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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

JOURNAL - January 24 - 30

Monday, January 24

Made our first trip to Costco today! It is exactly like Costco in the states, except brands and products are different, and it wasn't nearly as crowded. They were even passing out a few samples. We each had a hot dog and soda - yes, it was 1.50 (pounds). We also went to a store close to Costco called Wing Yip. It is a huge Chinese food store - about the size of Costco. We go there for just one thing - A&W Root Beer! We run a thing called the "Tuck Shop" at Institute on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The kids come directly from school/work to Institute and are hungry. So there is a nice supply of candy bars, chips, and sodas they can purchase for snacks. We also supply bread and cheese so they can make a grilled cheese sandwich in the little grill if they like. The bread and cheese are supplied by the Stake, but the other stuff is paid for by the kids. We make runs to Costco and Wing Yip as needed to pick up supplies for the Tuck Shop.

We also made a trip to Solihull today to get our debit pin numbers re-mailed to our England address. Seems they sent them to our Utah address the first time. They won't just give us the numbers - they have to be mailed. While in Solihull we made a repeat visit to the Apple store to have them show me how to download pictures from the Gospel Art Kit in my Scripture App. Technology is surely amazing!

FHE was great again tonight - about 20 YSA in attendance plus Devon and I. They had a nice lesson on being obedient, with some wonderful, insightful comments from the YSA. Afterward we had treats, and then played a game called "Sardine." They turn off all the lights, one person hides, and the others hunt around the building until he/she is found. Everyone had a good time.

Tuesday, January 25

We actually stayed home all day today - a first! Most of the day was spent finalizing our lessons and power point presentations for this week and doing laundry. By 4:00 pm we had "cabin fever," so we put on our coats and tennis shoes and went for a walk in the neighborhood. It was lovely despite the on and off drizzle. I've decided I don't mind the drizzle so much because with it comes warmer temperatures. After dinner we put together a little slide show with our pictures from the London Temple to show to the YSA this week. We're really not very tech-savy, but IPhoto makes it so easy.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to really study the scriptures. They say the teacher always learns the most, and I can surely agree with that. I'm ashamed to admit that previously I did more "reading" than "pondering." The latter is so much better!

Wednesday, January 26

Such a thrill this morning to find emails with photos of Lori's and Stephen's kids - a real highlight even though a couple of kids had rather impressive "boo boos." Otherwise a quiet morning at our flat - cleaning and doing last minute prep for our lessons. Tonight was my turn to teach Doctrine and Covenants at Birmingham. There was a 19 minute video to go with the lesson. Devon said I got lucky! I think I was blessed! The lesson did go well, but I had way too much material. I still need to get better at keeping things simple. Our attendance was down a little from last week, but some came who hadn't been to Institute for many weeks, so that was good. Below are pictures of our class. By the end of the class there was a full row of seats at the back of the room - the late comers.

Tonight the Institute Choir class began - a small, but very capable group of 5 girls, 1 boy and a student conductor. They asked me to accompany them. They worked on a Sally DeFord arrangement of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." For a moment it felt like the good old days in Leona Valley Ward playing for our amazing Women's Ensemble. It made me realize how much I miss those days, those wonderful women, and the beautiful music we shared.

Thursday, January 27

Today was a day of highs and lows. The high - BYU beat San Diego State! Devon got up at 4:30 am to listen to the last 5 minutes of the game over the internet. Said he could hardly go back to sleep after the game. We read all the sports articles on the Deseret News web page. The lows - When Devon was looking through the Deseret News on line he found the obituary for a dear Highland Ward member, Jan Bronson. She had been stricken with leukemia almost two years ago. We can't attend her service, but thankfully we can send our condolences via the internet to her family.Also learned that a ward member from our Newhall years also passed away - Boyd Kirkland. That also was a big shock. Again, thanks to the internet (Facebook) was able to send condolences from so far away.

These passings remind us of how blessed we are to be of good health and able to be here in England serving the Lord.

Friday, January 28

Today was errand day. We saw our doctor - Dr. Carolyn Harrison. She was very pleasant and efficient. Our "exam" consisted of blood pressure, weight, and brief discussion of our medical history. After that she gave us our prescriptions with a year's refill. We took them to the pharmacy on site, got all four filled, and walked away without spending a dime. Just one little glitch - they don't have Devon's BP med here in England, so he will try something similar for a month at which time he will return for a BP check to see if that needs to be adjusted. After that we made appointments for haircuts next week, went to the post office to mail some mission letters, and did grocery shopping. Then we decided to treat ourselves to lunch and a movie - "The King's Speech." Matinee prices for seniors are 5 pounds each, plus they validated our parking for three hours. Not a bad deal, and the movie was GREAT!

Upon arrival home we were greeted with mail. Hooray, our debit card pin number came! Can't wait to try out our cards! But the best mail was a package from home. I had asked Daryn to mail me my "warmer" - a flannel bag full of millet that I heat in the microwave and use to warm me up. Ahhhh! Thanks Daryn!!!!

Saturday, January 29

Today we worked again on our Institute lessons. About 2 pm we decided we need to go for a walk, so we bundled up and headed to Cannon Hill Park close to our home. What a neat place to walk. It is quite large and beautiful, complete with ponds with swans, geese, and ducks paddling around in the cold water. There were sheets of ice on top of the water, but the cold didn't seem to bother the little feathered folk. There is a little tea shop in the park, and a small cafe. They also have a movie theater with films from 15 minutes to full length. Some shows are free, some are in other languages with English subtitles, and there are a couple current feature films such as "The King's Speech" and "Black Swan." Interesting. We'll have to check it out more when we have more time.

Tonight was a "Farewell" for a young man leaving for his mission the end of the week. A large group of YSA met at the Harborne Ward and had pot luck dinner, dancing, and games. They really do enjoy being together! We attended for a while and had fun playing some games with the kids. Came home and was distressed to discover that my HP laptop seems to be on the fritz - big problem since we both use our computers so much. We'll have to get that looked at right away!

Sunday, January 30

Well it's official. My computer crashed - lost everything on my hard drive. Fortunately we downloaded my lesson and power point presentation for this week on a flash drive, so that was saved. About the only things I can't download back to my computer were a couple of old Sacrament talks I had given. We got some good advise about how to re-boot it ourselves, so that was accomplished. Situation could have been much worse, I guess. We plan to pick up an external hard drive to back-up all my data, so if it happens again I won't lose anything.

Church at Harborne Ward was very nice. Devon was sustained to the High Council. Dinner turned out great and I even used the "devil" oven to cook pork chops. We had a fun skype conversation with Lori's family and hope to at least talk with a few other families before the day is over. Oh, did I mention.....we worked on our lessons.