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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

JOURNAL - August 15 - 21

Monday, August 15

Mission transfers were last week, so it is time to start flat checks again. Today we did the sisters' flats in Harborne and Solihull. Both were wonderful!

FHE was also great - except once again the person who signed up for the lesson forgot. So we had a hymn testimonial. I think they all really enjoyed it!

Tuesday, August 16

Today we did flat checks for the Harborne and Sheldon elders. There is a new elder in Harborne from South Africa. They worked really hard - even rearranged the furniture. Their flat really needed it! The Sheldon elders have moved to a new flat - well not actually new, but remodeled and really nice. Their previous one was a disaster - many repairs neglected by the landlord. This new flat is 100% better and the elders love it.

In the afternoon we went with Sister Clark and Sister Baker to teach a couple from Africa that we had taught with them once before. The children from our 23rd Ward Primary sent us a Book of Mormon about a month ago to give to someone, and it was given to this married couple. It was wonderful to meet with them again and feel of their spirit and desire to learn about the church. They have a daughter about 1 1/2 years old and desperately want to provide a happy family and good life for her. They are a very special family!

Wednesday, August 17

For Institute tonight we went to Licky Hills Park with the YSA. Everyone brought their own dinner. After we ate we played a game of frisbee football. We kept up with the kids pretty good with nothing sprained!  It was a great evening. 

Back row left to right: Terry, Karen, Sarah, Cami, Ryan, Sarah, Lauren
Front row left to right: Yanos, JP, John, Tom, James

Birmingham - city center is the back right
First sunset we've seen here in England!

Thursday, August 18

Not much to report - cleaned house, did laundry and ironing, and made a quick run to city center on the bus. Devon needed a new pair of pants and we wanted to be sure we knew where to catch the train for our trip to London tomorrow. 

Friday, August 19

Woke up excited for our adventure to London. The first portion of our journey was to catch the local city bus to New Street Station in city center. This is our usual bus to Bull Ring. The train station is very short walk from the bus stop. We arrived early so no worries about hurrying to our platform. We bought our train tickets about 2 weeks ago on the internet as it can be very expensive to buy them on the day of travel. We found a very cheap price - £6.00/ticket/way. We found out that we had booked our trip on the slow train to London. It stopped at every little town along the way and took 2 hours to get to London. There is another train that is at least twice as fast, but much more expensive. Good thing we weren't in a hurry to get there, and we enjoyed the scenery. After arriving at Euston Station, we made our way to a ticket booth where we bought and "Oyster" card. It's a credit card you deposit money on and then can swipe to use any public transportation. We caught the Victoria Line to Green Park and from there caught the Piccadilly Line to South Kensington Station. From there it is a short walk to the Hyde Park Chapel where we met our friends, Ken and Cheryl Fugal. They are serving in the Family History Centre located in the basement of the Hyde Park Chapel. Cheryl gave us a lovely tour of the present building which houses not only the FH Centre, but also the Hyde Park Stake, the London England Mission Office, and the Centre for Young Adults. It is a well used building - so much so that it is scheduled to close in about a week for 6-7 months of renovations in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics. We were thrilled to get a tour before things were changed. While Cheryl and Ken finished out their day at the Centre we went for a walk to Harrod's department store. From the outside it looks like any other old building in London, but inside is a different story!

This is the top (fourth) floor of the hall that houses the escalator. The whole hall (all four levels) is decorated in an elaborate Egyptian theme. You see mannequins on this floor, but the floor below had an opera singer serenading us. The store was packed - looked like most people were just looking (like us), and yes, it is expensive. Saw a cute little girls stocking hat for £150.00. We did make one purchase - a reasonably priced refrigerator magnet!

We met back up with the Fugals and went to a nice little Italian restaurant for dinner. Then we caught the bus to their flat. It is really fun to check out other missionary's "digs". Their's is a darling 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom flat with a wonderful garden area. It is bright and cheery, and very nice...also very expensive!

Saturday, August 20

Today we have tickets to see Buckingham Palace. It is only open to the public a couple of months during the summer when the Queen is away at her home in Scotland. So after a quick breakfast we caught the bus to Trafalgar Square and from there it is a short walk to Buckingham Palace.

They allow tours through several state rooms and the throne room (above). The rooms are filled with amazing art - paintings, sculpture, and the royal family's impressive Faberge collection of eggs, picture frames, cigarette cases, miniature animals, and more. Also displayed was Duchess of Cambridge's (Kate Middleton's) wedding dress, tiara, veil, shoes, jewelry and replica of her bouquet. We watched a video detailing the design and construction of the dress, and let me say.....it is gorgeous! Pictures don't do it justice.

Six different types of laces were used. The tiny lace designs were hand cut out and hand appliqued together to make an original and once of a kind lace design throughout the whole dress. There was even hand appliqued lace on her shoes! (Emily and Marianne - don't get any ideas!)

After the Palace we stopped at a nice little outside cafe and had traditional English fish and chips - yummy

Next we went from one extreme (Buckingham Palace) to another - the Churchill War Rooms. This is a huge area underground in the middle of London where Churchill directed the British WWII efforts. It is huge. Many people, including Churchill and his wife, worked and slept down there round the clock. Besides seeing the different rooms, there was also an amazing display detailing Churchill's life - it is a must see in London! When the war was over they decided to close up and go home, leaving much of it exactly as it was. It poured rain while we were in the War Rooms, but when we were finished we came up to beautiful sunshine.

Our friends headed back to their flat, and we headed to the London Eye, located on the banks of the River Thames.

As you can imagine, there is an amazing view of London from inside one of the pods on the Eye. It rotates, slowly and constantly - stopping only for people with special needs to step on and off. There is a little bench in the middle you can sit on if your are squeamish about heights.

Then we walked to Westminster Abby/Big Ben. It was after closing, so we didn't get to tour the Abby - maybe next time.

We were rather proud of ourselves that after our day of sightseeing we found our way back to the Fugal's flat - thanks to good directions from the Fugal's. Upon arrival at their flat Cheryl had prepared a wonderful supper of taco salad - so American, and so delicious! Then we had a great evening of visiting and playing Banana Scrabble - really fun game! We want to teach it to the YSA.

Sunday, August 21

We got up early, took our assigned turns in the shower, and headed out to catch two trains and one bus to the Fugal's assigned ward on the outskirts of London. It takes them 1 1/2 hours each way to travel to their ward each Sunday. It is a lovely, small ward with quite a few Americans who live in the area. It also is home to Tim Leavitt's dad - Tim and his family are in our Highland, Utah Ward.

We returned to Fugal's flat, had a nice snack of cheese, crackers, and fruit, and then headed back to the Hyde Park Chapel. Here we parted ways - they had a missionary farewell to attend, and we needed to checked into our room at Imperial College. We can't thank the Fugal's enough for their wonderful hospitality! We're hoping they get to Birmingham so we can return the favor.

Above is our room at Imperial College. there is also a large closet area, and full bathroom with shower. Imperial College is a very prestigious school located around the corner from the Hyde Park Chapel and about 2 blocks from Hyde Park. During the summer months they rent out the dorm rooms to tourists for an amazing £84.00 per night, and that includes a full, hot breakfast. When looking for a reservation in London I couldn't find any hotels less than £200.00 per night. This is an amazing bargain - clean, secure, and in a terrific location. For an additional £5.00 you could have internet access for your entire stay.

After checking in, we went to a local sandwich shop, picked up our dinner, and headed to Hyde Park for a nice picnic and walk through part of the park (it is huge).

This is the Princess Diana Fountain. It's not actually a fountain, but more of a circular, man-made stream with water flowing around it. As you can see the kids really enjoy the water - something Diana would have liked, I'm sure. It is simple and beautiful - much like her.

This is the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park. Just a very beautiful place.

Albert Memorial, also in Hyde Park. Everywhere you look in London there is an elaborate statue to someone. I'll just include this one.

As dusk was settling in we headed back to Imperial College - exhausted but full of great memories!