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, November 7, 2011

JOURNAL - October 31 to November 6

Monday, October 31 - HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Our friend, Cheryl Fugal, shared this information about Halloween and I thought it was really interesting, so I've decided to record it in my blog. Thanks Cheryl!

"It’s thought that Halloween likely had it’s origins in the pagan festivals held around the end of October in the British Isles. In the year 835 AD the Catholic Church made November 1, a church holiday to honor all the saints. Although it was a joyous holiday it was also the eve of All Souls Day, so in Medieval times it became the custom to pray for the dead on this date.

"Another name for All Saints Day is 'All Hallows' (hallow is an the old English word for 'saint'). The festival began on All Hallows Eve, the last night of October.
"According to an Irish legend, jack-o-lanterns were named after a man named Jack who couldn’t enter heaven because he was a miser. He couldn’t enter hell either because he played jokes on the devil. So he could only walk the earth with his jack-o-lantern until judgment day.
"In England and Ireland lanterns were traditionally carved from turnips. In Scotland the thick stem of the cabbage plant was used.
"The wearing of costumes originates in Celtic tradition. People thought that when they left their homes on Halloween night they would come across ghosts so they worn costumes to avoid being recognized by those ghosts. Halloween used to be a time for making mischief in parts of England so it was called Mischief Night."

FHE had a rather low attendance tonight, probably because it is Halloween. Still those that came had a great time - bobbed for apples, carved a couple of pumpkins, and played a fun game trying to pick up a bag with their teeth.

Tuesday, November 1

I happened to call the sister missionaries with a question and randomly asked if there was anything we could do for them? As it turned out they had an appointment to teach a wonderful investigator named, Maria, but the ward member that was going with them just called and cancelled - so, we went with them. What an amazing experience! Maria is a very educated woman who recently decided she wanted to find a church. She was raised in another faith, but has not been practicing that faith for a long time. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and feels such a peace and honesty in it. She wants to learn more and wants to pray about baptism. She is so easy to talk to and teach.

After the lesson, we drove to Costco. Sister Whitaker was wearing a darling, very warm pair of boots and I wanted to get a pair. It's always so hard to find shoes that fit, but these boots fit perfectly. They came in US sizes so it was easy to find a pair. They are not only cute, but very warm - will be wonderful when the cold weather hits.

Wednesday, November 2

Still not feeling well. Devon went to District Meeting while I stayed home to put final touches on my lesson for tonight and rest! Took all the drugs I could before my lesson and still had a major coughing spell in the middle of it - too much talking for my throat and voice. Oh well, other than the coughing, I think the lesson went well. We had a very successful Advisory Council meeting. Love seeing progress!

Friday, November 4

I'm feeling better, but now Devon is starting to get sick, so we stayed in most of the day. I caught up on laundry and house work - also made some banana nut muffins to take to Chill Night. We only had about 10 kids at Chill Night, but it was soooo much fun! President Griffiths was there hanging out while his son was in a Seminary meeting. He played Bananagrams and Uno with us and had a ball! Also Elder Donaldson, our Area Seventy, was there for the Seminary meeting. He and Brother McMorn (our S&I Director) watched us play games and ate muffins and brownies. It was really a fun evening!

Found out some hard news today. Lori, our daughter with six beautiful children ages 13 to 1, has been to two different orthopedic doctors for opinions regarding her back pain. Both agree she needs back surgery NOW. I was hoping it could wait until I was home, but that is not an option. Without it she is facing serious nerve damage. It has hit me hard to think I can't be there when she needs me, and I know she is concerned about how things will work out, too. After tears, prayers, and thought, I realize I must put it in the Lord's hands to inspire family and friends to fill my spot. Her siblings have assured me they will come to the rescue - still my heart aches to be there!

Saturday, November 5 - GUY FAWKES NIGHT

Guy Fawkes was involved in an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. He was part of a group that wanted to bring Catholicism back to England. His job was to guard the gunpowder stored under the House of Lords. Someone tipped off the guards and Guy Fawkes was captured, tortured, confessed, and sentenced to die by hanging. However, he jumped from the gallows, prior to the hanging, broke his neck and died. Many communities celebrate this event every year on November 5th with a huge bonfire where they often burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes. This event is followed by a big fireworks display.

Today also happened to be the five stake YSA volleyball tournament. They have them twice a year, and this time it was in Leicester (about an hour's drive from Birmingham). There have been three tournaments, that I know of. Birmingham won the first two and Coventry won the last. Each of the 5 stakes can assemble as many as three teams and the games go on all day. The final round was between very evenly matched Birmingham and Coventry teams. Birmingham won the first match. Coventry won the second. The third and final match see-sawed back and forth going into extra points. But in the end Coventry won. I was really proud of our kids. They played hard as a team and showed great sportsmanship.
L to R: John, Jonathan, Kynna, Lauren, Amanda, Sharoon
Back row L to R: Darren, Tom, Owen, Joseph - Front row L to R: Stephanie, Hannah, Lucy.
L to R: Josh, Jared, Tina, Kezia, Lauren, Jonny.
 Above: our three teams. Below: most of the Birmingham YSA that were present.
Back Row L to R: Stephanie, Tina, Lucy, Tom, Hannah, Jonny, Tristin, Erin, Jonathan, Darren, Sharoon, Jared, Joseph, Jared, Andrew - Kneeling row L to R: Josh, Lauren, Kezia, Amanda, Lauren - Front row L to R: John, Kynna, Sarah, Laura, Owen, Marietta.
After the games, we went with the kids to grab a bite at KFC/Burger King. Some of them went to one of their houses and set off backyard fireworks. We just went home. While driving home we could see fireworks going off in many communities around the motorway. 


Devon is officially sick. All the shouting and cheering at the volleyball game didn't help either of us. He got up and drove me to church, then went back home to sleep. Church was great! After Fast and Testimony meeting the Harborne YSA had a "break the fast." I was assigned to bring bread, so I made a half recipe of Arlene Keysor's good French bread (two large loaves). That has to be one of my favorite recipes. I use my Bosche mixer at home, but here all I have is a hand mixer with dough hooks. They work surprisingly well and the bread was a big hit. I mixed it up at home, and baked it in the oven at church, which was sort of mean as the smell of freshly baked bread was throughout the building. There were probably 20 YSA at the meal.

In the evening we met the sisters and elders at the home of two of our less active YSA from China - Diana and Ian. Sister Louis from  India was in charge of the dinner. We had tomato curry over rice, fried potatoes, hard boiled eggs, some kind of Indian tortilla-type large flat cracker, and chocolate chip cookies (guess what I brought?!). The elders had to leave after dinner, but we had a nice lesson by Sister Whitaker and then played a card game. It was really fun. Today we also enjoyed talking with Matthew and hearing all about his birthday, and Skyping with some of our other kids and their families.