Last weekend we made a trip to see friends in Ireland. We flew from Luton airport to Belfast International. There were 4 of us traveling, myself, Will, and 2 of our friends. Now this sounds like a pretty average trip doesn’t it? Well, now factor in the fact that there was not a scrap of eyesight between us and it gets interesting!
We were driven to the airport at 5 in the morning by my dad and uncle. We had booked assistance beforehand, so when we got there, it was just a matter of reporting to the assistance desk and giving our names. Dad came with us to check in, but the assistance were there too. In the few times I’ve traveled with other blind people, its been a relief to find that the airport assistance is far better than that on trains. For one thing, they don’t say they haven’t got the staff to help, they don’t put you somewhere and forget to come back for you or forget to ring ahead to let the next place know you’re there, and they don’t forget to turn up! A complete opposite of train assistance in my experience.
We were taken through all the security checks, left to wait with drinks etc, then escorted onto the flight. On the flight, we had a demonstration of all the safety equipment and were encouraged to feel the oxygen mask, life jacket, and shown where the call bell was. We were also told how many rows forward or behind us the exits were if there was an emergency. Much more interactive and useful than watching a video on safety.
When we landed in Belfast, we were escorted to the entrance hall, where we had arranged to meet a friend. He is also partially sighted. We were piled into 2 taxis and driven to Antrim train station, where we were helped onto the train by an assistant, and our partially sighted friend Ian then had the job of finding us all seats!
A very helpful conductor got our connecting train to stop on the same side of the platform that we were pulling into, so that we would not have to all file over the bridge in a train of people, white canes, suitcases and backpacks!
We were shepherded off one train, scrambled aboard another, and finally arrived in Portrush station! We met our friends there, and were driven back to Irene’s house (don’t panic, these friends could see!) after all that traveling it was nice to have a cup of tea and relax!
But the experience wasn’t as harrowing as it might have been. I really really like traveling by air because of the helpfullness of the staff. I have never felt comfortable on trains because of my own experiences, and friend's stories, but airports are different. I still don’t know if I would fly alone, but I could contemplate that, where as a train journey alone would be a flat out “no!”
Our weekend passed in a blur of shopping, Chinese take away, fellowship, carol singing, and food! Will gave his testimony at Portrush Baptist church, and I sang. There were 6 of us with sight impairments, and enough sighted people and cars to go round everybody! It was so much fun and we laughed so much!
We first met our irish friends at Torch Holiday and Retreat Centre in June 2012. They have watched our relationship flourish, and it was while we were in Ireland last year that Will proposed. So it was very special to go back and see everyone again!
Before we even realized what was happening, it was time to return home. On the way back, we decided that it would be sensible to book a taxi as there were now 5 totally blind people, for 1 partially sighted person to guide. Although this is relatively easy in a place that is well-known, its impossible to have a train of people following you when you don’t know and can’t see where you’re going yourself.
At the airport we were guided in by our taxi driver, and then handed over to the assistance again. This time, was as smooth as the last time, and we were home before we knew it.
I have been a bit quiet on the speaking engagements lately, so thought I’d share the goings on of the last 2 or so months. In October, I was asked to go back to my former Upper school, Sandy Upper, to make a short presentation about my school life and work to encourage the students. I was thinking that I would just be doing the 5 minute talk and was prepared for this. Then I got a phone call with general info about how the evening would run, and in the middle of it, my former teacher said “and that’s when you’ll be giving out the prizes”. Instant panic! At least that’s how I felt, even if its not how I sounded. I have never given out prizes in my life! And it was a doublely weird feeling because I could remember being part of that award presentation myself, on the receiving end, as a student. I was highly honored! Couldn’t believe I’d be asked. I just prayed I wouldn’t drop any awards on anybody’s foot!! This prayer doubled when I reached the school and saw the size of some of the shields! Wow!
I sat up front with the teachers who were announcing the nominations, and watched the choir file in. They sang songs which I remembered from my school days! I couldn’t get over the feeling of déjà vu as I sat there. Then came the time to give my presentation and for the students to receive their awards. I have to say it was one of the most nerve racking times of my life, but one of the proudest as well. I was really pleased to be helping to reward the students for their hard work and effort. I was also pleased to tell them all about TTr and my work for the charity, as well as one or two jokes about the teachers in my time. Overall, it was a humbling evening! And it was great to hear familiar voices and see the familiar surroundings. Though some things have changed, we didn’t have a cafeteria in my day! 🙂
That weekend was a busy one. After the award evening on the Thursday, I was asked if I would be interviewed about my life and testimony and work at an evangelistic outreach event at St Neots Evangelical church on the saturday. This consisted of a 45 minute interview of quite difficult questions. I was asked if I had ever been angry with God, and if I found it hard day to day being blind. I tried to be completely honest about the hard times, because there are a lot of hard times, a lot of frustrations! But I also wanted to draw people’s eyes off this to God.
After the interview, Will and I sang and played in the refreshment break. Then there was a gospel message. We were up early the next morning and traveling to Borne mouth to a church called Cornerstone. There again I was asked to give my testimony, tell about Through The Roof and give words of encouragement for their disability Sunday. Altogether three very different types of engagements, but all equally as important, humbling, and hopefully helpful to the people who heard them. I pray that these have all brought glory to God and also promoted the name of Through The Roof.
If you wish to book a similar talk or training session please contact me on email@example.com or 07841087806
'Pure as Silver' - December 2013 Come Fishing
Here's the latest 'Come Fishing' recording from Jenny Edwards and DCF - an hour packed full with music, prayer, inspiration, stories and news, this time with an extra Christmas flavour!
- Follow this link to listen to the Christmas 2013 Come Fishing, or Right-Click on the link to download and listen later
Dedications and Decorations
Through the Roof held a lovely festive event in the evening of the 4th December as local supporters, staff, volunteers and church representatives gathered to dedicate TTR’s new(ish) offices to God, and to share fellowship and mince pies. Reninca Hill, our new International Missions Manager shared stories from the recent Wheels Trip to Ghana, and talked about her heart for the ongoing work. We continue to thank God for His provision of this office space which is so suited to our needs and the vital work of Through the Roof.
Give the Gift of Freedom this Christmas
Change lives this Christmas with the gift of physical and spiritual freedom in Christ. £40 gives the life-changing gift of a wheelchair to a disabled person overseas.
You can find more about our Wheels for the World programme here: follow this link to learn more about our Wheels for the World programme, or read updates from the in-country distributions by following this link to the Wheels blog page.
If you'd like to give a gift that will change lives, please get in touch with us on 01372 749955, or visit our donate page by following this link.