Week 38: Can you believe it is almost Christmas??

Where has the week gone?  We were going to get all our visiting teaching done this week and here it is Saturday and the one we thought we were going to do this week – had good intentions of going – it just entered our minds today that we didn’t even call her.  Sorry Rowanne.  We will have to catch up with you at church tomorrow.

I am sitting in the mission office at my desk at 6:15 PM on Saturday night waiting for 12 of our 13 departing missionaries to come in.  And waiting for the APs to get back from picking them up so we can get on with moves calls.  They haven’t even started yet and I have so much transportation to book before Monday.  I have done all I can until the Zone Leaders get a hold of the moves and make zone plans on how to get everyone to bus and train stations or to new areas by car.  So, like I said, here I sit – waiting.

One change that happened this week that I am very happy about is President Donaldson has agreed to have a senior couple here in Edinburgh to work with the YSA group in the Edinburgh Ward.  We have needed this so badly.  Our YSA group is very large and having a senior couple here to work with them is going to make a huge difference.  So welcome to the Miller’s who actually live in Omagh where he serves as the Branch President.  They will be driving to Edinburgh every Monday and staying through Wednesday to have YSA Family Night, Institute and whatever else needs to be done here.  I love the Miller’s, who are from Syracuse area, and I’m excited to have them here part of each week.

Tuesday night we took Elder Worley and Elder Wang to dinner.  You guessed it – we went to Zizzi’s.   Elder Worley, who is an amazing piano player, is from California but his parents moved to Gilbert, AZ while he has been on his mission.  Elder Wang is from mainland China.  After dinner Elder Wang gave us a message which was such a treat.  We take missionaries to dinner all the time.  This was the first we got a message out of it.  Elder Wang is going to be an amazing leader in China some day I think.  He is very eloquent in his speaking and has a sure testimony.  He has only been a member for three years but you would never realize that.  He is very knowledgeable and filled with such a wonderful spirit.

About Zizzi’s.  I have gone there so many times now and I order the exact same thing every time.  I know that sounds boring to most of you but that’s how I am.  I do that at every place I eat.  But I don’t know if I already told this story so I’m going to do it here.  A few weeks ago the Sister missionaries went to Zizzi’s with a new member and the waiter at Zizzi’s said to them – you have a friend that comes here a lot.  She gets the same thing every time she comes.  I tell you that because today Sister Gifford and I went to Mia’s for lunch.  Mia’s is another great Italian Restaurant and Sister Gifford especially loves this place because they have several interesting seafood dishes.  She loves to experiment with the menus everywhere we go.  Anyway, we’ve been to Mia’s maybe four times total but it hasn’t been that long since we went before and it is a very small place.  It is ran by a family from Italy I believe.  Anyway, I ordered Spaghetti Bolognese and the waiter smiled and said – same as last time.  I don’t get it.  Why does everyone remember what I order??  It’s kind of funny, and kind of weird.

Wednesday night Sister Miller cooked dinner for us and we had a great time just sitting together around the table in the mission home with just us senior missionaries.  We had a good time just relaxing and talking for a little bit. And it was nice to have a home cooked meal instead of what we usually do.

Babatunde Soyemi from Nigeria
Xiaowei Zhang from China
Yuan Fu or Joe. Also from China.

Thursday night we had a great baptism.  I gave the Holy Ghost talk at this baptism.  There were three people getting baptised.  Two I hadn’t ever met before, they are both Chinese.   The third is Tunde who is from Nigeria.  I was able to teach with Sister Irving and Sister Wahlquist on his last lesson to prepare him for his baptism interview.  We taught tithing, fast offerings and chastity and then went through the baptism interview.  Toonie was very prepared and willingly accepts all challenges.  He reads the Book of Mormon and is very ready to be baptized.

I also was asked to sit in on another lesson this week with Sister Hill and Sister Palmer.  This was with a boy who plays classical guitar very beautifully.  He was at church last week and I sat and listened to him a little before church started.  We had a wonderful lesson with him as well.  He has been challenged to be baptized on 20 December but he has not yet fully committed.  He is a great kid though and I feel he will.  He feels the spirit and is reading the Book of Mormon.  He recognizes the spirit when we feel it and he has even looked up talks by President Hinckley and listened to them for over an hour.  He says he loved listening to him and really liked what he heard.  But he wants to have everything grounded in his heart which he is on his way to having I think.  So hopefully we will be seeing him baptized very soon.

This week has been busy.  I’ve had lots of things going getting ready for moves week.  Sister Gifford has been trying very hard to find two flats here in Edinburgh.  One for the Millers and another for the Helps who will be here in less than a month to replace the Winters.  We are losing the flat the Winter’s are in so that makes it hard for Sister Gifford.  She now has to find two that are suitable for senior missionaries.  Not easy.  We have gone every day looking at places.  Most are just not going to work at all.  She has found a couple nicer ones but they either don’t want to rent to us because we are a church not an individual person or the choose someone else.  It’s different here.  It isn’t first come, first serve or best offer gets the place.  Everyone who is interested fills out applications and then the letting office and the owner go through the applications and choose who they want.  There is no negotiations.  But we did find a place for the Miller’s right on the same street as the office and church so that is amazing.  Still looking for the right place for the Helps although she may have finally found a place.  Still waiting to hear.

Well, like I said, it is moves week and usually on Saturday I am at the office the entire day but since it is Christmas we only have about 37 people moving instead of the usual 80.  So we actually took the morning today to get out and enjoy the fresh, crisp air.  I was up by 5:30 AM anxious to get outside.  Some weeks I feel like I don’t see the outside much.  I think it is just because it gets dark so early now.  It’s dark when we come to work and dark well before we leave.  But since Sister Gifford doesn’t wake up very early on Saturdays I cleaned and organized my bedroom, cleaned my bathroom, emptied the kitchen rubbish and then took a small walk outside while I was out with the rubbish and organized our pantry.  Then I showered and read a couple chapters in my book, talked to Elder Gibb on the phone for a bit about moves, played a couple games of solitaire and ate breakfast (which was a crumpet and a kiwi – golden in color instead of green).  Then at almost 10:00 Sister Gifford emerged and we were off just before 11:00.

We have been wanting to go to the Gift Shop at University of Edinburgh to see about buying a nice sweatshirt.  I was hoping for a hoodie that zips up the front.  So we hopped on a bus and started on our way.  We missed where to get off because it never drove

by the little area I thought we would be getting off at so we hopped off up on South Bridge.  I have driven in this area a few times and it is only a block off of Forrest Road which is where Elephant House and Greyfriars Bobby is but I had never walked up to South Bridge so I was actually glad for the opportunity to walk through an area we haven’t walked before.  I knew there was a great Wizards World store on this street and so we took advantage of that and explored that great shop.  Landon would be in heaven in this store.  It is full of Harry Potter and Star Wars memorabilia.  I bought a couple things but I won’t say what.  They are a gift for my Harry Potter lover.

We found our way to the University of Edinburgh and walked out onto the commons area.  I had no idea this school was like this here.  I know the missionaries go over here a lot to find people but I didn’t realize how pretty the campus was.  I thought there were buildings all over the place (which there are) but I never realized they had a central place like this.  It is very pretty and has a neat feel. We wandered down an alley into an area that had some plaques.  I read them and found them to be very interesting.  One said in the Dark Days of 1941 when Polish Universities were destroyed and Polish professors died in concentration camps, the University of Edinburgh established the Polish School of Medicine.  This enabled the preservation of Polish science and learning.

Another plaque talked about the historical links between the Edinburgh Medical School and North America.  During the years 1749 to 1799, 117 Americans received medical degrees in Edinburgh.  They included John Morgan (1735-1789), founder of the Medical School of the College of Philadelphia.  The Medical School of the College of Philadelphia was the first in North America.

Another talked about two signers of the American Declaration of Independence who were Theologian students in Edinburgh.

Well, after the university we decided to walk a ways.  The air was cold but it was a nice day with blue sky and I knew we weren’t too many blocks away from a place I’ve always wanted to take a picture of.  (I have a few of those places on my list.)  This building is a modern office building but up on the 3rd or 4th floor is a life-size zebra.  I always watch for this when I drive by this area.  So we walked down there so I could get my picture.  The sun was angled wrong so the picture isn’t great, but here is my zebra picture.

Well, that about sums up my week.  Nothing too exciting going on here.  I have gotten several Christmas cards and a few packages as well.  The packages make me feel guilty because I know it’s a small fortune for postage over here.  But I love the mail and I love you for thinking of me.  I am very blessed to have such a wonderful family and friends.  You have each made my life so full.  I love being on my mission but I will be so excited to be back home with you at some point.

Love you.

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