Well the sun has just set on the last day of 2008 in the West of Ireland. With it goes lots of memories both happy and sad and with the onset of the night, comes the excitement, anticipation and apprehension for what 2009 holds.
I haven’t written down any news for a good while so thought now would be a great time to do so. So here’s a brief overview of my year…
January: I saw in the New Year in Cardiff, Wales with some of my closest friends and then headed back to Ireland. It was during my time in England and Wales that God started speaking to me about going full-time into missionary work here in Ireland.
Later into January, a group of us were meeting together to pray weekly for our area and felt very strongly that we should be praying for God to send people to work for Him here. We have been bowled over by the response to those prayers. We’ve had some wonderful Christian families move into the area and anticipate the imminent arrival of more people in the New Year.
February: I got to spend some time with one of my American friends. Shannon came to visit us here in Sligo and then she and I went on an adventure to the Hill of Tara near Dublin and then on to spend a couple of nights in Rome. What and amazing city! I think for both of us the most poignant moment was when we stood in the little underground room that was said to be where Peter and Paul were imprisoned. There was no fee to get in and nothing to show it as a tourist attraction. A massive contrast compared to the stark elaborateness of the Vatican. Shannon and I stood in that damp little room, silent as we contemplated the significance of such a meagre little place.
March: I was able to go to Orlando with some good friends to meet up with other good friends and to make some new ones. The reason for my going on this trip was to speak to an organisation called Missionary Ventures about my becoming a missionary under their banner. The meetings went very well and I am currently in the process of becoming a Field Co-ordinator for them here in Ireland. The reason for the others to go on the trip was to play music at various events including an Irish Pub, a School and a Street Party over the St. Patrick’s weekend. We even managed to get a free day at Disney World!
April: We had a team of young people from Buckinghamshire, England come and work with us here. It was an incredible week and the young people had a dramatic affect on our young people here and they all keep in regular contact. When the team left, our dog Maddy went into a strange depression and I wondered whether after having so many people around and after having her ‘boyfriend’ Sam stay whilst his owner was away in March had left her feeling lonely now they’d all gone. It was with this in mind that I spotted a ‘free to a good home’ advert in the local paper. The same day Meg (affectionately known as Meggy) arrived in our home and Maddy is once again happy. And so am I because Meg really is the cutest thing ever!
Also in April I gave in to the nagging from the younger brothers and sisters of the youth group to start something up for them. Outlet Kids Club began and has been a great success. Monday nights have been the highlight of our week when the kids come early evening followed by the Youth later on.
May: Saw my Mum and I sitting exams for our degree in Counselling. We went straight from there to Kilkee for a Church conference, where I was running the youth programme. Thankfully I had a good friend, Phill come over and help me with this.
We had yet another team come and work with the young people albeit briefly. They were working with OM and led a fantastic evening of fun and learning.
We also had some visitors during May in the form of my sister Emma and her flat mate Tracy, as well as dear friends, Ken & Val Baker and their daughter Lucy, who spent the whole summer with us and Toby & Kathrin Keller from Switzerland.
June: I turned 28 – enough said!
July: Saw more visits from good friends… Amanda, Eric, Lydia and Stuart. The young people also embarked on Slum Survivor, where they built a slum and lived in it for a weekend. Check out the photos on previous post. We were also visited by more teams from the U.S.A. It was during the time of Amanda’s visit that God put on our hearts the idea of the Month of Prayer we are about to embark on.
August: Saw a group of 11 of us head over to England for Soul Survivor, a Christian festival. We had a whale of a time despite the torrents of rain and bathing in mud. It also gave us a chance to meet up with our friends from Buckinghamshire who were all there too. Just before Soul Survivor I got to spend some short but quality time with my family in England.
September: I had the first procedure done on my troublesome shoulder. I had the nerve that had been causing the trouble blocked and was able to ditch all the medication I had been on.
September also saw the very exciting beginning of our midweek initiative, Encounter. Every Tuesday we get together in a nearby town to worship God through music, drama, video and anything else we can worship Him with. We’ve felt a great buzz in the local area and are able to worship with people from across the denominations. On Tuesday nights we have all experienced some wonderful moments with our Maker.
I also had a friend from Canada visit briefly. I hadn’t seen Greg for nearly 6 years when I was on College placement in Toronto.
October: Brings back memories of frantic fund raising and an incredible trip to Uganda with a great team of some old and some new friends. Words cannot describe the sights and sounds of that trip. I have tried in a previous blog entry (see below) but the only way to truly know what something like that is like, is to experience it yourself.
Sadly, not long after I got back from Uganda, my shoulder began its old tricks and I found myself back on medication and losing a good few weeks of my life to pain. It was an incredibly frustrating time but one that I am glad to say has passed.
November: Was a month where I defied doctors and went to England to celebrate my cousin’s 13th birthday. You never think you’ll get to the age when you remember the day a 13 year old was born but as Bethany put on her dress and had her hair and makeup done for her party, I began to feel old but very proud too! Whilst I was there I visited another cousin in her new home, with her new husband, expecting her first baby. We reminisced about the things we did as children and marvelled over how short a time ago that seems.
And Finally December. On the 1st I had another nerve block and have experienced a pain free month until the last few days – but I’m ignoring that. Christmas was spent with the 5 of us at home together and my Christmas present from God was walking into a member of Westlife in town! Only joking – it did happen but my Christmas present from God is to be able to go into 2009 with the support and friendship of people like you.
This time last year I didn’t expect to leave Ireland at all and yet I’ve been to America, England, Italy and Uganda. It’s incredible that I’ve been able to do all these things in the same year that on January the 8th I told God, ok I’ll look into this ‘living by faith’ thing and in doing so began living life not knowing where the next € was coming from! I’ve prayed for many things this year but my biggest and most heartfelt has been well and truly answered… My best friends had their 20 week scan today and the little person that made me cry with joy when I heard he/she was coming, is healthy.
This year our work in Ireland has seen 4 team visits, many friends’ visits, a new kids club, a new mid-week service, a fully cropping vegetable patch (oh yes!) and an anticipation of 2009 that I have never experienced in any previous year. In 2009, (apart from a team at the end of January and the Month of Prayer), I have no plans for trips abroad, starting new initiatives, friends visiting, teams visiting or anything else exciting but you know what?… God does and that’s good enough for me!
Happy New Year everybody!