God Sent Me Angels

Published: October 3rd 2011
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I got that feeling this past week that everyone I met was an angel sent by God. There was a mass of people with friendly conversation, advice, and entertainment. Chris and Fiona were long-distance bikers from Australia who treated me to a tea party in their cabin on the ferry from Lerwick to Kirkwall. Rachel from the Scotland mainland showed me the seals in the Lerwick bay. Jana ("Yana") was a student from Germany who buddied up with me from Lerwick to Inverness. Denny was an adventure-leader who took Jana and me on a speed tour of Lerwick before giving us a lift to the ferry. Two nameless gentlemen in Skara Brae offered to share their taxi with us, paid for it, gave us tickets to the Stromwell museum, and then filled us in on Orkney history on the ferry to Scrabster. Helen and Hugh from Rhode Island took me to my first pub in Ireland with fantastic live Irish music. Kylee, the owner of the hostel in Londonderry, paid for drinks at another pub with live Irish music, including my first Guinness--which was, by the way, amazing. My room-mate Shiney stayed up with me until 2:00 in the morning talking about life and God. Eddie from England drove Jane (also from England) and me to the Giant's Causeway and bought us donuts, chocolate, and coffee, and also paid for parking.

It's not only in the people that God has been keeping a much-needed eye on me. He helped me find the well-hidden Kirkwall hostel at midnight, and again in Oban. He kept me from getting too seasick on the ferries. He led me on two beautiful hikes at Loch Ness as I searched for an alleged waterfall, which I never actually found. He gave me my own room for two nights! He had me miss the ferry to Iona Abbey, forcing me to take the wonderful tour instead. He led me down the wrong street in Belfast so I witnessed the stark contrast between two cultures in close vicinity.

The point is that He is always looking after me, but that tells you nothing about what I've been up to. I finished Scotland: after relaxing in Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, I explored a 5,000-year-old settlement on the Orkney Islands, fell in love with Loch Ness, and spent a few days in Oban touring ruins. Here's a shout-out to Sister Karen: Iona Abbey is as lovely as you said, and I'm glad you mentioned wanting to go there, because I loved it.

Then, I came to Northern Ireland! This is the part of Ireland that still belongs to the UK and has been suffering from a period called "The Troubles." It involves a political battle between the Nationalists (who want to split from the UK and are infamous for what has been publicized as the terrorist group the IRA) and the Loyalists (who want to stay with the UK), which have come to be associated with the Catholics and Protestants, respectively. I got a brief understanding of it in Belfast, but I hope to explore it even further in Londonderry, where I am now. This is where Bloody Sunday happened: the British killed some Nationaliats in a protest march. I think. I will know for sure tomorrow.

Today I visited Giant's Causeway, which is an incredible natural phenomenon where volcanic stones have eroded into hexagonal blocks on the northern coast of Northern Ireland. What was even more incredible was a sudden wind-and-rain storm that hit us the moment we got down there, so we took a quick picture and battled against the wind back to the car, getting solidly soaked on the way. By "we" I mean Eddie and Jane. At first I thought Eddie and Jane were married, but instead they were impromptu travel partners who had met each other in Dublin. We feasted on junk food and watched La Bamba. Jane was a character! We were Eddie's adopted children for the day.

Maybe I'll get somebody else to adopt me for another adventure. Or maybe I'll hook up with another friend from continental Europe. Or maybe I'll enjoy another Irish pub. Whatever happens, I know that I have the Big JC looking after me, so I'm good to go, whatever happens!


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