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August 11, 2011

The past three weeks have been both a blessing and a challenge to us as we have begun our time in Belfast.

There have been many blessings – we are grateful for:

  • Arriving safely in Belfast, and having Alison’s parents to stay with for this month.
  • Finding a car and also a home that seems just right for our family.  The owners (moving to Australia) have girls the same age as ours, and one the same name.  There is a rainbow on the girls’ bedroom wall, and a sweet garden for them to explore.  We move in at the end of the month.
  • Seeing old friends and meeting new ones from East Belfast Mission and beyond.  We have both been impressed by the staff at EBM and others from the congregation.  We are enjoying the early days of getting to know people.  We will have more pictures of the church in our next post.

    The girls at the summit of "Topped Mountain"

  • Cooler weather for us all to enjoy – the girls have lived outside in the past month –  planting flowers in their grandparent’s garden, taking walks, and playing with bugs.  It has been great to have these pleasures while we have been working to set up our lives here.

We have been challenged by the elements of “starting over” in several segments of our lives: everything from houses to cars, from banking to finding a doctor.  One humorous example is when we were inquiring about auto insurance.  Britt inquired why the rates were high and the customer service representative explained: “you are considered a novice driver here – it’s like you are starting over.”  Alison said that it felt like being newly weds setting up home – except that we have two girls asking many ‘why’ questions along the way!

As we looked forward to the possibility of moving to Belfast, Alison has been aware that it may be difficult in ways to move back to Northern Ireland.  Years ago, a wise friend gave her the advice, “You cannot jump back into a moving stream in the same place you left it.”  Although she always fits in easily with people wherever she goes, she has found some of the words of Henry Wordsworth Longfellow to ring true to her experience so far:

From the outskirts of the town,

where of old the mile-stone stood,

Now a stranger, looking down,

I behold the shadowy crown

Of the dark and haunted wood.

Is it changed, or am I changed?

Ah! The oaks are fresh and green,

But the friends with whom I ranged

through their thickets are estranged

By the years that intervene

There are certainly times where all of this transition and change has led us to feel a lack of control and weariness.  This is true for us and also our girls.  We have had to pray for wisdom while parenting one child who is flourishing in this new world while another pines for ‘home’.  We are trying to be hopeful when questions arise ‘where is such and such’, and remember that by the end of this month we will be unpacking and setting up home, ending three months living with family.

1 of the 10 East Belfast Mission Shops scattered around the city

One of the things that has changed about East Belfast Mission since Britt was last here in 2002 is the development of the “Social Economy” projects.  These are the second hand shops of the mission, which aim to reuse, and sometimes refurbish furniture, clothing, and household items.  These projects also provide items at reasonable cost for local residents, and give employment opportunities to local residents.  Over the past 10 years, the social economy projects have grown from two shops to ten shops that are scattered around the greater Belfast area.  It is amazing to see how this portion of the work of the Mission has developed.

Change, and how we respond emotionally, has indeed been a theme for us this month, and will be for a while to come!  In the midst of these moments, we are seeking to celebrate the blessings and remembering to trust and hope in God day by day when things seem tiring.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

6 Comments leave one →
  1. gary and Ruby permalink
    August 11, 2011 11:12 pm

    We will keep you all in our prayers. Once you can move into your home it will be easier for
    the girls. I’m sure all of you are ready to take a deep breath and relax. God will take care of
    the details. Remember you all have a lot of people on your team praying.
    Ruby and Gary

  2. Jim Harnish permalink
    August 12, 2011 6:18 am

    Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. Thanks for sharing the journey with us.

  3. August 12, 2011 1:26 pm

    The grands must be happy to have their American girls about.

  4. Candie Whitney permalink
    August 12, 2011 8:25 pm

    A darling picture of the girls. What treasured memories you all will have of your time there…. you are all in our prayers.

  5. JoAnn Burns permalink
    August 13, 2011 9:33 pm

    The picture of the girls is darling…such wonderful smiles! It will be great being able to get a glimpse into your lives through your blog. Thanks for sharing.
    Praying for you,
    Bill and JoAnn

  6. Bill and JoAnn Burns permalink
    August 17, 2011 8:50 pm

    The picture of the girls is darling. It is great to see their smiles. We will continue to pray for your transition to a new home and work environment. Thanks for letting us share in your lives through your blog.

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