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Newsletter July 2010

Window in the Wall  

We've changed our minds about small cities

Ward grew up in the Bronx.  Marda grew up in Los Angeles, really in Los Angeles.  We raised our children in the urban San Francisco Bay area.  However a small city has captured our hearts.

A fortnight and it will be 5 August.  Our intentions are to fly to New York and then on to San Francisco for a wedding on the Russian River and back home to Belfast to buy another car, pack house, and move.  Lots need be done to accomplish all this, but we rest in the Lord.  He is our strength.  We could not cope without God and without the people who we love and love us.

Larry and Mary Ann came and before them, Steve and

Shirley.  They came separately but we six friends met up at Newgrange.  The next visitors were Ken and Beth who treated us to a night at the 5 star Culloden.  Every visit and visitor is different despite our intention of showing them our life which is the same: volunteer work in the greater Shankill Road, coming alongside the people, impacting the community, and enlivening faith.  Belfast castle, Crown Saloon, Wickerman, Spacecraft, Ulster Museum, Queens University, Cathedral Quarter, Victoria Square, City Hall, Avoca, Church House, and St Georges market, along with day trips to the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce castle, Carrickfergus castle, Derry/Londonderry, Downhill hostel, demense, and beach, Bushmills, or the American Folk Park.  Just a list, if you haven’t been; but rich memories if you have. 

These are the places but the significance is experiences.  Like the meeting Ken and Beth had with Ed Peterson and Father Reynolds wherein we heard that 15-20,000 people came to Clonard Monastery the previous week to pray every day for nine days.  When we heard that they want transformation so that Belfast is not known for the troubles but known as a place where people love God and love each other.  Perhaps the Catholics will bring the revival that the Christian faithful here are seeking.

Like our experience with Ethel White wherein she is intrigued that we love to show people around NI, bring them around to meet people, and pleased when they support our economy.  She shows us new places to show people.  She has shown us the handkerchief tree in Rowallane Garden which Steve and Shirley saw, the Bay Tree for desserts, and the Mossley Mill for theatre, and this week the tea room at Cameron Garden shop and the Giant’s Ring dated from 2700BC.  She is a special lady, an agronomist, who has volunteered to go to China to consult on crops.  She also has a slew of interesting friends.

We take everyone to Downhill hostel.  Turns out Larry grew up within a mile of where proprietor McCall lived in Edmonds, WA.  Keith Ashe toured Larry and Mary Ann around the Ards peninsula and found a wee restaurant in Greyabbey.  When we couldn’t find a restaurant on July 11th for Ward’s 65th birthday, the Wildfowler accommodated us. 

Everyone knows everyone.  Ward opens the door and Marda hears him talking to the man who is cleaning out the storm drains.  She assumed it is one of the neighbors but it turns out to be a man who plays bowls with the group at the church and who is the brother of one of our church committee members.  Ken and Beth met someone who knows her relatives in Armagh on their first night out.  Mercia knows McCall and Ethel knows Maria.  Relationships are being woven.

Northern Ireland has very low crime. 21 homicides in a year.  Goes back to everyone knows everyone.  Northern Ireland has 1,700,000 people on land that is 100 by 100 miles.  Northern Ireland shares the island with the Republic of Ireland, for a total of 5.6 million people.  Belfast has a population of 275,000 but it is the capital of a country so it seems bigger. 

logo for Belfast Derry/Londonderry was recently selected as the inaugural UK City of Culture for 2013, and the Ulster Museum won the coveted UK art fund prize.  We labor for Belfast to: Be Inspired, Be Blessed.  May Belfast be known as the birthplace of CS Lewis and that the airport be named the CS Lewis International Airport.  That the Christian faith would transform the way we treat one another.  This is not too much if we inspire the few relations who influence the rest.

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

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