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.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

JOURNAL - October 3 - 9

Monday, October 3

Today is Zone Football. It was held at Gravelly Park here in Birmingham. We had initially decided to not go, but we got a call last night from the elders asking if we could help with rides. Four elders who were in Harborne yesterday for General Conference stayed overnight with the Harborne elders and needed a ride to the Park.  So Sister Clark and Sister Whitaker picked up three of the six and we picked up the other three. We only stayed about an hour, but it was fun to watch them play soccer. I'm not sure who won, but they seemed to all be having a great time. The Park was very close to a train station where the elders were going to catch the train home to their respective areas.
Left to right: Sister Whitaker (Harborne Ward), Sister Pope (Solihull Ward), Sister Baker (Solihull Ward), and sister Clark (Harborne Ward). Just a few notes: Sister Pope is wearing gold tights; Sister Baker hurt her arm about a week ago when she fell off her bike; Sister Clark is wearing pink wings, and a yellow tutu! I love these girls!!! (Not sure who the elder is in the background!)

At Zone Football we met a new senior couple - Elder and Sister Latham from Salt Lake City. They are assigned to member support in a ward in Boston (yes, there is a town named Boston here). The Latham's have been here about a week and say they are getting used to things. They asked how long we have been here and when we said 9 months they said, "Oh, a long time." It seems a little strange to think that we are the experienced ones, but I guess that is the case.

After we left we went to Costco and then stopped at Harborne Ward to clean up the YSA room for FHE tonight. Yesterday the YSA had their munch and mingle in that room and it didn't get cleaned up very well. Then we went back to our flat. Devon wanted to work on his lesson. For some reason, I was beat and took a nice nap.

FHE was wonderful! We had a record 19 students attend - the room was as full as it can get without having people sit on the floor. Even so, there were some missing. Hope more will come next week. Camie gave a great lesson on appreciating our talents. We all had a fun time playing Animal Signs. I love these kids so much!

Tuesday, October 4

Whew! I'm exhausted. We did two flat checks today - Sheldon and Solihull. The broken tiles around the tub in Solihull were finally fixed by the landlord and it looks so nice. Both sets of missionaries did a good job - except both need to defrost their little freezers. They groaned when I made the assignment. The sisters in Solihull took this picture for us. We saw the sign and couldn't resist. Apparently there is a senior citizen home in the neighborhood.

After flat checks we came home for about an hour, then picked up Stephanie, our CfYA secretary, and headed out to Woodsetton to visit a new YSA convert, Brad. He is just 18 and was baptized about 3 weeks ago. He's a very nice young man - plays the guitar and wants to start his own band. He wants to prove you can do good music and stay away from drugs and alcohol. We had a nice visit with him and he says he will be coming to Institute this week to check it out.

We got back to Birmingham in time to drop Stephanie off to her to choir class at Uni and then we went over to visit with a house of  returned missionary students. Two are fairly new returned missionaries, and the other two have been home about a year. They are all in their first and second year of Uni. We had a nice visit with them, and encouraged them to use their missionary skills and help fellowship the other new students. They will be a big asset to the Center for Young Adults.

Wednesday, October 5

Devon put the final touches on his lesson for tonight while I did a little house work and laundry. In the afternoon we drove to Lordwood Medical to get our flu "jabs". The medical center is just a short walk from Harborne Chapel - very convenient! It was interesting. We walked in, got in line, and got our "jabs". No signing in, no forms to fill out, no consents to sign, no co-pays. They took our blood pressure and gave us the shot - in and out in 5 minutes. There was a small line, but with two stations administering the shots it was really fast.

We had our first CfYA Advisory Committee meeting of the new Institute year and it was AMAZING!!! These past months of training and organizing, and the new vision and direction of the CfYA Presidency are all beginning to pay off. I think the Mission President, Stake President, and S&I Director were a little stunned at the efficiency, goals, and progress. The Stake President told us afterward - "brilliant meeting" - and I couldn't agree more! Now to just keep the cogs turning.

Institute was also a huge success. We had a record number of 60 YSA in attendance! Good thing we have decided to teach in the cultural hall - the previous room wouldn't hold everyone. Quietly, in my mind, I have held 60 as a goal for attendance, but now I think 65 is realistic - why not 70?! Maybe that's a little ambitious, but it doesn't hurt to think big. Everyone seemed to really enjoy being together.

Thursday, October 6

Didn't sleep well last night. Every time I rolled to my left side my sore left arm (flu jab) woke me up. Arrgh!

More flat checks today - this time in Woodsetton and Stourbridge. They are small struggling wards - a challenge for the Elders. It is always good to sit and talk with them about their work with the YSA in their wards. The flats looked nice.

After we came home, the Harborne Elders came over for a visit. Elder Von Brughan from South Africa (a white boy) and Elder Anim from France (a black boy). Both are wonderful young men. This is Elder Anim's first area and he is doing very well with his English. They wanted to get names and contact information about YSA that they could fellowship. We gave them several names and are so grateful to have their help with the YSA. The elders get a little over shadowed by the sisters and I think they are trying to change that.

Friday, October 7

Devon went for his second driving lesson in preparation for his driving test next week. He said it went well and he feels ready for the test.  I stayed home and worked on my lesson for next week. I've had a hard time putting this lesson together. The manual is wonderful - full of great scriptures and quotes. The difficulty is deciding what to teach and what to leave out. There is no way to present it all. Another challenge is thinking of ways to involve the students in the lesson. The manual doesn't help much with that.

Tonight was Chill Night at Harborne. Besides a place to hold Institute and FHE, the Center for Young Adults (CfYA) is supposed to be a place they can come and just hang out. Previously it was only open on Monday's for FHE and Wednesday's for Institute. The CfYA leadership has decided to designate Friday evening as Chill Night beginning at 7:00 pm. We will be there to open the building and supervise for anyone who wants to hang out, play games, visit, watch BYU TV, or whatever. We had about a dozen kids show up (more than we expected) and most of them stayed until midnight! We taught some how to play Wizard, and later played Bananagrams for a long time - so fun! It was a good time for all, but by midnight we were more than ready to come home! This will be every Friday - except when there are other YSA activities or dances scheduled. I think it will be a good thing.

We had our second call this week from JP, who is still in India being treated for his jaundice. He has an infection that will take 3 to 6 months to completely recover from. He has to return to England on the 18th or he will lose his job. He is improving but impatient - wants to be better NOW - and has lots of questions, so he calls me. I think he would be better served asking his doctor! I know a little about it, but not much. Thankfully, he is getting better.

Saturday, October 8

Today was a Senior Missionary outing. We met at the mission office and then drove to Bosworth Battlefield. There were only four couples, but we had a great time. Bosworth Battlefield is the site of the battle between Richard III (the House of York) and Henry VII (the House of Lancaster) - both were seeking control of the monarchy. The battle is more commonly know as the Battle of the Roses. Henry VII won, leaving Richard III the sad distinction of being the last king of England to die in battle. We spent a couple of hours in the museum enjoying all the displays and videos. Today the countryside is beautiful English farmland - absolutely no evidence of the bloody battle once held there. On the way home we stopped at a carvery and had a meal. It was a very enjoyable outing.

This evening Sister Clark and Sister Whitaker (Harborne Ward) stopped by for a head lice check - yep, that's right. Seems one of the sisters in another ward has a confirmed case of head lice and Sister Clark was freaked out about it. I guess it is pretty common given the condition of some of the homes they visit. Anyway, no lice found! We are all relieved, but will recheck in a few days just to be sure.

Enjoyed a wonderful phone conversation with Stephen - all is well with their cute family.

Sunday, October 9

Fast Sunday today was wonderful. Our bishop did something I've never seen done before. He asked all the YSA, YM/YW, and Valiant age primary kids to come sit in the choir seats and bear their testimonies. It was not open to anyone else. The meeting went 10 minutes over, but was well worth it. We skipped the closing song and just had a closing prayer.

Afterward, the YSA had a "break-the-fast" (organized entirely by one of our newest ward reps), divided into groups, hopped in cars, and headed out to visit some of the less active YSA in Harborne Ward. There were about 5 cars of YSA, each assigned to visit 2 or 3 less active YSA. I'm anxious to hear their reports. The exciting thing is that they organized the whole thing and were genuinely excited about visiting. I see amazing things happening and it is wonderful!

We were blessed to have great Skype visits with Brad's family and Lori's family. Lori took us on a Skype tour of her new home - beautiful and so perfect for her family. We also had a nice phone conversation with David. Then I worked till bedtime on my lesson for Wednesday.