We have been called to serve a CES (Church Education System) mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the England Birmingham Mission. Our assignment is to work with the Young Single Adults - ages 18 to 30 years - teaching religion classes, supporting their activities, assisting in the day to day running of the institute, and anything else as directed by our Mission President. Our 18 month mission begins on December 27, 2010.

Monday, January 17, 2011

journal - january 10 - 16

Monday, January 10 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNA – and Tuesday, January 11

Today is departure day. We actually had a quiet morning finishing up our packing. Unfortunately I’m still under the weather with a sore tummy. Devon and Daryn gave me a beautiful blessing with the promise that my health will return soon – exactly what I needed.

Daryn drove us to SL airport for our 4:50 pm flight to Paris. There are two other missionary couples on our flight – one going to Germany and the other to Prague. The flight was full with only the occasional empty seat, on time, and pleasant enough. We had a quick change of planes in Paris and then a short flight to Birmingham. When we arrived we were met by Brother Mike Dockrill – our wonderful, patient Institute Director (poor man is assigned to orient us to a whole new world). We ran a few errands to sign our lease, set up our bank account, and a quick trip to a market – then to our new home. Thank you Karrens! The “flat” is wonderful and stocked with lots of left over non-perishable food/laundry supplies, etc.

Brother Dockrill took us to dinner and then home for some much needed rest. We knelt in prayer – 2 exhausted people feeling very homesick, teary, and longing for any contact with our family.

Wednesday, January 12

Rough night! I’m still sick – yuck! Can’t eat – food sounds awful – spent much of the night in the bathroom. I’m waiting for the promise of good health. Brother Dockrill came back around 9:20 am to help us set up our phone and internet lines (unfortunately neither will be working until 2/19). Then he and Devon picked up our cute little car and did a little business while I stayed home and slept for an hour. When they returned we drove to the Mission Home (about 20 minutes from our home) for a meeting. It was transfer day and about 100 missionaries were there, including 3 young men who went to Timberline while Devon worked there – so exciting to see them! At the Mission Home we were able to use their computer to send a quick email to family and make a wire transfer of funds to our new UK account.

We came back to the flat for a light lunch of soup and toast and then left for Institute Class at Birmingham. We followed Brother Dockrill in our little car so we could start getting used to driving on the left and the tricky round-abouts (I have NO desire to drive!). Institute was WONDERFUL! We couldn’t have felt more welcome by the kids – all anxious to meet us and give us a hug. Our Bishop, Stake President and his counselor were there – also very welcoming and offering to help us in any way.

After coming home, we studied the instructions for our little washer/dryer combo machine, put in a small load of clothes (that’s all it will hold) and set it to run while we sleep. I think I am feeling better tonight – actually can think about eating food, but only able to tolerate small amounts. Hopefully sleep will come quickly and sustain us through the entire night – something we’ve missed the past two nights!

Thursday, January 13

Ah – sleep, sweet sleep! MUCH better night! Still zapped of strength, but feeling better today. It is our last day of assistance/instruction from Brother Dockrill – poor man needs to go home to his family. He took us to Sainsbury’s Market for grocery shopping. It has everything we could ask for, even some American products like Newman’s Own. Then back to Harborne Chapel (site of Birmingham Institute) for more instruction and teaching helps. Bought some delicious sandwiches from Penny at Pickles – a shop highly recommended by Karren’s –  and then headed to Litchfield Stake, about 30 miles away, for Institute.  We were going to follow Brother Dockrill, but with high traffic it was impossible to stay right behind him. Thankfully the Sat Nav (GPS) got us there with next to no problems. Their group of kids is much smaller – 18 attended tonight – but equally as delightful as Birmingham. Our only involvement with Litchfield will be to teach weekly Institute – sort of too bad.

After Institute we parted ways with Brother Dockrill. We thought we had our Sat Nav programmed to get us home, but apparently not! We got back to Edgbaston, but could not find our home. The biggest problem was that we didn’t really know how to program the Sat Nav. After about an hour and multiple attempts we finally found it! Tomorrow we will have one of the kids show us how to use the Sat Nav better. Sure don’t want to be lost again!


We actually slept in until 11:30 am – so nice after our late, stressful night of getting lost on the way. Today was much more relaxed. We sorted and filed bits of information we have been given since arriving. Our suitcases are not completely unpacked yet – that will be a project for another day. We did a trial run to the Harborne Ward while it was daylight to be sure we knew how to get there, then returned later to chaperone the monthly Birmingham Stake YSA Dance. There were about 400 to 450 kids in attendance from London to Scotland. Amazing! Birmingham is a central area so attendance is always good at their dances. Because the church building is so close to residential homes they stop the music at 11:00 and start shooing them out the door at 11:30. Then at midnight we lock up and close the gate to the property. There were still a few left visiting/goofing off in the parking lot when we left. I’m happy to report that other than one wrong turn (that was quickly corrected) we made it home without problems. We’re making progress!

Saturday, January 15

Wow – slept till almost noon again today. Guess I was more worn out than I thought. It’s our first “P” day – wore our jeans all day. We both commented that we think we’ve lost a pound or two – jeans seem looser, a good thing. Today was spent running errands. Found Ikea but most importantly found our way home with no problems – a big milestone! Some of the surroundings are starting to look familiar. Had our choice for dinner at Burger King, Pizza Hut, or Kentucky Fried Chicken. Devon chose Burger King – it was pretty good. Finally have our suitcases unpacked and ready to store in our little garage. We’re not going to try to put the car in there – seems way too small, not to mention it is so tight I don’t know how we would maneuver in and out. All the roads are extremely narrow.

Sunday, January 16 

Sunday services start at 10:00 in every ward in the Stake. Each ward meets in it’s own building – we meet in the Stake Center. RS/Priesthood is first, followed by Sunday School and then Sacrament Meeting. Since there is no Young Adult Ward, the YSA (Young Single Adults) have their own Sunday School class. It was taught by one of the YSA who did an outstanding job.   Hope we can do as well with our Institute lessons.

Totally burned our dinner – crock-pot chicken and baked potatoes! Diane said the oven was awful and now I believe her. Think I will try to find an oven thermometer and see what the temperature actually is. Can’t explain the crock-pot disaster since I left it on low. Anyway, we popped a couple of extra potatoes in the microwave, steamed up some fresh veggies, made a little salad and did just fine. I’m going to have to work at this cooking thing.

Had a CES Fireside Broadcast tonight with about 40 YSA in attendance. They forgot to tell us we were to provide refreshments. Fortunately there were biscuits (cookies) and squash (punch) left over from the dance on Friday, so we used that. Good thing the kids are very understanding.

The ward has asked us to speak in Sacrament Meeting in a few weeks, and the Stake RS asked us to do a presentation for the Stake RS Especially for Women’s event coming up February 5th.  And I still need to finish my lesson for next week. One step at a time. I’m trying to not get overwhelmed, but it’s hard. I’ve got to remember what they taught us at the MTC - KISS – keep it super simple!