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.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

JOURNAL - June 4 - 7

Monday, June 4 - 7

We awoke early, showered, threw the last things into our suitcases, ate a bowl of cereal, locked the door to our home for the past year and a half, and drove to Harborne Ward for the last time. We met Brother McMorn there and he drove us to the Moor Street Train Station. The train took us to Marlybone. From there we transferred to the underground and went to Paddington where we transferred again to a high speed train to Heathrow Terminal 5. We sent a lot of "stuff" home with our family, and even shipped one box in an attempt to keep our luggage down for the trip home. But we still had one checked bag, one carry-on, and one personal item each - all packed to the maximum. We were over the weight limit on both of our checked bags, but the agent took pity on us and didn't charge us anything for the over weight bags. He did advise us to lighten them up in Paris as the next agent might not be so generous. After a short hour plane ride, we were in Paris. Having no desire to manage all that luggage through the city bus/underground system (which would include transfers) we took a cab to our hotel - a 30 minute and €50.00 investment, but well worth it. The hotel was small, but very nice - clean room, friendly staff, nice continental breakfast, and a five minute walk to the underground station. I'll add a few pictures of the amazing places we saw in Paris
Paris in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower 
Palace of Versallies
 Sacre Coeur
 Arc de Triomphe
 Notre Dame

Thursday, June 7

Last night we did a luggage "repack" and left out a pair of shoes, all our toiletries and some clothes we really didn't need or want. This time at the airport check-in we were under the limit - but just barely. Our non-stop flight home was 10 1/2 hours - a half hour shorter than scheduled - and we touched down in SLC at 1:30 pm. Going through customs was fun - so many "welcome homes" from our fellow travelers and the employees at the airport.

What a thrill when we finally walked through the big doors to our waiting family! Such a grand reunion! We had seen our family often through Skype while we were gone, but were still surprised how much the grandkids have grown.

After hugs and pictures we drove down the freeway to Highland and marveled at the changes -especially to SR92 now known as Timpanogos Highway. Our family had prepared a traditional Tufts family favorite - Sloppy Joes! It couldn't have been better. We had a lovely afternoon and evening visiting. At 8:10 pm (3:10 am Birmingham time - yawn) we had a meeting with President Anderson and he officially released us from our calling as missionaries. We came come, had prayers, and fell into bed feeling completely amazed, blessed, and exhausted! 

Final note: We are home. Thus ends one chapter and begins another - just like that! I am so grateful for the amazing experience we shared serving a mission in Birmingham England with the Young Single Adults. We made so many friendships that I hope will continue for a lifetime. I was told, but could never imagine, how much I would come to love these wonderful young people. It is hard to think or talk about them without a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes - a piece of me is missing. I am amazed and grateful for the love, encouragement, and support they freely gave us. I will never forget them or the wonderful experiences we had in the Lord's service in England. We have been blessed beyond words! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

JOURNAL - May 21 - June 3

Monday, May 21

I can't believe it! We've had sun ALL DAY - the first sunny day in quite a while. A perfect day to sight see.

First on the agenda today was to have lunch at Birmingham City University - the one where Camie is a culinary arts student. I had my first taste of lamb and liked it! Also had an amazing salmon dish. Stephen and Andrea went with us and enjoyed it, too.

Then we went to Hanbury Hall - a beautifully restored English estate. The house was originally built in 1701 by Thomas Vernon, a wealthy solicitor (lawyer). It was his summer home. The house and the grounds have been lovingly and beautifully restored.

 This ditch and wall is called a "ha ha." It's purpose is to keep the sheep and cows in their pasture without a fence - thus no obstructed view. It works really well.
Ha and Stephen sitting on the "ha ha."

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home. Devon, Stephen, and Andrea had a lovely walk in our beautiful Cannon Hill Park while I fixed a yummy dinner of sweet and sour meatballs. We played a couple of games and then went to bed - very exhausted and looking forward to tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 22

Today we went to Warwick Castle. We have been there before, but it is always fun to go with new people. Stephen and Andrea really enjoyed it and so did we! Brad and Jenna arrived in London safely. We will meet them there tomorrow.

May 23 - 26

Today we began our time in London with Bradley, Jenna, Stephen, and Andrea. What fun to be with all four and what fun they had being together. Since we only had three days in London, we divided our sightseeing into three areas – one for each day. Wednesday we stayed on the west side of London City (Harrods department store, Hyde Park and Hyde Park Chapel, Prince Albert Memorial), Thursday the mid city (Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abby, London Eye, Cleopatra’s Needle) and Friday the East side (Tower of London, Jack the Ripper Tour, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Greenwich Village, Thames River Cruise). On Saturday we took Stephen and Andrea to the airport for their flight home. Brad and Jenna when to a matinee of “Wicked” while we went to Portobello Market. Then the four of us headed to Birmingham.
 Piccadilly Circus
 Silly tourists!
 Tower of London
 Tower Bridge
Steps of St. Paul's Cathedral

 Trafalgar Square
 Big Ben and Parliament
 London Eye
Lego royal wedding party at Hamley's Toy Store

Side notes from London:
1. In an effort to save money we decided to go to Evensong at St. Paul’s - entrance is free if you are attending a service. As it turns out, they were having a special program to install the new Dean of St. Paul’s – very nice!
2. Changing of the Guard was so crowded and somewhat of a disappointment when the band played “New York, New York” and the theme from Mission Impossible. I was expecting “God Save the Queen” or something British. They did also play a Beatle’s song.
3. Staying in a cheaper hotel by the airport worked out fine, thanks to London’s great mass transit system. It took us about 45 minutes to get into London, but it saved a ton of $$$.

Sunday, May 27

We attended church at our Harborne Ward and then had a quite day at the flat, resting, and catching up on laundry - our little washer/dryer combo takes about 3 hours for a load, so it takes a while to get several day’s laundry for four people done. We also had a lovely walk to Cannon Hill Park. It was packed with people enjoying the day off.

Monday, May 28

Today we did the Church History Sites: Benbow Pond, Gadfield Elm, and saw the old Corse church where Devon’s 2nd great grandparents were married. In the evening we went to FHE and had a nice time with the YSA. One young man was there that we haven’t had to activities in quite a while. It was great to see him. We enjoyed a very competitive game of chair football and then a fun game of Animal Sounds.
 Benbow's Pond
 Gadfield Elm Chapel (Oldest chapel in the church - not used as a chapel)
Inside old Corse church

Tuesday, May 29

We went to Stratford Upon Avon with Brad and Jenna and saw Shakespeare’s birthplace, Trinity Church where he and his wife (Anne Hathaway) are buried, Anne Hathaway’s childhood home and Mary Arden’s Farm. Mary Arden is Shakespeare’s maternal grandmother. It is believed he spent much of his early childhood on her farm. Today the farm is a working 16th century Tudor farm. The volunteers are all busy running the farm and are dressed in authentic, hand-sewn costumes.
 Mary Arden's house on her 16th century farm
 Shakespeare's birthplace
Devon's favorite store in Stratford

On the way home we stopped in Stourbridge to go to dinner with the Morgan’s. We made a return visit to Isha’s – a Balti restaurant. Brad and Jenna were a little worried about it, but the food was, once again, amazing! Then we went to the Morgan’s and play a game of Wizard.

Wednesday, May 30

Today is errand day. We went to Bull Ring and Cadbury getting last minute souvenirs and a box. Brad and Jenna have kindly offered to take a box of our “stuff” home with them. They came with only one checked bag, so they can check our box as their other free check-in…so nice!

In the evening we went to Institute. It was a bit strange to just go and attend. Brother McMorn taught the lesson and Marietta set up the tuck shop. It was wonderful to visit with the YSA and give final hugs to those not in Harborne Ward.

Thursday, May 31

Today we took Brad and Jenna to Warwick Castle – it was wonderful. I especially enjoyed a couple of young people telling some of the history of the castle and King Henry VIII. The weather is back to typical English clouds, misty rain, and cooler temperatures. As one Englishman said, “we’ve had our week of summer and now it’s winter again.” Hopefully there will be more sunny days.

On the way home we stopped at the Toby Carvery for a typical English meal: roasts (beef, pork, turkey, ham), Yorkshire pudding (which is more like a pastry than pudding), vegetables, potatoes and gravy. It was very good. Thanks Brad and Jenna!

When we got home we finished packing – Brad and Jenna their bags and us our box.

Friday, June 1

We drove Brad and Jenna to Heathrow this morning. Arriving home our little flat sure seemed lonely after two weeks with family visiting. Now we begin the final packing and preparations for going home.

In the evening we went to a farewell "Shindig" for Camie. She leaves tomorrow for her home in Wales. She'll be there about a week and then goes to Ireland to begin her culinary placement year. There were about 20-22 YSA there and we had so much fun. Camie made some sweet treats (brownies and cupcakes). We walked to the reservoir behind their house and played a fun game of rounders in the large grassy area. Rounders is very similar to softball. We played with a tennis racket instead of a bat so there were lots of good hits and our team won! We played until it was too dark to see - then we returned to Camie's house where we visited and wished Camie bon voyage. I don't want to think about our time with these wonderful young adults being over. I enjoy them so much! They treat us as "one of the gang" - we feel so accepted and loved. I never expected it would be so hard to leave!

Saturday, June 2

We spent the morning packing, getting rid of "stuff," running errands, cleaning out and washing the car. In the evening the Morgans came over to play pinochle and took most of our left over food home with them. They are such great friends. We are going to miss them and our fun card games.

Sunday, June 3

Last Sunday in Harborne Ward. As it is Fast and Testimony Sunday they asked us to bear our testimonies. We actually feel pretty fortunate that we didn't have to give parting talks - doing our testimonies was just perfect. After church we were overwhelmed with hugs and well wishes from so many wonderful people. The YSA planned a little break the fast lunch for us. The day has been cool, cloudy, and rainy all day...sort of how I feel - rather blue and teary about leaving. I think I am all cried out - feel very drained. At the same time feel so blessed for this amazing opportunity we've had to serve a mission.

A few of the YSA invited us to come back to the church in the evening to play games. We still have much to do to get ready to leave in the morning, but how could we say no to one more opportunity to be with the young adults. It was a small group, but we had a blast - perfect way to end our day!
 Back row L to R: Jonny, Stephanie, Hannah, Yanos
Front row L to R: Rochelle, Judy, Devon, Tina

We came home, finished packing and cleaning, and Skyped a few minutes with Marianne. We are pulled in two directions - our young adults want us to stay, and our family is so anxious for us to come home. The dye is cast - tomorrow we fly to Paris!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

JOURNAL - May 14 - 20

Monday, May 14

Today was my long awaited appointment at the Thyroid Clinic to get my nodule checked. The woman we saw is pretty positive it is a routine nodule that needs nothing more than occasional checking. But to be sure, she did a needle biopsy. Hopefully I'll get the results before we leave for home. I'm not worried about it and the biopsy was a "piece of cake."

We came home, parked the car, and caught the bus to have lunch at Birmingham City University Brasserie - run completely by the culinary art students, one of which is our YSA. At one of the bus stops two other YSA hopped on. They, too, were going to have lunch at the Brasserie, so we all went together. It was really fun and the meal was FANTASTIC! Dessert was an amazing vanilla cheese cake with mango sauce - best I've ever had. I'm hoping Camie can get the recipe for me as she was assigned to the pastry kitchen today.

Then we walked a couple of blocks to city center and Devon bought a new suit and I got a new skirt. We went to Poundland (dollar store) and bought paper cups for YSA events, and ping pong balls at a sports store (the YSA love playing ping pong). We caught the bus home in time for a short rest and then met the sisters to teach Li, a young man from China who is here getting his masters degree. The lesson was good, though language is a barrier.

From there we went to the church. We were a little early for FHE, so I cleaned out the closet in the YSA lounge - what a mess. I have been wanting to tackle it for months, so I am glad it is finally done. We had a great lesson and discussion about faith, ate some treats, played a few competitive games of ping pong, and a game of stacking blocks. Everyone had a great time!

Tuesday, May 15

Spoke to several missionaries who have completed their mission and are going home tomorrow. What wonderful people and how I love them! Found out the changes in our district. We only knew of one change as Elder Christiansen is going home to Utah, but we were worried we might lose the sisters, too. As it turns out the sisters are staying, but the mission is taking back their car and they will now be on bikes. There is a shortage of cars for the senior missionaries. But the area the sisters live in is not the best, so their flat will be closed and they have moved to the Harborne C elders's flat which is on the outskirts of town. It will take them an hour bus ride to get to the church. There will be 3 Harborne B elders, which should be VERY interesting! Two are still "greenies" in sooo many ways.

In the evening we drove to Stourbridge to go to dinner with the Morgans and play a game of pinochle. We had dinner at a restaurant called Isha's - Kashmirian food. Okay...I have to admit I was worried. I'm not very adventurous when it comes to dining. This, however, was amazing. The waiter/owner was so patient and explained all the menu choices to us. The food was out of this world delicious. They showered us with attention and a free dessert. Sure hope we have a change to go there again before we leave.

Wednesday, May 16

Devon polished off his lesson this morning. It seems strange (and nice) to not have a lesson to prepare. So I spent the morning wrapping souvenirs for grandkids and deciding what to put in the box we are shipping home. I also was busy transferring files and notes from my computer to a flash drive I want to leave for the couple replacing us in mid August. I don't have contact information for them yet, but we are anxious to talk with them.

Today is transfer day which means we are needed to transport the new elder back to Harborne B. His two new companions were at transfers and so we brought the three of them and two bikes back to their flat. Crowded does not begin the describe how packed our little car was, but we made it! After that we picked up the sisters at their new flat and brought them back to the church where they were meeting Li for another lesson. We grabbed a quick bite from Waitrose, set up the tuck shop and classroom, and then the evening meetings began - YSA Council and Institute.

During Institute devotional Josh, our YSA president, surprised us with a beautiful slide show full of photos of the YSA, trips and activities we did together, and pictures of us. Shame on him for making me cry! Oh how I love and will miss these young adults!

It was a wonderful evening. After they all left, we finished a few last minute chores and then just looked at each other - our last Institute was over. We turned out the lights and drove home.

Thursday, May 17

The gas inspector made his yearly visit to check out the boiler. It works, but is old and not up to the new code. It needs to be replaced. Also the landlord's son and a couple of contractors came to take some measurements. They are planing to refurbish the kitchen (including putting in a small dishwasher), replace the boiler, and update the electrical after we leave. It's going to be really nice.

After that we hopped on the bus and rode to Bull Ring to pick up Devon's suit and buy a new tie. His suit is gray and has a very, very faint tiny purple stripe...so he decided he wanted a purple tie. I don't know if pink and purple ties are in fashion in Utah, but they sure are here - and, surprisingly, we both like them! We bought the tie at a store called "High and Mighty" - men's big and tall shop. Devon likes his ties long. After much debate, and looking at every tie in the shop, we finally purchased one. Then it was just a quick bus ride home.

Friday, May 18

Today was flat cleaning day - big flat cleaning day. I cleaned the oven, washed the inside of all the windows, sorted through closets, cupboards, drawers, and did laundry. Devon made a final run to Costco and Wing Yip for tuck shop goodies and refreshments for Institute Graduation on Sunday. In the evening we attended a stake high priest meeting and social. It was really good and we had a wonderful time visiting with so many great people.

Saturday, May 19

Stephen and Andrea have arrived!!! Woohoo!!! We picked them up at London Heathrow airport and then headed straight for Stratford Upon Avon to start our sightseeing.
Outside Shakespeare's birthplace.
Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried.
Anne Hathaway's childhood home (Shakespeare's wife).
Interesting scarecrow at Anne Hathaway's home. It's a potato with feathers that spins on the twine when the wind blows - very clever.

We came home, ate taco soup, and "hit the hay." 


Church was very good. We really enjoyed having Stephen and Andrea come with us and I think they enjoyed meeting our beloved YSA. After church we headed out to see the local church history sites.
At Benbow Pond - site of early convert baptisms.
Gadfield Elm chapel - oldest LDS chapel in the world. 
Old Corse church
Devon's 2nd great grandparents, Daniel and Esther Collett, were married here.
Stephen delivering "the good word" in the old Corse church.
Happy tourists enjoying the beautiful English countryside.

We arrived back in Birmingham in time to attend Institute graduation. There was a good turnout. The talks/testimonies were all great. I am very moved by the many wonderful expressions of appreciation we are receiving. They come from parents, stake leaders, and our wonderful YSA. Who says "parting is such sweet sorrow?" There's nothing sweet about it!  I remember how hard it was to leave home 18 months ago. I never expected it would be just as hard to say goodbye to our wonderful YSA. I'm going to miss them sooo much! At least when we left home I knew we were coming back. I don't know when we will see our YSA again. The next two weeks will be very busy with Stephen, Andrea, Brad, and Jenna coming and going - not to mention final packing, getting the flat ready for the new couple, and more goodbyes!

Monday, May 14, 2012

JOURNAL - May 7 - 13

Monday, May 7

This morning we went to Harvington Hall near Kidderminster with the Morgans and Elders Morrissey and Eppel. It is a moated medieval and Elizabethan manor house that now belongs to the Catholic Church and is famous for it's seven priest holes. It also has an interesting malt house and small chapel.The priest holes were hiding places for the priests during medieval times. The Church of England hunted down and killed any priests they found and the people who were aiding them. The malt house is where they roasted the grain used to make beer. Since it was a bank holiday here in England, it was Living History day at the hall and many volunteers were in period costumes telling visitors about life in Harvington Hall.
Front entrance - Harvington Hall
Side showing moat.
This priest hole was located under this wooden staircase. Two stairs were lifted up to provide access to the hole.
Delightful musical ensemble playing in one of the rooms.
Sweet volunteer showing Sister Morgan and I how to spin wool.
Medieval toddler walker.
Organ in chapel

We got home in time to fix a big pot of taco soup. Elders Christiansen, Ensing, Zundel, and Kramer came over for dinner. Today is Elder Kramer's birthday so we also had some angel food cake with strawberries, ice cream, and a candle. After dinner the missionaries rushed on to their appointments and we rushed to FHE. We had a good attendance and lots of fun - taught them how to play Shanghi. Boy were we tired after our very busy day!

Tuesday, May 8

Finished my lesson and made the power point to go with it for tomorrow's lesson. Also ran to the bank and post office. After dinner we went to the church to help a couple of YSA get ready for tomorrow night's activity at Institute.
Wednesday, May9
Today is our last District Meeting and the last one before transfers next week. Elder Christiansen is going home, so we will be getting at least one new elder in our district. Elder Hopkinson hopes to be transferred to fill his space, but we'll see. Everyone always speculates on who may be changed, but they never know for sure until Monday night before transfers.
Sheldon District
Left to right: Elders Christiansen, Choi, Merrill (Zone Leader), Zundel, Kramer, Hopkinson, Ensing, Tufts, Sisters Turnbow, Shorters, Tufts.
The lady in the picture is "Dorothy." It's a picture Elder Hopkinson found in the rubbish. Don't know how to explain why he even has it!
Stourbridge District - they meet right before we do and we all eat lunch together.
Left to Right: Elders Querubin, Collins, Merrill, Patch, Oakey, Morrissey, Pauly, Eppel, Morgan
Sisters Louis, Nelson, Morgan

My lesson at Institute went really well. The activity was so much fun. One of our YSA used to do fencing so she brought some nerf sabers and taught fencing moves to the YSA. They had a really good time!

Thursday, May 10

The Morgans went with us this afternoon to finish flat checks for this transfer. I'm going to call it a tie between the two sets of sisters. Both flats were excellent! We turned over all the extra supplies to the Morgans who will be taking over the task next transfer. They came back to our flat afterwards and we had left over taco soup, salad, and rolls, and then enjoyed a little pinochle.

Friday, May 11

It's time to type up notes for the couple that will be replacing us. Typing it all down makes me realize why I'm so tired! We really do a lot of stuff! Tonight was our last multi-stake dance, so we made a Costco run to get the food for the dance. We had about 270 YSA in attendance - pretty typical. There were three other couples there to help, although the YSA are always so well behaved we could handle it ourselves. Their biggest help is getting the YSA to leave after the dance and then cleaning up the building. For that, I am very grateful!

Saturday, May 12

Sun, beautiful sun! Perfect day for a baptism! We drove to Kidderminster for the Livvy's baptism. We met her a couple of months ago when she was first taking the missionary lessons. She is a professional jazz singer - beautiful voice and very talented. More than that, she is a beautiful person. She has had her trials, but she says the last few months since she started investigating the church have been the happiest in her life. She has met and made friends with several YSA who really love her. Her aunt and cousin are also members and good support for her.
Left to right: Sisters Turnbow, Shorters, Livvy, Elders Querubin, and Patch

Sunday, May 13

Another nice day! Church was good, but the biggest treat was the unexpected visit of one of our YSA that graduated from university last May. Miro is here for about a week. He finished his military obligation in Finland and will be leaving for his mission to the Alpine (German speaking) Mission. He is a convert of four years and will be an amazing missionary!

After church, Devon took me out to dinner as it is American Mother's Day. We went home for a little while and then came back to church for the CES broadcast. It, too, was wonderful and we had a nice turnout. Then we came home and finished Skyping with our own kids. We talked with almost everyone and even got a FaceTime tour of Daryn and Catie's new home. It has been a very nice Mother's Day!