Day 9 and 10
Saturday was actually a day off for folks – they were free to choose whatever they wanted to do. Caitlyn, understandably, wanted to spend more time with her relatives. The rest of the group chose to take a bus to Newcastle at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, where some would choose to do a long hike, others would walk the beach and spend time in a local cafe. Most came back to Belfast mid-afternoon and either came back to Farset for a rest, others still kept going and took in another museum.
Ruth at Farset was already cooking for a crowd of 45 youth, and offered to give us dinner (chicken curry, rice, lasagna, roast potatoes, salad) for 6 pounds. Who could turn down an offer like that? It was a wonderful meal, and an opportunity to gather casually in the Farset dining room. Farset is quite an amazing place ... a combination between a motel and a hostel. Every Sunday night there is an evangelical Christian church service, with much fervour and loud music. This morning during our reflection and evaluation session in the dining room, there was a large Buddhist group chanting in the room. All weekend long there were about 45 youth from a local church youth group with their leaders on a weekend retreat. During the week, there are high powered business meetings and community groups. It’s an amazing place to just sit in the middle of the small bistro and people watch. (plus, it’s the only place where you can be assured internet access!)
As I write this Finton Ryan comes by to ask if I’ve enjoyed my stay. I saw him all last week but we hadn’t talked other than to greet each other in the halls. He’s a young man from Dublin who comes up every Sunday night for a week of training with an organization called Springboard. Six Catholics, six Protestants, getting skills in business management, communications, peace and reconciliation. He wants to be a youth worker, and work with youth around the world.
It’s been our home for 8 nights, and we have come to feel quite at home here. Whether we are bantering with Ruth or asking Lynn or Joe on the desk to call us a cab, we have been made to feel welcome. Below are two pictures of the group with Ruth. Today, after our evaluation, we went to St. George’s Market for lunch, then split up into the museum group and the shopping group. We met for dinner, (at the Alley Cat, below) and as I write this folks are finishing their packing for our early flight to London, then Halifax tomorrow.
It’s been an amazing journey – and I know we will be continuing to process all that we have experienced for a long time to come. Trish came to say goodbye to us tonight, and said “I hope to see some of you next year.” I hope so too.