Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last Post!

This is going to be my last post because... well... I really hate blogging.  But it was a good way to let everyone know what was happening in Ireland without sending out chain emails or mass facebook posts.  Anyway, if you want anymore details, I'd be happy to meet with you over lunch or tea or whatever, but this is the end of the "There and Back Again: Ireland" blog.  Some of you may be sad, some may be happy to not feel obliged to read my rambling, sometimes strange posts : )

I've been slowly settling into life here again, though in a couple weeks I'll be packing once more for "real" college.  It's been good to see old friends and family again, and I have a training session tomorrow for a possible new job.  Where you ask am I working?  Toys R Us.  Yes indeed, I might just be starting in time for Black Friday... not sure how I feel about that one.  So life goes on here in the States.  I'm trying to see what God has in store for me here instead of lingering on my experiences in Ireland, even though this morning I did treat my friend to a nutella and banana breakfast with tea and everything!  Delicious.

To conclude, thanks to all of you who prayed for me and kept up with this blog.  Hopefully I updated often enough for you all.  Ireland definitely was a once in a lifetime experience... but I don't think I can put it into words more than that, at least for now.  Cheers!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Back Again

It's a very surreal feeling to be home again.  I went to sleep last night, but it was so strange to see my ceiling.  In Greystones, I was on the bottom bunk, in this tiny cave-like bed.  Everything here feels very strange.  I'll just make a list of the way things are strange here.

1. A lot of lights.  Headlights, streetlights, house lights.  Greystones was much darker
2. The stores are HUGE! How in the world do we need that much stuff?
3. I answered the phone for the first time in 3 months
4. I almost drove on the left side of the road once
5. My room is gigantic and very bright in comparison
6. It's a lot louder here, especially at night
7. I don't have to fight for a washing machine

The list goes on.  It smells nicer in Ireland too.  Anyway, I got home last night incredibly exhausted and confused as to what time it was, but I got to bed and slept until about 6:30 in the morning.  This whole day has been kind of a blur of exhaustion and the surreal feeling of being home again.  I half unpacked my stuff and started on laundry.  I visited my grandma and my cousin up the street.  Then I tried to go and buy some jeans since two pairs were ruined in Ireland, got rather lost, realized the store I was looking for had gone out of business or moved, and then went to the library instead.  This rambling post is definitely a reflection of my rambling thoughts.  So to conclude, the adjustment is a difficult one, but I'm working at it.  Ireland was an amazing experience.  One of the best in my life.  But if you want to hear more, you need to come to tea... seriously.  Just call or email, and I can set up a time to show pictures and tell funny stories.  That's another thing about Ireland.  There, most of our communication was done face to face because we didn't have internet or phones, so I'm not used to all this technology yet.  And actually, I like it face-to-face much better.  It makes things so much more personal.  Anyway, before I ramble on anymore, I'm just going to cut this short.  Goodnight.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Last Post from Ireland

This will be my last post from this side of the Atlantic Ocean!  Today, I got up early and walked with the Egan's and their dogs.  They then had us over for tea and toast.  After that, we headed up into Dublin for some last minute shopping.  Chadd, Lauren, and I hit O'Connell Street, the main street in Dublin, and then hopped on the Dart to head up to a farther stop, Malahide.  We walked into this beautiful park.  This lovely path wind through this woods to an amazing park that would totally be illegal in the States.  There was this gigantic rope-thing to climb, this giant see-saw, tire-swing thing, and a really long glider thing.  I can't really describe the equipment well because we don't have anything like it in the States.  It was a lot of fun.

We headed back down to Greystones for our last dance class at 4:00.  Some other Fispers got off the dart at every stop and took a quick picture under the sign there... the people thought we were crazy, but hey, we'll be out of the county by tomorrow.  Then, we had our last dinner at the Y with dessert!  Very good.  I'm all packed and ready to go.  I'll see everyone in just about 24 hours!

Last Day

Lauren and I are all packed up and checked out of our room, though we will still sleep there tonight.  Our room looks so bare without all the decorations.  We also seem to have a lot more room than I though!  Yesterday we made the rounds saying goodbye to the people at church.  We went over to the Egans for tea and then to Gwen and Monty's house for dinner.  Chapel that night was amazing, very powerful with God's hand over it.  Today, we went to the Egan's house for an early morning walk with them and their dogs and tea later on.  I'm really going to miss that family.  They were so quick to take us into their church, their home, and their lives.  That church was really an answer to prayer while I was here.

Today the plan is to go to Dublin again, and then hit dance class at 4:00.  Ugh.  I really don't like dance class!  After that, it'll be saying goodbye to Greystones, our last Y dinner, and going to bed.  We have to up by 4/4:30 tomorrow!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Great Kayaking Adventure... or maybe misadventure!!!

Yesterday we hiked Brayhead for the sunrise... which means that I had to get up at 5:45!  Not fun, but the view from the top of the mountain was incredible.  The moon was still in the West, just over the giant cross that is at the summit of the mountain.   And then the sun rose with brilliant yellows, reds, and oranges.   It was just gorgeous!  We sang worship songs and hung out up there until we got cold.  The hike back was gorgeous as well.  It's just a beautiful area.  Then we went on our second pick-a-date to the Symphony.  I really enjoyed it, but with the early morning I had a hard time staying awake.

Today, I went kayaking with my friend Grant.  We put the boats in the little cove right near the Y and headed south.  We were moving along and then drifted out on the ocean for a while just talking and enjoying our time.  A seal stuck its head out about 10 ft away from our boats and stared at us for a little while!  It was really enjoyable until we tried to head back.  We paddled for about twenty minutes and went... backwards!  We literally were further from Greystones even after paddling in that direction for 20 minutes!  So we finally pulled into the beach and started carrying the kayaks, and let me tell you, these things are HEAVY.  We hauled them up over the wall of boulders and started carrying them one at a time about 50 ft. before we had to rest.  And it was about a 3-4 mile walk back to the Y!

Fortunately, a kind Irish couple walking along the beach decided to take pity on the poor American students.  They knew Josh Barrington, an Irish boy that hangs out with us, and knew of Taylor.  So they told us to pull into this Dart stop that was one further down from the Greystones stop (the Dart line runs along the ocean).  We walked the kayaks back to the beach and put in again, letting the current carry us to the next dart stop.  The couple pulled in with a trailer and loaded up our kayaks, taking us back to the Y.  They really did save us!  We would probably still be out there carrying kayaks if not for them.

The Irish are really friendly, always willing to help.  These people didn't even know our names when they offered to help us.  I wish it was the same way in America.  Anyway, that was an awesome adventure even if I ache all over from carrying those things.  Tonight I'm in the process of packing up my stuff.  We took down all our decorations, and I just packed one suitcase.  I'm struggling with fitting into the 50 lbs. weight limit... I might just have to leave clothes here.  Anyway, I'll see everybody soon!  I'll arrive Tuesday at 3:30 in O'Hare airport.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wrapping Up

We have been doing homework all week, wrapping up both our classes and our lives here.  It's actually been pretty fun, but very sad at the same time to go around and say our goodbyes.  I'm done with all my papers, including my integrative final paper, though I still have to revise that one.  Tomorrow morning we're going to hike Brayhead Mountain for the sunrise.  Then on Saturday I'm going into Dublin for a final souvenir run.  Then Sunday is dinner at Gwen and Monty's (the minister at my Presby church) followed by a debriefing meeting with Ruth.  Monday is a semi-free day, but we do have to pack.  Then it's up at 4:30, load the bus by 5:00 and leave at 5:15 in the morning on Tuesday.  It's winding down so fast.  I'm excited to be home, but I'm also going to miss the Y, all the FISPers, my church, and the ESL class.  

Right now I'm sitting in a cafe in Dalkey, a little town just up the DART line.  We're all just hanging out drinking coffee, hot chocolate, and the awesome juices that they have here.  I still have to stock up on tea for going home.  Lipton does NOT count as tea...  Anyway, this has been another rambling entry, so I'm going to sign off now.  Cheers.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Back in Greystones

I arrived back on Friday and have been doing homework and cooking group since then.  Today though, got to interview a family from church, which was fantastic.  They made this amazing meal of potatoes, carrots, lamb, and ratatouille (yes, like the movie).  The food was delicious, with good warm tea and an excellent dessert.  The conversation was even better.  I think we talked for about three hours in their home.  I am definitely going to miss this family as I prepare to head back to the states.

On that topic, we're all scrambling to get the most out of our last few days here in Ireland.  I'm really going to miss this country (and their amazing tea!) but I'm also excited to get back to family and friend in the States.  It'll be interesting to get back to the states with a whole new government on its way.  I definitely got a whole new perspective being overseas for the election.  Anyway, these are rather rambling reflections on my time here in Ireland, and I need to get into the kitchen.  So if you want to hear more about my time and the things I've learned over here, we can set up a tea-time.  And I can introduce you to the wonder that is Irish tea.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Northern Ireland... a Whole Other Country

We're in Northern Ireland now.  It's a part of Great Britain, though that is hotly contested, and it even uses a different currency, Sterling instead of euro.  We we're supposed to leave on Wednesday morning at 6:30... and Lauren and I woke up at 6:36 sharp.  Oops.  We've been having serious alarm issues because our normal one broke, and now we're using a watch that can normally wake us up, but sometimes can't.  Oh well, we made it out the door semi-on time for Ireland at least.

We headed up to Belfast the first day, which was a pretty... heavy place.  If you don't know the history of the city and the Troubles, you probably won't understand what I'm talking about, but you should look it up.  It's interesting stuff.  There are "Peace Walls" throughout the town to divide up the Unionists (people who want Northern Ireland to remain apart of Great Britain, usually Protestant) and Nationalists (those who want a united Ireland, usually Catholics).  The hatred and the deep scars from the Troubles are almost tangible when you walk or drive through this city divided up by walls and gates that can shut automatically in case any violence erupts.  I've been in poor communities before, but I've never been in such an oppressive place, where the whole city seemed to be so buried within hatred that nothing else existed beyond the conflict and their dead heroes.  You could almost feel the demonic forces in the city, with Satan at work dividing the town.  All over Belfast there are murals, some from both sides and some from people who want peace.  There's this one where a masked gunman literally follows you with his gun no matter where you stand.  It's crazy to me that the children of Belfast grow up under these murals of masked gunman and dead heroes.  Well, as you can tell, that whole tour was very depressing, yet extremely enlightening to Ireland's political and social situation.

However, we ended the day on a higher not, for which I was extremely grateful.  We went to the Giant's Causeway, this place with awesome rock formations.  All the rocks are six-sided in shape.  I really enjoyed that, and I felt an almost physical relief to leave Belfast and get out into God's awesome nature.

Today, we got up early and headed out to see Derry, another city in Northern Ireland, toured there, and then went to some cliffs.  I can't remember their name... Sligo something, but we hiked to the top, and the view was absolutely incredible.  Just massive cliffs, and we were the only people out there as well.  I really enjoyed that.  Tonight we're staying in a hotel in county Donegal, back in the Republic of Ireland.  We'll get back to Greystones sometime tomorrow.  But tonight we're going to eat out at the Hotel restaurant, and I'm pretty excited.  We've been eating paper bag lunches for a while now, so this should be good.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No Heat!

The heat is not working at the main house at the Y, which means that I have five layers of clothing on right now.  Quite literally.  So we're all working at staying warm and keeping fires going in the Red Room.  We're headed up to Belfast/Northern Ireland on Wednesday.  That should be a lot of fun, but we have some homework due in between now and then... ugh.

Today, after church, a couple of us were invited over for coffee at a family's house with some of the other members of the church.  That was a lot of fun.  The family has a huge mastiff.  The dog was literally a foot or two shorter than me.  I could have ridden it like a horse it was so huge.  Now my coat is covered with dog drool and hair, but we're going to walk the dogs with them tomorrow morning.  It'll be early, but I can't wait!

Tonight, on the other hand, will be a cold one.  All the girls are thinking about having a sleepover in the Red Room with the fireplace for warmth, but I don't think we'll get much sleep there.  So now I have to choose between sleep and warmth... hard decision.  We'll see what happens with that.