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 26, 2011

JOURNAL September 19 - 25

Monday, September 19

I love Monday's because it is FHE. We had the largest group we've had in a while - the YSA lounge was packed. Sarah H. remembered she signed up for the lesson and came prepared. More than once she's forgotten and we've filled in at the last minute. She has good intentions and is a wonderful girl. She just forgets. I made sure she had lots of reminders and it worked! After the lesson we had treats - an amazing lemon cake made by Camie, our culinary student from Wales. The kids usually buy cheap cookies and chips, so this homemade cake was a real treat and a very big hit with the kids. Lauren, from Australia, was in charge of the activity which was a game called Werewolves. One of those games where someone, the werewolves, "kills" off people and you have to guess who are the werewolves. Sounds pretty gruesome, but actually it was lots of fun.

Tuesday, September 20 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY CATIE

Finally was able to talk with JP. He is a very nice young man from India that joined the church about a year ago. He loves missionary work - goes out with the elders as often as he can, talks to strangers on the street about the church, and is hoping to serve a mission. He has had unexplained jaundice, itching, and epigastric pain for about the last 5-6 weeks. He was in the hospital for a few days and has had tons of lab tests, ultrasounds, and cat scans but still no diagnosis. I'm very worried about him. He has been too sick to attend things lately. I've called many times but was only able to leave a message. Today he picked up the phone and we talked. He is frustrated that he is not getting better and he is quite worried. He has to go to work or he will lose his job. He asked us if we could give him a ride to work tomorrow as he doesn't have the energy to take the bus which includes some walking.  It is against the rules for us to transport anyone but missionaries, but we said yes - he needs help! Besides if anyone ever fit "every member a missionary" he does. So, I'm looking forward to seeing him tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 21

Picked up JP in the afternoon and drove him to work. His eyes are bright yellow and he is drained of energy. Found out his mother is here from India staying with him. Apparently she used to be a physician in India. So glad she is here with him. He is very frustrated with the national health system and how long it takes to get care. He says, "they just don't care." It's hard for me to imagine as he is so sick.

The upside of today was that it was also the first day of the new Institute year. We started with a YSA Council meeting that went very well. Most of the ward reps were there. We had a good meeting and identified some inactive and newly baptized YSA we want to focus on. Hopefully, it will be a team effort to visit and fellowship them. There was a great attendance tonight. It started a little slow, but by the beginning of the second class there were about 50 kids there. Our room was totally filled. The activity committee organized some fun get to know you games for after class. I think everyone enjoyed the evening - many hung around until quite late visiting. There are quite a few new students, so that is great.

Thursday, September 22

Some of the YSA wanted to go visit JP so they arranged to meet him at a local Indian fast food shop close to his home. We also went. Not much has changed with JP, but he seemed invigorated just to have the kids come visit. He is planning to return to India for medical care as soon as he can work out arrangements for his visa. He has no confidence in the system here because things take so long. His doctor is suggesting he may need a liver biopsy and that is scaring him. His dad knows a liver specialist in India, so JP plans to go there for treatment. Probably is best for him to be with his family so they can help him during this illness.

Friday, September 23

JP called today and cancelled his ride to work. He says he has lots of things he needs to get done before work. He initially thought he would be here 3-4 weeks before his visa was ready, but now he says he is flying to India on Sunday. He also said he has something to tell us, but doesn't want to talk over the phone. We will meet tomorrow and talk before we take him to work.

Tonight was the baptism of Sister Blair - an 82 year-old grandmother of one of our YSA girls. Sarah H. is in the YSA presidency. She is also an attorney and returned missionary - a really sharp girl. Her cute little "granny" is adorable. She is a very spiritual woman - has studied the Bible all her life. Her daughters and their families have been members for a long time. I don't know what made her decide to get baptized now, but the family is so thrilled. Her son-in-law, Sarah's dad, baptized her with the help of Sarah's brother-in-law who stood on the other side to help support her going under the water and back up. It was so smooth and efficient - a really special event. "Granny" was all smiles!

After the baptism we drove the Sollihul sisters back home. Sister Baker, who was very involved with Sister Clark in teaching Sister Blair, was transferred to Sollihul about a week ago. She really wanted to be here for her baptism, so, with permission, the sisters took the train here. The baptism started late and lasted a long time, so they didn't have time to catch the train home before curfew.

After dropping them off, we drove back to Harborne for Friday Chill Night with the YSA. We arrived late, but there were about 25 kids having a great time playing games and visiting. It was tons of fun. I took a pan of K-squares which were gobbled up almost as soon as they were put on the table.

Saturday, September 24

Talked with JP today. He has decided to go to India for medical treatment and will leave tomorrow. He is quite confident they will be able to diagnose his problem and start him on meds for a cure. He will surely get quicker attention through private medical care there than the National Health System here. He plans to return to England on October 17th. Our prayers and best wishes go with him.

Sunday, September 25

Wow! Great Sunday! There were about four more new YSA students at Harborne Ward - all boys (which made the girls really happy). Bishop Desous called another Ward Rep for Harborne Ward and said he has plans to call two more. That will make a total of 7 Ward Reps! There are about 50 YSA in Harborne Ward alone, so the reps are really needed. The majority are active, but there are many who don't come to anything. We have such good support from the bishop and his counselor over the YSA.

In the evening we had a very productive YSA Presidency meeting. The new counselor over missionary efforts, Sarah, is going to be a real boost to the program. She has some wonderful ideas about fellowshipping and activities to increase the missionary/fellowshipping efforts of all the Young Single Adults. They all love her and can't help but catch her enthusiasm. She's very organized, and a "get it done" kind of girl. It is interesting - she has the same vision we do about training and motivating the YSA to be involved in the missionary efforts. They respect and love her, so we think they will step up to meet her expectations. Besides her new influence, it feels so good to have the full presidency back and functioning.