Sorry you're getting these posts a little late,
but I have a lot to process before I feel I can post these and really do them justice.
Today we started the days-long process of visiting everyone's sites. We started with my church, Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian. The staff seems nice, and the building is gorgeous. I think I'll enjoy it there. We visit my community site, the Vine, on Friday.
After Fortwilliam and Macrory, we visited T.J.'s community site, the 174 Trust. It was very cool, and they treated us to a nice lunch. David's site, the WAVE Trauma Centre, was next. They were formed to work with those traumatized or bereaved by the Troubles in Northern Ireland, but have expanded their services somewhat since that time. It was our first real glimpse into the impact the Troubles have had on people's lives here.
We drove around the area to see some of the peace lines, famous in Belfast for their murals. The walls themselves separate unionist from nationalist neighborhoods, ensuring safety for those on the other side. The murals are used to show political loyalty, to express hope for the future, and memorialize events of the past or highlight perceived wrongs to members of the community.
This was followed by a trip to T.J.'s church, Woodvale Methodist, which is just off the Shankill Road, an area highly impacted by sectarian violence. His supervisor was very upfront with us about the troubles in the neighborhood, which began to make what we'd heard at WAVE feel much more 'real'.
We ended the day at the Bakers' house for dinner and a video taped from the BBC a few months ago about the Bloody Friday bombings in 1972. I've hesitated to post this video, but will include a link below for those interested in learning more. I will warn you that it can be quite emotional. Seeing the personal stories of these people really hit home the work that many of us would be doing in this area.
I know this may be new to many people back home. For those of you who might be worried for our safety, please don't. Doug has assured us that the most danger we're in here is to look the wrong way when we cross the street!
Fun fact of the day:
To add money to your pay-as-you-go phone is called "topping up".