Day 4, and encouragement from Swaziland. Mandla Mdluli, the Diocesan Development Officer, is also going barefoot. He writes, "Does this mean those kids with no shoes feel they way i feel today?????I do not think so really.. but if it is so, now i know how it feels like to have no shoes. I am suffering today it is very cold... but it is in solidarity with the pupils with no shoes....soldiering on."
From a parishioner at All Saints' Cathedral in Mbabane: "We have had a big drive in the church to collect shoes, or money in lieu of, hope it does well. What a brilliant idea!!! Thanks for all your work for Swaziland. Love Frances"
Really fantastic experience at RTE. Everybody, everybody, there so kind and helpful. Particular praise for Colm Flynn and Sheila O'Callaghan. Kathryn Thomas was just lovely - warm and welcoming and really able to put you at ease.
The afternoon involved a visit to the Registry of Deeds. Walking up Henrietta Street was a challenge, with dog poo and broken glass. I have discovered that cobbles are very nice to walk on; very smooth, and somehow hold the heat from the sun. Great Dublin humour in that part of town too: "Come here till I persecute you!" "Lovely pair of shoes - where did you buy them?"
Day 1 was not too difficult. Two church services - very different, but very glad to be at both. There was only a small area of gravel around one church and a few loose stones on the road outside Tescos in the afternoon. Dry weather means feet are not too dirty, but I was really surprised at how cold I felt. New understanding of how it feels to have no shoes.
I received this trip to Ireland as a surprise from Bishop Ellinah and Us in Ireland. At first I didn’t have much time to think about it because it was more of a short notice as I was supposed to have an international passport and a visa.
Had a safe trip from Swaziland to Johannesburg, from Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi to Dublin.
Then – magic.
The moment I saw Ireland’s lush green landscape from the airplane’s window, I sensed I was entering a world that was unlike anything I had experienced before. When I walked outside the airport and the sea breeze hit me; I was enchanted. It’s raining almost every day and cold even though they say it’s their spring for me it’s the coldest winter I have ever experienced. I arrived on Tuesday and it’s now a week since I came, and for me to survive the three months I have left everything behind me and let Ireland sink into every pore of my being.
My first stay was in Dublin at a Theological College where I spent two nights. Then went to Mohill on a Thursday and I also spent two nights. Mohill is a very quiet place mostly owned by farmers and stayed at Jan and Linda’s house, Inis d’ór. Then on Saturday I went to Northern Ireland where I will spend the rest of my stay. I was welcomed by All Saints rector Revd Malcolm Ferry who was really nice to me. My first night was at Mervyn and Rhona’s house then on Sunday I went to church at All Saints. Later on that day I moved to my house at the All Saints centre which is attached to the parish office.
Ireland engages every one of the human senses unlike no other. The landscapes, the food, the drink, the people, and the mystical energy of Ireland has created a festival for all of my senses and will keep me enraptured for the rest of my stay and life. This is a learning curve that I never could have imagined.
On the 1 April I went to one of the primary schools for a school assembly and it was really amazing and the children are fed from morning, break, lunch and some with dinner. I could say like in a five star hotel.
Church in Ireland is like their second home they do all sorts of activities you can ever think of and have a lot of fundraising strategies with very little money. Activities engage everyone from two weeks old to the eldest and it’s funny to see gogos dancing. Children are a priority, they have a safe guarding policy which is not only meant for the children but also the people in charge like the priests and teachers.
I was not expecting what I found in Ireland. I have seen with my eyes the most beautiful things on Earth. I could go blind today and have memories to satisfy me for the rest of my life.
The people are as mesmerizing to me as the perfect landscapes. The absence of arrogance in the Irish people left me falling in love with everyone I spoke with. The open hearts, the transparency, the pure intentions; at first I thought it foreign and odd. Then it dawned on me that this is the way humans are meant to treat each other. This is how God intends us to love one another.Looking forward to learning more that I can bring home with me.