A while ago we were assigned a few individuals and families by the branch president to look in on and see how they were doing. Some were not currently active in the church, some semi active and others were regular attenders at church but he felt needed some extra attention. We were able to visit two of them this week, Marcello from Brazil who is here for a year to study English and Gitana who is from Lithuania is separated from her husband and has a son. We had great visits with both of them and felt like we were rewarded as much as them for the opportunity to share a gospel message with them. We will continue to try and contact more on our list and plan return visits to these two good people. After our visits we picked up the sister missionaries to take them to the bus depot. Sister Morton was leaving to travel to the mission home as she has completed her mission. We were to meet the bus from Cork and Sister Buhler was going to travel with her to Edinburgh as she has completed her mission also. It was great to see Sister Buhler again and see that she is doing well and to be able to say goodbye to both of them. It is always good to see missionaries complete honourable missions and be able to return home.
One of the families that we were assigned to visit posted some photos of a outing they took to a beach on the west coast, it looked beautiful. So we decided that we should have a look at it. We visited Spanish Point beach and also the beach beside a little town called Lahinch that are very close to Limerick and we didn't know about before. We took a picnic lunch with us and enjoyed the afternoon. Both places were beautiful in their own way and although it was an overcast day it was not raining and that is a bonus for here. We saw lots of interesting critters in the tidal pools and it was great to be able to walk along the beach. The temperature was around 14C that day but there were some hardy souls out swimming in the frigid Atlantic! This first set of photos is from Spanish Point.
When you travel along the smaller highways in Ireland it is both scary and slow but you often see things that you would miss on the larger motorways. It is often scenic and beautiful if you are not in a hurry.
The beach at the Lahinch was much more commercial than the one at Spanish Point and had a number of surfing schools. It was a very large and long sandy beach and even though it was a particularly nice day there were lots of people there and lots of surfers trying to ride the tiny waves. The next set of photos is from Lahinch
Tuesday was our district meeting day and was the last one for Elder Blosil and Sister Morton and they started their journeys home this week as they have completed their missions. It is is sad to see them go.
This week was the week that the YSA were assigned to clean the chapel. So we decided to do it Tuesday evening and we had two girls show up to help us, Krystian and Christina. We were hoping for more to show up but were thankful for those two and we had a good time working together.
There are loads of flowering bushes and trees here in Ireland in the spring. There is also a narrow (one lane) country road that winds its way into the countryside behind our place that we walk down at times. Some photos from a couple of our walks this week. Ireland is truly a beautiful country!
Once every transfer we do an inspection of the missionary apartments here in Limerick. We did all three apartments on Wednesday and all three of them looked great. It is nice when the missionaries take the time to look after their apartments and we don't have to get after them to do some cleaning. We decided to initiate an award for the best inspection and the inaugural award went to Elders Taylor and Trease. Their apartment was especially clean and organized and we were greatly impressed. They were so excited when we gave them the award and have it posted on their fridge.
We have been given a home teaching assignment by the Elders quorum and we visited one of our families this week. They are from the Philippines and have lived here in Ireland for many years. They are such great people and we can't get away from their place without them feeding us something. We enjoy our visits with them and enjoy their children. Their two oldest daughters have their school uniforms on in the photo below. All of the school children wear uniforms and the girls all wear those long skirts, Maurene is not a fan of them.
It has been a difficult week on the YSA front as things haven't gone great. I was arranging lessons for FHE for the next few weeks at our place and was told that three of our YSA would no longer be attending due to family commitments that night. This past Saturday the branch was having a fundraiser for the youth by bagging groceries at the local Tesco. We tried to get the YSA to help out with this service project but no one volunteered to help. We had to cancel our Institute class again this week as no students were able to attend. Then there was only one person who came to FHE last night. A mission can't be all highs and there are going to be difficult times. We will keep moving forward as best we can and pray that things will improve and be more positive.
We had an opportunity to drive the sisters out to Bruree this week and take part in a lesson with an investigator out there. It is always great to sit in on their lessons. There were two baptismal services this past weekend that we attended. On Saturday, there were two young people baptized from Tralee and on Sunday a young man from Limerick was baptized right after church. Maurene played the organ for both of them, of course. It is always a highlight to attend baptisms.
We get so much moisture here and the climate is so mild that things grow like crazy. We have noticed these pretty flowers that grow in the cracks of walls. You see them all over the city. It is amazing that something so beautiful can grow in such a difficult place. We're striving to learn that lesson. Life can be difficult at times but we can still bloom where we are planted and forge ahead.
Our week started off with an all Ireland conference in Dublin on Tuesday. We drove the sisters there and thought we had lots of time to get there early but we hit terrible traffic on the way into Dublin and walked in the chapel door just as the opening hymn was being sung. We enjoyed the conference very much and the best part was to visit with the missionaries who we served with in Limerick. It was especially great to see Sister Muller and Elder Wall. They have to be two of our favourites, great young missionaries. After the conference we drove the sisters to the bus depot in Dublin so they could take the bus back to Limerick and went over to our hotel near the airport to spend the night before we caught our flight the next day to Edinburgh for the couples conference.
On Wednesday morning we flew to Edinburgh along with the other Ireland couples for the senior couples conference that was being held on Wednesday and Thursday at the mission home. We had workshops all afternoon and then a nice dinner in the evening in the mission home dining room. To finish off the day we had a fireside that President Donaldson spoke at. Then we walked over to the hotel that is not too far from the mission home. It is an large old house that has been converted to a hotel, kind of a cross between a hotel and a bed and breakfast. We had a really nice room and enjoyed our stay there.
We had breakfast at the hotel on Thursday morning and then went to the mission home for a fun get to know you activity and then we travelled to the Firth of Forth for a boat ride. We went for a two hour ride on a tour boat which was a lot of fun. It was a beautiful sunny day which made the experience all the more enjoyable. After the boat tour we had the Broughtons drop us off in downtown Edinburgh where we started to take photos of homes of Maurene's ancestors and visited the Nelson monument that was designed by her great, great grandfather Robert Burn. We also wanted to visit his gravesite that was in a small cemetery on Princes Street but it was locked up and closed. I phoned about it and they said there were some structures that were in danger of falling over and it was closed until they could be repaired. So that was very disappointing. We took the bus back to the mission home and had supper and a little farewell. Most of the other couples went to the airport to fly back to Ireland but we went back to the hotel for two more days in Edinburgh.
On Friday we put on a lot of miles walking around old Edinburgh taking photos of houses that belonged to Maurene's ancestors. We got around where we needed to go by taking the bus. The bus service here is top notch. They have lots of routes and buses come by every 10 minutes. We were able to buy a day pass that made it fairly inexpensive. We were unable to find a portrait that Maurene wanted to see at the National Portrait Gallery but other than that things went well. We had a nice supper at the hotel to finish off the day.
Our last day in Edinburgh we spent most of the time at Princes Street and the beautiful park that is next to it. We also did a little shopping at the many stores that are all along the street. It was a warm sunny day and the park was full of people just lounging around enjoying the warmth. There was a piper with a bass guitar player and a drummer playing near the bench we were sitting on. It was fun to listen to them. We also went for a ride on the bus just to see more of the city and rode up on the upper deck. You sure get a nice view from up there. In the evening Sisters Dent and Clark drove us out to the airport to catch our plane back to Dublin. We then had to drive to Limerick and didn't get back until 1:30 am. But we didn't care, we had a great time in Scotland!
We got a surprise at church on Sunday. Clarissa Baines and a friend came to church as they were having a holiday touring around Ireland. She was as surprised to see us as we were to see her. We had them over to our place for dinner and it was nice to have a visit with her.
We had a great time in Scotland and both of us really felt at home there. It just felt right. The worst part is we really miss being there and want to go back.
We spent another afternoon this past week working on the landscaping at the chapel. I completed the weeding and digging up of the flower beds and Maurene started thinning out and weeding an area where there were a bunch of bushes. Unfortunately there were bushes with lots of nasty thorns on them and she has the scars to prove it. She was digging out thorns from her hands for a few days. But there has been an improvement in the appearance of the chapel and we are happy about that.
We had our district meeting on Tuesday morning and it is a plus to have the Reimers who serve in Galway as part of our district now. All of the missionaries participated in presenting during the meeting and it was very enjoyable. The Reimers brought lunch, chill and corn bread, which was great and we provided the dessert.
There are lots of trees and bushes in bloom here right now as spring has arrived in full force. There is a clematis type vine in our backyard that has bloomed and can been see right out our dining room window. The trees in bloom here, mostly pink, are starting to loose their blossoms that are still beautiful as they fall to the ground.
We drove the sisters out to Bruree again this week for an appointment with a woman there who is taking the lessons. It was a good lesson and we always enjoy the opportunity to teach with the young missionaries. We had not as much success with YSA activities this week. We only had one student show up for our Institute class on Thursday which was disappointing and also only one YSA showed up for Family Home Evening on Sunday, that has never happened before.
This past Sunday was Mother's Day at home so the missionaries were able to Skype or FaceTime home to talk with their families. We had Elders Taylor and Trease over to our place after church for dinner and then set them up with our laptops to be able to have a chat with their families. It went really well with no technical problems and we enjoyed having them over. Maurene was also able to have a chat with some of our children also in the evening which was great.
There was a celebration here in Limerick last week called Riverfest. We didn't attend much of it but when we were downtown we walked around some of the vendors and took some photos. Here are a couple of them that Maurene particularly enjoyed.
As missionaries we are called to serve and we have the opportunity to serve in different ways and for different groups of people. We have thought for a while how much better the flower beds and landscaping around the chapel could look so we decided we should roll up our sleeves and do a little service for the branch. We both enjoy gardening at home so why not do some here. We went over to the chapel a couple of days this week and started with weeding and digging rocks out of the flower beds. We found some tools in the shed and got off to a good start. We have decided to try to get over there at least once a week and keep working on improving and maintaining the grounds. There is lots to do. The fellow who mows the lawn came while we were there and we were chatting for a while. He mentioned that he has been doing the lawn for five years now and has never seen anything done to the flower beds, time for a change. We took a before and after shot of part of it.
It was a really nice morning for the Parkrun on Saturday. I again ran a PB and it felt really good. There were not many there this week as there was a big marathon in Limerick on Sunday and probably many of the people who run the Parkrun were running in it. They have a 10K, a half and a full marathon and get around 12,000 people participating, it is a big deal.
Later on on Saturday after the Parkrun, we went for a stroll around a park near the city centre and the train station called the Peoples' Park. It is a large park and well kept and it looked like it was well used. There were a lot of families at the playground and a game of cricket going on in one of the large grassy areas. There was also a public art gallery on one end of the park, but it was closed and we will have to go back another time to visit it.
After visiting the park, we wandered around the neighbourhood. It is amazing the things you are able to see that you miss when driving around.
We travelled down to Tralee on Sunday morning to attend church there and see how the two YSA that live there are doing. It is a very small branch and they meet on the second floor of a building in the city centre. There were three families from the states who were holidaying visiting the branch. It turned out that one of them was from Brooklyn, N.Y. and the husband was Jay Salmon. His parents lived across the street from us when we lived in Calgary and Maurene went over to stay with his sisters while his Mom and Dad went to the hospital when he was born. Who would have thought that we would be in the same small branch in Ireland on the same Sunday.
This is the blog of Elder Tom and Sister Maurene Wilson of our mission to the Scotland/Ireland Mission.