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, February 20, 2011

JOURNAL - February 14 - 20

Monday, February 14 - HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

The Sister Missionaries called today and told us that our YSA investigator, Candace, didn't want to take any more lessons - such a disappointment! I wonder why? At least a seed was planted. I'm anxious to ask the Sisters what happened next time I see them.

I sure enjoy the mornings we get to study for our lessons. The lesson preparation seems to be getting easier. After study, we took a nice walk to our park. We had some left over pancakes and enjoyed feeding them to the water fowl and squirrels. One goose ate right out of Devon's hand. They are really used to being around people.

FHE was nice, but attendance was down. The kids thought that was probably due to Valentine's Day. Still it was a nice evening - always fun to be with the YSA!

Tuesday, February 15

Today was Tuck Shop day. We turned in all the currency that we had from the sale of the Tuck Shop items (candy bars, soda, and chips), and went to Costco and Wing Yip to stock up on more items for the kids to buy. They like to have the sweets to munch on at Institute. The items are sold strictly at cost, so it is a revolving fund. When the goodies get low, we take the money and go buy more. We got a little turned around on the way home  - so hard to navigate and follow the GPS "lady" in the downtown area - especially since we don't know our way around there very well. But, we did finally get home with not too much frustration. We know when we are lost, and also know there is a twisted network of streets and lots of ways to get from point A to point B.

I think the Birmingham YSA budget for 2011 is finished - at least for now. We are still working out a date for a temple trip. Preston Temple (our Temple District) has no free Saturday's for the rest of the year for baptisms. We have approval from President Griffiths to see  if we can get a date at the London Temple, so I'm waiting to hear from them. We did get confirmed dates for both Birmingham and Lichfield to take trips to the local Church History Sites - we're really looking forward to that. Also, finally got the January monthly report for Lichfield Stake completed and sent in.

Wednesday, February 16

Enjoyed our walk and watched a huge, fancy helicopter land in the soccer field next to the police academy. Looked pretty official, but we didn't stick around to see who was boarding it. Did notice some new beautiful dark purple and yellow flowers in the park - yippee!

Birmingham Institute was grand. Two new engagements were announced. It was exciting news for all the YSA. There are a few other couples that need to take the plunge, too. We'll see.....

Thursday, February 17

This afternoon, while doing final preparations for my lesson tonight, the Sister missionaries called and asked if we could help teach another of our YSA female investigators - a sweet Hungarian girl from Romania who has been here for two years as a nanny. She came to learn English and somehow the missionaries found her. I couldn't go, but Devon did. He said it was a very special, spiritual hour. We have another appointment to help teach her next week. I'm excited about that!

Institute at Lichfield was good. I taught 3 Nephi 27, 28. I learn so much while preparing lessons. - this week some new insights about the atonement. I think the kids enjoyed class. They are always so sweet. Afterward we had a good time talking with two of the girls about places and things to see in England. They had some great ideas. When the weather gets a little better we will make an effort to see some of these places. For now, we are looking forward to our trip to Preston Temple tomorrow.

Friday, February 18

We had a nice drive to the Preston Temple. It is beautiful! The outside is polished granite - so pretty and majestic. It sits atop a hill in a rural area named Chorley, about 6 miles outside Preston. I can only imagine how beautiful it will be when spring comes.

Not only is the temple there, but also on the property is a fairly large stake house, and a complex that includes a Distribution Center, Family History Center, Accomodations Building for temple patrons, and the Preston MTC. In the middle of the complex is a parking lot.

We are standing in front of the accommodation building to take this picture of the Preston MTC, which is the two buildings pictured. To the left of the MTC is the Distribution Center and Family History Center, with the parking lot in the middle.
 This is the back of the Preston MTC - so pretty. The area with all the windows is the cafeteria. This is what you see when you drive up to the complex. 

Our room and bathroom in the Accommodation Building.

The fee for one night in the Accommodations is 22 pounds per couple, or $35.75. Not bad. They provide the sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels. The little kitchen has a microwave and little refrigerator, and is stocked with a few glasses, plates, cups, and silverware. On the main floor is a large, full kitchen and dining room, if the patrons want to actually cook something. I think some people come and stay the week. There is also a room with coin operated laundry machines. This is the first time we have stayed in temple accommodations, but we would sure do it again!

Just as we finished prayers and were crawling into bed (about 10:30 p.m.), our phone rang. It was David Arnold - a YSA from Birmingham. He received his mission call in the mail and was so excited to share his news. He will be going to the Geneva Switzerland Mission in June - same mission our son, David, went to.

Saturday, February 19
We woke up to a cold, rainy, windy day. We got up, ate some breakfast (bagels, fruit, and juice), cleaned our room and bathroom, and checked out about 9:00 a.m. While we were taking the above pictures of the complex, we noticed an Elder waving to us from one of the MTC windows. It was Sunni Atwal - a YSA from our Birmingham group that entered the MTC about a week ago. He is going to the London South Mission. It was so good to see him - big smile on his face and having a great time! He can hardly wait to get to the mission field and will be a GREAT missionary for sure!

After our short visit with Elder Atwal, we drove to Preston to try to find some Church History sites. It wasn't easy, but after driving and walking in circles for a while, we finally found what we were looking for.

River Ribble.
This is the site of the first baptisms in England. It is now a nice park, but in the 1830's there was no park or trees by the river.

Market Square in downtown Preston
This is the site where President Hinckley, as a terrified new missionary in 1933, reluctantly preached the gospel while standing on this stand. The original missionaries to England also preached on this same spot.

Sunday, February 20

Another cold, cloudy day in England. It is High Council Sunday and Devon was assigned to speak at Kidderminster Branch - one of the oldest branches of the church. Upon arrival I was asked to also speak for a few minutes. Thanks to a recent Book of Mormon Institute lesson and the hymn book, I was able to give a short talk - more than just a testimony. The branch is about a 40 minute drive outside Birmingham through beautiful English countryside. It always feels good to get out of the city. Kidderminster Branch is very small - only about 40 people at church and mostly elderly. They have one YW - a 12 year-old. But what a wonderful, friendly branch! We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them!