Mar 30 – Catching Up

It is now 11 days since returning home and I finally am getting some time to try to catch up on posting reports of our last week in Ireland and England. I was off yesterday and was able to file our expense reports for the trip and to get our income taxes filed.

May each of you have a most blessed Easter and experience a fresh awareness of His sacrifice and His presence.

Mar 20 – Home Again

Thanks for praying with us … God has protected and blessed our time in Ireland and the UK. We arrived home safely and on-time last night and I am back at work while Patti is getting re-organized at home. The last week has been so busy in the UK that I have not had time to post updates. I will try to share some posts about that time as soon as possible.

Blessings

Sam & Patti

Mar 19 – Returning Home

We were disappointed to learn last night that our seats on the plane had been changed and we were no longer sitting together. However, there was nothing we could do about it until we got to the airport, so we tried to get a good night’s sleep before getting up early to start heading home. Veronica took us on the 15-20 minuted drive to Luton Airport for we would catch a bus to Heathrow Airport for the long flight to Philadelphia.

The trip to Heathrow was uneventful except for missing our scheduled bus, but we were able to catch the next one and still arrived in plenty of time. Unfortunately, the airlines was of no assistance in correcting the change they had made to our seating. I was able to make the most of it though in getting to know my seat-mate and sharing with him about our ministry as he showed interest. He in turn told me about overhearing the young man across the aisle mentioning involvement in a ministry in Ireland. When he was away, I got the chance to talk to the young man and found out that he was attending the Catholic seminary in Maynooth, Ireland.

Our arrival in Philadelphia was a little late, but we made it to our connecting flight to Newport News in time. It was delayed also, so we were a little late arriving in Newport News. The important thing was we were home safely again.

Thank you again for your prayers … they protect us and open doors of ministry among the people of Ireland.

Mar 18 – Fellowship in Cambridge

Glenn Collard left early this morning to return to the U.S. The remaining Calebs were taken on a guided tour of Cambridge by our dear hostess. It was a great time of fellowship and getting to learn more about each others ministries while touring historic sites.

We had an adventurous return trip to Veronica’s that we will probably never forget … sorry, but can’t give you the details.

Trinity College, Cambridge

Trinity College, Cambridge

The River Cam, Cambridge

The River Cam, Cambridge

Fish & Chips @ The Eagle

Fish & Chips @ The Eagle

Mar 17 – On the Road Again

As part of our worship time in the morning at the conference, several people were invited to share how CBSI had impacted their lives. Among these were our dear friends from Northern Ireland, Sammy & Joan.

Sammy And Joan Sharing

Sammy And Joan Sharing

I tried to capture a video of it, but the sound did not pick up and my camera’s battery died during the recording. It is always fun listening to Joan tell a story!

The conference wrapped up after lunch. Veronica had invited each of the Calebs to stay a couple of days after the conference at her home. Those that were able to did so and here’s a picture of most of us gathered around their dining room table. Patti and I were the first ones to arrive and were able to enjoy watching beautiful snow falling outside their dining room window with Richard, Veronica’s husband.

Dinner @ Veronica's

Dinner @ Veronica’s

Mar 16 – Caleb Presentations

In addition to the previously mentioned messages and training, the Calebs (CBSI missionaries) were given the opportunity to share some about their countries and ministries. Below are pictures of the Calebs attending as well as our European Director, Glenn Collard, and Veronica Alvarez, his regional director assisting him in Europe and our immediate supervisor. Veronica also currently serves as the CBSI-UK Director.

After we shared about the ministry in Ireland, some young ladies from Lithuania (there with Marietta Smith pictured below) shared with us that they had friends from Lithuania in Ireland. They told us where they were going to church (not far north of where we will be living) and that they thought they might be interested in doing some CBSI studies, especially if they could get them in Lithuanian like they were using. Talking with Marietta later about this, she even offered to come and bring some of her leaders to train leaders for that if we found that they were interested.

Veronica is seeking to promote the Caleb ministry in the UK and to get study leaders and participants interested in either becoming Calebs (to their home countries in many cases as the UK has many immigrants) or to make trips to support the Calebs in making contacts. In pursuing this goal, we are discussing with Veronica the possibility of visiting classes in the UK to share about the Caleb ministry and about the ministry in Ireland.

Richard & Veronica Alvarez

Veronica Alvarez with her husband Richard. This picture was taken in their kitchen/dining area after the conference, as was the picture of Glenn and Marietta.

Glenn Collard & Marietta Smith

Glenn Collard is the CBSI-Europe Director. Marietta Smith serves CBSI in Lithuania where she is living. She was able to bring quite a few Lithuanian leaders with her to the conference.

Janet Phillips & Kristen Kessler

Janet Phillips (far right) and Kristin Kessler (far left) serve with CBSI in Wales. Since Wales is part of the UK, several of the leaders that they have trained were attending the conference also. This was Kristen’s first official trip as a Caleb.

Fielder & Gretchen Israel

Fielder & Gretchen Israel serve CBSI in France. France obviously is not part of the UK, but are also supervised and supported by Veronica, so they were invited to the conference also. They live in Williamsburg and became Calebs as a result of Patti sharing at Gretchen’s CBS class in Williamsburg.

Mar 15 – On To England

Today was a day of firsts … first time attending the CBSI-UK Leaders Conference, first time flying into Manchester International Airport, and first time riding on the English rail system. It was also a day of lasts (at least as far as we can anticipate) … the last time staying with Sean and Marie in their self-catering apartment (at least 8 years now), the last time renting a car from our agent Joe (at least for more than a day), and the last time to leave Ireland after just a few weeks.

The flight to England was short and uneventful … starting our descent shortly after leveling off. We had a decent bit of walking at the Manchester to get to the train station, intensified by having to carry with us two large suitcases and two carry-ons. We had to catch one train for a short trip to the main station to catch another for the longer trip to the town nearest the conference. We had time to get lunch at the main station. It was interesting and a challenge to find a place for our bags on the trains as they are not really set up for that. The first one was not too bad as they had an area where we boarded that we could leave them, probably because it was leaving from the airport. The other did not have such a provision and we had to leave the bigger ones on the smaller landing where we boarded and try to place them where they would be out of the way.

Sammy & Joan

Sammy & Joan

We arrived at the conference center while the conference staff were still setting up to receive people, so we had plenty of time to rest some and fellowship before dinner. Our friends Sammy & Joan from Northern Ireland were there already so we got to visit with them and unpack before the crowds were arriving.

It is a beautiful location for a conference as you can see in the picture below and the facilities were quite nice. We met many wonderful people as well as connected with several other people we already knew.
 
The keynote speaker for the conference challenged us throughout the weekend with messages from the book of Psalms and there was much time given to prayer and worship also, as well as leadership training.

Conference Center

This is a picture of the main building of the conference center, but where most of our group stayed was behind the camera about the same distance away.

Sam & Patti

Sam & Patti pausing in front of one of the beautiful trees on the conference grounds for a photo op

Mar 14 – Time with Friends and Visiting Another Bible Study

We started the day with a trip to Rush to drop off a number of boxes of clothes and ministry materials at the house that will become our home this summer. We had a short visit with Becky while there (Jonathan was in the US for a course for his advanced degree) and received the house key.

We then went way south to meet friends Tip and Laurie for lunch in the Wicklow area. We had a refreshing time with them discussing their ministry at the Tiglin Teen Challenge center and our coming in the summer. They are leading Bible studies with and discipling the teens in the program at Tiglin, so they welcomed the idea of getting them into CBSI studies when released from Tiglin. We’re planning to talk about that further after our move and see if there are reasonable options for that. We have learned since then that the teens go into a half-way home environment after Tiglin and that may be a good time to introduce them to this kind of study if we can find some leaders among the home leaders.

Sam & Tip

Sam & Tip

Laurie & Patti

Laurie & Patti

When I shared with Tip about volunteering to help with IT support at the Irish Bible Institute, he asked if I might be able to help some at Tiglin. It seems that following a request to a local businessman about donating some used computers they received 40 new computers and enough money to set up a computer lab for the center. Tip was wondering if I might be able to help set up the lab and possibly teach some computer classes. We’ll see later whether that will work in my schedule without interfering with the CBSI ministry.

From our lunch we drove to Bray where we were having dinner with Jono & Denice before the ladies’ Bible study at their home. Before dinner we had the opportunity to go with Denice to a local church where the ladies in her group have been part of an ecumenical effort to draw people to church through a dramatic presentation. These people have worked together to create a replica of C.S. Lewis’s tales of Narnia in a local church. It was awesome to see what they had done and to consider all the work that had gone into building it and setting it up in the church … even including a working waterfall.

The Narnia Ship

The Narnia Ship

Aslan with admirers
Aslan with admirers

After a delightful time with Jono & Denice over dinner (and some musical treats from the children sharing the fruits of their music lessons), the ladies started arriving for study. Patti joined them while Jono and I walked up the hill to a local shop for some fellowship and coffee. It was a wonderful time together, especially to see the continued blessing that comes from the faithful study of God’s Word.

It was a late night again, for when we returned to our apartment, we needed to finish packing for our departure tomorrow morning for our short trip to England for the CBSI-UK Leaders Conference. We also had to make reservations for the train trip from the airport to the conference center … we couldn’t do this earlier because there was not enough time to have the tickets mailed to us and they had to be picked up within 24 hours.

Mar 13 – Two Bible Studies and a Meeting

We joined a group of 10 for their Bible study this morning … a lively discussion for a group that prior to Community Bible Study had very little experience reading the Bible. We were encouraged to see how they are opening up and sharing so easily in comparison to a few years ago. The key leaders of this study, Robert and Ann, make up our National Servants Team, so we had planned lunch with them after the study to discuss the ministry and how things were developing with our plans for this summer. They were as excited about the opportunities opening up at IBI as we are.

We had 6-7 hours before our next appointment, so we decided to drive up to Rush to learn our way around some more and drive through some of the surrounding towns. By the time we got to Rush it was time for coffee and a snack (teatime as they call it here in Ireland) so we decided to visit a coffee house that Jonathan had recommended. It turned out to be more of a restaurant than a coffee house, so we had an early and light dinner.

We headed back to our apartment for a while to pack up some things to leave at Jonathan and Becky’s house until we come back in July. For several years enough our landlords have been kind enough to keep about 4 boxes of stuff for us so that we didn’t have to take it with us or leave it with others and then collect it once we got here. Now that we will no longer be staying with them it wouldn’t be right to have them store it any longer.

While I’m writing this at the home of friends Colin and Rosemary, Patti is with Rosemary at Els’ home for study and Colin is at an elders’ meeting. The big news coming out before they left for Bible study was the selection of the new Pope. This will be a topic all of these ladies are very interested in, so they might be distracted from their normal discussion.

Well Patti and Rosemary have returned and we are now back in our apartment … and the ladies did not get diverted from the Bible study 🙂

We have been glad to experience another day of the weather forecasters being wrong. There has been a lot of sunshine though it is still just above freezing. They had been predicting snow yesterday and today, but we have seen none of it, just a few rain showers … praise God!

Mar 12 – A Relaxing Day then a Full Day!

Yesterday was a good day to relax at home. We did not have anything previously scheduled and one last-minute possibility did not work out. It was a strange weather day as we saw the sun for the first time since arriving … and fairly often … but it was accompanied by snow and sleet. Not enough for any accumulation but enough to turn the ground white … several times. It would snow, turning the ground white, the sun would come out and melt it, then it would sleet and turn it white again, etc, etc. We did get out to do a little shopping but stayed close to our apartment.

Today was a lot busier … 12 hours plus. We drove in to Dublin this morning intending to stop off at a favorite coffee shop run by a Christian friend on the way to a lunch meeting, but on the way decided that we were too short on time in light of unfamiliarity with our lunch meeting place and parking for that. So we headed there instead. We had a great lunch with Tom, a new contact, at one of his favorite Thai restaurants. Tom is going to be teaching Jonathan’s (in who’s home we will be staying for a year) class at the Irish Bible Institute (IBI). We had heard about Tom from his relative who involved with CBS in the states and learned about his connection with Jonathan after we got here.

Over lunch we learned about each other’s ministries and then talked about some possible ministry opportunities at IBI that Jonathan had suggested on Saturday. Following lunch we went with Tom to IBI where we all sat in on one of Jonathan’s classes during their open house. During the time with Tom and with staff at IBI, it appears that doors are open for us to be involved there, Sam as a volunteer to help with IT support and both of us as mentors for IBI students (required for all students). We see this as a strategic opportunity that God has provided for us to interact with and in some cases mentor/disciple future lay leaders and clergy serving throughout Ireland, to include introducing them to some great Bible study resources for their ministries.

During our time in the classes we connected with 4 students that all look promising for future ministry, two here in Dublin, one in the central part of Ireland, and one in Galway on the west coast. Two of them are from Nigeria, so we’re seeing even more international flavor in those open doors also. It’s already looking like the challenge may be to keep from being stretched too thin!

I also forgot to mention that on Saturday when we visiting Jonathan and Becky, they suggested we get involved in their church. It is a new church plant and has a lot of eager new believers and they are in need of more spiritually mature leaders who can help with their spiritual growth. So this also appears to be another door that God is opening where we can use CBSI studies to disciple men and women as we are called to do. Praise God for His answers to to your prayers.

We finished up at IBI about 4pm and headed out to dinner at Ciaran and Els’ home before joining Ciaran’s men’s study this evening. We had a wonderful dinner with them and their boys and then some time for fellowship before the men arrived for study. We had 6 altogether for the study of Mark 9 … as always it was great to study and fellowship with each of them.

Continue to keep us in your prayers as the next two days are about as full. After Bible study in the morning, we will meet with our National Servants Team who both lead that study and then return to Ciaran and Els’ home in the evening for her ladies’ study … at least we don’t have to be fully prepared for all of these studies, but we do try to at least read over them ahead of time.