First Contact with the Irish Ministry

  1. The Flight

Only three weeks after deciding to have a spontaneous trip to Galway, we found ourselves on our flight to Dublin. We wanted to meet the congregations in Ireland to introduce ourselves and make our first contact with the Irish ministry.

We didn’t even board our flight yet when I already regretted not bringing my jacket… and our train was 30 minutes late too. So I was kind of nervous about what to expect of the next days. Nonetheless we made it safe and sound to Dublin.

Worries

When looking out the plane window down to a brightly lit Dublin, I felt a little scared. I am not afraid of being in an airplane, I rather love it. But because every experience we are about to make in the following five days could make a difference towards our decision to move here. In any case we expect to get a feeling if Jehovah supports our plans to move to Ireland as need greaters. (Read more about what and why in “We are moving to Ireland!” and “What is a need greater?“)

What if our English isn’t good enough to live here or the congregations aren’t welcoming? What if it is too windy or too cold for us anyway? Every single notion could tell us to abandon our plans.

I do know, that whenever we put the kingdom first, Jehovah will make sure we will succeed. That doesn’t mean we don’t expect any obstacles, but at least we wont fail horribly. We do want to keep our eyes and ears open, to hear what Jehovah wants to tell us. And being here in Ireland is one of the best chances to hear what he says about moving.

“Keep on, then, seeking first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33

So, here we are, in Ireland, listening very hard.

Hostel

Because our flight was pretty late and we arrived in Dublin around 11:30 pm, we stayed overnight in a hostel right in the Temple Bar District. This hostel was utterly confusing.

Finding our 28-bed-mixed dorm was pretty easy. We just had to go down the stairs, to the right, through the kitchen, into the garden, to the left, up the stairs, again left and straight ahead. But finding the showers was so weird, we completely lost any sense of direction. After climbing several stairs in different directions, we wer sure that we weren’t  in the same house anymore. Which made it even more confusing, when we found ourselves in front of our room again. I am still sure this was literally not possible. The only advice we got at night was, “Don’t go to the Hammock-Room!” In the end we did find the showers and the way back to our room again, only to get lost when looking for the reception.

After finally being released from this maze of a house the next day, we headed to the airport to pick up our car.

Cart Witnessing

Already on day one we experienced how important cart witnessing is in Ireland. At home we also have carts, but there is no clear schedule concerning when and where you can find someone with the cart regularly.

Leaving for the airport at 8 am in Dublin we met a group of three brothers and sisters standing in O’Connell Street at the Post Office. When having lunch in Tullamore later that day we spotted two very nice sisters and their cart. Although only talking to them for 5 minutes, they invited us to stay with them the next time we’re around! The unity among Jehovah’s organization was really impressive. We have family members practically everywhere on earth, even though we never met them before.
Just a few hours later in Galway we saw the next group of four brothers and sisters in Eire Square.

And you will be witnesses of me … to the most distant part of the earth. – Acts 1:8

This fact also made a big impression on our Air BnB host Patrycja. We told her we were visiting friends in Galway, but when she asked us where they live, we didn’t have a clue. So we told her our story and she immediately told us that she always saw our carts when she was out grocery shopping.

Seeing those zealous brothers and sisters in Ireland really encouraged us both. The first to arrive at the hall for the field service meeting were always those brothers who had been in cart witnessing since 7:30 am (and us). What a great example!

Water Pressure

Our short time home was wonderful. We did have our own very small, but functional bathroom and an amazing bed! But what is wrong with Ireland’s low water pressure in the Irish showers? I have absolutely no idea why, but it takes ages to get your hair wet at all.

Every bathroom has usually one of these electrical pump things, which are very (!) loud and we were warned to best not change the temperature at all. Coming back from our trips we felt like showering with a sand blaster.

So I guess this is one of the things we’ll just have to get used to (and people being chronically late). 😉

The Ministry

Thanks to the letter from the congregations beforehand (“We heard back from Galway“) we were already expected and we knew where to go. Some brothers already even knew our names! We had the chance to visit both congregation meetings and also spend some time with them in the ministry.

While in Germany, usually everyone has his own territory and we arrange service on our own. Field service meetings are helpful if you weren’t able to find a service partner for the day. In Ireland In contrast we went out as a group in group territory. We still were two by two, but got assigned different parts of streets.

Obviously a thing we never heard of is a “Cul de Sac”. It is kind of a dead end, but going round or in a spiral. Both Saturday and Sunday we spent our ministry in such areas and really did the classic “door to door” – ministry.

Since we only know foreign language ministry at home, this was completely new for us and extremely fun. In Germany people are used to not even respond to our greeting but close the door again instantly, while in the english field we mainly try to find out who is a native english speaker. When in Ireland it was the first time we were able to do our presentation in full and got an actual respond to our questions! We never had that before! The people are very friendly, and even if they are not interested they thanked us for coming by and wished us a good day.

Lunch Break

Putting all of those experiences aside, who wouldn’t want to serve where you can spend your ministry break on the beach? Both days we went out in service, we went to the nearest beach and/or castle for lunch, which was usually in sight anyways. On our last day even in two different locations. We still had time after lunch and wanted to enjoy the rest of the wonderful sunny weather along the seashore, smelling the salty air and having maybe some ice cream. I even ignored the risk getting sunburnt and we walked down the Salthill Promenade And back up again. What a beautiful place!

Meetings

We decided to go to both English Galway Meetings to make sure we’ll visit every possible congregation (at least for the beginning). I think every one who ever has been to a congregation on holiday will agree it is an outstanding experience.

We experienced such a warm welcome and immediately had to tell everyone where we come from, how long we were planning to stay, why we were here etc. Especially on day two we were really experienced in telling our story to everyone. But afterwards they repeatedly emphasized the particular name of the congregation, so we wouldn’t forget where we would need to go when we make the move. This was really encouraging for us and assured us to go forward with our plans.

Since we are used to an English speaking congregation, we didn’t have to get used to the language, but still it was a big difference. It was a nice experience to have the talks and comments from mainly native speakers. They are really at ease putting their thoughts into words and we are looking forward to learn from them.

All in all we had great experiences in Galway and really benefitted from meeting the Irish part of our worldwide family.

Fenore Beach

We were very happy to be invited to join the congregation for a BBQ on the beach. Since there was a “heat wave” (17°C) some even stayed over night.

On our way there it was so sunny and really hot, but arriving on the beach it was overcast and windy, although that didn’t bother us anyway. We didn’t plan to go to the beach at all, so this recreational time with the brothers and sisters was a real special bonus!

Look! How good and pleasant is for brothers to dwell together in unity! – Psalm 133:1

We still felt kind of weird, dipping our toes in the sea and already losing any feeling after 20 seconds, while watching children playing in the waves probably already for hours. I think we need to take a lot of cold showers at home to prepare for living here.

The Weather

When talking to locals about our plans moving here, every one warned us about the weather. We need to be ok with a lot of rain, no sun at all and cold temperatures. Well, we would like to experience the real Irish weather, to be prepared. Weirdly, last year we had 25°C and sunshine for 2 weeks straight and no rain at all. This time it was 17°C and sunshine with about 30 minutes drizzle one day in the morning. Sometimes it was a little overcast, but we still felt quite comfortable. Especially since the Mr took me shopping for a jacket suitable for the ministry on our first day in Galway!

Some people had the impression we would be the reason for the wonderful weather (again 17°C and sunny, this is summer!) and didn’t want us to go ever again! We even would have stayed if we could. Driving back to the airport, we realized we really didn’t want to leave and it already felt a little like home . We are now a little less scared and are looking forward to our next trip end of this year and our move in 2019.

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