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My Best Vacation Ever!

My Best Vacation Ever!

A Letter From Ireland

My Best Vacation Ever!

“YOU need a challenge to take your mind off your exams,” said my parents. “Let’s go and visit your cousins in Ireland and share in preaching to people who rarely hear the good news of the Kingdom.”

I didn’t think it was a good idea. Besides studying for my exams, I felt nervous about the journey, as I had never been out of England or traveled on a plane. How would an active 17-year-old girl who lives in a busy London suburb cope with the slower pace of life in a small town at the southwest tip of Ireland?

I need not have worried. From the moment our plane landed, I was captivated. However, because of our very early morning start, I fell asleep soon after our journey by car began. Every now and then, I woke up to see flashes of rugged yet beautiful countryside appearing beyond the stone-walled narrow lanes.

The first night, we arrived at the town of Skibbereen and spent a delightful, spiritually upbuilding evening with a family who had moved to Ireland to help with the Kingdom-preaching work. We played Bible charades. Each one of us picked the name of a Bible character out of a bag and then mimed an experience related to the character. The others had to guess who it was.

The next day, my parents, my younger brother, our cousins, another family, and I took the ferry to tiny Heir Island, home to fewer than 30 people. Jesus did say that the good news must be preached in all the inhabited earth. So we spent the day sharing encouraging Scriptural thoughts with these friendly and hospitable people and admiring the wonderful unspoiled landscape.

The sun shone in the clear blue sky. The air was filled with a soft, sweet fragrance, wafting from a mass of bright-yellow, coconut-scented gorse bushes. Spring flowers carpeted the island’s marshy center. Sandy bays led up to rocky cliffs, where cormorants and gannets nested with their young. As far as the eye could see were scores of little islands, many uninhabited, all in the quaintly named Roaringwater Bay. How we appreciated the perfect harmony of Jehovah’s creation!

Back in Skibbereen, I enjoyed making many good friends in the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and tried to do things I had never done before. My favorite new experience was kayaking. There’s nothing like seeing the coast of Ireland from a kayak! We went fishing for our supper, but the seals that joined us got to the fish first. We invented our own beach games, and I even tried Irish dancing.

We took time to learn a little about Skibbereen too. When the Irish potato crop failed in the 1840’s, the town and its surroundings were among the worst-affected areas. Thousands starved to death, and about 9,000 of the victims were buried in a mass grave. We felt comforted to know that soon under God’s Kingdom rule, there will never again be famine, and multitudes who died so tragically will be restored to life on a paradise earth.

We joined the local Witnesses in visiting people who are seldom reached in the congregation’s large territory. We drove down a narrow, steep road to houses perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Irish Sea. Once again, the people we met were friendly and welcoming. As we had done on Heir Island, we began by mentioning that we were on vacation and were spending some of that time sharing a heartwarming message from the Bible.

My mother talked to a woman who readily accepted our magazines, The Watchtower and Awake! When we met her again a few days later, she said that she had enjoyed reading the magazines.

“Please come back with some more magazines and talk to me,” she urged. We mentioned that we were just about to go home but would send someone to visit her.

“Well,” she replied, “when you come back, please come and see me. The Irish never forget a face!”

Our last vacation day was spent on the beach with the brothers and sisters from the local congregation. We made our own barbecue out of driftwood and stones and cooked some mussels that we had gathered from among the rocks swept by the crystal-clear sea. This city girl loved every minute of it!

So, what did I think of my week in Ireland? It was the best vacation I’ve ever had! Not only was it great fun but it was especially satisfying to know that I was doing something pleasing to Jehovah and was bringing praise to him. I love serving our God, and when you have great friends and family who feel the same way and work along with you, it becomes even more of a joy. When I got home, I thanked Jehovah for giving me so many loving, spiritually-minded friends and for the beautiful memories that I shall treasure forever.

[Picture Credit Line on page 25]

An Post, Ireland