6 months ago today, I saw my parents slowly disappear from view as I went down the escalator at Dulles Airport. I didn’t quite know how to feel as I stood in the security line. It’s certainly an odd sensation when you know you won’t see the people in your life most dear to you for 8 whole months.
Now, life is so idyllic here, that I don’t know how I’ll return to “common” life. Over the past two weeks, I’ve had so many fun experiences. Here are a couple highlights.
Last Sunday, Dori had a lovely vintage tea party at her home. Krystyn was there as well as several church friends. It was just a wonderful afternoon with (my first) champagne, great food and fellowship, games and more.
This past weekend was spent with my dear friend Fiona. On Friday night, we had dinner together. Then, Saturday morning, she, I and many of my Cornerstone friends gathered at the Guildhall (Derry’s City Hall) for Cornerstone’s annual women’s conference. This year, the theme was love. Judith Somerville, our pastor’s wife, and an American speaker, Jen DeWeerdt, led the four sessions of the day. In between the sessions, we had tea and scones and cakes baked by some talented cooks in the church. At lunch time, I, Fiona, and several friends went out to one of my favorite cafes – Molly’s. It was just a great day of solid Biblical teaching and grand times with friends.
That evening, Fiona and I drove west to Donegal to Falcarragh, the location of a mutual friend’s church and a lovely B&B owned by Fiona’s friend, Eileen. Fiona had wanted to stay at Eileen’s place for a long time, and we thought that we’d spend a wee weekend in Donegal and stay at the B&B.
The drive was fine until we hit Donegal, when the wind picked up and the rain was slashing down in torrents. Thankfully, we got to the “Lios An Easa” B&B safely, and waded across the flooded front yard into the warm house where Eileen greeted us with tea and biscuits.
After a nice long sleep, we woke up to SUN! Considering the horrible weather the night before, we were very afraid that the weather would be gloomy and rainy on Sunday, but we prayed for fine weather, and fine weather we got. Brilliant blue and sunny skies! Thank you, God 🙂
Both of the “Bs” in “B&B” were up to par. My goodness, Eileen went all out with the breakfast. There were 6 types of cold cereal, yoghurt, fruit salads and every good thing…homemade wheaten bread, toast, juices, coffee and finally an Ulster fry (an assortment of bacon, sausages, eggs, black pudding and white pudding)!
After breakfast, we headed out to Paddy de Lasa’s church. Paddy used to be the assistant pastor at Cornerstone, but felt led to start up a new church in Donegal. You may remember that in November, Fiona and I went to a young adult’s retreat in Creeslough (also Donegal) that Paddy ran. Anyway, he talked about relationships (our relationships with others, others’ relationships with us and our relationship with God). The sermon was really great, and I met several new friends afterwards.
Marie Durning, a friend of both Fiona’s and mine from Magee, also goes to that church, and it was nice to catch up with her. We then drove through the countryside to her beautiful home for lunch. Donegal is really quite lovely. We passed crystal lakes, rolling and rocky hills and green pastureland, then of course we hit the craggy coastline. Paddy calls it “God’s Country” for good reason.
After lunch, Marie’s little foster brother took us outside to show us his fine collection of hens. Marie lives on the side of a hill and from the hen coop, the view was breathtaking. Marie, Fiona and I then set out to see several beaches and forests. Ard’s Friary was our last stop. Set back from the road, there is an old Monastery with a gorgeous forested walk out to the rocky beach. The wind whipped around us as we stood on the crags, the sun smiled on us as we walked along the path and we just had a simply beautiful time.
Yet, the weekend didn’t stop there! We called on Nigel & Antonia Craig at the Ray Presbyterian Manse in Manorcunningham, Ireland. We had a lovely visit with them – they are such a sweet, warm-hearted couple! Nigel is the chaplain at Magee, and he also pastors two churches in Donegal. He met his wife, Antonia, a nurse, in Hungary on a missions trip years ago.
Finally, we ended out the night at an evening church service at Foyle Vineyard Church (which meets at Magee). It was quite the weekend to remember! I hated to see Fiona go, but I am going to go visit her in Belfast on March 20, so not too long!
Travel news for the next week: I am going to Frankfurt with a TJ friend, and then going on to Wurzburg over my St. Patrick’s Day holiday! I’m a bit down as I had intended to go to Venice after Frankfurt. However, I waited to long to purchase my ticket and the price doubled. Alas. Wurzburg must be the replacement, but it is just as lovely I’m sure (if not quite as iconic.)