Thursday, July 27, 2006


So the past few weeks I've joined the Discovery Gospel Choir. What is it? Let me tell you. When I was back in Ireland for Christmas after coming back from Cambodia, I went to a special youth oriented Christmas service in Christchurch Cathedral (the oldest and biggest Cathedral in Dublin...I think). There was a small gospel choir there called "Discovery Gospel Choir." It was an integrated gospel choir about 60% african and 40% Irish from appearances. And ages we were told ranged from 7 years old to mid 80s. The music was good, not spectacular, but respectable- the thing that caught me about the choir though wasn't their sound, it was the what their leader, Philip said, to introduce them, he mentioned words like "gospel" "Christ's Kingdom" and "Racial Reconciliation" all in the same breath. After having been back from HNGR for a month already these words hit me like cold water on parched lips. It was like blowing oxygen on a burning ember, the flame started to burn again. Till this point, I didn't know of any "kingdom, or Shalom" oriented Christian expression in Ireland till that point, who understood these terms in ways that I had come to fall in love with. Philip was the first other Irish Christian who by his vocab seemed to understand.

Before I came back for this summer I searched the internet found a few email addresses and finally got put in touch with the choir. I first spent a day with the choir on an outing day where they were just taking a fun day trip down country. It was great just to sit, sing, and talk about God's heart for this land. I joined the choir and last week we sang in the Point Depot. The Point is a really famous concert venue, it's where all the West-end shows come when they're on tour and where most of the big bands come to play when they're in Dublin. We weren't there for some big concert or choir fest but for something better. It was the annual gathering of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). The RCCG is a denomination that began in Nigeria in the 1950s and is now one of the world's largest African denominations. This is the first time they had such a gathering in Ireland. People from all overh the world were there and a choir of 80+ people was there from the UK leading some great gospel worship. I've never been surrounded by so many Nigerians in my life, it was a great thing, and makes me want to visit Nigeria. It was the largest gathering of Africans ever in Irish history, with over 6,000 people there.

We were asked to perform and Philip was asked to give a short message. He did a great job. He tried to encourage the Nigerians living in Ireland to see themselves as missionaries here, as sent by God to revitalize the Irish church and reach out to those who do not know Christ. And as like any good missionaries he encouraged them to love the people and their culture. He encouraged them to be involved with life here, to read the newspaper, to learn the Irish language to start thinking of here as home, and then he also encouraged the irish people in attendance to WELCOME people to make them feel more at home. It's a two way street. He was really well received and it set up well for our choir to sing, as we're trying to be an expression of that diversity, with Irish and African (mainly Nigerian) coming together in community and worship. Our first song, which was written by the members of the choir is called discovery, and it is half in English and half in Yoruba (a Nigerian language). When Solomon, our musical director broke into the first Yoruba solo, you should have seen the house shake, people cheered and I was overwhelmed it was amazing. I wasn't singing that night as I was put on playing piano for the group. Thankfully everything seemed to go well.

On a side note, it's kind of nice being back in the music thing. When I was at Wheaton, where everyone is seemingly extremely talented with everything, my piano playing and singing didn't really set me apart, everyone could do that, but now being back here music is becoming a lot more of my identity again, and I think I like that. I got to play one of my own songs at an open mic session and was asked to do a song at a creative church service the other night. It's just nice to have a side of me re-opened that had been closed for so long.

This picture is of the choir when they sang for Desmond Tutu.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

So about the new job...

Hey All, I guess i should post about stuff that isn't italy. Again, I don't know what's wrong with me I don't have a lot of deep thoughts to publish about issues that I'm pondering at the moment. I know I do, but now I'm working I think I come home too tired to locate my thoughts and put them down. I of course have loads of feelings about the middle east situation at the moment, but again, it almost seems pointless saying anything except for that it is a travesty that Lebanon and the Lebanese population are being targeted so much. Lebanon had made some great moves towards greater freedom and democracy, separation from Syria and just a better situation all round, now Israel is effectively destroying a stabalizing state and future potential friend, it's just a tradgic decision. What's worse is the countless lives that have been displaced, and also the 140 something Lebanese civilians that had been killed as of yesterday (by a regime that supposedly doesn't target civilians) and the 20 something Israeli civilians that had been killed (by Hizbollah terrorists). Anyway, I have no answers, we all want peace, we all disagree on how to get there, I'm idealistic but I don't believe peace is most effectively (if ever) achieved through repaying violence with violence.

So now about the job... On the overpriced bus into brussels (21euro return) from the Airport, I got a text from my dad, saying that Loughlinstown Hospital had called saying they had work for me. I'd applied there at the begining of the summer, they gave me the whole line saying that I was top of the list but that at the moment there was no current work available. After getting laid off from Amnesty, I phoned back and left a message saying I was still available for work. So on getting that text, I immediatley called dad and got the woman's number. I phoned her and was told to come into work Thursday morning, and that they were perfectly fine with the fact that i'm leaving in the end of September. God couldn't have scheduled things in any better time. I had a day to recover from my trip then was straight into work. I seriously knew nothing about my job, I hadn't a clue what I'd be doing or how much I'd get paid, but when I went in I found out quickly enough that I was going to be a "ward assistant" which means that half of my time is devoted to cleaning rooms and things (i.e. counters, sinks everything except people really -thank God-). The rest of my time is devoted to getting food from the kitchen and serving it to patients during meal times. I also do different things during that time, like get things for patients (serve LOADS of cups of tea), help move some patients around and just whatever else people ask me to do. It's a good job. It's great experience of a hospital, it's sort of lowest on the pecking order of the great big hospital hierarchy, so that's invaluable experience for me, it'll help me a lot rather than starting in close to the top as a doctor.

It's local and I even walk to work (it takes a half hour each way). Again it's great pay, it's the same as my Amnesty job, with double that rate on Sundays. And with a lot more hours (8:00 - 5:30) than I'd been working at Amnesty I'll be making a good bit more. I've been working in Accident and Emergency over the past two days and really love it. I just like being around the hospital environment and seeing how differnet doctors, nurses, workers do things differently. Anyway, that's the job. We'll see how it goes and I'll post more if anything changes. Peace.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A couple of more pictures...

The famous Ponte Vechio in Florence (i won't even begin to defend my italian spelling...sorry danny).
The big Duomo in Florence, the outside is spectacular as you can see, but the inside isn't anything incredibly special.

So let's just be thankful no one decided to invade Italy during the World Cup final, although it probably would have been the best time to do so.....

Back from Italy..

Finally, a picture of the three of us. We WERE ACTUALLY all there at one time. We're here at the Trevi Fountain.

The Circus Massimus during the 1st half of the Final.

Alyssa and myself at the Colloseum. Liz is also there, taking the picture.

So after Siena, we went to Rome. We arrived sunday afternoon, just in time for all the festivities surrounding the World Cup final. We walked all around the Roman Forum and the Colloseum, and then went to the Circus Maximus where they were busy setting up for the thousands of people who would come to watch the match that night. We found a great pizza place to eat at, who speedily rushed us through our meal so they could close down to watch the game. We saw the first half in the circus maximus with the huge crowds, but then decided to watch the second half in the comfort of our own hotel, as who knew what the crowd would do if the won or lost....and especially since we were all a bit wrecked from walking non-stop the previous 3 days we didn't wait around to find out. We watched the second half and extra-time with our hotel's receptionist who I think was happy for the company. The second Italy won (in penaltys at the end) the streets outside started going crazy. Fireworks went off just a few feet from our 3rd floor window, and the restaurant outside was busy opening champagne bottles and giving sips (and bottles!) to random pedestrians passing by. Didn't get much sleep that night, but we were all a bit caught up in the moment, and having fun with them, yelling Italia! out the window and stuff like that.....the next day was the Vatican....a slight change in mood.

it was great, we had a good time going through St. Peter's and the museums and Sistine Chapel, it was cool to see all the paintings I'd just studied in my senior semester Gen Ed. Intro to Art. Of course we found one of the best gelato places in rome, just beside the Vatican, it was gorgeous and they gave you loads....a nice combination. Walked around, had some iced baileys coffee, and then found a place to rest by the river. It was beautiful, we must have been there for over an hour, just talking, journaling, and lying down under the shade of trees from the hot beating sun. After that it was over to the pantheon, then we waited around for one of Liz's favourite restaurants to open that she had been to in May when she was in Rome before. The food was really good and worth the wait.

That night we made our way up to the Trevi Fountain (again had more gelato) and then over to the spanish steps (had to go to the traditional tourist sights, but really i just had more fun just soaking in the atmosphere). I really love the way that Italy is such a meeting of worlds, you can really tell your in the mediteranian, lots of north africans and arabs around, not to mention people from every corner of the world. I could have even sworn I saw a Cambodian woman selling scarves in the Campo Nuovo. Anyway, as I'm sure you can tell I really enjoyed it.

I left early the next morning for a plane to brussels where I had a good 6 hour lay over, for some reason I had originally thought it was longer and so decided to go into the main city centre and almost got sick on belgian waffles and chocolate, it was crazy good, but besides that there's not much to talk about there, I had a terrible time there navigating the public transport system, and so almost missed my bus back to the airport. But, it was all good in the end. I'd definitely go to Italy again, but I think I'd just spend most of it in the smaller towns and try to avoid other foreign tourists (every tourists dream...I know) but in my case the highlights weren't seeing the Michelangelo's or the Da Vinci's it was just the italian approach to life that got me to want to come back.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ah Siena.....

We woke up early on our last morning which was a good thing since we would have been woken up anyway by the crazy loud drumming that these guys were doing. I don't know much about it but aparently Siena has loads of different sections which have their own history, colours and traditions and all compete in the big horse races that take place twice a year and draw tourists from all over. This must have been a practice or something....I don't know but they were dressed up in full garb and parading around town at around 8:00 a.m. on a sunday morning.

This is me and my cousin liz in the big town centre where they hold the big city horse races twice a year.

Hey, so if any of you plans on coming to Italy, don"t forget to see Siena. This is a beautiful city. Wow, it"s a wonder to think that so many italians ever leave this country, and that they"re not all clinially obese. The food here is really good, italian restaurants back home really don"t do it justice. Anyway, I got to go, cause i really shouldn"t be inside an internet cafe. We just stopped to book our hostel in rome. I"ll post more later.

Okay so here's some pictures of Siena above.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

So guess where I am now?

So don"t ask why, but right now I"m in florence, italy waiting to meet up with my cousin Liz and her Roommate Alyssa who are arriving on a train from southern France. Florence is so beautiful! even though it"s hard to see through ll the tourists, ah well, that"s life when half a million people have the same idea all at once. So why am I here? well in light of me becoming recenlty fired, and the fact that there were cheap enough plane tickets as well as people to travel with, i thought, why not?

We"re staying here till sunday then take the train down to rome for a couple of days. I leave on tuesday to go back to real life and work at a tem agency. I might get a job as a copy typist in a hospital, not much fun, but I"ll learn medical vocab and get paid great so we"ll have to see.

I"ll update more when we get back.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

New Beginings

Well I guess all good things (or bad things...depending on your point of view have to come to an end.) A few of my friends (meaning mainly Aprile), decided to christen me Wormwood because of my role with Amnesty as a "chugger" (Charity-Mugger).

This past friday they asked 3 of the four of us new people and two of the ones who had been there longer to come into the main office for a meeting. My team leader assured me that they just like having the new people in after their first week to see how things are going and to enourage us to keep getting more members. I had just got another member before the meeting started so I was feeling pretty good. The two days before had been quite good for me as well, after the begining of the week which I was finding slow. One of the team leaders said he was going to recomend me for the job of team-leader myself because he saw how good I was doing with the job. So needless to say I was a bit shocked when our manager said "I'd usually like to give you much more notice than this, but this will be your last day working with us." Apparantely they had had to really convince the board that our group should be hired, and so they had released some cash for our positions to be put in place. We hadn't though been getting enough members to really earn our keep and normally they would keep us on another few days to see if we would improve (which I felt I was really doing) and to give us a better chance, but because funding was so bad at the moment they had to let us go right away. i'm not too angry, in reality the job is about numbers of members and I don't want to become a financial burden on Amnesty if I'm supposed to be fundraising for them. A guy I met in the pub when we went out for drinks afterwards (who himself had been fired from Amnesty the week before) said that Amnesty was starting to realize they were paying us too much money but couldn't reduce our pay untill next year when they start hiring again.

So I'm back on the job hunt. You could pray that if God wants me to get a job, so that I can earn money, that he would open the doors that need to be opened and would give me the patience, perseverence, and peace to find the right one (-do you like that alliteration there?...).