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 12, 2011

JOURNAL - September 5 - 11

Monday, September 5

Started the day with my exercises on BYU TV internet. I'm starting to get the routine down, so I don't think I look like a total dork following the steps. The instructor does a stretching routine after the aerobics that I especially like. I'm not sure how much it is helping, but it certainly can't hurt. Made a hamburger stew for dinner, so we could be ready to eat and run after Skyping with Emily and Marianne, and Stephen and Annily.

FHE was especially good tonight. We had a great turnout - the room was full! Yanos gave a great, informal lesson. He talked about a YSA Fireside he attended on Saturday with Elder Bednar. Elder Bednar began his talk by saying that he was there to answer their questions with words, and the spirit was there to teach them the things they needed to learn. Beautiful! Yanos suggested we take a minute and think about something we have learned recently through our personal scripture study or perhaps a personal experience. Several YSA and Yanos shared some amazing thoughts. The spirit was so strong and did teach us each just what we needed.

Madhi, our new convert from Iran, brought the treats. He works at a bakery and brought some yummy cakes he made at work. Lauren, our cute nanny from Australia, did the activity. She is an extremely talented, artsy kind of girl. She taught us how to make friendship bracelets by knotting strands of colorful embroidery floss. The girls loved it! The guys had a nice time visiting. It was fun to do something different.

Tuesday, September 6

This morning we made a home visit to a sweet widow in the ward. She and her husband moved their small family of two children from Scotland to Birmingham in the 60's because of his work. He got sick and died after only a couple of years. She's been here ever since, but now plans to move back to Scotland. She is so excited about the move. It was nice to visit with her.

I just didn't feel very good - sore throat and ears. So, after returning home I decided to rest and take it easy. Made myself a nice hot cup of mint tea, and had a long nap.  It seemed to help because I felt better when I woke up. I made phone calls to some of the YSA. One young man has been in the hospital. He has jaundice. He says they are doing tests, but so far no answers - or if he knows he is not telling. It is worrisome!

After a light supper we boarded the city bus and went to the Hippodrome in city center to watch a stage production of the old Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers movie "Top Hat". It was totally enjoyable - lots of dancing and great songs. The only down side was that the ladies on either side of us sang and swayed to every song! Oh well, glad they enjoyed it, too

Wednesday, September 7

Spent most of the day working on a presentation for our YSA leadership training meeting next week. I hope it's not over kill - we will see. We really want to get this new year off to a good start and want to remind them that everyone needs to reach out and fellowship. The active YSA have really strong friendships and sometimes forget or don't notice that there is a new person standing off by him/herself. I can welcome and talk with them, but unless the YSA take them into their group and befriend them, they won't keep coming. What YSA wants to spend his/her evening talking with the Senior Missionary Couple?

For our activity tonight at Institute we watched "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend". I think they enjoyed it. I always like watching it!

Thursday, September 8

The weather was a little warmer this morning, so we walked over to Cannon Hill Park. We took a different route down a street with some nice houses. One house on a corner was fairly new (by English standards) and very nice. Most of the building here are very old, so it's a bit of a surprise to see a new one. Basically the houses all look the same - very square and two story. There are a lot of houses that are connected. No one has front yards. The front area is usually paved and used to park cars, as parking is always limited. They do have small back yards, but they are fenced so you can't see them.

Friday, September 9

Busy day running errands - grocery shopping, Costco, Wing Yip, bank, and got our hair cut. As we were putting our purchases into the trolly (cart), someone nicked (stole) my IPad! We were purchasing a lot of food for the YSA BBQ tomorrow night and didn't even notice it was gone until we got back to the church. We have notified Costco, but I fear it is a total loss. I'm so bummed!!!

Tonight we went to the church to help clean it. Elder Bednar is in town for meetings this weekend, so there was a big push to get the building cleaned up. Lots of people came to help, which was really good. The building is very old and really needs remodeling and repairing. Generally, the members are not good about cleaning up after themselves. It is quite a problem. But I have to say, everyone really worked hard to get it looking it's best. We even had quite a few YSA come to help. They are so excited about Elder Bednar's visit!!!

Saturday, September 10

This morning was absolutely incredible. All the missionaries from the mission met at Harborne for a meeting with Elder Bednar. We took a group picture and all got to shake hands with him and his wife. We had seats on the front row directly in front of the pulpit. Can't begin to express how wonderful it was to be taught by an Apostle of the Lord. He spoke simple, thought provoking truths, and answered questions from the missionaries for about two hours. No one wanted to leave. Also amazing was the booming chorus of missionaries behind us singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Called to Serve".

This evening we met back to Harborne for the tri-stake YSA choir practice and BBQ. We had about 60 YSA come. Not all would sing, but they all enjoyed the BBQ. Unfortunately it rained off and on during the entire time. Devon and some of the YSA set up a tarp in the yard and just kept BBQing. Afterwards we met with the YSA president and counselor to do a "little" planning, but we ended up talking until 11:00 pm. The president has been gone all summer working, so he was really excited to discuss upcoming plans and goals. It was good! We put away the food and cleaned up the kitchen and finally got home around midnight!

Sunday, September 11

Today's the big day...tri-stake conference with Elder Bednar. It was held at a local convention hall and was attended by about 2,000 people. We arrived over an hour early to be sure to get good seats and be there for the YSA choir practice. I was so thrilled. We had about 58 YSA in the choir and at least 30 were from Birmingham. And, they sounded wonderful!!! It was another amazing meeting listening to the great talks from our area seventy, Elder Donaldson and his wife, the three stake presidents, and Sister and Elder Bednar. We came home and I crashed - so tired - had a very nice nap. In the evening we enjoyed watching the 9/11 special "Music and the Spoken Word" with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on BYU TV. It was a very moving tribute. Then I spent the evening typing up my notes from yesterday and today. Everyone here in Birmingham feels so blessed to have an apostle come talk to them. His words and testimony had a big impact on everyone. The cute African couple we have helped teach were there and thoroughly enjoyed all they heard. Bura, the dad, sat on the edge of his seat and soaked in everything that was said. I've attended General Conference many times, but it is much different to hear an apostle talk in a casual, intimate setting like yesterday and today. He had thoughts, but no actual prepared talked - really seemed to teach as the Spirit directed. It was concise, to the point, plain and simple, but also powerful and unwavering. I'm so grateful and blessed to have been there!