Friday, July 3, 2009

Belfast Tour

Let's see, when I left you it was wednesday evening and we were singing that night at GMC. They also fed us a wonderful dinner! (seems like all we do is eat!) But, fueled up, it was an amazing concert! It was also a bittersweet time as Glenn and Peggy shared their thanks and gratitude to the people of GMC for their love and support. We sang for about an hour and a half, ending with the GMYouth Choir coming to join us as we sang "Deep." A truly lively, lovely night!

Several of us were switching host families that night so met and loaded up. After all we had done that day, wow ... what a way to cap our day.

Thursday, July 2

Thursday we toured around Belfast. We started at Belfast Castle, and went on to the Church of the Holy Cross and to St. Anne's Cathedral where they have the largest celtic cross in Europe (maybe in the world!) It was lovely to walk around the cathedral. Then we drove through some of the areas that were "hot spots" during the troubled times. Several of the areas still have barbed and razor wire topped fences. In downtown Belfast, we saw where, near the city hall, there were places where people would have been stopped and searched. There is a great deal of renewal going on, new developments and such. Then it was time to shop! Whew, there were some pretty warm visa cards ... :)

Thursday evening we sand a concert at Jennymount Methodist Church. Jennymount is an urban church in Belfast that is right near where a great deal of the conflict took place. They fed us a wonderful dinner of Irish stew and pie to fuel us up. Once again, the Holy Spirit showed up to aid us as we sang. We heard amazing testimonies, had great music ... and, I hope, touched the lives of some of those listening!

Today, Friday, some of the guys went to play golf ... others of us have had a lazy "lie-in" morning. The wedding is early this afternoon, and later this afternoon we will tour CarrickFergus Castle. It is hard to imagine that a week has passed!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, 6/30 What an amazing day!

Today was absolutely amazing. We went sightseeing on the North Antrim coast. We left this morning about 9, and drove out the Coastal Causeway highway. It took us through beautifully green glens and valleys, past pastures of cattle and sheep and along a rugged coastline that varied between black volcanic rock and fine white sand. This was a trip that reminded us why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle!

Our first stop was the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, literally a bridge that spans about 25 yards to a small uninhabited island in the Larrybane Bay. There were a LOT of steps down to get to the bridge, but, pretty much everyone made it and walked across the bridge without incident. There were some squeals and screams from a few of us, (DeDe :) :) ) but after all, we were on a skinny rope bridge about 30 metres from the water! Once we returned across the bridge, the really tough part started ... we had to climb back UP all those steps. Exercise programs will begin once we return ... HAHAHAHA!

We ate lunch at the Causeway Hotel, then, following that, we headed for Giant's Causeway, an amazing and fascinating formation of rocks. Irish legend says it was formed by a 54' tall giant named Finn so he could walk across the bay to Scotland. Science says that the unique hexagonal shaped rocks are the result of volcanic lava cooling and crystallizing at a much accelerated rate nearly 65 million years ago. Regardless, the stones are amazing and flanked by some breathtakingly beautiful rock formations, rugged cliffs and wildly green kelp covered mountains.

Back on the bus and we headed toward Dunluce Castle, a 15th century ruin built on the coast. It's hard to describe the feeling we had when we saw that indeed there were MORE STEPS! But walking down the steps we discovered the sea cave, an area under the castle where boats could either stay safe in a storm, or escape to safety if they were being pursued.

The really unique thing about the castle was that as we were sitting outside on the lawn a lady approached us and asked ... well, it's almost easier to just describe the conversation like this: (not exact, but you get the gist.)

Lady: "Where are you from?
Jill D: "Texas."
Lady: Where in Texas?
Jill D: Dallas/Fort Worth
Lady: Where in DFW?
Jill D: Arlington.
Lady: Oh my goodness, we're from Arlington too! Where in Arlington?
Jill D: SE, we're from St. Andrew's UMC...

Well, small, small, SMALL world, this lovely woman (who just happened to be named Melanie ... coincidence? I think not!) lives south on Matlock road on the Arlington/Mansfield border. She said she heard home when she heard us talking. Pretty cool.

Then we loaded up and continued our coastal drive with a stop in Portstewart for some Ice Cream!

All in all a very exciting, satisfying and TIRING day ... so much to see and tell you about when we return! Tomorrow we head for the Tullemore forest, then it is back to work as we are providing the Wednesday night service for our friends here in Glengormley. Keep on thinking of us ... we are thinking of you!

Monday, June 29, 2009

6-29 Catching Up!

Sorry for not being able to post for a couple of days, we’ve been very busy!

SATURDAY, June 27th
Saturday we spent the day in Dublin sightseeing. It was very warm, in fact, unseasonably so. We thought perhaps we had carried the heat on the plane! It was in the 80s most of the day and in Ireland, they have humidity! But walking all over was great fun!

Several of us went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, a very old, incredibly detailed and illustrated copy of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. After seeing that exhibit, we also walked through “the Long Room,” in the old Trinity Library, a long, barrel-vaulted room with literally thousands of ancient and valuable books floor to ceiling. After finishing there, it was off to Christchurch Cathedral, established over 1000 years ago just a few years after the Norman Conquest in c 1066.

Others went and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral or the old Dublin gaol, or jail. Ask Angela or Brandon or Jacob about being in the jail and what happened there. The last group went to the Guinness Storehouse museum, a history of the making of Guinness beer.

We met back up at the hotel and loaded up to head to Northern Ireland and Glengormley. Lots of friends and family were waiting for us when we arrived. Glengormley Methodist Church (GMC) Pastor Mervyn Kilpatrick welcomed us with prayers and then it was off to a welcome tea prepared for us by our friends. We met with our host families and left to settle in for the night.

SUNDAY, June 28th
Sunday was a very busy day. We met up at GMC to get set for the two services we did. The 10:00 service is their more traditional service and we did two songs for them. The 11:30 service opened with the GMC Praise Team and Band leading in worship. We sang three songs for that service.

Then it was time to picnic! GMC had an all church picnic in the park across the street from the church. It was a lovely time to get together, meet others’ host families and generally relax and visit. Did I mention the weather was GORGEOUS! Highs were in the 60s. It was slightly overcast, but there was no rain.

Then last night we did an evening concert at the Ulster Temple in Belfast. It was incredible! The Holy Spirit was moving in mighty ways! We sang for about an hour and the congregation was singing with us and worshipping with us. Bob Baker, Amy Kinney and Freelon Payton each gave personal testimonies on how God has moved and continues to move in their lives.

It is hard to describe the energy that was flowing through the room last night. I know several of you have been praying us though our performances and we felt your love.

MONDAY, June 29th
Today was a sightseeing day. We took off together on the bus to tour. Did you know that the Titanic was built in Belfast? There is a whole section of the city called the Titanic Quarter that is in and around the shipyards. It is the largest dry dock in the world. Then we were off to Stormmont Castle. It was very emotional as this is the first place Melanie visited and the place where the picture was taken that was used in the press and on the coin. We felt her joy there with us. Then we were off through the Irish countryside to the ferry that took us to Portaferry in County Down. Carl remarked as we were arriving in the picturesque little sea town, that it looked just like the picture you might find on a jigsaw puzzle. Very charming. There was an old castle there built in the 15th century, and at the local aquarium there they had some very old whale jaw bones and vertebrae!

Tonight DeDe and Jeff will host a worship seminar at GMC for several people in the area. Tomorrow we are off to the Antrim coast!

Friday, June 26, 2009

We Have Arrived!

Well we are in Dublin! After along and uneventful flight we arrived this morning (Friday) in Dublin. Joanne, Denise, Leeanne and Phil met us at the airport. We loaded up and got to our hotel.

Dublin is gorgeous. Not only is the weather beautiful, it was in the 60s all day, but the city is lovely with great pots of flowers decorating the streets and shops.

We head out tomorrow for some more sightseeing and then we're off to meet our host families in Glengormley. We will get everything set up for our service on Sunday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Well, this is it! We're off today at 3:30. Please stop and say a prayer for us as we prepare to travel.

To all our families and friends, our church family and our Ireland friends, we can only say "Oh Boy!" and thank you so much for the support you have given us. I hope that we will be worthy of all that God has asked us to do.

I don't want to get too sad, but I also want to especially acknowledge and ask you to pray specially for Glenn and Peggy Goodwin. All of this started when Melanie went to Glengormley with the UNT Wesley Foundation a few years ago. Now, St. Andrew's will go and share as well. I know this is a bittersweet trip for Glenn and Peggy, but we pray it will be more sweet than bitter. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers as we travel where Mel traveled, and seek to sing God's praises as she did when she was there.

St. Andrew's you are in great hands for the next 2 weeks. Friends and family, check back with the blog. We'll keep you updated on all the latest!

Feeling VERY blessed, ... kate

Monday, June 22, 2009

T-minus 3 Days and Counting ...

Things are crazy but oh so exciting. Suddenly there is so much to do! Everyone is doing laundry, packing, reading the Ireland tour books ... OMIGOSH this is really happening! Finishing up all the "stuff" at work ... good heavens there's a lot to do!!

We leave in 3 days. Please pray for us ... Pray for us ... PRAY for us!

Friday, June 19, 2009

One More Thing ...

We leave this coming Thursday, June 25th and arrive in Dublin on Friday the 26th!