Say hello to the two new girls in town—in Belfast, that is.
John Brown University has been fostering a relationship with Ireland for many years, providing a place of education, service, mission work and much more.
Students who study abroad in Ireland live in the University’s own Lakeside Manor.
According to the University website, Lakeside sits only four blocks outside of Belfast proper.
This year there are two additions to the manor. Former University students Lindsay Butler and graduate Katelyn Banks have taken on the roles of house manager and cook for the current semester.
Only two weeks before the date of departure, Butler was referred for the job by a friend.
“I laughed and didn’t think much of it until later that night. At that point the trip was just over two weeks away, so if I went I would have very little time to get ready, but I just couldn’t shake the thought,” Butler said. “So, I looked into it. I prayed some really specific prayers for signs since it was really short notice. God literally answered the last one about two hours before I was hired.”
For Banks, who heard about the job through Butler, it was also a quick decision. Within days of hearing about the position, Banks turned in her application, had her interview, and got the job.
“I love Europe and I love to cook,” said Banks. “I love to travel, and I have never lived in one spot for more than four years throughout my life, so I am 100 percent comfortable with moving and change and new things. In fact, I crave new experiences and being able to travel. So when the opportunity came up, I knew I wanted to go for it.”
Banks felt like she was not supposed to do anything right after graduation, so this summer she worked at Café on Broadway, which she feels really helped prepare her for this job.
“I was praying all summer for God to show me the next step, and I knew that this was part of that answer,” she stated.
Both Banks and Butler are not much older than the students in the Irish Studies Program this semester, but they do not see that as a problem.
Banks stated that the respect level between the students and her is more like the relationship between resident assistants on campus and the students on their hall.
Butler had existing friendships with a number of the students are abroad this semester, so she was a little worried about her new leadership role.
“I was afraid that my leadership position could be a bit awkward. But so far it’s great. I think they knew me and respected me enough coming into this that they can respect me as a leader and still feel comfortable as a friend around me,” Butler said. “Most of the others knew me as a worship leader before coming here,” she said. “I think moving from one leadership position to the other helped, even though they are pretty different positions.”
The women’s days are filled with much work and connecting with the students. Their day begins before most of the students are even awake.
“Each day Katelyn and I wake up about 7:30 or 8, [and] set breakfast out,” Butler said. “Then we have a little break where we may make a dessert for tea that night or just relax before we set out lunch. After lunch we begin working on dinner. After dinner is served, the students clean up then we are free until tea time around 10. At that time we set out a dessert and tea.”
Both Butler and Banks are excited to take on this new role and are looking forward to seeing how God will be working in the lives of everyone living in the Manor this semester.
“My prayer is that God will use Katelyn and me to edify and encourage them in these next few months,” Butler said.