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 6, 2011

JOURNAL - January 31 - February 6

Monday, January 31

Beautiful day in Birmingham - blue skies and not too cold. We spent the morning doing some laundry and working on our lessons/talks. Part of my talk for the Stake Women's Conference is about keeping the commandments. I am amazed at how clearly I can identify what needs to be taught about this principle. We pray constantly for help from the Spirit - don't know why I am surprised when it comes.

The afternoon found us taking another walk at Cannon Hill Park. Today was a little warmer, but still we layered up to keep warm.
Look carefully - some of the geese/pigeons are standing on sheets of ice.
A view in the park.
Devon wanted this one added. It is a typical street in Birmingham - narrow streets, row houses/apartments, cars parked facing all directions on the narrow streets.
Our apartment building. We are the on the second floor of this end of the building. The small window on the side is our bathroom window. This is just one building in the complex. It has four flats in it. Most of the other buildings are 3 stories.

After FHE lesson, treats, and a game in the gym, we sat on the floor at FHE tonight and played variations of UNO with the some of the kids - just laughed and had a good time. More and more we are getting comfortable with each other. They are an amazing group from all over: Australia, America, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands, Africa and more - and of course England. Some are here going to school, others to work. A couple of girls are nannies. The young missionaries (sisters and elders) are very busy teaching YSA aged investigators and they come out to the activities, too. The YSA themselves are active with retention/activation to try to support and help everyone stay active. When we said we needed a new greeting message for our cell phone, it was decided they would make one for us - a little silly, but  cute! (I must brag that tonight's dinner was delicious - homemade lasagna. Maybe I'm figuring this oven out!)

Tuesday, February 1

Welcome sweet February. January always seems like such a long, cold month to me. February came in with milder weather here in Birmingham - absolutely lovely! Ventured into a different part of Birmingham today. A sweet single sister, Mary, in our ward invited us to lunch at her home in Kings Norton. With her good directions we found it pretty well. She prepared a delicious salmon lunch and we had a wonderful time visiting with her. 

Devon has been stressed the last day or so because he couldn't locate the projector at Harborne Ward and he needs it for his lesson tomorrow. It was used on Sunday for our combined RS/Priesthood lesson, but we haven't seen it since. On the way home from Kings Norton we decided to stop at the Ward and make one more sweep of the building to see if we could find it - no luck! Just as we were leaving, a member from the High Council came. We exchanged casual greetings and then mentioned that we were there trying to locate the projector, to which he said, "I have it!" We truly see the Lord's hand blessing and guiding us in so many ways.
Wednesday, February 2

Rain today - not drizzle - actual rain. I had to use my umbrella. After institute the clouds were gone and there were stars in the sky. We had another lovely walk in the park today after study and lesson prep in the morning.

I read a story today, originally told by Richard L. Evans, about a man named Jack McConnell, MD. He was one of seven children raised by a Methodist minister and stay-at-home mom. Their circumstances were rather humble. Every evening at the dinner table his father would ask each child, “And what did you do for someone today?” Dr. McConnell said as children they were determined to do a good turn each day so they could report to their father that they had helped someone that day. Dr. McConnell calls this exercise his father’s most valuable legacy, for that expectation and those words inspired him and his siblings to help others throughout their lives. 

I really love this story and wish I had thought to do this with my children while they were growing up. Thankfully, they have all turned out to be wonderful, charitable people. Still, it is never too late to encourage love and service. I think now instead of asking my children/grandchildren how they are, I'll ask "And what did you do for someone today?" 

Thursday, February 3

Was up in the night feeling discouraged, anxious and worried about whether I am doing as good a job as the couple before us. It is hard to follow in their shoes and I worry about being compared to them. My fears are irrational, I know; still they cause me a measure of distress. I appreciate the words of support and reassurance from family members and have decided to put any distress aside. I know where the discouragement comes from and don't want any part of it.

The sister missionaries brought an investigator to our flat today to teach. She is a YSA aged young lady from China who is here going to university. The lesson was about Temples. Candice is not quite ready to commit to baptism, but did bear her testimony of the joy she has felt in her life since being introduced to the gospel and she wants to continue with lessons. She made an appointment for another lesson next week, again at our flat. It was a special experience for me especially since my lesson at Lichfield Institute tonight was about the gathering of Israel. I'm so grateful to be a part of it.

An interesting side note - one of the sister missionaries is from Sweden and the other from Scotland. But what is so interesting is that the father of the sister from Scotland grew up in Burbank, California - same place I did. She has been there many times visiting her grandmother. Her dad is Catholic and went to Catholic school in Burbank, so I didn't know him - still a very interesting coincidence!

Friday, February 4 

We got our first UK haircuts today from two delightful ladies at the shop recommended by the Karren's, and were pleased with the whole experience. My perm will be totally gone now, so we'll see how well I can manage it. We also found the Asda store. It's the UK version of Walmart and is actually owned by Walmart. It's a big store. Probably close to 2/3's of it was groceries, but they do sell some of anything else you could think of. Tomorrow we do our workshop at the Stake Women's Conference, so the rest of the day was spent working on our talks.

Saturday, February 5

Women's Conference was a big success! The turnout was better than they had hoped for and the sisters really seemed to enjoy the whole day. This was the first Women's Conference they have had - I think it will become an annual tradition. Our talks went well. Mostly it just feels good to have it over

A couple at Women's Conference today told us that because we are over 60 we qualify for free bus and train passes in England. We are really excited! We have to get some pictures taken and apply for the passes. They said it takes about 4 weeks to process, so we want to apply as soon as possible. We're anxious to venture out of the city and see the sights. 

Tonight we drove to Burton Ward in Lichfield Stake to attend a baptism for a YSA aged single mom. Don't know if she can come to Institute, but we invited her. Burton is an hour away by car. Thankfully our Sat Nav directions were good and we made it there and back without problems.

It is 10:00 pm here and Devon is listening to a live broadcast of BYU Basketball. He's such a happy boy! 

Sunday, February 6

Went to Church and didn't have to do a thing but sit and enjoy it. Well, that's not completely true. I ended up staying to accompany choir practice as their accompanist didn't come today. I enjoyed it, except I don't have my piano glasses - couldn't find them when it was time to leave Utah. It is a considerable problem for me - may look into how much it would cost to get a pair here.

We were happy to leave the road construction in Utah County behind when we left, but guess what - we have to drive through it here daily! At least it keeps people employed!

Enjoyed talking with David and Ethan yesterday, and Skyped today with Brad's and Lori's family, and Marianne. Don't know what I would do without internet and our phone!