Saturday, May 31, 2014

Memorable Quotes from the trip :)

So we are all back from Ireland safe and sound and I was meant to post this a few days ago...but better late than never :)
I was asked to write up the last blog because I wrote down a lot of the memorable quotes that we said on the trip. Here are just a few.

"Just put some sugar on it" Brandon's motto of the week
"Hey Micah, I just want to let you know that Jesus worked in my heart last night and I'm about 25% of the way to forgiving you" Emily Ledford
"I just want to rub my face on it" Lucy 
"We have to do the quotes naturally or it won't work...if we are just going to sit around and do quotes all night then I can be Thomas Jefferson" Brandon
"Dang! Fingers are so cool!" Micah
"I'm gonna egg you" Kat to Micah
"I can't figure it out" Kat... "Its a door its pretty complex" Kenny
"If you opened up that cat, there would be enough food to end world hunger" Matt
"Let me give you a pearl of wisdom...Oh wait let me think of one" Kenny
"8:45 ish? It was more like ish ish ish." Sarah to Micah when he was late.
"We went from being the walking dead to the glee club" Brandon
"Snikey...its snarky and nike together" Jon
"It's a very polite fire alarm. It will say, 'There is a fire. Please leave. I will hold the door for you'" Matt
"We can't go anywhere without hearing about C.S. Lewis" Brandon
"My ears still hurt from the concert" Emily L... "My face still hurts from an extra 30 minutes exposed to high winds" Matt
"That door goes outside?" Micah..."And it goes back inside too" Brandon..."I cant believe it!" Micah.
"I should have been in a boy band" Lucy
"Wait...I'm getting a signal" Emily R. 

On a more serious note, this was an experience that I will never forget and I miss Ireland and all the people we met so much already. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible :)
We really appreciate it!

Emily Royster

Monday, May 26, 2014

Days 10 & 11... ish.

Here is a brief overview of our last couple of days. Sunday morning we came to the church in Belfast and led the service. We all split up for lunch, then headed back to Mt. Zion for their evening service and youth conference. Afterward we all said our goodbyes to everyone at Mt. Zion, which was, well... very sad. It's amazing how much you can love people after only a few days. I cried. A lot. 

Anyways, then we came back to Belfast and went to sleep. This morning we didn't have anywhere to be until 1:30 in the afternoon! We got to sleep in! It was a miracle! We went to the mall and played some music, then came back and went door to door in the neighborhood around the Belfast church telling people about the event we're having Wednesday night. 

To finish off our night we all hung out in the girls' room and watched a movie on Netflix. The internet is an amazing thing! Now we're off to bed to get rested up for tomorrow! 

Love and blessings, 
~ Kat

P.S. Be sure to check our youtube channel, auhalfpeeledorange, for some entertainment! 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 9

The blog is back up and running!! There should be longer recaps on the last two days later, but in summary of events: We went to Laurelhill school and played, we (mainly Lucy) taught some drama classes and did a pretty good job at it, we went to an awesome Matt Maher and Matt Redman concert, there was coffee spilled on a laptop, everybody left me behind at Giant's Causeway, and we made some great friends at the Transformation Center. Now onto Day 9.
Today, we had a true, home-cooked Irish breakfast and discovered that there is no such thing as a bad meal prepared by the church cooks, Phyllis and Ruth. Everything was delicious and it was a great way to start the day. Afterwards, we gave a worship seminar to members of Mount Zion Community Church, as well as others who decided to tag along. Jon gave a great message about how Christ treated his body, and that the church, being the body, should treat itself the same way. After that we broke off into separate small groups, and since there were no drummers I just kind of waited around. I still ended up teaching Emily Royster and Kat a little bit of basic drumming technique. The afternoon was filled with set up and practice for the first night of the Youth Conference. While there were some difficulties, Sarah went into pro audio mode and figured it out. The night was filled with wonderful worship. Seeing the church praise God in complete abandon was absolutely amazing. Pastor Nick Serb also gave a wonderful sermon about standing firm in Christ. He talked about how our roots need to be planted in God's word, and our desires need to be after God, not worldly possessions. It is only then that we can stand true in God. It was a very impactful sermon and will definitely be one that sticks with me. I also got to pray over a friend we made here, Jonny. It was truly a great day of service to the Lord and I loved every minute of it!
-Matt Harling

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 6!

            Well Hiya from Ireland! What a wonderful place we have been in for the past 6 days! God has been blessing us so much here. You would think traveling across the big blue you wouldn’t feel at home, but these people welcomed us with open arms. They accepted us right away as part of their family. We started in Galway and we have now made it to Lisburn where we have been for the past couple days. Let me just point out that the people of Mt. Zion Community church are some God loving people. We see it everyday we are with them, they love God and they want to do everything they can to spread His love. Like today, they really want to start getting involved in the schools, so they took us to one of their local middle and high schools and we got to lead some songs and share testimonies in 3 classrooms plus a lunch session. The kids there were so attentive to what we were saying to them, it was an amazing experience. Most kids here in Ireland do not grow up in Christian homes, so it was such a blessing to be in their school planting the seed that Christ loves them too. They may not get it in one day but I pray what they heard today they would remember. Being here has humbled me in many ways, I was so lucky to have grown up in a Christian home knowing from the start that God loves me and he always will because here in Ireland the kids may never hear that. Which knowing this just brings tears to my eyes. If I could, I would go up to all the people here and tell them about Gods love, no one should have to live without that. We as Christians need to realize that God gave us a job and that is to spread his love to all nations. It’s time to step up!
             When we got to Lisburn I just felt like God was telling me I need to be reading the book of Ezekiel while we were here and the part that I feel lead to share with you is in chapter 3. God is sending his warning to Israel through Ezekiel and he tells him this
   17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house if Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked man, ’You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

            We as Christians are here for a purpose and in our everyday lives we need to be living like Christ and spreading God’s love. You don’t have to cross oceans to do it either, try starting with your neighbor. God is coming back and soon, the least I can do his spread his love till that day comes!
            All right enough with the heavy stuff J This trip has been an experience of a lifetime! There has been so much laughter and fun! I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to come with (love you guys)! I’m so glad we get to be God’s Kingdom Workers here in Ireland!

                                                                                                            Lots of Love,

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 5 - Lisburn (Kat)

Well I was chosen by default to write the blog post tonight, so... sorry, but you'll have to hear from me again.

Last night we all went to our host homes and got settled in. Those of us who have wifi also spent some time arguing via facebook messaging who has the better host home (it's me) and discussing the perils in comparison to the benefits of alone time, since half of us are introverted and the other half are extroverted. And even though I'm an extreme introvert, I still miss everyone. It's weird to go from being all together in the same hotel to being miles apart in different houses. But the host home experience is so lovely (some Irish vocabulary there) that it makes it worth it.

This morning we all ate breakfast at our host homes and then met at the café (Higher Ground) for morning devotionals. Micah talked to us about relying on God and having faith, which was exactly what we all needed to hear this morning, and then Brandon closed us in prayer. Afterward we compared host home experiences, and the general census showed that we all pretty much had cereal and toast for breakfast, and all of our host families offered us tea and/or coffee at least twice in the few hours we've been in their homes. I think I've had more coffee in the past few days than I've had in the past few years combined!

After hanging out at the coffee shop for a while, we went to the Parliament Buildings (which is actually only one building) in Lisburn and had a tour of the big board room things... I was really tired and kept falling asleep, so I didn't retain much information except that the building was pretty. And I took pictures. The tour guide did call me out on falling asleep, though, and I felt really bad. I guess I should start going to bed earlier instead of writing blog posts. (:

After the visit to Parliament we went back to the coffee shop and had sandwiches and crisps for lunch, which was great. We hung out for a while again and then headed out to the city center to play some music and hopefully start some conversations with people. We had one guy come and try to give us coins, so Pastor Nick got to explain to him why we were out there playing. We also had this really fun guy stop and play his tin whistle in "harmony" to Emily's violin... except his whistle was in the key of D and Emily was playing more in C (which, for those of you who are musically illiterate - like my mother - means they didn't sound good together). So then they played in the key of D and he explained that he taught himself to play when he came out of a coma and "had nothing better to do." Over all we had a lot of fun.

Then we went to the church hall for some wonderful home-cooked pizza and chocolate cake. The cooks here are seriously the best. They deserve a medal or a trophy or something, for real.

After dinner we went to another Free Methodist church in Bangor and led worship for their evening service. It was really great to meet more followers of Jesus and just worship together. God has really laid on our hearts this week the concept of unity within the church and being the family of God, and that is so evident in the way we all just get to love on each other and be a family, even after just meeting. People keep telling us we are anointed for this ministry, and while I'm not entirely sure what that means, I know it's a good thing, and I'm excited to see how our being rooted in Jesus will bear fruit. At the church in Bangor we played a few songs to start us off in worship, which seemed to go really well. Then Lucy and I shared a little bit of our testimonies. After that we played Manifesto - probably my favorite of the songs we brought with us on this trip. Then Jon talked about Jesus healing the blind man, and we closed with 10,000 Reasons. The congregation then prayed for us and for our ministry this week, and then they sang us a very lovely song with harmony and everything, essentially saying "go in peace." It was so great to be with them in their church and to see more church culture.

We stopped at McDonald's, which is actually quite proper here compared to American fast food standards, and then got dropped off at our host homes for the night. Tomorrow we'll meet at the coffee shop again for devotionals led by Dave (Emily Ledford's new name, thanks to Kenny) to start off another great day!

Love and blessings,
~ Kat

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 4 - Belfast and Lisburn

Well, today was another long day of travel. After a two-hour drive to Dublin and then another two-hour drive north, we finally arrived at Belfast. In Belfast, we met up with Asbury graduate Becca Richards, who rushed us through the city in order to arrive at her church, CFC. We went to CFC to not only see Becca's church, but also to meet Robin Mark. Robin is a Christian songwriter from the 80s and 90s. One of his most well-known songs is "Days of Elijah." We sat down with Robin for a little over an hour and discussed songwriting as well as Irish history with the church. Afterwards, we were picked up by Derek, Nick, and Kenny. From about the time we entered the car until the end of night we could not stop laughing. We found out very quickly that the members of this church had a certain kind of wit that was similar to our own. After the thirty minute drive to the church, we were welcomed with a delicious home-cooked meal of bacon-wrapped chicken, corn, broccoli, and potatoes. It was the best meal we have had this whole trip, hands down. Following the meal, we sat down with the guys who picked us up, as well as a lady named Magda and a few of the youth. During this time, we got to grow closer as a group, not only discussing why we made the trip but also telling a bit of our past. I was the first to be asked about why I made the trip. I discussed about how I felt that our mission as a group was sort of like Paul's letters to the church in the New Testament. We are here to edify the church and to help them grow as they find new ways to reach the community, especially the youth. Having met some of the members today, I still definitely believe this is our mission. Our common band as people is we serve a God of love and truth, and with this in mind we will work together in order to build into each other. The biggest thing I have noticed with this church is the love they have for us. They've only just met us today, but instead of an awkward first meeting, it felt like a family reunion. I've felt that if I take that same common bond into any first time meeting, it will make it all the better. The God that we serve has given us a love that knows no borders, no divisions, and no nationality. It does not matter who you are, God's love defines us all, and the quicker we recognize that, the quicker we can simply welcome each other with open arms.

-Matt Harling

Day 3 - Kat

Well today is actually day four, but yesterday was day three. (: 

Yesterday morning we woke up waaayyyyyyy too early (at least by my standards) and got "lifts" to church. We set up all of our instruments and ran sound check before leading worship, which started at 10. When we started playing Manifesto, there were probably 20 people in the room, and by the time we had finished our worship set there were at least 100! It seems to me that Ireland time is a whole lot like Jon time... Always about 15 minutes later than previously stated. Oh! And it was the most culturally diverse church ever! We counted at least 12 different countries represented. And in just one congregation! 

After the church service we helped tear down the stage and equipment, since the church actually meets in a hotel. They recently bought a new building, but they haven't moved in yet. Anyways, after we helped tear down, we led a workshop on worship team stuff. I led the human knot game and Emily R did the debriefing, which was followed by a talk on a few principles of worship led by Jon. After about 45 minutes we split up into smaller groups. Sarah led a talk on vision for technology in their new church building, Jon led a worship leaders' talk, Emily L and Lucy hung out with the singers, and Micah and I talked to a few musicians about keyboarding. It seems like the seminars were all really productive! 

Yesterday was such a beautiful day that we just had to go to Salt Hill and visit the beach... And it was marvelous. Absolutely amazing. You should definitely check out our pictures on Facebook. 

After the beach we went back to the hotel to wind down for a few minutes... And by "wind down" I mean that everyone else rested while Micah did handstands on the bed. Around 9 we went out for ice cream and then went pub-hopping in search of some traditional Irish music. We heard a Ho Hey cover, a little bit of trad, some jazz, and finished the night with Kenzie3, a cover band who said we could request "any song ever. Except Free Bird." 

At the end of the night we said our official goodbyes, and it was so sad! It's crazy how much you can love people after only being with them for a few days. 

Now we're on a bus to Belfast, where we'll begin the second adventure of our Irish journey! 

Love and blessings,