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, August 7, 2011

JOURNAL - August 1 - 7

Monday, August 1

Woke up to a beautiful day - good thing because we had plans to be outside this morning helping Madhi clean out his garden (that's what the folks here call their yard). Madhi is our newly baptized YSA. The sister missionaries volunteered for the service and talked us into helping. Madhi has blackberries growing all along one side of his yard, so before we started clearing the weeds, we picked some blackberries and made a pie. While it was cooking, we pulled all the weeks filling 2 rubbish bins, and about 4 large black plastic bags with the debris. There were six of us working including Madhi's friend Hadi (also an investigator). We had a great time and the pie was yummy!!!

In the evening we went to FHE. It was a small group, but a great lesson. Everyone had a good time!

Tuesday, August 2

We found out this morning that one of our beautiful YSA was killed last night in an automobile accident. Philippa Evans was a 26 year old returned missionary from Wales. She had moved to Solihull Ward about 3-4 months go. She is an English school teacher and was living with another YSA. Apparently she was almost to her home in Wales when the accident happened. The people in the other car had some injuries, but nothing serious. Philippa was killed instantly. The best way to describe her is "the perfect girl." She was fun, friendly, and extremely committed to the Gospel. Everyone that knew her, loved her! There is great sadness and shock that such a tragedy has happened. We are all thankful for the peace and comfort of supportive friends and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Philippa Evans

A comment - I was reading a conference talk about adversity. It talked about the story of the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who build his house upon the sand - often used to teach us the importance of a sound foundation in the Gospel. The point in this talk was that the storm came to both the wise man and the foolish man. Adversity comes to all people - wise and foolish, rich and poor, old and young - no one is exempt. The Gospel and faith and obedience to its principles along with the love and support of family and friends is what will sustain us when the trials come.  

This evening was a special fireside at Harborne with President Beck - the General YM President. Although the fireside was for the Young Men, everyone was invited, so we went. Philippa's roommate, Sarah, was there and many of the YSA. It was good to gather in our YSA lounge to hug, cry, reassure, and support one another. 

Afterward, Devon and I joined about 10 YSA at a previously scheduled movie night to see "Captain America." It's not something I would have chosen to see, especially on this day, but it was already scheduled and paid for, so we all went. I think Philippa would have wanted it that way.


Tonight for Institute the activity was mini golf. The new activity committee met for the first time the hour before the golf event. It's going to be wonderful to have a working committee! They planned the Wednesday night activities for the month of August and assigned different people to be in charge of each activity - I'm excited! 

The mini golf was fun. I think it is the first time I've been to an indoor mini golf place, and by the time we were finished it was really hot in there. It looked like they had air conditioning (lots of visible ducts) but it certainly wasn't turned on. Both Devon and I got a hole-in-one twice! I think his score was pretty consistent - mine was all over the place. We were thrilled that 2 less-active YSA attended the event and seemed to have a really good time. After golfing we all went to Pizza Hut for...pizza.

Thursday, August 4

I need to get more exercise, so I decided to start doing an aerobic workout on BYU TV. Hope I'm not too sore tomorrow! This afternoon we rode the bus to city center and then walked to my little knit shop. I've decided to start over on a new project - didn't have enough yarn for the original project and didn't want to buy more. So Alice (the store owner) helped me pick out a new pattern and get started. I really like having a project to work on as time allows. Sometimes it feels good to sit and do nothing but knit for a few minutes.

Friday, August 5

Began working on an inservice for the YSA leadership today. We won't present it until the middle of September, but I want to get it ready and not leave it until the inservice is upon us. In the afternoon I mixed up two batches of cookie dough - chocolate chip oatmeal and snicker doodles - for the TGIF event with the YSA tonight. This afternoon we went for haircuts at the salon across the street from Harborne Chapel. My hair is driving me nuts!!! I'm trying to let the layers grow out - such a painful process! The TGIF event was fun. Again a small turn out, but the kids that came had a great time and the cookies were excellent!

Saturday, August 6

We have been wanting to see the canals here in Birmingham, so we rode the bus downtown to check the city canals out. There are miles of canals all over England - more than in Venice. Originally they were used as a means to transport coal and other things during the Industrial Revolution. Now they are pleasant waterways that many people vacation on.
Most of the boats on the canals are "narrow boats" like this one that we took an hour tour on. At the beginning of the tour they give emergency instructions which include a suggestion that if we end up in the water, just stand up and walk to the edge - the water is only about 4 feet deep!
Devon and the Skipper of our long boat.
Either side of the canal in the city is lined with restaurants, pubs, and a few little shops. You can walk or bike along most of the canal.
And you can fish in the canal - poor little fishy! Not sure if he threw it back or not.
I just noticed - this boy doesn't have a left foot!
Another sightseeing narrow boat sailing in front of the Malt House - famous for serving Bill Clinton a pint of ale during a visit to Birmingham while he was president.
Harbor with moored long boats. Some of these boats are permanent residences for people who like to live on the river. Others are docking spots for people vacationing on the canals. There are lots of apartment buildings overlooking the canal.
Rural section of the canal on outskirts of Birmingham.
Birmingham is built on a flat plateau of land. The water for the canals comes from rain run off, and water pumped from springs. Above this spillway is a reservoir that supplies water to the canal.

Before retiring to bed we got an email from Lori reporting that our friend, Mike, is finally starting to improve - this after weeks of discouraging set backs. He is in Seattle and getting the proper care he needs - something apparently missing in Nevada. Our prayers have been answered. He still has a long road of recovery and rehab ahead. We are grateful for the good news and hopeful he will continue to make progress in his recovery.

Sunday, August 7

Back to cooler weather after a wonderful week of mostly sunshine. We even had rain today and I am back in a turtleneck and sweater. Church was great. We met a new YSA girl that is moving to Birmingham to go to school. Her family was with her and was so cute. They are the typical anxious parents dropping their child off. It was good to meet and reassure them that we are available if she needs anything. One of the students from last year was here for the weekend visiting. It was great to see her again. I can't wait for all the students to return and get back into the routine in September.