I love it here. But I miss America.
Of course, there are the simple, shallow things, like missing chocolate chips, Crisco for baking and liquid flavored coffee creamer.
I also miss Target.
And having a car.
And big refrigerators.
And American Easters, complete with coloring eggs, Easter basket hunts, Sunday brunch with Grandma, and boxes of Peeps to put in the freezer.
I groove on the Irish green grass, the lyrical accents, the buckets of tea and Cadbury eggs all year round, but I am definitely living in a different country.
And one of the things I miss most of all is church. East 91st Street Christian, where I went in Indiana, had its flaws to be sure. But I loved singing there, and volunteering in the crawlers room, and having bi-weekly Bible studies with other ladies. I can download the sermons online, but it’s just not the same. I loved the warmth of the fellowship.
I’ve been going to the Drogheda Presbyterian Church, which is fine. The people are lovely and very friendly, and it’s so international you’d think you were sitting with the United Nations Security Council, rather than sharing hymnals in church. Every week there is a new friendly face who comes over to meet me. And every so often, like this week, there is a song I recognize from home. It’s a good place to be and I’m thankful for it – but I do still miss E91.
Perhaps what I miss is more the general understanding and acceptance in the States for Christian churches. It’s not like in Ireland we’re barred from restaurants, unable to get jobs or in danger of being bombed, as religious groups have been in periods over the last 1000 years here… but we’re still an oddity. And, if anything, I’m in favor of the Catholics fighting for their rights to worship as they pleased, knowing that the Protestant kings of England were ruthless.
But because of that, there is ignorance here on both sides. I got in an argument the other day while on my work experience. One of my supervisors heard I had been going to a Presbyterian church and began softly attacking me with all the ammunition he’d learned as a child. “Presbyterians are the same as any other Protestant church,” he said. “Same as the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, they’re all the same!” He proceeded by giving silly examples of how Protestants weren’t as “good” or as “devout” about their faith because of how their churches were run and what we supposedly believe.
I tried to gently argue back that perhaps he misunderstood some things, that there are some marked differences in style and substance, though we all come from the same place in the beginning. To that he argued back that he was right, and that he knew it was because of his schooling. In a huff he turned back to his desk, still mumbling about how none of it matters anyway because religion is what leads to all the problems in the world and Heaven is just a fantasy made up to give people hope in this crap hole we call life.
This seems to be a common theme around here.
I stand my ground and defend what I believe in, trying to be myself and yet be a good example of the faith I profess, but it is hard to know if it means anything here? And it does make me weary and wistful for the safety of church in the USA. I expected to stand out when I got here for having a personal faith, but I didn’t think I’d be arguing about it.
Funny, too – even with all the lovely people I meet at the Presbyterian Church, they almost always want to talk to me about the Presidential elections. Now, I was raised to be responsible and political as such, but when I go to church, sometimes I’m looking for refueling, not political debate! And the question I keep getting asked is, “Who do you think will win, Obama or Hilary?” Then I explain the whole process of the primaries and the general election, but none of them even give two thoughts about any other candidate but the two I just mentioned, commenting on who they would vote for if they were American. This is probably because of the media coverage, but it’s more than a little aggravating to say the least.
And that’s Ireland, folks. The good, the bad, and the true.