This morning Katie and I went to the Presbyterian church in Ballyreagh. I can't speak for the others, but I assume their experience was similar to ours.
During the service, the minister, Nick Cooper, invited Katie and I up to the front to ask us a few questions and introduce us to the whole church. Normally this is scary, but it wasn't so bad. He asked us about our day-to-day lives at home, what brought us back to Ireland for our third/second time (my third, Katie's second), and what our plans were for the coming week. We talked about how great the people are and how beautiful the countryside is, and about the Holiday Clubs and going into schools and dancing. After that we were allowed to sit back down and enjoy the rest of the service.
One of the main differences between Irish Presbyterian churches and the churches in America is the music. Not so much the style (though they do tend to use hymns and songs that aren't quite as popular and recurring as they are in America), but the frequency. There will be at least five times during the service where the congregation stands to sing praise: right at the beginning, after prayer or Bible reading, again after the children's address, again after another prayer and an offering, and one more time after the sermon itself. It's pretty cool.
After church we had lunch with our host home (have I mentioned how great they are? Because they are) and then just hung our or chilled. The others said they spent most of the afternoon sleeping or journaling (totally understandable since they just got off the plane yesterday). At our place, we had a little adventure.
First we just went to visit Chloe's horse. Chloe is the niece of the family we're staying with, and she was hanging out for most of the weekend. So we walked over there, fed the horses some, and then went to visit Chloe's dog. While we were leaving that excursion, a bird fell out of a tree. That's right. He just fell out. We immediately decided to save him.
I say "we", but mostly I stood and watched and tried to contain Chloe's dog (who had hopped out of her pen and was very excited about the bird). But Katie, Chloe, Amy, Katie (two Katies!), and James fought tall grass and nettles to save that bird. We named him Nettle after the hardships we went through to save his ungrateful feathers.
The little guy is currently in the Hardy's garage. Poor guy can't fly, and he was very panicky in th beginning, but he's seemed to calm down. We're pretty sure he'll be okay.
There was an evening church service that most of us participated in as well. It was on the plagues of Egypt, and throughout the lesson we would each stand and read a passage of Exodus. Then at the end, Elise joined the praise team to sing "Still, My Soul Be Still." It was absolutely beautiful. I hope to never forget that moment.
After the service there was fellowship over tea (what else?) and we had a very involved conversation/lesson about USA geography with some girls named Ruth and Gillian. We then met with Nick Cooper to go over details of the week (which you will hear about as they unfold), and then went over to Donna Hall's house for pizza and hangout time!
There was pizza with corn on it. And very good craic (fun). We taught Daryl how to waltz, played a few rounds of dominos, and Libby ended up trying on Donna's old wedding dress, which fit her amazingly well.
All in all, a very fun day. Tomorrow registration starts for the holiday clubs and we'll be going into one of the schools to dance and invite them to the Holiday Club!
What you can pray for: Always, the health of the team. You can pray specifically for the school we'll be visiting in the morning (unfortunately I cannot remember the name and don't have our itinerary), that they'll be open to us and excited for our club. Pray that we will clearly communicate our message through our dancing and speaking.