Originally sent 1-22-2016
We are posting all of our letters we wrote to friends and family from the first trip we took to explore what the Lord has for us in Ireland, so you can get a glimpse of our journey from the beginning. This was the 2nd email sent.
We wanted to update you all on our trip to Ireland over Thanksgiving and what He has been doing since. Thank you for all your prayers for our exploration trip to Ireland. It was a great trip on many ways. Time together as husband and wife to just talk and be close without the challenges of everyday life and young children needing care throughout the day. We laughed a lot and enjoyed sharing things with each other we simply hadn’t before due to the business of life.
We were literally all over the island – we touched the coast, North, South, East and West. So it wasn’t a relaxing trip- we were constantly on the go somewhere. But it was a good Trip. We flew in through Dublin and then visited Waterford, Galway and Ballymena (Northern Ireland). (see map for reference).
Ireland is wonderful. The people are warm and inviting (but cautious- if you get personal they keep some distance pretty quickly), the countryside is beautiful with the rolling green hills even in the dead of winter, narrow roads with crazy speed limits, rock walls lining the hills and sheep and cows grazing everywhere. We enjoyed the Irish people we met and can see ourselves ministering to them.
As far as ministry opportunities go, we felt the doors were closed in Waterford (south) and Ballymena (north). Both places were lovely and the people were very welcoming and genuine. But we don’t feel we fit in with the ministries in those locations – the Lord didn’t seem to have any open doors there. Galway was less clear. We didn’t feel any specific open or closed doors here. I think “neutral” is the best description I can give. We can see ourselves sitting under the Pastor (Jess), and Carli and his wife Becca got along very well.
We believe we are on the right path as the spiritual warfare has been there the whole time, if subtle. Whether we go back full time or this was the start of more deliberate stateside ministry, the enemy doesn’t want us to step out in faith. Little things for the most part- bickering, increased fatigue during bible study times and 3 days after returning home Carli was in a car accident. Minor in the grand scheme of things – she strained the muscles the full length of her spine, is still very sore and recovery has been slower than we expected. But she is recovering. So, overall it tells us we are on the right track, we just don’t know exactly where the track is heading!
So now we have moved on to a new phase, praying about where God would have us, and specifically going back to Ireland as full-time missionaries. On December 27th Jess called us and invited us to join them full-time in Galway starting January 2017, and he also suggested we come and serve for all of June and July this year to get additional confirmation of the Lord’s calling. For the 2 months would be assisting with 3 short term missions groups coming in to Galway, leading Children’s Ministry at New Life Calvary Chapel, and starting the process of getting to know the men to do men’s discipleship and women’s ministry. So the invitation is there, but we really want to be sure it is the Lord’s will and not our own if we are to go. We are trying to take it slow, but also give serious consideration to the opportunity. Going for 2 months in the summer has it’s challenges, but it would be a great opportunity to get further confirmation of whether this is where the Lord has us to serve.
We’ve been asked- Ireland!? Why Ireland? The answer is really pretty simple. There are about 6.4 million people in Ireland, of which 0.5% are evangelical Christians. Of those 0.5%… over 90% live in Northern Ireland. That means that only 8 out of every 1000 people – 0.008% – in the Republic of Ireland are evangelical Christians!! The typical Irish think they know him, but they have been abused and taken advantage of by the Church and want very little to do with Jesus in their lives. It is very hard ground, indeed.
So thank you again for your prayers during our trip- we truly do appreciate them more than you know. Please continue to pray for clear confirmation from the Lord as to where He wants us to be serving, for Carli’s health and recovery as well as for Gary’s safety and effectiveness as he goes out on a short term missions trip to Israel starting this Friday, 1/22 through 2/1/2015.
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