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Newsletter May 2011

St Mary Tree Down  

Three weeks! We have health cards and car insurance

Three weeks back! We have auto insurance and have driven the car but no further than the three miles to retrieve it from the auto mechanic. Petrol is very dear (expensive); twice the cost as in the States, but we are still driving on the half a tank we bought. Our trips are a mile or less and we would walk, if the weather were not so unpredictable. Today gale force winds took down many trees and dangerously slates fly off the roofs.

We have our national health cards restored and three months stock of meds. Ward has already been to the diabetic clinic and we have neurology and PT appointments for June. Ward is doing his exercises nearly every day and also taking the time to write.

Our work resumes with a bit of writing for the church bulletin and delivering a “call to worship” every Sunday.  Visitations are a joy and we have so far been to nine homes.  This is not counting the homes we visit over the course of normal friendships.Serendipity and providence continue.  Next to the gate in the Newark Airport we saw this signboard for a Guinness Pub.  Then a fellow approaches Marda and says “I saw Ward on the way to the loo”.  Turns out he met us at a meeting and attends the other Presbyterian Church on the Shankill Road.  On our first day back, upon opening our front blinds, Rev Jack Lamb stopped by.  He was on the same flight going over to Newark with us in February, on his way to Chicago.  He filled us in on his trip to Wheaton and Moody, bastions of American Christian education.  He then invited us to a breakfast meeting wherein we met new people starting a church in Sandy Row.  The next day Brother Finian stopped by.  We love living “on the road”, a concept Patrick instituted.  He built his monasteries at the crossroads of commerce.

Our visit to the Benedictine Monastery in Rostrevor was beautiful.  Holy Cross Monastery was built by monks from the Abbey at Bec in Normandy France.  The monks in response to a call to reconciliation ministry moved to Northern Ireland in 1998.  They waited six years to obtain their new home!   www.benedictinemonks.co.uk/presence/  Our little group of eight (nine minus Keith who had to work) committed to build The Loom now for six months.  Maria helped us to see amber lights meaning proceed ahead watching.  Maria, newly made the L’Arche Ireland director, could ask to make the Loom her official office , Stothers have their two year Visas, Jack discovered new interest in partnering for a focus on the disabled community, Keith got a job promotion, and Sharon has contacted the 24/7 prayer initiative and has ideas for an “event”.

The Shankill Ministry Fellowship (SMF) welcomed us back and willingly returned the job of “convenor” to Marda.  The SMF plans to host a two hour prayer session in June to pray for a peaceful parading season.  We returned in time for a joint worship with 10 churches participating, a healing service, and the last session of a Catholic/Protestant exploration of the Our Father/Lords prayer.  Sister Bridget asks us to pray for her niece Amanda.  In June our friend intends to read through the whole Bible in the foyer of a church on the Shankill Road.  It will take 3-4 days of continuous reading.  He hopes to get many people to read in 15 minute increments.

Ethel’s group goes to dinner once a month on the last Friday.  Well we’ve now experienced the traffic snarl of bomb threats which close the highways and evacuate the shopping centers.  We planned to be 9 for dinner in the Odyssey Arena, then on to the Angus Buchan speaking event.  Only 4 of us made it to dinner given the traffic jams.  The event featured the Omagh Waterford Peace Choir and Angus Buchan, a farmer and evangelist from South Africa.  His story is recounted in a book and movie called Faith Like Potatoes, fitting for Ireland.  He seemed very genuine and inspired us.  The day before Marda went to a Presbyterian Women meeting to hear a woman speak who was healed after 8 years of debilitating encephalomyelitis.  The book is titled Unexpected Healing by Jennifer Rees Larcombe. 

So the month has been full of stories, some small and some grand, but all heard with willing ears to listen.  We come alongside to encourage and to be encouraged.

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

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