Week 25: St. Andrews

Sunday was stake conference and afterwards we had dinner at the mission home.  It’s always nice to go there for dinner and visit with the Donaldson’s and the missionaries that are around.  Sister Gifford and I always do what we can to help out before the meal and then stay to clean up.  I have done a lot of dishes these past 23 weeks.  But it’s good work.  I don’t mind dishes.  After dinner I thought it would be nice to go for a Sunday stroll but by the time dinner was over it was raining so hard all we could do was make a dash for the car.  Usually the rain here is called “mizzle” which is a cross between mist and a drizzle or some people call it spitting.  You can look out the window and not even see that it is raining except that everything is wet.  But when you walk out in it the rain is really coming down and there is a lot of it.  But this week the rain has been coming down a lot harder and not just straight down but often times at a sharp angle so you can really see it.

This week has been quiet.  President and Sister Donaldson are in Portugal for a Mission President Conference.  President Holland is there with them.  How nice would that be?  President Donaldson says it’s all work and no play and it is hard because you are right by the beautiful water and you don’t get to go out in it.  But having President Holland there would make up for all that.  I had a few projects to work on this week and I got those done.  And Tuesday night I sat with the sister missionaries again while they worked with our French friend, Bahader.  But now we think he went on holiday so he is gone for a bit.  I’m hoping he is planning on continuing.  I really enjoyed him even though I couldn’t speak to him.

Other news with our friend Nikki.  After that last baptism she decided she wanted to get baptized and she set a date but then the date came and went and she was struggling and asked the missionaries to not contact her any more.  We felt really bad about that because we know this would be so good for her and she has a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  There is no doubt of that.  But we have been praying and hoping for her.  The missionaries ran into her the other day while they were out and she was so happy to see them.  She told them she couldn’t stop reading the Book of Mormon and she wants to attend another baptism so tomorrow (Saturday) we are going to be sure and get back from our trip to St. Andrews in time for a baptism so that we can be with her there.

Tuesday Sister Gifford and I drove to Galashiels to take another car to the sister missionaries there.  We have already taken a car to Galashiels but that car’s lease was up and they have been carless for awhile and it doesn’t work well in Galashiels so we took them another car.  We inspected their apartment and took them to lunch as well.  We ate at a little place called Bank Street Cafe.  I had my usual, Spaghetti Bolognese.  That’s becoming my staple.  But we decided to treat ourselves to dessert as well because they had waffles with ice cream and toppings on them and we couldn’t resist.  We shared so it wasn’t like we were eating a whole waffle.  But they were delicious.

After we dropped the sisters off where they needed to go (we still had their car) we drove to a palace called Floors Castle.  We had pre-bought tickets for a guided tour which only happens at 2:00 on Tuesdays during September.  We thought we had hit the jackpot and we were going to get to see all these special things.  Floors Castle is huge and it is still lived in by the Duke of Roxburghe and his family.  Well the tour was supposed to last an hour but the tour guide was a bit full of himself and thought we would love to stay all day listening to him go on and on.  They started late and we spent almost 30 minutes just in the foyer as he described every painting and talked about the grounds and what the duke does for the community etc.  And to top it off there was a lady in the group that was related to the duke’s family somehow so she had something to add often.  By the time we finally made it into the second room, which was a waiting room for visitors coming to see the duke we were tired and frustrated.  We couldn’t understand everything the tour guide was saying because his accent was so thick and in this room there was a tapestry with Christ in it.  He made a comment about Christ having no holes in his hands in this tapestry and then said something else and laughed and that did it for me.  We walked out.  I’m not sure what he even said but that really bothered me.  So we made our way out of the castle on our own and took the car back to the girls.  One thing I will say about the castle though were the amazing tapestries in several of the rooms.  They were really neat to see.  And there were wood carvings all over and I said I wonder if there are any pea pods in the wood and a man guarding one room heard me and said yes there are, right here and he showed me an open pea pod.  That means the woodworker was happy with his commission and job.

Since we were leaving the car in Galashiels, Sister Gifford and I took a train back to Edinburgh.  That was our first train ride here and it was really nice and easy.  I just sat back and watched the scenery and then read a bit in my book.  Then we got off at Waverley Station in town and hopped into a taxi and got back to the office in time for me to take Sister Gifford home and then I went back to work because I had an appointment with Sophie to work on her family history and then I had an appointment with Bahader and the sisters.  But nothing turned out the way it was supposed to.  Sophie called to say she was sick and could we get together on Sunday and Bahader didn’t show up.  (We think he went on holiday as I said before.)  I was starving so I ran through McDonald’s and then went to my desk and worked on things until Sister Brodien called ready to teach Bahader.  When he didn’t show up I worked with Sister Brodien on her college application for BYU-Hawaii.  It’s due October 1 and she has a lot to do still along with taking a test on her English skills.  So I worked with her a bit on a few practice questions.  She is an amazing English speaker and she really only spoke French growing up in French Polynesia.  She heard English a bit in high school but mostly she has learned on her mission.  You would never know she hadn’t been speaking it all her life.

Thursday we got our carpets cleaned which is nice.  Our carpets were looking pretty bad.  I bet they hadn’t been cleaned in years.  We’ve had this flat for about five or six years and I bet no one has ever cleaned the carpets.  Now my room feels nice and clean.  I got my shelf built that I bought at IKEA last week and I’m happy.  I also got a note on my desk from the Sisters.  Little things make my day. 

Tonight (Friday) we went to Zizzi’s with the Winter’s and had dinner.  My favorite.  And now I am caught up on my blog.  Tomorrow we hope to go to St. Andrews so I will pick up right here when we get back.

Well, here I am on Saturday evening.  We went to St Andrews today and we had two things on our to-do list.  One eat at The Tail End Restaurant – (that was for Sister Gifford) and two get our picture taken at the old bridge on the old golf course.  We accomplished both.

So St. Andrews has been around forever.  It was during the Dark Ages when the first record of a town in that area exists.  Today it is called St. Andrews because it is believed that St Andrews bones were brought here from Patras in Achaea in 732AD.  Some say the bones were brought there because the ship they were sailing was shipwrecked there at that site but never-the-less the bones came to this place and the area was then named St. Andrews.  It’s religious history is full of murder, burning at the stakes, hangings, and other violent acts.  But now it is a peaceful town full of history and wonderful ruins.

It is also the birthplace and home of the oldest golf course.  And even today this is headquarters for the game of golf.  There is a famous bridge out on the golf course that is always shown in any golf game when on TV so we ran out on the golf course and got our pictures taken by the bridge.  I figured it would mean something to a few of my brother-in-laws at least.

We also walked around St Andrews Cathedral, or what is left of it.  It is an amazing structure.  Huge.  I can imagine what it must have looked like back in the 1200’s.  It is still amazing to me how old things are here and even more amazing at how much of the architecture is still present.

Well after buying a few souvenirs in the golf pro shop we got an ice cream and headed home.  We may decide to come back to St. Andrews.  It was a very pleasant town with great stores and atmosphere.

Tonight was the baptism of Yixuan (Yvonne) Wang.  Another Chinese student here studying at Uni.  Elder Copeland told me that this young lady was so ready for the gospel.  She was the most perfect investigator he has ever had.  It is so true that these people who know nothing of Jesus Christ to begin with find home and become so grounded when they are introduced to the gospel.  It is really a neat thing to watch.  Nikki came and brought a friend with her.  She seemed great and is saying she wants to still get baptised.  While we were waiting for Yvonne to get dry and changed we watched a few videos and the first one we watched was one that Blaze is in.  That was a nice surprise for me.  No one knew I had that connection so it was fun that they picked that one.  Of course no one watching it would know that was Blaze running around in the background but I knew and I loved it.

I was looking at the news a bit and all the destruction between fires, hurricanes and earthquakes lately.  The New York Times reported the following headline…

Hurricanes, Wildfires, and now a monster Earthquake. For some, it feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals.

I don’t think they realize how true that statement is.  We know these things are going to take place.  We can read in D&C 88:89-91 exactly this.  But I just re-read that entire section this morning while I was waiting to leave on our journey and it is such a comforting thought to understand exactly what is happening and to be able to gauge myself against what is expected of us and to understand that we need not fear.  If we read the scriptures and know that they are true, then the scriptures tells us exactly what is happening and what is going to happen and what that means to each of us.  Take the time this next week to read Section 88.  It puts your mind at ease.

Well, I better get to bed.  Sunday always turns into a big day for us so I need to rest up!!  I love you all.  Thanks for reading.

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