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, 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!