Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Composed August 26, 2007--Posted August 29, 2007


Ah, what a good couple of days!!!  After I wrote that last blog [referring to August 24, 2007], I felt like I had such a burden lifted off of me!  I don’t know what it was that I needed, but I just feel free!  It’s kinda nice.  And let me just offer a little suggestion for you…I want you to call up a friend right now and ask them how they are doing.  When they say, “Fine, and you?”…repeat the question and wait for the real answer.  It turns out that many of us are desperately lonely for just a close friend (I received numerous e-mails!).  I think I hit a nerve in my last blog.  But it’s a nerve that needs to be hit.  So before I go futher, just one question…

Have you called yet?

Um, I am more than serious, by the way!  My blog will still be here after the phone call (the the very necessary talk over supper that takes place as a result of the call).

Call, then read on. You’ll thank me later!  (P.S. I hope you get a phone call!)

Ok, so I ended up going to bed early last night…around 1:00 A.M.  I was shootin’ for a good eight hours of sleep before wakin’ up for church in the morning.  I always get excited about goin’ to a different church…and crazy scared, too.  I’m so excited to experience a different culture’s way of doing church, but I am so deeply afraid that it will be boring (been to one of those here already!).

So I lie there in bed.  And don’t sleep.  You know, over the years, I have noticed that I very much dislike when I go to sleep….but don’t go to sleep.  Not exactly my cup o’ tea.  Well, a good hour or two into it, I think I’m under.  I think, because I’m not sure.  I’m awakened by loud noises.

People laughing…people talking.  People in the house.  It sounds like 15 people (give or take a lad, of course).  “You’ve got to be kidding me…”  It turns out my housemates have returned from their gig, and I think they brought the pub with ‘em.  It is impossible to sleep.

The door opens.  I pull the quick “eye closed” routine so that they won’t bother me.  I really don’t feel like going out there at all.  Hanging out with drunk people tonight just isn’t high on my priority list.  The door closes.  I wonder who it was.

More noises.  More laughing.  More drinking, I’m sure.  And another door opening…I don’t think I shut my eyes quick enough this time, but the person was obviously surprised and quickly closes the door.

“It’s goin’ to be a loooong night.”  I might be able to get a few hours of sleep in, but who wants to go to church on a few hours of sleep?!

The alarm goes off at 9:00 A.M.  I am banking on church starting at either 10:00 or 11:00 (very common so I’ve seen).  But I’m tired.  So I pull the “I’ll just sleep for a lil’ while longer” routine.  Very dangerous, and countless times in my life it has NOT worked out, but I was feelin’ a bit risky this mornin’.  And wouldn’t ya know it…for once it finally worked out!  Sort of.  I end up waking up at 10:15…I’m bankin’ on an 11:00 service.

I take a shower, get ready, throw on a nice shirt and some khaki shorts, then head out the door.  Yesterday I had asked where a Protestant church is, and some kids had pointed at a steeple several blocks away.  (Just as a side note, walking to a visible structure in Cork, Ireland, is virtually impossible…Problem #1--The city is on several hills, so the structure ends up disappearing, then reappearing, but not where you thought it used to be.  Why?  Problem #2—The original road crew didn’t believe in squares.  They were, um, more artistic???  The roads are anything but straight!  Hilly terrain + Crooked Roads= Lost Andy.  I’ve been lost on at least three trips back to the houses where I’ve been stayin’.  No joke!  It takes me a good 40 minutes to do what should be a 5-minute walk.  Absolutely frustrating and incredibly hilarious all at the same time!  But, hey, I get to sight-see the city, right?!  You just wait for the next opportunity to see what you are trying to walk towards, readjust your bearings, then try again).  Well, today was more of the same.  I would put the steeple in front of me, walk down a road…only to find out that the steeple was now to my left.  Or to my right.  And one time, it was behind me…true story.  I finally made it to the right “block” (insert the word trapezoid here) where the church was, only to find out that I couldn’t find out how to get into the church!  Houses were built all around the church, and I couldn’t get in!  I walk all around, then finally find the gate…and…

The gate was chained shut.

Hmm…I guess I won’t be goin’ to church here today!  But on the way around the trapezoid, I had seen a sign for a group of Christians meeting across the road.  So I walked over there.  And I was greeted at the door by two jolly Irish!  I walked in, there were about 15 of us there, and I sat down…behind an American!  Turns out he was from South Carolina…over here lookin’ for a job.  We talked a bit, then the service officially started.  We just started singin’!  And we ended up singing song after song after song!  Everyone else knew them (I knew a few), but I found myself searchin’ through the songbook every time the guitarist started up again!  I had a great time, though!  It was very lively singing…two guitars and a keyboard!  And people kept on comin’ in…black, white, Irish, non-Irish, young (we had probably 12-15 young kids!), and old (a 99-year old guy!).  Again, it was one of the most diverse groups I have ever seen…all joinin’ together to sing to one God!  Amazing!

At one point, one of the women gave a beautiful story about two band-aids (ask me for’s looooong!), and it was just enjoyable to hear from a fellow sister (and not just the same guy on stage!).  Some others recommended songs, so we sang them.  Somehow or another the guitarist had seemingly memorized EVERY song in the book...a good few hundred of them.  It turns out that if you want a song, you ask for it, and he plays it.  Without looking.  It was crazy.  Anyway, then we had communion, and ended up runnin’ out of Jesus’ own blood (insert Kool-Aid here!).  The meeting was runnin’ on about an hour now with long prayers and the lady talkin’, so I figured the meeting was ‘bout over…

Then a guy got up to preach!  Yikes!  I couldn’t believe it.  I thought I was goin’ to be leavin’ shortly, and we haven’t even had the sermon yet!  And he talked for about an hour himself…mainly some obvious points, I thought, but he did mention a couple of things that I would take with me.  But, yes, I found myself wandering in thought through the sermon…I was not used to a two-hour service!  And I was getting a little antsy!

Well, the meeting ended, and we hung around for tea and coffee!  I acted five years old and loaded up on some of those little biscuits (cookies!).  haha…I was hungry!  It was now 1:15 P.M. by now!  So I grabbed a couple with my tea...then went back and nearly cleaned up the house.  No sense in them goin’ to waste, right?!  My thoughts exactly.

I talked with several of the people after the meeting, and I met one guy named Andrew.  We hit it off from the get-go…it was great!  I asked what I should do while in Cork, and he recommended goin’ to Blarney (of course!), as well as goin’ over to Cobh, a town nearby.  And then the next thing I know, he is inviting me to a movie that night at another church, and, of course, I accept!

And then he asked me what I was doin’ that afternoon!  The next thing I know I’m getting’ into the car with his mom, dad, a friend, and himself!  We drove out to their house (which I might say is one of the most beautiful I have seen!).  They had a large yard (which is unheard of in the city!  Although I guess we had sort of left the down-town area...), a nice lil’ pond made by Andrew just a month ago, and just a beautiful interior!  (My guess is that this house would cost well over half a million dollars back in the States...).  No lie.

Andrew and I worked on his pond for awhile while Mom worked on lunch.  We fed the fish, tried to cure some other fish, and just talked the entire time.  Then we went over to an old cemetery down the road...and do I mean old.  I walked into the walls of a church from the 11th century!!!  To think that men and women used to worship God on the same ground where I was standing 1000 years ago is just hard to comprehend...words don’t fit!  I mean, my country is only 231 years old!!!  Our oldest structures are from the 1700’s!    We found some graves from the 1600’s, 1700’s, 1800’s, and 1900’s.  Kind of crazy.  The walls of the church were still up!  Nice builder!

From there we went back to his house, ate some wonderful food (chicken and mixed vegetables on rice!), followed by tea (no surprise!), and strawberry/rhubarb pie coated with custard (heaven on earth!).  Needless to say, happiness had found me!

We had some great talks about the United States, Ireland, and immigration.  It turns out that Ireland has only recently been open to outsiders within the past 5-10 years.  And it has taken off since then!  When you walk down the city streets and ask someone if they are from the area, the most likely answer is no!  You will meet just about every country under the sun here, and several have decided to call Ireland their home.  The Polish are predominant with people and shops everywhere!  It’s kind of sad in a most people, I came over searching for the true Irish...the hidden gems of times gone by...and it turns out that they are hard to find!  You see new buildings going up everywhere, you hear languages from every country, and it’s very easy to miss the heart of Ireland.  It’s still out there, but you have to search for it.  And like Andrew’s mom said, it’s just a little disheartening to watch.  Not that it’s bad, but there is something about taking pride in heritage.  Not too much pride, but a healthy pride.  I agree.

Well, from there, Andrew and I took his car to Cobh...we decided on Cobh over Blarney.  After all, the world’s largest cruise ship was supposed to have come into town today!  We needed to celebrate!

After a nice drive through city and country, we came to Cobh...the town on the bay.  A few things to know about Cobh that I didn’t...

Cobh is the last place that the Titanic docked before its fateful voyage.  That’s fun!

Cobh is the place where the Lusitania was torpedoed off the coast.  How ‘bout that!

And Cobh just received the world’s largest cruise ship in the world.  There was a town festival and the whole bit.  BBQ, a bounce-house, and lots and lots of stuff being sold on the side of the streets.  It was fun!  It kind of took me back to 1912 (just act like I lived it, makes for a better story!) would be like watchin’ the Titanic docking.  A big party goin’ on, people boarding, people taking pictures, being all impressed by the sheer size.  Not knowin’ that most of them would be dead in a few days...crazy stuff.

Andrew and I took a tour through the Heritage Center...learnin’ all about the Titanic, the Lusitania, the potato famine, and immigration.  Ireland has quite a history!  At one time it had over 8 million people, down to just over half that now...but the Irish went EVERYWHERE!!!  It turns out that the best export of Ireland is...the Irish!  They are now all over the world!

I tried a local “Gatorade” (it’s called Lucozade...pretty popular, but it’s more or less Gatorade made from carbonated water...yuck!), grabbed a Snickers bar for good measure, and we headed back to Cork.  Andrew’s car has been actin’ up, and so as any good friend would do, I asked him what he had named her.  He hadn’t.  How can you tell your car to behave when you can’t talk to her?!  I explained that to him, and after a quick rundown of names, Delilah was chosen.

And was Delilah ever actin’ up.  She didn’t like to climb hills, it turns out.  And, friends, Ireland=hills.  We had cars and buses behind us honkin’ at us.  Delilah just liked to take her time, takin’ in the sights I guess.  But after some sweet talkin’ (and some pullin’ off of the road), she finally put her act together and got us back to Cork.

We went to the other church, watched “Amazing Grace,” (a lot of thoughts about that movie...I would recommend watching it if you haven’ was my first time), and enjoyed a good fellowship with about 30 people.  Again from all over the world.  France.  England.  United States.  You name it.

And I have been full all day!  Andrew’s mom is definitely worth another visit!  I enjoyed a nice (though short!) friendship with a local, and I spent zero Euro.  Not bad for a day’s work!

Actually, in terms of couch-surfing and traveling the world, this may have just been the perfect day...

2007-08-29 12:37:32 GMT

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