16 April 2013

Special blog post, Momma-style!

As promised, I've asked my mom to give a bit of reflection on her whirlwind tour of Belfast (and most of the UK). So without further ado:

It’s rather unnerving to do a guest blog; Tricia does what I consider a fabulous job with her entries. She did warn me about this request but it just gave me more time to fret about it. Well, here goes:

Thursday: Being busy doesn't even touch on what Tricia had in store for my visit. After the bus ride home from the airport we got our first sign of how friendly Belfast can be. With only 2 blocks to go, Robert insisted on giving us a lift. As Tricia said, people are so friendly here you learn to just graciously accept these kind offers. We crock-potted dinner and were on our way for one of my few opportunities to see Tricia active in one of her normal weekly-duties—Lunch with the Pensioners. Julia prepared a traditional Belfast feast and everyone that works at the Vine had nothing but good to say not only about Tricia but also her work there. We went on the see so much of the city that Tricia has been calling home this year, (or she was keeping me on my feet so I wouldn't fall asleep). The Maundy Thursday service was beautiful and gave me the opportunity to meet some of the people who have helped Tricia feel welcome in this foreign country. Going out after the service with friends and fellow YAVs was very comforting and gave me peace. The plan for new YAVs on their first night in Belfast is to stay awake until at least 9:00 P.M. But no, normal bedtime back home for me is 9:00 PM, add those 4 hours for Belfast time, equals 1:00 AM in Belfast. We only made midnight, but still a very long 38 hours. Glad I squeezed in that 1 ¼ hours of sleep on the flight over.

Meeting David and Anna on Thursday
Friday: After a traditional Ulster breakfast we trekked to Belfast Castle. The castle wasn't the main attraction but the several-hour hike up to Napoleon’s nose in the snow, ice and cold was the naz. Fellow YAV David included us in his weekly hike, and was a wonderful guide—patient and tolerant of Tricia and my less than perfect skills and a Florida mom who had never frolicked in snow. We got home in time to change for the Good Friday service and my opportunity to get to know Lesley, the pastor at Tricia’s church, and to meet others who have helped Tricia feel welcome in Belfast. It was nice to see Tricia involved with the service. The evening outing gave me a chance to meet TJ, the final North Belfast YAV. Things closed early for Good Friday so we got to bed before midnight.

Our view from "Napoleon's Nose"
Saturday: Tricia has made the trip to Giant’s Causeway with friends from the congregation before but we got the full-day tour with many sights of this lovely country both along the way and on the return to Belfast. Upon our return we headed back to Belfast Castle, now the main attraction. It was odd hiking up the hill in the cold and dark to get to the castle, but was so worth it to see all the Northern Belfast YAVs as a group. The friendship they share is priceless. The support and camaraderie they have towards one another is invaluable.

Photo op with the Giant's Causeway in the background
Sunday: Easter Sunday was a peaceful morning, not having to get out of the house until 10:00. Maybe not as calm for Tricia with every alarm in the house set to make sure she didn't miss the time change. (What devices automatically change time, which don’t?) The service was lovely and I got to see Tricia in another phase of her work: keeping the service and all of its digital aspects in sync; a nice presentation of Tricia’s work with The Youth Club was included. After the service there was a chance to meet others in the congregation. Stewart who complimented Tricia’s help with The Boys' Brigade, and several young couples who love Tricia and value her relationship with their “tots”. After church we went to the City Centre. More was closed than expected on Easter Sunday so we missed St. George’s Market and our falafel, but this just allowed us to eat at Nando's, one of Tricia’s favorites. Easter and the time change combined had us miss our tour of Belfast but Tricia came through once again. We got a very special, first-hand tour of the murals in Belfast and the Peace Wall, the biggest attractions of the Belfast tour, from TJ, who does much of his YAV work in this area.

Monday: Well this brings us to the 7:00 arrival at the International Airport for our flight to Newcastle for our “whistle-stop tour” that Tricia mentioned in her blog. She makes it seem like a simple tour but seeing how my first 4 days went, I’m sure you can imagine the “tour” of Great Britain at times seemed more of an “assault”. We made the most of the vacation time and finished it with a wonderful meal at a winery B&B that Tricia tricked me into having her pay for.

Of all the wonderful things Tricia mentions in her blog, what does Tricia’s mom do? Hears anything that she could worry about--life is scary; no, it isn't easy; trials and tribulations; etc—often not even hearing the context is which something is said. But I guess we all can be proven so wrong. With my short time in Belfast I saw so much. Not only have I seen my daughter’s successes and accomplishments, I've seen and witnessed some of her trials and tribulations.Tricia has met some wonderful people, has had irreplaceable experiences and has learned volumes about herself. She now sees that she can do anything and that every cloud has a silver lining. A mother could be nothing but proud. Tricia has soldiered through her YAV year with dignity and grace—for that I am extremely proud of her and admire her. And for who she is I love her.

Aww, thanks mom - love you too! For more of our photos from the trip, click here.

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