It was Easter this past weekend and we had a very enjoyable Easter Sunday. We had a wonderful Sacrament meeting with excellent talks. They were very different talks but very moving and inspirational. Brother Jaffa Kelly gave a talk on the Atonement. It was not a long talk, about 10 minutes, but it he gave some different perspectives on the events of Easter weekend that made you think. The other talk was by a member of the branch presidency and was very different. He has been a member of the church for six years and he talked about some of the challenges in his life before joining the church and how the church has improved things for him. He then talked about the importance of reverence in Sacrament meeting and of the meeting itself and he didn't pull any punches, it was something we need to think about and act on. We enjoyed the meeting and the spirit that was there. After church we went to a member family's home for Easter dinner. This was the first time we have invited for Sunday dinner and it was wonderful. We had a very nice meal with the Murphy family and enjoyed some great conversation with them and their three children. It was a traditional Irish Easter meal of lamb and it was delicious. Brother Murphy is from Ireland and his wife is from Finland.
It was a quiet weekend for us since the YSA in our branch, most of them, went to Belfast for the weekend for a YSA convention which was for YSA from all of Ireland. There were some transportation mixups before they left which caused some drama but once they got there I think they had an enjoyable weekend. It is an expensive proposition for them since they have to pay a registration fee and also pay for transportation by bus or train there and back. I am glad so many of them were able to attend. It gives them the opportunity to socialize with other YSA which is important for those who are from small branches like those in our district.
Another "Vive la difference" moment from Ireland. One thing that people do here, especially in the older homes, is give their houses a name. I think this goes back to times when houses did not have numbers and was a way of identifying where they lived. Whatever the reason it is fairly common here in western Ireland.
We were planning on moving the Elders to a new apartment on Wednesday of this past week but it didn't happen. It was complicated but the bottom line is they were going to move into the sister's old apartment on Wednesday but now they are going to move into the new apartment we have rented and the sister's apartment will be left open for the time being. We spent Saturday cleaning the sister's apartment after it had been used by visiting sisters for zone conference and taking beds apart and storing them at the new apartment so the Elders could move in on Tuesday and move in their beds. It looks like we may be getting sisters back again soon and that makes us happy.
What also makes us happy is we get to have district meals again. We had zone conference here in Limerick on Thursday and we had a chat with President Donaldson about that subject and explained what we did and he said to go ahead and continue hosting meals for the district after the meeting. We had a good zone conference and had a nice opportunity to get together with other senior couples and have a good visit which was enjoyable. Maurene was able to help Sister Donaldson with lunch which was appreciated.
We are planning on a District YSA activity for April 23 which will be a hike at Clare Glens. Since it is an outdoor activity on a dirt trail we thought it would be wise to have a back up in case it rains, which happens from time to time here in Ireland. So we went on an urban hike which went by many historic sites along the river in Limerick to see if it would be a good alternate activity and we really enjoyed it. There is an admission for King John's castle but that could be optional.
There is no doubt about it, spring is in the air here in Ireland with the blooming of the daffodils and other flowers and the days lengthening. We are enjoying our service here and are trying our best to help the YSA, the branch and the young missionaries. It is not always easy but very rewarding.
It is a milestone birthday for you Corey and we are sorry that we cannot be there to help you celebrate. But we wish you the happiest of birthdays and want you to know that we love you and are proud of you.
Obviously, St. Patrick's Day is a big deal in Ireland. One thing that most communities do on that day is have a parade. Limerick is no exception so naturally we wanted to watch it. Since parking is an issue at the best of times, we drove over to the mall and parked and walked the rest of the way to the parade route. It was nice that there were lots of people lining the parade route and what was even better is that a high percentage of them were wearing various hats and other green attire and waving Irish flags. The parade itself was very long, 1 hour 40 minutes, and the first half was very interesting, it kind of dragged on at the end. There were lots of community groups, especially children, marching in the parade during the second half; cubs, scouts, girl guides, sports teams etc. It was great to see the participation but did get a little old.
The best part of the parade from my perspective was that there were two pipe bands. One was from here in Limerick and the other was from a city close to here. I certainly enjoyed listening to them as they marched past!
The weather here the last week or so has been a great improvement, no rain. That is certainly a change from the weather we have experienced here all winter. So I took advantage of the relative dryness and got out and mowed our lawn. It hasn't been mowed since early October and although they don't grow much here during the winter they do stay green and grow somewhat. So needless to say it needed it and looks much better. Only downside to mowing is I have to take the lawn mower through the house to get it to the front yard. Maurene decided to go out into the yard and dig up some weeds and discovered we had a sidewalk in the back yard! We could just see a few patches of stone but there was a sidewalk that was overgrown by the lawn. So we got out the table knives and dug and now we have a nice sidewalk to the clothes line and the shed.
We are currently planning a district YSA activity for April 23. We took a couple of trips this week to look at some places that might be good for the activity. One day we drove up to Clare Glens which is a beautiful little creek that has a nature hike that goes up one side to a waterfall and then you cross over a bridge and come down the other side. There is a nice park with picnic tables near the trail head which would be good for a picnic. We stopped in Newport for lunch on the way home and Maurene asked our server if there was anyone in town who might be a good resource for genealogical research. She told us about Hugh who worked at a local garage so we went and met him there. It turns out he is a local history buff and knew about one of the families Maurene was researching. So she is communicating with him and has some good leads as a result. Of course, the Philips were a prominent and wealthy family in the Newport area, a couple of their homes are still lived in here. We also took a short drive out to Bunratty the other day. It is a medieval castle along with a village which is quite a popular tourist attraction. It looked great but unfortunately will probably be too expensive for a YSA activity. We didn't go in for a visit but plan on doing that if some of our kids visit this summer.
We had a nice surprise but also some disappointing news on Monday of this week. We got a parcel in the mail from Skye and her family with a nice crocheted scarf Skye made for Maurene and also some great bracelets that Stratton made for us. There were also letters from Stratton, Ayla and Brixton which were really enjoyed! But we found out that we are no longer able to have lunch with the missionaries after our weekly district meetings. It is a new mission rule and we are disappointed. Maurene liked making lunch for them and we certainly enjoyed sitting down and sharing a meal before they left to their work.
We drove up to Galway on Saturday to join in a branch YSA activity up there. Before the activity we met the Reimers, a senior couple serving in the Galway branch, and went out for supper with them. We went to Scotty's Steakhouse, a little restaurant owned by an American fellow, and had a nice meal with them. We then went to the activity and had a good time with the YSA there. Galway is a very small branch so it is nice to be able to go and give them what support we can.
Since the sisters have left our district, it just hasn't been the same. We were involved in a lot of their lessons and were able to give them rides to various places. They were excellent missionaries and seemed to spice things up a bit. We had our weekly district meeting on Tuesday and it was fine but just wasn't the same without them. We have been told that we will get sisters again here in Limerick and we look forward to that day.
We have been working with the Kagaris, the couple called in our district to organize district YSA activities, to come up with ideas for our next activity in April. We want to do some sort of excursion to a castle or historic site which is what the YSAs have indicated would be of interest to them. So we went out this week to explore two such places that are fairly close to Limerick. We had a great visit to Lough Gur. It is a collection of historic sites around a small lake surrounded by hills. We took a hike around the sites. We were lucky and got a nice day and it was a beautiful, peaceful spot. It has a heritage centre there and ruins from thousands of years ago. We had a great afternoon there.
We were finally able this week to get the keys for the new apartment that we found for the Elders. So we gave our notice to the landlord for the apartment that they are in now. Since the mission president has told us that he wants the four elders to live together in one apartment and the departure of the sisters, we now have one extra apartment that we are going to hang on to. So I took the Elders around to look at the new apartment and also the sisters apartment and left the decision up to them as to which one they would like to set up shop in. Both are very nice apartments but both a little cramped for four elders but it will only be temporary. They will make excellent apartments for two missionaries.
The big event this week was the Irish night leading up to St. Patrick's Day that the branch organized. They have been planning and working on this evening for weeks now. It was an evening of Irish song, dance and poetry celebrating the Irish culture. The YSA in the branch were assigned to decorate the cultural hall for the event so we got together on Thursday evening and decorated. We had a good time together and I think the hall turned out looking very Irish!
The event was held on Saturday evening. The hall was pretty well full and the mayor, a member of the parliament who represents Limerick and other dignitaries attended. The local parish priest was even there to enjoy the evening. The groups that performed were excellent and we enjoyed the evening. They had face painting for the kids, a place to get photos taken with an Irish flair and Irish refreshments after the entertainment. We had a great evening.
There are many wonderful experiences in a mission and there are others that are not so great. We had one of the not so great ones this week as we had to say goodbye to four excellent missionaries. Two of our elders and the two sisters were transferred this week, all of them to Dublin. The worst part is that the two sisters are not being replaced. We so enjoyed working with those young women and it is especially difficult for Maurene that they will be gone. We will miss all four of them and hopefully will see them some time again before their missions are over. Elder Taylor, our District Leader, (Texas), Elder Jarosz (Spain), Sister Muller (Germany) and Sister Muller (Switzerland) worked very hard here and accomplished much. They had great senses of humour and were a pleasure to associate with.
Along with the transfers and getting missionaries on the road and others arriving, we had lots of work and changes as far as apartments are concerned. We did not know that the sisters were going to be leaving before Monday, so that meant that all of a sudden we had an extra apartment. And the sisters' apartment is very nice! We were also able to finalize on Monday the new apartment near the chapel that we had found for two of the Elders. We are just waiting for all of the money arrangements with the mission home to be finalized and we will get the keys. So we thought we had three apartments, one for us and one for each set of Elders. Perfect. But we got a call from Edinburgh on Monday that President Donaldson wants the four missionaries to stay in one apartment as they are now. At least for the time being. So we are going to give notice on the apartment they are in now and move them either to the sisters' apartment or the new one and we will stay where we are. We have an extra apartment but when we get the go ahead we can move two of the elders to it. We also found out we may be getting sisters back in the future so we may have to find another one.
We got a request from a person on Billion Graves to take a photo of a headstone in a rural cemetery not far from Limerick. So we headed out there one morning to see if we could find it. It was not a huge cemetery and had a lot of older headstones but on most of the older ones the writing was illegible. The person died in 1915 so if he was buried there it was probably one that we couldn't read. It was a nice drive in the country just the same.
While we were driving out to the cemetery we drove by one traffic circle that had daffodils planted all around it. It sure looked beautiful so Maurene took a few shots as we were driving around it. We have had flowers here outside all winter but it looks like the seasons are starting to change and we are going to see even more of them.
It is sometimes said of the weather in Southern Alberta if you don't like it, wait five minutes. The same could be said of the weather here. On some days it consists of showers, it will be clear and sunny and then you will have a downpour for five to ten minutes and then back to the sun just as suddenly. It will continue like that all day. For the first time this year we had a snowfall that stayed on the ground for a couple of hours. It snowed overnight, and it was gone by noon but I snapped a couple of photos first thing in the morning. Also, after one of the showers past we saw a great full rainbow, the photos don't do it justice of course.
This weekend it was district conference here in Limerick so we had meetings to attend on Saturday and Sunday. There were missionaries who travelled here from around the district so we picked them up from the bus depot and we put up four sisters in the now vacant sisters apartment. Maurene played the organ for the Sunday session of conference. It was also Mothers Day here in Ireland on Sunday. We decided not to have Family Home Evening with the YSA group since most who could wanted to spend the day with their moms. We did have a surprise visit from three of the YSA girls with a special gift for Maurene. They call her their YSA mom. It was so thoughtful of them and made her day!
This is the blog of Elder Tom and Sister Maurene Wilson of our mission to the Scotland/Ireland Mission.