Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just where I need to be...

So L'Abri is a pretty grand place. I've been here for 5 days now and have absolutely loved the rhythm of life here- lots of tea, reading, eating together, stimulating and intentional discussions about life and faith and creativity, volleyball, castles, listening to music, lectures, movies, and the many joys and struggles of living as a part of a community of people sharing space and life together. Messy but necesarry and beautiful. It's a fantastic place for me to be right now and I'm pretty pumped that I ended up here-

The story of how I heard of L'Abri is pretty neat. I was in class at the seminary a few months ago (as the idea of traveling through the summer was beginning to brew) and I was not really paying attention to the lecture. Instead, I was looking at the computer screen of the girl sitting in front of me (who also was obviously not too intensely focusing on the lecture)- I noticed that the website she was looking at had a nice design to it and I saw the word "L'Abri" somewhere. So when I returned home, I looked it up on my computer, discovered what L'Abri was all about and here I am...

And I'm going through a bit of a cereal withdrawl- it's a been over a week without a single taste of cereal, so I'm hoping to purchase some this afternoon and indulge in my purchase a bit later on.

I look forward to sharing stories (hearing yours as well) with you all upon returning.

Love,

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Typical English weather- rain yesterday, rain today, and rain tomorrow. I'm staying in a quaint little village...

(It's not really raining nor did it rain yesterday, the title was just for my siblings... it's a quote from a letter that my Dad's English friend sent to him about 15 years ago that for some reason we read repeatedly and have quoted since then. But I am staying in a quaint little English village..)

So I made it to England after an hour and a half delay with my flight, got picked up at the airport by Hans and his wife Jacqui (Hans is the guy that lived with my parents 26ish years ago), and I've been staying with them for the past day and a bit. They showed me around their little town of Crowborrough (which I'm told is the place where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes, lived for 40 years and that provided the inspiration for his books)and a few other local spots (We walked through a few incredibly old villages- featuring a pub from 1435 that we stopped in at and a couple churches from the 12th century) and they've just been awesome to me. Some more fantastic hospitality.Here's my new home for the past few days

Friday, July 24, 2009

To England

My things are yet again packed and I'm about to walk to the bus stop to take the bus back into Belfast, where I'm flying out of on my way to Gatwick Airport in London, England.

I'm staying a couple nights with a family that my parents know (I believe that that the husband lived with my parents about 30 years ago in Canada) and then I'm going to travel to L'Abri, where I'll be for the next 3 weeks.

More soon...

-Brian

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What? I've been here for a week and a half already...?!

Here's me at this cool place about 30 min. from here called the giant's causeway (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant's_Causeway).
Another from the causeway

Yep, I've been here at "Corrymeela" for almost a week and a half now. The reason I've not done any updates is most definitely not because there has been nothing exciting happening or nothing to write about. Au contraire- It has been a whirlwind of excitement, newness, fun, and intensity.

A bit more about Corrymeela: Corrymeela is a Christian reconciliation organization here in Northern Ireland. It's in (well, next to) a tiny little town called Ballycastle directly on the northern coast. It's a really unique place- a Christian organization, but not an evangelical one (by which I mean that their primary task is not to convert folks to Christianity), A Christian organization, but not one that requires people who work/volunteer here to be Christian necessarily. They describe themselves as a Christian community who also welcome people of all faiths or of no faith... All kinds of different groups come here and Corrymeela provides them with a place to stay, activities, food, conversation, daily worship/ reflection time, etc.. Some of the groups are families who've been directly affected by the violence and conflict between protestants and catholics (who come for a small respite from the craziness), kids who are part of youth programs, families with small children, other marginalized people groups, ... It's very hard to summarize quickly here because it has so many facets and dimensions.

My role thus far has been to facilitate groups (2 thus far- 1 really fun and easy and the other incredibly challenging and rough), build relationships with the folks who come here, make meals, do dishes, lead games, play soccer in the rain with punky Irish teens, fellowship with the other volunteers, drink lots of tea, live in community, share meals, go rockclimbing with groups, etc..


Here's some videos of me talking, just explaining a bit about my time here at Corrymeela. Watch these if you're my family or you're really interested (cause they're a bit long and perhaps a tad boring unless you just love listening to my voice and watching my face).
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Here's the Croi (pronounced "cree" that I mentioned)
And here's the place where I've been living for the past while. It's brand new and just perfect...

Here's a few of my new friends-Daniel from Switzerland and Noa from Israel. They've been my closest buds here thus far...

My Swiss roomie Daniel and I

Some castle remains we climbed around on...


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ok, some catching up from last week.

Here's my hostel in Cork. My 3rd hostel. Real neat place.

So after I was in Cork (and it poured and I had my debit card stolenish), I grabbed a bus over to a little town called Caherciveen (which was a ways from my next stop, but it was as far as the bus went) - I'm getting pretty proficient with the public transportation and finding my way around by this point in time. Once in Caherciveen, I rented a bike and headed out to a place about 15 miles away called The Ballinskelligs (and to a hostel called The Skelligs Hostel)- a very remote little coastal village quite far away from any type of city. It was a pretty grand adventure as I arrived in this tiny town, hopped on a bicycle, and headed out down the (very narrow and curvy, 100km/hr speed limit- so a bit scary) road to my next destination. There were a number of moments where I just stopped and had to out loud remind myself that this was for real- here I am on a bike by myself in the absolutely georgeous countrysides of Ireland with my pack on my back, traveling right beside the ocean and through mountains... I just giggled with glee a few times (or heartily laughed, to sound a bit tougher and rugged), unable to contain the joy, beauty, freedom, and surrealness of the whole thing. Here's some videos from the adventure:
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I ended up staying around this area for 4 days (I was planning on heading further up the West coast, but it was just so fantastic here that I had to stay a bit longer). So I spent the next couple of days biking around, doing a couple hikes, and exploring the countryside.

Here's my new Swiss friends Andrew, Nadine, and their kid Gavin. I met them right away as I arrived and then they invited me to join them for some dinner- very kind folks. We spoke mostly in French cause their English was pretty weak.

And here's some other backpacking friends that I met- they were from Milwaukee.

And some other pics from my exploring...


I also went for a pretty epic hike while I was there, but I'll describe that and put up a few pictures and videos sometime soon. Gotta go...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Corrymeela

I made it to Corrymeela today. I'll be here for the next few weeks.

If you want to write me a letter, you may. My address here is:

Brian Mulder c/o
Corrymeela Community
Corrymeela Centre
5 Drumaroan Road
Ballycastle
BT54 6QU

Beautiful.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My first crappy (but salvagable) day.


I'm now all the way in Northern Ireland (which is not just the north part of Ireland, it's a separate country- part of the U.K. ) staying for a night at the parents of my other Irish friend from Holland- Claire(now)Rumpsa. Her parents are pretty awesome and oh so hospitable and kind. Cooked me dinner, took me on a tour (georgeous little town called Dundrum), letting me use their computer, and they even had a piano for me to play...

And I've got a ton of fun adventures to update y'all on (15 pages worth of journaling)... But I'll just do it little by little. Perhaps just one story for now.

On Monday, I headed farther west to a town called Cork. Stayed at a delightful little hostel called "Sheila's of Cork"- complete with a sauna, little movie theatre, and complimentary pedicures... And had a good night of walking around the city, watching the brilliant sunset,and meeting my new English roommates (much tamer than the last batch). Everything was going fine until the next morning as I was going to head out on the bus to my next destination (the far southwest- a little place called the Ballinskelligs). Here's where my day started to get kinda crappy. I was about to head out when I noticed that it was raining substantially, but I headed out anyways with my rainjacket covering my pack and parts of myself, feeling adventurous. I got to the bus stop and saw that I had another 45 minutes before my bus came, so I went out to withdraw some cash from an ATM down the street. I look at the machine to make sure it looked ok and untampered with (I've heard lots of stories about people stealing debit cards by jamming things in the slot and then snatching people's cards and such) and it seemed fine. I put in my card and nothing happens. The card disappears and the machine doesn't react. I press cancel. Nothing. I start to get a bit nervous. I press cancel frequently and with a little more urgency (as this card is my only way or getting money on this side of the world). Nothing happens. So I call the help number on the ATM and tell them my predicament and that the machine ate my card and that it seems to not even have worked at all and that it's apparently been messed with, and the dude tells me that they can't do anything about it. I say "What? That's dumb and makes no sense. I need my card buddy." He says that he's sorry but... I call a few numbers, but alas, nothing... So, after thinking about it, I decide that I better cancel my card right away while I'm still at the machine so someone doesn't somehow snatch it when I leave and go on a little £10,000 shopping spree in the next 10 minutes before I can cancel it. I call the canceling people (I had this number written down just in case- I was pretty darn prepared for everything on this trip apparently) and as I'm making the call my phone goes dead cause it ran out of minutes. This leaves me in a sticky predicament. Not wanting to leave, but not able to do anything from where I am. A girl comes to try to use the machine and I tell her not to cause it's not working and it ate my card and I'm kinda screwed and have no phone and am a bit frustrated. She offers me her phone, but I tell her that it's an international call and that it'll cost a few £ (that's the sign for euro in cause you've not seen it- it's on the keyboards here) but I can pay her. She says that she doesn't have much on her phone, but that she'll go put more £ on it and come back. I thank her and she heads off. I wait, feeling very helpless and she (her name's Sara and she's from Italy on vacation for a few days- doing some "couchsurfing" actually- which is what I'm hoping to do later on as well. Couchsurfing is basically a network of folks willing to host a traveler for free and show them around their city- a hospitality network of sorts) comes back, phone charged, let's me use her phone as I call a bunch of numbers and cancel my card. She waits with me for 45 minutes ish as I settle everything, which was just awesome. Pretty neat that someone'd be willing to help out a stranger like that... So yeah, I worked it all out and I'll be ok cause I ordered a new card (mom + dad, maybe you can ship that to corrymeela when it arrives- we'll talk more...) and had a good cash reserve on hand just in case something like this would happen. And I met a new friend and we ended up talking for a bunch at the bus station. I declared her my "hero of the day", snapped a pic of us and headed off to my my next stop (which I'll tell you more about soon, but it's 1 a.m. here and I'm in need of some sleep so I can get up at a decent hour tomorrow and go for a run).

Here's my new Italian "Hero of the Day" and I at the bus station after the drama.

More to come...

Peace.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sheep

So, I've seen lots of sheep the past few days... I'm in a really remote part of Southwest Ireland currently and have been exploring the hills and curvy roads for the past few days.

This'll be a very quick update cause I'm paying about 2 million dollars/ minute of internet time here (being that it's probably the only place in the whole city that has the internet available...).

More to come when I re-enter civilization again.

Peace.

-Brian