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, June 26, 2011

JOURNAL - June 20 - 26

Monday, June 20

What is it with Monday's. For the last few weeks it has been sunny and beautiful when we wake up, but by afternoon it turns cool, cloudy, and (in today's case) very rainy. We were at FHE and looked out the window to see torrents of rain coming down - something no one expected. Kendal gave a really great lesson on Faith, JP brought the treats, and Morella was in charge of the activity - a really fun game of UNO. We played on teams and had a blast.

I have to include the picture below. It was taken last Saturday at the Harborne Ward Summer Party. These are some of our cute YSA and the Sister Missionaries from Harborne. I love these girls - every one!!! (Please notice the sun is shinning - must be at the end of the party as it rained through most of it.)
Left to right: Sarah (recently returned missionary who served in Oakland, California), Sister Baker (from Oregon - amazing violinist), Kendall (student-just graduated in elementary ed), Morella (student in design), Leanne (student - not sure what), Kynna (fun, fun girl), Sister Clark (from Northern California - harp major from BYU).

Tuesday, June 21

Lesson prep day. We used to spend days in lesson prep - each of us preparing a separate lesson. For the summer session we are teaching one course which we team teach, thus making our lesson prep time much less. I also think we are getting better and faster at preparing. The best part of all this teaching is that we are building great files to be used as resources for future talks. Another plus - I'm not nearly as nervous about getting up in front of people.

Today is summer solstice - the longest day of the year. It is 9:35 p.m. and still light outside. The sun starts coming up about 4:00 a.m. I love these long days and hate thinking that tomorrow they start getting shorter.  Oh well - what can you do?

Wednesday, June 22

We have been working very hard to train and motivate the YSA Reps to magnify their calling, and it looks like we're making progress. Our YSA Council Meetings held each week before Institute are getting more organized and thus also more productive. The Reps are coming prepared to make a report on the fellowshipping/activities in their ward, and they are starting to coordinate missionary efforts with the Elders in their respective wards - some more so than others. We follow a printed agenda and stay pretty much on task. It is definitely a work in progress - slow, but making progress.

Friday, June 24

We have a nice, tiny garage that is locked and very secure. It is so tiny we don't park the car in it, so other than our luggage our garage is empty. We have offered the space to the university students to store their "stuff" over the summer while they are at home. Today Tina and her dad brought over two big boxes, Stephanie and her mom and dad brought over things last week, and Lucy is bringing over her stuff next week.

Tonight was the YSA Stake picnic. It was supposed to be sports and games at a park called Licky Hills. The day started out okay - cloudy, but okay. By 6:00 pm it was raining, so the event was changed to the Harborne building. What was to be a sports event turned into a "Friday chill night." They played a couple of game in the cultural hall, but mostly just chilled out and enjoyed visiting with each other. We have had cold, rainy weather ALL week - feels more like winter than the end of June.

I found an internet site to order Nestle's butterscotch chips from, and found a store in downtown Birmingham that sells Karo Syrup, so I made K-squares - so yummy - and shared them with the Sisters tonight. They loved them!
Sister Baker and Sister Clark

Saturday, June 25

I would call this "Marathon Day". We have been on the run all day. First was an appointment to teach with the Sisters. They received a text message from a less-active YSA that said he had some questions about the Book of Mormon. When we got to his flat we were surprised to learn that he was a young man who came occasionally last winter, but hasn't been to church in quite while. He's had his feelings hurt and had some non-member "friends" speak very negatively about the church. We (the Sisters and us) spent a tender hour answering his questions, and encouraging him to study and pray. He is going to take the lessons again, and start coming to church. It was such a sweet experience.

At 3:00 pm we and the Sisters, meet our three Chinese students at a Chinese Buffet in downtown Birmingham for a farewell luncheon. Two of the boys have been baptized, and the other plans to be baptized in October when they all return to school. They are just so cute and excited about the Gospel. They knew nothing about Jesus Christ before they came to school. It has been great watching them learn and develop testimonies.

At 7:00 pm we went to a farewell BBQ for Dave Arnold, one of our YSA boys that is leaving for the Provo MTC on Monday. He is going to the Geneva Switzerland Mission and is so excited. They had the usual BBQ items and also a pig - yep a whole pig! The YM President in his ward is a very nice man from Tonga who took the YM with him to slaughter, clean, and roast the pig! They brought it in (through the church) laid out on a board. Then they carved and served the meat. I hate to admit that I'm such a wimp...but I couldn't eat the poor little piggy - could hardly look at it, and I wasn't the only one! Still, it was a hit and reported to be delicious. Not something I sure didn't expect to see in England!

Also at 7:00 pm was a birthday BBQ for one of our YSA girls, so we left the farewell BBQ when we could and went to the birthday BBQ. She is the only member in her family, so we really wanted to support her. The BBQ was wonderful, but after the Chinese buffet, and the other BBQ we had pretty much no appetitite! In their back yard was a wonderful treat - they had sweet peas in bloom, one of my favorite flowers.

We were so exhausted by the time we got home, I can hardly remember falling into bed.

Sunday, June 26

Suddenly it is summer! Warm and wonderful. I am told to expect this for the next couple of days - wonderful! We went to church in Woodsetton Ward today with the YSA Presidency. They are a small ward on the outskirts of the Stake with very few active YSA. We had a munch 'n mingle afterwards with the YSA, the Bishop, and the Elders. I think everyone enjoyed being together. There was also one YSA non-member there. Two others we thought were coming didn't make it. Still it was a nice event. At 7:00 pm we met at Solihull Ward to participate in setting apart Elder Arnold for his mission. It was wonderful to be a part of such a special event and brought back fond memories of President Anderson setting us apart last December.
Elder David Arnold (red tie) and his family