Note: I am actually writing this on Tue, Sep 27 as I have been busy catching up on things at home and trying to keep up on events in Tennessee, but I am dating each post as usual as of the date it occurred.
My trip home was uneventful. I was able to catch up on some writing on the plane and get a good night’s sleep for going back to work on Monday.
Patti is still in Tennessee awaiting the delivery of our grandson. Our daughter-in-law is having some labor and contractions today. If she does not deliver tonight, they will induce labor tomorrow.
Another item of good news is Patti’s dad went home on Friday (the 16th) and is doing well there.
My final night in Ireland was shared with good friends and CBSI study leaders on the southside of Dublin. The dinner was hosted by Ciaran and Els, leaders of the longest-lasting and healthiest studies in Ireland and we were joined by the leaders of the other studies that have grown out of Els’ original group. We had extensive discussions about two international conferences coming up in 2012 in Dublin and what to expect at those conferences.
Despite having made a mental note to be sure to take my camera to take pictures of their beautiful newly-remodeled kitchen and dining room … I forgot it. So no pictures with this post.
After that I went back to the apartment and made final preparations for an early beginning to a long day of travelling to get back home.
I found and appreciated that travelling between Belfast and England is quite easy since Northern Ireland is still part of the U.K. There was no passport checking, customs checks, or anything. The other lady who had arrived at Luton about the same time as I did on Tuesday complained that it took about 2 hours to get through customs from Zurich whereas I had just walked right in. It was the same going out and quite easy. Sammy picked me up at the airport and we had dinner at their home with Joan and their son shortly after we got there. We had plenty of time on the way, so Sammy showed me some of the sights, to include the port where the Titanic was built (in Belfast) and a cruise ship was currently docked.
Had more great discussions with Sammy and Joan both Friday evening and Saturday morning about some roles I had asked them to pray about and about Catholic / Protestant relations in Ireland. It was good to come together in unity.
I had talked with Sammy shortly after arriving the previous Friday about entering into a more intentional discipling relationship with me. He had agreed to that, so we discussed then and some more after my return about how and when we would do this using email, Skype, phone calls, and my blog on discipling one-to-one … http://discipling1to1.wordpress.com. I am looking forward to this developing relationship and learning more about long-distance discipling.
I got on the road to head back to Dublin about 2pm Saturday afternoon and arrived back at our apartment around 4:30pm. I had not rushed back because I did not have anything scheduled until dinner with some couples on the southside of Dublin at 6:30. I realized that I should have left earlier though as I did have a few things that needed to be done before I left to included getting some clothes washed. It all worked out, but I would have liked to not have been so rushed … but I’m also glad that I got such good time with Sammy and Joan.
Sammy, BTW, is the one for whom we were all praying earlier with a brain tumor that had returned after being surgically removed. He is doing extremely well and currently showing no signs of ill-effects of the tumor or surgery. Be looking shortly for a story that Joan wrote for the CBSI fall newsletter edition … I’ll share it here on my blog also. I was encouraged to hear that she is keeping a journal of her stories, all of which are amazing … maybe a book is in the making!
I had coordinated with the teaching director of the CBS class that I attend in Virginia Beach to do a class opening for their Thursday evening class via Skype while I was in the UK. Brian and I conducted several tests between our computers and we were connecting well, so we set up the time to do it. Unfortunately, it was 12am in the UK, but I was not usually getting to bed much before then anyhow.
The opening went pretty well except Virginia Beach was having a huge downpour at the time and the din of the rain practically drowned the audio of my presentation. I could even hear it on my computer … I doubt that my voice could be heard more than two or three rows back. It was fun to do anyhow and my fellow class members got to see me ‘in the field’.
North of London, actually. Flew in to London – Luton which is north of London and where we were meeting was north of there, very close to Bedford where John Bunyan was in prison when he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. Grace, our immediate supervisor in this ministry, picked up myself and one other lady at the airport for the short ride to our meeting place, which was a very old and gorgeous home on a small farm with pasture land, orchards, and barns.
One of the barns has been converted into a youth conference center complete with an indoor pool, game room, kitchenette, and bedrooms. Some of the 10 or so participants at our gathering stayed there while the rest of us, myself included, had rooms in the house (which we learned in an earlier visit comes complete with its own ghost … at least stories of one).
Tuesday evening was simply getting everyone together and then going out to dinner together. Richard and Veronica had lined up a nice restaurant for dinner each evening and breakfast and lunch at the house. Wednesday and Thursday were full days of meetings. I led a good portion of Thursdays meeting with discussions about our new role mentoring and encouraging the CBSI-Europe Calebs and then some demonstrations of some things Glenn has had me working on to provide some internet-based calendar-sharing tools as well as a new CBSI-Europe web site.
One fun part was having Patti join us for the Caleb discussion via Skype from Tennessee … unfortunately no announcement about a grandson having arrived. She has been reporting that her dad is improving and hoping to go home this weekend and that our daughter-in-law is having labor pains and some contractions, just not intense enough to deliver yet. Patti has been doing well also with only minor spells that eventually go away. Thank you for praying for all of this.
We had a wonderful evening of food and fellowship with Sammy and Joan, but first they had to show us there new car (new to them anyhow … recently purchased). Actually, it wasn’t the car but the license plate (registration in Ireland) that they wanted us to see …
They felt it was providential given the ‘interpretation’ and that they did not request it …
TF: The Fultons
07: The year they started their first CBSI class
CBS: Community Bible Study, of course.
They had been waiting excitedly to show us rather than tell us … unfortunately, Patti was not able to be there to share the experience with me.
Glenn really enjoyed getting to know them over a long visit. He left for England on Sunday to join his wife with some friends before going to the home of the UK CBSI National Director for a CBSI-Europe regional servants team meeting. I stayed with Sammy & Joan until Tuesday when I joined Glenn and the others for that meeting.
I got to talk over lots of things about the ministry with Sammy & Joan and was very encouraged to hear their heart to see the ministry expanding and taking the Word to many, many more people in Ireland. We pray their passion and vision will be multiplied abundantly among other leaders.
In addition, I got to meet their niece and nephew who live two houses from them after losing both their parents to cancer within the last few years. The niece is helping Sammy and Joan lead the CBSI study that meets in the coffee shop (shown below) and is showing a heart to grow into more leadership in the future. The nephew and I connected on a technical level (computer geeks), but he is working through some issues in being more comfortable in public before fully committing to the study.
Wow, it’s been a busy week and I am more than a week behind in updating my blog. I am actually back in the U.S. now (Sun, 18 Sep) and doing some catching up while I am in the airport awaiting my last flight to Newport News.
Glenn and I left mid-morning for Northern Ireland, part of the Irish region called Ulster. On the way we stopped in Newcastle to have lunch and visit with Stuart and Elsie, friends of Glenn from his earlier days in Europe. In addition to time with them, we got to see the Christian conference center in Newcastle that Elsie runs for the YMCA/YWCA. It was a beautiful place on the water that we definitely want to remember for conferences and large meetings in the future. The name of the place is Glenada and this is a picture of the view from one of the upstairs meeting rooms.
From Newcastle, we headed to Strangford to catch the ferry to Portaferry where we would meet Sammy and follow him to their home about 20 minutes away in Greyabbey.
Long-time friends of the ministry, Colin and Rosemary, invited us over Thursday evening for fellowship and dinner. We visited and had some good sharing and a wonderful dinner. I was glad to see that Rosemary has recovered well after having both knees replaced over a couple of years. Colin continues to have a vibrant ministry in local schools teaching Walk Through the Bible and Rosemary continues to help Els lead the CBSI study that is the longest continually running study in the history of the ministry.
After dinner with them, we went to the home of Ciaran and Els for coffee and fellowship. As the ministry’s longest-term and most effective leaders, I was anxious for Glenn to meet them and get their perspective on the ministry and improving its effectiveness. They had some very good input for us. We continually praise God for their faithfulness and friendship.
After meeting with Jonathan and Becky, Glenn and I drove to downtown Dublin to the Spirit Radio station to meet with Rob. I had decided to drive there (Dublin City Centre) rather than taking the bus like I had previously, primarily to not take so much time to get there. The potential problem was finding parking. The Lord blessed though as we turned a block earlier than we should have and while looking how best to get to where we needed to go, I realized that we were within a short walk from the station and there was lots of parking on the street where we were … so now we know where we can park in the future when we go back.
Rob is helping to organize the RELaY Network Conference being hosted in Dublin in February. The conference will be drawing lay leaders from across Europe. RELaY has a special commitment to the 4-fold aims that are implied in its name – Reconciliation, the re-Evangelisation of Europe, the formation of Lay-leadership, and mobilisation of Youth for Christian ministry. Rob has invited us to participate in the conference.
Rob’s initial invitation was for CBSI to conduct a workshop about the CBSI ministry and studies, but limited facilities have eliminated the workshops. Instead, we should have the opportunity for a 2-minute presentation at the beginning of one of the main sessions, having a ministry information table / display, and possibly hosting an interest group discussion in the main room during breaks.
Our time with Rob was primarily discussing these options and plans for the conference. We also talked about advertising on the radio (Rob is the director of this Christian radio station) during the Eucharist Congress held in Dublin next June. We also requested his input on how we might make the best of the opportunity to participate in the Eucharist Congress and he had some good counsel for us.
Ciaran, one of the CBSI-Ireland study leaders was interviewed live on the station in the spring (click here to listen to the interview), so we talked about more interviews in the future, both by him and other leaders.
Glenn and I picked up a good lunch at a small Irish restaurant on the way back to the car and headed off to our next meeting to visit with some long-time friends of the ministry.
Thursday began with breakfast with Becky and Jonathan, who are another couple who both Glenn and Patti & I have ministered in Europe. Jonathan & Becky serve with Greater Europe Mission and know Glenn from his time serving with GEM. We met Becky just shortly after we began coming to Ireland in 2005, at which time Becky got involved with CBSI-Ireland and has since then started and trained the leaders of all the studies we have had on the north side of Dublin. Jonathan teaches at the Irish Bible Institute in Dublin and they have planted a church north of Dublin in Skerries.
In addition to leading and starting CBSI studies, Becky serves on the CBSI-Ireland National Servants Team, so we had a lot of things to talk about, both regarding her study and some national initiatives. Continue to pray for them and for God’s leading as they are going through some transitions in their ministries.