26 March, 2008

God is in Cervinia

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Got back late Saturday night after seven days in Italy. The trip was tough on many levels but perhaps the most personally satisfying too. We were hit with a lot of set-backs. Back home Hailey, watched Eoin contract a muscle virus (giving him sore legs) along with scarlet fever (again!) and Moia battled a head and chest cold giving them all many sleepless nights. In Cervinia we had injury after injury - one student sprained their wrist, another tore his ligament, one knocked himself out cold, another found it hard to walk after he popped his hip and yet another found it hard to sit after severely bruising his tail bone. Perhaps the crescendo was when the rescue helicopter had to be called in to save two of our students from falling into a large crevasse in which someone had died just 30 minutes earlier. They hung on to ice for 20 minutes before being rescued.

Midway through the trip Cormac and I looked at each other and asked, "Can we afford to do these trips?" By the end of that night our question was "Can we afford to not do these trips?" So many of these university students have questions, deep questions, life questions. Our theme was "living life to the full," and we looked at the many ways Jesus reorients our life not so he can rule us like a tyrant but so that we can become our true selves and join him in his plan of world reconciliation. We were reminded that these lads don't often get to wrestle with the deep questions of life. Like many of us, it's not often that they stop and ask why they're living their lives they way they do.

It was such a blessing to be able to hang with guys who have become good friends and meet others for the first time. It was encouraging to see some of the lads desire to pursue God more for the first time. It was good to know that even with all the hard times this trip endured we could say at the end, "God is in Cervinia."

A few pictures from the trip.

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06 March, 2008

In Manchester

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Yesterday I awoke at 4am to join six others from Dublin jumping on a plane to Manchester for the day. We were there for a conference put on by RUN on cafes as ministry. While I appreciated the conference and was introduced to some new resources I'll be honest and say I wasn't that impressed. What was valuable, however, was the time spent with others of like-mind. Not only did we have a great laugh but we were able to encourage one another and share our visions for working in the cafe culture emerging in Dublin. Although only seven of us flew over from Dublin I was shocked over the past few months to meet individual after individual who had similar visions. I think we counted 10 different initiatives to start cafes in Dublin! Each vision is different but the heart is the same - to see God's kingdom realized in the lives of Dubliners. We were able to visit Nexus, a new cafe focused on art culture and also the meeting grounds of Sanctus1. While there we bumped into Mark Berry who a few knew from Sojourners this past summer. He was randomly speaking that night but we decided to miss it in favor of some lovely Chinese food.

All-in-all the trip was fantastic and much needed. I'm excited to see where these initiatives go and how we might be involved in the process.

The Journey Feb Snowboard Trip

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We made it back from Italy (well almost - more on that later). The trip was amazing. Any time you spend seven days snowboarding over 6 hours each day and incur no major injuries, it's amazing. The beginners did well and kept up with those who'd been before though they took many a fall (two finally gave up and went back to skiing). The weather was phenomenal. We had 7 days of sun. This meant we didn't have much powder but to be honest it allowed us to enjoy ourselves that much more. The night discussions we especially powerful this year, with each of the students feeling free to share and engaging deeply from their hearts. I was on holy ground hearing what they had to say. Thank you to those who helped make this trip possible and who prayed for it.

Towards the end of the week I was thanking God that no major problems had occurred. A few hours later a student walked up to me and informed me he didn't have his passport. We ran back to the hotel, looked everywhere but found nothing. Once at the airport, we were informed that we needed police approval to fly. After speaking to the police they (he) said it wouldn't be possible to fly (the stewardess told us contrary - hmmmm). So, after much debating we had to leave the student and Cormac back in Milan. They made it home the next night just before midnight.

We're running this same trip again in March with another 20 students. Can't wait.

Check out some photos of the trip.