Week 46: Departing, Incoming and Dublin

Sunday was our very large group of missionaries getting ready to go home.  I worked until 8:00 PM on Saturday night and was back in the office before church and immediately after Sacrament Meeting.  We are using British Airways this time and they are not easy when it comes to getting boarding passes.  Also, someone goofed up (not me – this time), and only got one piece of luggage for most of the missionaries and I am not being able to add a bag when I checked them in like I had hoped.  This picture shows all the departure packs and boarding passes.  If there is an orange tag, there was still a problem when I finally left on Sunday night around 9:00.  I decided I was going to be going to the airport on Monday to sort out the problems.

The longer I am here the nearer these missionaries become to me.  I was so busy they had to come to me for pictures.  Here is Elder Davainis from Hungary, Elder Watson from Boise, Elder Abel from Oregon and Elder Wang from Beijing.  They are all leaving this time.  I’ve talked about Elder Wang before.  It’s amazing how six weeks can feel like a life time when you really connect with someone.  He is such an open person, ready for love and just wants to get to know everyone.  He goes back home to China but I don’t think this is the last I will see of him. 

And now Elder Gibb is on his last transfer so he is leaving his position as Assistant to the President and finishing out his mission in Dublin.  He is one that I will really miss as well.  He is a gentle spirit.  Very tender and caring.  He plans to go home to Lethbridge and probably become an orthodontist so if you are looking in Canada in about six to eight years… find Dr. Gibb.  

Monday, like I said I went with the missionaries to the airport first thing in the morning.  This was my first experience doing this and it was fun.  I mostly stood by the ticket counter and handed them the credit card after each missionary to pay for their additional bag.  But it was fun to go and see them off.  I’m hoping it made it easier for the President as well.  I had another project on Monday, to get enough lesson manuals punched and bound for the incoming missionaries to have.  So along with Elder Watson, who was going home a transfer

early and spent the day in the office with me, we got them done.  Then virtually the rest of the day was getting read for the 16 new arrivals coming on Tuesday.  Most of them are heading to Ireland so I had a lot of work to do on their GARDA cards, which is basically their Irish VISAs.

Tuesday came and so did our new missionaries.  One in particular that we were waiting for was Elder O’Connor.  He was in the MTC last summer and tore his ACL.  He finished out the MTC and then was told he would have to go home for surgery.  He hung in there and was determined to come back and here he is.  We are so proud of him for sticking to his goals and for working hard to get back in shape.  This young man has a constant smile on his face and has such a sweet personality.  I got to know him this weekend, but more about that in a bit.

Wednesday we were lucky enough to have another baptism in our ward.  This was another Chinese girl named Xinyu Chen or Lily.  At the end of the baptism once she had changed her clothes she came out and bore her testimony of how being baptized has made her feel and how she wants to share what she has learned with others.  It is such a sweet experience to hear these young students talk of their feelings.  

Thursday I just sat down at my desk and the APs called saying there were more leaders coming in for meetings at the airport than they could fit in their car so could I run to the airport and pick some of them up.  Of course, I hopped right in the car to head off to the airport. I actually like doing this.  I picked up Sister Kim, Elder Gowans, Elder Carter and Elder Turner.  We had a great chat as we drove back to the office.

I just walked in the door and there was Elder O’Connor and his companion and trainer Elder Valiati (from Brazil).  They were supposed to be on their way to Dublin so I said, “What are you still doing here?”  Well, President had them stick around so he could talk to them so they missed their bus to get down to the ferry (3 hours away).  So I got them new tickets and put them in the car and drove them over to Haymarket to catch their bus.  Elder Valiati has only taken the bus and ferry to Ireland one other time the day after he arrived on his mission and this was only Elder O’Connors third day here so I was feeling a bit nervous dropping them off.  The construction is so bad over there that you can’t even see the bus stops around all the barricades.  They had packed their tickets (which I had just handed them 10 minutes before we left) so I waited for them to find those again.  I couldn’t just drop them off, it didn’t feel right so I got out of the car and walked out to the street with them and pointed the direction they should go.  They were both silent.  I think they were both very nervous.  I told them they would be fine and to just find the sign that said Citylink 900 and they would be on the right track.  That is literally all I know as well about getting on the bus.  I’ve never done it either.  I left them and they started moving.  I got all the way back into my car and started it up when I had an undeniable feeling to get back out and check on them again.  So I did.  I walked out past the barricade to see if they were walking down the wrong side of the street but I couldn’t see them.  I stood there for a minute and then felt okay so I headed back to my car.  The whole time I was driving back to the office I was saying a little prayer – please let them get on the right bus…

Well, as I neared the street the mission office is on I saw our Sister Wahlquist who has just become a new trainer herself (straight from being trained) with her new companion Sister Wu.  They were running and looking like they were in a hurry so I pulled up along side them.  They were late for an appointment and had 12 minutes to get to Quartermile which is at least 12 minutes away driving.  So I said, Hop in and I drove them up to their appointment.  It was with two snowboarders from California.  I got thinking on my way back to the office that if I hadn’t stopped and got back out to check on the Elders I would have never seen the Sisters and wouldn’t have been there to help them.  So sometimes it pays to listen to those promptings, even when they don’t seem valid at the time.

The rest of Thursday was just crazy.  Another Dublin bound set of missionaries missed their bus after the ferry and called for help.  Some other missionaries in Ireland called because when they went to the immigration office they were told they came into the country illegally and they would have to go to Belfast and get on a plane and fly in.  (It never ends.)  The laws are a bit mixed up over there right now and every GARDA station seems to have their own opinion about what the law is.  But the laws haven’t even been voted on yet and we won’t really know what is going on with religious workers until the end of March.  Anyone can enter the country for 90 days on their personal passport so the missionaries are getting nervous over nothing but it still makes them nervous when what they expect to happen doesn’t.  Well, that was how the rest of the day went.  I don’t think I ever lifted my head up once.  And before I knew it, it was after six pm and we were ready to go back home.

Friday Sister Gifford and I had early morning flights to Dublin.  Sister Bingham (the General Relief Society President) was going to be in Dublin to speak at a fireside on Sunday night and the President was unable to go so he asked Sister Gifford and I if we would like to be there.  We of course said yes.  We stayed in a little cottage that sits right in the parking lot of the Dublin Stake Center and we just took Friday and Saturday to see Dublin.

My favorite activity that we did on Friday was to go to Trinity College.  This college is one of the oldest colleges in the world and is ranked in the top 100.  The campus sits right in the heart of Dublin and is known for it’s libraries and especially that is houses the Book of Kells.

The Book of Kells is a book containing the four gospels.  It was written in Latin by monks around 800 AD but no one is sure where it was created.  The monks also drew and painted pictures all through the book.  It was printed on calf-skin and was well preserved.  After a Viking raid on the monastary on the island of Iona, Scotland the book was brought to the Kells in 806. The scholars have been able to identify three different scribes and four different artists who have contributed to the book. And it is believed the book was made for display and ceremonial use, not just to be read.  Trinity College has had the book since the mid 1600s.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the Book of Kells display but the images are worth looking into on the internet.

After seeing the Book of Kells we walked into the Long Room which is one of the libraries at Trinity College.  They say this room was the inspiration for Hogwarts Library.

We were also able to view other old manuscripts that were pretty incredible.  Here are a few pictures that I took.

We rode the Hop On Hop Off bus around town for two days and I think we saw just about everything there is to see in Dublin.  We stopped at Dublin Castle which wasn’t much to look at.  It is more of a palace and we were tired so we didn’t really pay much attention to it.  We did stop for treats at The Queen’s Tart and I took a picture of a really neat building just down the street from there.

Then to end the day off we went to Christ’s Church Cathedral and went in to see the crypt.  This Church was built somewhere after 1028 when King Sitric Silkenbeard, the Hiberno-Norse King of Dublin made a pilgrimage to Rome.  Most of it has been rebuilt over the years but it is still very old and has the largest cathedral crypt in Britain and Ireland.  We saw a lot of things down in the crypt – old statues, old silver and gold plates and candlesticks etc used in ceremonies.  But the most famous thing down there is the mummified cat and mouse that were found in the organ pipes around 1860.

Well, after all that we were exhausted.  We went back to the cottage and Sister Gifford slept in the bedroom and I stretched out on the couch and we didn’t stir until morning.

I will finish out our Dublin trip in next weeks blog.  Sorry this one was late.  We have been so busy.  I keep thinking it can’t get any busier but it has yet to prove me wrong.

I love you all.


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