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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

JOURNAL - January 23 - 29

Monday, January 23

FHE - sooo much fun! Amanda gave a wonderful lesson about ways to show our love. Camie (our student chef) made some amazing homemade treats, and Tom divided us into teams for a rousing and gut-splitting game of pictionary. What a great mission!

Tuesday, January 24

We got a phone call this evening from one of our YSA who has been very distant lately despite efforts from everyone. He has been a member for less than two years, and was always very happy and upbeat until the last few months. He got very sick a couple of months before Christmas and has not seemed the same since. Tonight he called very distraught and wanted to meet with us. We spent two hours with him and the elders while he poured his heart out about the difficulties he has lived with. He is originally from India, but when he was younger he and his parents were living in England.  When he was 14 1/2 his mom and dad decided to return to India and left him here - on his own - saying he had no future in India and that he needed to stay here and get his education. He is one tough kid, but desperately misses family, and is so weary of being on his own. He maintains contact with his family, but his dad is adamant he stay in England. We listened, hugged, gave him a priesthood blessing, and encouraged him to return to more consistent activity with the YSA. They all really like him, but he has shut them out lately. I'm so glad he would confide in us and pray he will be able to endure this trial and regain the happiness he knew a few months ago.

Wednesday, January 25

We enjoyed district meeting today with the elders. Boundaries for the districts were changed with transfers last week and so this is a new district. As I looked around the table only 2 of the 8 missionaries were in our previous district. The district is made up of 3 pairs of missionaries from Harborne Ward and 1 pair from Sheldon Ward, with the district leader being one of the Sheldon missionaries. It is always good and renewing to meet with the missionaries. They are amazing, hard working, dedicated young people!

Devon gave a great Institute lesson tonight about the Proclamation on the Family. The kids were very involved with the lesson and seemed to really enjoy it. The two less active boys that came last week, came again this week - yippee! They are both great guys from great families - just very connected with friends outside the church. They have many friends at Institute, too, and seemed to enjoy being there.
The young man from India was also there and made a big effort to participate - something he hasn't done for a while. His heart is hurting, but it was a good effort. The YSA were thrilled to see and talk with him.

Thursday, January 26

We meet with the sister missionaries and a young woman some of the previous sisters had been teaching many months ago. She loves the gospel, but has a boyfriend who does not want her to follow the standards. For now the boyfriend wins...but she knows we care about her and will always be here if she  needs anything.

After that we met two of our cute YSA (Steph and Tina) at the cinema to see "War Horse." They called earlier and asked if Elder Tufts would like to go see it. I said...are you kidding??? It has horses! Actually we all really enjoyed it and were wiping our eyes and sighing at the end.

Friday, January 27 and Saturday, January 28

No Chill Night tonight (multi-stake activity at Leicester that we don't need to attend) so we decided to have a little get-away and go see Oxford. What an amazing place! Oxford is in the Cotswolds and so many of the buildings are made from the warm, yellow sandstone found in the Cotswolds; a contrast to the gray Portland limestone used in the buildings in London. Oxford University is the second oldest  surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although the exact date of its beginning is unclear, there is evidence of teaching occuring there as far back as 1096. Most of the undergraduate studies at Oxford are organized around weekly classes at the 36 self-governing colleges. Each college has it's own Coat of Arms.
The city is one amazing building after another - most of them part of one of the 36 colleges. The architecture is breathtaking to say the least.

Magdalen College
 Radcliffe Camera (Library)

You can sure tell Oxford is a college town. I've never seen so many bicycles! Everywhere you look you see bikes - either being ridden or locked up to bike racks.

Christ Church College is the largest college in the Oxford University system. It is also the cathedral church of Oxford. The college was establish in 1525 by Thomas Wolsey, the Lord Chancellor of England and the Archbishop of York. He fell from power in 1529. In 1531 the college was repressed. It was reestablish in 1532 as King Henry VIII's College. Henry VIII broke with the Church of Rome and acquired great wealth by taking over the monasteries in England. In 1546 he reorganized the college as Christ Church as part of the reorganization of the Church of England. Major additions have been made to the college over the centuries. Christ College has been the setting for novels and movies including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and "Harry Potter."

Harry Potter fans should recognize this dining hall.
Inside Christ Church Cathedral 

Sunday, January 29

If Devon was writing this blog he would say, "Sunday as usual" and he would be right...except for one little glitch. When I tried to turn the light on in the bathroom the morning we were getting ready to go to Oxford, there was a flash and a pop. Now the lights in the ceilings in the bathroom, boiler room, guest bedroom, and kitchen won't work. The landlord is sending out an electrician tomorrow morning. Until then we are grateful everything else is working.