If my calculations are right…and who’s counting? There are 78 weeks in 18 months which means Week 39 was the end of the first half of my mission. Wow!! I need to make a list of everything else I want to do while I’m over here and it is true… the time does fly. It seems the first three months I felt like if someone offered me plane tickets I would have ran for the airport. Then the next three months I started to enjoy myself and started to test the Holy Ghost and started to open my mouth and teach. I found that I was capable of that and actually enjoyed it. Then the next three months I started to own my mission. Now I’m here because I want to be and I have goals and things I’m trying to accomplish. I have people I reach out to and things I want to do in the office. I am also aware of how fast each week goes by. So I believe it now when they say you won’t believe how fast the time goes and before you know it you will be heading home. I even found myself thinking the unthinkable…I could do this again.
Landon, Ashley and I had a great time in Ireland. We flew into Dublin and headed right to Waterford. I have part of Waterford on last weeks blog.
Sunday we got up and went to church in Waterford. It was not your typical Christmas Day meeting. The talks were not centered on Christmas which surprised me and there were no musical numbers. We did sing Silent Night between the talks. The Waterford Branch meets in an industrial park in a business but they seem to have plenty of room so they are very lucky. There are several young children in that branch. Probably more than we have in Edinburgh. It was nice to attend the branch and see something new. We drove around a bit after church and then walked around town some more. We stopped and looked at some medieval walls and towers that are right in town.
Waterford city was long ago surrounded by a stone wall with seventeen towers. Today much of that wall is still standing and six of the towers are still there. When the Vikings arrived in 914 they built a fortified settlement with Reginald’s Tower at its apex. This is Reginald’s tower. This tower suffered major damage in 1170 when the Anglo-Norman captured the city. It was rebuilt and still stands today. You can also see a replica of a Viking boat in front of the tower. There is a sign by it that says – Get thee a ship and go on the sea and kill men. – Advice of a Norwegian mother to her son in about 850. This was a time when the Vikings had established many bases around Ireland and Britain.
We also poked our heads into Waterford Crystal. The factory was closed but the showroom was open so we wandered around for a bit. Landon took a bunch of pictures so I hope to add a few of his to this. I only took one. I should have taken more.
Afterwards we hopped in the car and headed off to Cork where we thought more things would be open but we were wrong. Of course we knew most things would be closed because of Christmas but we didn’t realize just how true that was going to be. We had breakfast at our hotel pre-purchased for Christmas morning and Boxing Day (the 26th) and our hotel did have a bar which was going to be serving dinner on Christmas if you got reservations, which luckily we did. Ireland takes Christmas Holiday very seriously. There was not one gas station, grocery store or pub open on Christmas Day and very few open on Boxing Day.
Christmas Day we got in the car and headed towards the Cliffs of Moher. The drive was over two hours long and we were worried about our gas and kept figuring and re-figuring just how far we could go on the gas we had. We didn’t buy gas on Sunday thinking there would be at least one gas station open on Christmas but literally there was nothing of any sort open on Christmas. But we made it to the cliffs and were thrilled with their beauty. I was dressed as a missionary of course so I was a bit cold and didn’t make the trek up to the castle that sits on top. Landon and Ashley roamed all over though and I walked to the lookout and then got back in the car and enjoyed my Gerald Lund book that I’ve been trying to get through forever. I don’t get much time to read. After they got back to the car we had our treats that we brought with for lunch. And we cracked our crackers that I had brought with. Not your typical Christmas dinner but we loved it. I’m so glad we took the time to drive to the Cliffs of Moher. We did find a couple places to stop along the way. We drove by Blarney Castle but knew it would be closed so we didn’t drive over. We were hoping to have enough gas and time to get to Ross Castle but we were cutting it too close and knew if we didn’t get back to the hotel in time for our reservation for 8:00 PM dinner we wouldn’t get dinner so we decided against Ross Castle. It was also closed but we heard we could drive right up to it. But here are a few pictures of some of the things we saw. Dinner tasted so good once we finally got to eat – close to 9:00 PM. But they were out of potatoes and vegi’s so we got turkey and stuffing on top of chips (french fries). But we did get dessert. Landon and I had Chocolate Mousse and Ashley had a Lemon Tart. The other highlight of my day was watching Skyler and Janelle’s kids open their presents and talking to Cal and Everett Christmas morning. They were very excited to show me what Santa had brought. Then I was also able to talk to Mom and Dad. So good to hear their voices and know that they are well and happy on Christmas with all the family around.
Boxing Day is the 26th and in Scotland I had been told it was a big shopping day so I expected that in Ireland as well but it was still a very quiet day. I didn’t see any grocery stores open and about half the gas stations we passed were still closed. We were flying home this day but we first had a tour at Hook Lighthouse in Wexford. Hook is the world’s oldest working lighthouse that is still intact in it’s original structure. There is one other light house in Spain that also makes that claim but it has been refurbished. Regardless, this is a very old lighthouse. It was built in the years 1210 -1230 by the Knight William Marshal (who Ashley can trace her genealogy back to). The lighthouse was taken care of by monks back then and they would haul a ton of coal up the steps every day to keep the fire going which created the light. The monks had actually been in this location since the fifth century and actually erected a fire beacon to warn seafarers to keep away from the dangerous rocks. The monks tended to the lighthouse until about 1540 when Henry VIII did away with monasteries. By the 17th century it was no longer being tended and there were numerous shipwrecks which led to the restoration of the lighthouse in 1670. In 1860 three dwellings were built so that three light keepers and their families lived on the premises at all times and the lighthouse became very reliable. This is how the lighthouse was until 1996 when the lighthouse was automated. This is the only lighthouse that has been powered five different ways. Coal, Whale Oil, Paraffin Oil, Gas, Electricity. For centuries a cannon gun was fired off the edge of the cliff during fog.
Wednesday I worked all day in the office alone. Sister Gifford had the day off to spend with her daughter and the Winter’s took the day off to clean their flat. They go home in a couple weeks so I ran the office alone and it was fairly busy. But afterwards I met Landon and Ashley for dinner. They had spent the day going to Edinburgh Castle, Camera Obscura and the Christmas Market.
Thursday I took the day off. President had said as long as someone was at the office this week the rest of us could be gone so I took my turn and we had a great day. We went to Rosslyn Chapel which is still one of my favorite places. Then we headed up to Tantallon Castle which is a great castle ruin. This is my 3rd time there so I have the information in an earlier blog. On the way to Tantallon we passed a sign that said Haile’s Castle. I’ve seen the sign before and since I’ve never heard of this castle I’ve disregarded the sign. Today we turned around and followed the very narrow little road up and down a few hills to Haile’s Castle. We are so glad we did. It sits in a hollow alongside a stream in the middle of nowhere. It is a beautiful castle still intact in many places.
Friday we took off on our last weekend adventure. Ashley’s dad served his mission in Scotland so he had given her a list of all the places he thought she should visit, so off we went. First stop was St. Andrews. Of course this was a snowy day so travel was slow on very snowy roads. Even though we were heading North when we drove into St. Andrews the sun was shining and there was no snow. It was very cold though. We drove over to the cathedral and then over to the golf course for the iconic bridge pictures. (I mostly stayed in the car because I could feel a sore throat coming on.)
After St. Andrews we drove over the Tay Bridge into Dundee. I don’t know what to do in Dundee so we didn’t drive around much. We did go to a museum about Antarctica Explorations and that included a tour of a boat which was really interesting. It was a nice museum. After Dundee we continued on the road to Pitlochry. Another of my favorite places. This is where we spent the night. Saturday morning we found a place for a little breakfast before we headed on to Inverness. The snow was really coming down in great big snowflakes. I love this picture that I took. So Inverness was our next stop on Saturday. We had a hotel here for the next two nights. Landon and Ashley were looking forward to having a fun New Years Eve here. I was looking forward to going to bed. My throat was killing me and I was tired. So that is how we all spent New Years Eve. I slept and they played. Oh I did forget, on Saturday we did go see a movie. I am now one of those The Greatest Showman fans. What a great show. I may have to take Sister Gifford to see it too.
Well, that ends this week. What a crazy fun-filled week we had. It has been nice having Landon and Ashley here. We packed a lot into their stay.
I hope you are all easing into 2018 with health and positive feelings. I remember as a little girl writing stories and putting dates to my stories and never imagining that we would be in 2018. That is probably a date I used for futuristic type stories. And yet, here we are.
Happy New Year!! Love you.