We had our district meeting in Belfast this week along with all of the other districts in the zone. I guess that makes it a zone conference but they didn't call it that. We drove down early in the morning with our Elders sleeping in the back seat. It was very foggy all the way there and the fog didn't lift until we reached the city. There was the usual traffic jam so it took us two hours to drive there and we arrived just in time.
When we got home from Belfast we completed our presentation for the first Family History workshop for the branch. We held it that evening at the chapel and we had five sisters attend. It went really well and there was a lot of interest and we are going to meet again next week. I was even able to help some people out with some things which was really astounding!
One afternoon this week we drove down to Enniskillen and took a tour of the castle in the town which houses a museum. It was all very interesting. There were a lot of displays on the history of the military in the city which went back hundreds of years. We finished off the tour with lunch at the cafe inside the castle.
When we were finished at the castle we walked up to the city centre to see if we could find the barber shop which was also a railroad museum. It was pretty cool. There were a couple of barbers giving haircuts and all around them was the museum with artifacts from the local railroads. We found it very unusual and interesting.
We looked around town for a while and then travelled south about 4 or 5 miles to Bellanaleck where there was a Lace Museum. It was quite the place, Maurene loved looking around in there and seeing all of the old wedding dresses and the beautiful lace work. It was quite impressive.
On Saturday night we went to a branch activity at the chapel, it was the annual chili cook-off and ghost story evening. A number of branch members brought chili which we sampled and we sat around after eating and told ghost stories since Halloween will be here shortly. There was a good turnout and we had a good time, Maurene's chili was judged the best and she won a beautiful trophy!
On Sunday we had a visit from Elder and Sister Pettit from Dublin. They are the senior couple in Ireland in charge of the Self Reliance program. So they came here to speak in Sacrament meeting and to also do a joint Priesthood/Relief Society meeting on the topic and hopefully get some classes started here in Omagh. We had good meetings and they came to our place afterwards for lunch. We enjoyed very much having a visit with them.
When we drove home from Enniskillen Maurene decided to take some video in the car to give an idea of what it is like to drive on the roads here in Ireland. Be patient, it takes a while to download.
'We had our first district meeting in Omagh this week since the districts were changed. The sisters from Letterkenny and Elders from Londonderry travelled here together in the sisters' car. We had a good meeting together, they are a good group and a young group. The mission in general is very young right now. It was nice to not have to travel for the meeting but I think that will change soon. There are three sisters together as Sister Bleyl is here until she gets her visa to go to Arizona where she was called to serve. When that happens, they will no longer be able to travel here for the meeting so we will have to travel up to Londonderry. It felt strange not to feed the district after the meeting so we decided to have a snack ready for the next one.
We have two recent converts here in Omagh, Dean and Neil. They have both been ordained priests in the Aaronic Priesthood and are progressing nicely in the gospel, both are very active. President Nelson asked me to meet with and mentor them to prepare them to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. So on Wednesday evening we met for an hour and had a lesson on the priesthood organization and responsibilities. It went well and I enjoyed meeting with them. We are going to meet weekly to continue the discussions.
As part of the UK, Northern Ireland has a health care system not unlike the one we have in Canada. There are private clinics here in the larger cities, but for the most part people are provided health care under a publicly funded system. There is one Health Care Centre here in Omagh and inside it there are four separate clinics. You need to register in order to get to see a doctor so we went in this week to start the process. I just chose a clinic at random and there were forms to fill out. The only sticking point was proof that we lived at the address we gave them such as a utility bill with our names on it. We didn't have that but I had the mission home write a letter that we were indeed living here and they were paying the utilities. That seemed to work and the last step is to visit a nurse practitioner which we will do in a couple of weeks and we are registered so Maurene can get her prescription renewed.
Besides the clinic, we got a lot of what I call maintenance things done this week. Both Maurene and I got haircuts. I borrowed a lawn mower from a member again to give our little lawn a mow, last one before winter I hope. The Elders have bicycles that have been in need of repairs since we got here, so I went and picked them up and took them to the bicycle shop where they had been purchased. I hope that will help them get around a bit better. We had our Elders over for supper this week which of course they always enjoy. Our home is heated by kerosene oil so I had EMO come over this week to fill the tank before the cold weather begins.
We got a call from the senior couple serving in Portadown, the Angels, on Saturday asking if we would like to join them for supper with the Winters, a senior couple serving in the mission home. They are over here delivering a new car to some sisters and are taking the opportunity to tour around a little. So we met them at a restaurant in Dungannon, about a 40 minute drive from here and had a meal together. It is always nice to get together with other senior couples and talk about the work.
This week we had an all Ireland conference in Dublin. It is a one day trip there and back and it is a two and a half hour drive from Omagh so is a long day. We had to drive up in the dark for most of the way and then it was pouring rain on the way home. Not a fun drive! We took our Elders with us as we usually do. There are more senior couples in Ireland now so there were 7 couples at the conference. During one of the morning workshops we all got together in an empty room that we found and shared what we were doing and also had a chance to discuss challenges or problems we were having and get ideas from others and what could be done. It was great to be able to get together with other couples and talk about what we are doing!
It was Thanksgiving on Monday and we didn't do anything special here. All of our kids got together in Calgary at Corey and Julie's place and we were able to FaceTime them. It was great to see all of them get together having a good time. We were just sad that we couldn't be there.
We have put more time this week into finding and visiting members of the branch who haven't been out to church for a while. This is a slow process and we haven't had a lot of success so far but we have been able to make contact with a few people and have a visit with some of them. Going through old records is something that sometimes gets neglected. We have been well received by those we have been able to contact and although some told us they were not interested in coming to church we had a good visit with them and were able to extend an invitation. There are some that expressed an interest in coming back and we are going to visit them again.
One afternoon I went for a walk along the route that I run mornings and took the camera with me. There are a few nice spots along the run but I never take the camera. It had been raining that day but cleared up and the sun came out so it was a nice walk.
We like to keep busy here on our mission and we got a few new things to do at church on Sunday which we were happy about. Maurene gave a talk in Sacrament meeting, second one in two weeks, so I taught our Sunday School class. She was called by our branch president to be a counsellor in the Relief Society. Also, she and the Relief Society president are going to start a genealogy class that will be held Tuesday evenings to help branch members with their research. President Nelson asked us if we had been trained to teach self reliance classes and we have been. He would like to start classes here in Omagh so I guess we will call Elder and Sister Pettit to come here and get things started and we will be teaching those classes. Also, the Elders quorum president asked if I would go home teaching with him as he doesn't have a companion. So lots more to do for us which makes us happy.
There are four sisters in our branch from the Deery family. They are all very active and their mother always attends church also. Norma has a daughter who is currently serving a mission so we took a photo of all the branch members who were at church on Sunday for her and also a photo of the Deery sisters and their mother.
We had to travel to Belfast this week for district meeting. All of the districts in the zone were meeting there so our Stake President, President McCrudden, could talk to all of the missionaries before our district meetings started. We had an opportunity to work with him while we were in Limerick as he is the Institute director for Ireland we really like him. He is a good man and he had a great presentation for us. It was worth the trip just to hear him. After he was finished we had our district meetings and then we travelled back to Omagh. It was good to meet the other members of our new district for the first time. On the way to Belfast in the morning there was a beautiful sunrise and Maurene managed to get a few good photos of it.
On Thursday of this week we invited the senior couple who are serving in Portadown, a city between here and Belfast, to come with us and visit the Ulster American Folk Park. It is about five miles from Omagh and is kind of like Heritage Park in Calgary or Old Nauvoo. It is a recreation of what life was like in this area in the early 1800's before there was the big emigration to the Americas and then what life was like for the newcomers to the new world. The park was created by the Mellon Foundation in the United States and is located on the farm where the Mellon family lived before leaving for the United States. It was very interesting and the original farm buildings of the family were there and the other buildings were moved there from the area. The had even moved houses from the United States here. In most of the buildings there were guides in period dress who explained part of the history. They even had a ship in a building to talk about the voyage. It was a good day and we were glad we went to visit it. After the visit we had a late lunch at a sandwich shop in the city centre with the Angels.
It was Elder Watson's birthday this weekend so we had he and his companion over for dinner on Saturday. We had a cake and sang to him and had a good time together.
This week we travelled to Belfast to attend a stake council meeting. The stake president, President McCrudden, requested that we and the Angels attend the meeting so we could meet the stake leaders and introduce ourselves to them. The meeting went well and he asked the stake leaders to think of ways they could keep us busy and use us to help their programs. That was nice to hear as we like to be busy. We drove up to Belfast earlier in the afternoon and spent some time looking around in the city centre and the shops there. We saw some interesting places and took a guided tour of the city hall. It was an interesting tour and it certainly is an impressive building. They have 60 city councillors! It was late before we drove home and it was dark and windy and raining so a pretty miserable drive home. Maurene doesn't like driving in the dark and I am not a great fan of it either.
I don't think we have posted any photos of our new place here in Omagh so I thought I would take some photos this week and post them. It is a nice place and our neighbourhood is really quiet. The grocery store where we do most of our shopping in nearby and we can walk to the city centre if we want. It is about the same size as our place in Limerick just a bit more modern. The big plus is the much bigger fridge we have here and the big minus is no dryer. But it is a comfortable place and we are thankful for it.
We visited a few more members this week that the branch president wanted us to see. We went to see Rachel, a single mom with an 11 year old son who hasn't been to church for a while. We had a good visit with her and she agreed to come to church next week and I agreed to hang some new curtains for her. Seemed like a good deal to me. Later that day we thought we were to have a meeting with President Nelson along with the Elders. So we picked them up and were driving over to the church when the branch president phoned and asked if we were on our way. He was expecting us for supper at his place and we didn't get the message, a misunderstanding. We had already eaten but we drove out to his place, about a half hour away, a had a correlation meeting with him. We all got supper take away!
A little later in the week we met with Marion Radford, a single sister in the branch who has lived most of her life in Scotland. She has a nice Scottish accent! Her and her 16 year old son were hurt in that horrible bomb that went off in downtown Omagh in 1998. She survived but her son was killed. There is a tree planted in front of the chapel here in his memory. We also travelled out to Enniskillen, a town about 40 minutes south of here, and had a visit with Joan Irwin who talked our ears off. She is 78 years old and not likely to make the trip to Omagh for church. After we met with her we travelled around the town trying to contact members who lived there and were on the branch list but had no success. At least we found out that some of them didn't live there any more.
This was conference weekend and on Sunday morning we had a priesthood breakfast at the chapel and then watch the priesthood session together. (It was broadcast at 1:00 am here) In the afternoon I drove the Elders to a place about 20 minutes out of Enniskillen for a lesson. The lesson went well. This man's place was beautiful. He had a nice stone house built on the top of a hill with a great view on the big lake here. It was a beautiful sunny day so we had a nice drive out there and back
It was nice to be able to watch general conference this weekend. It seems funny that the morning session starts at 5:00 pm and the afternoon one at 9:00 pm.
This is the blog of Elder Tom and Sister Maurene Wilson of our mission to the Scotland/Ireland Mission.