|Lauren Mulholland||Lauren and some of the Kosova children.
Lauren Mulholland, a sub-officer in St Paul’s Girls Brigade (160th Northern Ireland) spent a week in Kosova last July, as a member of the GB Europe Summer ’09 Mission Team working with a new GB company in a new GB country. The mission initiative was organised in partnership with Smile International, a charity dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus Christ by helping to relieve suffering and poverty through the distribution of humanitarian aid and long-term development projects. Presently working in Africa, Asia and Europe, their aim is to put a smile on people’s faces as they see the love of God in action.
In preparation for the trip, Lauren spent a weekend in June at the GB Europe conference and briefing in Glasgow, which prepared her and the team for the activity they would be involved in which included children’s work, aid distribution, sharing about GB and learning about and sharing faith. Lauren left on Monday 6th July and was joined by girls from England and Scotland. Being the only girl representing GB Ireland, she was a little bit apprehensive initially, but very excited about the challenge and experience ahead in working with the first ever Girls Brigade Company in Kosova. The team of 13 girls stayed at the Smile Centre, a Christian conference centre in Gjakova. Each day they travelled to Eternity Church, a small building (unlike churches in UK), where a new GB Company was formed this year. Lauren and the team led the first ever GB holiday bible club there and were eagerly greeted by the members. Morning sessions began with worship followed by a bible story shared by one of the team; afternoon sessions involved crafts and games topical to the biblical theme. Lauren found the children so appreciative and eager to learn about the gospel message and also about her life in Northern Ireland. After a most enjoyable week, they treated the girls to an ice cream sundae at a local Kosovan café.
The ethnic cleansing of Kosova by the Serbs resulted in over one million refugees. Ten thousand men were killed leaving many widows and fatherless children, many of which are still living in appalling conditions. During the mission Lauren and the team had the privilege of being welcomed into the homes of some war victims. Although their home lives are basic and deprived, the welcome and hospitality they received was most loving and truly amazing. Even though these people have very little, they were extremely generous to share what little they had with the team, an experience that Lauren found most humbling.
Lauren, who last year gained the Queen’s Award, the highest award a
girl may gain during her years in Girls’ Brigade, concludes, “My trip to
Kosova was most rewarding and worthwhile, developing a passion within me
for the people of this war torn country. It was very exciting to be
involved in working with the first ever Girls Brigade Company in Kosova.
It is my desire to create a strong link between Girls Brigade Kosova and
Girls Brigade Northern Ireland and I hope to return and visit my new
friends in the near future. It was an amazing experience, and I would
encourage anyone interested to get involved - prayerfully, financially
or experience Kosovan life hands on”.