Monday, January 6, 2014

Good-bye Sligo, Hello Waterford!

One of the questions we had when we began our 12 month mission was "will we ever be transferred?" We got the answer today, New Years' Eve: yes! We are being transferred on or after January 17th to Waterford, which is located more or less in the southeast corner of Ireland. It is the home of the former Waterford Crystal Factory and Store. I say former because in about 2008, for reasons which you can guess, it was closed down. To me, and I'm sure to a large population of people around the world, this was a great tragedy. I am, however, grateful to say that I was able to purchase some of the last crystal produced by Waterford and I even have some at home which my sister, Susan, brought me, and which she had autographed and dated by the man who made it.

Anyway, I digress. I need to say something about the work we might be doing in Waterford. There was a senior couple who served there recently and they spent a great deal of time and money on visiting less-active members of the church. In fact, they had a regular list whom they visited at the same time every week. Three days of the week they were gone from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. doing these visits. Now it's two months later and we don't know if the couple that's in Waterford now has continued that work or if they are doing other things. At any rate, we will find out soon. It's been our experience in Sligo that focusing on the active members of the branch has been a better use of our time. We really struggled with trying to find and reactivate the less-active, but it was all in vain. That's not to say that at some point these people won't return to the Church. It's just a tad disheartening to see people pull away from the thing which for us is the most important thing.

We had an interesting experience on Dec. 21st. It was a baptism, but the confirmation has not happened yet. Padder (that's not actually the way his name is spelled, but that is what people call him) ... anyway Padder has been investigating the Church for three years now and felt that it was finally the right time for him to go ahead and be baptized. Elder Walker was asked to interview him because he is a set-apart senior missionary and it was either him or the zone leaders and President Brown said that he (Elder Walker) should do it. So for 2-1/2 hours they talked and afterwards Richard felt like Padder was ready and worthy. So we went ahead. Here are a few pictures of the happy day:

Up until we reached the "Waters of Mormon" it had been raining steadily all day. Then we got there, got out of the cars, and the rain stopped. The sun came beaming through the clouds and it turned into a gorgeous day, as I hope you can tell by the last picture. We went to the Walshes' for food afterwards and then home. The next day Padder was supposed to be confirmed, but he didn't show up. At first the elders were able to continue getting in touch with him, but at this point he's just slipped off the face of the planet (I'm writing this on Jan. 6). We knew that he was very concerned because on Christmas he had had a few drinks and I suppose he thought by doing that he had cancelled out the baptism. But he hasn't. And we learned from this experience (well, probably Elder Walker already knew this) that a baptism without a confirmation doesn't have to be repeated for one full year. So he has time to get things "sorted" as they like to say. If I ever doubted that the Irish have a huge problem with alcohol, I surely don't doubt it now. And this business of being baptized and then not confirmed has happened several times before in this branch. It makes me wonder why they don't routinely confirm people on the same day that they're baptized! But that's not my call to make.

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