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us1On Sept. 24 Amy and I hopped a plane from London to Belfast. I was born in Belfast, but haven’t been back since my parents moved us in 1975 because of the troubles between the Protestants and the Catholics. I have never really wanted to go back to Belfast, but wanted to spend my travel time in developing nations like Cambodia, S. America and India. The only reason that we went to Belfast is because of a Mission Adventures gathering that we were apart of in Germany. When I landed at the Belfast airport all this changed for me. In some strange way I felt like I was home.

As I walked through the airport to meet my mom, aunt and uncle I had this sense of excitement, sadness and expectation. Excitement that I was going to see where I came from, sadness in that I felt that I had missed so much by being away and expectation in what God was going to do in my life as a result of this trip.
When I arrived in my aunt and uncles house Simon (uncle) handed me a Guinness, it was good to be home. A short while and two Guinness’s later my cousin, Margaret came in. The last time I saw Margaret we were fighting because she was riding my big wheel cycle, I was 10. We hugged and spent the rest of the evening talking, catching up, laughing and getting a glimpse of how the rest of my family has been living for the last 34 years.

The next day we took the bus downtown to walk. I saw where my mom and dad used to work and fell in love. I walked by a couple of buskers, which reminded of me of ONCE (great movie if you haven’t seen it). We also saw a wall of pictures from the 70’s when the troubles were at its worse, resulting in our family leaving Ireland. As I looked at the pictures I was overcome with emotion and the feeling of losing, or getting back a huge part of who I was. I walked down the street crying and feeling an overwhelming amount of emotion. This was all put on pause when we walked into the 2nd oldest pub in N. Ireland for a pint and a good old Irish lunch of scalp potatoes and sausage.

That night we drove around to the castle where my mom and dad had their wedding (pictured above) and over to where my Granda used to work, which was the shipyard where they made the Titanic. We swung by the streets where the troubles were at it’s worse and read the paintings and letters that people had written since the troubles ended and finally headed back home for a Guinness and some Irish Chinese food.

The next day, Sunday I woke up early and had an Ulster fry with Simon. An Irish fry consists of fried sausage, bacon, eggs, potato and soda bread, tomato and tea. Sounds good and it tastes even better. From there I went to Church with Simon. It was a very traditional church but I cried the whole way through. It was the first time I had been to a church outside of N. America where the people were English speaking. I watched as little red head freckle faced kids, like my own ran around and danced, I saw so much of my little red head freckle faced girls in them, it was beautiful.

After church we rolled over to Caric Fergus, where I grew up. It was amazing to see the beach where my sister and I played, my parents first house and the places I have heard only stories about. We also went to my Nanny’s grave, which I have never seen. All the time we were driving I couldn’t stop thinking about what life would have been like had I grown up in Belfast. Would I still be walking with Jesus, would I have the same personality, and would I still be serving full time in Missions? I realize these are trivial questions, but it made me grateful for where I am at now.

The night before we left I spent time with my good friend Dave and his wife. We went out for fish and chips and talked for a couple of hours. Dave was the first Irish dude I had ever met as an adult. Dave taught me a lot about Ireland and life there. It was so great to catch up with him and meet his wife and talk about memories and the future.

In closing, I encourage all of you reading to find out where you come from. Get in touch with your roots and your heritage. I will never forget and I expect that soon I will go back. I need to make this trip more now. I need to go with my dad and my children. They need to see where they come from as well. I am so grateful for this trip. Thanks Amy for pushing it, thanks mom for meeting me there, thanks Julie for watching the girls and thanks Simon, Violet, Gareth and Margaret for being great hosts. I will never forget.

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