Heather in Rome

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

Friday, February 10

Ireland Mission

Now to the Ireland mission. What an intense 10 days! Sometimes I was so tired that by the last weekend I was less agreeable with some changes in the schedule than I would usually be. But even though I was tired, it was a good 10 days.

We spent the first weekend (arrived on a Friday) going door-to-door in teams. Some of you may wonder why we were acting like Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses and at times I did to. It was uncomfortable and challenging, but our purpose was to reach out to those who may be far from God or the Church and make them feel welcome to join any of the mission events. For the most part we were received well. Some people would engage us in conversation about their opinions of the Church and others would take the information and say thank you. Others didn't want the flyers and one lady didn't even open the door. Oh well.

During the week we were in the 4 local Catholic schools. Newbridge is a town of 30,000 people so that's a lot of Catholic schools. I'm not even sure if there is a public school in the area. Most of the time we were in the schools for the whole school day. We would move from class to class at each period. Some sessions were 40 minutes, others were 80. We met all the ages, from kindergarden to the 17/18 year olds. For the little ones we would teach them a song about Jesus that has actions to go along with the words and for the older students one of the team members (there were 4 of us in my team) would give his/her testimony about meeting Jesus and then we would open up the rest of the time for questions about the faith, doctrine, life, etc. It's hard to say how effective the sessions were as far as changing their lives and helping them to accept Jesus in faith. I know the testimonies were very powerful and gave a more personal version of the faith. The questions helped clarify some of the popular misconceptions about Church teaching and gave us the opportunity to talk about God's rules as ways of protecting us from harm and showing us his love.

After the school day and dinner with the host family, we would go back out into the town, either to the pub for pub ministry or to people's home where they would host a get-together with their neighbors and invite us to lead a similar program as in the schools: testimony and discussion. I only did 2 of these so-called Open Houses. One was with a group of young married moms and the other was with 3 high school aged kids. It was intimidating in a way because it is a small group that you don't know and we would be expected to lead the gathering and find a way to have the conversation go deep. It was tough so we prayed a lot to the Holy Spirit for guidance.

The pub ministry was fun. Students from the Newman Center may be surprised because I came across as very much against alcohol last year, but with the school it is used differently. Anyway, 2 times I found myself in a pub for ministry. Basically, with alcoholic beverage in hand, I would approach people and ask if they've heard about the mission. Sometimes we worked in pairs, usually one-on-one, but always in the vicinity of the others. I ended up talking with 3 college guys who varied in faith one night and one guy who has been far from the Church for awhile after a death in the family the other night. That guy was amazing to talk to. Yvonne and I spoke with him for 2 hours and shared about all sorts of things relate to life and faith. It was intense.

The end of the mission was so much fun. The parish hosted a going away party for us missionaries and it resembled a wedding reception, complete with DJ, dance floor, and happy-go-lucky atmosphere. It was great because these people that I live with have become an extended family of brothers and sisters (which is always good and sometimes frustrating) and as we near the half way point in the year, we realize that once we leave the school, it could be a long time before we see each other again. So just like how all the family comes together for a wedding and has a blast (at least in my family), the party was our opportunity to have a rocking reception while we are together.

Ah, I guess that's enough about the mission. I met lots of people, helped plant a lot of seeds that will grow into strong faith with time (at least that is what I believe and pray for). There are more stories, but I'll keep them for when I get home so I have something to share. On a side note, I interviewed last night with a Catholic retreat center/environmental camp in Wisconsin for a volunteer stipend position. I think the interview went well and the place seems to be right up my alley, blending my two passions in life. I should find out around Feb. 20 if they offer me a position. Something to pray about. God's will be done. He hasn't done me wrong yet.

(As a disclaimer: I posted this picture of the Guinness pints almost against my better judgment and probably to the chagrin of my mom, but what is a story of Ireland without Guinness. I just had to include it. If I have scandalized my program, let me say that while alcohol was frequently present during the mission due to wine-drinking host families and pub ministry nights, for the most part it was consumed responsibly and in moderation.)


  • At 6:32 AM, Blogger The Michael said…

    A toast! To fun! Your friends at Bud. We trust you girl. Make us proud. In thoughts and prayers.



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