24 Feb 2012 – Rest Before Returning

Patti and Grace had a chance to relax today before packing up tomorrow for their departure on Sunday. They took the opportunity to visit Howth which is a fishing village not far from where we stay on the outskirts of Dublin. We found a nice little cafe there last year and they were able to find it again. It provides places for nice walks along the water and through the hills for the energetic.

Patti was feeling and sounding much better today, thanks to the Lord answering your prayers with a little assistance from modern medicine.’

They also got in one last visit with Colin and Rosemary for dinner this evening. Only one full day left in Ireland!

22/23 Feb 2012 – Bible Studies in Dublin

Patti and Grace made it back safely to Dublin Wednesday afternoon with time to rest, shop, and have dinner before visiting a study in Rathfarnham on the south side of Dublin, led by Els. They had a good study in 1 Corinthians with about 8 ladies (4 ladies were not able to make it). They were glad to see that Rosemary was feeling well enough to be there also, though she was still wheezing a bit. Please keep her in your prayers.

Thursday evening they visited another study on the south side in Bray, led by Denice, which is pictured below. Both studies were excellent as always.

Ladies in Bray obviously enjoying their time together in Bible study.

21/22 Feb 2012 – On to Northern Ireland

Well, I’m back at work, but Patti and Grace continue their trek northward with three visits scheduled, including a night with the Fultons, and then driving back to Dublin tomorrow. They began with a lunch meeting with Ria, a friend and advisor in the north whose sage wisdom set the stage for all of the CBSI studies in Northern Ireland. The Fulton’s normally have their Bible study on Tuesday nights, but they are taking a break due to some other commitments. Instead a ‘tea’ was planned with the people in the study who could attend.

Everyone except the Fultons cancelled due to sickness or other reasons, so they all went out to a nice Fish & Chips restaurant (man, I’m missing Ireland already!). Before heading back to Dublin today, they also enjoyed lunch with Myles and Phyllis and got some time for Patti’s favorite past-time … shopping at charity shops (thrift stores).

Patti with Joan & Sammy in the background and Phyllis & Myles in the foreground.

Patti evaluating helping out a local charity.

20 Feb 2012 – Travel Day for All

On the way to the airport to drop me off for my return trip home, we stopped by the car rental office just outside the airport to take me off as a driver and add Grace in my place. Upon leaving there I verified the route to the airport with the agent and he suggested something very helpful … “when you get there, pull into the rental return section so that you don’t have to pay the parking fees.” All these years of going to the airport to drop off / pick up people and paying parking fees, and now we find out that we could have been parking for free! At least we know now.

We had time to have breakfast together at the airport before we parted, me for the U.S. and Patti and Grace for Northern Ireland with a night with friends of Grace about half-way there. While I was relaxing on the plane headed west (and enjoying some conversation with a friendly Irishman), Patti and Grace were visiting Grace’s friends, telling them about CBSI, and getting a tour of their farm (Grace said that Patti made a bovine friend that wanted to come home with her).

My flights were smooth, uneventful, and ahead of schedule, getting me home about 8 pm. I had time to unpack before heading to bed to try to get a good night’s sleep before going back to work tomorrow.

19 Feb 2012 – A Day of Rest and Relaxation

Having spent most of the week in worship and fellowship and being exhausted from the long days, preparations, and presentations, we decided to rest after taking Veronica to the airport and not go to church. Also, having just learned after returning from the conference last night that our friend and advisor, Rosemary, was in the hospital, we wanted to pay her a visit if possible.

It was finally a beautiful day that we could not waste staying inside (first non-cloudy day since arriving in Ireland), so we decided to show Grace the Powerscourt Mansion and gardens that were not far from where we could visit Rosemary afterwards. It was indeed an absolutely beautiful day. We were able to get lunch there, walk the grounds, and enjoy coffee and dessert afterwards (it was even nice enough to sit on the patio to enjoy them more). I did take pictures, but neglected to get them copied to my computer before leaving Ireland and Patti has no way to get any more pictures off of the camera before returning home on Sunday.

We were able to visit Rosemary on the way home. She was doing pretty well after having some respiratory problems and was hoping to go home tomorrow or Tuesday.

After returning to our apartment and having some dinner, we packed in preparation for my return home tomorrow.

18 Feb 2012 – RELaY Conference Photos

The RELaY Conference / Network have a Facebook page where the organizers posted photos from the conference. I copied a few of these that caught us in action and share here with you.

Sam gives a 2 1/2 minute presentation about CBS International before one of the main sessions.

Conference participants enjoy a closing dinner. If you look close you may be able to pick out Sam at the end of the table closest to the door in the back, Patti's back to his left, and Grace's head to his right.

After dinner, there was a Caeli Dance (Irish evening of music and dance). Patti got the chance to practice a bit.

18 Feb 2012 – RELaY Conference Final Day

As they say here in Ireland, it was a GRAND day at the conference. In addition to continuing to meet people expressing interest in the CBSI Bible studies, we had excellent results through our workshop. When they asked for a show of hands of how many people wanted to attend the various workshops (about 6 of them), we and Alpha had about 20 each, the most of all the options. It looked like a lot of people were planning to do other things.

We ended up with a total of 30 (counting the 5 of us conducting the workshop). In addition to giving a detailed description of the ministry, we took them through a sample, shortened study on Joshua 1 which was very relative to the conference theme of Courageous Leadership. There seemed to be much interest in using the studies from many of the participants.

More than half of the participants were Croatians and did not speak English (fortunately they had their own interpreter). Here are some pictures from the workshop …

Grace Wort, CBSI-Europe Regional Director, tells workshop participants how CBSI Bibles studies function.

Ciaran Fletcher, class leader of CBSI-Ireland class, shares how the CBSI studies have impacted his life and ministry with workshop participants.

Veronica Alvarez, CBSI-UK Director (2nd from left) leads a discussion with workshop participants.

The non-English speaking Croatian participants listen intently as their translator reads Joshua 1 and asks the questions.

16 Feb 2012 – RELaY Conference: First Full Day

Today was the first full day of of the RELaY Conference. Lynn Green spoke to us again in the morning about Hearing the Voice of the Shepherd from John 10 and challenged us in regards to leading with love (followers responding to your voice) rather than through fear or position.

Nicky Gumbel, who plays a major role in the development of the Alpha program used by churches around the world, spoke to us twice today about the Values of a Courageous Leader. Between his messages this morning and this evening we had meals and afternoon sessions around the four main focuses of RELaY …

  • Reconciliation (between the various Christian denominations of the world)
  • Evangelisation (primarily focused on Europe)
  • Leadership, and
  • Youth

Grace, Patti, and I chose to each take one of the first three and then share with each other what we learned. We all thought the sessions we attended were excellent, but have not had time yet to share all of the content. Between meetings and in the sessions we have met many wonderful people and many have shown real interest in knowing more about Community Bible Study International. The bags have not been as big of a hit as we expected, but we don’t have great visibility and some people have said that they didn’t know that they were free. We expect they will go more quickly once I have the opportunity for a short presentation either tomorrow morning or Saturday morning and I say a little about the bags then.

Pictures are not turning out well, but I am including a video that I took of one of the wonderful worship times …

15 Feb 2012 – Evening Conference

The RELay (Reconciliation, Evangelisation, Leadership, and Youth) Conference on Courageous Leadership began this evening at 8pm. Registration opened at 4pm, so we were able to get there at 4:30 to set up our information table.

RELaY Conference Greeting Area

We don’t have counts yet, but we heard they have about 250 registered, so there should be many opportunities to meet new people from across Europe. The largest contingency seems to be from Croatia.

We met several people this evening and had some very encouraging conversations. We are being led in worship this week by a group primarily from Slovakia (I say ‘primarily’ because there is a guy attending one of our studies here who is playing guitar with them).

We had a very challenging message this evening by Lynn Green on Preparing for Courageous Leadership using the example of Daniel. Lynn has served for many years with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and now focuses much of his energy on international leadership development.

We’re looking to learn a lot, be challenged a lot, and draw closer to the Lord as we also seek to introduce these Christian leaders from around Europe to some effective Bible study tools. Thanks for praying with us. The days are long, but I will try to post updates each day.

15 Feb 2012 – Morning Bible Study

We had a wonderful morning joining 9 men and women at Marley Parish studying Acts 18. We thought it was interesting that our perspective was that they had a very good and lively discussion today, but the leaders felt that it was a little subdued compared to normal.

It was also encouraging to hear that some members of a group meeting at a nearby parish are coming to visit their class next week as they had heard about their study and wanted to consider using the CBSI studies for their class. Anne, the main organizer of this class, has been quite active and effective in spreading the word about CBSI. This is the same Anne who recently joined our National Servants Team as financial coordinator … what a blessing she is to the ministry … keep her in your prayers.

We also had a ‘brilliant time’ (as they say here in Ireland) with Anne and her husband Gerald over lunch after the study (pictured below). They had some excellent input for us in regards to our participation in the next big conference in June.

Sam & Patti having lunch with Gerald & Anne (and Grace, taking picture)