Posted by: goingfaraway | February 28, 2010

Feeling lucky

Our travels have brought us full circle, and we find ourselves in the land of leprechauns and four-leaf clovers once again.

We are staying with the Schusters, a missionary family supported by my church in Chicago. It’s been great to get to know Jonathan & Becky, and their boys, Caleb, Andrew and Evan. They live just outside the small seaside town of Skerries. We’ve enjoyed walks by the sea, helping around the house, assisting with projects for Cornerstone Church (started just over a year ago), watching the olympics, and just hanging out. After sleeping in so many different beds, cooking in odd places with odd resources (this one time I cooked pasta in a water bottle. No Joke.), and always catching this train or that bus, it is refreshing to spend time in a real home. It has been such a blessing to stay with this family that loves God and is working hard for His glory.

Jonathan teaches full time at the Irish Bible Institute in Dublin. His speciality is Old Testament (I think we will visit one of his classes on Tuesday), and he is a Biblical Hebrew (as in the language) buff. He also plays an active role at Cornerstone Church, preaching, or helping wherever there’s a need. Becky is very busy with the three boys, leading a women’s bible study, and filling various positions at Cornerstone – everything from administrative work, to Sunday school, to painting decorations for the Olympics party. Katie was able to attend her Bible study, which (ironically) meets in a pub.

Cornerstone meets on Sunday evenings, so tonight we all packed into the Schuster family taxi and headed off for church. The church meets in a school, so the sanctuary is simply a classroom with blue plastic chairs for pews. My violin finally got some attention, and I was able to join in leading songs. The congregation is small by American standards – probably 25 adults tonight – but man did they sing LOUD! It was a beautiful sound! While we were singing and playing our hearts out, Katie was off with the kids helping with the Cornerstone Kids Olympics 2010! This was a special outreach event for kids in the community age 9-11. Seeing the Schusters in their element was so much fun! And meeting the people in the church was amazing. We LOVE Irish people. They say things like, “Do you want a cuppa?” meaning, “can I get you a cup of something hot to drink?” Lovely. Grand. Everyone should be Irish.

Now for a major rewind……

Between Rome and coming back toIreland, we spent a few days in Florence, then Venice. Florence was very wet, but we still enjoyed seeing David, that naughty little (17ft tall) shepherd boy, eating the best pizza in the world (no joke, it was life changing), and walking through the leather crafting school in Santa Croce Church.

Venice is a weird place. When we first arrived there Katie pondered aloud,”whose idea was this? This is so inconvenient for tourists.” It’s kind of a pain to get anywhere because you have to zig-zag through a maze of narrow streets and bridges in order to get anywhere. Only 60,000 people live there (it is slowly becoming more of a giant museum rather than an active city). Most of the shops are geared toward tourists, filled with elaborate Carnivale masks, delicate glass scuptures and lace.

The highlight of the island for us was definitely St. Mark’s Basilica. It glitters inside and out with intricate mosaics depicting various scenes from scripture and Christian history. We attended a beautiful mass, which was in Italian, of course. Yet sitting there in that stunning church we truly worshiped. Katie and I agreed that sometimes we don’t appreciate extravegant decorations, but we realized  that even if costly ornamentation doesn’t seem like the most practical use of money (caring for people should probably rank higher on the priority list), God does deserve the best and most beautiful art that man can produce.

Also that day we sat on a pier and had great conversations, and we probably made everyone think we were crazy as we sang along to songs on Kate’s ipod. We are currently obsessed with a really cool song by David Crowder called “How He Loves Us” which talks about the love God has for us. We can get lost in how big it is. Then when we were done being serious, we played a game where we each took turns deciding which street to turn onto, no maps allowed (look at a map of Venice and you’ll understand why this game is so fun). Once we felt that we had sufficiently lost ourselves, we found ourselves and then illegally picnicked under golden rays by the sea side. We spent that evening making friends with our roommates Astrid (an assistant director for independent films from Mexico City) and Rebekah (a journalist from eastern Australia). We had a great time talking and laughing about the crazy travel stories we each had to share.

That’s about it, so now you are completely up to date!

Skerries harbor (the light blue building is the pub where Becky's Bible study met)

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