Sunday, June 30, 2013


We arrived safe in Dublin yesterday afternoon and had a pretty uneventful day. We walked around Grafton Street and were going to go to Riverdance, but Elise had been having trouble getting the tickets online, so we just went to get them there. Unfortunately, it was sold out for Saturday, but we got some for Sunday.
We did some basic food shopping, and then back to the hotel... Unfortunately, I get very bad internet reception in my hotel room, which is why this post wasn't put up yesterday. But bear with me.
This morning Brianna, Libby, and Mrs. Susan went to do more touristy things while Elise, Katie, and myself chill in the hotel. We'll meet up with them later in an archaeology museum, and then go to Riverdance from there.
Tomorrow we fly home!
What you can pray for: that no one gets run over by a bus in Dublin, and for safe travel home. Please continue to pray for Ballygawley and Kilmore and Bradley and the dance ministry.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Finale

After prep work and prayer at the hall, we went shopping and then to Carrickfergus castle. It's one of Elise's favorites, and the rest of us had never been there before.
But... it wasn't open. Kenny had mentioned that it might be closed due to filming of Game Of Thrones (which they are filming at Titanic Studios), but then it turned out it was closed due to filming of some scifie movie, Our Robot Overlords. Never heard of it before. But there were lots of interesting people running in and out of that castle, so that was cool.
Then we headed out for our final Holiday Bible Club...
My group was kind of rowdy tonight, and there weren't very many kids there at all because everyone was leaving for their summer holidays. But we enjoyed our time with the kids we had. After the regular program, the parents came and the kids did their theme songs and recited the memory verse and the Bible Points of the week. We gave Margaret a gift from the whole team, and then we danced a few pieces. Elise later told us that the children were entranced by the dancing, which is always an encouragement.
Speaking of encouragements... Bradley was back! The little boy who accepted Christ last night came back! We gave him a Children's Bible, and he was really happy all night long. It was such an encouragement to see him walk in.
Not very many teens showed up either, but we had fun with them too. We played some hockey and taught Alex how to linedance, and we sat around and talked a bit too. I wish we had more time with them... One week is such a short amount of time, not nearly long enough. But I suppose I'm also ready to be home.
We helped clean up the church hall, and then regrouped back at the cottage to pack... Tomorrow we leave for Dublin, where we'll stay until Monday... when we fly back home.
What you can pray for: Please pray for the church of Kilmore, that it will spark back into life. Pray that this won't be the end for those kids and those teens, that seeds will have been planted and that those seeds will grow. I wish I could list each and every one of them by name. Please pray for safe travel for us tomorrow as we drive the hour and a half to Dublin.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

St. Patrick and Table Tennis!

Today we prepped the hall (which involved playing with the fancy settings on a keyboard) then went to Downpatrick, the little town of St. Patrick. We visited the Down Cathedral, which is a very beautiful church that also has the grave of St. Patrick.
If you're like me, you kind of associate St. Patrick with shamrocks even though you know that can't be the real story, and it's not. We visited St. Patrick's grave before going to the St. Patrick Center, a kind of museum devoted entirely to St. Patrick. After all that, we learned quite a bit about the man.
Admittedly, I don't remember a lot of it. My headache of the week was really bad today and my stomach was uspet due to nerves, so I didn't really absorb information. But basically, St. Patrick was kidnapped as a child and made a slave. He escaped six years later and returned to his native land, Britain. But after lots of prayer, he determined that God wanted him to go back to Ireland to spread the gospel.
From what I heard in the exhibit, the problem with St. Patrick is that no one really knows the real story. Lots of legends and stories have been assigned to him without any real proof. Nevertheless, it was all very interesting.
The club that night went well. We were sharing the Gospel in the story, and at the end one little boy talked to Brianna and accepted Christ! But we think his mom may not be too pleased about it, so we're all praying that we see him again tomorrow.
With the teens we had a table-tennis tournament! I quickly was released after losing to Kenny 12-10. We were both pretty evenly matched in our not-so-greatness. We weren't able to finish the tournament due to time, but the three people left in the running were Mark, Heather, and Rachel (I think).
While we had a snack, I shared my testimony. I had been worried about this all week, and I appreciate prayers for my words. I did get through it, and I hope God used my words and my story.
The teens do seem to finally be opening up a little. I choreographed a quick dance on Katie and Matthew (his real name's Nat) that he's excited to perform for our little talent show we're having tomorrow (we might be having tomorrow). I had to leave early because Elise is worried about my health, but the other girls walked home with a few of the other teens and now we're all getting connected through Facebook (yay for modern technology!).
Tomorrow we're going to try to visit Carrickfergus castle, but Kenny mentioned that it might be closed due to filming of Game Of Thrones...? Margaret said she'll pull the American card if it's true, so we might be able to visit it... while they're filming. And then tomorrow night is the last Holiday Club, complete with hot dogs and ballet dancing and parent-inviting. And then we might be having that talent show with the teens...
What you can pray for: Elise is almost all the way back to health, but Libby and I are still sick. Please pray for that little boy who asked Jesus into his heart, and for all the teens here. Please continue praying for Ballygawley and Kilmore in general. Pray for the kids and the parents who will be here tomorrow. Thank you for all your support so far!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lazy Day

We did more prep work this morning, and then Mrs. Susan, Brianna, and Libby went to Belfast for the Titanic Museum. Elise, Katie, and I stayed home for some much-needed rest. We spent the day in separate corners, reading, chilling, and catching up in our own quiet interests. It was lovely.
The Titanic Experience is a huge interactive museum dedicated to the Titanic. It's only been open for the past few years, and it really is pretty cool. It's easy to spend hours in there. If I hadn't been so tired, I probably would've gone again.
We're getting more and more organized as the week goes on. Tonight, we had a much better roll sheet and a more rigorous registration so we're getting better at knowing who is and isn't there. I was also promoted to music accompaniment on the piano, and though my skills are hardly impressive, it does help the theme song go a little smoother. We also have microphones, so now we can get the kids' attention way easier! By the end of the week, we might have perfected the whole thing.
After the club we hung out with the teens more. Yesterday Chris had volunteered to bring a Wii, but he was late so we started a game of Hot Potato, and then Volleyball. When he did show up he and I spent a long time trying to hook it up to the ancient TV in the Church Hall. Well, mostly he did. I offered a bit of input on where things were and who to ask for certain things. Eventually we hooked it up to Margaret's projector... but then there was no sound. And even though a few people stayed behind to play Mario Kart, the Wii was kind of a fail. Tomorrow we'll have speakers and it ought to go better.
Brianna shared her testimony, and we played Questions and the Walrus Game. It was still pretty fun, despite the Wii malfunctions.
Tomorrow we go to Downpatrick to walk around and enjoy the sights, then another Club Night and Teen Night.
What you can pray for: Elise did pass her stone! Praise the Lord! Libby is still recovering from her cold and I still have a constant headache, so prayers for health are appreciated. Please continue praying for the Club and for peace and strength and love for all of us. Please pray for Kilmore and Ballygawley both, and the potential dance ministry. And if I could ask for a personal prayer, I will be sharing my testimony tomorrow with the youth, and I'm not so good at that kind of thing. I would greatly appreciate a word of prayer for that.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kilmore Round Two

We did a lot of prep-work in the hall this morning before heading to a small primary school for their assembly. We danced and Katie shared her testimony, and then we invited all of them to come to Holiday Bible Club. A lot of them we recognized, and it made me strangely cheerful when one of the boys shouted excitedly across a parking lot, "Dexter!! DEXTER!! HELLO!!!" After we'd shared, they practiced one of their own songs, which was adorable.
We went to Newcastle for the afternoon, a tourist town by a beach. It was nice, but I was feeling very sick and so I didn't enjoy it at all, and probably exuded a gloomy atmosphere to the rest of the team. But we got ice cream and a few people bought a few souvenirs. We then headed back for dinner and then the club.
We were better prepared this time. We're still not perfect, but we're getting a little better. Our roll/registration sheet is getting revamped, we reorganized our groups, added another workspace, and got a few extra helpers.
Tonight we had 35 kids, so less than last night... but we anticipated this, partly because several boys said they had football practice tonight. Hopefully they'll be back tomorrow. But we also got new children tonight, so hopefully they'll be back tomorrow too.
We had time with the teens afterward. We played a few fun, silly games like Down By The Banks and Questions and attempted Bunny Bunny, but that failed. Then Katie and Libby introduced the Walrus game. I didn't actually participate, but I happily videoed a showdown between Katie and Libby. This game was a big hit. Louise was crying the whole time because she was laughing so hard.
We're starting to get names down. Except for Matthew... Matthew isn't his real name. Katie mistakenly thought it was, so now everyone just calls him Matthew (his real name is Nate).
But we had a lot of good craic with the teens tonight, and everyone's a little less awkward. Katie shared her testimony, and the Walrus game really tears down awkward walls strangers build up.
Tomorrow half of the team goes back to Belfast for the Titanic Museum, but Elise, Katie, and I will stay home and get some rest. The three of us have been before anyway, and we need a quiet afternoon. Then it'll be Holiday Club and Youth Time again that night!
What you can pray for: Health for everyone. Elise is on the mend, but it's still rough sometimes. Libby's recovering from her cold. I've got a constant headache. Also pray for the kids and teens, that they would come back. Pray that God fills us with his love and strength until we overflow. Pray that he will give us strength to go on when we're worn out and unable to do so alone. Please pray for the church of Kilmore as a whole, and continue praying for the people in Ballygawley and the dance ministry.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kilmore Club Day One!

Elise got up bright and early this morning for her doctor's appointment, but the rest of us slept in until nine when we headed over to the church hall to set up.
We decorated and planned and tried to figure out as much as possible. And we finally met Scott Woodburn, the neighboring minister! By the time he showed up, we had most of the work done. But he gave us sheet music and brought a button machine and eased a lot of our worries.
We then headed to Belfast and took a bus tour, which was very interesting. Unfortunately, car rides seem to put us all to sleep, so I wasn't the only one who nodded off for a few minutes in the middle of the hour and forty minute tour. But Belfast is a beautiful city with lots of history, from Queen Victoria's dislike of the town to the Catholic and Protestant conflicts.
We headed back for dinner, where we met up again with Elise, who is doing much better today. She still hasn't actually passed the stone, but now she knows the does and don'ts and seems much better. We headed over to start day one of Kilmore's Holiday Bible Club.
We ended up with 40 kids. That's right. 40. We anticipated 25 at most, and we got almost double that amount! We were worried we'd be overwhelmed since we have so few hands, but we weren't! The kids were wonderful and everything passed smoothly despite the surprises.
We now have everything reorganized for tomorrow to accomadate the unexpected number of children, and we're all pretty excited and encouraged.
After the club, we hung out a little with some of the teens. There was this giant beach ball Scott brought us, that was massive. We had a lot of fun shoving that around and trying to get it as high as possible. It kind of gave my hand a bad cramp though that still hasn't worn off...
We went inside and played a round of Telephone Pictionary, and then Libby told her testimony. Things are still a little awkward between us and the Kilmore teens, but hopefully they'll return tomorrow night and we can build some relationships.
Tomorrow we'll visit a primary school, go to Newcastle, and then do another night of Holiday Club.
What you can pray for: Please continue praying for Elise and the health of the whole team. Also, the children who attended and who will attend the club this week. Pray that those who came will return. Pray for strength for the team, that we'll remain calm even if we get overrun by children. Pray for the community of Kilmore, that we can get them more involved in the Club. And please continue praying for the people in Ballygawley as well. And don't forget the potential dance school in Ireland.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Holiday Club: Round 2

Elise tried to go to church this morning with us, but didn't make it for very long and had to go home. But she is doing much better, just not quite all the way there yet.
Aside from Elise, everyone participated in the service that morning. It's a little weird, because at the moment, the church of Kilmore doesn't have a permanent minister, so I'm not sure what they normally do on Sunday mornings. But Mrs. Susan shared her testimony and Libby prayed and Brianna did the children's talk. Katie was interviewed which led into she and I performing one of our pieces, which was really interesting because we arrived to find our dancing space about 5 feet across and 3 feet deep. We managed, but it was... interesting.
There was also a lot of singing, which was beautiful because they have a piano player and a violin player and some clarinet players and a guitar player. It was all very beautiful and everyone was very nice.
We spent the afternoon lounging around, which is always nice. Then we went and had dinner with two very nice people before going to the evening church service at Edengrove, the church where Scott preaches. Scott is kind of the director of this week's Bible Club, but we still haven't met him... Anyway, the idea was to go to Edengrove and hear him preach and meet him, but it turned out he wasn't there. Still, the service was very nice and they seem to be prospering. The praise team in particular was amazing. They sang a lot of songs, but my favorite was Bless The Lord, Oh My Soul. It was so beautiful.
It was around that time that we discovered some shocking news: no one else from the church is helping out with the Bible Club. Yup, it's just the six of us. And no one has anything planned... it's all up to us. Of course, Scott might have a few things up his sleeve, but we still haven't met him, so we can't really plan on that.
Edengrove had done the same Bible Club the previous week, so they had just finished with all the decorations and craft stuff and everything. They had around 200 kids though, and still had stuff left over, so they offered it all to us. Since we anticipate 25 kids at the most, there was plenty for us. We spent a little while gathering that stuff up, then went to take a look at the church hall. All this time we were formulating plans and coming up with ideas for games and lessons and figuring out how we could do music and everything that makes a Holiday Bible Club a Holiday Bible Club.
We went back home and continued planning, accompanied by oreos, peanut butter, and nutella. We came up with some pretty good stuff, and we all feel fairly confident in what we've got planned. Katie's got the games, Brianna has Bible Story, Libby has craft, and Elise has worksheets. Mrs. Susan and I will be with the different age groups.
We still don't know how many kids we'll get. Could be five, could be twenty-five. But whoever comes we will welcome with open arms!
What you can pray for: Please continue praying for Elise's health. Tomorrow she has a hospital appointment to do some more tests. Libby also has a bit of a cold, so please pray that it won't get worse and that the rest of us stay healthy. With such a small team, it's crucial that we don't all get sick at the same time. Also pray for this week's club, that we will remain calm and cool and give it all up to God. Please continue praying for the people in Ballygawley, and also the people in Kilmore.
Another big thing you can be praying for is a permanent dance ministry in Ireland. The idea has been floating around in Elise's mind now for several years, and when I first went on the Ireland trip, I too was totally into it. Now, though, I'm not so sure God is calling me to move to Ireland and teach dance. Katie, however, is another story. Please keep this big step and big idea in your prayers.