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, September 19, 2011

JOURNAL - September 12 - 18

Monday, September 12

We slept in a little this morning. We both were so tired from the physically and spiritually exhausting weekend. Then we decided to go to the Apple Store in city center and get a new IPad. I'm sure we could have managed without it, but we're really spoiled....so we bought a new one.

FHE was another winner! Camie, the new culinary student from Wales, gave the lesson. She took a scripture Elder Bednar talked about and had us break into groups and discuss it. It was very good and reinforced things Elder Bednar taught. We worked on the decorations for the big dance coming up on Friday, and then played a game called Bananagrams. When we were in London we played it with our friends, the Fugals, and enjoyed it so much I ordered it from Amazon (free shipping-yeh). The kids had a great time playing the game - didn't want to leave. We'll have to do it again.

Tuesday, September 13

Worked most of the day on the leadership training meeting we have scheduled tomorrow with the YSA presidency, ward reps, and activity committee. Also did about three loads of laundry. Our little washer dryer combo doesn't hold much and takes over 3 hours to wash and dry one load, so sometimes laundry really is an all day affair.

Wednesday, September 14

Leadership training meeting was tonight, and I think it went well - except some of the ward reps that need it the most didn't come. That is always the case. I think those that were there caught the spirit, and I think it was a good start for our new Institute year. For the activity the kids continued to work on the decoration for the dance - blew up a bazillion balloons and curled miles of ribbon. I'm anxious to see how this is going to turn out.

Thursday, September 15

Cleaned the flat and did all the ironing - feel so liberated! In the evening I went to RS activity at Harborne. It was scheduled to be about food storage and included a tasting table with things one of our YSA, Camie, made with food storage items. The only sisters that come were about 6 YSA, but we had a great time. Camie is from Wales and is the culinary student. She is an amazing cook! We had corn fritters with Greek yogurt dip, bulgar wheat salad with chick peas and carrots, homemade white bread, and a dessert made from puff pastry, canned fruit, and a homemade caramel sauce. YUMMY, YUMMY, YUMMY! Thankfully she is happy to share her recipes. They only problem is that she is pretty much a "add as you go" cook, but she says she will try to remember and write down what was in them.

Friday, September 16

This is the BIG day - Homecoming Dance 2011. Met Kezia and Lauren at Costco to do the food shopping for the dance. They are doing a great job of staying within the budget - hope we have enough food. I'm such a bad judge of how much to buy. They are hoping to have about 500 YSA attend - can't imagine where we will put them all! These two girls are great organizers and know exactly what they want and how they want things done. Makes it easy for me They have worked their "their fingers to the bone" for about 3 weeks to make this a success.

This is it - decorations in the cultural hall.
The cultural hall was absolutely stunning - beyond amazing!!! They hand tied strings of twine together to make a huge net. Then they individually tied the balloons, ribbons, and doilies to the net and carefully lifted it up with twine attached to metal loops on the walls. I've never seen anything like it! They also decorated the foyer, and set up one corner with a backdrop for photos of the couples/friends/groups that came to the dance. The digital photos are free to anyone who emails the photographer and gives him their email address. 
 These three girls were the organizers for the Prom - (l to r) Beth, from Coventry Stake, Kezia and Lauren from Birmingham Stake. They had lots of other helpers, but the ideas were all theirs.

We had about 460 kids officially sign-in, and many others that didn't wait in line to sign-in. I'm pretty sure there were at least 500 kids there and they ate every morsel of food. By the end of the night the cultural was a little disgusting. It was so hot and sweaty in there that the walls were actually damp! Devon's main job was directing traffic outside and I was at the sign-in table.
The final success for the night was that we had lots of Birmingham YSA stay to help with the clean-up, so it was over by about 1:00 am. The dance ended at 11:15 and it always takes a good 30 to 45 minutes to get all the kids out the door. They linger as long as they can. A couple of High Councilmen are good had "herding" them towards the door or else who knows how long we would be there. We left the building spotless and ready for a wedding scheduled for tomorrow. The bride saw the cultural hall and asked to leave the balloon ceiling up, but everything else came down. The YSA will take the balloons down tomorrow after the wedding.

Saturday, September 17 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDREA

So tired today...wonder why?! We attended the wedding of two YSA. The groom has been inactive for years, and the bride is an amazing investigator. She has fallen in love with the gospel and is bringing him out to church! His mother is active and introduced the bride to the church. The wedding was performed by our cute Bishop Desous. He is from France and everyone loves him, especially the young people. He's married about 8 couples so far and has another one scheduled for December.

Sister Clark, one of our full-time missionaries in Harborne Ward is an amazing harpist. She was able to borrow a harp (how do you do that?) and played for the wedding. It was beautiful beyond words. Sister Baker, her companion that was just transferred to Solihull Ward, was also there and together they played Pachelbel's Cannon in D for the processional - so beautiful!!!

We hung around the building till the owner of the harp came to pick it up. Then we had dinner, did a little grocery shopping, and drove to Woodsetton Ward for a YSA baptism - a young man named Brad. Another YSA, Becky, was baptized in Kidderminister Branch tonight also. The Stake President attended that one. We hope they will be able to join us for YSA activities and Institute, but transportation is a huge problem for the kids that live in those little units on the outskirts. I hope the ward members will pitch in and help them with rides, but so far that doesn't happen. None of the few YSA's from those wards drive, so it will be a challenge for them to come.

Sunday, September 18

Devon had a High Council speaking assignment in Redditch Ward today. It is the only ward we haven't been to, so it was great to go there. Redditch is another very nice community on the outskirts of Birmingham. Love the area and the drive out there. Devon's talk was good and we enjoyed visiting with the YSA in the ward.

After arriving home from church, we had dinner and then short, but much needed naps. Then we went to Harborne to set up for the CES Fireside broadcast from SLC (we get it a week late). Elder and Sister Oaks were the speakers. We had about 45-50 kids attend and I can think of at least  10-15 more that didn't attend, but will probably show up at class. After the fireside we had Institute registration and refreshments (banana splits and pounds cake from Costco). The kids are all excited about starting a new year and so are we. Our new missionary counselor in the YSA presidency, Sarah, was sustained in church today, so Devon set her apart tonight with the help of President Wilkinson, and Josh and John from the YSA presidency.  It is going to be wonderful to have a fully functioning presidency again. Our first presidency meeting is scheduled for next Sunday - hooray!

The rest of our day was spent Skyping with family members - my favorite Sunday thing! Also got to talk with Aunt Wilma.