January 1-12th we had a group of eight students here from Central Christian College of the Bible. It was exciting to have our first group from our alma mater!
Arriving on the 1st, we learned was not the most exciting as everything is CLOSED for new years, but we still had them walk around, fighting jet-lag the whole time, and then played some games that evening at the church.
The next day we went down to Dublin. We went to the Chester-Beatty Library which has the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament. Stephen and I love going there to see them. It is fun to try to remember what I could from Greek Essentials Class and try to translate!
We had the group pass out 250 flyers in an "estate" (a sub-division) near the church. The flyer just welcomed all to the Presbyterian church, stated the service time, and advertised other events going on at the church during the week (Parent-Toddler group, Kid's Club, Youth Club). We are already reaping the benefits of this at the church because we have had two new kids coming to Kid's Club because of this flyer. Yay!
The group put on a program for our High-School aged kids. They had a bunch of games lined up, amazing race style, it was fun. They also prepared music and gave a talk. I think that they really enjoyed getting to know our group and the group seemed to enjoy the evening as well.
That Saturday Stephen had the idea of splitting the group up in pairs and sending them off with a family from our church for lunch. This worked out great as some families kept the students longer than what we anticipated. I think that they all enjoyed getting to know one another better and making fun of each time one of the Americans said "awesome". Some of the groups hung out at the families home and one group had the opportunity of visiting a castle. We are so thankful for our church family here for showing the students around and spending time with them. It is a lot more fun, I think, to stay with a family that is from here than just a couple of Americans who have lived here a year (us).
On Sunday we traveled out to Galway and stayed there until Wednesday. This was a great time for Stephen and I as well because we really hadn't stayed in Galway for such a long stretch. The most was a couple of days. It just gave us a better feeling of what living in the city might be like.
On Monday the group helped us out with demographic studies across the city. Stephen sectioned out areas that he wanted people to explore and we dropped them off in pairs in those areas. He told them to walk around that area and talk to people, see what kind of housing, businesses, schools are there. We are happy to have this information as we feel it will really help us in knowing where to live and to plant a church. The day we dropped them off to walk around it was a pretty wet, rainy, miserable day, but I was very thankful for the group as none of them complained about the rain.
On Tuesday we painted a sitting room and hallway for a family. Stephen had called one of the churches in the area and asked if there was anything that our group could do and this church suggested reaching out to this family. We came to paint, but the condition that the house was in, painting was not the biggest problem. You could tell that they tried to clean, but the house was filthy. We needed to wash the walls first, but there was no soap. We did the best we could. The family had left as soon as we got there and so we started in cleaning the walls (we just laid down the drop cloths over filthy floors), and then started painting. The family came back with tea and biscuits (cookies). They had bought it just for us. That really meant a lot as we could tell that they really appreciated us being there, even though I think that they felt awkward that a group of random Americans would come in and paint their house. Also, this was another time that Stephen and I were so proud of our group as everyone took the tea when it was given to them and drank it... even though you knew that the cups probably weren't as clean as they could have been. Anyway, after we had the walls in the sitting room painted, I couldn't bear the thought of putting the couch back over the filthy spots on the floor. They didn't have a broom in the house, so a couple of us went out to buy one as the rest of the group kept on working on the hallway. We came back and I was looking for the mop that I had seen when Stephen said "DON'T USE THAT MOP." He explained that a drain must have been plugged and the father had gone out and used the mop to plunge the drain. So, we went to buy a new mop (we couldn't sweep up the grime as it was stuck to the floor). We came back with the mop only to see the bucket that we were going to use being used already.... water was pouring from the ceiling into the bucket below. The water was coming from the bathroom upstairs. I just felt so bad because we were painting, but that is NOT what this house needed most. It needed a good cleaning and a plumber. Also, another sad thing was that the only room with a light-bulb in the house was the sitting room. The group was painting the other room in dark as there was no light. Luckily, we have a wind-up flashlight in our car, so we were also using that so that they could try to see. We got the floors cleaned up in the sitting room and in the kitchen. Stephen was able to share the gospel with the father, so that is the most important thing, and also I do think that it made a good impression on the family that people do care about them. Hopefully they will continue going to the church and come to Christ.
On Wednesday everyone finished up getting their souvenirs that they wanted and then we headed out to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher (otherwise famously known for their appearance in the Princess Bride as the Cliffs of Insanity). There was crazy fog coming in and covering the cliffs which ended up looking awesome in pictures.
We are so thankful to have the group here and for all that they did to help us out. Hopefully we can have more trips come from CCCB in the future.