Sunday, September 27, 2009

Arriving in N. Ireland

After an unanticipated, but amazing month in South Dakota, I finally arrived in N. Ireland on Tuesday. Our plane curved around the NE coast of Ireland just before we turned back to land in Dublin. The view of the island, as well as one in particular just off the coast, was amazing! After landing, I hopped on a bus to Belfast. When I wasn't sleeping to make up for the last two nights, I was viewing green countryside, farm houses, and church steeples. When it's not dark and dreary (which is often) the scenery is fantastic. There's something magnificent about the stunning beauty of the land and the sky. The intensity of the colors is similar to those after a storm when the sun begins to bring forth its light.

After waiting for Michelle to get off of work in Belfast, I finally got to see my wife. I don't advocate being separated from your spouse for long periods of time, but there definitely is something really wonderful about embracing the one you love for the first time in a long time. Even better than sharing our first hug in three months, is being able to live together for the first time on our own. We live in a nice 3-bedroom row house in East Belfast (that means there's room for visitors).

I haven't started volunteering at East Belfast Mission (EBM) yet because I've been sick since the day I left Sioux Falls. While not yet at full health, I plan to meet with a staff member tomorrow to begin getting acquainted with EBM. I hope to know more on the specifics of what I'll be doing next week after I gain a more accurate sense of all the work that goes on here, the areas of need, and my interests.

While at EBM, here are a few of my informal goals and questions:

EBM Goals

-Get to know local people and their stories
-Learn administrative & business skills
-Become familiar with peace and reconciliation work

Broader Questions
-Are Christian needed to accomplish the work that churches should be doing?
-What caused some churches in N. Ireland to actively work for peace more than others?
-What does current and future national advocacy and justice work look like in N. Ireland?