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Newsletter March 2008

Irish_Sweep   Providence and Persistence

Ward and Marda Stothers will move to Belfast, Northern Ireland in mid April 2008 to do charitable work in the Greater Shankill community!  This is our story.

Providence: We are uniquely equipped to go now and in this way: Ward has mixed Irish heritage, and a pond of poetry; our Protestant surname; the last PCUSA intern was also an Asian American, the last intern went on her own, the Pastor wants assistance, the church leadership will welcome us, and the pastor's wife is an engineer.
Can we fit in?  We both grew up in very urban, working class neighborhoods.  We have our present life mostly wrapped up, and are ready to go through this open door with keys to keep connections including our website and newsletter.

Persistence:  Ward's conviction to serve the church in Ireland emerged when he started seminary in 2000 and honed his poetic gift.  We know missionaries in Galway and Cork. Although a little remote, our first inviting pastor was in Cork and we wanted to live there.  We were also attracted by the prosperity, diversity, and electricity of Dublin.  We saw country churches and imagined a pilgrimage of seekers wanting to recreate the way of Patrick.  Another new friend lived near Portaferry.  We attended an ecumenical conference in Belfast and saw it as a center of reformed theology for better or for worst.  God's persistence with us. This was the place all along, the Greater Shankill community, in urban Belfast, to come alongside and to encourage faith, to live beyond sectarian divisions with new words and new stories.

With serendipity: We believe in the Christian God and thus fate, coincidence, or luck are suspected concepts.  Before His creation scan,
the path to Ireland has been sure, even if circuitous, with "bread crumbs" along the way.  We eating crumbs know how humility spells.
With support: We are awed by the banquet of people interested in what we are doing.  Our first mailing was sent to tell of our plans and invite support, be it prayer, contact and counsel, or financial.  This is the first of many articles about the manifestation of our call to Ireland, to live and work with the Irish people and to enliven faith. This is a journey which we hope will inspire your journey wherever it goes. 
Let’s stay in touch. 

More serendipity: We had hoped to see friends and family before we left.  Two came onto BART a form of transportation we rarely use. One popped out of a car on the street to say hello, longtime friends found us in Hawaii.  We have come to the last page in our Getting to Ireland Journal, and of course the Irish Chimney Sweep parked next door as Marda happened to be outside waiting for a ride.  Why observe these crashings of the Cosmos?  They serve to show us that the universe is not random and God will continue to care for us in the particulars. Philippians 1:6

Stothers not Strothers: (a common mistake).  Our visas were approved for two years with assurances that we can get extensions.
Ward's visa came back with his name misspelled but it is corrected now!  We have two weeks to pack and sell cars.  When you get this mailing, College Avenue Presbyterian Church will have a commissioning service for us on April 13, 2008 at our 10:30 service. A day to breathe deeply, and then we go.  Thank you for partnering with us.

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