Dear Hunter, Porter and all,
Buckle up for a two week letter! Last time I wrote I was on the brink of death. Thankfully I've been able to recover even without having to rely on Scotland's socialist healthcare system. First a word on work:
I've really enjoyed my time so far in the parliament. Every day I go in at 10:00 and work until about 4:30, such great hours in government work! My work is primarily writing based. I write congratulatory motions to be passed by the parliament, speeches, thank you letters, newspaper columns, monthly and annual newsletters, and probably some other things I'm forgetting right now. In addition I do office work, reserving parking, meeting rooms, setting up meetings, etc etc. Overall it's an enjoyable way to immerse yourself in a culture that is so thoroughly foreign. Incredibly, even though they speak English it still feels sometimes just like those first weeks on your mission where you don't understand anyone even if you understand most of the words.
Also at work: their cafeteria, called the canteen, is marvelous, cheap, but nearly all homemade food. AnneMarie came to Parliament with me on my first week for an event being held there called the taste of Angus. It was held to promote food industries from the Angus region of Scotland, famous for its Angus beef, jams and jellies, smoked fish, and Angus beef pies. It wasn't quite a buffet but it was a nice opportunity to sample different Scottish foods and the Angus beef prepared with caramelized onions was delicious. Last word on work: I have a security pass that they're super strict about but it lets me in all through the building. It has chip that you swipe at elevators, twice at the entrance, even the printers. I feel fancy.
Our other large adventure in the last two weeks was getting to see Ireland. AnneMarie's parents came into town on a Thursday and we flew out that same night for Dublin. We stayed in the Kildare street hotel across the street from Trinity university. That next morning we enjoyed a full Irish breakfast of sausages, bacon which is really ham, eggs, a grilled tomato, and black and white "puddings." Don't worry. I only ate the white one. We visited Trinity's unspeakably beautiful library where they were also hosting an exhibition on ancient monastic texts, illustrated by hand. Then we left Dublin, driving by the castle, the Guinness brewery and a host of colorful doors. I think I'd like to spend more time in Dublin. It seems like a beautiful city.
We headed north to ancient Neolithic burial mounds, visiting the two largest, Knowth and Newgrange. Really incredible considering they're 5000 something years old or so. We even got to go inside all the way into the center burial chamber where the tour guide turned off the lights and demonstrated how the light would enter the long tunnel exactly on the day of the Fall Equinox. From there it was a hop to the castle in Trim where Braveheart was filmed and another hop (west) to our bed and breakfast in a small town. Driving along dark, single lane, Irish roads, on the other side of the road...was crazy!!! AnneMarie's dad was a great driver throughout the trip though.
We proceeded west from there to the coast and the famed cliffs of Moher. You may recognize them from the sixth Harry Potter movie.
This pic is the only one I have on my iPad, from a bit north of the cliffs. The waves race in one after another. One writer described them as a heard of horses. Everything is stereotypically green but it defies stereotypes because otherwise you'd expect it. We hiked along the cliff edge, awestruck, till the rain pushed us to the visitors center. Put it on your bucket list.
We headed south then to Limerick/Shannon, peeking at King John's castle before heading to Bunratty castle for our dinner show. We literally ate a medieval feast in an actual castle and it wasn't cheesy at all. The castle troupe sang traditional Irish songs, including Danny boy and many more medieval ones, and we feasted on soup, ribs, potatoes and roast game. Everyone else downed wine and mead but we stuck to the water and fruit punch kind of mead. I couldn't contain my enthusiasm though and frequently burst out with calls for More Mead!!! During the night they sent one unfortunate party goer to the dungeon and there were other shenanigans, like the earls foodtaster testing the meal for poisons.
The next day we toured the Dingle peninsula in our car. This was a fantastically gorgeous spit of land spotted with land maggots, otherwise known as sheep, some 50,000 of them, ancient Celtic ruins, the island known as the sleeping giant because of its profile, and cascading cliffs and mountains. Also the most dangerous road I've ever been on, as wide as a hallway, with a 1000 foot drop to one side and cars going BOTH WAYS. Craziness but worth the view. That night we stayed at a farm bed and breakfast (heavenly scones and pancakes) but on our drive there we stopped at a waterfall, and an impressive Irish estate called muckross house. Enchanted castle kind of estate. We would have liked to stayed longer but the gates closed at eight and if you got locked in it was 50$ to get out. We boogied with 5 minutes to spare. We spent another day at castles and churches and such, lots of fun just soaking up the sights. We climbed a 1000 year old 100 foot tall tower. Not easy, all ladders straight to the top. Flying from Dublin back to Edinburgh we flew over the lights of soccer pitches in Irish towns, one in each conglomerate of lights, and we passed over the Isle of Man, and landed in 45 minutes. Fantastic flight times here in Europe.
I'd like to take a brief break to remark how lucky I am to be married to such a divine angel. Patient and pretty, serving and smiling, seeing Europe with AnneMarie by my side makes it twice as lovely. It's nice to have an eternal companion who is also your travel companion, adventure companion, etc etc. a Don't worry I'm going to talk your ear off when you get back.
Well, I think I've covered the brunt of it all. AnneMarie got to do some more traveling with her parents this last week in northern Scotland and she also went down to England and did a session in the Preston temple. Boo yah. Conference has been inspiring if a little odd since we o lay get one session broadcast Saturday and three on Sunday, one on Monday and we haven't gotten to know our ward much since we had stake conference, went to Ireland (primary program in Limerick was sensational), and this week was general conference. Oh well.
Besides being lit by the fire of Elijah which has bitten strong, we've got some missionary fire in these bones. I had a wonderful lunch conversation with another worker in parliament and we talked about the gospel and she mentioned a fantastic experience she had when a ward came and helped her with a local project for refugees when no one else did. Then they brought her dinner and other things when they found out her son was very sick. More on that this week, but she lives a bit outside the city so I'll be passing on a Book of Mormon with my testimony and also seeing if we can't get her out to church. I would have invited her to conference but I couldn't figure out the times. Other invites are forthcoming. As one of the speakers in conference said, Elder Anderson, it's not by coincidence that you live in Asia, Africa Europe etc. We're here in Scotland for a reason and that's to share the light of the gospel with all we meet.
Alright, no promises on spelling and grammar here but we love you and pray for you. We know the gospel you are sharing is true and brings joy.
Tanner & AnneMarie
Your ridiculously cool older brother and sister-in-law.
P.s. Hopefully mom will send out lots of our really cool pictures:):):)
The great escape.