23 Sep 2014

Semester in Scotland Blog Post – Adventures of the Quintessential Quintet in Northern Ireland

Two weeks ago a team of young Americans landed in Ireland for the Young Adults  Weekend.  What they didn’t realize was that for an entire day they would have nothing to do until their boat left for Scotland.  So what do they do with all that free time?

Tour, of course!!

The fantastic five hopped on a tour bus around Belfast.  For a nice 10 pounds they were able to get a hop-on-hop-off tour of the capitol city.  The ride was not the greatest in the world: the students managed to get a cloudy, chilly, windy day.  When the bus hopped on the highway, the wind was blistering cold.  Most of the students huddled together as penguins in Antarctica.


Yet, in spite of the freezing experience and the tour guide’s bland jokes, the brave students saw beautiful murals from the “Troubles”, when Northern Ireland faced turmoil in the midst of its cities.  From 1968 to 1998 (approx.), groups of Protestant Irish and Roman Catholic Irish feuded in the streets of Belfast (along with other areas of the country).  Both sides used various weaponry to terrorize the other side, including bombs.  The quintessential quintet passed by several street where simple shops and bars were bombed for little reason than one side making a statement.  During the thirty years, Belfast constructed a gigantic wall between the Protestant and Roman Catholic sectors.  The students took several photos of the site, of which a major part still stands, and five gates between the sectors are still in operation (four of which routinely close at sundown).
Other sites the quirky quintet quickly passed by: the quiet old jail house, the quaint capitol building, the giant yellow cranes, Samson and Goliath, registered as landmarks that were so tall it made your stomach queasy, the Titanic museum at the yard where the massive ship was built and passed all the qualifications (as the Irish say, “It was fine when she left!”), C.S.Lewis’ boarding school where one could not count the quantity of lampposts lining the property, and the Botanical Gardens right next to Queens University.
C.S. Lewis Reading Room

The last stop of the day was visiting a reading room of the Queens University library that is dedicated to C.S.Lewis.  On the second floor of the modern library, the wooden door to the wardrobe from the book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe resides magnificently in a wall with a massive rug with Aslan in front of it.  Step through it, and you enter into a small, quiet room with a table containing the map of Narnia and windows with quotes from C.S.Lewis’ various novels.  It stole the breath of the tired team of students.

After the visit to the reading room, the crew hopped on a ferry and rode the waves back to Scotland, to continue their adventures in Scotland.

Once in the land of the kilts, the team of rested students diligently tackled their reading assignments.  With 18 chapters to complete, they had their work cut out for them.  While very formative for their faith, the size was daunting.  They wrestled with Reformed doctrine, muscled through Calvinism and T.U.L.I.P., frolicked through the delightful fields of spiritual disciplines, and sat under the historian sharing stories of the Apostle Paul’s life.
Games at kids club
CKC helping with singing


To end our week, the first Kids’ Club of the semester was held at the church.  It was a blast to spend time with kids, who, while very hyperactive, could not hide their delight in seeing new people to befriend.  The kids learned about how Jesus healed blind men, and the fantastic five assisted in the crafts, snacks, and games. After Kids’ Club, the Covenanter Youth began, which was for anyone over the age of ten (in other words, everyone who was too old for Kids’ Club).  The team and the kids went out and got ice cream at one of the best tasting ice cream shops in the world (as one of the students would testify).  When everyone returned to the church, the two men of the quintessential quintet decided to built the best mattress fort ever.  And they succeeded.  After the fantastic fort frenzy, the youth played a fun game of sardines (or as some call it “Reverse Hide-and-go-seek”—one person hides, and the others seek him/her out, and once a person finds him/her, that person hides with him/her).  After that, all the kids were sent home.




And thus another week of adventures ended.  Turn in next week for another exciting addition to quintessential quintet’s adventures in Scotland!

Ethan Mathews