Saturday, September 28, 2013

Things have changed

I haven't made an entry in this blog since September 16, when Elder Walker the Younger left and went to Limerick. His replacement is an Elder Wightman from Rexburg, Idaho - second of seven children born within eight years. His mother must be Iron Woman. He's a wonderful, enthusiastic young man who, until this time, had never worked with senior couples. I think we make him nervous or he just doesn't quite know what to do with us. When we saw him last night with Elder Barney we found out he had been very sick for two days. If we had known, we could maybe have helped, but we don't want to be intrusive by calling them frequently so ... well, we just didn't know. But last night, at our September Birthdays Party he was there and beginning to feel better. He's a very reserved young man, so now we have two reserved missionaries. But they get along great and are making headway with their work. They were unhappy that they had had five cancellations of appointments during the week and then Elder Wightman's illness didn't help anything. He says he rarely gets sick - maybe once a year - and this is the first time he's been sick on his mission (he's been out since January).

Here are some pictures from our September birthday party. It was a lot of "craic" (Gaelic for "fun").

Steve and Stephanie Walsh, Lewis Walsh, Stephanie Campbell; the Walshes and Campbells make up the bulk of the branch.

Lenny Campbell is the boy in the middle. He's been in foster care most of his life, but now has been restored to his family and hopefully will be baptized soon.

Two lovely ladies who are sisters to one another and who attended our part with their brother. All three of these people have vacation homes in Sligo and live in the U.S.

My companion and I came up with a good use of time on Friday: we drove around to Sligo, Manorhamilton, and Bundoran to place Books of Mormon in each of their public libraries. We were pleasantly surprised at how willing they all were to accept them and assured us that they would be placed on the shelves. We plan to do more of this this coming week. It's kind of a slick way to get in some sight-seeing while actually doing missionary work. ;)

I keep forgetting to share what I'm learning about Irish culture and language. Let's see if I can remember a few of the new words we have learned while here: a grocery cart is a trolley; a trash can liner is a bin bag (I may have told you that one before); when asked to bring food to a pot luck dinner, it is called bringing "savory and sweet" - meaning a main course and a dessert; they say "yeah, yeah, yeah" a lot; lovely and brilliant are commonly used adjectives; at retail stores cashiers say "now" at the beginning of the transaction and then they say "now" + the amount due at the end.

When we came on our mission we were told we would be "MLS" missionaries, which means Member and Leader Support. It's a wonderful concept, but doesn't provide enough to fill up the time, so Elder Walker and I have been trying to find additional things to do. We are currently, under the auspices of the mission president, trying to pull together a country-wide conference (which sounds huge, but it's only seven couples) to discuss different things that people are doing on their missions to provide the MLS we've been asked to give. Richard is terrific at coming up with ideas, and I have suggested a few myself. But, as I said, it's just not enough. We're hoping that we can make the conference happen - either in Dublin or Belfast - and when we return from our mission we plan to approach the Powers That Be in the Provo Mission Home to suggest that they give MLS missionaries some additional training in what they will be doing in the mission field. The training that we received in the MTC was basically just role playing, which really is not applicable to us except when we are called upon to joint teach with the junior missionaries.

Well, I think I've rattled on long enough for now. I hope all is well with all of you. We miss you very much and, it's true, we're out of our comfort zone - even though Ireland is mighty beautiful when it's not covered with clouds and fog. We've been told that in the winter there are only six hours of daylight. Wow, I'm really looking forward to that! Not!

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Moves" Day

We got the news last night that our funny and intelligent Elder Walker (Junior, as we call him) is being transferred to Limerick, Ireland on Wednesday. We have become so attached to this young man that it feels very much like it did when we sent each of our three sons off on their missions. He is the young man on the right. Last transfers he was made a District Leader and this time around he's been bumped up to Zone Leader. This tells you something about his work ethic. We are going to miss him greatly. Limerick is where some of my ancestors came from so we told him we'd be coming to visit one day and will also be visiting Catholic parishes in that city at the same time.

Tonight we will be attending the usual Monday night YSA Family Home Evening. Because we are member-support missionaries, we have the pleasure of attending every branch function that's held. It's nice to know that we can be serving just by participating, and I really believe we are serving that way because the branch numbers here need so much beefing up. Yesterday at church there were only 21 in attendance and that included a (biological) brother and sister from Tubbercurry in County Sligo. They each own a home there and live elsewhere (she lives in North Carolina and he lives somewhere else in the States), so their Irish homes are just for vacations. (How cool would THAT be?)

We had a dreadful experience with a woman here a few days ago and I haven't yet been able to shake off the way she made me feel. She's my age and was an active member of the Catholic Church until she was 19 at which time she left it and began her life search for "the truth", but I don't think she's going to succeed until she stops talking and starts listening. We came to her house with the best message that one person could have for another, but she had her own agenda and refused to listen. Finally, after two hours I had had enough, stood up and said I had to be leaving, which I did. Richard and the junior elders followed about 10 minutes later. More than anything I feel pity for her and nobody wants pity. I'm constantly amazed at how much abuse the proselyting elders have dropped upon them and how they take it. They really make me proud.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lag time

I'm sick. Not death bed sick, just bronchitis, hot lungs, sore throat sick. I came down with this yesterday. BUT, the good news is that I had bronchitis last year and was prescribed an inhalant called QVar AND I brought it with me to Ireland. Yay! After all the bouts of bronchitis I've had in my life, I've never been prescribed an inhalant until last year. It worked beeeautifully the first time and seems to be doing much good again this time. So, soon (hopefully tomorrow) I'll be back on my feet and running (oh, sure) again. Thank you for all the prayers that are said for the missionaries. We feel it, believe me, and we appreciate it. One of the "junior" missionaries was commenting Tuesday on our way home from Dublin about how good it feels to be set apart to do this work and how it elevates us to a higher place than we've ever experienced. I feel grateful that I am one of the senior missionaries, who has experienced life both ways: (1) where I receive the "average" dose of God's blessings, and (2) where I receive blessings set aside for missionaries.

It's been amazing to me how often I am called upon to say prayers and how those prayers are not being said anymore from any kind of "agenda" that I have in mind, but really are being guided by Heavenly Father. I can't help but think about our dear friend, Bonnie Landvatter, and the prayers she offered which were always  given with a catch in her throat because she was so sincere.

Yesterday, the elders took a train ride to Carrick-on-Shannon to meet up with a 37-year-old GOLDEN investigator. He, on his own, has been studying the literature of the Church for the past YEAR and is now ready to be baptized. Elder Walker (Jr.) has been on his mission for almost a year now and has never met anyone as prepared as this man is. This is really an especially timely blessing because the work here has been discouraging, with really only two women who are moving towards joining the Church. The elders do a phenomenal job of finding investigators, but these people are so are to convert. The Catholic Church here is like Big Brother and the generations of people who have been members of it become more and more set in their ways. Even when they join the LDS Church, within six months they've generally stopped coming. I have become more and more appreciative of the strength of my home ward the longer we are here.

Below are a few pictures from Catholic cemeteries and also a bunch of swans near the Glass House Hotel in Sligo. I have forgotten the name of the river that they're swimming in.