Serving in Belfast, Northern Ireland at East Belfast Missions

a little bit of Mennonite

Tuesday evening at our Women’s group, here at East Belfast Mission, I got to introduce a little bit of home.


Yep, that’s right DUTCH BLITZ!

My mom was sweet enough to donate a few decks to the women’s group and ship them over the big blue sea. The women started off hesitant but soon got into the speedy action.



It was all “good craic” (good fun)  as they say here.


We are terrible at posting.

For all you avid readers out there. sorry. I will say it again, we are terrible at posting!

February through March was a busier time for Adam and me, not until now are we feeling like we have some extra time. This of course is no excuse.

Here are a few things that we do on a weekly basis, just to get a glimpse of our day to day  life at East Belfast Mission…

Mondays: I spend the morning working in the office (planning, prepping or cleaning) while Adam is at Men’s Bible Study. I then help out at Homework Club in the afternoon and Adam attends CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Release. 

Children Studying at Homework Club

Tuesdays: We work in the office and I help with the Women’s Group in the evening. (see previous post to learn more about Women’s group)

Wednesdays: We hang out with tots at Kidz Gap in the morning then walk down to a local elementary to help with their after school bible club. In the evening we attend the midweek Church Bible Study 

The Church Bible Study took a tour (and dress up) of City Hall then prayed for the city. Adam had fun.

Thursdays: We chat with and serve our 50+ crowd at Over’s Luncheon Club, we help with the a course meal and do some type of activity. The evening varies a bit depending on the week; I attend a community women’s bible study and Adam has praise band practice.

Fridays: Adam walks to a local high school for girls and helps with a lunch period program. We then help with Friday Fusion, a kids program for 5-11 year olds at the Mission.


Friday Fusion during playtime with the kids


Friday Fusion playing LEGO Bingo! 🙂
Singing with the kids

Saturdays: We usually have off unless there is a special program.

Sundays: We end our week worshiping at East Belfast Mission Church. Adam sings with the church praise band (I help when needed) and we both help with Children’s Church.

Praise band worship Sunday morning




We felt like feeling tiny today…

Women’s Group

How is it already February?!? How is it already month 6?!? In so many ways Adam and I feel that we have been here for years, but also just arrived last week.


I still find myself asking “what?” or “pardon?” more than in a typical day in Iowa but feel that we are picking up the lingo quite nicely. Is it strange I find myself thinking with the adjective “wee” now?


Since arriving in September, I (Grael) have had the privilege to be involved with the Women’s Group here at EBM on Tuesdays nights. The women meet for two hours in the evening after their long days and spend time out of their lives to support each other. They come from all different steps in life with all different backgrounds. This Women’s group has given the opportunity for women at any age, with any faith with any past to join together to give each other support.

The group has been meeting for over 10 years and have done everything from baking to line dancing. The past few weeks I have led the activities in hope to do something a bit different than what they had already done.

Bunko night was a hit! We have had a few new people join the group in January and this gave a great opportunity to casually meet the newbies while playing a fun game!

Bunko Night

I nervously taught a step by step painting night. The women chose this lovely sunset canvas painting. They all did so so well, I was so impressed! Of course a wee tea break was also involved.

Tea & Canvas Night


Last week, I had each woman bring an object  or story to “exchange” or share with the rest of the group. There were lovely, heart breaking and joyful stories told that evening and we each learned just a bit more about each other.

I brought my Schweitzer family Cinnamon Roll Recipe and of course the rolls themselves! I told how at any family gathering there were pans of Cinnamon Rolls involved in the morning breakfast. How if you were to look in my Grandma’s freezer at anytime you were guaranteed to find a pan or two. Any day, for years and years you can find my Grandpa having his coffee break with a cinnamon roll at 3 pm. And how now, my Grandmother and Mom share the work of making the rolls and have my Grandpa drive the dough over to my Mom’s house to be rolled out and baked.


My favorite photo of my Grandma and me 🙂


To say the least, this evening made me quite homesick, but I am so thankful for a family with traditions and relationships that I can miss when away. LOVE YOU SCHWEITZ FAM!

I am also so thankful to be involved with such a great group of women every Tuesday.


The Holidays away.

Our average holiday season usually consisted of all things family. Adam and I would separate our days off as evenly as possible with all of our relatives.

We have really missed our family, the homemade goodies, cousin chats, card games, too many pies to choose from, cheese balls, candy shopping, tree decorating, stocking stuffing and catching up with our nieces and nephews.

So to prevent a lot of homesickness Adam and I took advantage of the time we had off and decided to explore a new city! Luckily once in Europe getting around is pretty cheap! Even for full time volunteers 😉

So off to France we went… beautiful Paris for Christmas.


We found a small little hotel in a pretty convenient location, just a couple blocks away we found these little streets with many of our favorite shops and restaurants.

Our first French crepe experience.

Arriving Christmas Eve, we went to Notre Dame’s Christmas Eve’s Midnight Service with thousands of others.


We spent Christmas day walking the city, exploring christmas markets and eating way too much fondue 🙂

Christmas market mousse
Christmas Dinner Fondue

The next few days were filled with touristy sightseeing…

Adam taught us many facts about the chairs in the park 😉


The hands & iphone show the massive crowd around this little painting.
love locks

On my Birthday, the hubs thought it would be fun to explore the caves of death on my day of life….thanks babe! But I will say it was pretty interesting! (and a little creepy)

Catacombs of Paris

The day ended with a little more celebration with an evening of a big baguette and wheel of cheese sitting under the Eiffel Tower. We sat and munched while it twinkled.



I almost forgot! Adam tried escargot …. and looooved it!


Follow the Star

It has been a little more than the week mentioned in the last post, but after an extremely busy time, we have needed a little bit of time to recover from the excitement.  the week of the 7th through the 11th, EBM hosted “Follow the Star”, which is an interactive nativity play.

Schools from the area were allowed to sign up for times to come see the play and also take part in different crafts afterwards.  There were three different times during the days that groups could sign up for. Over the week, we had a total of 14 different schools and groups including the Friday Fusion kids from EBM sign up and around 350 children attended in total.

The EBM Congregation night

The time started with the play, which lasted around half an hour, included parts from Gabrielle the angel, Mary and Joseph, King Herod, two shepherds, and a wiseman.  Most of the parts were played by staff in the Irish Methodist Church Youth Department during the day, and then by members of the EBM church congregation in the evening.  We also had the TOM (Team On Mission) team that helped out with all of the groups.  Adam had a great part playing one of the shepherds, Josh, who was apparently from Texas, as he was supposed to have a thick southern accent.  Grael hosted a few times during the week as well.

The TOM Team as Mary, King Herod, Josh and Caleb, and the Wise Woman

After the play, the children went out of the set and were able to interact with the characters while doing different crafts.

Adam having too much fun…

In Northern Ireland, it is very normal for the children to take part in Nativity plays or skits in their own churches and schools, so this is a way for the children to see the play and also interact with the characters afterwards.

sneak peak…!

Here is a little teaser of what is happening this week at EBM!

Full blog to come next week.

Shepard Adam 

Christmas in the air

Christmas has been in the air … for several weeks … almost months for Adam and me.

At East Belfast Mission the church collects food and donations for Christmas hampers. For our American readers, a hamper is a box or bag full of food usually given at Christmas time to those in need of a little extra help to put Christmas dinner on the table.

Here at EBM, we have the privilege of working with one of the most giving, kind, generous and professional person we have met. Sandie has run the Christmas Hamper project at EBM called “Neighbours in Need” for several years. She has had so much patience in teaching Adam and me what all has to happen to make this big event happen.

We started contacting churches, business, factories and individuals for donations soon after we arrived in September. We also spent a day in the local grocery store asking shoppers to purchase an extra can of food for the cause.

Sandie, our fearless leader collecting goods at a local grocery store.


After weeks of collecting the time came to contact social workers, churches and other community centers for referrals. We were told that Neighbours and Need first started with around a hundred hampers delivered to those in the area. We are proud to say this year 750 hampers were made, feeding over a thousand.

This past weekend we had around 30 volunteers come to help organized and pack each hamper. We couldn’t have done it without them!


Each hamper is filled with pasta or rice, cereal or porridge, baked beans, soup, jam, custard or rice pudding, canned veggies, canned fruit, canned meat, biscuits and a voucher to a local butcher’s for fresh food.


Neighbours in Need has been one of the most educational and rewarding things I have been a part of and can’t wait till next year!

IMG_6281.JPGrelieved and exhausted after all our hard work !

Thanks to all that helped!

A Typical Wednesday

Since beginning our time at East Belfast Misson, we have been put right to work helping with their community programs. A majority of these programs happen on Wednesdays.

Our morning starts out with helping to set up the gym with different toys and play equipment for a Mum’s and Tot’s group. This is a time for mothers in the community to come to the Mission with their children and spend some time in conversation with the other moms while there children can have a space to play with each other. The Children also get a snack and are able to make some kind of craft to take home.

Just a very very small fraction of the toys that are involved.
Just a very very small fraction of the toys that are involved.
My best mate and little shadow on Wednesdays
My best mate and little shadow on Wednesdays

After a quick lunch at the cafe, we head off to Elmgrove Primary School. Here we help with an after school Bible study with Scripture Union. Right now we are working our way through the fruit of the spirit. We usually start of with a song or a game which helps us get ready for the particular fruit we will be talking about that day. During the discussion part, we get to lead our own small group and at the end, everyone gets a charm to add to a key ring to remind them of the fruits during the rest of the week.

Love, Joy, Peace are displayed here. The kids are encouraged to wear keychain on their backpacks to have others ask questions.
Love, Joy, Peace are displayed here. The kids are encouraged to wear keychain on their backpacks to have others ask questions.

Wednesday’s are then finished off with a Bible Study group with other members of the church congregation in the evening.  We are working our way through the Essential 100 study guide.  This guide leads us through 100 days of reading the “essential” stories of the Bible.  This has been a fun way to gain a better understanding of the Bible, and also a great way to build relationships with others from the congregation.


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