Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The last post with pictures posted on its own will edit it and re post it again with more captions and more pictures!

Pictures and videos from previous post!

This is a video of the jam sessions that happen while we are on retreat!

Adrienne and I at Carrickfergus Castle

Christ Cathedral in Down Patrick

St. Patrick's Grave

St. Patrick's Day Parade! 

Enjoying a Pint of 

Parents at the Guinness Factory

They did not get their pot of gold but found a Leprachun

New Titanic Museum 

Dunluce Castle

Carrick-a-rede rope bridge

Botanical Gardens

Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's Been a WHILE!

So I realize I have not posted in a while.... and by a while I mean like 4 months. Oops! So might be a bit rusty at this, So here goes nothing.

There has been so much that happened in my absent four months. I have gone on a retreat to Donegal/ Derry, went to St. Patrick's day Parade, my friends Adrienne and Jackie came to visit, my parents came to visit over my birthday and Easter, I went on a trip to Galway, went with my girls group to see Legally Blonde the musical, and have just been keeping busy with work. Oh and I got accepted into graduate school. So so many blessings! I will save all the Pictures to the next blog post which will be all pictured and descriptions! Now to do the elaborating part...

Back in February the Yavs headed down south for a trip to Donegal to take a break and retreat. We stayed in a beautiful house on Lough Eske. The options for things to do were, walk the 11 mile walk around the lake, go hike one of the highest sea cliffs in Ireland, or hang out around the house. Well to say the least, we Yavs are not lazy. When I heard these options I was not to sure about being able to walk 11 miles... and it was not all flat we were told.So that even more so made me want to stay in the nice warm house and just look at the pretty lake out the window.... But... then there was the option of walking part of the lake and turning back so I decided I would do that. We all got a good breakfast and geared up. We headed out and started the walk, well by the time I got to the little walk of something like 4 miles I decided I could keep going. When push came to shove all 8 Yavs and Doug did the whole loop around the lake!!! It felt so good and was such an accomplishment. The state of my feet was awful after. I had a blister the size of the bottom of my foot...which I felt after 6 miles so the rest of the walk was a bit painful but I put mind over matter and trekked on!

Well we got back to the house and got to relax and then it hit me that the next day we were going to climb  a huge sea cliff. Now Doug is great but when Doug says that its sort of flat and just a bit of a hill, he really means its a huge mountain and its a steep hike. So me thinking at that moment my feet were going to fall off I was not sure I was going to make it up a sea cliff... well little did I know we made the trip out to Slieve League to hike and it was a nasty, windy rainy, day that in the end turned out to be lovely and we ate out packed lunches and started up the mountain for this huge hike. Let's just say this was not something I would have done at home but was BEAUTIFUL and a lot of fun in the end. I cannot say my feet were happy with me.. But they made it up and back. Oh and my clothes were caked in mud from falling so many times on the way down...It was very slippery and muddy! So all in all we walked and hiked our entire trip!

One thing I truly value about our retreats is being able to have fellowship with our whole group together, we get to share meals together, worship/ devotions, communion, and relaxation time to catch up and have some good craic. Another thing I have loved is the music that goes on while away on retreat everyone sorta comes together to play and sing and have awesome jam sessions! I will post a video in my next blog! So overall, it was an amazing time and that was just the part in Donegal.

On the way home from Donegal we stopped in Derry or London Derry. This is a place that has so much history behind it. We got a tour from a guy who was a member of the IRA growing up but now has left that and does cross community work. He showed us around the town and where Bloody Sunday took place. We got to see the walls of Derry and went to the museum about Bloody Sunday and got a tour through there as well. It was so shocking and eye opening. I failed to mention that while we were in Donegal we watched the movie Bloody Sunday which set us up for our trip to Derry. This whole Retreat was so eye opening and moving. To be in a place with people who suffered from the troubles first hand and lost family was so hard to grasp and rewarding to see them still so passionate. So then we headed to meet with the Bishop of Derry who talked to us about Social  entrepreneurship which shocked us all. He had a list of names up on the board and asked us if we knew any of them.... lets do a test to see if you know any of them....

 Jessica Jackley 
 Blake Mycoskie 
Linda Fuller

Those are just a few of the names that were thrown out to us. These are all people who started off projects or ideas from their homes that are now Huge non-profits. This sparked and question what can we do? What small thing can we think of that can change the world?  So this was an amazing way to end our retreat and move back into our work places thinking about ways we can build and grow and how we personally were going to help change or inspire our youth to show them that it only takes and idea to become a reality.

Next on the list was St. Patrick's Day Parade. A few of the YAV'S and I decided to take a trip to Down Patrick  for the parade and festivities. This was such an amazing experience and there was so much going on. We started will mass in Gaelic which was very interesting and ended in the scouts giving everyone shamrocks to wear, which I thought was a really cool tradition. After that we headed up towards Christ Cathedral for an interdenominational  service. Before hand we stopped and looked at St. Patrick's grave. The service was beautifully done and after there was a huge lunch in the tent on the lawn. Then we headed down to the stage area in the square and watched some Irish dancing and then a Lady Gaga impersonator then headed to the street to watch the parade. It was a lovely parade and even better since a woman I work with at the LINK was in it! We then caught a bus home!

Third on the list was a fun and exciting visit from two of my close friends. They were able to come over their spring break which worked out very nicely. I was able to get some time off to show them around and let them see different parts of Ireland and Northern Ireland. It was wonderful to see them and I had so much fun! Pictures will be on the next post!

Next I had a set of visitors that were here for my birthday and Easter...MY PARENTS!!! It was wonderful to have them around during the holidays and nice for them to be able to see the church and things I do in full swing. We started off in Dublin for my birthday and were there for a couple of days... did the hop on hop off tour bus and got to see all the sites. Then we were in Belfast for a few days touring around, visiting with family friends, and then we hired a car and headed up to the North Coast where we stayed with my assistant minister Jonny's parents. Their house over looks all of Portrush and the ocean! It was Stunning! We also on the way up stopped at the Giants Causeway and Dunluce castle! Then the next day headed back to Belfast which was getting close to Easter festivities. We ended up going to Four church services. Thursday, Friday and two on Sunday! One of the Sunday services was at the top of Scrabo Tower at 6:30 am and I made my parents attend! Let's just say it was cold and windy. Not too pleasant.  Then the rest of their time here we spent sightseeing around Belfast and then they headed back to the States. It was an amazing trip and was wonderful to have them here to show them what I have been up to!

The day my parents left I was heading down to Galway for a mini vacation with two of the other YAV'S. We stayed in a hotel for two night and went around to see the different sights. We went to the Galway City Museum, Went for long walks on the promenade along the coast, we went to Galway Cathedral, we spent a good amount of time on Shop Street, where all the restaurants, pubs, and shops were, and we went to St. Nicholas's Cathedral as well. There was plenty to do just in Galway city. We had a wonderful and peaceful time where we could just see the sites and relax! It was such a pretty place to be and so refreshing to get out of Belfast. Will post pictures!

I think last on the list is recently the girls group at the LINK did two courses one on drugs and alcohol and one on peer mentoring which they all did wonderful on so they got tickets to go see Legally Blonde the Musical at the Grand Opera House. It was a class night ad all the girls showed up and had a blast. We are still talking about it and singing the songs.

Last but not least I got an acceptance letter to Rutgers School of Social Work for my masters degree. I am so Chuffed! (excited) It should be a wonderful next endeavour and I cant wait to start! Thanks for everyone's continued prayers and blessings! Means a lot! Will be home July 22nd So not to far away. Miss and Love you all!


p.s- pictures will be put up in a bit so look out for that post!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Time for spiritual healing.

Since my last post there has not been much new to report. We had a praise service at the church, Christianity Explored course started, and just been keeping busy as usual getting ready to go on retreat.
  Since I have been here there have been two praise services at Regent Street. This just means it is primarily music and readings. I have been lucky enough to sing in both of these services as part of the praise group. This service was centred around journeys  and taking risks. These are both things that are part of the YAV experience. The reason the service was about this was the music director Karen is leaving for a four month journey to Australia on a placement. She has been doing another degree which now will send her there for the next four months. She talked about how this was a big journey and how she will have to take many risks. During this service every was excited to hear a six  year old girl sing a solo. She was absolutely amazing and had the voice of an angel. To my surprise she was not even scared at all. I still get scared singing in-front of people. This was the highlight of the service and is still what people are talking about.
     So the last post was talking about Christianity Explored course that was starting. Well last Sunday was the first session. I was at a table with all older adults who had many questions but very interesting ones. Most of the questions had to do with Heaven, pain and suffering, and many more that were not answerable.   This was the hardest part as a facilitator, having to tell people that you don't have all the answers and they most likely will not get answers to the questions they are asking.  After they watched the video segment, most people went even deeper into questioning. The first day is the hardest for this course due to the fact they have not read any of Mark and it is not as structured. So hopefully tomorrow and the following sessions will be better and some of the questions can be answered. 

      On Monday we leave for our retreat to Donegal and Derry. This is a time for spiritual healing and to get some time away to spend with our fellow yavs. We all look forward to this and I have baked heart shaped cookies for valentines day for everyone! So Happy Valentines Day to you all! Miss and love you! Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers!

<3 Liz

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Christianity Explored...

"Faith lives with a certain amount of uncertainty"

 Recently, this has rang true. Over the last few weeks I have become quite busy. I feel sometimes in in the position as a YAV and working with the church, I loose site of my faith. I think this is typical of many Christians. The last few weeks in the church has been all about about the course we are starting next week. This course takes you on a journey through the gospel of Mark. It has been the conversations in the preparation of this course that have led me to a deep thinking and contemplation of my faith and what faith means. Over the next 7 weeks we will venture into Mark looking ultimately at three questions... who was Jesus? Why did he come? and What is involved in following him? As the leaders went through some of the questions to bring up it really struck me and made me think about all sorts of different questions and how the majority of them have no answers. I am quite excited to work with the youth that come to this course and to help them realize that we don't have all the answers and that is ok. This course will be very eye opening and will be great to help me along in my faith journey and to grow in my faith.  So look for posts to come in the next 7 weeks about the course and how it is impacting me. 

Further updates to come!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

All the things I have missed since my last post...

So I recently posted about Christmas.... well now I am going to go back in time and talk about how Thanksgiving, different events with my youth, Bowling Christmas parties, the first snow, the Belfast Christmas Market, and seeing John Bell went. I am sure there are plenty other things I could talk about but these will do for now.

Wow so It really is hard to remember all the way back to Thanksgiving, but one thing I could not forget if you paid me was the amazing Thanksgiving meal I had at our coordinators house. All the YAV's got together on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (since we don't get off for Thanksgiving) and we started our day by playing some American Football.
This was a great way to start the day. The next thing that took place was cooking... So me and a few other YAV'S cooked before heading to Doug and Elaine's where the huge meal awaited us. One of the main things I love for Thanksgiving are the grands biscuits... so I made from scratch crescent rolls to bring to our Thanksgiving meal. I had also decided to make a desert, so I made cheese cake as well. The day before I was lucky enough to be invited to an American family's house who attended Princeton Seminary and have been living here for 5 years.  So they had a big Thanksgiving buffet and invited all their Northern Irish friends to come celebrate. Well as I left I was given a pumpkin pie that also came with us to the dinner at Doug's house.
So at this stage we were ready to head to Doug and Elaine's where we were going to watch American football and eat a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. When we got there they had a huge spread of food, we got turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans, stuffing, and much much more. Then for desert there were four different pies so we were very well fed and it was truly amazing to share in the wonderful fellowship. I truly felt blessed to be able to share a meal around their table with such wonderful food and fellowship. 

So most of the other things I am going to talk about lead up to Christmas or are happened right before. First one of the roles I play while here is working with Youth Fellowship. This is a very fun endeavour and one that has me doing many fun activities. Right before Christmas we all went ice skating, and mini golfing. These were fun activities to get the youth involved and to get to know each other better. Needless to say my team won mini golf, and I managed not to fall once on the ice. 
Youth mini golfing

Concentrating hard on getting a hole in one

Jonny the assistant minister got pushed over
Me and the youth on the Ice 
Moving on from youth group not to the Belfast Christmas Market. This is a international market that comes to Belfast every year. It happens for a month leading up to Christmas out front of city hall. It was absolutely amazing. There was food from all over the world, there were people selling things from around the world, there was mulled wine, and so much more. It was a very nice treat leading up to Christmas being able to go into city center and meet up with people to walk around the market. I wish they did something like this back home. 
Inside the Christmas market

Belfast International Christmas Market

The Market From the Outside
One of the many activities that I am involved in is bowling with one of the other YAV'S that lives in my house and his church on Monday nights. This has been a great treat and they have taken me in as their own. One of the traditions that most groups and workplaces due is have Christmas dinners. So I was luck enough to attend  four different Christmas dinners.The first one that i went to was with the bowling club from Monday nights. We went to a famous golf club called Hollywood Golf Club which is where the pro golfer Rory Mcilroy learned to play as a child. Another fun fact was Rory was on the plane with me and the other YAV'S on the way to Northern Ireland when we arrived.This was a very fun and entertaining dinner, one of the traditions at any Christmas dinner is you get a Christmas cracker on your plate which has a gift, a hat, and a joke in it and after you open it you wear your hat all night and tell your joke. Well another tradition for this bowling club is to give out gifts for those who had great achievements. I was lucky enough to get a little plaque for being a member of the over 100 club. So that was very exciting. Also the head from the group gets up and dresses up and tells jokes and it is all great craic! 
My gift from my Christmas Cracker

The Lovely group of Bowlers

Bob in his outfit to give out prizes
Me receiving my prize

After this Christmas party I went to one for The LINK, the Thursday club at the church, and the Church Staff Christmas Lunch. Now we all know why I need to go on a diet after all this Holiday eating. 
My street after the first snow

The First snow fall

So I know most of you are getting snow at the moment but our First snow fall was Dec. 4th. We all got very excited and went out and played in the little bit that we had. We have not had snow since. I guess rain is more typical... oh well. 

So to finally bring you up to date... Last night I went to see John Bell in what is called a Big Sing. So there were about 100 people in a room and we went through hymns from the Iona community and he taught them to the big group on the spot and taught us in parts. He is extremely well spoken and told some great stories about where the hymns came from and why they were created. It was an absolutely delightful evening and we were all able to make a joyful sound. 

So I think that is me pretty much caught back up... currently I am working away at graduate school applications in my free time and just staying busy with work and the church. Thank you all for your continued love and support. It is great to know that I have people that care even when I am in a completely different country! Miss and love you all. Keep in touch. 

P.S. Below are the pictures from my last post. 

Church Decorated for Christmas

Advent Wreath the I lit every Sunday 

The windows in the church Decorated for Christmas

The Tree in the vestibule