Opportunities to travel internationally are limited at the moment, which means that you need a special reason to go abroad. For Tearne Boyd and Sophie Mowat of Glen Eden Corps, the chance came to learn, grow and serve through an internship run by The Salvation Army Republic of Ireland.
The internship was a chance for the two of them to consider their next steps while seeing a different part of the world.
‘I didn’t really know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to be doing, and then this opportunity popped up and all the doors opened, and God was like, “Hey, you should go”,’ Tearne says.
‘It seemed like a really good opportunity to get out and to get some character building,’ Sophie agrees. ‘Homelessness is really bad in Dublin, so the fact that we could go and help out was really cool.’
They applied for the internship separately, which meant they were both excited and surprised to learn
they would be going together.
‘Tearne showed up at my house. She was like, “Right, get in the car, we’re going to the beach”,’ Sophie recalls. ‘So, we’re going to the beach, and she’s like, “Oh, by the way, I just want to tell you I got accepted to an Ireland programme”.’
It was a funny moment for the two friends, who both thought the drive would be a great chance to share their news with the other.
‘Then we were like, “Oh yeah, I’m leaving in three months” … “Hey, I’m leaving in three months!”’
Through their former corps officers, Captains Missy Ditchburn and Jordan Westrupp, Sophie and Tearne learned they could apply for funding support through The Salvation Army in New Zealand, which helped to cover some of their costs. Once their required paperwork had gone through, getting to Ireland was relatively straightforward; Tearne was one of the first to arrive in September, while Sophie landed in October.
They completed quarantine in two houses that The Salvation Army in Ireland had rented for the six interns to share, before getting stuck into the programme and all of its ups and downs.
‘On the one hand, there’s how it was set up to go, and on the other hand is how it did go,’ Sophie says. ‘It was set up so that there were six of us, and half of us would be working with the corps and half of us would be working in the family centres for emergency accommodation. But then, with Covid-19, they decided to merge our programmes, which was cool, so we got a taste of both things.’
The people they met in Dublin were very friendly, as well as fast-paced and often fast-talking. ‘They don’t slow down for you, even if you’re from a different country!’ Tearne says.
One of their favourite people they got to know was a local supermarket checkout operator. ‘She was always the highlight of your day if you went shopping,’ Sophie says. ‘We’d just have the meanest chats.’
Unfortunately, the pandemic response escalated after Christmas and the country was locked down again. ‘They went into level five, which is like our level four,’ Tearne explains.
The interns were not classed as essential workers, which meant that their work shifted online and into the corps side of the internship (although they also served the family centres in whatever ways they could, such as making newsletters). Because there are only two corps in the Republic of Ireland, the corps members they were reaching out to were spread out all over the country.
‘We also got to meet with some of the youth from Northern Ireland. We went on a few online functions and they were great to talk to,’ Sophie says.
It was tough to be in lockdown, far from home, separated from their family and friends. Along with the Dublin City Corps Officers, Lieutenant Charlotte Lennox and Captain Tim Lennox, their chaplain Eleanor was an important support person they could always call on.
‘She was always so supportive, and we’d do a whole range of things with her, like Bible studies, dinners,’ Tearne says. ‘I know she helped all of us because we all, at different points, got quite low.’
There were still highlights amidst the lockdown—like unexpected January snow and picking up a homeless dog at one point—and it provided time for reflection and connecting with God.
‘Despite the fact that Covid-19 happened and made things kind of difficult, it was still a really good faith-building experience for us, and just a privilege that the corps officers set it up and that they did what they could to manage the programme, despite what happened,’ Sophie says.
Along with their responsibilities in the roles, each intern also received mentoring as part of the programme.
‘It was quite interesting—I never met my mentor in person, because at the time she was visiting family in Kenya and she got stuck over there. And then, just after I got home to New Zealand, she got home to Ireland,’ Sophie says. ‘We’ve kept in contact quite a lot since then.’
MIQ at Home
Getting back to New Zealand proved tricky, with the stressful task of getting a MIQ (Managed Isolation and Quarantine) voucher and finding a date before they booked up, but they finally managed to secure a date and were out of MIQ in May.
Tearne even managed to surprise her friends with her early return. ‘They didn’t suspect a thing. They still thought I was coming back in July.’ She believes she has come home with stronger motivation and greater confidence in her decisions and relationship with God. ‘It’s been really nice being back and being able to translate that into real life, back to normal.’
Sophie, meanwhile, feels she is being called into ministry with young people and is pursuing work in that area. ‘Fingers crossed—if it’s where I’m meant to be, if it’s what I’m meant to do,’ she says. ‘But I definitely want to keep going when I’m called [and] see if I can help people.’