Wonder Moment: God in the mountains and on the roads of Ireland

Ireland holds a special place in my heart because, on each of my three trips, I have had a personal encounter with God. On the first two trips, I was a pilgrim, and on the third, I was an intern on the leadership team.

On my first trip, I walked the grounds of Esker Monastery in Athenry, under the cover of trees, weeping uncontrollably and surprised by the power of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t understand what was happening until Shawn reminded me of Romans 8:26 “For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.” At that moment, I reveled at the power of God to lead me in prayer for a person I met on the streets and would never meet again.

On my second trip, I jumped into a small glacial pond on a mountain. I’m not super adventurous but I knew then, just as I know now, that tomorrow is not a guarantee. One day, our team hiked up a steep mountain and along with a few fellow intrepid ladies, and I jumped into the pond. We only stayed in for a few minutes but it was worth experiencing the brittle cold. At that moment, I was amazed to do something I didn’t think I was brave enough to do.

Wonder Voyage Interns in 2002

Michelle (pictured far left) in Inisheer along with her fellow interns in 2002.

And when I traveled as an intern, Shawn, his kids, and the rest of our leadership team spontaneously hiked to the top of the Slieve League (considered one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe). Slowly but surely, we made our way past small boulders, taking care that our hands held onto the surface so we wouldn’t slide down. With my Walmart sandals and all, I made it to the top with everyone else and we gazed in awe at the sun setting over the horizon. In that moment of wonder, I marveled at the ferocity and beauty of God’s creation.

With each trip to Ireland, I learned more about my weaknesses as well as my strengths. I learned that I could encounter the Lord on top of a mountain, but that He would still meet me along city streets. I will always treasure every single moment I had there. I don’t know when I will go back but I do know that a return is inevitable. Thanks to Wonder Voyage, today I carry with me the glorious practice of wonder, and it is something I will do for the remainder of my days.

In the late 1990s, Michelle took her first trip with Wonder Voyage as a pilgrim to Ireland. She eventually served as an intern on the leadership team for five weeks in her favorite country and ate the best smoked fish chowder she's ever had in her life in Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands near Galway. Today, Michelle is a wife (married for thirteen years), a mom of two (one biological, one adopted), a nonprofit grant writer, and will happily talk about Ireland and Wonder Voyage to anyone who will listen.

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