The days are definitely shorter and colder - bah, humbug! It was a good day studying for my lesson this week - resurrection, judgment, and kingdoms of glory. I was worried about preparing this lesson - feared it would be over my head. But, I have enjoyed studying and learning. Something did crop up that was a bit of a doctrinal question for me regarding Jesus as mediator and judge. Devon and I discussed it, but couldn't resolve the question, so I emailed our S&I Director. In a few minutes I had a response with a scripture reference and explanation that put it in perspective and answered my question. Thanks, Brother McMorn!
FHE was good. There was a pretty good turnout considering the cold night and the fact that it is getting to the end of the term - lots of school work for the students.
Tuesday, December 6
Spent the morning revising my lesson outline. This whole course has been a hard one for me. It's a great course, but was written in the 80's, which means there are no quotes from the more recent apostles. The old quotes are great, but the YSA "know" and relate to the current ones.
In the evening we met President and Sister Ogden, Elder and Sister Skiles, and Elder and Sister Fanning at Aston Hall, an old, historic mansion. It was built between 1618 and 1635 and was the largest and most ambitious house of its day in Warwickshire. It has been lovingly cared for and is one of the finest examples of Jacobean architecture in England today. Every other year they decorate the mansion and open it for tours during the Christmas season. It is lit only by candles and every room has an actor dressed in period clothing representing famous people from the past. They talk to you as you walk from room to room, telling you about "their life" and the mansion. In the main parlour downstairs a four piece brass band was planing Christmas carols. The people were encouraged to join in singing - wonderful!
Aston Hall by day
Wednesday, December 7
Today is transfer day for the elders and sisters. Harborne ward has two sets of missionaries - one sisters and one elders. The elders have been a three-some, but President Ogden made it known that one of them would be transferred. Sure enough, Elder Anim is leaving us. He is a relatively new missionary from France. He's been amazing and we are really going to miss him. He called us to say good bye. I think he will miss Harborne, but he will be wonderful where ever he serves! Everyone else is staying.
We had the last Advisory Council meeting for the year tonight. Two of the presidency couldn't be there due to work demands, but still the meeting was amazing! It was organized, productive, and on time. I'm so proud of these YSA leaders!!! The majority of the meeting is spent discussing the missionary efforts for the YSA less-active and new members. As we talk about individuals, the love that's being given to them, and the progress they are making it really warms my heart.
My lesson is OVER! I think it went well. I'm done teaching until our new course starts in January. Devon has the last lesson next week, then we break for Christmas.
Received a care package from home tonight - so excited! The mother and grandmother of one of our YSA young men went to visit family in Eagle Mountain, Utah. They offered to bring a few things back for me, so I made a list and sent Emily shopping. They are home now, and Tom brought "my treasures" to Institute tonight: 4 pair of stocking tights from The Rack (2 black, 2 brown - the ones I brought with me are so worn out), Cover Girl foundation make-up, Lipton Onion Soup and Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix to cook with, Mucinex, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert from last year. I am a happy girl!!!
Thursday, December 8
Let the baking begin! We are doing a Tufts Christmas FHE next Monday. I'll write more about it after the event, but today I started baking some favorite Christmas cookies for it. While working in our little kitchen, I watched the Christmas Concert DVD on my computer. Absolutely as wonderful, maybe better, than I remembered it! Nothing brings the Christmas Spirit to my heart more than Christmas music.
In the early evening we went teaching with the sisters to an absolutely amazing woman named, Maria. She was doing really great, when suddenly she called the sisters and said she didn't want any more lessons for a while. They were devastated! They knew she had a lot going on with family and also had to move to a new flat, but were totally shocked she didn't want to see them. After about 10 days she invited them back. Now she is so anxious to be baptized. We had a wonderful lesson with her today. The spirit was undeniable!
Later we met up with some of the YSA for another movie activity. They movie was nothing to recommend - silly romantic comedy - but we did have a nice time with the YSA.
Friday, December 9
Shopping day. We need stuff for the Tuck Shop at Institute and for the multi-stake dance tonight at Harborne. So off we go to Wing Yip, for A&W Root Beer, and Costco - for the rest. What would I do without Costco?!
The dance was nice. We had a smaller attendance - between 200 and 250. They all seemed to have a good time. One YSA that came was a less-active young man from one of the smaller wards in our stake. I've had contact with him several times, mostly over Facebook, and have felt strongly that I need to keep that contact going. Tonight he came in, sat down by me, and we talked for probably 30 minutes. His parent are very active, wonderful people, but when he was about 14 he started to wander away - began smoking. Now at 20 he desperately wants to quit and is finding it very difficult, though he is making progress. He is a good kid - good heart, and knows what is right and true. Reminds me of someone else I know and love.
After the dance, about 12-15 YSA stayed (without being asked) to help with the clean up - be still my heart! The best part is...they were still having fun. They just hung around, after the work was finished, and enjoyed chatting with each other for a while. They really do enjoy being together!
Saturday, December 10
Today is Amanda and Nathanael's wedding - two YSA from Harborne. She is 11 years older, but they are so perfectly suited for each other and so much in love! It was wonderful to witness their civil ceremony and give them both hugs and best wishes. Later today they will drive to Preston and be sealed for Time and Eternity.
This evening was a baptism for Linda - another lovely lady the sisters in Harborne have been teaching. Devon gave a wonderful talk on the Holy Ghost, and I was asked to play the piano - just where I like to be. For prelude I played almost every Christmas song in the Primary Song Book twice, and loved every minute!
Afterwards we came home and called Lori. We have spoken with her every day this week. She has been having unbearable pain (muscle spasms). I know she will not complain to me, as she doesn't want to worry me, but I can see in her eyes that it has been horrible. Besides the pain she has had a horrific reaction to "something" that has left a large red, itchy, burned area several inches all around the incision on her back. Yesterday she went back to her doctor, who was SHOCKED, when he saw the reaction. They don't know what caused it, but have given her some cream and new drugs. Today she reports that she is a little better - fewer muscle spasms. Being so far away and unable to help her has been the hardest thing yet on our mission.
Sunday, December 11
It is High Council Sunday, and Devon was assigned to speak in Woodsetton - a very nice little ward. Church was great and so was his talk. We met the new elders in that ward. I think they will bring new enthusiasm to the ward. One of the elders is from West Jordan.
After Woodsetton we dashed back to Harborne to meet with the Bishop and YSA Ward Reps to discuss the YSA that will be here without family for Christmas. There's only a couple and they will be invited to spend Christmas with a family in the ward. Bishop DeSous thinks we need to plan a YSA New Year's Eve event to be held at Harborne, and he is willing to fund it. So after talking with some of the YSA and being assured they would organize it, we said...why not?! Howard and Edi will be here and I'm sure will have great fun with the YSA.
Lastly in this busy and wonderful week, was the delayed First Presidency Christmas Broadcast. We knew people could watch it on the internet from the comfort of their homes, so we wondered if many would come to the church to see it. There were probably about 60 people there - half were our YSA! Everyone left after the broadcast, except the YSA. Again, they stayed and chatted for a while and did a little planing for the New Year's Eve event.
Upon arrival home, we called Lori again - actually, we Facetime with her - technology is amazing! She really is doing better - still very "wiped out", but much less frequent pain. For the first time, I feel reassured that probably the worst is over. I'm so grateful for her wonderful husband, Eric, who has taken such good care of her and their cute family during this ordeal.