Monday, September 26
I spent all day working on my Institute lesson for this week. We are teaching "Doctrines of the Gospel" this semester. We have to teach 37 lessons over 13 weeks, which means we must combine lessons. This week I am combining three lessons; God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They all go together nicely, but there is so much great material that it is hard to decide what to leave in and what needs to be cut. The second challenge is to create learning activities for the students to participate in. It is so much more interesting for the students to participate in the lesson rather than have someone lecture for 50 minutes. I think I have it all worked out. Tomorrow I'll go over it again and fine tune it. Also I need to make a power point to go with it.
Made a nice lasagna for dinner and then we went to FHE. We had another good turnout. Devon gave the lesson on how to get the most out of General Conference (since it is next weekend). We celebrated Yanos' birthday and played a game called "Mafia" - another game about "killing off people" and then trying to guess who did it. The difference is that this one is played in the dark as you roam around. Again, they had a really good time. After all the kids left, one girl stayed behind to talk. We had fun getting updated on who is trying to date who.
Tuesday, September 27
Bailey Louise Earle was born today - daughter of my nephew, Jon and Cara. Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Rodney are proud as peacocks - and rightly so - she's adorable!
Today is a rather significant day - half way point in our mission. I would be lying if I said I didn't track the time. It feels good to be at this point. I'm not ready to come home, but I like knowing that it is coming. There is some definite isolation in our mission. I miss friendships and activities with people our age. Thankfully, we've started getting together about once a month with the other senior missionaries in the area. That is always refreshing.
We decided to treat ourselves to an afternoon matinee, so we rode the bus to Five Ways and saw "Jane Eyre". It was a good, though intense, chick flick with beautiful vistas of the English countryside. We both really enjoyed it.
We went down to the church in the evening just as Mutual was ending to enlist their help setting up tables and chairs for Institute tomorrow night. Our president, Josh, wants us to try teaching in the cultural hall with the tables in a "U" shape. The room we usually teach in is very long and narrow. The kids at the back have a hard time staying focused. The ones in the back tend to flirt, chat, and giggle during class. Josh thinks the "U" shape will help keep them focused. I think he may be right. It will also make it easier for us to move about while teaching. At least it will be an interesting change.
Wednesday, September 28
Institute was a big success. We had 52 kids in attendance. There are probably 60 registered, but things come up and they miss here and there. I know there are a few more who haven't registered, so we and the ward reps are working to encourage them to come. At the end of the day it is their choice, but we keep encouraging and inviting. I think my lesson went well. Teaching in the cultural hall had it's drawbacks, but overall I think it was good and we will try it again next week.
Thursday, September 29
First I must make a note about the beautiful, glorious sunshine we have been having. It feels like summer! The Brits are calling it a heatwave - I would say it's pleasant! I think this blessed weather is expected to continue through the weekend - yippee! It's probably just a tease before the cold, rainy weather hits, but I plan to enjoy every minute of it.
We had a combined District Meeting today - two districts and President Ogden. We were there most of the day and it was a really good "shot in the arm." For about 45 minutes we all took to the streets around the church to pass out copies of the Book of Mormon and pass along cards. I partnered up with Sister Clark and Sister Whitaker from our ward. We gave out 5 books and numerous cards. Those sisters are amazing! One book was given to a very athletically fit young man who was genuinely interested. They got his contact information and he said he would be available to meet with them the first of next week. VERY EXCITING!!! When I told him we had a great young single adult group and had a dance with 500 kids a couple of weeks ago his eyes got really big. We'll see what happens, but I feel good about him!
No news about JP. Since he is in India we can't call him. I've left messages on Facebook, but haven't heard anything back. Another of our YSA, Kezia, is having problems with her eyes. She left Institute in tears last night - so worried about her fading vision. She was to see a specialist today, but I haven't heard how that went.
Friday, September 30
The grounds around the buildings of our flat complex are really nice. Outside our second floor kitchen window is a pretty tree - medium size and shaped somewhat like an umbrella. It has medium size, dark green broad leaves and, over the summer, has produced clusters of red berries. During the past few weeks the leaves have turned yellow and are falling to the ground with each gust of wind. In the afternoon, when the sun is shining directly on the three, it almost glows as the yellow leaves reflect the sunlight - beautiful!
We did flat checks today for both sets of Harborne missionaries. The flats looked really nice. The missionaries are always so proud of their clean flats - it's really cute! Sister Clark and Sister Whitaker invited us to stay for lunch - yummy chicken, pasta, and sauce. These girls are always such fun. Sister Clark is going home in October. I will miss her LOTS - but we don't talk about it. She is busy being a great missionary.
In the evening we went to a housewarming for 5 YSA girls who have moved into a house together. They all attend different universities here in Birmingham. The party was a huge success. Lots of kids came and had a wonderful time visiting and eating all the good food Camie and the others prepared or brought.
One of the YSA had a phone call from JP and we've had a message on Facebook. He is doing much better. Don't know the details of his diagnosis, but he reports that most of the jaundice is gone and he is feeling better. He plans to return to England about the middle of the month. Also got to talk with Kezia about her eyes. There is swelling around her optic nerves and some blockage in one of the major vessels. They don't know why, so are sending her to another specialist on Monday. It's still a big worry, but she is getting help.
Saturday, October 1
Today is the day Lori and Eric move into their new house. I can imagine all the activity with many family members coming to help with the move. Wish we were there to help...but, oh well. I'm looking forward to Skyping with them tomorrow from their new home.
The General RS Broadcast was shown at 3:00 pm. At 1:30 the Stake RS served a very nice lunch; soups, rolls, and a wonderful variety of desserts. The speakers were wonderful...especially President Uchtdorf. The biggest thrill for me was seeing my sister, Linda, in the choir! She was only on the screen for a few seconds, but it was so wonderful to see her - brought tears to my eyes!
After that broadcast we watched a live broadcast of today's morning conference session. Again, so wonderful!
Sunday, October 2
In the morning Devon went to the church to watch a delayed broadcast of the priesthood session of conference. Then he came home to get me and we went back together. The Saturday afternoon session was shown at 1:00 pm. At 4:30 pm we watched "Music and the Spoken Word" followed by today's morning session of conference - both live. Between the two sessions we watched today we had a very nice munch and mingle with some of the YSA. There were about 18 kids and lots of good food. I made sloppy Joes - a big hit! The conference talks were wonderful! I took notes of some things that really touched my heart and some impressions that came to me.
When we finally came home, we had a nice Skype call with Jenna and kids, and Lori and Emily at Lori's new house. They all reported that the move yesterday was harder and took longer than anticipated. Everyone is exhausted and the job isn't quite over yet, but there is "light at the end of the tunnel".
I'm also very tired tonight, but it is a good tired. I feel so full after the wonderful, inspired counsel from our prophet and apostles. I am so grateful to have the gospel in my life!