This week was absolutely CRAZY with the protests/riots going on in Northern Ireland!
There has been little to no unrest where we are. There was one night where we were told to be back at the flat by 6 instead of 9, because I guess the UK flag supporters all over Northern Ireland planned to do a demonstration or something that night. Most of the unrest is in Belfast; the elders there have to be in at 6 EVERY night.
Basically, from what I've heard, is that some government buildings don't fly the Union Jack flag in Northern Ireland. The UK government doesn't care, but some people who love being part of the UK are trying to demand that all government buildings fly it. Not sure exactly what they're doing, like if they're standing around with signs or if they're running around flipping cars and setting stuff on fire and looting stores and whatnot. It would be cool if the second one happened here in Omagh.
The only sign we've seen of the protests is a bunch of Union Jack flags hung on light posts with zip ties. I guess people go buy a bunch of flags and take their ladders and hang them up.
Now on to stuff about me.
This week I've started doing my belt one notch tighter than I was in the MTC. So either I'm getting a bit skinnier, or my belt is stretching. Do belts stretch? It's probably the first option, because my watch is also getting looser. Nice.
So Tuesday was my birthday! It was actually pretty great. Tom Henry came over around 9:30 on Monday night with a chocolate cake. He's great. Then on Tuesday Elder and Sister Chamberlain had us over for dinner. Meatloaf, baked potato, green beans, and a vanilla cake with lemon frosting. Felt like I was at home. Then Ann Lee from the branch heard it was my birthday a few days later, and she told her daughter to make me a cake. I told her she didn't have to, but she said she loved baking. So yeah we had a lot of chocolate cake.
One of the best parts of the b-day though, was teaching Brian Johnston. He's a retired dairy farmer about a 30-40 minute walk from Omagh. (we walk out Gortin Road, and he lives on Cappagh road. Dad said he wanted addresses of places we go, so there ya go.)
Elder Holm and his former companion, Elder Greer, found him a few weeks back and gave him a Book of Mormon and taught him about it. He didn't read it, but we (mostly Elder Holm) taught him about the Plan of Salvation. He seemed to like it a lot. He's fairly old. Sometimes the conversation would go all over the place and he talked a lot. No problem with that, it's just sometimes we'd get way off topic.
But somehow we ended up talking about how he went to Jerusalem, and how he brought home a bottle of water from the River Jordan. He showed it to us, and said that he hasn't showed many people. This was a perfect set up for us to invite him to be baptized. (the AP's told me to try and invite someone by Tuesday night, so this was perfect.) Once we got him to mute the TV, we got real spiritual with him. I told him that when he brought the bottle into the room, I felt the spirit very strongly and I literally felt closer to Jesus Christ in a way. I reminded him that that water comes from the very river where Jesus was baptized Then I talked for a second about how He didn't NEED to be baptized, but He did it as an example to us. I then invited him to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized. He didn't give a yes or no, he said he didn't really know what to say, and then he started talking about something else. It was really spiritual when I invited him and right beforehand though.
So overall it was a good experience, and he said he'd be glad to have us back.
That was the highlight of the week for sure.
Wednesday we had Zone interviews. Not zone conference, I guess that'll happen later. But basically we all met personally with President Brown, got some instruction from him, Sister Brown, and the zone leaders. Received some pretty good advice.
Thursday we walked over 12 miles (I'm pretty sure). First, we walked to Ann Lee's house to give her cookies as a late birthday gift. That was probably two or three miles round trip. Then we walked out Gortin Road (the super long road that goes to Brian's house), past Brian's, and up a very steep hill, to try by another guy who they found before I got here. I think it was about four miles each way. When we got to the top of the hill, the view was supposed to be amazing. We could see the whole valley, but it was gray and dreary and starting to get dark. Also, the guy wasn't there. So I was kinda disappointed that we wasted so much time and effort for nothing. My attitude improved though, because on the way back we talked to a guy walking down Gortin Road.
He said he had talked to some of us about a year ago. He described them as one really tall guy, and one really short guy from Europe. Elder Holm knew exactly who they were, it was kinda funny. But we talked with him for a few minutes, and he said he'd be fine to talk to us a little more sometime. Didn't get a phone number or exact address, but he told us what street he lived on. Then we saw him a few days later, about the same time and about same area when we went out to try by Brian again (also not home...). We didn't chat long, just said like hey good to see you again blah blah blah... but I feel like he could be a potential investigator.
When I wrote that down in my journal, I realized that EVERYONE is a potential investigator. Such an awesome quote/catchphrase that I wrote it down in my planner and in my journal. Still I find it hard to talk to everyone we see, but I'm working on it. The last part of the day was spent walking to Ian and Vera's, about three miles round-trip. (Dad: out Derry Road heading west , on Watson Park.) So yeah pretty sure it was at least 12 or 13 miles.
Friday, we tried to find a referral from a branch member. She said he didn't seem interested when she talked to him, but that he was friendly and would probably hear us out for a bit at least. She didn't know which house he lived in, but she did tell us what street. So we knocked a few doors there, didn't find him, but did ask one guy who wasn't interested which house he lived in. So now we know his address, but he wasn't home that day.
Friday night we had dinner at President Nelson's house. Pretty dang good dinner. It was fancy Mexican food, kinda like Cafe Sabor style. Mmmm. Then on Saturday a member bought us takeaway (take-out) because we helped her clean the church. Then on Sunday Brendan Foster, a blind guy in the ward, had us over for dinner. So we had three member dinners this week. Elder Holm said he didn't have that many the whole six weeks he was here before me. I guess they just love me.
Saturday was pretty great as well. Every Saturday we go with Tom Henry to visit Tommy Reilly and Sister Deary. Tom was in England for a few days, so we went with the Chamberlains. Tommy Reilly is 91 years old, and he's been getting weaker every day it seems like. But he is known through out the branch (congregation) for being a great fiddler. This came up in the conversation at his house, and he happily got up and grabbed his fiddle.
He started playing and singing and tapping his foot, with more energy than we had EVER seen him have before. It was great. I didn't have my camera on me, so I didn't get a video. I really wanted to though it was truly an Irish experience. Especially his singing (very strong Irish accent).
Sunday was nice. Best part was Alan and Nigel were able to come to church! They live way out of town, and the only way they can get to church is if their roommate drives them. It was great to see them there. They especially loved singing hymns with a bigger group. Hopefully their friend can bring them every week.
Well, that's my whole week. Geez, I write long emails! It's ok though, my companion is still typing as well.
Elder Chamberlain shared a pretty cool bit of Gospel insight this week. At dinner with them, we were talking about the scripture that says "a rich man going to heaven is like a camel going through the eye of a needle." He told us that the eye of a needle referred to a hole in the city wall, that was too short for a camel to go through, unless it gets on its knees. So basically, a rich man needs to humble himself in order to do so. I thought it was pretty cool insight.
Alright, well that's it for today. I'm gonna buy a card reader today, so next week you'll get buttloads of pictures.
Peace and blessings!