Much of our time and effort this week was spent in looking for new apartments for the Elders who are living in the 4 man flat. We are looking for two apartments so each companionship can have their own place which is the arrangement that the mission president prefers. It didn't start out well when we found out that the nice place we found last week was rented to a couple who viewed it just before us. You have to be quick. But the owner of the complex said she had another apartment, a little larger, in the same building that was going to be available the end of March. So we went over and looked at it and it was a great place. It is a little larger than they need but we agreed to rent it. It has everything they need, is very clean and modern and is in a good location close to the chapel. So we continued to look for a second place and viewed a few but nothing was suitable. So we will continue the search and pray the Lord blesses us in finding another safe healthy place for our great Elders to live.
We had a visit on Monday afternoon from Elder and Sister Petit. They are serving in Dublin as a self reliance couple and are responsible for the program for the whole of Ireland. They were in Cork for the weekend and stopped here on their way home for a visit. We went to Miss Marples for lunch and had a great visit with them. We had a good talk about the YSA program as they are working with the YSAs in Dublin quite a bit. It is always nice to have the opportunity to chat with another senior couple as we get to do it so rarely.
The branch is organizing and planning for a big event on March 12 to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. It sounds like it will be a great event with performers singing and dancing traditional Irish numbers. Most of the performers are not members of the church from the community and they are hoping a lot of community members take the opportunity to attend. The YSA in the branch have been assigned to do the decorating of the cultural hall so we are getting organized to do that. We are really looking forward to a night of Irish culture!
The rest of our week was filled with the usual events. We had district meeting on Tuesday and enjoyed a nice lunch afterwards prepared by Maurene. Our second Institute class on Thursday was enjoyable, we have a good group of students attending and hope to have more in the future. We also had FHE on Sunday evening with a good lesson and discussion. The treats that were brought were yummy and it was nice to have the young people in our home and have them stay and visit.
When you are driving on the roads here in Ireland you never know what you are going to see. We were taking the sisters to an appointment yesterday after church and this is what appeared in the road in front of us. A few times we have seen horses right in the middle of the city grazing on the grass in a park.
We had to stop by the church yesterday after we dropped the sisters off at their apartment and while I was in the church Maurene took a few photos of it. It is a nice size building that was build in three phases over the years much like the church in Pincher Creek.
We had another YSA baptism this week which was great. Floriane, a young woman from France who is working here in Limerick, was baptized on Saturday evening. She has been taking the lessons for a while now and attending church and she has also been attending our YSA Family Home Evenings on Sunday. It was a really nice baptismal service with quite a few members in attendance. The sister missionaries and one of Florian's friends in the branch sang a nice musical number which Maurene helped them put together. They also sang it in Sacrament meeting the next day so Maurene is already in full gear with her new calling as music chairperson in the branch.
We had a good group as usual out to our weekly home evening on Sunday. As I mentioned Floriane was there as she enjoys our get togethers. Something interesting and I feel positive is beginning to happen. It used to be that as soon as the lesson and treat were over most of the young people would leave but the last couple of weeks they want to stay and visit and play games. We think it is great that they feel comfortable here and enjoy being together in this setting.
We got a call from the mission home on Friday that they would like us to find two new apartments for the Elders here in Limerick so we can move them out of the 4 man apartment that they are in now that is not the best. I had no idea how real estate rentals worked here in Ireland but I am learning. First of all, the market here is really tight, there are not very many places available for rent, especially apartments. You need to contact the real estate agent or management company that has the apartment to rent in order to view it. So I got to work and started looking online and making phone calls. After viewing a couple that weren't great, we found one very nice apartment close to the chapel that will work and we will see today if we have got it and then will keep looking for another one. It takes a lot of leg work and time but we hope we can find clean, comfortable places for the Elders to live.
Another "Vive la difference" moment. It seems that everywhere here in Ireland there are walls, fences and hedges. They seem to surround all homes and apartments, divide fields into little parcels and are all along most highways. The even put up little wall like structures around their graves. They come in many types and varieties but are everywhere. Some are ancient rock walls and others are very modern but they keep putting them up. There are not a lot of wide open spaces!
I went to the dentist on Monday and I am going to have a root canal done in April along with a crown. It is like at home and will be costly and is not covered by insurance but if I don't have it done I risk losing the tooth and that is not an option.
We taught our first Institute class this week and it went really well. We are teaching a class on church history, Foundations of the Restoration. It is very interesting course content and we will learn much along with our students. We were both pretty nervous but we had complements from the students that they enjoyed the class and most importantly that they felt the spirit there while we were teaching. I think we are going to enjoy this assignment and hope more YSAs will attend the class.
We had our branch conference yesterday and Maurene and I were sustained as Institute teachers here in Limerick and Maurene was also sustained as the music chairperson for the branch. So we are steadily becoming busier and busier as we gather more opportunities for service. The branch conference was good and we had a branch munch and mingle afterwards. Earlier in the week on Wednesday after we had been called to be the Institute teachers we had a visit from President McCrudden. He is the president of the Belfast Stake and is over the seminary and Institute programs for Ireland. He came to our home and explained to us what was involved in the calling and how to access the resources that we are going to need. Both Maurene and I are excited for the opportunity to teach the YSAs in Institute but realize how much work that is going to be. I hope we can do a good job and that the YSAs here will come to Institute.
We had district meeting on Tuesday, the first one since the transfers. It is always good to meet with the young missionaries and discuss how their work is progressing and see how we can help them. Sister Wilson provided a great lunch afterwards which we all enjoyed.
The YSA reps and us organized an activity for Saturday of last week. It was a photo scavenger hunt starting in the city centre and ending at the chapel, followed by some games and some food. They did a great job organizing the scavenger hunt. It was well done. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain on Saturday and rained all day. We met at the park downtown and only four YSAs, including the two who organized the activity showed up. So we decided to save the scavenger hunt for another day and drove to the chapel. We played a fun card game and ordered in some pizza and had a good time together. It was disappointing that more didn't show up but we enjoyed our day with them.
We had Family Home Evening on Sunday evening at our place and as usual we had a good turn out. I taught the lesson on the YSA program and how it should work and the advantages to taking an Institute class. We had a yummy treat afterwards and then they all played a card game and stayed and visited for a while. We love having them over here and they enjoy getting together and visiting in a nice relaxed environment.
Another thing pertaining to Ireland - so many houses are sitting right next to the roads. We wonder if cars ever veer off the highway and plow through them in an accident plus the noise level must be quite high with vehicles zooming right by the front door day and night. It wouldn't have been so bad in horse and buggy days but it's a whole different story now. Vive la difference!
Since we have arrived here in Limerick I have been going out three times a week, most weeks for a run. I have routes of different distances that start and end at our place. It is nice to get out and run and although I often get wet, if you don't run when it rains here you won't be running much. I found out a few days ago about an organized run here in Limerick called Parkrun. They have a 5 km run on the trails on the campus of the University of Limerick every Saturday morning. You register online and print out a barcode that they scan at the end of your run. Your results are posted on their website along with lots of numbers about the run. There is no charge for any of this but they just ask that you volunteer to help once in a while. There were 135 runners on Saturday for my first run and I really enjoyed it. I look forward to running it on a regular basis when I can.
We travelled this week out to Kilmallock to meet with Amanda who is the person in charge of the project in this area to create an online database of all of the gravestones in the cemeteries in Ireland. We had a good visit with her as she explained the project and the process involved in taking the photos of the headstones and transcribing the information for the website. We thought it might be a good project to involve the YSAs in for service but it became apparent that it would demand too much time and be a little too involved for them. She did mention that she had a group that was going to do a small cemetery not far from there in a month or two and we said we would be interested in helping. So we look forward to being able to do that. Kilmallock was an interesting little town and we took some time to look around before we drove home. On the way home we drove through Bruff, which is the town where John F. Kennedy's family is from.
On Mondays, which is the young missionaries' P day, we usually give the sisters a ride home when they have finished their grocery shopping. When they phoned us they said they were unable to email since the library was closed so we picked them up, took them out for lunch at Miss Marple's and then let them use our computers to do their email. They enjoyed Miss Marple's but it is not a place I would take the Elders.
It was transfers this week and we had three Elders leave and of course got three to replace them. Elder Wall was one of the Elders leaving and we are certainly going to miss him. He is an excellent missionary and was full of life and energy. He calls England home. He and Elder Guymon, another Elder here in Limerick, are going to be companions and open up a new city in Northern Ireland.
On Thursday of this week the sisters phoned and asked if we would like to travel out to Killaloe to visit with a recent convert who was having a birthday. So we picked them up and drove out there, about a half hour drive, and had a good visit with her, sang happy birthday and had some birthday cake and tea. We had never been out to this town and it was a beautiful spot. We didn't get any photos but are going to try to get back out there when summer gets closer. We noticed on a sign coming into the town that it has been designated as a Heritage Site so there must be lots of history there. It seems like every little town we get to visit here has some great historical sites, it is amazing.
On the home front, a special event took place which was Quincee's blessing. We certainly wish we could have been there but we did get a short FaceTime chat with everyone at the Varty's home when Family Home Evening was over here on Sunday evening. We were also able to receive some nice photos of the event. It was nice to see the family get together and celebrate this happy event! Quincy wore a beautiful crocheted dress made by her Great Grandma Porter.
In the city centre down by the river here in Limerick there is a museum that we have driven by numerous times called the Hunt museum. We have wanted to go for a visit for some time now so we decided to do that this week. It is housed in an old customs house that serviced the river traffic and is a private collection of the Hunt family. So it is a very eclectic one with a wide variety of artifacts and art work. It was very interesting to look at the collection and we had a nice lunch in their cafeteria before we left.
After having lunch at the museum, we went for a little walk along the river. It was not the warmest of days but it was not raining so it was pleasant stroll. The river is still quite high from all of the moisture we have had lately.
One of the great blessings of serving as senior couple missionaries is working with the young missionaries and attending their lessons when invited. We can tell when the work is slowing down for them as the invitations become less frequent and we find ourselves with a little less to do. This is one of the times the last couple of weeks. Of course, we still attend district meetings and Maurene supplies a lunch and also inspect their apartments once every transfer and help them with maintaining them so they have a comfortable and healthy place to live. Maurene was not able to attend district meeting this week but I went and enjoyed the meeting and did my best to get the lunch ready that Maurene had prepared for them. One of the elders baked some bread for lunch, he did a good job! The transfer call came last night and we are losing three of our Elders. Elder Wall and Guymon and going to be companions and open up a new city in Northern Ireland and one of our zone leaders, Elder Ensign, is being transferred to Edinburgh. Both of our sisters are staying but we will miss the elders, you become close in a short time it seems. We did apartment inspections this week and there were some issues that needed addressed in the four elder apartment. I met with a representative of the management group that looks after the apartment and raised the concerns and I also had the sister in the mission home who looks after apartments send them an email and it looks like things are going to be resolved. By us looking after these things it lets the missionaries focus on what they have been called to do.
Well, time for another "Vive la difference" moment. They seem to love colourful doors here in Limerick and I must admit that we find them quite attractive. No boring white or brown doors for the Irish! They paint their doors a variety of bright colours and is brings some colour to the surroundings and livens it up a bit.
On Sunday, we travelled up to Tralee, a city about an hour and a half south west of here, to speak in Sacrament meeting. It is a tiny branch that gets about 12 to 15 members to church each Sunday. Elder and Sister Winget, a senior couple, serve as MLS missionaries in the branch there and he is in the branch presidency. It was a good day and we enjoyed our time there although the weather was rather wet and blustery. Maurene was kept busy as she gave her talk, played the piano for the meeting and also taught a Young Women's lesson.
This is the blog of Elder Tom and Sister Maurene Wilson of our mission to the Scotland/Ireland Mission.