So… there’s a snowstorm here in Ireland! It’s great because it makes me feel at home. But, also not great because the ENTIRE country has shut down! I believe this is the worst snowstorm to occur in Ireland in 36 years. Which is crazy, because I don’t think we’ve gotten even a foot of snow yet. However, the snow is still falling and Ireland doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with it like they do back home. I grew a new appreciation for the way Iowa tackles snow clearing and prepping for any snowfall with the treatment of roads and whatnot.
We were driving to a house where another NET team is staying (in Cork city) last night, and they live right next to a university, I started reminiscing about being back at Iowa State my sophomore year when classes were cancelled for a snowstorm. It was so much fun, because everyone on my floor in my dorm went out and we had a giant snowball fight on Central Campus. It was class (that’s Irish for awesome!). As we were driving to their house last night, there were college students everywhere playing in the snow, making snowmen, and just enjoying the rare weather. I didn’t try counting, but I’m pretty sure we saw at least 50 snowmen in every shape and size, and those were just the ones we saw, I’m sure there were more!
The last couple weeks have been pretty crazy. Last I wrote, I believe we were getting ready to leave Wales. That was quite the adventure! Our ferry was set to leave at 5ish in the morning, and so some of us were up all night driving/navigating to get there. However, one of the cars (Petunia, the Ford Galaxy), was having some issues getting started, keeping the battery charged, and just making a lot of noise. Well, we were about 20 minutes away and she decided to really break down- some sort of belt broke. So we had to quickly figure out a new plan and then get on our way. So we were driving as fast as we could to make our ferry, but didn’t quite get there in time to get on it. So we missed the ferry, and spent the next few hours figuring out a new plan and getting breakfast at McDonald’s.
We made it on the next ferry out, in the late morning, and made it to our host home in Dublin. We got the rest of the day off to recover and relax from the long night. After that, we headed over to Dunshaughlin to do a confirmation retreat with the Bohermeen NET team. I absolutely LOVE confirmation retreats. The activities we do for them are so much fun and they are “secret agent” themed- so we get to wear all black, have nicknames, and it’s actually super cool. After those couple days, we headed back to the Dublin area for a couple days of ministry prep and team time. We hiked Bray Head, which is a small mountain hike with a gorgeous view of the ocean. I really enjoyed the hike, it reminded me of last summer on the Camino and it made me miss it a lot.
After the couple days in Dublin, we went over to County Galway to stay at Esker Monastery- where we had the first two weeks of training. We were to do a retreat there, but it unfortunately got cancelled because they didn’t have enough students signed up. So we got a surprise day off, and ended up staying there for a few more days doing different things like ministry prep, having some time off, many of us took advantage of the required silence (because there was a silent retreat going on while we were staying there) to pray. The girls had some time to spend together just hanging out and goofing around, it was so much fun. I got to do some reading and finish a video I was working on that highlights our time in the Middle East. (If you would like to see the video, check it out here!)
From Esker, we went to County Cork, staying in a town called Mitchelstown. I got to stay on a dairy farm with a wonderful lady. There we did two half-day retreats for two days. I was at an all girls school, and I had so much fun with them. They were amazing and excited and I wish we could have been there for longer. Half of the team were at an all boys school on the first day. The second day got kinda crazy with people getting sick, so our team was only at the girls’ school, while the other half of the team was away sick.
For now, I am in Cork until tomorrow with two other guys, and then we will join the rest of the team in Rossnowlagh for the rest of the weekend. I will have access to internet, so if anyone wants to FaceTime or Skype, please reach out!