We have had quite a bit of flooding in this area the past few weeks. When we would cross the Shannon that flows through Limerick we noticed that the water was really high. I guess this is another "Vive la difference" moment. At home most of the heavy precipitation during the winter falls as snow and piles up in the mountains so if we are going to get any flooding it happens in the spring when the snow pack melts. When I saw the flooding in December and January I thought it is really going to be bad in the spring. But then I realized that heavy precipitation that was falling in the winter is rain and just runs off right away. So if there is going to be flooding in the spring it will because there are heavy rains.
We had our first zone interview conference on Thursday. Maurene was feeling sick so she stayed home while I attended. It was a good conference and I especially enjoyed visiting with the other senior couples who were in attendance. For the first time, we had interviews with a member of the mission presidency. They haven't been doing this up to now, it was the first interview for any of the couples. It was nice to be able to have a chat with President Thompson and share what we have been doing and find out what the plans are for the mission. He mentioned that we are probably going to be having a couples conference in the near future in Dublin which will be nice. Most of the rest of the conference was what I expected and focused on the young missionaries and their work in finding and teaching people. We had a nice lunch and then when the conference was over at 4:00 we had some pizza and then watched the worldwide missionary broadcast. Before the broadcast was over I had an interview with the branch president, President Faloon. He is going to make some changes in the leadership of the YSA in the branch which are needed and as a result would like me to teach the Institute class. I had made the suggestions to him and he agreed and I think it is going to help things move forward in a positive way. After the interview we had Institute class, the last one of the semester, and then a fun activity afterwards. It was a long but good day.
We went with the Elders and Sisters and three of the YSA to visit an old castle near Limerick on Monday called Carrigogunnell. It is at the top of a small hill and difficult to get to, not really marked and off the beaten path. It was a beautiful spot and just gradually falling apart. In my mind, it should have been an historic site with some efforts to protect what is left and make it more accessible. But the countryside here is dotted with old ruins like that and I don't suppose that they have the resources to protect all of them. It was overgrown with weeds etc. and there was garbage all over the place. It is too bad because it could have been so different. We had a good visit there looking around and the young ones had a couple of games of capture the flag around the ruins.
We had our best attendance so far at FHE on Sunday, with 11 in attendance including two investigators. We had a great lesson given by Azariah and most everyone stayed after for the snack and visited for quite a while. It was a nice evening. We are enjoying working with the young people here and feel like things are moving forward.
When we arrived here in Limerick, we decided that one of the service projects that we would like to get involved in and also involve our YSAs in was Billion Graves. It would be a good project for us to work on when we had free time since working on it is very flexible and we thought that the YSAs would be able to do well at it since it involved using their cell phones to photograph headstones. Their cell phones seem to be an appendage for most of them. We thought it would be a good idea to write to the City and County Council who look after the cemeteries to let them know of our plans and see if they had any concerns. After a long wait, I finally met with them this week at city hall and they had a bit different idea. Ireland has an initiative to index all of the headstones in their cemeteries and they wanted to know if we would be interested in helping them out with local cemeteries that haven't been done yet. I had a look online and it turns out their project looks very similar to Billion Graves. It is called Historic Graves and we are going to set up a meeting with a local person who runs it. It looks like there will be some training involved but I am hoping it will be a good way to provide service for a local project.
We have a YSA Sunday School class in the branch here and one of the sisters in the branch who was a returned missionary was teaching the class. She was called to another position in the branch and the branch president asked if I would be able to fill in for a while and teach the class. Of course I said I would and I have a feeling that "filling in" is going to be on the permanent side. That is fine with me, I enjoy teaching the class.
We had district meeting this week and we provided a lunch at the conclusion of the meeting as usual. We enjoy being at the meetings and being involved in the work that the young missionaries are doing here in Limerick.
About a month ago I purchased a couple of single beds for two of the Elders in our four Elder apartment here in Limerick. They had a small bedroom and they had two double beds squeezed in there so there was hardly any room to move around in there. I bought the beds at a local furniture store along with new mattresses. The were very sturdy solid wood beds and I was under the impression that they would last for a long time. Silly me. I got a call on Thursday night that one of the beds had been broken. I went over to the apartment Friday morning to survey the damage and it certainly was broken. To make a long story short two of the Elders had been horsing around and landed with quite lot of force on the bed and broke the wood on the side that holds up the mattress. I wasn't happy. I took the two Elders over to the furniture store to see what we could do and they are sending someone over to the apartment on Monday to see if it can be repaired. They are great young men but sometimes I forget that they are teenagers.
On quite a few of the older buildings here they have painted murals which are quite attractive. Some of our recents photos of those murals and other random photos.
This week we took a trip out in the country to Holy Cross which is a small village in county Tipperary. We went out there to have a visit with a YSA who is currently not active in the branch to meet her and see how she is doing and invite her to come out. We had a great visit with her and her boyfriend and she is a really nice person. It was a very nice day and we went through some beautiful countryside and hill country on the trip. There was some elevation gain and we noticed a temperature change up there although it is nothing like a Canadian winter!
On the way to Holy Cross we drove by Farney Castle which was totally unexpected. It was a little castle in a river valley just before we got there. So we decided that we would pay a visit on our way home. We stopped to have a look around and saw that they had tours so decided to take one. There were cars in the parking lot but all of the entrance doors were locked even though there was sign that indicated the place was open. That will have to be for another time but we did explore around the outside of the castle on our own which we really enjoyed!
In the little village of Holy Cross there is an abbey which dates back to the 12th century. The church portion of the abbey is still in use and they also have an outdoor area which looks to be used for large services in the summer. They did not have organized tours but we had a good time exploring around the abbey and enjoying the beauty of the old place. Parts of it had been restored and other parts were pretty much in ruins.
We were starting to get hungry on the way home and we drove through the town of Newport that we had visited a few weeks earlier. We stopped at the same little cafe we went to then and the waitress remembered us! It is a nice little spot with home cooked meals and I guess delicious sweet potato soup although I will have to take Maurene's word on that one! They had a large black board with the menu written on it and a section that said a the top "Just a little peckish". Just for Aaron! They also had delicious carrot cake which we shared for dessert. After a nice lunch we stopped by an old church on our way back to the car and also a path by the river. It was a nice break on the drive home.
One of our YSAs from the Galway Branch, Alex, is leaving this month to serve a full time mission in Birmingham, England. She is a wonderful young woman and we have been impressed with her as she participated in activities and also with the great talks she has given at baptisms. She has been a member for three years but she seems like she has been a member for much longer. It is quite an event for a small branch like that to send out a missionary so on Saturday they threw a party for her, Pirate theme, and we drove up there to attend it. We had never seen Galway Bay so we stopped by the harbour on our way to the party.
It's been a full week. We spent some time taking some more photos at the St. Nessan's cemetery for Billion Graves on Tuesday after district meeting. Maurene made a meal for the missionaries which we shared after the meeting and we never have to worry about having too many leftovers. We went to a few lessons with the young missionaries which we always enjoy. We had our weekly FHE for the YSAs at our place on Sunday evening and there was a good attendance again. We had an investigator attend who is from Normandy and living here in Limerick so I got to practice a little French. Maurene taught a lesson on social media and we had a good discussion about using it wisely. We also had the opportunity after one of our lessons with the sisters at the chapel to have a visit with President and Sister Thompson of the mission presidency. They are living in Dublin and look after Ireland for the mission. They were here to meet with some of young elders and we just bumped into them. It is looking very much like we will be serving our entire 18 months here in Limerick, Ireland.
A busy and productive week which we enjoyed. We love being full time missionaries and I especially love it when we can be busy in service.
This highlight of our week was our first district YSA activity that we held on Saturday. The Kagaris, a couple who live in Cork who have the calling to organize district YSA activities, decided to have a New Years' party here in Limerick at the chapel. So the idea was to have some games and food and have a social activity. We have met most of the YSAs in the area around Limerick but haven't met those from further away so we were looking forward to this opportunity. We were charged with getting all of the food together so we spent a good part of New Year's Eve doing just that and hauling it over to the kitchen at the chapel. The idea was for the YSAs to bring their favourite board or card games but Sister Wilson thought it would be a good idea to have some group games. So she organized some Minute to Win It games and it was a good thing. No board or card games showed up with the YSAs but we had a great time playing Minute to Win It! We started off the evening with a spiritual thought about the game of life and playing by the rules and then went into our games and had some great food. We finished with a group game on guessing lyrics to songs organized by one of our Limerick YSAs. We had an enjoyable evening. It was great to have Elder and Sister Winget here from Tralee to help us out. We had 20 YSAs in attendance and are so grateful for those who made the effort to travel here to enjoy the evening with us.
On New Year's Eve we invited all the local missionaries to join us for the evening but the zone leaders were the only ones who could make it. We had a good supper with them and then watched a movie of their choice. We had a good time with them.
We are looking forward to the new year and the opportunity to serve the Young Single Adults here in the Limerick District and to serve with the other missionaries. We wish all of you a Happy New Year and pray the Lord blesses you in all your endeavours.
This is the blog of Elder Tom and Sister Maurene Wilson of our mission to the Scotland/Ireland Mission.