We have grown so large, that we had to get our own bus! Just Kidding!
We have grown so large, that we had to get our own bus! Just Kidding!
Again this year Patti and I were able to attend the UK CBSI Leaders Conference. We found it cheaper to try something new … taking the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead in Wales. Then rather than dealing with buses and trains, we rented a car and drove to the beautiful Hayes Conference Center – Alfreton in Swanwick. It was a wonderful time reconnecting with friends, to include the CBSI-Europe director and the CBS International director who were joining us from the U.S.
A highlight of the trip was spending time with other Calebs that were able to attend from Wales, Lithuania, and France (all originally from the U.S.). Most of the Calebs (shown below) stayed over an extra night due to travel arrangements.
The Calebs were the only ones to stay an extra night, so we had a wonderful time in fellowship together. Actually, one of the couples are not Calebs yet, but were traveling with the Calebs to France on an exploratory trip to consider joining them in ministering in France. They had a wonderful testimony of healing to share and led us in some worship time. One, a retired pastor, followed the singing with a communion service and healing service where we got to pray for each others aches and health issues. What a wonderful time together. One fact that we thought interesting about us was that we were all from Virginia, but only met because of our ministry with CBSI.
Patti and I also planned an additional night in the UK to do some sightseeing and to avoid arriving back in downtown Dublin on St Patrick’s Day. That gave us some time to relax and enjoy some of the beautiful sites and castles in Wales.
We were disappointed to learn last night that our seats on the plane had been changed and we were no longer sitting together. However, there was nothing we could do about it until we got to the airport, so we tried to get a good night’s sleep before getting up early to start heading home. Veronica took us on the 15-20 minuted drive to Luton Airport for we would catch a bus to Heathrow Airport for the long flight to Philadelphia.
The trip to Heathrow was uneventful except for missing our scheduled bus, but we were able to catch the next one and still arrived in plenty of time. Unfortunately, the airlines was of no assistance in correcting the change they had made to our seating. I was able to make the most of it though in getting to know my seat-mate and sharing with him about our ministry as he showed interest. He in turn told me about overhearing the young man across the aisle mentioning involvement in a ministry in Ireland. When he was away, I got the chance to talk to the young man and found out that he was attending the Catholic seminary in Maynooth, Ireland.
Our arrival in Philadelphia was a little late, but we made it to our connecting flight to Newport News in time. It was delayed also, so we were a little late arriving in Newport News. The important thing was we were home safely again.
Thank you again for your prayers … they protect us and open doors of ministry among the people of Ireland.
Our new immediate ministry supervisor, Veronica Alvarez, from the UK, flew in this morning and joined us for a late breakfast. As she was getting settled in, Sammy and Joan and Cathy were preparing to leave. Cathy is going to spend a couple of days in the north with them and they are bringing her back on Tuesday. We all went out to lunch together on their way out to wrap up our time together. It is really tough to think that we will not be seeing Sammy and Joan every trip to Ireland, but the bonds are strong and we do plan to visit as often as possible. They have told us from the early days of their involvement that their home is our home and we are always welcome. Even though they are not planning to lead a CBSI study this year, our conversations over the weekend indicate that the door is open for using them in the future as they fit in with their new ministry focus.
We got to rest some in the afternoon (some serious nap time for Sam) before heading to the south side of Dublin for some sweet time of fellowship with the leaders of 3 of the 4 groups that are continuing in Ireland. As always, they provide us valuable perspective on the ministry in Ireland and recommendations for improving strategies for expanding the studies in other localities.
After returning to our apartment, we got to Skype home to our daughter to wish our 12-year-old granddaughter a happy birthday and hear what she got on this special day. It’s so encouraging to be able to keep up with them, and others, through Skype and Facebook while we are away.
I had a good trip to Ireland with no problems with any of my flights. I even got to make the first connection from Newport News to Atlanta sitting next to a friend from a previous church, so we got to enjoy some good conversation along the way. I wish I had been able to get some sleep on the Atlanta to Dublin leg, but it was just too noisy and maybe I had had too much caffeine. I did get to rest anyhow and was able to rest peacefully enough in order to participate coherently in events after my arrival.
We had a dear friend, Roger, who was returning to Ireland from a ministry trip to Switzerland who agreed to come by our apartment after his arrival since we would not be able to meet at any other time. His flight was a little delayed, so he arrived at our apartment later than expected. Since he didn’t arrive until close to lunch time, he stayed until Sammy and Joan arrived from Northern Ireland and we all had lunch together. We had some wonderful fellowship together and our friends from opposite ends of Ireland (Roger lives in Cork way down south) to meet each other.
In the evening we met for dinner with our National Servants Team and spouses. This was a special time to honor and celebrate the service of Sammy and Joan Fulton and Becky Schuster who are stepping down from the NST. It was a special treat to have Cathy Rutman there with us as she was the one who played the major role in recruiting them to lead CBSI studies and to serve on the NST. They all are sensing God’s direction to continue serving Him in other capacities but want to continue the personal relationships with us.
After all that (and some in-between) … blessed sleep!
Oops, just realized I put the wrong dates in the title (blame the jet lag) and corrected it!
On the way to the airport to drop me off for my return trip home, we stopped by the car rental office just outside the airport to take me off as a driver and add Grace in my place. Upon leaving there I verified the route to the airport with the agent and he suggested something very helpful … “when you get there, pull into the rental return section so that you don’t have to pay the parking fees.” All these years of going to the airport to drop off / pick up people and paying parking fees, and now we find out that we could have been parking for free! At least we know now.
We had time to have breakfast together at the airport before we parted, me for the U.S. and Patti and Grace for Northern Ireland with a night with friends of Grace about half-way there. While I was relaxing on the plane headed west (and enjoying some conversation with a friendly Irishman), Patti and Grace were visiting Grace’s friends, telling them about CBSI, and getting a tour of their farm (Grace said that Patti made a bovine friend that wanted to come home with her).
My flights were smooth, uneventful, and ahead of schedule, getting me home about 8 pm. I had time to unpack before heading to bed to try to get a good night’s sleep before going back to work tomorrow.
We had a wonderful morning joining 9 men and women at Marley Parish studying Acts 18. We thought it was interesting that our perspective was that they had a very good and lively discussion today, but the leaders felt that it was a little subdued compared to normal.
It was also encouraging to hear that some members of a group meeting at a nearby parish are coming to visit their class next week as they had heard about their study and wanted to consider using the CBSI studies for their class. Anne, the main organizer of this class, has been quite active and effective in spreading the word about CBSI. This is the same Anne who recently joined our National Servants Team as financial coordinator … what a blessing she is to the ministry … keep her in your prayers.
We also had a ‘brilliant time’ (as they say here in Ireland) with Anne and her husband Gerald over lunch after the study (pictured below). They had some excellent input for us in regards to our participation in the next big conference in June.