The Blessing of Ireland

In July 2010, we had a good reason to leave Portugal after being there for three months (Don't know what I am talking about? Just ask me about it), so we went to Ireland for a long weekend.

It was rainy while we were there, but we walked all over the place (my feet haven't hurt like that in a long time!) and saw a good part of Dublin.

Ducking out of the pouring rain at Dublin Castle.

Efesson doesn't know it yet, but he is keeping a list of all the famous places where he has run. Here he is running at Dublin Castle.

Having a good time at the playground at St. Stephen's Green.

Efesson celebrated his 5th birthday in Ireland (note the button pinned to his shirt), so we took him to jail on his birthday.

Also, while we were there we visited the Ranelagh Christian Church that some new friends in Portugal (who once lived in Ireland and ministered at that church) told us about. While we were there we met Scott and Denise Karnes who are a part of a mission team in Dublin, Ireland. Scott just happens to have been a campus minister and the University of Arkansas (I feel like I should say something like "Go Hogs!" here even though I am not actually from Arkansas and I can't recall that I've ever watched even a single down of a Hogs game) while some of our dear friends were going to school there and participating in the campus ministry. Talking to Scott and Denise about the mutual friends that we have brought tears to my eyes, it was the next best thing to actually seeing those friends!

Denise, being the amazingly hospitable person that she is, invited us to stay with them the next time we came to Ireland. So, naturally, we became facebook friends, and when I knew that we would need to take another trip (3 months later) to Ireland, I messaged her. Isn't that just how it works these days?

Our second trip to Ireland was in September 2010. We stayed with the Karnes family and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly! I went to Ireland planning on taking a picture of our family with the Karnes family or with them and their teammates in Dublin, but I was having such a good time that I didn't.

This time our family explored the town of Howth, just outside of Dublin, two stops away from the Karnes house on the DART. Here we are hiking there.

Later that week we took a train and a bus to the Cliffs of Moher. On the way we stopped at Bunratty Castle (eh...it was ok).

Efesson was able to get some running in at the Cliffs.

Also that weekend we all had colds with sneezing, runny nose, and coughing. Here Robert catches Biruk in the act (of a sneeze that is). As you can see I wasn't expecting to be sneezed on while posing for this picture.

Check out those cliffs!

The Burren lunar landscape a little ways away from the cliffs (Efesson was asleep on the bus).

Sunday we went to church with the Karnes and that evening we had dinner with their team. We love the Dublin team! They have a beautiful story of how God brought their team together and they are truly showing their northern Dublin community the love of Christ.


The blessing of Portuguese School for E & B

In September 2010 Efesson and Biruk began school at the "Cantinho do Ser e do Saber." In English that is the "Little Corner of Being and Knowing." When they started they were the only two boys in a group of 7 students and after Christmas break there were 11 students (4 boys)! The boys have 7 Portuguese and 2 Australian classmates. Their teachers are Nuno and Marta, a wonderful, Christian couple who truly love the kids, teaching, and have a heart for Evangelical Christian Education in a country where there is little. Nuno and Marta are pioneers and they ventured out in faith to start a private Christian school with the minimum number of kids that they needed.

Here I am with the boys on their first day of school.

The school is just out our kitchen door. We get up in the morning, we get the boys dressed, and we go have breakfast. At 8:30 the students arrive and the boys walk out the kitchen door and through this curtain to school. I listen to the kids sing the school song (written and composed by Nuno and Marta) and then I go about my morning.

Here is Marta telling the kids a story (in Portuguese) about the Portuguese vowels. Efesson is now reading in Portuguese, accomplishing kindergarten and first grade math concepts, and the school English teacher has begun to teach the students to read in English.

Here are the original six students with Nuno, Marta, and their other adults who put time in to the school (English teachers, Bible teacher, teacher's aid, and support -all equally important roles).

Efesson and Biruk understand a lot of Portuguese and they are speaking more and more each day. It reminds me a lot of watching them learn English. One of Biruks first Portuguese phrases was "já está" or "all done" which was one of his first phrases in English 18 months or so ago. Nuno is amazed at how much Portuguese they have come to understand in such a short period. They like to quiz mommy and daddy on the words that we know and I think it wont be long before they are correcting us.

At Christmas time, they performed some songs for their Christmas program. Here is a (15 minute) video of the performance. Take the time to watch a little of it, you will get a kick out of Biruk doing his own thing up there while the rest of the kids sing their hearts out!

We were able to host an "Ethiopia Day" for the Cantinho in March. We did a presentation for them, demonstrated the Ethiopian tradition of throwing your tooth on the roof (he threw both of his top front teeth at the same time), and served them Injera, an Ethiopian lentil dish, and popcorn.
The teeth and the kids.

Efesson throwing his teeth on the roof!

Everyone loved it and showed their support for Efesson.

The food.

During the presentation.

Efesson and Biruk E their Cantinho friends and teachers and we pray for them as a family most every day. This school has been a fertile environment in which our boys can thrive. They have grown in knowledge, in confidence, and in character with the help of the blessing of the Cantinho do Ser e do Saber!