I’d gotten used to the “green” Ireland offers and had heard so many talk about.
We crested a hill and neither of us could believe what we saw. It did not look like the Ireland we had been introduced to. Our German friends called it a moonscape. I just thought it looked arid and barren.

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A couple days later at a local perfumery (more about the perfumery another day), I learned the area is called the Burren and it offers the most diverse vegetation of anywhere in Ireland. There are only a few Irish plants that don’t grow in this area, and there are many only found here. In fact, there is a wild Irish found nowhere but here.

We walked the Burren and I was amazed. The limestone rocks have many cracks, crannies and holes. They are home to various plant life.

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I understand why so many consider the Burren to be a very special place.

 

 

Tralee

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…a town in juxtaposition of very old and very modern.

I awoke in the heart this town just starting to rouse its self from winter, in preparation for the seasonal tourists, which are sure to arrive. Narrow medieval streets lined with colorful tiny shops filled my morning walk. People bustling about on narrow sidewalks dodging in and out of cars, to get where they are going. Crosswalks exist, but are rarely used. Drivers seem to expect people will pop into the street and cross in front of them.

Yes, this is a village, a very old village. I’m snuggled in the middle of it for a week, and I it’s charming. I almost feel lost in another time and place.

Expanding the exploration outside the old core, are many modern buildings and amenities. In these neighborhoods, the houses are bigger and further apart. The homes have characteristics of the region, but they feel like neighborhoods I’ve been to in many places.

Yet it’s in the very old where I find myself more comfortable. I enjoy walking from place to place. The people feel more connected with each other. They smile as you pass or stop to greet you.

Oddly enough, most my photos are from out of town. Go figure…

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Reflections

It’s that time, when I reflect on the past year. I began 2015 with no particular expectations for the year. It became the year to conquer fear. Or should I say, turn my fears over to God.

By March, I found myself on a new trajectory. I would be going to Haiti in June. This newfound knowledge was surrounded by much fear and trepidation on my part, yet I knew it was a trip I was supposed to make. I had fears about my personal health; my ability to withstand the heat and humidity; letting go of pride to ask others to partner with me and greatest of all were the words a wise elderly woman spoke to me when she said, “These trips change people. You will never be the same again.”

Those words were frightening to me. It had taken many years for me to learn to accept and appreciate myself, and my life. Now I was hearing, I would never be the same. What would that mean, and would I like the person I would become?

As I prepared for the trip, I watched God graciously erase each fear before I arrived at the action part. The departure date arrived and I was ready to go. The trip itself was amazing. All I’ll say, is if God is asking you to step out and do something like this – then GO.

I was changed! Changed in the best possible way. At the end of the year, my husband received some medical news that created some uncertainties in our life. Fear was not part of this time. When I stopped and reflected on this, I was surprised! The old me would have been fearful and anxious. The new me was able to go about the required actions, procedures, tests and waiting, resting in peace.

Though I’ve been a child of God for years, I’m ending 2015 with the following refrain from “No Longer Slaves” having new meaning for me:

I’m no longer a slave to fear

I am a child of God.

 

Grateful Haitians…

While in Haiti I was impressed by the people. They are poor. Poor beyond anything I could imagine. Yet these people were dignified, gracious and grateful. The following photo is a candid shot of one of these couples. I also shot the formal pose, which was their preference.

Grateful Homeowners (rural farmers)
Grateful Homeowners (rural farmers)

I volunteered with Poured-Out, installing bio-sand water filters in homes. The people have requested these filters, signed up for and paid 200 Gourde (approximately 4.00 US dollars.) This small contribution to the cost of the filters denotes ownership in the process. These people were interested and invested in learning about the benefits of the filters and the maintenance. As part of the extensive survey they participated in, they were asked if there were things they wanted shared with people in the United States to understand what the filters mean to them and why their contributions are so meaningful. I was blown away by the responses! Below are some of the responses I would like to share. Hopefully these words will give you some insight into the gratitude I was able to witness during my work in Haiti.

  • Thank you, this kind help will be easy for us to save more money, to keep our health – May God bless you. I hope this favor continues in Haiti.
  • Thank you a lot, encourage you for this good work, it is a great work, we really like it. We will pray for more people to give to this work, so God will touch their hearts. We are very happy with the work.
  • Thank you so much for the work you are doing. Be strong in the world. Cover much area with filters. She will pray we will be blessed and can continue this work.
  • God sent you to Haiti to bring clean water. Thank you so much for helping another country. We will pray for you.
  • I feel it is a big lesson, just sitting here while you install a filter for my family. Now we don’t have to worry about diarrhea or other diseases because now our water will be clean. This is a big opportunity for all of us. A big thank you to all of you.
  • I congratulate you! I think it is a big thing. My family has a filter. I hope others will have filters also. That’s why I will continue to pray for you so that God can continue to bless you to have a giving heart. Thank you.
  • Thank you for the good work. Continue the good work. Don’t get discouraged. Even though you do the work for us, God will bless you. Thank you and God bless you.
  • We need to get the word out so more people can have filters. More people need them. Doing this is a big job in Haiti. You are killing cholera in Haiti. Thank you so much. Pray that God can bless you as an organization and keep on working. Pray that God would continue to provide the money for this work.
  • I have satisfaction you have given us this filter. I want to thank you for doing this work. I know the area next to mine needs filters too, so can you guys bring more? We have other areas, communities, people who have sickness and cholera and they need filters and would love it if you could bring some there too.
  • This is a big help because we have a lot of disease in this country. This filter will help us a lot because clean water is the most important thing in our lives. Thank you.
  • I am so happy about the work I know that God put that in your heart to help us. I want to say thank you again. May God bless you to continue to do this job.
  • I say thank you for this support. It will help me not to buy water again. Money it will be used for other. Thank you a lot. May the Love of God follow you.
  • We say thank you for this effort for this help in Haiti. We encourage you to continue doing this job because God will bless you. May God protect you and bless you. Thanks for having God in your life.
  • We say thank you. May God continue to bless you and give you the ability to continue installing these filters. May God bless you.
  • Thank you so much because you leave home, your family to come. We will pray for you I pray that God will protect and take care of you. God is the one who is in control of you.
  • We thank you for this gift that you guys give. If we were buying it would cost a lot of money, but to have one is a big gift.
  • We say thank you for the team that our eves see right now because God gave you the opportunity to think of Haitian people, after the two big shocks that we have had in our country of the earthquake and cholera outbreak. We say thank you to all the people who contribute to buying this for the Haitian people. May God bless you.
  • First of all we thank God, that makes the idea in your mind to think of Haiti, and we thank God because he made it possible to do this good work. We pray the blessing of God over everyone who is doing this work. We were in need of this because we used to have to buy water to drink now we won’t have to buy it anymore.

Haiti – Lesson 1: Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear!

simple fishing boat
simple fishing boat

The Sunday I felt God calling me to go on this Haiti trip with Poured-Out left me filled with many fears. Previously, I would have used all those ‘fears’ as the reason to just stuff the thoughts and go on with life. I was just finishing up a Bible study with an amazing group of women on discerning the voice of God. We were on the lesson about God’s expectations when you hear from Him. Simply OBEY. Yikes! Knowing the truth and not complying is sin.

I asked a friend if she would go with me. She said yes. So with much fear, I signed up for the trip and started praying about the adventure and what God would have.

Without going into tons of details, it is safe to say my list of fears was long. Some of the issues were:

  • all the necessary shots and drugs I would need to take for this trip
  • having to ask people to partner with me on this adventure, both financially and in prayer
  • how my personal health would fare in this hot humid environment
  • the bugs in Haiti
  • and the list goes on

What I found was one at a time, as I turned to God in prayer I was able to see my fears listed on a sheet of paper and each one was slowly being erased from the list.

In Haiti, I realized as I had turned my thoughts to Jesus and what He was asking me to prepare for and focusing on those aspects of the upcoming trip – He was working to take care of each of those issues.

  • Before I had even started my partnering letter, a friend ask me to make sure she got a copy because she wanted to help support me on the trip. Her gesture was huge in giving me the confidence to write my letter and contact others. The generosity of those partnering with me was also huge and I’m grateful and have been greatly blessed.
  • The shots and drugs were taken with no adverse affects.
  • Though I was in an extremely hot, humid environment – and I know there was mold present as I could see it even on some of the plants at the compound where we stayed, I experienced no impact to my respiratory system.
  • Yes, I used insect repellent and sunscreen and was only mildly bitten by the bugs there.

When Jesus is the focus and you are worshipping Him and focusing on what He wants you to do, there is no room for fear.

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

It is my prayer, that God our Father will continue to work His love in my life. May He do so for you also!