Whew! Busy, but wonderful day! We did grocery shopping and laundry in the morning. In the afternoon we did a flat check in Solihull. There used to be elders assigned to Solihull Ward, but since last transfer there are sisters. It's a bit of an adjustment for them. Previously they had a car - now they are on bikes! Their flat is in an interesting place. Solihull has a very nice shopping area complete with lots of small and large stores. The sisters' flat is in the middle of the shopping area over a bridal shop. It is a decent flat and they did a great job cleaning it. We are finding that most of the missionaries have not had flat checks in many months, so this first time is a little hard. Doing flat checks has provided to be a great time to sit with the missionaries and discuss the YSA missionary efforts. It has to be a team approach if it is to work. So getting the missionaries and the Ward Reps to work together is our goal. It is easier with some wards than others, but we see slow improvement.
FHE was great - we had 3 YSA investigators there. After most had left three YSA girls and I played the piano in the chapel and sang favorite hymns and Primary songs for almost an hour - loved it!
Tuesday, July 12
Another flat check - this time out in Kidderminster, the smallest unit in the Stake. It is a beautiful, more rural area. The missionaries here work hard to find people to teach, but they are working with one YSA and a couple others. Their flat was the newest one we've seen, and they did a great job cleaning. It's going to be hard to pick the best one. We like to take a treat to the missionaries when we do flat checks. I found an online store where I can order American products. They had free shipping so I ordered Log Cabin maple syrup to give to the missionaries and it has been a huge hit - the syrup here is not very good. Their faces light up when I pull the syrup out of my bag! Makes my day!
Wednesday, July 13
Institute was good. We had 3 investigators come and they seemed to enjoy it. One, Eleanor, is very sweet, and quite interesting. She has been coming to FHE and Institute for the last three weeks, one of which was her birthday week. It is the tradition at FHE to go around the group and have everyone say something they like about the birthday person. Sometimes it's a reach to think of something to say, especially if the person is new and not well known. Well, on the second week Eleanor came to FHE she had bright red eye shadow all around her eyes - kind of like a raccoon. It happened to be her birthday week. A couple of YSA commented on her "artistic and creative" eye shadow, so now she wears it every time she comes.
Friday, July 15
We attended the wedding of another YSA couple - Jethro and Laura. They are a great couple. He just finished medical school. He has secured a position in Australia for a year, so they will leave in a couple weeks. The wedding was beautiful and they seem very happy.
In the afternoon we decided to drive to the Gloucestershire area and see if we could find the old Corse Church where Devon's 2nd great grandparents, Daniel Collett and Ester Jones, were married in the spring of 1833. They were among the original United Brethren converts that joined the church in the 1840's and immigrated to Utah. Daniel was born in Corse. With directions from a local man, we found the little old church on a small country rode, nestled among apple orchards. It is in good repair and still used as a house of worship today.
Love this old, working organ!
We also visited the quaint little town of Ledbury. It has a couple of significant church history sites.
Quaint little side street in downtown Ledbury. The building on the left was built in the 1500's and is still used today - amazing!
This was a former Methodist Church where Brigham Young was invited to preach. He converted the pastor and was given permission to use their baptismal font. The next pastor banned him from teaching there. Today it is a Baptist Church.
This building on stilts is called Market Square. Brigham Young preached here several times. The building was used to store corn at one point. Local vendors set up markets here on the weekend.
Saturday, July 16
We woke up to a heavy down pour of rain, but by noon the sun was peeking through. President and Sister Ogden had invited all the senior couples from the mission to their house in Sutton Coldfield for a BBQ and opportunity to meet and mingle with each other. Their house is on a cul-de-sac across the street from the mission office...and is VERY nice! It is quite large and they actually have a clothes dryer, dish washer, two large refrigerators and a separate freezer! I was in awe! The event was really nice - the first time we have had a senior social since our arrival. I think everyone enjoyed it. The only bad thing was that I forgot to get a picture of our group - will have to do that next time.
After the BBQ we drove to Cheltenham Stake (about an hour away) for a fireside preview of a musical called "Faith, The Musical" that was written by a bishop from Cheltenham. It is the story of the Thomas Oakey Family and the Willie Handcart Company. Thomas Oakey's wife, Anne, was a sister to Daniel Collett. The cast is leaving for Salt Lake City in about a week where they and a ward from South Jordan will join to present the play at the little theater in the Conference Center. Needless to say, they are very excited!
Sunday, July 17
Nice sabbath, even with the cooler temperatures and on and off light rain. Devon had a High Council speaking assignment in Stourbridge Ward, so we attended church there. It is a very small ward - no more than 50 people in attendance including our two YSA. We also enjoyed Skype conversations with Lori & Eric, Brad & Jenna, Stephen & Annily (Andrea was sick), and Daryn & Catie. Tomorrow we will Skype Emily & Marianne. It's been a good day.