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, June 6, 2011

JOURNAL May 30 - June 5

I think I'll just hit the highlights of the week. Our day to day routine is about the same each week: Monday - FHE; Tuesday - lesson prep; Wednesday - Birmingham Institute; Thursday - Lichfield Institute; shopping and chores in between. I really enjoyed the study and preparation for our lesson this week on the Holy Ghost. I'm sure I learn more than the kids do! Friday was a big shopping day at Costco in preparation for the Birmingham YSA trip to Gadfield Elm and Institute Graduation.
 Saturday morning we met at Harborne Ward at 8:30 a.m. for our much anticipated YSA trip to Gadfield Elm. We followed the format set up by the Karren's last year and it turned out to be a wonderful day.  Our first stop was at Malvern Hills - a little over an hour's drive from Harborne. Elder David Head, a senior missionary, met us there and was our private tour guide for the day. This is the highest mountain in England. It just barely qualifies (officially) as a mountain and is significant in church history. Many times Willford Woodruff hiked up the hill to meditate and pray. He makes many references in his journal to his experiences on Malvern Hills. Brigham Young and one other apostle are also know to have spent time on the hill. 
 Half way up Malvern Hills
 Walking to the top of Malvern Hills

View from the top.
Our next stop was Ben Bow Pond. It is fed by a natural spring. Sometimes the water is all the way up and by August it can be almost completely dry. This is where Wilford Woodruff baptized many new English converts. His journal said he cleaned the pond and had to dig it out a little to make it deep enough to baptize in. Today it is owned by a non-member family that keeps this spot in good condition for the many visitors that come each year.
Relaxing at Ben Bow Pond
This is the Gadfield Elm Chapel - oldest LDS chapel in the world. Originally it was owned by the United Brethren Congregation. Wilford Woodruff was invited to preach to their congregation, which he did, converting and baptizing about 600 of their members including their preacher. They gave the building to the church and within a few years they all immigrated to America. The building was taken over by other individuals and over the years fell into disrepair. Eventually it was purchased by a group of LDS members in the early 1980's. They restored it to its present condition. The extra stone needed for the repair was found at an old building that was being torn down. Likewise the benches inside were found at an old church and date to about the 1850's.
Upstairs there is a small attic room with information about some of the United Brethren converts. On one poster was information about Daniel Collett and his wife, Ester Jones. They are Devon's 2nd great grandparents who immigrated to America after joining the church here in England. There is an amazing special spirit in this room where we enjoyed a wonderful testimony meeting with the YSA.

We also enjoyed a great BBQ and watching the YSA play English football. It was a wonderful day!

Sunday, June 5

Tonight was Institute Graduation. We had 3 students graduate - 2 from Lichfield and 1 from Birmingham - but lots of students received certificates for completing the courses offered this year. After graduation there were nice refreshments catered by "Sister Costco" - what would we do without her?! We got to meet the new senior couple, Elder and Sister Johnson, who are taking over Lichfield Stake. They are from Snowflake, Arizona and arrived earlier this week . We will be meeting with them again next week to help orient them. Tonight it was nice for them to get to meet some of the people from Lichfield. I must admit....I'm really going to miss the Lichfield YSA!!! We were not given a choice about it, which is a good thing - I would hate to choose between these two great groups of kids!
Birmingham Institute YSA
Lichfield Stake YSA