The sun came out this morning. Even though it simultaneously rained while the sun shined, it was really nice to see a blue sky for once. The weather is slowly getting warmer, too. Every day, I need fewer layers of clothing to stay warm. The only constant issue is staying dry! I haven't been here a single day when it didn't rain at all.
I walked up to the school to meet Kristina. She had a rough morning. Immigration here requires either a letter from your home university saying that they assist you in paying for your tuition and housing, or an Irish bank statement proving that you have at least 1500 euros to your name. The financial aid office at Kristina's school is being very slow about sending a letter, so today she tried to set up an Irish bank account to which she can transfer some money. After much rigmarole, the bank finally told her it would take 10 days to do it - five to set up the account, and five to transfer the money! That's pretty ridiculously slow, and it wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that we only have until February 4 to present to immigration, and ten days from now puts her at February 2, a little close for comfort. Argh. A lot of things here seem to be unnecessarily complicated like that. Or maybe it's only that this is my first taste of really being on my own, where no adults handle the details, and it's up to us to make sure everything works the way it should.
We ate lunch and studied for a while in the library, trading phrases in Gaelic we need to remember, then walked down to the Garda (police) station so that I could take care of my immigration card - OU, thankfully, didn't waste any time in sending me the letter I needed. As it turned out, though, the immigration office has very limited opening hours - only four and a half hours a day, not continuous, and closed on the weekends. They are also quite slow, and even though I got in line at 3:15, I didn't make it to the front of the line before their closing at 4, and they shooed the last five of us in line away. Kristina left before then so she could go home and take a nap. I'll have to warn her of the strict hours they keep, and try again on Wednesday.
I really didn't have anything to do for the rest of the day, so I walked slowly back towards my apartment, taking pictures, drinking in the rare sunlight. There's a spot on one walkway, alongside the river, where to your left, there's a gray stone spire - a church - and to your right, there's a similar spire - probably another church. I took pictures of both. As I continued on, I for whatever reason felt compelled to cross the (busy) street to get to a third church that I'd seen before, but had never gone into. It turns out that it's called St. Augustine's. I almost didn't go inside, because a daily Mass was in progress, but decided to venture in anyway. For a daily service, the place was just about full. There were people, mostly older, throughout this huge place.
The most striking thing about St. Augustine's is the number of small devotional areas around the walls and pillars. In just a small area, I saw prayers, statues, and candles dedicated to Mary (Our Lady of Childbirth)... St. Jude (patron of lost causes)... St. Anthony (patron of lost items)... St. Anne (patron of special requests). Each prayer was framed, and both the prose and the script of the prayer were elegant, lovely to behold and read. The front of the church was simply decorated, but beautiful. High up, above the altar in red and gold, it read "Holy... Holy... Holy." Although I could have been considered a disruption, opening the side door in the middle of a mass, not a single person looked at me askance. The air of peace was almost tangible.
The priest I talked to during confession told me something I hope I never forget; he said, "When you are looking for peace, put God at the center of the effort. That guarantees its success. It guarantees it. I don't say that lightly, you know." There was no way he could have known how badly homesick I had been over the past few days, or how much I had been looking for a way to find peace. I feel like God has been looking for ways to assure me that everything will be all right... that it will all be okay. More people have talked to me about God today, have said they'd be praying for me, have assured me of His nearness, than have spoken to me on the subject in several months combined.
Today has been a good Friday. :)