Friday, June 28, 2013

June 25, 2013 or 25 June 2013, if you prefer

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It’s afternoon here in Sligo. We’ve spent the morning going up and down one way streets trying to relocate the photo store where we were having pictures developed of the baptism we attended last Saturday. Elder Donaldson will be leaving tomorrow and since he was the one who baptized Evan Cawley, we wanted him to have the pictures of said baptism. It took us about 45 minutes during which time the Elders were waiting for us to be there to visit with an elder named William who had been inactive for six months, but who was looking to come back into activity. 

When we finally arrived we had a very nice visit with William, who is from Zimbabwe and speaks English beautifully. 

The elders had to hustle off to another appointment (which didn’t actually work out) and afterwards we took them to lunch at the Supermac – which is basically a glorified McDonalds. It was really fun, especially trying to compete with all the youngsters (about 25) who were there on a field trip. We took the elders to see a famine graveyard after lunch. We had been able to find it last night on a tip from the branch president that it was in Ballyvitlan – just across the street and a few blocks away from the Supermac. We’ve identified a good place for the young people of the ward to perform some light service in cleaning the moss off the cross on the ground in the children’s area of the cemetery. (Did that sentence have enough prepositional phrases for you?)

Just a few minutes ago the elders came over with Evan to have Evan take a picture of us for the next article coming out in the “Sligo Champion” newspaper next Tuesday. We’ll have to be sure to watch for it so we can add it to our memorabilia and send a copy to our kids at home. The elders send articles into the local newspapers and they publish information about them which helps put a positive spin on the work we’re trying to do here. Elder Walker will be here with us for the next six weeks, so hopefully he will continue to send in the articles and spreading the good word about us as a church. The article about Elders Walker and Donaldson that showed up in another newspaper this past Tuesday carried the headline: “Professional Musician and Eye Doctor give up jobs to “sell” Mormon religion.” (Elder Walker plays the trumpet and Elder Donaldson is hoping to go into medicine when he gets off his mission.) Actually, the article was really very flattering, but that headline missed by a mile!

Sorry I haven't included any pictures yet. I've taken several, but haven't figured out yet how to post them. I'll keep working on it!

June 23, 2013 - End of Week One

I'm actually posting this page on June 28, but while we were trying to get our Internet to work, I wrote the following page:
Sunday, June 23, 2013

It’s been a week of busy-ness and this is the first chance I’ve had to sit and write a bit about it.
We hit the ground running on our mission … to a baptism of fire, as we were involved in a zone meeting one hour after landing at Dublin Airport. But before that baptism of fire, we first had to meet a very unfriendly lady at the airport entry. She took a look at our passports and (United Kingdom) visas and asked what we were doing in Ireland. We told her we were here to serve a one year mission for our church. “What! You can’t do that!”, she said. “You have a UK visa which is no good here. Didn’t they tell you that?”
“Actually, we questioned it, but they assured us that the UK visa was the one we needed. Is there a visa for Ireland?”
“Oh, no. There’s no visa needed for Ireland (but we for sure can’t use our UK visas!!). How much are they paying you to serve this mission?”
“Nothing,” we replied. “We’re paying our own way.”
“Well, how long did it take to you save up for this?”
“Oh, several years.”
Where are you going to live?”
“We’re being sent to Sligo.” (She got a big kick out of this.)
“It’s just your luck they’d send you someplace like Sligo! Well, it just won’t do. You can’t just come in here and say you’re going to live in Ireland for a year and serve a mission. Doesn’t your church know this?”
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do” (we could tell she was softening a wee bit),” I’ll let you stay for three months” (and she so noted it in our passports). And thus we entered our field of service.
Following the dramatic entrance to the country, we went to the zone meeting and bore our testimonies, then moved on to an incredibly okay luncheon, followed by receiving keys to our not-quite-new Opel Mariva or something like that. We hopped in with the two missionaries who had taken the train from Sligo to meet us (Elder Walker  -  yes, you read that right – and Elder Donaldson.) (We have since seen Elder Walker’s pedigree and do not think we’re related.)
When we got to Sligo, they showed us around our new “flat” (which is very nice, but has a few problems – one being that we can’t connect to the Internet!). It’s very clean and seems to be quite new. We love kneeling on the hard tiles each morning and night (not!). Then we took the elders home and came back to our flat. Fortunately, we didn’t collapse right away, so that has helped with the jet lag.
So that was Tuesday.
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday all rather blur together. During these days we have set up housekeeping, been to several stores around the city, taken a trip to another town – Mullingar – by ourselves, with our not-so-trusty GPS at hand telling us to turn left and right here and there when it was never appropriate. (Sigh.) We did finally get to Mullingar after two and a half hours, rather than the proscribed two hours. We met again Elders Oman and Barney (whom we had first met in the zone meeting) there in Mullingar and did a flat check – which is a matter of seeing how tidy they keep things and had nothing to do with looking at tires …if you follow where I have drifted. J
We’ve gone on visit with the elders here in Sligo and have met a Nigerian man who lives with a woman and has been investigating the church for quite a while. He was very interesting and obviously had studied religion a great deal. At one point I made the observation to him the perhaps it was time to do less reading and researching and actually get on his knees to ask Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon was true and if, as he had been taught, Joseph Smith was a prophet. He seemed agreeable to the idea, but at the same time I sense that he’s holding back. In truth I think Jamie, his girlfriend, was actually taking in more than Francis was, even though Francis was doing a great deal of talking. I look forward to meeting with them again and seeing if Francis and James actually have followed through on asking for an answer to their prayer.
Another interesting man we met is named Ed. Ed is probably 50-something because his mother, whom he is caring for is 85. Ed has many problems and sometimes tries to treat them with alcohol. When we met with him he was just coming off a one-week binge and willingly admitted it. I think he knows it’s not the answer, but he gets frustrating with his pain and so gives into the drink. Ed is a regular Saturday visit for the elders and he always provides them with something to eat. I find that very touching and, as with Francis and Jamie, look forward to meeting Ed again.
Well, it’s getting late and we’ve have another visit lined up in the morning, so I’m going to end here. I know that Elder Walker (Senior) and I are in the right place doing the right thing and it’s a great source of joy to both of us.
Take care! Sister Walker

Saturday, June 15, 2013

On the eve of the eve

Saturday, June 15, 2013

We went to dinner tonight with my siblings. This is a monthly tradition with us and I'm glad we were able to get in one Last Supper before we fly to Ireland. They, along with my husband, are my best friends. Even though we embrace different geopolitical positions and tend to clash a tad on religion, they know and love me and I feel the same about them. There are no animosities among us. This was not always so, but we have been blessed with the gift of age and forgiveness, coupled with the mutual belief that everyone has the right to believe as they choose. And then there's that common ancestry that cannot be denied. When we were young we lived together, played together, fought together, and then made up. Living with these fine, feisty people as a child as helped prepare me to be a better missionary among the fine and feisty Irish.

So Monday morning we fly out. Early: 8:30 a.m. Tomorrow we finish packing which is, as we all know, the most brutal part of any trip preparation. ("Did I bring my _______? Did I forget my ________?") Anyway, we'll get there.

I wish I had a picture I could share from the MTC, but I took them all on my iPhone so they're not shareable! But let me tell you what I learned from these "senior" missionaries: these are the people who have learned, in large measure, to become the children that Christ wants us to be. Life has humbled them and they are ready to go into the world and serve. I could go on but I always fear that I will become boring. So, until next time: Erin go braugh! (Ireland for ever!)

Friday, June 7, 2013

MTC Here We Come

It's the Friday before the Monday that we begin classes at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. (Breathe, KC, breathe!) The excitement continues to build. We will be spending eight hours a day for five days learning "Preach My Gospel". I hope we get to stand up a lot! I don't do well sitting on hard surfaces hour after hour. Luckily, the Church already knows that about us old geezers, so I am confident they will be sensitive to our sensitivities.

Happily, we have learned that we will be serving in the city and county of Sligo (pronounced with an "i" as in I.) (I used to know - is that called a long I??) Anywho, I was pleased to find out that there is also a family history library in or near the branch where we will be serving. Genealogy is clearly my best thing, so I hope I'll be able to help people with this - and they in turn will certainly be a help to me!)

It's been an amazing ride thus far and will no doubt continue to be. I'm going to try to post a picture with this blog of a monument we saw an a famine memorial in Sligo six years ago. You will know if I was successful.