We returned home to Colorado in early June. Since that time, we’ve been connecting with old friends and family. Anyone who has spent a large chunk of time out of the country may relate to the re-adjustment time when returning to your homeland. We’ve been living through this change process. Many of our discussions have centered about “when we will return to Ireland.”
As part of connecting with family and friends, we made a trip back to the mid-west and attended the church Tom was part of for many years. It was our first opportunity of speaking to a group about Ireland, our time there and the vision for the future. It was an excellent experience for both of us. Besides being energizing, this time identified areas where we need to clarify our vision.
We send a hearty “thanks” to the folks of New Hope for allowing us to share our experience and vision; for your interest in this work; and for reminding us that when with Christians, one is never far from family.
For more information about this mission, check out CelticMissions.org
In both Ireland and England, they spoke English yet it is so different from American English. I appreciated many of the differences and enjoyed laughs with others at confusion caused by some of those differences. I kept hearing about “biscuits and tea” and thought of “baking powder biscuits.” Eventually, I figured out “biscuits” means cookies, scones and similar desserts. One day, I read a section of Dream Glasses to the writer’s group and someone asked “what are cookies?” Much laughter ensued the explanation.
In Ireland when foreigners move into a town, the locals refer to them as “Blow-ins.” Even when an Irish person moves from one town to another, they are considered “Blow-ins.” With that understanding I can say, we were Blow-Ins that had plenty to learn about life in Ireland.
Ireland’s culture is rich and deep. Wow! There are layers upon layers of history to create the culture. Pondering those eight weeks brings the realization of how much we learned, how many people we interacted with and how much those people impacted us. I learned how extremely similar we all are and yet how uniquely individual we are. It is amazing how we’ve each been created!
We’ve returned to American soil, with a part of Ireland in our hearts. We learned Christian leaders there, just like here, need encouragement and support of other believers. Those who shared what our being in County Kerry meant to them, richly blessed us; they found encouragement in our being there and look forward to our return.
Linda found friendship with a group of writers. Writers bond over words; over the emotions tied to those words; then bond over a cup of tea and shared laughter.
Before heading back to Colorado, we spent five days with family and friends in the Dorset, England area. That was an amazing holiday time — a time to share with another Christian couple the work God’s doing in Ireland and what we experienced; time given to us without the responsibilities of hearth; it was a time for our own thoughts to settle in our minds before landing back home; it was a beautiful gift.
In our ten weeks away, we discovered friendship as a result of daily living in the culture and enjoyed those whom we interacted with. The blessing of friendship is something we can each bring to the world surrounding us, every day we have breath.
The tulips are gone. The weather turned a corner and I shed my daily sweater layer. We witnessed community clean-up days; people pruned their shrubs, bushes and trees; or painted their house fronts. The sound of birds fills the air, the trees are greening, roses fill walkways, everything is in bloom or soon ready to break forth. Tour bus traffic has increased on the roads since when we first arrived. Ireland has readied itself for the tourist season, just as we prepared to pack up and leave. It is a different place than when we arrived.
Red Roses of Tralee
Yellow Roses or Tralee
We’ve enjoyed two months in County Kerry, and enjoyed the people we’ve met, gotten to know and hope to maintain relationships with.
The current stage is of goodbyes with the question, “when will we see you again?” The answer is in God’s hands.
Friends from home are asking, when you return?
Life activities on both sides of the Atlantic are calling.
Goodbyes are never easy as they pull on heart strings.
We leave with many memories.
A piece of my heart remains here and a piece of my heart is calling me home.
If you were to ask what my thoughts are, Bittersweet is the answer.
Wow! It’s hard to believe we wrapped up week seven in Ireland. In the blink of an eye, seven weeks passed.
Thoughts whirl and twirl through my mind as I try to sort them. I suspect the sorting process will take some time.
Each of us has made contacts in County Kerry that have a place in our hearts, as do many people back in the US. I’ve read each of us only has the capacity to maintain a finite number of relationships, and that number varies little from person to person. That’s not my life experience. I find as I reach out and build a relationship with someone, my heart expands to make room for more relationships. With each relationship I build, it enriches something within my life.
My heart swells at the good thoughts of those who have touched my life; I’m grateful for the simple expressions of friendship, for the caring acts of our family, for the loving arms of God’s expanded family who know no geographical boundaries.
We’ve written about the weekly activities we each take part in, and those activities may sound simple or repetitive, but in many ways that is what life is about—simple, repetitive acts performed again and again; all the while with lives interacting and crossing one another. And so, week seven was another such week for us, full of people, interactions and activities.
We try to take one day each week and drive somewhere. The attached photo is from a seashore town, an area traveled often by tourists which is why I suspect the houses are so brightly colored. It is beautiful, and then nearby is the blue of the sea and the sky.
Tom and I each traveled in different directions for meetings yesterday; then reconnected and enjoyed a late lunch at this location in Killarney.
The atmosphere was charming, relaxing and suitable for conversation.
We each enjoyed lunch and afterward shared an amazing dessert (fruit pavlova). Both of us were too amazed with how lovely this dessert looked to take photos ahead of time, so you must trust my assessment. I suspect in the future, something similar will come from my kitchen.
I’m captivated by the sheep dotting the countryside. Once out of town, in County Kerry, Ireland you’ll find many sheep. When we first arrived the little ones appeared quite fresh and so tiny. As we drive around I’ve noticed how much they have grown.
We left early, on our way to a bible study this week. The crisp morning air allowed us to see wide vistas. We drove along the coast and appreciated the view. We came to a spot that overlooks fields in the valley with the mountains in the background. Stopping on the narrow, twisty country roads is usually not an option. Yet we happened upon a driveway on our side of the road with a low gate on the opposite. We parked, got out, expected to take a couple photos and continue to the study.
I wasn’t prepared for what we encountered. The view was beautiful as expected, but sheep filled the field. As we stood at the fence enjoying the expanse before us, they bleated and moved towards us. This put me closer to the sheep of Ireland than I’ve been before. This was a special morning gift.
This was the scene during worship yesterday. The weather was the best we’ve experienced since we were here. Such a beautiful Sunday gift.
We’ve settled into some routines. I meet with a local writers group on Thursdays. They introduced me to “Poet’s Corner” which is a long-standing group that writes more than poetry and only meets on Bank Holidays. I’ve attended two readings with this group. I appreciate the weekly group welcoming me and letting me become part of their group; their patience as I try to develop “Irish Ears” (sometimes I have a better understanding than other times); I’m encouraged by the different writing styles and the freedom of verse expressed. Last week after everyone read we did something new for me. We told a story. One person starts with whatever they want and at some point just stops and the person next to them picks up the story. No one knows where this will go. Talk about sparking creativity on the run! It was fun, it was a good time, and we all laughed. …and no. No one wrote the story down. It all moved quickly.
I’m attending an evening study with Tom and he’s attending several others besides. Our circle of contacts continues to grow. Along with that growth is the growth in our understanding of the culture. Sometimes I feel like I understand so very little. But I’m becoming more aware of things I don’t know.
God’s grace abounds as He keeps bringing people into our circle willing to enlighten us or share a meal or their life with us. Our days are flying by (Yes, we each keep making this statement). But it is true. As we become more involved, we recognize more things we could do. We will build a list for future trips and opportunities.