Last weekend, LC and I were away at a church weekend in Durrow, in the Republic of Ireland. The way this came about is that one of our church's mission partners are in Nenagh, and their church was organising this weekend. However, having not done such a thing before, they were looking for some experienced help running the weekend, and so a team from Scotland went over.
(There is of course an oddity in us having mission partners in Ireland. That's another topic for another day... and probably not one I'll ever get to.)
Unfortunately, we had been slow in arranging travel, which meant that getting reasonable flights was difficult, and indeed that and work commitments meant that our team was split - five members travelled out on the Thursday to Belfast and then drove down, while LC and I flew out late on Friday and then drove from Dublin. Additionally, our flights were hand-luggage only, which was somewhat limiting. (And also, oddly, somewhat liberating - saved me from taking anything I didn't really need.)
The journey out was fairly uneventful, but very tiring. We went to the airport in plenty of time, and therefore (of course) got through security very quickly. We then had some food, waited a while, and went to the gate. The process of actually boarding the plane was painfully slow, but was the only weakness in the journey. Then a short flight, a quick car pick-up, and a drive to the centre, with only one fairly minor wrong turn. All in all, we arrived at 12:40am, which wasn't too bad.
Well, until the next morning, when we had a pre-breakfast meeting at 8am, which meant getting up at 7. Perhaps fortunately, the pre-breakfast meeting turned out to be a post-breakfast meeting, at which we were given a heads-up on what we were doing for the day. Then there were the morning sessions, free time in the afternoon, and then the evening sessions.
I did actually find the various sessions quite difficult. The biggest part of the problem was that all the people in our team of seven had obvious roles - be it ministry, kitchen duties, or crafts. But my special skills are software engineering and playing the pipes, both of which were somewhat hampered (by not having a PC or bagpipes, respectively). So that was a little odd.
One important outcome of the weekend, though, was that I was complemented on all three cool t-shirts I wore. So never again can people pour scorn on my claim that people like my t-shirts. Huzzah!
Saturday night ended quite early, as the events of the month finally took their toll. And then on to Sunday, which had some morning worship, then lunch, and then packing up.
It was odd, but it seemed that no sooner had we arrived than we were already leaving. There was then a three-hour drive to Belfast, and then flights back to Edinburgh. The return flight was the less pleasant of the two, partly because Belfast International Airport is less pleasant than Edinburgh, and partly because Easyjet took us through security quite soon but then had us waiting for ages to actually board the plane. Not good.
It was a good weekend, all told. The folks from Nenagh were all very welcoming, and certainly in fine form. And we found ourselves working with a good bunch of kids, which is always nice. Since they say a change is good as a rest... which is nonsense, of course - so... tired...
The final outcome of the weekend was that we each received a parting gift which, yes, turned out to be a mug! So there shall be one more mug anecdote. Huzzah again!
This week's mug: Despite receiving a new mug, this week I am still making use of my older one, largely because I just didn't have time to pre-wash the new one between getting home on Sunday night (actually Monday morning) and then going to work on Monday.
This week's mug, therefore, is my favourite in all the world. It's a simple black mug bearing the flag of Bretagne on both sides and another symbol of the region opposite the handle. I got this mug at the Festival de la Saint Loup in Guingamp, when the band went there some years ago. I'm not sure why it's my favourite mug, though it does have many fine features (notably, it's just the right size, and the handle is especially comfortable).
#29: "Middlemarch", by George Eliot (a book from The List) Alas, "Middlemarch" took much longer to read than I expected, which means that in June I've moved from being a book ahead of schedule to being behind again. Fortunately, we're still in competition season and I still have some flights coming up, so I should hopefully catch up again this month.