Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thurs to Sunday, Love Team, Nov. 2014

Do you ever get frustrated with technology?  I had just typed a whole page....a whole page!!....and my laptop went "ahhhhhh" and closed down. Didn't save a word...and there were some good ones on the page. So now I start again and with me, the first one is usually better so I'm apologizing already for the content of this one. 

I told you I would not be posting during the Great Banquet Weekend but I really thought I might have a couple of short ones because there are 13 of us here on the Love Team who are able to come and go into town if we want. As it turns out, I kept my word.  

The plan was to get everything ready on Thursday morning and then have several hours of free time. Well, the meetings ran long and there was more to do than we thought. But on Friday several people did get out for a while. Some walked to Castlewellan (town-a mile or so and back again) for a wee bit of shopping. Others walked down and around the lake and back UP UP UP to the castle (about 3 miles). And others went to the Peace Maze on Friday or Saturday. It was raining most of the time so folks got wet! 
Castlewellan (town)

Ty in the phone booth 

Drumadonnell Cross in Castlewellan
This is a granite replica of an original stone cross that is believed to have stood in the  Drumgooland graveyard until the late 1700s. It was then set into the north gable wall of the Old School House in the Drumadonnell townland and during this time the cross took on its present name. It’s significance ties into the local legend that Saint Patrick, when preaching here to some soon-to-be converted heathens, was shown a sacred standing stone marked with a circle symbolising a moon goddess. He then made the mark of a Latin cross through the circle and blessed the stone, hereby making the first Celtic Cross. The original Drumadonnell Cross is now safely housed in Castlewellan Forest Park and is now designated as a ‘Monument in State Care’.
 The Irish tell us that this week has brought some of the hardest rains they can remember. Some of the windows have leaked at the castle because of the wind and rain. One of the guests arrived late because he rode a motorbike from north of Belfast. Another was late because his furnace went out. He was able to get it going but it did cause him to be delayed.

On Friday, Donna began to have “floaters” in her right eye. As the day went on, her eye got worse as a “curtain” kind of came across the right one. She called her optometrist in Kokomo who told her she needed to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Jerry Van Auken came to pray for her and a guest, who is a pastor in Castlewellan, came to see if he could help connect us to the right people. He called a friend who is a doctor who said we should go to Belfast. Alan, who attended the Logansport GB in August, was our driver and Andrea, who is a nurse and on the Love Team, accompanied us. We were off to Belfast at 8:30 pm. The waiting rooms are notoriously a long wait so the  Irish had given us plenty of coins for the vending machines.

Alan maneuvered through driving rain along the narrow, dark and winding roads. Finally Belfast! We went to A&E (ER) and were checked in. Later she was called into triage for a brief conversation. After a while, Donna felt her eye was getting worse and told the clerk at reception. They took her in and we all trooped in with her. Oh My…the ER is one huge room with all kinds of situations. Alan and I were invited to leave and Andrea stayed while the GP saw Donna. The ophthalmologist would not come until he heard the assessment from the GP.  Donna and Andrea came back out and again we waited. Finally at about 12:30 a.m. Donna was called in to see the specialist. He told her it was a torn retina and she should return in the morning for surgery.

Alan collected the car and picked us up at the door and we made the trip back up to Castlewellan. Andrea had drops to be put in Donna’s eye in the morning.  We were back at the castle after 2 am with plans to be on the road by 7:30 in the morning. Deirdre had given me her phone so we had been in contact with the castle. They made the transport arrangements and left a note at my door.

Saturday came early (short night). Andrew (manager of Castlewellan Christian Center and agape for the men’s weekend) drove us back to the hospital in Belfast. He had some paperwork to do so he dropped us all at the door. Andrea had put in the drops while Andrew confirmed we were in the right place. I had the phone so I would call him when we were ready to leave. On the way to to the 8th floor, Eye Trauma, Andrea put in another round of drops. The receptionist did not have Donna on the surgery schedule but as we tried to explain, the Hungarian doctor who had seen Donna in the ER dashed in with the paperwork. Now it was time to wait. The doctor looked at her eye and added more drops.

The surgical appointment was for 9 am and I was told it would be a 30 minute procedure. They took her back at about 9:20 so of course, I was expecting her before 10. Ten came and went and by 10:15, I was getting concerned. What I did not know was that the doctor had to unlock the operating room and he had the wrong key so that was another trip back to the office area. And I didn’t know that he had two patients, not just Donna. They finally came back at 10:30. We had to wait a few minutes for the post op exam and then we called Andrew to come get us. We were back to the castle by “half twelve” – the Irish way of saying “12:30”.

Donna went to lie down so I had the privilege of telling the team and guests that the surgery was over and she was resting. It had been a long 16 hours. After she rested, she did call home (she had made me promise not to) and let them know all about the problem. She has no real restrictions although the team has told her NO LIFTING and NO BENDING OVER. We are praising the Lord for the way He went before us and made the rough places plain!

We saw God moments all over this experience. It is very unusual to get to see a specialist and unheard of to have the surgery so quickly. If we had gone to the closest hospital, they would have just sent us on to Belfast. Alan knew us and had a vehicle here. He is on team. And Andrew had asked Paula to pray that he have an uninterrupted hour….little did he know it would be in the car waiting in the parking lot in Belfast. But God answers our prayers in peculiar ways sometimes.

Later on Saturday, four more of the women’s team arrived. They needed a nap to adjust to the 6 hour time difference but were up by tea time (supper).

Sunday was another full day of dining room duty.  The meals have been wonderful and those of us staying for two weeks are already looking forward to the repeated menus which include steak pie and of course the desserts! Apple Crisp with Custard Sauce, Chocolate cake with ganache, Trifle, Banoffee Pie, Cadbury Carmel Chocolate Cheesecake, and cherry tarts.

Our kitchen team has not been able to prepare the food. None of them has an Irish food handler’s permit. Deirdre and her castle staff have done all of that…and quite well! However, our kitchen team helped the castle staff by manning the dishwasher...for the nearly 60 of us and the group of 100 teens!! They were in the dish room for 2 hours after each meal! 

It was leftovers for supper on Sunday after the guests left and we were all quite happy with that! It was wonderful to hear the testimonies and fun to see that the guests were in no hurry to leave. After our late supper, we had an abbreviated debrief team meeting. There are things to tweak but no major issues.
Late supper with team. 

Donna, Jean and Pat 

The other part of our meeting was to talk about the plans for Monday. We will be going to Giant’s Causeway that the North Coast. I’ve been there three times and delighted to be going again. It is one of those amazing natural formations left from molten lava many centuries ago. We will have to get up “early” as breakfast is at 8. The day will be full of sightseeing. The evening meal will be at a “carvary” and six courses! (Carvary—a restaurant that carves the meat for each patron).  

There are some great pictures of almost everyone in this room but I only included the one so Donna's family can see how she is doing! And of course, a picture of our Lay Directors!

Those of us staying 2 weeks have only one more day with 23 of our team. Thirteen will arrive on Tuesday for the second week. 
Ted Merrell, Lay Director, CGB #1
Jean Merrell, Lay Director, CGB #2 

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