After a very, very long day … 7 1/2 hour flight, followed by a 6 hour layover and another 1 1/2 flight … we are finally back home and re-adjusting to east coast time. Praising the Lord for a wonderful trip. Thanks for praying with us.
I spent the day attending a conference in Carlow while Patti took care of most of the preparations for returning to the U.S. on Sunday. The conference was excellent with some great teaching about ‘Living in a Second Choice World’ from the book of Daniel. The had a good turnout with what looked like a couple hundred men in attendance. In addition to seeing some familiar faces, I met several new people who were interested to know more about our studies.
The only bad part was this was one of the few days while we were in Ireland that the sun was out … and we were both stuck inside.
Hooray! Cathy was able to get a flight to the U.S. this morning … still waiting to hear of her safe arrival. After dropping her at the airport, Patti and I finished preparations for a day on the road for some sightseeing and lunch with some friends.
Our sightseeing was to a very special place … a place that I discovered through my ancestral research was the homeplace of my 11th great grandfather … right here in Ireland …
This is one of the pictures we took of it today. Unfortunately its not generally open for public tours, but we did get to drive around on the grounds and take some photos. If you care to see some more, you can visit http://www.stradballyhall.ie/index.html, which also has some documents that tell the story of the hall.
We then drove to Wicklow to visit new friends Tip and Laurie who just moved here last month to minister with Teen Challenge. We met them through Cathy … they attended her church in Lynchburg. We had a very encouraging time with them over lunch at the Wicklow Golf Club which had beautiful views of the Irish Sea like this one …
If you enjoy scenic seasides or golf courses, you can see some more at http://www.wicklowgolfclub.ie/galleries.
The visit with Tip and Laurie could result in another CBSI study in Ireland. Tip meets with a group of men from church and they are in the process of deciding on their next study, so we provided him a sample copy of a study for them to begin considering tomorrow morning.
I’ll be on the road again tomorrow to attend an InsideOut Men’s Conference. After that, we’ll be preparing for an early morning flight home, so this will probably be my last report until at least when we arrive in Atlanta.
Thanks again for all your prayers and support that enable us to be here.
Other that Cathy’s frustration with not making it out of the airport again, it has been an encouraging day … tomorrows prospects for her departure are looking more promising with some additional options.
Patti and I met with Alan and Ruth for coffee, pastry, and fruit this morning … visiting with friends is so much fun in Ireland 🙂
The provided encouraging advice on the ministry changes being considered and suggestions for expanding the studies into additional venues. This afternoon while Patti and Cathy rested in the apartment, I met with Gerard for coffee and received some more good advice and counsel regarding the same changes. It’s truly a blessing to be able to co-labor and work hand-in-hand with Christ-followers from different ministries and denominations without sensing any barriers to working together to advance the kingdom of God. Praise Him for the relationships He has given.
Gerard provided some references and introductions via email for some key leaders in the area that I may be able to make at least introductory contact with before leaving Ireland on Sunday. Pray for details to work out and doors to open if He wants this to happen this week as they would need to fit in with plans already made for Friday and Saturday.
I took Cathy to the airport early this morning. Despite the bright outlook last night for getting a seat, it is looking grim this morning. They apparently had so many empty seats that they switched the flight to a smaller plane, reducing the empty seats to 4. Cathy was not able to get on the flight to Atlanta and is waiting to see if she can get on to NYC, and it is also not looking good. Her nephew who got her the buddy pass standby ticket checked and says that it is not looking any better throughout the weekend, so she is pondering the option of buying a ticket, costing about $1500 at this late date. Please pray that she will get something soon to be able to get home to her dear Tim.
The one disappointment was that Cathy was not able to get a seat on either her planned flight to Atlanta or an alternate to New York City this morning. The good news is that she is taking it well (she gets to stay in her homeland another day) and they virtually guaranteed that she would get a seat tomorrow morning as they had lots of empty ones.
After dropping her off at the airport, Veronica, Patti, and I went to visit one of the Dublin Bible studies led by Robert and Anne, our two remaining National Servants Team members. They had a wonderful discussion on James 4 with about 12 men and women including the 3 of us. I had to skip out at the end of the study to go pick up Cathy when she called about missing her flight, but was still able to get back to Robert’s home for lunch and an NST meeting. It was a great time of fellowship and sharing with them the changes we have been discussing with Veronica this week and getting their concurrence on those.
Our wonderful landlord took Veronica to the airport while Patti and I met with a new prospect for dinner and Cathy prepared again to fly out tomorrow morning. The meeting with this new contact was very positive and encouraging and we expect to be hearing more from her in the future.
After getting back to our apartment, we got an email from Joan in Northern Ireland asking for us to call when we had a chance. She was very excited that their pastor had asked Sammy and others leading some discipleship groups at their church if they had any Bible studies to suggest to use after their current series. Sammy was very excited to suggest CBSI and they wanted to follow-up with us about some new CBSI starter studies that we had discussed earlier in the week. Joan was very excited about this door opening, so even though they have stepped down from the NST and weren’t planning to continue leading their personal CBSI study, God is opening doors or opportunity to keep them engaged.
We are meeting mid-morning tomorrow with a pastor (and his wife) who is on our board of reference and in the afternoon with another strategic ministry leader to discuss the changes we have been discussing to get their input. Pray for clarity in our discussions and unity of spirit as we all seek God’s leading. Other than those two meetings, we can rest some tomorrow
Our day began with a light breakfast before going into Dublin for a visit with Sean, a member of our board of reference, who now runs a busy enterprise called Third Space. Third Space is a coffee shop designed by Sean as a non-profit business to be a place where people can come, relax, and interact. The name came from it being another space (the first being home and the second the workplace) where people can interact and be influenced for Christ.
In addition to being on our board of reference, Sean has been a valuable counselor for us for many years. As usual, he had some good input on some ideas we shared about some changes we’re considering for the ministry in the future. After our time with Sean, we met Sammy, Joan, and Cathy returning from Northern Ireland at the Botanical Gardens for lunch. We got to hear about an interview that Joan had on Monday that she was really nervous about but went very well. Her denomination is training lay people to preach in the local churches to fill some of their shortages and Joan was recommended by their pastor for the training. We got an email from her a short while ago that the interview was successful and she was approved for the next step which will be another interview in November.
This is part of what she felt called to leave CBSI to pursue (as well as Sammy taking a class leadership role in their church). We are very encouraged to see how God is using them, their passion to see people studying the Word and growing in Christ, and their continuing heart for the ministry of CBSI. They will remain good friends for life regardless of future involvement with CBSI.
Then we had dinner with Carey who was able to visit us on her way out to a ladies conference on the Europe mainland. She and her husband, Roger, are American missionaries working with HCJB Global and Focus on the Family – Ireland and living in Cork. She has been seeking to get some ladies to use the CBSI studies in Cork and had some good feedback for us on how the leaders of one of the groups responded to it.
Another long day is coming to an end. Thanks for praying for us. Pray particularly for Cathy to get a seat on the flight back to the U.S. tomorrow morning (pray tonight … the flight leaves Dublin at 2:30 am EST, so you will be asleep) and for us as we begin another long day of multiple meetings.
We met this morning with Becky Schuster (mentioned in an earlier post as having just stepped down from the CBSI-Ireland National Servants Team). She has been inquiring for a couple of years about using CBSI Children’s materials in Ireland, but the requirements for establishing a national children’s ministry have just been too much for her to take on. Now that we (Patti and I) are reporting to Veronica Alvarez, who also serves as the CBSI-UK Director currently), she says that we can be part of their national children’s program, receive training from their children’s director (a friend that we know who is also Irish), and use their materials. Because of this, Becky wanted to meet with her to discuss options.
This was a very encouraging meeting as it seems to open doors for Becky to not only use the children’s materials but to also engage some other mothers who might also be interested. In addition, we looked over other materials from the UK and discussed other ideas that were very encouraging and fruitful and could prove very effective in expanding studies in Ireland in the future. We ended our meeting with lunch together at one of our favorite restaurants / pubs in the area with a very interesting name … Stoop Your Head. They have a wonderful seafood chowder that we all enjoyed.
Sam, Patti, and Veronica did a little touring and shopping while we were there in Skerries and then headed to the south side of Dublin again to meet with friends Colin and Rosemary. Rosemary is one of the earliest CBSI study participants, she and Colin helped Cathy to get the ministry started in the early days, and have served as counselors on ministering in Ireland ever since. In addition to some wonderful Shepherds Pie and dessert, we got some helpful counsel regarding some possible future changes in the ministry that we are considering, as well as Colin and Veronica getting to catch up on some mutual friends in the UK.
With that all done, I got to catch up on about 4 days of posting to my blog.
Continue praying this week as we plan to meet with several others to seek their counsel on these same future changes. We have some meeting arrangements made and some still need to be pursued. All of these are people are ministers who have a good sense of what is going on among Christians in Ireland and how they will probably respond to various ministry approaches. Two serve on our CBSI board of reference (and therefore their counsel and support is very critical) and the others are ministry leaders whose opinions we value very highly. Pray for God’s wisdom for all of us as we seek His leading.
Sam & Patti
Our new immediate ministry supervisor, Veronica Alvarez, from the UK, flew in this morning and joined us for a late breakfast. As she was getting settled in, Sammy and Joan and Cathy were preparing to leave. Cathy is going to spend a couple of days in the north with them and they are bringing her back on Tuesday. We all went out to lunch together on their way out to wrap up our time together. It is really tough to think that we will not be seeing Sammy and Joan every trip to Ireland, but the bonds are strong and we do plan to visit as often as possible. They have told us from the early days of their involvement that their home is our home and we are always welcome. Even though they are not planning to lead a CBSI study this year, our conversations over the weekend indicate that the door is open for using them in the future as they fit in with their new ministry focus.
We got to rest some in the afternoon (some serious nap time for Sam) before heading to the south side of Dublin for some sweet time of fellowship with the leaders of 3 of the 4 groups that are continuing in Ireland. As always, they provide us valuable perspective on the ministry in Ireland and recommendations for improving strategies for expanding the studies in other localities.
After returning to our apartment, we got to Skype home to our daughter to wish our 12-year-old granddaughter a happy birthday and hear what she got on this special day. It’s so encouraging to be able to keep up with them, and others, through Skype and Facebook while we are away.
Patti and Cathy had a wonderful dinner and evening with Els, one of our key study leaders in Rathfarnham. It was very encouraging to hear how she has been able to get those within her group to participate in leadership training (8 out of 12) so that they can share the load of preparing wrap-up talks after each week’s lesson. We praise God for how Els’ class has been a model class that in the 8 years they have been meeting have launched two other ladies’ classes and also stimulated a men’s CBSI class among several of their husbands.