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, May 29, 2011

JOURNAL - May 23 - 29

Monday, May 23

This week we are saying goodbye to two YSA that are returning home. Samantha is an exchange student from the USA (she calls me "Mama Tufts" - love it!). Miro is from...all over (born in Finland, lived in Spain and France, and went to school here). He is graduating and returning to Finland for 6 months of military service and then will serve a mission. Both of these wonderful people have shared their strong testimonies in FHE lessons in the last couple of weeks. I can't think of a better parting gift and way to remember them than through their testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. They are just amazing and my heart aches to have them leave.

Wednesday, May 25

We are starting the summer term of Institute and will be teaching the same lesson in Birmingham and Lichfield each week. This will cut down on the lesson prep time. We've decided to try team teaching each week as the class time has gone from 50 to 75 minutes. We have fewer classes in the summer so they need to be longer to meet the course requirements. We are teaching a course called "The Gospel and the Productive Life." It went well tonight, except we couldn't get the speakers to work so just had to play the video segments over the computer. It think they could hear it good enough. The university students are still in their exam period, but even so we had a good turn out. There were a couple of YSA we haven't seen for a while, so it was great to have them there. One in particular said she plans to come every week. She is a little on the fringes, so I'm really glad to see here come! Afterward she told me she enjoyed the lesson - warms my heart!

Thursday, May 26

Another first for me today! I rode the bus to Bull Ring all by myself. Devon had an opportunity to play 9 holes of golf with one of the YSA, so I went to the knitting shop for a little instruction. It worked out well for us both - despite the off and on rain. Thankfully, the speakers worked for our lesson at Lichfield tonight - found the reset button. Amazing how one little button can make such a difference!

Friday, May 27

Today is John and Gemma's wedding day - a very sweet YSA couple from Lichfield Stake. Their civil ceremony was in the morning at Tamworth Ward and then they drove to the Preston Temple with their family for their sealing later in the day. John is a returned missionary - Gemma is a convert of about 3 years and the only member in her family. Tomorrow will be the reception.
 Some of our cute Lichfield YSA - Renee, Catherine, Tish, Sarah, and Rachael

When we got home there was the sweetest surprise waiting for us - a letter from our Highland 23rd Ward Primary with several pictures and notes from the Primary kids. It made our day...and made me a little teary! We so rarely get mail since everything is on email these days. It was a real treat! 

We rode the bus to Five Ways shopping center to look for a hand mixer (the one in our flat is worthless - the beaters won't stay in.) It's the first time we've taken the bus there and we were pleased that we got there and back with no problems. We really are "bus illiterate" - especially compared with the YSA. They go everywhere on the bus.

Worked on next weeks Institute lesson on the Holy Ghost. Mormon Messages have become my favorite teaching aid! I watched one tonight with Elder Henry B. Eying that was wonderful. He says we should ask ourselves each day, "Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us?" He suggests we withdraw from the distractions of the world and take a few minutes to ponder our day and the many ways our lives have been touched by the Holy Ghost. I certainly need to do that.

Saturday, May 28

We have been debating the issue of whether we should buy a small TV or not for the past 5 months and finally decided to do it! So today we went to Costco and to our surprise the little 22" TV we were interested in was reduced by 30 pounds. We took that as a sign it was meant to be and we made the purchase. The cable company will come next week to hook up the line.

We went to John and Gemma's reception, then met the elders to help teach a new convert lesson to Angie, and then went to the evening session of Stake Conference (which was great). After coming home we Skyped with Logan - such fun!

Sunday, May 29

Today was Regional Conference. It was a satellite broadcast from SLC just for the UK. President Monson, L. Tom Perry, Barbara Thompson, and Elder Kerron were the speakers and it was really good. The goal is to double the church membership here in the UK in the next 10 years. We ran into some friends Devon worked with in the Alpine School District, Paula Fugal and her husband, Guy. They have been here for 4 weeks as the new Public Affairs Missionaries and will travel throughout the UK and even to the continent. We are hoping to have some social events with them and the other senior couples that are serving here. So far we haven't done any socializing other than with the YSA. It will be a good thing to interact with the other senior couples once in a while. We got to talk over Skype with our friends, Cheryl and Ken Fugal, who are in London on a Family History Mission. It is fun to compare notes about our mission experiences. We will end our day with our kids on Skype  - such a blessing!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

JOURNAL - May 16 - 22

Wednesday - May 18

Quiet week so far, but that is about to change. Today we went to Coscto and bought supplies for the Institute BBQ tonight at Birmingham. We had about 60 kids come to eat burgers, sausages, and chicken kabobs. The sausages are a different BBQ item for us. Here they eat them on buns like hot dogs. They are pretty tasty. The BBQ was held in a nice grassy area in back of the meetinghouse.
Back row: Leanne, Samantha (from USA). Front row: Kezia, Kendel. Side: Gabriella
 After the BBQ, Institute choir practice, and clean up, we finally arrived home after 11:00 p.m. 

Thursday, May 19

No Institute at Lichfield tonight - they had an end of term party last week after class. So we decided to go see the Cotswolds. It is a beautiful, old, rural area about 1 1/2 hours from our flat that is famous for small quaint villages along old narrow country roads. There are two recommended routes. We decided to drive the 70 mile northern route called "The Romantic Route." So with map in hand we headed out. Our first stop was in the village of Winchcombe. There we visited Sudeley Castle and Gardens. The castle dates back 1000 years and has been owned by about a dozen different people. It has played host to at least 6 kings and queens of England, and is best known as the home of the King Henry VIII's last and only surviving wife, Katherine Parr. She is buried in the chapel on the grounds. It is currently owned by a private family who lives there and continues to restore it. We did tour part of the interior, but were not allowed to take any pictures inside.
Sudeley Castle
Church on grounds where Queen Katherine Parr is entombed.
Queen Katherine Parr - died in the 1500's.
Grounds of Sudeley Castle
 Knot Garden and ruins at Sudeley Castle.
Private residence outside Sudeley Castle grounds. Notice the satellite dish.
Houses along street in Winchcombe.
 Yum! Lunch! Lots of sheep everywhere!
Our next stop was in Toddington where we took a short ride on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway - a small steam engine. Then we went to the village of Broadway. We got there just as the shops were closing. After dinner we headed to Lowerfield Farm Bed and Breakfast about 2 miles from Broadway and about half way around "The Romantic Road."
What you see is the front, and newer section, of the B&B. It dates to the Victorian Era. Our room was the upper right room - very comfortable with it's own bathroom, TV, wifi, and - the best part - a king size bed! The original part of the house can be seen extending from the back, left side of the house. It dates to the 1700's. The plumbing that has been added is evidenced by the black PVC pipe on the outside of the building. Our stay here was absolutely wonderful! It is a small farm owned and operated by a very nice couple with two children. It has pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks. Our breakfast was a traditional English breakfast with eggs, slab bacon (ham slice), sausage from the farm, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, baked beans, toast from homemade bread, homemade preserves, canned plums from the farm, and juice - Yummy!!! 


After checking out of Lowerfield Farm, we drove back to the village of Broadway where we spent about two hours checking out all the cute little shops - clothing, books, candy, knitting, dishes, and general touristy stuff.
People live in the apartments above the stores. Broadway is a very well kept village. It would be a great place to live!
Home in downtown Broadway. All the homes in the Cotswolds are made out of this colored brick.
The country road passes directly next to this old thatched roof house.Notice the black PVC pipe going down the side of the house. I would love to tour some of these old homes.

Saturday, May 21
Got home last evening feeling rested. I mixed up a batch of dough to make cinnamon rolls and did some laundry - a constant process as our washer/dryer combo is so small I can only do small loads. This morning I got up, rolled out the dough, and made cinnamon rolls to take as treats to the YSA service project cleaning the meetinghouse. I baked the cinnamon rolls in the oven at the church. They were a big hit fresh out of the oven - that's when they are the best! We had about 8-9 YSA show up to help clean, along with another couple from the ward - so it was done in about 2 hours.

Sunday, May 22

Nice Sunday in our home ward. Devon had High Council in the morning and they raved about how nice the building looked after our service project. We enjoyed Skype conversations with some of our family today. It was our first Skype call with Stephen's family. Cute little Annily showed us all her karate moves - so fun. We got another look at little Gracie - can't believe how much she has grown in a week! Love Skype! Everyone is well at home and we are well here in England - life is good!

Monday, May 16, 2011

JOURNAL - May 9-15

Tuesday, May 10

FHE last night was great, as usual. Samantha, a foreign exchange student from Wisconsin, gave the lesson on developing a testimony and it was amazing. She will be going home the end of this month and we will miss her! After the lesson we played "fruit salad" again - fun - except that on the last round Devon pulled/strained a muscle in his thigh - ouch. That will teach us to act our age! He has been icing it and it's much better.

Most of today was spent working on our lessons for this week. In the late afternoon we decided to go to city center to pick up an "over-the-door" exerciser. We looked up the store on a map, printed out the map, and with confidence headed to city center on the bus. After about an hour of walking in circles and getting directions from 5 different people (including a couple of policemen) we found the store! If someone would have said it was around the corner from the Gap we would have known exactly where it was! Anyway, we got it and are enjoying exercising in our flat.

Wednesday, May 11

Last Doctrine and Covenants class at Birmingham. We have been trying to train the YSA Reps and leadership to help spread the work around and make our meetings and fellowshipping efforts more effective. We are beginning to see the fruits of our labors. The YSA Council Meeting tonight was great, with wonderful participation, ideas, and organization shown.

On a sad note - our dear Sister Hedemark from Sweden was transferred today to a different area. We had a nice visit with her on the phone last night. She hopes to attend BYU after her release next April. We gave her all our contact info and hope she will give us call when she gets to Provo.

Thursday, May 12

Last Book of Mormon class at Lichfield. We had a good turnout despite the fact that the Stake AGAIN scheduled a stake function the same time as Institute. It is staying light longer and longer each day. When we were leaving Institute about 9:30 p.m. the sky was still a faint blue. There were birds chirping in the trees. We left the building about the same time as the Stake President. When he heard the birds he looked up and said, "They are enjoying our nice summer evening." Sounds simple, except that I was wearing a t-shirt, turtleneck sweater, cardigan sweater, lined skirt, and my warm stocking tights. Summer evening??? I certainly hope this isn't summer!

Friday, May 13

Tonight was the monthly dance at Harborne with about 300 YSA from all over England attending. They seemed to have a great time. We have to stop the music at 11:00 or else the neighbors call the police. By 11:30 we are actively trying to get them to leave the building - not easy. They would be content to stay there and visit until who knows how late? After getting them out and cleaning up the building we finally left about 12:15.

Saturday, May 14

It's been cloudy and cooler all week, but today the skies opened up and it poured rain most of the day. The locals say this more like usual - guess we've been in a dry spell.

We were up early this morning to go to Preston Temple (2 1/2 hour drive from our flat). Gemma, from Lichfield Institute, was doing her endowment. She and John are getting married in 2 weeks. She is the only member in her family, but had good support with John's family, her bishop, and us there.

We arrived back in Birmingham just in time to go to another YSA baptism for a Chinese student, Edward. His friend, Daniel was baptized about 4 weeks ago and was recently given the Priesthood so he baptized Edward. It was a very special event. Afterward, the YSA had a "munch and  mingle" for about an hour. I made K-squares - a BIG hit! You can't buy Karo syrup in the UK, so when I found it in a store with American products I was thrilled - even if it did cost about $5.00 a bottle. Now if only there were butterscotch chips.

Sunday, May 15

Devon had a high council speaking assignment in Woodsetten Ward - a very nice, small ward in Birmingham Stake. Came home and fixed a meal of stir-fry chicken and vegies with Yoshida's gourmet sauce (found at Costco - yippee). Then had a much needed afternoon nap before driving to Walsall Ward to speak at a fireside about preparing to serve a senior mission. We got totally lost - GPS didn't even get us close to the right place. I wonder if we had the wrong post code? At any rate we did finally find it with the phone help of a member. We have to speak at that ward's sacrament meeting next month, so at least now we know how to get there.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

JOURNAL - May 2 - 8


Spring break is over and the kids are back! Yippee! We had 17 at FHE tonight - so good to see them. We played a really fun game called "Fruit Salad." I can hardly wait to play the games I've learned from the YSA with my grand kids...so much fun!


Slower day today. Did some housecleaning and made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies. Our oven here is awful. The recipe said to bake the cookies at 190 degrees C. for 10 minutes. Well, by the last tray of cookies I figured out that 100 degrees C. for 10 minutes was the best - otherwise they got crispy on the outside and were still raw in the middle.

This evening we did an in-service training for two new Ward YSA Reps. While we were in the meeting we got a text from Brad that Jenna was in labor. We rushed home and gave them a call. Then a couple hours later we Skyped with them - Jenna had her epidural and was comfortable so we could talk. Technology and medicine are both amazing. After our visit we left our computer on with Facebook up and watched as Brad posted updates on Jenna's labor progress.

About 11:40 p.m. we got a call from Brad over Skype. When we answered, Jenna's mom, Joanne, was there telling us that the baby was almost here. In about 2 minutes the room was filled with Jenna's doctors and nurses who confirmed it was time. Joanne was amazing as she sat at the computer in Jenna's labor room and gave us a "play by play" description as to what was going on and how Jenna was doing.

 Here we are on Skype with Joanne. Jenna's dad, Terry, was on speaker phone.

At 4:57 p.m. Utah time (11:57 p.m. England time) Joanne exclaimed, "She's here!" and in just a minute or so we heard wonderful newborn baby cries. Sweet little Gracelyn Ann weighed in at 7 pounds 3 ounces, and 19 inches long. She has lots of dark hair and is adorable!!! They held the computer camera up so we could see her and Jenna over Skype. 

Words can't express how grateful we were to share in this special experience. Thank you Jenna and Brad for letting us join you through Skype. Gracelyn (Gracie) is our 16th grandchild - 10 girls and 6 boys. This is the first time we've been "in the delivery room" and what a wonderful experience!!! The Dr. told Jenna that Gracelyn was a "miracle baby." Jenna had a partial abruption and there was a true knot in the cord - problems I am very familiar with. Gratefully both Jenna and Gracelyn are doing great! Our only problem now will be trying to sleep after all the excitement!

Wednesday, May 4

Busy day. We went to our first Zone Conference and it was great. It is always fun to be with the young missionaries. President Ogden is a great mission president and very loved by all the missionaries. He spoke and we had training from Elder and Sister Kearons - area authorities. It was a good, inspirational day. We left as soon as it was over to go get things set up for Institute at Birmingham. I taught D&C Section 135. The Institute Choir is learning "Break Forth Into Joy" - a favorite song my friends from the Leona Valley Women's Ensemble sang. The choir director wasn't sure about it at first as it has only two parts, but after getting into it she and the rest of our small choir LOVE it!!! Yea! I love playing it!

After Institute we came home and Skyped Jenna and Brad. Everyone is doing great and Gracelyn is even cuter today - I know...hard to believe! Allison and Devon are both thrilled with their new little sister. While we were on Skype with them, Lori, Emily, Marianne, and Lori's three little girls came to visit Jenna and the baby in the hospital. It was great to see them all, and be in the room through Skype while they were visiting. Love Skype! Other than not actually holding Gracelyn, I don't feel like we are missing out on anything.

Thursday, May 5

Had a restful morning. Was so tired (probably from all the new baby excitement) I even took a nap. Also made cinnamon rolls to take to our Lichfield kids tonight. They were only fair - let them raise too long - but the kids "wolfed" them right up. Devon taught tonight. I got to sit and listen - wonderful! I really do love Lichfield!

Friday, May 6

Busy day of errands. We made copies of info for the Ward Reps, picked up the refreshments for the upcoming CES Fireside, picked up Devon's prescription refills, went to the post office and the bank, and we both got haircuts. I'm trying to let my hair grow out (ugh), a miserable process. I mentioned something about my bangs to, Teresa, my hairdresser. She looked at me with a puzzled look then said, "Oh, you mean the fringe." We both had a good laugh. Fringe/bangs - same thing apparently!

Saturday, May 7

We planned to go to the Black Country Living Museum today, but woke up to heavy rain. Checked the weather forecast on the internet and it predicted rain all day, so we decided to wait for better weather to go to an outside venue. Instead we caught the bus and went to city center to see a movie - "Water for Elephants" - actually enjoyed it.

When we arrived home we were greeted by our downstairs neighbor who said she had some flowers for me and produced a beautiful bouquet that was delivered while we were gone. Seems our wonderful kids got together to send me flowers for Mother's Day, which is tomorrow. What a wonderful surprise!!! With the flowers was a very sweet note - made my cry...not tears of homesickness, just tears of joy at being loved so much!
Sunday, May 8 - HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

Enjoyed Sacrament Meeting at Stourbridge Ward - a very nice, small ward about 30 minutes from our flat. On the way home we stopped for dinner at a nice pub/restaurant close to Harborne Ward - pretty good meal for 5 pounds ($8) each. We attended the CES Fireside at Harborne Ward. Had a good turn out for the fireside and enjoyed visiting with the kids. We enjoyed Skype conversations with most of our kids and got another look at our adorable new grand daughter, Gracie. It was a very good Mother's Day!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

JOURNAL - April 25 - May 1

Monday, April 25

Still spring break here, so attendance at FHE was down again. The girl who was giving the lesson called us late in the afternoon to tell us she was ill and not going to be there to give the lesson. So, we opened "Preach My Gospel" and quickly decided to use the section on developing the Christ-like attribute of Faith. It turned out to be a really good lesson as we read certain scriptures with the YSA and discussed how they applied to our lives. It proves that the spirit teaches better than the best prepared lesson.

Tuesday, April 26

We are very busy today with final preparations for the YSA Preston Temple trip scheduled for the 28th and 29th. The count of who is going keeps changing: we add a few then lose a few. Hopefully, it will all get sorted out tomorrow night at Institute.

Wednesday, April 27

Found out that my Uncle Tom Adams passed away today. He is married to my mother's youngest sister, Wilma. He was in his 80's and had been in the hospital for several days and was not expected to recover. Still it is a sad loss. It's hard to be so far away when these things happen. Our prayers are with Aunt Wilma and their family. I'm grateful for two great sisters that keep us informed about things at home, even if it is bad news.

Low attendance at Institute tonight - again probably due to so many kids still away for spring break. Still it was good to see those who were there!

Thursday, April 28

Met at the Harborne Ward about 6:00 p.m. to start the drive to Preston. We had two minivans filled to capacity with 30 people, their luggage, and some food for breakfast the next morning. The drive took a little over 2 hours. We were blessed with not much traffic and made it there faster than anticipated. After checking into our rooms, a couple of the adult chaperons went to pick up pizza and KFC for dinner. By the time they got back with the food it was almost 11:00 p.m. We ate, had a short devotional and instructions for the morning, and were in bed a little after midnight.

Friday, April 29 - the Royal Wedding Day

Woke up with the help of our alarm clock at 6:00 a.m. so we could be downstairs in time to set out the muffins, pastries, fruit, and juice for breakfast at 7:15. By 8:00 we were headed up the hill - a very short walkable distance to the temple for our 8:30 a.m. baptism session. What a special treat to be with the YSA in the House of the Lord!

After pictures, we walked down the hill a short distance to the Preston Stake Center which was showing the live broadcast of the Royal Wedding in their Cultural Hall. We watched a few minutes, but most of the YSA were not very interested, except to see what the bride's dress looked like. Next was lunch together in the temple cafeteria. Everyone here serves fish and chips, including the temple! We opted for cream of asparagus soup and a roll.

Josh, our YSA president, works at the MTC (Mission Training Center - directly across from the temple accommodations where we stayed the night before).  He had prearranged a tour of the MTC for us. The facility is really nice. Currently they have 41 missionaries there, but have room for about double that amount. At the end of our tour President and Sister Walker - MTC Mission President and his wife - spoke to us. Previously they were the President and Matron of the Salt Lake City Temple. They shared some special thoughts and stories specifically about the SLC Temple.

The highlight of the day was remarks from Sister Walker, who is the daughter of President Gordon B. and Marjorie Hinckley. She shared with us that today, April 29, 2011, would have been her parents' 74th wedding anniversary.  She told about their humble circumstances 74 years ago, their wedding for "time and eternity" in the Salt Lake Temple, and their little four day honeymoon to Zion's National Park. It made today's event in London pale in comparison. There is no question in my heart which "Royal Wedding" memories I will treasure. How I love President and Sister Hinckley!

Before we started our drive back to Birmingham, we met in the lounge area of the accommodation building for a testimony meeting. It was a perfect ending to the YSA Temple Trip!

As soon as we got back to Birmingham, we got in our car and drove to Lichfield for a Mission Farewell Party for one of our YSA, James Knight, who is leaving for the Provo MTC very early Monday morning. He has been called to the Hungary Mission and will be a GREAT missionary. 

Saturday, April 30

We had the privilege of participating in a Stake YM/YW conference at Birmingham Stake today. The YSA were putting on the morning workshops. They found out yesterday afternoon that the YSA's doing the workshop on Education were not going to be there, so they asked us to fill in. Our original assignment was to speak for 5 minutes each at the close of the morning session. It just happens that I already had thoughts prepared for that assignment on the topic of Education, so it was easy to expand a little to fill 15 minutes. I ended up teaching it for three, fifteen minute sessions and it went very well. 

In the evening we attended a baptism for two very nice investigators that we helped teach a few lessons to. Devon was privileged to baptism them both. The Sister Missionaries taught Sven, our German friend, and the Elders taught Angie, a lovely English woman. I've never met two people with such open hearts - both amazed at the joy the gospel has brought into their lives. They will be great new members in the Harborne Ward.
Elder Clark (from Idaho), Angie, Elder Brook (from the UK)
Sister Clark (from No. California), Sven, Sister Hedemark (from Sweden)


Beautiful, sunny Fast Sunday. Devon confirmed Sven and Elder Brooke confirmed Angie. We had two less-active YSA attend church today and it was great to see and talk with them. They are both nice kids - one is going to school and says that is why he can't come all the time, the other wants to come but doesn't have transportation. Today a member gave him a ride. I hope they will keep coming and also try to come to Institute. Another young man, Terry, came to church today. He comes to Institute almost every week, but rarely comes to church on Sunday. He couldn't get a recommend to go on the temple trip because he doesn't come to church. Maybe that helped him realize he should be at church as well as Institute. He is a nice kid - hope he keeps coming to church.