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Newsletter October 2010

227 with car  

Sometimes we must rest… God’s plans not our plans

When we returned to Belfast last month, Brace and Phyllis had been travelling in Ireland for a week and were making their way from Dublin clockwise to Belfast.  They drove in on Tuesday and went with Ward to our Presbyterian Women’s meeting (PW) to hear the local Salvation Army choir. On Monday, Marda interviewed for a free program for people in the creative industries.  On Tuesday, the business enterprise class of Creativity Thirst started.  After her class, she walked over to the church, and they were having tea, wheaten with cheese, and traybakes, a fitting welcome for our visiting friends.

Church members offered a dining set and a suite of living room seating.  The second floor office and “prayer room” were L’Arche’s to use and empty, and our third floor bedroom and guestroom were still in plastic bags and

moving boxes waiting for shelves and cabinets.  Brace and Phyl both told us that they didn’t need to do any more touring but we felt guilty going to Ikea and assembling a cabinet with them, but the dishes got unpacked, and we talked a lot.  Phyl washed out the fridge and pulled weeds too.  They met the Drennans, got a walking tour of downtown and City Hall, and a windshield tour of the Shankill and Falls neighborhoods.  We delighted to find Sun Kee Restaurant, with a delicious lamb stew Chinese style that was new to all of us.

Marda was beginning to despair that we would find a suitable car. - Well!  That Tuesday night after the PW program, as we were leaving, Keith says “There’s your car!”  “Oh I need an automatic”  He walks me around it.  There across the back window, a big sign AUTOMATIC and across the windshield a sign that said FOR SALE parked right in front of the church doors.  It took four tries to contact the seller but by Friday we had a car, cheaper and better than our last one.  The day after Brace and Phyl left with their rental car.

Two weeks later Jon came.  Jon has published The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia and wanted to see the places associated with C.S. Lewis.  Our friend Jack Lamb showed us the sites in East Belfast, and a friend of a friend, showed us the vistas on the North Coast from Ballycastle to Downhill, where Lewis spent his childhood summers.  The Irish influence on Lewis was huge and all three branches of the Christian church honor him as the greatest Christian apologist of the twentieth century.
We three attended a planning meeting for CU@the.  Jack McKee is dismayed by the rate of suicides in Northern Ireland (more than 10 times the homicide rate) and particularly was struck by three in the last month in our community.  He noted there were two funerals one day at opposite ends of the street his church is on.  One at St Peter’s RC cathedral and the other up Agnes Street in the Shankill community, two 18 year old boys hung themselves.  His plan is to show the community that the churches care and if we say we have the answer to life then we must care enough to help people.  We applaud his stand and hope to raise the issue of hope within our own church by joining a prayer walk a few days before his noon event.

Our energy is returning.  Car is bought, insured, and taxed.  Furniture brought in.  Clothes washer is replaced.  Electricity is topped up after running out.  Gas is topped up after running out.  Thermostat, clock, and scale batteries died and have been replaced.  Cabinet and bookshelves are bought and assembled.  Clothes line is hung.  My new Blackberry 8520 reduces my cell phone bill from $70/mo to £10/mo. 

We attended two “openings” of MOMA (Murals on Museum Activity) at the Ulster Museum wherein Ward read his poem “Day” and Marda displayed digitized images created in the Spring as part of three community groups envisioning the future of Belfast.  The “past that lies before us” was a line from J. P. Lederach, and Marda shared publically the lesson she learned from Brother Finian that you should only say words that inform the future you want.  Our combined images were projected on the outside walls of the museum and are included in a travelling show. 

We are laying the groundwork for a new chapter to our journey in Northern Ireland.  We will soon decide whether to continue another few years and return home to obtain visas or consider our work complete and return home to stay.  Influencing criteria will be health, financial support and evidence of a continuing influence.

Email: wardstothers@cten.org
Phone: (028) 90 291986  From U.S. 01144.2890.291986

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