Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reflection with the monks...

Last week myself and our 2 interns travelled to Rostrevor for an overnight retreat with the Benedictine Monks in Holy Cross Monastery. The purpose of this retreat was us to reflect back on the year that has passed and acknowledge all that we have learnt through this experience. I had heard much about this place from friends but had never been myself and did not really know what to expect! It was a fascinating experience and very beneficial. Silence plays a major role for the Benedictines but as Brother Thierry informed us it is always for the purpose of listening to God. Silence simply for the sake of silence is not healthy.

In silence the Benedictines believe we expose ourselves to 3 truths:
  1. The truth about who God is.
  2. The truth about others.
  3. The truth about ourselves.
The reason we constantly avoid silence in our daily lives and indeed often find it uncomfortable is because we fear these 3 truths in our lives.
It was 24 hours in arguably one of the most beautiful (as you can see from the pictures) and peaceful places in N. Ireland. I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to make some space to listen to God.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Romania Part 5...

Yesterday we spent the morning running a programme with the younger children in the orphanage. There were about 25 children there aged between 3 and 12. It was fantastic to see the smiles on their faces as they sang, listened to a story, made bracelets and played games. We found the children to be very affectionate- they would just throw their arms around you! I suppose this is understandable given that the staff there would never be able to give 50+ children the attention and affection they need. There were orphans there who are now young adults but still live there as they continue studying. It saddens me to think that some of the young children will probably still be living there in 15 years time. This experience was a tremendous challenge for the team as I had challenged everyone to try to enter into their suffering and imagine what it would be like to walk a mile in the shoes of an orphan in Romania. It was clear that none of us wanted to leave that place knowing the empty lives the children live. So today we are back on the bumpy road for 7 hours back to Budapest to fly back home tonight. This has been a remarkable journey shared with an incredible team of young people. This morning I have been reminded of the words of Eph 3:20 'to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.'

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Romania Part 4...

The last couple of days have been fantastic. The team have loved the kids club each morning and the children have had a fantastic time! This afternoon we were able to visit the orphanage again but communication problems meant that the younger children were in bed. All was not lost though as we were able to go to the river and play games with the older children. Tomorrow is our last full day and was scheduled to be a day off but the team have chosen to run a kids programme at the orphanage in the morning! This team continues to amaze me! One thing i will never forget is our evening team times and the power of people's stories of their journey with God. I am in no doubt that we have all been drawn closer to God in this place.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Romania part 3!

On Saturday we were helping to paint a church centre in Jibou. The team worked very hard and made great progress. In the afternoon we visited a local orphanage. This was tough for the whole team to see children as young as 3 without a home. We were told that most of the 57 children in the orphanage have families but they either dont want them or cant afford them. We hope to go back and spend more time with the children this week but have encountered some unexpected red tape today that means we may not be able to. Please pray this will be overcome as the team really want to go back there. On Sunday we went to church for 2 hours and 15 minutes! It included 3 sermons and was an endurance test for us all i think! We sang a couple of songs and some of the team were interviewed and shared a testimony. They were great! Today we did a childrens programme in a small village which was great fun. The team loved playing with the kids who all seemed to have a great time. It was incredible to see the lads in our team playing with the children without any of the inhibitions they might have at home! We will be back there again tomorrow! Sadly this afternoon, Tyrrell tripped and broke his toe and is now in plaster cast and on crutches. This has been a devastating for us all but Tyrrell has been in high spirits since and is determined not to let it effect the team mood! Please pray for him and us all! Cant believe both interns have broken legs in the last fortnight!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Romania Part 2...

Bush Camp was a great experience. The camp was located in a grass area surrounded by forest in the hills of Transylvania. It was beautiful! It was not meant to be a comfortable experience but a taste of real life for many Romanians. In 40degree heat with limited water, cooking over a fire and a pit latrine, Bush Camp definitely achieved its objective! One commodity we have definitely come to appreciate is a water. With the intense heat there is a shortage of water in rural areas as we have experienced in both Szelag Seg and Bush Camp.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Romania update 1...

This building is set to be a retreat centre for recovering alcoholics when finished. At home it would be built in less than 1 yeah and yet it was started 11 years ago. The sad thing is that i can see virtually no progress since last year. The building work is funded entirely by donations which are few and far between. This must be so frustrating and yet God has reminded me as he did last year of the importance of patience, perseverance and faithfulness. I have also been reminded that slow is not necessarily bad as it has meant that hundreds more people have been a part of this project and their lives impacted as a result! This team have blown me away by how hard they have worked and embraced every challenge that has come their way!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Off to Romania!

So Im off to Romania this morning with this wonderful group of young people! During our time away we will be involved in children's work and practical work. We will also engage in a 2 day bush camp experience! Please pray that this experience will be life changing for us all! I'll try to update this blog whilst away!