This week had a rather different beginning. Actually Monday was as normal as usual until after FHE. We got home around 11:00 pm. Just as we had changed for bed we got a phone call from one of our girls telling us that her housemate was very ill and needed a blessing - no problem. We got dressed and left (in a rush) to go pick up one of our returned missionaries to help Devon give Hannah a blessing. Everything went very smoothly, until we got home (at midnight) and realized Devon had grabbed the church keys instead of our flat keys. One of our neighbors let us into the building, but there was absolutely no way to get into our flat. We sat on the stairs for a minute or two thinking about what our options were. We knew where the phone number for our letting agency was so we called them. Fortunately they have a night person taking emergency calls. In about a half an hour he arrived, picked the lock and let us in for a fee of 60.00 pounds. That is one mistake we won't make again!
Today was also the long dreaded day Devon was scheduled to take the driving test for his UK license. It is notoriously hard to get a license here - they fail over 40%, and it is rare to pass on the first try. He did good except for one little thing. The tester told him to "take the second exit on the left" in a round-about. The second exit on a round-about is usually straight through and you're supposed to get in the middle lane. Devon did that, but apparently because he said "on the left," Devon should have been in the left lane. He wasn't, so he failed him. Boo!!!! Devon was pretty disappointed - actually ticked at such a petty call, but that's that. He's rescheduled to retake the test on November 9th, but at a different location.
Wednesday, October 19
Much better day! It's Zone Conference today at the Wyle Green Chapel in Sutton Coldfield - love some of these names! It was a good conference. We always love being with the missionaries. I especially enjoy the "parting testimonies" of the missionaries that are due to be released before the next Zone Conference. Today was special because Sister Clark and Sister Pope gave their parting testimonies - both wonderful beyond words! They are amazing girls! We're going to miss them!
Institute went well. Devon taught the Old Testament class for Brother McMorn, who was out of town, and I taught our Doctrines of the Gospel class. The attendance was good and the kids enjoyed being together.
Thursday, October 20 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOGAN
We purchased National Trust tickets and decided we should use them. For an annual fee of about 63.00 pounds (for the two of us) we have access to hundreds of properties throughout the UK - most free, or for an additional small fee. Today we went to Hanbury Hall in North Worcestershire - about a 30 minute drive from our flat. It is an estate built in 1701- 1710 by a wealthy lawyer, Harry Vernon. Over the years the estate and mansion fell into disrepair, but has been lovingly restored and is amazing. We also enjoyed nice home baked treats in the Tea Room.
Front of Hanbury Hall
Back of Hanbury Hall
Drawing room. The carpet is from the 1700's though not original to the house.
Original Thornhill painting on ceiling of dining room. There are other, huge wall paintings Thrornhill was commissioned to paint. Later he painted the ceiling in St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
Orangery and Mushroom House
Building that houses the delicate plants during winter (citrus, pomegranate, etc.)
Parterre garden. The hedges are exactly 8 inches square and are trimmed by hand. There are other large garden areas, but this is by far the most ornate.
Friday, October 21 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNILY
Our weather, though still pleasant, is getting colder. We can feel the sting in the wind. Devon needs a warm coat - the one he brought is more of a windbreaker. So we rode the bus to Bull Ring to find one. The best coat and also at the best price was at TKMax (TJMax in the US). We were thrilled to find one.
Chill night with the YSA was fun, as usual. All together there were about 20 kids that came and went throughout the evening, which lasted until about 11:30. Their favorite games seem to be Animal Signs and Bananagrams. They love visiting and munching on the homemade lemon pie and cookies brought by Camie and myself.
Saturday, October 22
Today and tomorrow are Stake Conference. Devon had a leadership meeting in the morning. I cleaned the flat. Harborne Ward was assigned to have a choir sing at the evening session and I participated in that. The meeting was wonderful, though I wish more had attended.
Sunday, October 23
Good Stake Conference session in the morning. We met Josh and John (president and counselor of the Center) in the evening and drove to Nottingham together for a multi-stake YSA planning meeting. Josh had to drive as we are not supposed to transport anyone but missionaries in our car. Each year the five stakes (Birmingham, Nottingham, Lichfield, Coventry, and Leicester) meet to decide who is doing what as far as multi-stake YSA activities for the next year. The budget is also reviewed and any concerns discussed. It was a good meeting and gave us a better idea of how things and funding work.