Monday, September 25, 2006

Belfast Festival...

Ok folks i got a programme for Belfast Festival (19 Oct-4 Nov) a couple of weeks ago and i thought yeah i really must go to some stuff this year cos ive never been to any of the festival before. If you haven't got a programme then do not fret, all the stuff is in the website - click here. There's something for everyone there including music (of every genre), theatre, dance, visual arts, talks, cabaret, comedy and cinema! Here's a few things i have picked out that I'm going to try and get along to:
  • 19 Oct - Crackers. Outdoor display of fire and fireworks in Botanic park to open the Festival. It's FREE so you can't beat that!
  • 22 Oct - Buena Vista Social Club plying some of the finest Cuban music ever made. Sounds interesting to me! Cost £17.50
  • 30 Oct - Declan O'Rourke with Final Fantasy. 'It's the simplicity of great songs coupled with a unique voice that has the ability to reach into your heart and tear it apart.' I haven't heard of Declan before but have since listened to a few of his songs on myspace music (look for his link on the left) and have been impressed. Click here to see a live video of him performing a beautiful song called 'No place to Hide'. Cost £8 (bargain).
  • 4 Nov - Iain Archer & Courtney Tidwell. I would like to go to this as i like Iain Archer but alas this date doesn't suit me - worth checkin out if you have a spare £8 lying around! Click here to listen to some of his songs.
  • 1 Nov - The History Boys. Sounds like an entertaining production - check it out.
  • 2 Nov - Andrew Maxwell. A local boy renound for telling a good story! Cost £11.50
  • 4 Nov - Moazzam Begg (Amnesty International). A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanomo and Back. Sounds like an interesting life story. Cost £5.
So there you go, a few ideas for nights out in Oct/Nov and there's lots more on offer too and most of it at a reasnoble price i think! So if anyone would like to join me for any of this stuff then let me know as i'll probably try to book some tickets this week!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The week that was...

Lots of stuff happened this week and i just didn't get time to blog it so here goes! I feel i have made real developments in my relationships with the young people who hang around the church car park. I had the opportunity to bring 2 of them along to meet with a few members of the church committee to address some of the concerns the committee have around litter, alcohol, noise and minor vandalism. This was a very positive meeting as the young people really listened to what the committee members had to say and responded very maturely. Negotiations took place and i really felt that both sides understood eachother better. On the back of this the church now have a greater realisation of the needs of these young people and are keen to pursue the idea of getting a centre open to meet the needs of young people in the village.

In June i put together a proposal and budget for such a centre and sent it off to a variety of Trust Funds and grants. Just this week i have received confirmation that two of those applications have been successful which is really encouraging.

It has been one of those weeks were i have just felt like things are starting to click into place. I've been in this job now for almost 5 months which really isn't that long as far as 'relationships' are concerned but yet i really feel settled. I have been accepted by the young people from the car park, they seem to enjoy having me around. Two of them had birthdays this week and they have begged me to come to the Bannville with them tonight to celebrate (i declined!)! The young people from the church are an amazing group that i just love spending time with. An incredibly gifted bunch of young people who are hungry to know more about God. They make me laugh too which is just great!

We had our first night of Fusion & 20:20 last night. I was pretty nervous and a bit stressed out cos i had been running around all week getting stuff sorted for it. Both went amazingly well - at least i think so anyway! We had about 15 young people for Fusion and they all seemed to enjoy themselves! There were a few regulars missing so hopefully those numbers will be over 20 in the next few weeks! We have about 5 leaders for Fusion and everyone had something to do and did a fantastic job! I think we had about 30 young people for 20:20 (again with a few regulars missing!) which was really encouraging! The worship was led by 'Witness' (an in-house band). It was the first time i had heard them and they blew me away with their gifts in music and worship leading. Then i introduced the vision of 20:20 using the vision in Ezekiel 37:1-14, and led on to talk about our theme for this term which is Spiritual Disciplines. I'm really excited about developing our young people's ability to engage with God in a very personal way, allowing them to grow in spiritual maturity. So by the end of the night i was pretty hyper to be honest and i can't wait until next Friday night!

So you can see what i mean when i say 'i feel like things are starting to click into place'. It helps me to know that God is with me and that i am in the right place and that i am doing the right things. I am happy! On that note i must go and wash my car!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tiger Trophy trauma...

Ok so the Tiger Trophy was held last night. For those of you who are not aware, the Tiger Trophy is held every month-6 weeks with 3 friends of mine for Uni. A different person hosts the tournament each time and we generally eat pizza first and then play a league of Pro Evo Soccer 5 on the PS2. Last night i was feeling fairly confident for no particular reason at all! However i put in an absolutley shocking performance and failed to win a match all evening. As such i finished last! Unfortunatley Nigel took the trophy home which is really quite embarrassing because he isn't that good and i usually beat him!

You see i find myself at a significant disadvantage to the other competitors as i do not own a PS2 or X-Box and so therefore cannot put in the required 'training' between tournaments. The rest of the guys are practising all the time so it's little wonder i'm taken advantage of! Anyways, there's always the next time!

Check out the photo and do take note of the t-shirt and the coveted trophy!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Baptism & Beach BBQ's...

I was over in Glasgow at the weekend for my nephew Daniel's Baptism. I hadn't seen him since the end of June and he has grown soooo much (as you can see in the picture!). He's 10 months old now and so full of fun and smiles. It really will be no time until he's running round the place, then the craic will really start! I love spending time with him though because he makes everyone happy, especially Mum and Dad - they just seem to come alive when they are with him and none of the rest of us even get a chance to hold him!!!

The baptism all went off well and Daniel was a model child of course! All in all a great weekend but i was pretty wrecked by the time i got home last night! To be honest i think i still haven't recovered from my travel tiredness!

Also have to say we had a great night on Friday! Youth in church started back and we headed for a beach BBQ at Murlough. We had about 45 young people there aged from 11-18 and quite a few new faces too which was great. The food was good (big thanks to Pete and a few others) and then we lit a bit of a bonfire and shared a bit of a moment together! Feedback has been pretty good so i think people enjoyed themselves! So hopefully everyone (and even more!) will come along this Friday night as we start into out programme for this term in Fusion (aged 11-14) and 20:20 (aged 15-uni).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Was down at Oxford Island again this morning for the first time since before the summer, it was really good for me. This morning i had read the following and it had stuck in my mind so it was good to reflect on it as i walked:
'Rejoice. Change your ways. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.' 2 Cor 13:11
The word rejoice got me thinking about JOY and can i really say that i am full of JOY? I think my happiness and joy is generally dependent on external factors but that isn't God's JOY, which comes from deep within and in spite of externalities. I know that if i want to be there and experience the 'God of love and peace' with me then i need to invest more time in our relationship. I've always struggled with reading the Bible regularly and i know im not alone on this one. They (don't ask me who 'they' are) say that it takes 6 weeks to develop a new habit, so I'm committing myself to the One Year Bible blog for the next 6 weeks. I'll keep you updated on my progress!

I spent some time tonight with a friend who completely inspires and challenges me with their lifestyle of unconditional love and self-sacrifice for a broken community. I feel like something broken in my own heart gets restored when i spend time with them. It's good to have friends like that.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mine eyes have seen the glory of Windsor 2006...

So i arrived home yesterday from Bangkok after almost 24 hours of travelling and very little rest. It's nice to be back in Waringstown, not much really changes although the Road Service has obviously been busy and the village now has parking lay-bys and boasts more islands than Greece!

A few months ago my friend and i went into the Lottery for tickets for N. Ireland's home qualifiers for Euro 2008 and were lucky enough to get 2 seats. I'd never been to a N.I. game before so last night i was looking forward to the match with Spain but given the 3-0 defeat to Iceland at the weekend i wasn't too hopeful. Oh my goodness, how wrong was i.

This was one of those defining moments in life people will talk about. 'Where were you the night N. Ireland defeated Spain 3-2?' will be the question. I can't believe that i am one of the 14,500 who can say - 'I was there!'

I have been to Old Trafford to watch United play 5 times but i can honestly say that last night was the best match i have ever been to in my life! N. Ireland came from behind twice and then with only 5 minutes to go, scored the winner. Healy with his hat-trick performance truely is a local legend on the scale of Best now.

I can hardly speak today, not because of the emotion of the experience, although it was emotive but because my throat hurts. I don't think i stopped singing all night. N. Ireland fans surely are the best in the world and the chorus's of 'We're not Brazil, we're Northern Ireland', 'We're not very good', 'Healy, Healy, Healy', 'Let's all do the bouncy' and 'Are you England in disguise?' rang out with enormous volume from start to finish. When Healy's 3rd goal went in i don't know if i have ever experienced such corporate euphoria and celebration ever in my life! I hugged and danced with grown men i have never met before but yet it was completely rational in the context! I'm sure the celebrations continued long into the night and with good reason!

What a night, what a game, what a team. Give's us all something to sing about our wee country! Now all that remains for me is to e-mail my Spanish friend Simon in Barcelona! Back to work today - ahhhh!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Latest adventures...

Ok where do i start! Lots has happened in the last few days! Our flight was leaving Ko Samui island at 6am on Friday morning so rather that pay the mere 5pounds accommodation for the night we though we would just kip at the airport! So we arrive with all our bags at Samui airport just after midnight to be told the airport closes during the night and won't open until 5am! I mean what sorta airport shuts at night - although if you have been to Samui airport you might understand why - its basically a series of small bamboo huts with no walls! Its like being at a tropical island resort! Anyways, resourceful as we are, we decided to just hang around across the street so we found this market stall and just slept in it (see pic on left)! Not a great nights sleep had!

So on Friday we made our way to Sangklaburi to visit our friend Laura there. She teaches English to a group of fourteen students. Sangklaburi is a small town but 80% of its inhabitants are Burmese (Myanmar) and they have fled to Thailand because of the problems in their country. As such you get a real Burmese flavour to the area. The students Laura teaches are from the Mon tribe in Burma and all have their own colourful life stories to tell as you can imagine. Laura lives in community with her students - sharing meals and living space. She has been there for 3 months now and plans to spend another 6 months there. Laura has her own blog where she jouranls her experiences with a fantastic writing style - click here to check it out. Picture shows us sharing Mon food with Laura and her students. Following this we discovered how much the Thai and Burmese people love Westlife and Westlife karaoke - it was a sereal moment!

This was an amazing experience for us as we got to talk with real Thai and Burmese people and experience something of their culture and struggles. I'm so glad we had these couple of days were we could get off the beaten track and see no other tourists!

Whilst there we got invited to a Buddhist Monks birthday party at the temple - what a privilege - i mean this opportunity does not often present itself eh?! The pic on the left shows is the birthday boy in question! The party really just involved a sharing of food with a lot of people from the community. Then they had a time of prayer that we were able to observe also.

Yesterday we hired out 2 motorbikes and went touring around visiting some of the Mon villages. I've never been to anywhere were i have seen such poverty but at the same time the people there are very happy, they have their own little houses and they are healthy and seem to have their basic needs met - they all had running water, electric, televisions etc. We were also able to visit a Christian Childrens Home which mostly caters for orphans or children with HIV/Aids. The children were at church when we were there though so sadly we didn't get to spend time with them. We moved on to visit a similar centre for adults who have HIV/Aids, or disabilities or mental health problems. This was also interesting and the residents there weved their own products to sell so we were able to buy some stuff. The pic on the left is me beside the Burma border (we weren't allowed to cross it).

By far the funniest thing of the trip happened yesterday! Stefan was raking his motorbike in this little dirt area beside some market stalls. So i thought i'd take a picture and I'm not sure quite what happened but he was giving it full throttle and heading straight for me with the intention of braking. However i think he forgot how to brake or else he tried to brake whilst still giving it full throttle. Anyways, basically he fell off just as i was taking a picture so i managed to capture the perfect moment. I'm not joking folks, it was hilarious! Stefan came away with a few cuts and bruises but by far the worst to suffer was his pride! The bike was only a little bit damaged luckily enough and we got it fixed ok! Anyone who can remember any of the stories from last years trip will remember he did something pretty similar with a boat!

So all in all, it was a fantastic couple of days, defintely a highlight of the trip. we have just arrived in Bangkok today for 2 days. We leave here on Tuesday and arrive home on Wednesday morning and there will end the travelling for another year (well a few months anyway!).