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.