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, April 29, 2012

JOURNAL - April 23 - 29

Monday, April 23

We took the bus with the girls to Heathrow Airport for their flight home. They needed our help getting all the luggage there, and we wanted to see them off. I can't believe their visit is over - it went by so fast. But I'll not be sad - just grateful they could come!

We drove home, unpacked and began our laundry. Something seems to be wrong with our little washing machine - it sounds like an airplane taking off during the spin cycle. Will call the landlord tomorrow.

FHE was really nice. Amanda always does such thoughtful lessons. Leanne did a fun game, and we brought treats. It felt really good to be back with the YSA. I've got a little sore throat and runny nose - hope it will pass with rest - heaven knows we are exhausted!

Tuesday, April 24

Not much to report. After "playing" with the girls we really need to work on our lessons for this week. I called the landlord about the washing machine and have scheduled an appointment with a repairman for Friday. I don't think it's much - still works, just makes so much noise.

A cough is now accompanying my sore throat  and runny nose and I feel pretty under the weather - which by the way is still rainy and depressing. Took a nap!

Wednesday, April 25

I am full blown sick! But have to teach tonight so tried to rest between working on my lesson. Institute went well - we both had to teach tonight - but I could hardly wait to go to bed.

Thursday, April 26

Today is the last Zone Conference before we go home, and before President and Sister Ogden go home. Also, a rather large group of missionaries we have worked with will be going home. So, no matter how I felt, staying home was not an option.  These meetings are always good, but this one was especially tender. At the end of Zone Conference the missionaries being released before next Zone Conference give their "parting testimony." It is always very spiritual - something not to be missed. I was quite surprised that they asked us to also give our parting testimonies - not an easy task. There were lots of hugs and tears. What a privilege it has been to work with and know these amazing young men and women. They are spiritual giants! I hope we will keep in touch. Many live in Utah, so we will see them again for sure. That makes saying good bye a little easier.

Friday, April 27

I think I am feeling a little better - hooray! Unfortunately the weather is not getting any better. In fact, I think this has been the rainiest week we have had while in England! As Elder Uchtdorf said: "STOP IT!"

The washing machine repair man came and declared our machine to be dead...or rather close to it. Apparently the bearings are shot. Thankfully we have a wonderful landlord. She will shop for a new one in the next few days. In the meantime we made a trip to the laundromat and did three loads of washing - cost over £5.00 per load to wash and dry. Hope she finds a new machine quickly.

Devon had an appointment for a haircut this afternoon. He scheduled one more, and that will be his last before we leave. I called my beautician in Utah and made an appointment for a cut the day after we get home. I'm going to just hold out until then - I'm hoping she can work a miracle! 

We met the sisters at 7:00 to teach two new YSA aged female investigators. They are both students at the University of Birmingham. I'm not sure if they are interested or just curious, but the meeting went well. They both accepted a Book of Mormon, so we'll see if they want to meet again. 

Saturday, April 28

Yep, I'm better. Still have a cough, but so improved. We ventured out to do Tuck Shop shopping at Wing Yip and Costco (£110 worth of candy and soda), and a little shopping for us. It was a typical Saturday at Costco and we quickly remembered why we try to not go on Saturday.

In the evening we drove to Stourbridge to go to dinner with the Morgans and then play pinochle. We really do enjoy their company. It's too bad our time together didn't over lap more.

Sunday, April 29

Another day of hard rain and wind. Even the Brits are complaining! I feel really bad for the elders that are on bikes, but they just carry on. Their dedication to missionary work is so inspiring and amazing! Church was very nice...except it makes me sad when they talk about upcoming events that we will be gone for. But, our departure is set. Postponing it won't make leaving any easier.

JOURNAL - April 16 - 22

Monday, April 16

Weather is still on the cool side and cloudy with scattered showers. I was hoping for sun...but then every day I hope for sun! We finished getting things ready for Emily, Marianne, Kirsten, and Rikki's visit - they arrive tomorrow.

Tonight for FHE we went bowling with some of the YSA. It was fun, but boy am I getting old and rusty - pretty depressing. I had to use the lightest ball I could find, but we did have a really good time and I didn't finish last!

Tuesday, April 17

We drove to Nottingham Airport to meet the girls who were flying back from Paris. They are renting a car to use in Birmingham. Renting a GPS was going to cost more than the car, so we decided to meet them and have them follow us back to Birmingham. As it turns out, that was totally not necessary. They had to wait an hour to get their car, so they upgraded them to a fancy car with a built in navigation system. Oh well, it just gave us more time with them. They had a wonderful time in Paris and we loved hearing all about it.

After unloading their "stuff", and starting their laundry, we headed to the Cadbury Factory - something on their list of must see places. It was pretty neat, and I'm glad we went. The smell of chocolate was delicious and the story of the company and chocolate making was very interesting. We got some free samples, so who could complain?!
Left to right: Emily, Kirsten, Rikki, and Marianne

We had a yummy homemade lasagna dinner and keep the laundry going. Who knew four girls could have so much dirty laundry after a few days in Paris?

Wednesday, April 18

Today we went to Warwick Castle. It is only 30 minutes from our flat and is a really cool castle. One of my favorite shows there is "The Birds of Prey," and it didn't disappoint.

Sure glad they brought umbrellas (and such cute ones). It continues to rain on and off. Fortunately it is just light rain, but the air temperature is cool, as evidenced by the coats. Last year at this time it was much warmer. Where oh where is spring?!
 Horsing around with one of the displays in the castle (when the guards weren't looking).

After coming home we had dinner and spent the evening finishing up laundry and packing. The girls came with only carry-on luggage, so they have kindly agreed to check some luggage with stuff we want to send home - such a blessing for us! 

Thursday, April 19

Today we are off to London. First stop is Windsor Castle - official residence of the Queen. It is the place she calls home. She happened to be there today, but for some reason didn't come out to greet us! The weather was all over the place - periods of bright sunshine followed by dark clouds and heavy rain. That's England!
This is the part of the castle that is the Queen's residence.

Windsor Castle is located in a nice village called...Windsor. The village is all around the castle. We had lunch and found this cute old building (below) in the village. It is called the Crooked House and is actually a restaurant. It is definitely leaning to the left, but must be safe - people were inside eating and waving to us.

Upon leaving Windsor we drove to our hotel located close to Heathrow Airport. We checked in and then the girls returned the rental car. We settled into the hotel and had a good night's sleep in preparation for the next few days in London.

April 20 - 22 (21st - HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX)

Hotel prices are so expensive in London, but I found nice rooms at the Premier Inn by the airport for £39.00/room/night - what a bargan! Right in front of the hotel is a bus stop that took us about 2 miles to the tube station. From there it was a straight ride into London. The girls bought travel passes with their London sightseeing tickets and it covered their travel from the hotel and all over London. It took us about 45 minutes to get into London, but well worth it considering the great price on our hotel.

The girls saw many of the things we had already seen, and a few we hadn't seen. I think their favorite was the Harry Potter Tour - we passed! But we did see several things we haven't seen before in London.
The Temple Church - the grandest of the Templars' churches to survive in Northern Europe.
This round portion of the church was consecrated in 1185. Some of these stone effigies date to the 1200's. The Knights Templar were soldier-monks who protected pilgrims to the Holy Land during the Crusades. They were men of war and prayers.
Cleopatra's Needle
Stone carving dating to 1500 BC. Located along the Thames River
Section of Roman ruins dating to the first century. This is located by the London Museum. We had a very informative tour and lecture about the ruins by an archeologist from the museum.
Royal Albert Hall
This is an amazing concert hall. The building is a historical treasure. Fortunately it was not damaged in the war. The interior is unbelievable! While we were there a young man was playing the organ and it was breathtaking. It has over 9,000 pipes. The organ in the Conference Center has 7,000 or so.
Inside Royal Albert Hall
Notice the sign above the door.

Most of the last day in London we spent with the girls - a major portion of which was seeing Harrod's Department Store. Yes, it is a worthy tourist site! Amazing Egyptian escalator hall, food court you would not believe, pet shop with £1,000 + puppies for sale, and a rather tacky statue of Princess Diana and Dodi (her last beau). It might surprise you to know that some of the best souvenirs can be found in their shop. They are better quality and about the same price as what you find at the million street shops and vendors.
 Traditional phone booth...modern phone...very cute girls!
Outside Buckingham Palace

London has one of the biggest toy stores I've seen - Hamley's, established 1760. In it are these almost life size, 3D Lego statues of the royalty.
Queen Elizabeth, her puppy, and two foreigners.
The Royal Wedding Party
L to R: Prince Harry, Rikki, Emily, Kate, Prince William, Kirsten, Marianne, and Prince Phillip