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, April 25, 2011

JOURNAL - April 18 - 24

Monday, April 18

Happy to report that all the laundry and ironing from our trip is done! I feel very liberated! Still some jet lag - it really does take time to change your sleeping patterns. We had low attendance at FHE tonight, but that was expected due to spring break - many of the YSA have gone home. We could have canceled FHE, but felt that if any came it would be worth the effort. Devon gave a wonderful lesson on the atonement. He played the audio tape of Bruce R. McConkie's final testimony - something these kids haven't heard as it was before they were even born. We printed off copies of the talk for them to read while listening to the audio - very powerful. Treats were my homemade cinnamon rolls - a big hit.

Miro, one of our YSA, told us his maternal grandmother passed away today. It was not totally unexpected, still he is heartbroken over the loss. He is a convert of 3 1/2 years and the only member in his family. He is originally from Finland and is here going to university.We talked for quite a while about our common loss, and the great comfort the gospel is at times like this. His testimony and knowledge of the gospel are so strong - he is an inspiration. He will graduate from university in a few weeks, then he's going home to Finland for his mandatory six month military service, and then plans to serve a mission. Lucky is the young woman who captures his heart!

Tuesday, April 19

Can't believe how beautiful our weather is. They say this is May weather in April. Sure hope it stays like this. Met with the Stake President and Counselor over the YSA to sort out the transportation issues with our upcoming Preston temple trip. It is a big job to get this organized, but should be well worth the effort.

We had a lovely walk in Cannon Hill Park by our flat. The park was full due to spring break.
 Our grand kids would love this zip line at the park!

Wednesday, April 20

No Institute again this week due to spring break. This morning Devon worked on next week's lesson and I worked on the upcoming overnight temple trip to Preston!

This afternoon we helped teach two missionary discussions. The first was with the sister missionaries who were teaching a 25 year old inactive member. She was baptized at age 15, but hasn't been active for many years. She called on Monday and asked to see them - said her life was a mess and wanted it to change. Seems she was abused by a babysitter as a child and recently has been caught up in smoking and drinking. Monday Devon gave her a blessing and today she is a different person. The sisters will keep meeting and teaching her and we'll see what happens.

We also went with the elders to teach a 30 something woman the lessons on chastity and tithing. She is amazing - soaks every word up and is unconditionally committed. She is planning to be baptized on the 30th. She may lose her boyfriend because of her commitment to live the law of chastity, but she is ready for that. She loves the gospel and how it makes her feel - happiest she has ever been in her life. People who are new to these feelings are almost giddy about it - so full of the spirit they can hardly contain it. It is amazing to participate in!

Thursday, April 21 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX

Quiet day of study, grocery shopping, and organizing YSA records and activities. Had a wonderful phone conversation with Alex - can't believe he is 16 today!

Friday, April 23

We did housecleaning and decided to try a different arrangement for the sitting room (living room) furniture. The old way was nice, but it is fun to have something different. Also took a quick bus ride to the Apple Store in City Center. Devon couldn't figure out how to reconfigure a certain pass word, but in about 2 minutes they showed him how to do it, and then we headed back home. The shopping center was crammed full. I've never seen so many people in a shopping mall as I've seen here. There was actually a long line to get on the elevator - no kidding!

Saturday, April 24

We spent the day at Warwick Castle - about 25 miles from our flat. It was built about 1300/1400's and is incredible - so big. It has been restored and is in amazing condition. There were tons of displays and lots of fun shows to watch with people dressed in period clothing. Some were putting on the shows, others were doing archery demonstrations, cooking over an open fire, spinning wool, and lots more. It was all so interesting!
Inner courtyard of the fortress. The castle itself is to the right of the picture. The tall tower to the left is Guy's Tower. It is 39 meters (5 stories) high. You can walk around the perimeter of the castle walls and up a tiny winding staircase to the top of the tower for some incredible views of the countryside - it's breathtaking.
Right side of inner courtyard - the castle.
Just one amazing room.
The previous pictures of the courtyard were taken from a patio area on top of this structure. Can you see the zig zag path leading up the hill?
A part of the castle I was familiar with. The lady doing the laundry is actually a wax statue!
Such handsome knights - especially the brave one without armour!
Queen Victoria, King Henry VIII, and a couple of peasants.
Beautiful English countryside just outside the castle walls.

Sunday, April 24

HAPPY EASTER! We have had amazing warm weather all week, but today it turned cloudy and cool - kind of disappointing, but probably more like usual April weather. At least it's not raining.

We went to church today in Sheldon Ward - one of the smaller wards in the Stake. They only have one active YSA - a very sweet young woman. We had a nice conversation with the Bishop and he identified about three YSA for us to contact. With the inactive lists so long, it is helpful to know which people to contact. The Elders had three YSA investigators with them today, so that is exciting, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Monday, April 11

Today is the first day of our two week spring break in England. We are still in Canada finishing up business after Devon's mother's passing a week ago.

First on today's agenda was to meet Gwen and Carol to sort through Grandma's things and clean out her room at the care facility in Raymond. Grandma and all of us have been so blessed with the amazing and loving care she has received. Many of the employees told us how much they enjoyed her sweet spirit and beautiful smile. She was not only well cared for, but also loved - such a blessing.  The rest of our day was spent with Gwen and Carol in Taber working on business for Grandma. It was all pretty simple, still there are a few things to finalize and the funeral expenses to pay.

Marianne, Emily, and Lori's family decided to drive to Waterton as it may be quite a while, if ever, before they return to Canada now that Grandma is gone. Much to their disappointment Waterton was literally "closed" - all the stores and even the old Prince of Wales Hotel are closed until May, so they went to Cardston and did a little tourist shopping.

Our grandkids have loved swimming in the hotel pool every evening, and we have loved watching them - then we all fall happily and exhausted into bed.

Tuesday, April 12 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDA

Emily and Marianne drove safely home today. We slept in - what a treat! Did a little shopping with Lori's family for souvenirs for the kids, ordered pizza, and watched the kids swim. It has been wonderful to spend this time with family, and Gwen and Carol.

Wednesday, April 13

Lori and family left for Idaho to visit with Eric's brother's family this morning. Gwen and Carol left a littler later. We are ready to go, too, but our flight isn't until tomorrow at 6:15 p.m. We did go back to Taber one last time to get the contents from Grandma's Safety Deposit Box and pay a bill at the Taber City offices. On the way back to Lethbridge we drove through Barnwell and Devon reminisced about his early school years there - such a nice place to grow up. He has many cherished memories of those years.

We went to dinner with our dear friends Howard and Edi, and another of Devon's school "chums", Blaine Burbank and his wife Judy - so much fun! While we were there we looked out the window of the restaurant and saw that it was snowing. Gotta love Alberta in the spring!

Friday, April 15

We woke up Thursday morning to 6 inches of white, slushy snow. By the time we needed to leave to catch our flight back to the UK, the roads were all cleared and we had a smooth drive to the airport. Our flight was about 30 minutes late leaving, but due to a strong tail wind we arrived on time (10:15 a.m. UK time). I have to say...I love Air Canada! Our flight wasn't full, so the two of us shared the middle section of 4 seats. I actually was able to lie down (somewhat) and sleep 4-5 hours. Sweet! Air Canada seems to have a little more leg room than I remember on other airlines, and the food was really good! 

I wondered how I would feel about coming back. When we arrived in January it was hard. We missed our family and were keenly aware that we were in a new strange place. But returning today felt like coming home - back to a familiar place that we have grown to love. We are exhausted and have tons of laundry, but feel so grateful for all our blessings: a wonderful family, good health, great friends, the opportunity and resources to be able to serve this mission, and especially for the atonement of Jesus Christ that will enable us to be with those we love most forever.

Saturday, April 16

Beautiful day here in England! This morning we attended the wedding of Chris and Aimee - two of our YSA kids from Lichfield. England does not recognize the temple ceremony as a legal union, so the couples have a civil ceremony first. Chris and Aimee's civil ceremony was at Wylde Green Chapel and was lovely. They had a formal printed program: welcome by the Stake President, opening hymn (#85), opening prayer, marriage ceremony performed by the Stake President, signing of the register, closing hymn (#3), and closing prayer. A government representative was present to witness the wedding and signing of the register, which is done by having all the wedding party, parents, and Stake President leave the chapel to go to a room to do the signing. After the closing prayer we all went outside for pictures. When that was done we went to the cultural hall, which was nicely decorated, and had a sit down luncheon with tons of delicious food served buffet style. The best man, groom, and bride's father all gave remarks and toasts. Then the couple, their families, and a few friends made the two hour drive to the temple to be sealed. The ceremony started about 11:00 a.m. and we left the church about 3:30 p.m. Quite a busy wedding day!

This evening we attended a baptism for Rita and Daniel - not related except through their love of the gospel. It was pretty typical except for a beautiful cello solo by Lucy, one of our Birmingham YSA. I accompanied Lucy and conducted the hymns. We were involved in some of the missionary discussions with Rita, and Daniel is a YSA student here from China. His friend, Edward, who will be baptized next month gave an amazing opening prayer.
Sister Hedemark (Sweden), Rita, Sister Clark (California), and Daniel.

Sunday, April 17

I can't believe how wonderful the weather is - it's a balmy spring day. Everything is out in bloom - all the flowering trees from white to different shades of pink, the tulips, and many flowers. Pretty pansies have been planted in planter boxes along the roadway. It is just beautiful! We decided to be brave and do our first home visits to a couple of less active YSA. The man at the first door we knocked on took one look at our name tags and shut the door...but it's not as bad as it sounds - we knocked on the wrong door! We thought it was 134 and it was 136. The two YSA we intended to visit were both home and very sweet. They didn't invite us in, but they were friendly and, we think, happy to see us. Let's hope they will come to FHE, Institute, or church.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

JOURNAL - April 4 - 10


We had a quiet day today working on our lessons for this week. The weather is cool - I am so ready for spring, but I guess this back and forth weather is pretty typical for England. We had a great time at FHE. Japinder gave a really good lesson - his first. He was baptized last year and loves the gospel. He is hoping to serve a mission in the near future and really enjoys spending time with the elders.

Tuesday, April 5

Woke up this morning to sad news. Devon's 102 year-old mother passed away yesterday evening. The care facility called Gwen, Devon's sister, during the day to report that she wasn't her usual self. She didn't eat any dinner, so they got her ready and put her to bed. When they went in to check her an hour later she was gone. Apparently she just went to sleep and died - exactly the blessing we always hoped for her. Still it is a surprise to us.

The rest of the day was spent on the phone talking to our kids and making arrangements for travel to Canada. We were able to book a non-stop flight from London to Calgary. Stephen's flight will arrive about an hour after ours. David's will come later that night. The rest of the kids will arrive by car the next day.

We spoke with our Mission President and Institute Director and have permission to travel home. We will miss Institute at Lichfield this week, but Alex, the YSA president kindly agreed to give the lesson for us. He will do an amazing job I'm sure. We are also missing a big dance at Birmingham Stake on Friday. Our Institute director and stake leaders said not to worry - it will be covered. I'm sure everything will go smoothly.

Grandma has been a widow for 40 years, and her youngest daughter, Ann, passed away at 13 years of age. I can only imagine the happy reunion. Also after a lifetime of being deaf, think of her joy at hearing again.

Wednesday, April 6 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAYLEY

Busy, busy day getting things ready to leave, and putting finishing touches on the lesson I am teaching tonight at Institute. We had to make a trip to Costco for the monthly Institute birthday cake, and buy the refreshments for Friday's dance. After Institute we packed our bags, made final phone calls to be sure everything was in place, and then went to bed for a few hours sleep.

Thursday, April 7

Found our way to Heathrow Airport in London without any problems or traffic which meant we had quite a long wait in the airport for our 1:15 p.m. flight. We heard London traffic can be a nightmare, so we wanted to allow plenty of time. It was a full flight that took 10 hours to reach Calgary. We arrived about 4 p.m. Calgary time. Stephen's plane came in about 6 p.m Calgary time. We got our rental car, drove 2 1/2 hours to Lethbridge, and fell into bed. By then it would have been about 5:00 a.m. UK time - we were spent! David's flight arrived about 9:30 p.m. He waited for the Jones cousins to arrive at midnight and drove to Lethbridge with them.

Friday, April 8

Brad, Daryn, Emily, Marianne, Lori, Eric, and family all arrived safely by car today. We went to the mortuary with Devon's sisters to make final plans and select Grandma's casket - such a sad task! Gwen has worked hard to make most of the arrangements and everything is falling into place nicely.

Saturday, April 9

Grandma looked very nice - so peaceful. Her funeral service was wonderful. All three of her children spoke - she would have loved it! The chapel at the Taber Stake Center was nearly full with family and friends of Grandma's and the family - a testimony of how much she was loved. It was a celebration of joy for a life well lived. She left a grand legacy of unwavering faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel, and her love of family.
Florence's family that was present for her funeral - Gwen, Maurine, Delwin, Devon, Judy - all her 14 grandchildren - 6 great grandchildren.
We wish all our family could have attended, but that was not possible. We are grateful that all our children and all of Lori's family could come. Families are amazing - especially ours!

Sunday, April 10

After family prayer, our four sons left for home along with all the Jones family. David and Stephen are on the same flight to San Francisco where David will meet up with his family vacationing there, and Stephen will transfer to a flight to LA. Bradley and Daryn drove straight to Utah. The round trip drive to the airport was about 5 hours so that took up a big part of the day. The rest of the time we spend together. We have really enjoyed these few days with our sweet family.

Monday, April 4, 2011

JOURNAL - March 28 - April 3

Wednesday, March 30

We have had a good week so far. Last week was sunny and beautiful - very Spring-like. But it seems that was just a tease. It is back to cooler temperatures, cloudy skies, and occasional rain. Still it is nicer than January/February, and everyone assures me it will keep getting better and we will even have some hot days this summer. We have enjoyed nice walks in our local park wearing only light jackets.Tuesday we taught with the sister missionaries. So sad...Sister Nadasdy (from Scotland) is being transferred to Wales tomorrow. We will miss her!

Institute was nice tonight - Devon was teaching. I will teach tomorrow in Lichfield.

Thursday, March 31

Had another meeting with Brother Kleijweg from Sweden this evening in Lichfield prior to Institute. He was here to give them the training he gave us about 2 weeks ago. President Odgen (Mission President) and President Gardner (Stake President) were also at the meeting. Looks for sure that a senior couple is coming to work with the Lichfield YSA the end of May. We don't know what, if any, involvement we will have with Lichfield after they arrive. That makes me a little sad - I enjoy those kids so much, but it is probably best. We are spread so thin!


Spent all morning organizing YSA Outreach notebooks for Birmingham and Lichfield. I'm trying to get all the information about the Stakes, Wards, YSA leadership/Reps, assigned missionaries, etc, etc, etc in one place so it will be easier to find information. In the afternoon we met with Sister Hedemark (from Sweden) and the new Sister Clark (from San Francisco) to teach two different people. We enjoy teaching with them, but neither of these investigators are YSA. So, as enjoyable as it is, we probably need to limit our time to working with YSA potential.

Our good friend, Mike, has developed new problems - acute kidney and liver failure - common problems with severe trauma. He is getting great care and hopefully things will turn around soon. Until then he is on dialysis and bili lights - trying to avoid a liver transplant. We are constant with prayers for him and his family.

Saturday, April 2

Today we drove to Stratford-Upon-Avon (about a 40 minute drive from our flat) - the birth and burial place of William Shakespeare. It's a very nice town located on the River Avon. We took the tour bus to the various sites outside the town - Anne Hathaway's cottage (his wife's childhood home) and Mary Arden's farm (his mother's childhood home and now a working tudor farm) and of course saw the sights of the town. We learned some very interesting things about life in the 1500's - so glad I live now! They only took a bath once a year - whew, one can only imagine....
 Birthplace of William Shakespeare.
Back of William Shakespeare's home with actors performing a scene from one of his plays.
Folk dancers and band. They represent a poorer class of people who would sneak away from their masters to dance and sing. They painted their faces black as a disguise so their masters wouldn't find out what they had done. They would pass a hat hoping to earn a little money.
Row of bed and breakfast inns. In front of each inn is a beautiful little English garden. This is typical of row houses on an English street - only usually no gardens.
Front of the theatre William Shakespeare build in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Most of the theatre burned down and has been rebuilt, but this side is original.
Anne Hathaway's Cottage. Originally it was much smaller - additions have been made over the years. 
Old Trinity Church - Shakespeare's burial place. Part of the tallest portion of the church dates back
to the 1200's.
Tomb of Shakespeare. To the left is Anne Hathaway. It was his request to be buried here. He was worried about having his bones dug up if he was buried in the graveyard. He was a lay minister - never preached, but it qualified him for burial inside the church.
So British! The shorter red container on the left is a mail box.

After our lovely day in Stratford-Upon-Avon we enjoyed watching the Saturday morning session of Conference on the internet which was televised live here at 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, April 3

I love Conference! It is my favorite two weekends of the year. Devon went to the Stake Center to watch Priesthood session. Then he came home to get me and we returned to watch the taped Saturday afternoon session and the live Music and the Spoken Word and Sunday morning session of Conference. There were quite a few people there - some members, all the missionaries, and several investigators. I think a lot of members stayed home and watched it on the internet. Between sessions we ate the lunches everyone had brought and visited - very nice. We especially loved the thought that when we were watching the live sessions we were doing the same thing, at the same time that our children and their families were doing. Afterward we came home and watched the Sunday afternoon session live on the internet and Skyped with some of our kids. It was a wonderful day!!!!