Sunday, July 5, 2009

The end of my journey...

"When I look back at where I've been, I see that what I am becoming is a whole lot further down the road from where I was." -Gloria Gaither

Friday was my last day in Ireland. I went into work for about 4 hours...which absolutely flew by...before I knew it, it was time for me to leave. I really hate goodbyes...I mean, I guess I don't know anyone who loves them. I had to say goodbye to everyone I was working with: Anna, Ruairi, Kevin, and Ewelina. They got me a little goodbye gift, which was really nice! I hugged them all a few times and finally just had to walk out the door. I will surely miss them all so much!

I met my friend Hazel for lunch, then headed over to Marta's house to tell her goodbye. Wow...that was hard! She got me a gift of Polish chocolate, a friendship hanging, and some Turbo Kick music! She has such a kind heart and a fun personality...I will miss her dearly.

I went home and tried to pack more, but got a text from a few other I ended up going to hang out with them that night. I wasn't done packing when I came home, so I didn't go to bed until 2:30am and woke up at 4 to catch the 5am Patton Flyer to the airport. Mary woke up and drove me there, and I got to the airport around 6am.

I completely overestimated my ability to juggle a backpack, duffel bag, and 2 rolling suitcases...all of them jam-packed full and super heavy! It was a nightmare, but this nice man in the Dublin Airport apparently saw my struggle and helped me carry all my stuff to the correct terminal. He laughed when I said I had only been here 1 month. :) Going through customs and everything was ok, though it was a bit mad at one point when they made me go through the metal detector three times and asked to search my backpack. The guy doing it said he saw a metal rod on the bottom. I was like, "Um...I can tell you that there is not a metal rod in there, but feel free to check!" It ended up being the hinge on my clutch purse, which measures about 3 millimeteres in diameter and is about 6 inches long. Good grief!

All in all, my flights weren't as bad as I was expecting, and the airports were not crowded which was really nice. By the time I got to Houston though, I was really ready to get home! The nice thing about flying from Houston to KC at night on the 4th of July is that we got to see so many fireworks in all different directions as we approached the airport, so that was really neat. Kristin was there to meet me when I got off the plane...I was so happy to see my best friend! All my luggage arrived, and we headed home.

As I have said so many times in this was an incredible trip and I am so blessed and thankful to have experienced all of it! So many memories were made, people met, relationships developed, and lives changed. Thank you all for keeping me in your prayers and thoughts...and for reading my blog!'s your turn to visit Ireland! :)

"Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." -Miriam Beard

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A wonderful day with friends...

"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way." -Dr. Seuss
"Go forth seeking adventure. Open your eyes, your ears, your mind, your heart, your spirit...and you'll find adventure everywhere." -Wilferd A. Petersen

"May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back...And, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand." -Irish Blessing

Today was so much fun! I worked from 10-2...I had an induction and also taught Spinning for the first time. How was it, you ask? Well, I got through it, but it was tough! However, I find the best way to learn how to do something is to just jump right in, even though it can be terrifying...the first time will always be a bit shaky, but you learn from your mistakes and you only get better. :)

After work, I walked to Marta's house, where we had tea and waited for Ewelina to get off work and join us. We went to a little place called Baker's Corner where we had cappuccino and a delicious dinner. We then got out the GPS and map and made our way into the mountains to Johnnie Fox's, the highest pub in Ireland! It is such an interesting place, lots of things on the walls and ceilings and TONS of history behind the was establisted in like 1798. We had a delicious dessert there called Banoffee, which is a layer of pastry, then toffee sauce, then sliced bananas, then whipped cream on top....fantastic! We went on a little walk after that to try to burn off the calories...ha yeah right, not really :) It was really fun...we took some fun pictures, or tried at least! In the one Ewelina and I are jumping in, there is a car coming around the really we tried to do it quickly before we got hit! All in all, it was a wonderful day... so much fun to spend time with friends. :)

Marta dropped Ewelina and I off afterwards... I came home and drank tea and talked with Filippo for awhile. I also had to say goodbye to Luca, as he is heading to Galway for the weekend.: ( I also realized how much I really have to do and how little time I have to do it I better wrap this up now so I can get on all of it. Tomorrow is my last day in Ireland. Crazyness.

Until next time, Cheers!

"The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." -Micah 6:8

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The beginning of the end...

"What we call the end is also a beginning. The end is where we start from." -T.S. Eliot

I really like this quote because I feel like it adequately describes what this trip has been for me. The end is ever so near...I can't believe I actually have to say's been such a fast 4 weeks. However, this trip has taught me so much, more than I can even describe with I know that this end is the start of a new beginning.

How about raindrops on roses? ...simply beautiful. :)

Sunday night, the guys that I met at church invited me over to their house for dinner and prayer and worship. I ended up meeting like 15 of their was amazing. We just talked, laughed, hung out, and after about an hour, we went around the room and people prayed for many different things. I feel so so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to meet these people..the whole time my heart was so joyful and my spirit felt refreshed by their warm welcome, extreme kindness, and fellowship. After everyone was done praying, Alex asked if they could circle around me and pray for me...of course I said yes! It was incredible...I was choking back tears of joy because they were just pouring love onto me and they hardly even knew me! I'm just sad I have to leave already...but hopefully I'll see them all when I (hopefully!) return in May. :)

I got home around midnight and I had to call Kristin and tell her all about my awesome night! It took me awhile to wind down from the day so I didn't go to bed for a few hours. On Monday, I worked 9 hours but it flew by quickly because we were pretty busy. Since Robert is gone to Poland, I ended up teaching my first fitness class ever. I have taken about a bajillion fitness classes, but this was my first time teaching my own class. I was a bit nervous...ok more than a bit...but I loosened up after about 10 minutes and it was actually really, really fun! By the end, I was sweating buckets but felt amazing! I went home and got to talk on the phone to a friend at Kanakuk...which made me SO SUPER excited to go to Kamp when I get home. I'm so thankful there is something really amazingly fun to look forward to when I get home from here!

On Tuesday, Ruairi was sick, so I ended up working from 11-9:30, though I had a longer lunch break so I went shopping :)...we were really busy again... I had 4 inductions. My last guy was really nice, but he was from Cork...and if you don't know about Cork, their accents are absolutely impossible to understand. Even the Dubliners can hardly understand you can imagine my struggle! It just blows my mind that we speak the same language, yet somehow our words come out so differently! He was really cool though, he was my age and I could tell he was trying to speak slow and deliberately, but I still had to ask him a few times to repeat himself. We laughed a lot and had a great time during the induction...I love it when people are fun. :) Tuesday was Broc's 22nd birthday, so I got to talk to him on the phone when I got home from work. little brother is growing up so fast.

Today I worked another 8 hours...I only have 8 hours total left in my internship. Holy Moly. Nothing too exciting happened...I got off at 7 and was able to make it home to eat dinner with Luca and Filippo, usually I have to eat alone because I get home so late. :-/ So right now I am just looking at how much stuff I have accumulated over the past 4 weeks...hoping I can fit it all in my suitcases...thinking of the goodbye notes I still need to write to people...need to do laundry...need to journal...

Tomorrow, I am going to Johnny Fox's Pub with Marta and Ewelina...this is the highest pub in Ireland, up in the Wicklow Mountains! They have Irish dancing and singing every day, so it should be a really great time. I'm sure I'll have pictures to post afterwards.

Cheers for now...

"He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3:11

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's a beautiful day...don't let it get away...

"If we never met again in our lives I should feel that somehow the whole adventure of existence was justified by my having met you." -Lewis Mumford

These photos are some of the people I work with at Crunch Fitness Premier!

Oh how time is passing! I cannot believe I only have 1 week left until I return to the States. Friday was a good day at work, I had an induction with a woman who was extremely nice so that was fun. Friday was also kind of sad for me...I had to say goodbye to Robert, who went on holiday for a week back home to Poland, and I will be gone by the time he returns to Ireland. He gave me a huge hug and I had to choke back my tears as he was telling me not to cry :) I am so thankful to have met him... I am inspired by his talents. "Dance and Love", he says. This was the first of many goodbyes I have yet to make......every good thing has it's end though, huh?

I worked until about 8, then came home and had dinner with Mary, Filippo, and Luca. We stayed around the table for hours, just chatting and laughing and enjoying each others company. I will truly miss these times.

On Saturday, I wanted to do some shopping and Filippo had nothing to do so we both went into the City Centre around noon. It was an absolutely beautiful day (yes, the U2 song kept running through my head all day! Oh and did you know that U2 actually owns a hotel right on the River Liffey here in Dublin?) so it was packed with people...especially Grafton street. I was able to buy a few things for some people, including my brother, whose birthday I will unfortunately miss this Tuesday. Filippo was so kind to put up with me the entire day...I really do not like shopping much and though I like buying things for other people, I am not the best at making decisions, I go back and forth and back and forth! Around 2:30, we headed over to Jacob's Inn, which is where the Irish Dance Party was being held. And yes, Filippo agreed to do this with me even though I told him he didn't have to :) I think he may have second guessed himself once he got there and realized there was about 40 women and he was the only guy... :) It didn't help that most of them were there from Scotland for a Hen Party (Bachelorette Party)...made things interesting for sure! We were taught a few steps and practiced to live Irish musicians. It was great fun! I also found a leprechaun and some four leaf clovers...but in a store, not in the wild, unfortunately!

We headed home on the DART around 5 because I needed to change and get ready because my work was having a going-away party for a few people that were leaving. Filippo cooked pasta (his specialty!) and pizza and him and I ate in the garden...the weather was lovely. I then headed into town to meet up with my co-workers. I will really miss them, my time there has been so rewarding and fun!

Around midnight everyone was kind of going their separate ways, so I headed down to catch the Nitelink bus home. Since the regular bus services end around 11:30, if you have to go anywhere after that, you must take the Nitelink, which comes every half hour. I wasn't sure where it stopped at so I asked about 5 people, who all pointed me in one of 2 directions. I finally thought I had it figured out, and right around 12:30, I saw the 7N bus coming my way. As I prepared to meet zoomed right on by me! I started chasing after it, thinking it was stopping somewhere ahead...but no. I was really frustrated and confused and annoyed...and my feet were killing me. :) So...I ended up asking a taxi driver, who pointed me to a bus driver, who pointed me in the right direction. I hadn't been in the right place to board the bus, but I found the sign and waited there. While waiting, I started talking to a man from Dublin, he was very nice and we talked about many things and he kept me company on the ride home. I love meeting and getting to know random people that cross my path, it's delightful.

This morning, I went to Dun Laoghaire Evangelical Church again. I absolutely loved it...everyone is so warm and welcoming and it is refreshing to be surrounded by my family in Christ. The message was wonderful, it covered Romans 16. It was funny because that chapter is all about Paul sending greetings to his it would normally be one I would just kind of flip through, thinking it doesn't really apply to my life because it's pretty much a bunch of names. However, the pastor said that's what most people would normally do, but all scripture is that means it is important, we just have to dig a little deeper. This chapter emphasizes the importance of the body of Christ and how we have to nurture those relationships, pour into and encourage each other, and make these relationships a priority. It also talks about the different types of ministry and how every part is valuable. God has each of us in a place to minister and love others, and it doesn't mean we all have to be pastors and that's the only way to do it...but each of us are in unique positions and roles in life to reach people of all walks of life. I think since I've been here, I've learned so much more about loving others like Christ loves us.

After church, they had a coffee fundraiser for some college aged students who are going to an island off the coast of Spain to reach out to other college aged students who vacation there. I ended up meeting a couple of guys my age, so that was neat. They had been to Kansas and to the International House of Prayer! They said they bought a car in California and took 6 weeks and traveled from the west coast to the east coast, zig zagging up and down and all over the country. What fun! :) Again...I love meeting the quote by Edward E. Ford: "Meeting someone for the first time is like going on a treasure hunt. What wonderful worlds we can find in others!"

I can't wait to come back in May-ish (hopefully...right Mom and Joan!?!).

Today is an absolutely gorgeous day. We just had brunch in the garden and now I am going to catch up on a few writing in my journal, I'm a few days behind...yikes! So yes...until next time...Cheers from the Emerald Isle!

"My dear brother and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work." -Philippians 4:1

Friday, June 26, 2009

No matter where you go...there you are...

"Our days are identical suitcases - all the same size - but some people can pack more into them than others." -Bits & Pieces

This photo is St. Patrick's Cathedral. Beautiful. :)

Ok...this one is gonna be short...and really random...I am really behind on a few other things but I'm always so excited to post pictures and write about stuff on here. :) So today was fun at work, long again, but fun. I was going to have my first 2 inductions but they both canceled :( So that was sad. Today was interesting because 2 different people asked me if I was Canadian?! I thought that was pretty random. I was walking by one guy who was working out on a machine and he literally looked at me and all he said was, "Canadian. No...Polish. NO...definitely Canadian." I just looked at him and said, "If you are asking where I'm from, I'm American!" So then we laughed and I ended up talking to him for a long while, he was so interested in the wildlife in Kansas?! He is a wildlife photographer and was asking me all sorts of was hilarious. He wants me to go home and take pictures of nature and send them to him...ha.

The guys here at Crunch are so interesting to watch work out. As I said before, they wear different clothes than gym members in the polo shirts and popped collars, Timberland boots, wrestling shoes, etc. There are a select few blokes who are rugby players and they come in every day...I crack up every time because they always will try to catch one of us girls' eyes and then they will make sure we are watching, then they will literally flex their muscles. It's so guy even glanced over at us one day, pulled his shirt up, walked over to the mirror, and flexed his abs. It's not like any of us girls are impressed or get weak in the knees...come on...we are so over it, lol.

At one point in the day, I was talking to Ruairi and a guy came up to us and asked, "Sorry, but could I have a plaster?" Thankfully Ruairi was there, because I was completely confused....a plaster? Like for walls? I was racking my brain trying to figure out what he could possibly want...perhaps he wanted a plastic bag? All this was going through my head as I watched Ruairi get out the First Aid kit and hand the man a Band-Aid. I started laughing as I explained to Ruairi that I had absolutely no idea what a plaster was. He got this weird look on his face and was like, "You don't?!" So yes...though they do speak English here, I am occaisionally reminded that they have a whole different kind of vocabulary that I am still learning every day. :)

I got to talk with Ruairi quite a bit today. Turns out, about 5 years ago, he took a year and a half off to travel the world...Fiji, Thailand, New Zealand, South America...all over. That's the thing about Europeans...they travel SOOOO much more than us Americans, and it's completely normal. They go on holiday, or vacation, every few months and no one thinks a thing of it. They actually kind of make fun of Americans and say they would hate to have the daily schedules we have...too much work and not enough play! Here in the States, I feel like it is almost looked down upon for someone to take so much time off to "just travel". I don't know if it's because the "American way" says that you have to go to school, get a degree, get a job, get married, and then have kids...but it really is too bad that us Americans don't travel nearly as often as the Europeans. There is a whole world out there just waiting to be seen and discovered...and I fully intend on doing it, part by part...I really want to visit Italy and Australia next. :)

Cheers for now, I'm off to bed, long day again tomorrow.

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." -Psalms 90:12

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Row Seats at Riverdance = AMAZINGNESS!

"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive - it's such an interesting world." -Lacy Mead Montgomery

The last few days have been utterly incredible. I don't even really know where to start, I'm really behind on journaling and updating this blog because we have done SO MUCH the past 2 days...though I briefly wrote about Monday already, so I guess I'll do Tuesday. We got up early and went into the City Centre to go on the Dublin Hop on Hop off Bus Tour. Best thing we could have done to see the highlights of the entire city! You just buy a ticket and there are 23 stops, a bus comes every 10 minutes so you can get off whenever and for however long you wish, then just hop on the next one. It's brilliant, really. Oh and did I mention the weather was sunny and in the 70's?!??!? It couldn't have been a better, more perfect day! We visited so many places, such as the St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Dublin Castle, Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, etc. It took us about 4 hours and we didn't even get off at every stop...but we did some shopping along the way so that took up some time. We were wanting to be on the train back home at 4...but it ended up being 5. It takes about 45-60 minutes to get from the City Centre to my house on the train, then walking...and we were already running late so we hailed a taxi and made up some time that way. We came home, ate really fast, changed, did our hair/makeup, and then had a taxi take us back down to the train to go back into town to the Gaiety Theatre to see Riverdance.

We ended up getting there about 30 minutes early, so that was nice. Our seats were okay...on the first balcony, the Dress Circle, in the last row. We were just so happy to be there. The Gaiety is not very big so we were able to see alright. The show was awesome! During the show we spotted some open seats in the first row of our section, so the seats were overlooking the ground floor seats. Right after intermission, we jumped up to snatch them but 2 other people go there first. We were kinda sad and contemplating what to do...Kristin said she had seen some open seats in the front, on the 2nd we walked downstairs. I thought to myself..."this is crazy, there is NO WAY that there will be open seats in the 2nd row from the front, but whatever, I'll ask anyways". Kristin and I got separated midway through, and she motioned for me to ask the guy beside what we thought were 2 open seats. When I asked him, he said, "well these are taken but I don't think those are"...he was pointing to 2 OPEN SEATS IN THE VERY FIRST ROW. I was like...seriously?! So I asked the lady beside them and she said they were open!! So Kristin and I got first row seats for the 2nd half of the show! It...was...brilliant, so incredible! At one point, I realized I had my hands clasped to my chest with a gaping smile on my face just gazing at the performers. They smiled at us many times, so that was fun!

There were so many different parts to the show, so many stories were told through commentary and dancing. One of my favorite parts was where they had 2 African American guys who were tap dancers "from Brooklyn" and they met up with 3 of the Riverdance guys and they had sort of a dance off...they were mocking each other and going back and forth with their was incredible and also really funny! We were both sitting there just awestruck during the whole show. Brilliant.

**Side Note: What happened tonight at the theatre with our seats reminded me of how God works in our lives. This may sound like a silly analogy, but stick with me here...When we spotted the seats in the first row of the balcony, we thought that was going to be so awesome and we rushed to try to get them. When they were taken and we didn't get them, we were both disappointed because those seats would have been so good and so much better than our original ones. However...soon we realized that there were incredible seats in the first row! Who would have ever thought that we would be lucky enough to get the best seats in the house?! So our original disappointment was replaced with something so much better than we could have ever hoped for. God works in the same way in life...I often think I know the best thing for me and when it doesn't work out, I sometimes get sad and wonder how it could get any better...but then God reminds me to trust Him...and He shows me His plan, which is beyond anything I could ever imagine...His plan is always perfect for our lives, even when it doesn't make sense at the time. So yes, kind of strange relationship there, but it made sense in my head :)**

Afterward, we met up with Luca and Filippo in the Trinity College area, then headed home on the bus. There was a man sitting behind us, he was deaf and also drunk...but he ended up communicating to Kristin and I for a good while about himself and how he has prayed for healing for his deaf ears, how he has been in fights and gotten shot, etc. It was really sad and the thought of him has been heavy on both of our hearts. Neither of us had a Bible with us, but Kristin gave one to Filippo to give to him, because they ride the same bus at the same time. It was just a reminder of how much hurt and sadness is in the world...

Anyways, that is a very brief overview of our day yesterday...Kristin left this morning, and I am back to the real world now...or I guess my version of the real world, being that I'm still in Ireland. :) It has been an unbelievable trip thus far...I have met so many people, experienced so many things...and I still have 2 weeks left!

"God is wise in heart and mighty in strength...He does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without numbers." -Job 9:4,10

Monday, June 22, 2009

Now THIS is Ireland...

"There will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path...But this, far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb." -Sir Winston Churchill

Wow...the past few days have been amazing. Kristin and I went to visit Dun Laoghaire Evangelical Church, which was really fun....everyone was very nice and welcoming. Afterwards, we walked around Dun Laoghaire and visited a market that was going on in the People's Park down by the harbour. We bought some amber jewelry from Poland, so that was good. :) There was a Street Performance Championship event going on in Merrion Square, so we headed into the City Centre to check that out...but there were SO many people that we ended up visiting the National Gallery instead. It is an art gallery featuring the works of Irish artists from all time periods...pretty neat. We then headed home to eat dinner and ended up hanging out with Filippo the rest of the night. That! We broke out our video cameras and documented most of the evening... by the end of the night my stomach was hurting from laughing so much. He has the most hysterical personality...I can't even explain it!

This morning, we went into the City Centre and took a day tour to Glendalough (pronounced Glen-da-lock). It was so pretty! We visited the Powerscourt Gardens, traveled through the Wicklow Mountains, stopped in Glendalough and the Wicklow Gap...where P.S. I Love You, Braveheart, and many other movies were filmed! Sooo beautiful. We came home and I dragged Kristin to do some freestyle dancing at my work...she wasn't too thrilled at first, but she admitted she had a good time :) I am so glad she is here visiting me...I am so blessed to have an amazing best friend.

Tomorrow we are going on a "hop on hop off" bus tour of stops at 23 different places and you just get on and off whenever you want. Should be an awesome time! Then...get ready for this one....WE ARE GOING TO SEE RIVERDANCE TOMORROW NIGHT! I am so so so excited, it's been a dream of mine to see them and now I get to! I can't wait. :) Until next time...Cheers!

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord...There He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths." -Isaiah 2:3