Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Had an amazing trip and one of the big highlights was experiencing a bit of Spanish culture by staying with Simon's family. Every Sunday his whole family (2 brothers and 1 sister) descend on the family home for a meal together. Simon's dad has been cooking his famous paella (see pic to left) every Sunday for the last 35 years and it tastes absolutely amazing! Not only that but it was a fantastic experience to sit around a table with a Spanish family and be part of their culture. Spanish families are still very close which i was surprised to hear. Sometimes we are arrogant enough to think that families in other countries couldn't be as close as our wee families in NI. Simon's family was one of the most friendly, hospitable, affectionate and loving families i have ever met and so it was a real joy to spend a bit of time with them - they all spoke good English too which helps cos my Spanish is about as good as my Chinese!
Outside of the Barca match we did a bit more sightseeing around the city. As Stefan and i had been to the city before, Simon took us to less touristed and more inaccessible areas outside the city. Barca is surrounded by a few hills and one of these hills called Tibidabo has a lovely old chapel on top of it (see pic to left). Simon knows of our religious interests and so he thought this particular place would be of interest to us. Not only did it offer some fantastic views over the city (see left) but there was a jewel to be found inside that i just blew me away. Inside this beautiful old building there was a room that tourists were not allowed into - it was a prayer room. After asking a few questions we found out that this was a room for 24/7 prayer. This immediately excited me and so i got Simon to ask the priest how long people had been praying 24/7 in this room for? I was completely taken aback when he replied 40 YEARS! That kinda blows our 3 day prayer crusades out of the water eh?!
Other place we seen were Sitges, a beautiful coastal town, the olympic village and the Dali museaum in Figueres (not sure what i think about Dali except that he was a crazy genuis)! All in all a great trip and Simon was a great host! We are already planning the return leg to Ireland before the end of the year!
A very funny story happened to me on my way home. Simon and Stefan dropped me off at the airport for my Ryan Scare flight home to Dublin (Stefan was flying to Manchester later that day). You know the bit after check-in when you go to departures and have to put your bag, coat and contents of your pockets through the x-ray machine and then walk through the metal detection. Well i beeped - and i never beep! So the guy told me take off my watch and belt which i duly did but lo and behold i beeped again! So this disgruntled Spanish guy then pulls out a hand held version of the metal detection machine and begins to wave it around my body starting from the top. Suddenly the machine starts beeping when he gets to the right pocket of the jacket i was wearing. As it dawns on me what is in that pocket my face quickly turns a shade of crimson. He signals to me to empty the pocket and imagine my embarrassment as out of my pocket i pull a condom! Now before you write me off completely as a lost cause, let me explain what had happened 10 minutes before this moment! Simon has a friend who works for Durex and so he has a bag in his boot filled with free condoms that he gives to his mates. As a bit of a joke, when i was leaving, my good friend Stefan discreetly placed one of these in my pocket without me realising. As i stood in the check-in queue i found it in my pocket but not being near a bin to dispose of it i returned it to the pocket with the intention of dealing with it in a few minutes - but of course i forgot all about it until i find myself emptying my pockets in front of this disgruntled Spanish bloke with no way of communicating to him that i have been set-up! Anyways, my embarrassment quickly subsided and i was able to have a good old chuckle about it all the way home!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I was a little anxious in the run up to the weekend. My main worries were that they would mess about and i would lose the rag with them, and that they would be completely bored and hate it! I was thinking about it a lot on Friday night and by Saturday morning i had a real peace about it and i was excited about what was going to happen! more than anything i just wanted this group of lads to have a night away that they would remember for years!
We left about 2pm on Saturday, loaded into 2 cars and arrived about 5pm. We went straight to Rossapenna beach and played a bit of frisbee and Nerf ball and then started collecting a bit of wood for a bonfire later that night. Then we headed back to the house, settled in and prepared dinner. Each week we have a different volunteer from the church who prepares dinner for our Alpha which is such a blessing. Sharing a meal together each week is such a great place for building relationships. So for the night away i had a couple of volunteers prepare two meals that could be easily reheated. After our feast we started into our Alpha discussion. Being honest with you, this group do not make discussion easy and in fact are not used to sitting round having a serious discussion. Each week we are lucky to get 5-10 minutes of good discussion. So i was expecting a similar pattern on Saturday evening. On the contrary, we launched into an hour long discussion covering questions like:
- Do you feel like you should be living your life differently?
- Do you know anyone who's life has been changed by God?
- Have you ever prayed? Have you ever seen God answer prayer?
- Have you ever read the Bible?
The rest of the night back in the house involved little or no sleep for some but the craic was good. Sunday was basically breakfast, tidy and clean up, back to beach for some 'ultimate nerf ball', lunch and then home! The guys all had a ball, so much so that they want to go next weekend to do it all over again! Here is a picture of the unforgettable Donegal 10!
Friday, February 16, 2007
This year’s retreat was held at
1. The programme as a whole was excellent and every aspect of it was delivered with excellence by our team of leaders. I had to take no responsibility for any of the games & entertainment stuff. A group of leaders (mostly students with time on their hands!) looked after that aspect and it was excellent. You can tell this by how much the young people enjoyed it.
2. The worship (provided by our young people) was of a very high standard. It was encouraging for me to see young people engage with worship and really enjoy it.
3. The teaching streams were all encouraging.
- Fusion (1st-3rd year) looked at a programme exploring the Fundamentals of faith e.g. sin and grace. This was led by 4 of our leaders and approximately 16 young people were part of this programme.
- The age group were split by gender. The girls programme was facilitated by
2 female leaders and explored the area of identity and self esteem – a major issue for young girls. 20 girls were part of this programme and feedback has been very positive with a lot of girls getting the opportunity to open up and share some of their experiences in the group.
- The boys programme was led by myself and another male leader and explored the issue of ‘Purity of heart’ (Matt 5:8). There were about 20 guys involved in this programme and our goal was to make it very discussion based – tackling less talked about issues that young guys struggle with in an open forum. This worked really well and feedback from some of the guys involved has been very positive.
4. One of the major encouragements about the weekend has been the leaders. I have been chatting to many of them since the weekend and they are all buzzing and excited about being involved in this ministry. Many have told me they can’t wait until Friday night again! For me this is so encouraging because as a group we can see progress and development with the young people – relationally and spiritually.
All in all it was a very encouraging weekend. I am excited that we can offer programmes to young people that are obviously meeting their needs. As I look to the future, it excited me as I can only see this area ministry growing!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
- No t'internet yet in new house. Will hopefully be online from 9th Feb so that should increase my blog frequency.
- General busyness at the moment! Got our youth weekend to prep for this week so it's been a bit hectic.
Anyways, this is really just a courtesy post to the impatient folk our there giving me abuse. please bear with me for just a little longer and i'll be a better blogger! I have this great idea for a blog series in the pipeline so please watch this space.
If you are a pray-er then please pray for me this weekend - i need wisdom.