Speaking of going out of my comfort zone, I took a little jaunt even further outside last week when I went on holiday to Ireland and Sweden. On my way to Ireland I was thinking, “What the heck am I doing?” I was taking two planes to get there, only to be greeted by a friend I haven’t seen in 2 ½ years, a guy I knew for a summer while working at camp together. When I last saw Jamie, he was an athletic, outgoing, warm-hearted 19-year old. A few weeks after he returned to the U.K. he broke his back playing rugby and is now confined to a wheelchair. What would that be like? Everything about the trip was a huge unknown and I wondered if I should have stayed back at Grimerud and had a safe and koselig little Easter holiday there.
But, yet again, God surprised me! Looking back it seems to me that He wanted to give me that trip to Ireland as a little gift, wrapped up in emerald paper and smelling of the sea. Jamie and I had so much fun together, and his parents were amazing, generous, hospitable people. Every morning I got up before Jamie and had breakfast with his parents, having great long talks with his mom.
On Easter Sunday we went to his church where I was greeted so warmly and we rocked the house celebrating that Jesus is alive, complete with dancing and party poppers. We hung out in Belfast and saw Fifty Dead Men Walking, a film about The Troubles in Ireland that was totally violent but really interesting and helped me get an idea of what was going on in the country only a few decades ago. I drank a half-pint of Guiness in a real Irish pub with copper kettles hanging from the ceiling and dozens of people singing along to old Irish songs.
My favorite day was when we drove up to the North Coast of Northern Ireland with Jamie’s sweet friend Jenny Lee and toured a castle that made me feel like Lucy in Prince Caspian, exploring the ruins of Cair Paravel. We marveled at the natural beauty of Giant’s Causeway and couldn’t get over the amazing weather as we waited to cross the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. We took the train down to Dublin with Jenny Lee and Jamie’s friend Steven and had a great time despite crap weather, and spent the afternoon in a heated theological discussion (love it) in Temple Bar.
I had the best tea of my life every day, and I loved how when I ordered tea at a café they always gave a whole teapot – two cups for the price of one! I loved hearing Irish accents everywhere – the low, soothing tone; the lilting rhythm of it; the way they really do say “wee” all the time…even the guys!
Hanging out with Jamie again was so cool, and not only because he’s totally fun and hilarious. Jamie’s unshakable belief in God’s promises was an absolute inspiration to me. He’s in an awful situation but is not pitying himself. Instead he is going on with his life and always believing that Jesus will heal him and he will walk again. I was so moved by his faith, and so humbled when I thought of how I would respond in such a situation – probably crying and sighing a lot and feeling bitter toward God and everyone else.
Of course I left Jamie a little thank you note before I left, but in case he ever reads this blog, I just want to say, Thank you Jamie. You were an amazing host and I had a fantastic time. You are welcome back to California any time.
But mostly, I just want to thank my Father, God, for yet again surprising me with a little gift, just another dream come true from His heart to mine. He totally patiently leads me out of my comfort zone to experience His love and be astounded by it in new ways.
Dunluce Castle on the North Coast (aka ruins of Cair Paravel)
Me and Jamie. Near Giant’s Causeway. Do you see the camel in the mountain between us?
Jenny Lee and I at Giant’s Causeway. Those “cobblestones” are naturally formed!
In Dublin with Jamie and his friend Steven (who started said heated theological discussion). They filmed a scene from “Once” in this park.
Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland
The Temple Bar in Temple Bar, where, due to an unfortunate misunderstanding, I was bought a Coors Light instead of a Stella. Boo.