We have now been in Ireland for a week. And what a week it has been! Most days we have woken and hit the ground running. In Dublin we walked the streets learning about the culture and Ireland’s religious/political climate, which is so important to understand when you are trying to share your hope in Jesus. In Buncrana we have been furiously readying for Feile Dochas (sounds a little bit like “feed the ducks”). Irish for “Hope Fest”, Feile Dochas is the carnival day of the Amazing Grace Festival week.
Today was the carnival, and what a glorious day! To begin with, the Lord brought the sunshine. It's hard to convey with just words how much of a miracle it was – a big, real, gorgeous miracle! They don’t get sunshine here. They get clouds, mist, drizzle, and rain. Not blue skies and sunglass-inducing sunshine. The amazement was on everyone’s lips. Because of the sunshine there were a lot of people outside enjoying the park, the weather, and the festival. Our hosts, Ruth and Andrew, coordinated many activities and exhibits that they hoped would be enjoyed.
The culture here in Buncrana seems to be centered around three things: relationships, the arts, and children. Ruth and Andrew made sure those parts were well represented. Andrew made amazing sculptures out of actual trash. (Oh, to have an ounce of that creativity!) There were children’s games and even an obstacle course. Tents were set up for activity centers, beautiful handmade gems, and a tea and coffee table. Actually, Buncrana culture centers around four things: relationships, the arts, children, and tea/coffee. Lots of tea and coffee. Copious amounts. Consumed day, night, and really any time in between. I have never seen so many coffee cups!
The day was long, but amazing. I don't remember the last time I've worked that hard or had that much fun. We started the day with setting up for the carnival. Everything from hauling chairs and tables to putting the finishing touches on Andrew's amazing sculptures. Then came the actual carnival. We Americans learned to stretch our unused go-with-the-flow muscles. “Irish time” is a real thing! We sang our songs in a stretch tent on the shores of Lough Swilly. And then tore the whole thing down. My head finally hit the pillow around midnight. The day will be one I remember, truly, forever. We had such a good time talking to the locals, singing, and enjoying the weather ourselves. Please pray that this day helped pave inroads into this community. Pray that these carnival days will help soften the hearts and minds of the locals. That they would wonder what makes Ruth and Andrew so tirelessly serve their community and so selflessly give of themselves.