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 15, 2012

JOURNAL - April 9 - 15

Monday, April 9

Still cloudy and rainy. Hope it passes before Emily and Marianne arrive on Friday. Fortunately, it isn't real cold. While Devon studied for his next lesson. I reviewed and organized all the bookings for our kids' visits this month and next. They all arrive on different days and different airlines. The bookings were made months ago and I hadn't entered the information in my IPad calendar yet. Glad that is done.

In the afternoon we went to Tesco for a few groceries. Sister Hedemark and Sister Turnbow came over for dinner - vegetarian taco soup (Sister H. is a vegetarian), salad, rolls, and brownie sundaes - yummy. Sister Hedemark will spend tomorrow night at the mission home and then she flies home to Sweden on Wednesday - we will miss her. She is hoping to get into BYU so hopefully we will see her again.

Tuesday, April 10

A two-hour drive from Birmingham is Bath – the object of our sightseeing today. Bath is famous for it's natural hot springs. There is archaeological evidence of humans living around the springs up to 10,000 years ago. In AD 43 the Romans started the development of 'Aquae Sulis' as a sanctuary of rest and relaxation, not a garrison town like most Roman settlements. In AD 70, the Romans built a reservoir around the hot springs, and then a sophisticated series of baths and a temple dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva. The religious shrine and bathing complex attracted visitors from across Britain and Europe and established it as a popular tourist area. The hot springs were thought to have magical healing abilities. The Romans withdrew protection in 410 and Aquae Sulis fell into decline, although the use of the baths continued.The town’s importance carried through Saxon times, reaching its peak in 973 AD. Over the years the Roman bath structures and temple were buried under 18 feet of dirt. The residents had no idea about the Roman ruins that lay below their dirt floors. In 1687 Queen Mary, who was fighting infertility, took a bath here, and within 10 months she gave birth to a son. This was the beginning of a new era of popularity for the area. Excavations of the Roman baths have stretched over the last 200 years, with the greatest work being done from 1978-1983. Today there is an amazing display of the ancient baths, stone carvings, artifacts, coins, and even a skeleton.
  The Great Bath
There are small bubbles and steam rising from the warm to the touch water. Both are the result of various gasses rising to the surface. The water is thought to be rain water from 10,000 years ago collected in reservoirs 3K underground. Thermal activity causes it to bubble to the surface.
The floors were raised and supported by layers of stone to allow the circulation of hot air - a sort of sauna effect.
Ancient Roman jacuzzi. As they sat on the ledge, the warm water would be up to their necks.
One of the many pools of water - this one a cool pool. Notice the coins tourists have tossed into the pool.
2,000 year old bronze statue of the Roman goddess, Sulis, Minerva.
At the end of the Roman Bath exhibit is this fountain where you can sample the natural spring water. It is warm and full of minerals - actually not to bad to the taste, but then I only had a sip.

We left the baths in time to catch the last few minutes of the evening service at the Abbey, which is located in the middle of town. This is the third church to stand on this spot since Anglo-Saxon times. It is the only place outside of London where a coronation took place (King Edgar 973 AD). Today’s Abbey dates to 1499 and is the last great medieval Church of England It is nicknamed the “lantern of the west” because it has so many stained glass windows. They don’t allow photography inside, but it is beautiful.
The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Bath

Before going back to our hotel we had a yummy sea bass dinner at a wonderful little restaurant - the Circus Café and Restaurant - a great recommendation from a local shop keeper and Rick Steves.

After a short walk to the bus stop - “just 5 minutes down the street” (Howard and Edi will understand) and a quick bus ride, we were back at the hotel. I logged on to the internet and was thrilled to have a message from a young man we’ve been trying to contact. He’s had so many challenges lately and has not been answering my calls. He said he would to go to lunch with us – Hooray!

Wednesday, April 11

We joined a free, two hour walking tour of Bath at 10:30 am. It was very informative. After that we took the city bus tour where we saw and heard more about the history of this beautiful city. It is designated England's most beautiful city and certainly has a very interesting history. Bath is an excellent example of Georgian architecture - simple and elegant.
 This is one of three buildings in the "Circus" - began in 1754 and completed in 1768. They are town homes built around a huge circle, hence the name circus which is Latin for circle or oval. Bath was built to be a tourist town, not a place to live. That's why there are so many town homes. Today there are many local residents, but it continues to be a big tourist attraction. One of these town homes sells for over 1 million pounds.
This is another building (not part of the circus). Note the chimneys. Originally each room had it's own fireplace that burned coal. This produced a huge amount of soot that eventually covered the beautiful white stone and made it black. A large renovation project has clean most of the stone. The government used to charge a chimney tax...more chimneys = more tax. To decrease their tax, the residents would remove the pots on the chimneys. To counter act that, the government instituted a window tax - the more windows you had the greater your tax. Notice the space above the doors. The windows have been bricked in to lessen the occupant's tax. Neither of these taxes exist today, but the government still taxes as much as they can.
Only remaining arch from the Roman period.
Fancy Sedan Chair
The wealthy would hire people to carry them in these chairs to the baths, meeting rooms, etc. Poles would be placed through the handles on either side of the chair and two men would carry the occupant from his home to his destination.
River Avon and Pulteney Bridge
Close up of Pulteney Bridge - cute little shops on either side of the bridge.

Thursday, April 12 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDA

We checked out of our hotel and took another bus tour - this one around the outskirts of Bath. I must agree, it is the most beautiful city in England - at least as far a big cities go. After the tour we looked around the shops and then headed to our hotel at Heathrow Airport (about 100 miles from Bath) to await tomorrow morning's arrival of Emily, Marianne, Rikki, and Kirsten. CAN'T WAIT!!!

Friday, April 13

We arrived early at Heathrow. What a thrill to see our girls come through the gate! If they were tired from their long flight, you couldn't tell - they were so excited to be here. We caught the tube to Leicester Station in London so they could pick up their London Passes.
We took a short work to Trafalgar Square where we had a little brunch of muffins, juice, and apples.
Such cute girls!
L to R: Rikki, Emily, Kirsten, and Marianne

After hugs, we said good bye. The girls took the Piccadilly tube line to St. Pancras Station where they caught the chunnel to Paris, and we took the Piccadilly tube line back to Heathrow to get our car and head back to Birmingham. It was great to see the girls! We arrived home safely, unpacked and started laundry.

Saturday, April 14

Today was grocery shopping, flat cleaning, and more laundry. We had a nice Skype call with Brad, Jenna and kids - also a wonderful phone conversation with one of our YSA young women. She met the missionaries and joined the church about a year ago, but has been discouraged the last few months - not coming to church or activities, although she always welcomed our contact. She has decided (on her own) to return to church. It is a struggle for her with no family support. She seemed happier today and interested in coming to activities - a very good thing. 

This evening the Morgan's came over for dinner (chicken enchiladas - yum) and a game of Pinochle. We haven't played Pinochle since we left for our mission, but the Morgan's play so we had Emily and Mares bring us some cards. It was great fun, and the girls won!

Sunday, April 15

Really nice day at church. Some of the uni YSA are back and it was sooo good to see them. I think they missed us almost as much as we missed them! Devon had to speak at Harborne Ward (High Council assignment) along with two of the elders serving in the ward - all great talks! I played the piano.

I had a wonderful Sunday nap - such a treat! We got to Face Time with Lori, Connor, and Katelyn, and had a short conversation with Marianne, who is in Paris. Also had a nice phone conversation with the young man I mentioned earlier in this blog. He is so secretive about what he is doing, but today he told me he has moved out of Birmingham and won't be back until the end of June. Unfortunately we will be back in Utah by then, so no lunch date. Still, we had a good talk and hope to stay in touch. He is another great YSA convert with a difficult childhood. Some disappointing things happened to him here in Birmingham and so he left. Right now it is hard for him to accept that a loving God would allow trials to come to good people. I hope time, love, and prayers will heal his heart.