Tuesday, June 14
Glorious sunny, warm day today - don't know why I felt down and overwhelmed this morning. These feelings creep in every once in a while and I question if I am doing enough. Devon says I'm just a "worry wart" - and he is right! We decided we needed to go for a walk and also do a little grocery shopping. So we "killed two birds with one stone." We rode the bus to Five Ways shopping area where we walked around a little and then did our grocery shopping at Tesco and rode the bus back home. It was great to be out in the sunshine!
Wednesday, June 15
We have been working hard with the YSA leadership regarding fellowshipping the less-active YSA. Four wards in our stake have active YSA groups, but three wards are struggling - even the reps don't come to church on a regular basis much less take part in fellowshipping. We have been discussing the problem with the YSA Presidency (an amazing group of strong kids) and together have come up with a plan that involves a team approach between the full-time missionaries and ward reps. Today we went to a missionary District Meeting to enlist their help. Love the missionaries! They are willing to try anything that will promote missionary work, and gladly agreed to help the reps that are struggling. We are encouraged with the progress towards making YSA Council Meetings more effective. Tonight's meeting was great! We had an organized agenda, the ward reps that were present gave good reports, Steph, the YSA secretary, presented some great missionary goals for the YSA, and there are lots of good activities coming up. It feels like we are moving forward as a team and that is good!
Thursday, June 16
We met with the rest of the full-time missionaries from our stake and that went well. We have seven wards in the stake. Our ward, Harborne, has two sets of missionaries assigned to it - one is sisters, the other is elders. The rest of the wards each have one set of missionaries. These eight pairs of missionaries are spread out in three different districts. So if we want to present something to the missionaries assigned to our stake we have to go to three different District Meetings. It can be a little time consuming, but worth the effort.
With the arrival of the new couple to take over Lichfield, our responsibilities have changed. Since we won't be going to Lichfield anymore, we have been asked to help with missionary flat checks. Once every six weeks we make appointments to go to the flats of the eight pairs of missionaries in our stake and grade it on cleanliness and general condition. We drove to the Mission Office today to pick up our packet of instructions and several bags of cleaning supplies to distribute to the missionaries. It kind of reminds me of our dorm parenting days when I did weekly apartment checks. Transfers are next week and after that we will begin the flat checks.
Tonight was our last night at Lichfield - very sad for me! Thankfully we will see them at the dances each month and occasionally for other events. I will also continue contact through Facebook with many of them. We enjoyed going to dinner with the Johnson's (new Lichfield senior couple) prior to Institute and spent more time orienting them and answering questions. We spoke with the Stake President before we left and were thrilled to learn that the application to make Lichfield an official Centre for Youth will be put in the mail this week.
Friday, June 17
We had a little free time this morning, so I rode the bus to the knitting shop in downtown Birmingham, while Devon went to the driving range - good therapy for us both. Then we made a trip to Costco and Wing Yip to restock the Tuck Shop at Institute - spent over 100 pounds on candy and soda. Wing Yip is a huge importer and the only place to get A&W root beer - which the YSA love!
Saturday, June 18
Today is the annual Harborne Ward Summer Fair, so, of course, it rained off and on all day - until the event was over and then the skies were blue! They had expected about 160 people but more like 260 showed up. They had encouraged the ward members to bring non-member friend, and they did! It was wonderful! They had a BBQ and lots of games throughout the building. I think everyone had a great time!
Sunday, June 19
I had a wonderful experience today. Last week's Institute lesson was on managing financial resources. I taught the first half of the lesson, which was on tithing. During our discussion about how much and who should pay, one of the YSA asked if people on disability were expected to pay tithing. He has been a member for only a couple of years and is autistic. We give him lots of encouragement, but he struggles to feel like he fits in. Sometimes his comments are a little strange and I wonder just how much he understands and agrees with. The answer to his question came from both the YSA and myself and was that all people need the blessings paying tithing can bring - and so yes, people on disability should pay tithing.
Today at church I watched (without him noticing) as he awkwardly handed two one pound coins to a member of the bishopric and said, "I want to pay my tithing." It was such a sweet confirmation that we are making a difference in lives. I love this work!