Brrrr! Very clear skies the last couple of days and much colder temperatures. There's frost all over everything, and if the sun doesn't hit it, it doesn't melt - but it is much better than snow. Actually, I miss the beauty of newly fallen snow. They say that when it snows here everything comes to a halt. I'm told that since it happens so infrequently, they really don't know how, or have the equipment to handle it. So...I'm quite glad there is no snow.
FHE was good, although some didn't come - probably due to the cold. Waiting in the cold at the bus stop is no fun, and some have to take two buses to get there.
Tuesday, January 17
Not much to say about today except laundry and lesson prep
Wednesday January 18
Today was transfer day for the mission. We don't have to go to transfers, but since the elders needed a ride to the mission home, we went. To our great surprise Elder VonBrughan and Sister Whitaker were transferred. It was a big surprise and disappointment to them,too. But they are great missionaries and made the transfer with smiles. I'm really going to miss them. Two of the missionaries replacing them were in Harborne a year ago - Elder Steed and Sister Hedemark - so it was great to see them again. Also a new pair of elders was assigned to Harborne - that brings the total to 8 missionaries in our ward - 6 young missionaries and us. Just shows how much work there is in our area. Makes me mad I forgot to take my camera to transfers! Hopefully I'll see them at another transfer and get pictures.
Institute was great tonight. I taught a lesson on the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage. I found pictures of the Hinckleys, Monsons, Eryings, and Uchtddorfs taken on or about the time of their weddings and used them in my power point. I also used wedding pictures of some of the YSA recently married and one of us. The kids loved them! Two less active boys came. They didn't go into any of the lessons, but hung around a long time after lesson talking with the other YSA. It looked to me like they were enjoying it. We didn't leave until almost 11:00 as so many YSA were having a nice time chatting.
Thursday, January 19
Time to clean the flat, iron shirts, and work on our next lessons. I admit..I'm getting weary of preparing lessons. Tonight was Stake Priesthood meeting, which meant Devon went to the meeting and I stayed home. It is a rarity that we don't go to something together. I treated myself to an evening of knitting.
Friday, January 20
Before Chill Night we went with Sarah (YSA Counselor) to visit a less active girl named, Sophia. She is so sweet and welcoming. She is attending university studying illustration. We had a bit of trouble finding her flat, but after a phone call to her, we realized we were just around the corner. I think she would be more active if getting to church wasn't so inconvenient. Hopefully the YSA will contact and encourage her - maybe even arrange to have her live with some of them next year.
Chill Night was great fun....well for most of us!
Devon was having a hard time with Bananagrams - not getting very good letters to work with. We played a couple of other games he had much better luck with.
Saturday, January 21
Today we went to another National Trust Historic Site - Baddesley Clinton. It was an outing planned for the senior missionary couples and was very interesting. The home was built by Henry Ferrers in the late 1500s. It passed from father to son for 12 generations (500 years) before being sold in 1940. The family were very strong Catholics during a time of great persecution in England of those wanting to remain in the faith. The house was a sanctuary not only for the family, but also for persecuted priests who were hidden from the priest hunters in secret hiding places in the house during the 1590s. It was a cold, windy day, so we didn't venture onto to grounds, but did enjoy seeing the house.
The house is made from stone taken from a quarry on the property. It has been added onto over the years. The moat surrounds the house.
Inner courtyard. Notice the acorn shape of the shrubs on either side. This shape is representative of the Catholic faith. You can't see the stained glass windows very well in this picture, but they are original and represent various coats of arms.
This house has three priest hiding places. One was behind a fireplace, one in the attic, and one in the sewer. They were all very cramped, uncomfortable places..and in the case of the sewer you can imagine how awful it must have been. Both the priests and families hiding them would be tortured and killed if found.
The furnishing, rugs, and tapistries, though not original to the house, are beautiful antique pieces. The architecture, stone and wood carvings are original, and they are amazing.
On the way to Baddesley Clinton we passed over this canal lined on either side with houseboats. Wouldn't that be fun!
Sunday, January 22
I was feeling rather discouraged this morning about a few YSA (fairly recent converts) that are becoming less active. It is hard with so many different personalities, interests, and goals. It is also hard when some of the active kids have known each other for years and are used to their "groups." We call, visit, sent texts, etc., but unless they feel a part of the "group" its easy to slip away. This problem, and the problem with transportation is constant. In talking with our family, it seems to be an issue in Utah, too. It shouldn't be a problem to feel accepted in the Church of Jesus Christ.
But...my heart was lifted when I got to church. There were about 28 YSA in our YSA Sunday School class, and a few others working in their Primary callings. A wonderful group of kids, including a less active girl, and two new YSA that have moved into the area. They were warmly greeted...now to just get everyone to be consistent in reaching out in friendship to them.
We came home and I fixed dinner - pork chop casserole, a Tufts family favorite. There is much we love about England, but their applesauce is not on the list. Since we love applesauce with pork chop casserole, I decided to make my own. So yummy and easy...why haven't I done this sooner?!