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, October 31, 2011

JOURNAL - October 24 - 30

Wednesday, October 26

Not much other than the usual to report for Monday and Tuesday this week. FHE continues to be enjoyed by about 15 kids and us. 

Today is transfer day for the mission. It's always interesting to see who gets transferred and who stays. We don't usually go to Transfers, but the Elders from Harborne needed a ride to pick up their new companion, so we went. There will be the three of them together for a while - a little unusual, but they have a large flat and can accommodate one more with no problem. The new Elder is from Slovakia and is fairly new in the mission. Between the three of them they speak seven languages - pretty amazing. They are from Slovakia, South Africa, and France and are exceptional young men!

Today is Sister Clark's last day in the mission field - one more reason to go to Transfers. Both Sister Whittaker (in our ward) and Sister Baker (formerly in our ward but now in Solihull) are being assigned as trainers for "greenies," and both are a little stressed over the responsibility. I think they'll be great, but they're not so sure. I'm really going to miss Sister Clark. Those feelings are tempered with the knowledge she is returning to BYU, and we'll certainly see her again. She is taking a "souvenir" of sorts home with her - a bad cold. Unfortunately I think I may have picked it up, too. We'll see - it's early. Maybe I can "nip it in the bud."

  Elder and Sister Tufts, Sister Clark, Elder and Sister Henry

It was wonderful to see the Henry's at Transfers. They are serving in Hereford where Sister Clark also served for a while. They are a terrific couple from Spanish Fork - and, I might add, true blue BYU fans (so why are we wearing red?)! They were in a bad auto accident a couple of months ago - totaled their car and put Sister Henry in the hospital for several weeks. Thankfully she is recovering and they will be able to finish their mission.

Wednesday ended with Institute and the usual meetings. Brother McMorn, our new S&I Director, has a vision for an actual Institute building separate from the church meetinghouse - that is how it's supposed to be, but it takes money. Before it can be approved we need to have a certain number of  students attending Institute. Both he and Elder Donnaldson (our Area Seventy) think we could meet the requirement if we combined Birmingham and Lichfield Stake, so they are going to discuss the possibility with the two stake presidents. It would be wonderful, but is quite ambitious - we'll see.

Thursday, October 27

It's official - I have Sister Clark's cold! It's a rainy day, but despite the weather and my cold we are going ahead with our plans to visit Shugborough Estate - another National Trust property. This week is the last week before the winter season when the properties will have very limited visiting times. Shugborough Estate dates back to the mid 1600's and is about a 40 minute drive north from Birmingham. It is a beautiful, large country estate most recently owned by the late Fifth Earl of Lichfield - also a famous photographer who took, among others, the photos of the wedding of Diana and Charles.
Dining room.
The large art pieces on the walls are paintings of ancient Rome. They are set into the wall and are designed to look like windows looking out on Rome.
Dining room ceiling
Red sitting room - one of many elaborate rooms filled with art.
Guest bedroom where Queen Victoria stayed for a while when she was but a princess.
Servants quarters. You were very lucky to be employed as a servant to the estate. It guaranteed you three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and a meager income. The servant were treated very well at this estate.
Back side of the large farm house on the estate. I've never see such a "wooly" cow. It was quite funny to watch it turn it's head and scratch the side of it's body with the tip of it's horn.
Couldn't resist this photo of a Berkshire sow with her 12 piglets - poor mama! "Mr. Darcy," the daddy, was next door.

The drive to Shugborough goes right past Ikea. I talked Devon into stopping there on the way home for a dinner of Swedish meatballs, mash, gravy, and peas. I wanted to prove to him that I could go in and out of Ikea without shopping - DONE!

Friday, October 28
Sick! Spent most of the day resting and then went to Chill Night with the YSA. We only had about 8 kids come tonight, but everyone had tons of fun playing games and eating treats. The Stake Presidency was there doing interviews, so various stake members were in and out all evening, watching us play games and sharing in our treats.

Saturday, October 29

Grocery shopping day to Tesco for our groceries, and to Costco to pick up refreshments for the fireside tomorrow night. That and some laundry was about all I could do.

Sunday, October 30

Made it through church and then went home to rest before the fireside. Tonight's fireside theme was "Why I Believe." Six YSA and Stake President Griffiths spoke about how they received their testimonies. One YSA, who has only been a member for a year, told her conversion story. The change in her life from piercings, alcohol, etc., and deep unhappiness to a fullness of joy that only the gospel can bring was amazing to hear. Most of us have a testimony that has developed "line upon line," but hers was sudden and powerful. About 50 attended the fireside, including 4 or 5 investigators and one less active YSA. The event was a huge success. We left at 10:00 with about 15 kids still there - hanging out and having a good time being together. Just as it should be.