Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We're still here!

I didn't realize so much time had passed since I last wrote. I would need to look at my planner to remember all that has happened. We have made a goal to visit as many branch members as we possibly can. Some are impossible to visit because no one knows where they've gone. Others are problematic because of hostile feelings that they have developed against the Church. The feelings of those particular people are hard for us to resolve - for ourselves or for them. Loving the Savior and his Church comes so easily to us that we can't really understand their hostility. Also, it's hard for me personally to know how much the Irish have gone through - during "The Troubles" of the 1920s and all the damage that the Catholic Church has caused here - it's just hard for me to see their hardened hearts when we have such a beautiful message to share with them.

We continue to spend time every week with the youth and that is a joy. Last night I taught them how to index and some of them were really getting into it. We also had three adults attend the meeting because they wanted to learn, as well. (For those of you who don't know what indexing is, I'm going to make you go to and find out for yourselves! :) We have a barbeque at the beach planned for this coming Saturday. It's a coordinated effort with another branch that lives two hours southeast of here. We're planning to meet in the middle at a place called Carrick-on-Shannon, which is a very popular tourist spot. I may have mentioned it before. Anyway, it's really beautiful and I hope we can pull the barbeque off!

We did a little sightseeing just a few blocks from our flat. We went first to the Church of Ireland and then right next door was St. Anne's Catholic Church. I wanted to include some pictures of each, but the blogger program is fighting me. Hopefully, I'll figure it out soon. Basically, our sympathies lie more with the Church of Ireland because we think it's less messed up than the Catholic Church, but I hate the way the Church of Ireland came into existence - on the coat tails of the Church of England, which was begun when King Henry VIII had his wife killed and proclaimed himself both the King of England and the head of the new church. But, hey, that's old news, right? :/ And it's sad to see no one using the Church of Ireland while the Catholic Church is open and running 24/7. Seriously. Catholic Churches are always so dark inside except for the stained glass windows. One can hardly avoid contrasting them with temples which are so full of light. In fact, in the temple, while going through an endowment session, I'm always having to adjust to the light as it brightens. But I love that.

I can't finish this edition without mentioning the great loss that our ward has suffered with the death of Vedana Jensen. She was the quintessential genealogist and will be seriously missed. She did some absolutely amazing work for our ward in Sandy and for at least one other ward before that. When I grow up, I want to be just like her. We love you, Sam.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Great Day

What a great day we had yesterday. We did a whole hunk of visiting - not in quantity, but in quality.

Our first visit was with a "less-active" woman named Liga Smolaka. We found her a few weeks ago and she was gracious enough to invite us in. (Most "former" Mormons are not happy to be found, unfortunately, so one always approaches the door with one's heart in one's throat.) Anyway, this time when we came, her little seven-year-old daughter was home (beautiful little girl) and we were able to bring the elders to meet them. Viktorija, the little girl, mostly just played in her room with a friend, but we did catch a glimpse of her a few times. Liga expressed a concern the last time we were there that Viktorija's school was preparing her for communion. (It is a Catholic school, as are a majority of schools here.) We have since learned that parents can list their children as members of other faiths or just NOT members of the Catholic faith, and then the school will find other things for the children to do while their classmates are being taught by the priests. So we told Liga this and I think she was relieved to know it. We also offered to go over to the school during that hour of the week and teach Viktorija about the LDS Church instead, looking towards the day when she can be baptized into the LDS Church, as her mother was. Viktorija will turn eight in January. The elders also offered to help teach Viktorija. We are expecting both of them to come to church Sunday, so we're looking forward to that. Liga says she has another friend with two young children who might be able to come with her.

After this, we went over to visit with Ed McPhillips. Ed is a character. He was born in the Bronx, but now lives in Sligo with his mother. He has never married. He was baptized into the church several years ago and has been having the missionaries over for Saturday lunches for many of those years. He absolutely knows the Church is true, but still slips back and forth between a strong testimony and major Word of Wisdom problems that pull him way down. He's been coming to church for about a month now, always early, but he has to have a cigarette out by the front door before he comes in. In this particular visit we met Ed's mother for the first time. (She was recovering from surgery every other time we had been there.) Now this lady has the Gift of the Blarney. She just went on and on and on. We kept waiting for her to draw breath so that we could get a word in edgewise, but it was over an hour before we could do so. She is a faithful Catholic and just a charmer of a person. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with her and left Ed a five-generation pedigree chart to fill out with her help so that I can try to trace her genealogy.

Our next stop was an hour north in a beautiful Irish town called Ballyshannon. We met with Christine Grannis, my new First Counselor in the Primary Presidency. (Did I tell you I'm the Primary President for now?) We also met her handsome son, Thomas, who is, I believe, 22 years old. He was very personable and just a pleasure to be around. They live at "Lake Cottage" and if you google it, you might just find it. Here is the whole address: Lake Cottage, The Mullins, Knader Road, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, Ireland. They rent it for 325 euroes (about $450) a month and it's small, but absolutely wonderful and old. And right outside the front door is one of the most beautiful lakes I've ever seen! It just about took our breath away when we went to leave. They showed us a picture of a pike that Chris's husband had caught out of the lake and it was enormous! And, yes, I regret not taking a picture of the cottage and the lake when we arrived and it was light enough to get a good shot. Another interesting fact: they have a 10 month old "cat", who appears for all the world to be calico, but this cat in the mother of three kittens - two of which are also calico. For those of you who don't know, calico cats are almost always female and sterile, and those that are males are always sterile. So I don't know how this happened. Anyway, I got to play with the kittens and cat all evening which (if you know me you will understand) gave me great pleasure.

THEN, as if that were not good enough, we had a phone call from the elders on the way home and learned that an investigator of theirs who had bailed on them was back on board and ready for another visit. We are scheduled to see her tonight with them. God does answer prayers.