But before I set forth the details, may I just say that we are desperately worried about my next-older sister, Lynda. Lynda was taken by her husband to the ER last Saturday because she "couldn't breathe." Upon arriving, she was whisked away to the ICU and intubated. Then the tests began - CAT scans, x-rays, blood tests, an MRI. She had a central line put in through her neck to get all the blood pressure medications and antibiotics into her system more quickly. Her blood pressure was extremely low. I don't know if pneumonia was diagnosed immediately, or if it took a while to determine that that was the problem. Anyway, they mostly know now what they're working against, but they still don't know what caused it. I heard that she also had a mass in her arm and that she may need surgery to remove it. Right now they're trying to deal with a high amount of ammonia in her liver. The biggest concern is that she hasn't awakened since Saturday, so that's five days. They did an MRI to determine brain function and she tested out okay for that. Fantastic news! I was greatly relieved on that score. I would be most grateful to anyone who would send up a prayer on Lynda's behalf. She needs a lot of help and I can't bear the thought of losing her, especially when I'm so far away.
So, then, last Tuesday ...
It began with District Meeting in Mullingar. I'm sure I've said before that it takes about two hours to get there and two to get back. (Funny how that works!) In between we had a two hour meeting and then lunch at Subways. Mmm.
We had only been home a few minutes when we had to leave to run over to Globe House. Globe House is a kind of halfway house (again, I've probably talked about this) for people who have fled their country and are waiting to get a visa to either stay and work in Ireland or move somewhere else. Our purpose in going there this time was to help with a little Christmas party for the 50 children who live their with one or both parents.
This is a perfectly terrible picture of them, but really I shouldn't have even taken it because of their status. I was gently reminded of that after I snapped it. I don't think anyone's really recognizable, but you get the general feel. I found this to be a particularly touching occasion because we know people who live in this building, and while it's pretty clean, it's also pretty sterile. And the two men who live here and belong to our branch have both been stuck there for about six years!
After we finished with the gaiety of the Christmas party and picking up sticky things off the floor, we hustled to our next appointment, which was our last caroling practice before our big performance tomorrow. We've had five practices and I think I probably mentioned that, in desperation, they asked me to be their conductor this year. I was happy to do it and have had to stretch myself a bit to do it, but I've got to say that's it's been a real pleasure to participate in this, and for both Richard and myself it - along with a baptism that was just recently scheduled! - will probably be the highlight of the Christmas season for us here.
More about the baptism in a minute.
So then after the practice, we ran again back to our apartment to host a youth activity. We had only two young women who came, but we also had the elders, and the YM and YW presidents (a married couple). What we did this night was project the film "Ephraim's Rescue" on our wall and watched it while eating apples and popcorn. We've actually seen this film three times now, but we've enjoyed it every time and will probably buy it when we get home. It is kind of a companion piece to "17 Miracles." I didn't take any pictures of this activity, so you'll just have to use your imaginations!
When it was over, we drove the two girls home - it takes about 35 minutes each way. They live in Bundoran and the wind was beginning to pick up that night.
And then on Wednesday, overnight, it snowed! What a surprise! Snow in Ireland, while not unheard of, is unusual. And I understand that there are four more fronts that expected to come through Sligo between now and Christmas. That's a whole lot of weather. In fact, we read in the Irish Independent today that a woman very near Mullingar was killed when a tree fell on her car yesterday! And we were there just the day before! Yikes!
So, about the baptism. It seems so strange the way it came up. Elder Walker and I have been pretty involved with the first three elders here in the teaching they were doing, but these last two elders are more independent, so we know less about how things are going. We have, in fact, just more or less turned our sights on the branch itself and the members that we already have. And then, out of the blue, we hear that Peadar (pronounced Pather) King has decided, after three years off and on with the missionaries, that he's ready to be baptized. Last night Elder Walker interviewed him for 2-1/2 hours and found him worthy. So Saturday we'll drive out to Glencar Lake, for the second time on our mission, and witness a baptism. We begin the service at the branch first, where we can all sit in relative comfort before going out into the cold. Peader is not concerned about it because he says he learned to swim in a river. We are pleased and excited for him to take this important step. He already recognizes what a difference in can make in his life if he continues to live righteously. And Sunday, before our Christmas service begins, he will be confirmed. It will be, like the caroling, such a highlight for us.