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 16, 2011

JOURNAL - August 8 - 14

Monday, August 8

We got a call late in the afternoon that the young man who was teaching the lesson at FHE was ill with stomach flu and wouldn't be there. So Devon prepared a lesson from "Preach My Gospel" on testimonies. What a great lesson! We have a new girl here from Wales. She is enrolled in culinary school in Birmingham and her program started today. She will be in Harborne Ward. We met her parents yesterday at church. They are cute, worried parents dropping their daughter off to school. We reassured them that we would stay in close contact with her and gave them our contact information to use if they ever need something. I remember the same feelings when we dropped our children off to school many years ago.

While we were at FHE it was announced that there were riots in Birmingham. We were aware of the riots in London over the weekend. Seems there are a lot of "copy cat" riots in many other cities - Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester. So senseless!! Everyone made it home from FHE safely.

Tuesday, August 9

Sadly, the riots are continuing. After consulting with the Stake Presidency, a decision was made to cancel our Institute activity scheduled for tomorrow night. Much of our evening was spent notifying the YSA of this change in plans. Many of our YSA take the bus and we didn't want to risk having them run into trouble in their commute.

As for us...we live about 2-3 miles from Birmingham city center. Thankfully it is quiet in our neighborhood - no problems. We have noticed a big increase in sirens up and down Bristol Road - a main road to city center, but otherwise it is quiet. I don't understand why people think looting and destroying property will help anything.

Wednesday, August 10

Mostly staying close to home. We did go to Harborne Chapel to see if any YSA didn't get the message that the activity was cancelled. So glad we went - one young man turned up. We gave him a ride home as they shut down the buses early because of the riots. His mother was very relieved!

Thursday, August 11

Philippa was laid to rest today in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales - her hometown. Sister Baker, Sister Clark and Naomi McMorn went with us to her service. Sister Clark knew Philippa from serving in her ward for 5 months, and Naomi knew her from past YSA activities. (Naomi is the wife of our new S&I Director - a very nice young couple in their mid to late 20's and currently living in our ward). It was called a Celebration of Life and was one of the nicest services I've ever attended. The stake center was full almost to the back of the cultural hall. Philippa's good friend spoke and said she could not speak of Philippa in the past tense. Her life now is in the future, and we are the ones in the past. We also heard an amazing talk about the Plan of Salvation by President Jones - previous Temple President. I'm so grateful for the knowledge of the great Plan of Happiness. I truly don't know how people cope with loss without the reassurance of this gospel truth.

Friday, August 12

We met Elder and Sister Skiles at the Mission Office to carpool with them to Wales (Cymru in Welsh) for a weekend get-away with the senior missionaries. The Skiles are serving in the mission office, and are from Washington state. The other couples that went with us were the Fugals from Pleasant Grove (she was a principal also from Alpine District), the Johnsons from Snowflake, Arizona (they took over the Lichfield YSA), and the Henrys from Spanish Fork (they are doing member support in an area close to Wales). We had a lovely 2 hour drive to beautiful Wales and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at Cardiff Bay. We had dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant on the bay (seems strange to be eating Mexican food in England) and then a delicious ice cream cone from Cadwallader's - also on the bay.
Cardiff Bay

Saturday, August 13

After a nice continental breakfast at the hotel, we drove to Caerphilly Castle - just north of Cardiff. Construction on the castle began in the 1500's. It is one of the largest castles in the UK still standing and is surrounded by a huge mote. While we were there they were getting one large room ready for a wedding that afternoon.
Caerphilly Castle

Our second stop was at the St. Fagan's Natural History (Welsh) Museum. It is a reconstructed Welsh village. Old buildings have been relocated to the Museum and many people were dressed in historic Welsh clothing walking around and in the shops explaining different aspect of Welsh life. We even watched a re-enactment of an English/Welsh battle. The English soldiers won!

Sunday, August 14

We attended church at Cardiff Ward and were thrilled to see Elder Steed there. He is from St. George and was assigned to our Harborne Ward when we first arrived. The Cardiff Ward meets in the auditorium of a school, but are hoping to move to a new building soon. After church we stopped for some lunch and then started our drive back to Birmingham. Along the way we stopped to see a beautiful little town called Monmouth. The bridge below is the only one of its kind in England and was built in the 1200's.
Monmouth, Wales

Our next stop was the mission office and then home. It was a wonderful weekend with some very wonderful people to a very beautiful place.