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 13, 2011

JOURNAL - February 7 - 13

Monday, February 7

Beautiful, but very windy day here in Birmingham. We bundled up and went for a walk in the park - felt like we really had a workout walking against the wind. It is a little warmer as evidenced by no ice on the pond at the park.

I LOVE SKYPE - we had a wonderful conversation with Emily and Marianne today. It really felt like we were spending time together. Technology is so amazing and my skills are slowly improving. I actually downloaded a free driver today so I could download Mormon Messages to my computer and use in class. High five to me!

FHE was great tonight. Brother Wills from the High Council did a presentation on Indexing to the YSA and they really caught the vision. Some were so excited we almost had to tell them to stop so we could go home.

I have been studying D&C 88 this week in preparation for my lesson. Initially I felt overwhelmed with the length of the chapter and all the info in it, but it actually seems to be coming together quicker this week - my prayers are being answered!

Tuesday, January 8

Arrived in Birmingham four weeks ago today. In some respects it feels like it was yesterday, in other ways it seems like we have been here a long time. Spring bulbs are starting to to poke through the ground - yippee! Spring is around the corner!

We found out that a principal who retired from Alpine School District with Devon in June and her husband have been called to England for their mission - Paula and Guy Fugal. They will be living close by in Sollihul and will be involved with Public Affairs. It's amazing to think that there will be three new retirees from Alpine District serving as senior missionary couples in England.

We decided to go to downtown Birmingham today and submit our applications for our free bus passes. Oh my goodness was it hard to find - so many little streets, turns, and a ton of cars and pedestrians! Turns out it is inside a big mall. We were so confused, but finally found it, had our pictures taken for the passes, and turned in our applications. The passes should arrive in about 4 weeks. The fees plus parking at the mall cost about 15 pounds - pretty expensive, but hopefully worth it - assuming we can figure out the bus system.

Wednesday, February 9

After morning study, we decided to take our walk but in the opposite direction we usually go (don't have a clue if it is N, S, E, or W - no one here knows which direction is north). Within a mile of our house we found this amazing old church. Fortunately it was open so we took a peek and some pictures.

Old Edgbaston Church is a fully functioning church.

All around the grounds are graves - most very old, but a few more recent looking ones.
 The inside was amazing with gorgeous stained glass windows all around the building.
The ropes you see hanging are to ring the bells in the bell tower.
 Nifty old stone wall
On the way home from our walk we found a community volunteer garden. They grow all sorts of vegies and fruit that they sell in the summer months to help fund their garden. They also make jams, jellies, and other goodies from the produce and sell that as well. Can't wait for summer!

I baked cookies today for the first time - snickerdoodles. Couldn't find anything like Crisco or Cream of Tartar, so I used butter and a little vanilla. They don't taste quite the same, but were good. The oven continues to be tricky, but at least I didn't burn the cookies. 

Institute at Birmingham went well. We had a big group - a little over 50. I accompanied the choir and taught D&C 88. Several of the kids told me they enjoyed the lesson. It's a blessing to have RM's in the class who help to get a good discussion going.

Thursday, February 10 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY CONNOR

The four member YSA Council Presidency from Birmingham Stake came over today for lunch and a planning meeting. The Stake has been asking us for our budget for the year, so we got that done. They have some fun activities planned including a Preston Temple trip and a Church History Trip to Gadfield Elms (we're really looking forward to that). 

Devon taught at Lichfield Institute tonight and did a great job! I really enjoy our small group of kids there. Tonight we had 19 which included one new girl and two who haven't come for quite a while. Six of our very regular attending YSA were not there for various reasons. If they had come it would have been our highest attendance ever. Hope they all come next week! 

Friday, February 11
One month ago today we arrived in Birmingham. I think back on that day and it seems like eons ago. The Brits always ask, "How are you settlin' in?" I would say just fine!

We had a wonderful morning. The sister missionaries brought Candace, the YSA aged investigator from China, over for another lesson. Candace wanted to know more about Christ - she never heard of him before coming to England for school. So the lesson was focused on Christ, his life, and some of the things he did - including the atonement. Very nice morning! She will be back next week for another lesson.

After the lesson we went to Solihull to get knitting help from my YSA friend who works at the store there. While I was there I met a retired OB doctor and her anesthesiologist husband. She lived in Arizona back in the 60's and was familiar with the Mormons. She is a very devout Christian from Pakistan and we had a nice conversation. I gave her a "pass along card," which she thankfully received. It was the first card I've ever given out. It was so easy and natural. I'm glad I had one in my purse and will pick up some more to keep handy.

After my little knitting class, we went to the theater and saw "True Grit" - Devon's choice! He saw it and loved it before we left home and was anxious to see it again. Then it was home to make a couple of phone calls and work on talks/lessons.

Saturday, February 12
Sad news today. Devon's sister, Maurine, has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. She has had concerns about a tremor she's had for a while. Still the diagnosis is a shock to us. She plans to do all she can to slow the progression, and we will pray for the same. I know she is in God's hands - that He loves her, and will take care of her. No one is more deserving of His blessings.

We had a nice hour long walk in the park today. Being Saturday it was full of people and families enjoying the park - a lot more people than we see on week days. There are signs of spring throughout the park - bulbs sprouting through the ground, buds swelling on the trees, and even the rare flower blooming. I can't wait for spring!

Tonight Devon will listen to the BYU/Utah basketball game over the internet. 

Sunday, February 13
Our beautiful, sunny day yesterday has vanish - today clouds and drizzly rain all day. We gave our talks in Sacrament Meeting - mine on gratitude, Devon's on family history and happiness. It is good to have that over. We both had nice Sunday afternoon naps and great Skype conversations with some of our kids - the highlight of our week! We will end the evening with lesson prep for next week's lessons. It has been a another great week!