Well, my visit with Landon and Ashley has come to an end. We got a lot done in the time we had and I think they got a great representation of Scotland and the things I have come to love while I have been here. They enjoyed a great New Years Eve in Inverness and I enjoyed quiet time in my hotel room where I slept a lot trying to not let a cold get the best of me. Monday we took off from Inverness and headed towards Stirling. We stopped back in Pitlochry for lunch then drove up to Stirling Castle. Being New Years Day I didn’t know what to expect. But the castle was almost empty. There were no more than 20 cars in the parking lot and it was great roaming the castle grounds without a lot of people around. It was quiet and we were able to move about quickly and see just about everything.
Then we headed home, chasing the moon as it was rising over the horizon. It was big and beautiful and we tried to get a picture of it but as usual for me, I didn’t get a good picture. So I won’t bother posting one here. But it was fun as we drove all the way to Queensferry trying to find just the right shot. Once home we picked up Sister Gifford, took our rental car back to the airport and then headed out to find some dinner. I thought Landon might enjoy Toby’s Carvery but it was full so we tried a Chinese place down the street from there. It was pretty good. Then we dropped Landon and Ashley off at their hotel and went to bed.
Tuesday I drove Landon and Ashley over to the train station to catch their train to London. They are spending some time there before heading home on Friday. They are going to Stonehenge, Bath, Warner Brothers Studio to see the Harry Potter tour, and a few other fun things right in London like Windsor, Buckingham, St Paul’s Cathedral etc. I wish I could go with them. But I can’t and even if I could, I have so much work to get caught up on after taking so much time away. Time away would have happened regardless since it was the holidays. We all took the same amount of time off so we are all scurrying now to catch up to our regular schedules.
Last week on Thursday we had a great baptism. It was another Chinese person named Alan. This was an unique baptism in that after he was baptized Alan spoke and bore his testimony. It was one of the most tender yet strong spiritual moments. Alan told us that he was raised in a happy family and he has always known joy with his family. But he has always been aware that something was missing. He felt an emptiness along with all the good. He came to Scotland to go to school and he set into a pattern. He was happy here but found he was also experiencing depression which was new to him. Then one day he decided to walk over by the library. He had no reason to do that and he had never done it before but he had a strong urge to do so this day. That was when he met Elder Gibb and Elder Wright. The message that they shared with him that day filled the emptiness that had been inside him and as he learned more he knew this was why he wandered over to the library that day. He is so excited now to share this with his family so they can be his eternal family. He knows this is what they are all looking for.
Then this week we had another baptism on Thursday. Again, another Chinese person. This cute girl is named Annie. She was so excited about getting baptized and afterwards didn’t want to leave the church. She was excited to talk with everyone and share her feelings of what she experienced that night when she was baptized. We had a few investigators at her baptism and they also hung around afterwards to listen to her talk. But even better than that was our speakers. Zoe, who I have known since I first got here talked on baptism. She is a very excitable Chinese girl who has been a member now for two years. She has matured and her testimony has deepened since I first met her and it was good to see how grounded she has become in the gospel. It is a part of who she is now. Then Sam who I had the opportunity to sit in on several discussions with and then worked with him a few times on family history before and after his baptism gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. It was so simple and yet so powerful and personal as he talked about how the Holy Ghost has changed his life and how he never feels alone anymore. He compared the Holy Ghost to a dice that he always keeps in his pocket. He says it may be small and most people won’t even know I have it but it is always there and I can feel it whenever I want. It is my constant companion and I know I have luck (talking about the dice) when it is with me. What a change I have seen in Sam over the past month. We teach and we share our own testimonies and we believe them but it is another feeling when you see it in action and see that others who didn’t know before, grow and learn and believe the same as you. And not only believe but express their feelings in their own way.
Saturday we decided since it was going to not be a rainy day, which we’ve had most the week, we were going to find a new place to visit. So off we went to New Lanark World Heritage Site. Here we discovered the cotton mills and learned about life in the village for those who worked and lived there when the mills were in full swing.
There is some textile production still going on there but I don’t believe it is in large amounts. Now there is a very nice visitor’s center and grounds to explore. This village sits right on the banks of the Clyde River nearby the falls and you can hear the power of the falls and imagine why this was such a good place to build a textile factory. The area was founded in the late 1700s by David Dale and the power of the river was used to power the engines of the cotton mills.
The first thing we did was the Annie McLeod Experience which is a slow moving ride comparable to Disney’s Haunted House or Peter Pan. The ride lasts about 10 minutes and through it we learned what it was like to work and live in Lanark through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl who had to quit school to go to work in the cotton mill.
Then we explored Mill 3 and watched one of the working mills where we could see the textile machinery spinning wool for the New Lanark wool brand. Then we wandered up to the rooftop garden area. Here we got a nice view of the surrounding forest, river, and village. The area here is just beautiful. On the way back down we stopped in the cafe and had a very tasty lunch of pizza and potato wedges. I also had a slice of Caramel Pie which was delicious. Then we wandered through the Gift Shop which was filled with a lot of really nice things. I had been hoping to buy some tartan fabric there but they didn’t sell just fabric. I thought they would. So my quest for some fabric will have to continue.
We then wandered over to the schoolhouse that was on the grounds of the mill and all children once they started walking were in school learning to dance, play music, arithmetic, science etc. Children would stay in school until they were 12 and then start work in the mills. Many times children actually left school at age 10 because their family needed the extra money but there was always a night school that they could attend if they wanted to continue with their studies.
From here we walked just over a mile I believe along the banks of the Clyde River to see the falls. They had the winter trees marked with what type of tree they were along with a picture of what the branches look like when budding and blooming. I found that interesting. It was very quiet and beautiful walking along the river. There were many people out walking with their dogs which I enjoy seeing. The dogs are all so well behaved over here. Most are not on leashes but they obey and stay with their masters. One particular dog I wish I had got a picture of was hurrying as fast as he could to leave with a very large stick in his mouth. I could just picture his thoughts of lets get out of here before someone tries to take away my stick.
We also walked through two different mill workers homes, one dated in the late 1700s and the other dated 1830 – 1930. And then we walked through Robert Owens home who was the man who lived and ran the mills.
If anyone needs a good person to do a biography on at school, Robert Owens would be a very good person to choose. I was fascinated with his thinking and the way he ran his mill. He was certainly ahead of the game in his thinking. And I believe we still are inspired by his ideas today.
After we got home we did our grocery shopping, ate dinner and then we went to see The Greatest Showman since Sister Gifford hadn’t seen it yet. Now she wants to go see it again… Ha ha. It’s nice to have a good movie to watch now and then.
Well, I hope this finds all of you settling into 2018. I love you and miss you. Thanks for all your cards and Christmas goodies. I appreciate all of you and look forward to being home this next Fall with you again.