What a week!! It’s been a bit long and eventful. It’s been rainy off and on during the week but over all it’s been pretty good weather. On Tuesday, the 4th of July we went out to eat with President and Sister Donaldson. It was their anniversary and they wanted all the office staff to go get a nice steak dinner with them. So we did. I don’t usually go out to expensive places to eat. In fact, I have never been somewhere that expensive, it’s not really what I would choose and I actually don’t even enjoy the food as much as it costs. Give me a taco and a cheese enchilada and I would be so much more excited. But this was somewhere that Elder and Sister Winter suggested and steak was the goal. The restaurant was on Princes Street and is in an old building built in the 1700s but it is a very nice building. The restaurant is called The Dome. We actually ate in the Club Room because everyone says the steak is better in there. But the weird thing about the Club Room is there is only one entree. Steak and Chips. At least the chips were skinny fries. I’m finding I really miss regular french fries. I don’t really enjoy the “chips” or fat fries as much. Unless I’m at Five Guys, then for some reason I love them. For the appetizer we had three choices. Garlic Mushrooms on Toast – that’s a no for
me, Haggis – another no, or Soup which this day it was Carrot and Cumin. So I chose the soup. Elder Winter got the Haggis because he had been there before and knew it was good. He gave me a piece of his. He assured me I would like it. Normally I would never have tried something I wasn’t sure of. I’m not an experimenter with food but I decided I had to so I could say “I did” every time someone asked me if I tried Haggis while I was here. Guess what!! I actually really liked it and if I went back there – which I probably never will, I would pick the Haggis. But everyone told me this Haggis was very good and not all Haggis is as good as that. The soup was actually good too.
Then we got a salad which was the same for everyone and I was okay with that because there was just an oil and vinegar dressing on it. Then the steak came with all you can eat skinny fries. I ate as many fries as they gave me. Probably as much as a large order at McDonald’s. The steak came already cut and they only served half of it at a time and left the other halves on little heating units at the table. Then for dessert they had a couple choices. I had a crepe with honey, lemon and some kind of cheese like a cream cheese. It was really good. Of course I would rather have been watching the fireworks at home but this was fun being with friends. The APs drove us there in the mission van and we took a taxi home so we had a great night and didn’t even have to get on a bus.
Wednesday I had to go in search of the Royal Mail building to pick up the package that had the router for our broadband service so we could get it working again. The post office was about 15 minutes away and so I got my GPS all working and headed off by myself. When I got to the address I found a place to park, (not an easy thing to do) and started walking. I walked up and down two blocks both directions and couldn’t find it. There were no signs and I was out in the middle of an industrial area that was really busy. There must have been a university near by as well because there were so many cars and young adults wandering around. I was about to give up when I saw four Royal Mail cars driving down the road so I figured it had to be here somewhere. I got back in my car and drove a few more blocks in the direction I saw the cars coming from. I happened to notice a very small sign on a stone wall that said collections and stamps with an arrow. No Royal Mail sign and no Royal Mail cars but I found another parking spot about a block away and walked back. Sure enough, after following a path about a block long into the middle of the block I was on I came across a parking lot full of Royal Mail cars.
I got my package and headed back to my flat and got everything set up. By the time we got home from work that night our internet was once again working. I am so happy about this. I was going crazy not being able to do anything from home.
Thursday morning some of the missionaries in our zone went out to work at a service project filling a big semi with things for refugees. They wore their helping hands shirts and worked really hard. They said it was the biggest semi they had ever seen. The lady in charge of the project was not LDS and of course like most people who meet the missionaries, she thought they were the best guys she had ever seen. She took lots of pictures of them and were so happy for their help. This is a picture I took of them before they left the office.
Thursday afternoon the President told me the transfer board was all mine so I went in and wrote down all the changes. I knew some of the missionaries I have grown so fond of here would probably be moving on and they are but I guess that means I will get to love even more of them. It’s funny how much these kids come to mean to you in such a short time.
The rest of the week – Thursday, Friday and all day today, Saturday has been incredibly busy with transfers. This was my first time doing all this alone. Of course the President kept a close eye on me and the APs sat with me several times to make sure I was remembering everyone and everything.
Tomorrow we will have 23 missionaries in the mission home for dinner, a hike up Pratt’s Hill, testimony meeting and everything else they do – like weigh their suitcases!! I will be in the office just as soon as church is over until about 9:00 tomorrow night. I will be working with the missionaries on their luggage, printing boarding passes, cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, making sure everything else is totally set and helping other missionaries find travel that might be having a hard time because now it is summer and buses are already full. There are a few missionaries going home that I have grown very fond of. The two I can think of quickly is Sister Paxman and Sister Stapley. They are the first two missionaries I met when I got here. I hope I can keep in touch with them both.
One thing I learned this week is just how far away some places are. Take Aberdeen Zone for example. Aberdeen takes in the whole top of Scotland – all the way across and the three islands above that we have missionaries on. So for one set of missionaries up in the Shetland Islands they travel over 12 hours on a ferry all night long just to get to Scrabster. Then they have a three hour drive to Inverness or a five hour drive to Aberdeen, both which are in the Aberdeen Zone. These poor missionaries get nothing but a ticket to get on the ferry. No sleeping pods, cabins, food etc. I guess they just sit in a chair somewhere and try to get a bit of sleep. I have no idea really, but they are young and hopefully have some spare change to buy a nibble of something.
So with the 23 going home I have had a lot of responsibilities to help them but most are done before this week comes. I just have boarding passes to print, wait for stake president calls for those who are getting released so they can travel with their families who are coming to pick them up, help with any travel they need to get to the mission office, and make sure they keep their luggage out in the garage and that they have weighed it. They will be gone Monday morning about the time I get to the office.
Then Monday we have 62 missionaries who are being transferred or are coming into the mission office to pick up a new missionary. So that is a big bulk of my work. Anyone coming in or moving from the islands, or Belfast or The Republic of Ireland and anyone going out to any of those places are my responsibility with travel arrangements. I also set up a few spreadsheets with moves information so the APs and Zone Leaders can work out inter-country travel. I will also help with this where needed. This transfer time is a little hard because in Belfast they have their parades on July 12. The President will not let any movement happen on that day due to the potential of violence in the area. So we have to work around that and that leaves us with over 30 ferry tickets and not enough available buses to get everyone where they need to be. So Monday at least 3 people will be driving cars down past Stranraer to the ferry docks which is about 2 1/2 hours away to pick up 13 missionaries and their luggage and bring them back here. The will also be taking six missionaries with them on that trip to get on a ferry to Ireland. This is new, I don’t think we’ve done this before but airline tickets are outrageous because of the parades and the buses are completely full.
So the Belfast parades…The 12th of July parades mark the anniversary of King William the III’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. But it turns out to be the Protestants and the Catholics squaring off with each other. Police have to form lines between the two groups and it gets violent. There truly is a very big parade in all this as well. Bands and groups of men from different lodges march. I don’t really know that much about it. On the night of the 11th the Protestants light huge bonfires and in some areas it is set as a family event but I guess they also burn things in the fire like flags and catholic symbols so they too can get violent. Anyway, the president doesn’t want the missionaries out on the streets during the 11th and 12th. So that makes transfers a bit tricky.
On Tuesday next week we are getting 19 new missionaries but I’ll save that for next weeks blog.
I left the office Friday night at 8:15pm so that was over 13 hours of work on Friday. We did stop for dinner which Sister Gifford made. She made her famous Spaghetti and Meatballs and wonderful garlic bread. The Winter’s made a really great salad and I was supposed to provide dessert but I had no time so Sister Donaldson came to the rescue and made a Sticky Toffee Pudding. I’m not sure why they call these type of things pudding. It was a cake with a caramel-type sauce over the top. It was delicious and better than anything I would have come up with. But I guess I will have to volunteer to be the cook next time we do this. I did a good number of the dishes afterwards but I really had to get back to my desk and keep working. I would have stayed later but I had bought so many ferry tickets in a row that my card started to decline because of fraud issues and I didn’t realize that was the problem. Now I know what to do. But I gave up and went home. I slept from about 10:00 until 2:45AM and then I was wide awake and thinking of how to make my charts better and how to figure out travel better. So I gave up and went back into the office just before 7:00AM. I finally got home at 7:00PM. I did run to the store on my way home to get some chocolate milk and some grapes. And I ran out to the airport to try and get a second suitcase paid for with one of the sisters going home on Monday. That didn’t work since it wasn’t Delta. She goes home to Norway and the second suitcase will have to be paid for on Monday morning. President Donaldson will have to be the one who saves her.
Well, I know it is only 8:00PM but I think I need to go relax. I am playing the organ in church tomorrow and I haven’t even looked at what the songs are yet. And I guess as you can tell by now, we didn’t go anywhere fun this weekend. But Elder Winter did come ask if we would take a new car to Stromness in a couple weekends. We will have to miss a day at the office to do that as it is about an eight hour drive through the Isle of Skye and up to Ullapool to the ferry and then over to the island. I’m very excited. It won’t happen until the last weekend of July but that will be here before we know it.
Oh, I did get lost running to the Winter’s house this morning. I needed Elder Winter to figure out why the credit card was declining and their phone was going directly to voice mail. So here is a picture of a neat building I happened along trying to find my way to the Winters. It’s hard to tell in the picture but this new, sci-fi, and old building are all one building. It’s part of the University. It was neat looking but the picture isn’t that great I guess.
Well, until next week. I hope everyone is enjoying summer!! I miss you all. Love you.