Well, another week as flown by. It’s been a rainy week but the grass is still beautifully green and once again I get to watch the clouds fly by my window all day long. I don’t understand why the clouds move so fast here but they do. I’m just looking at the sky. I’m not watching the clouds against a horizon or against a mountain or anything else. The clouds just really do move fast across the Scottish sky. I enjoy watching them.
Monday night I went to the church at about 8:00 to help teach. This was with a guy named Hamish. Hamish also got baptized this week which I will talk about in just a minute. Teaching him was really enjoyable. He has been a Christian (fairly active) all his life and everything he reads in the Book of Mormon he parallels to a Bible story. He really knows his scriptures and is really enjoying discovering the Book of Mormon. He is Sister Irving and Sister Wahlquists investigator and they have done a great job with him.
Wednesday right after work I went back to the church to help teach Adrian who is a new investigator for Sister Hill and Sister Palmer. He isn’t quite as easy to teach as Hamish. He has lots of questions and is a bit stronger willed. But the lesson went well and he stuck around for the baptism that night.
The baptism was wonderful. We had four getting baptised. Hamish Farquharson, Michael Gauld, (who Sister Irving and Sister Wahlquist have been teaching for quite a while and who was struggling with the blessings of the gospel not being available to everyone because of choices they make in their lives), Lief Solmunde (pronounced Life), and Charlton. Lief I just met earlier on Wednesday as he sat in on the lesson with Adrian. I really like Lief and he was very excited to get baptized. He is someone Elder Gibb and Elder Wright have been teaching. And then Charlton is a Chinese investigator that Elder Huang and Elder Bradley have been working with. I don’t know Charlton at all but I will get to know him over the next few weeks. There is always a great feeling at baptisms and this was no exception. You feel the peace and excitement in the air. These people are getting baptized because they want to and because they have read the Book of Mormon (at least part way) and have come to church and they know they have found something that fills a void in their current life. I have enjoyed getting to know as many of these people as I can and learning a bit about who they are. I am excited for them and their new adventure being part of a ward family and finding good friends. This ward has really started to have more of a family feel over the past few months and this is a good place to be.
I as usual have been very busy in the office. There is always so much work to be done. It’s really incredible how much we have to do. Sister Gifford is buried in housing issues – boilers not working, mold growing crazily, missionaries not keeping their places clean and leaving lots of stuff behind for someone else to clean up. I am so glad I’m not over housing any more. I love being the secretary. And Sister Gifford loves the housing end of things, even when it gets a bit hectic.
Thursday after work the sisters and the district leaders needed a ride to dinner so I picked them all up at the University Library and drove them out to Brother Nielsen’s house in our bishopric. I ran home, quickly ate a burrito and then ran back to get them. I dropped Sister Irving and Sister Wahlquist off at the church for their lesson they had with a new girl they happened to meet while in Subway last week. This girl works at Subway and that’s it. She doesn’t go to school and she needs friends. Her name is Izzy. The sisters told her she should come to the church on Monday night for FHE. They were going to be playing games and having chips and salsa. They gave her directions and told her she was welcome. Well I was there Monday night with the girls teaching Hamish and when we popped into the YSA room there was Izzy playing games with a big smile on her face. The girls talked to her and got an appointment set up with her to teach her the first lesson. On Thursday the girls said she had called and asked how she could join the church so I guess that first lesson is going to be a success. I will have to find out how it went tomorrow at church. Anyway, after dropping off the girls, I dropped the boys back up at the University area. They got out of my car loaded with curry leftovers and heading off to make a few more contacts before wrapping up for the night. I knew Sister Gifford was home and tired so I decided to run to the store quickly and grab a few things I needed before heading home. Such a weird thing to be out by myself shopping and running around town. I enjoyed it though.
Friday after work we headed to Livingston which is about 40 minutes away from Edinburgh and attended a Burn’s Supper at the church there. Jan 25 is Robert Burn’s birthday and he is a beloved poet of the Scottish people. We enjoyed ourselves and met some very nice members. Burn’s Suppers, or Burn’s Night, is a tradition in Scotland. Our evening started off with some nice traditional bigpipe music in the background and the bishop in full Scottish dress welcoming us all there. After the opening prayer we had The Selkirk Grace.
The Selkirk Grace is an important prayer read just before the meal is served. One of the men in the ward gave this grace written by Robert Burns.
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
Then the Leek Soup was served. It was actually really tasty. I was worried I wouldn’t like it. It seems there are Leeks in everything here and I have yet to have tried anything that had Leeks in it, but I actually liked the soup and ate all of it.
After the soup was cleared we had the procession and address to the Haggis. Our friend John McKay was the lucky man, also dressed all in Scottish attire to bring out the Haggis and parade around the room with it. Then it was laid in front of a man who raised a knife and gave the Address to the Haggis. The address is quite long but here are the last two stanzas.
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade, He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned, Like taps o’ thrissle.
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer Gie her a haggis!
So yes, I got a heaping plate of haggis, neeps and tatties. I ate half the tatties and half the haggis. And a few bites of the neeps. I don’t really like those. Here is a picture of Elder Crowley and Elder Rothlisberger who are the missionaries for Livingston Ward. They worked hard serving everyone their dinner before they got to sit down and eat.
Saturday we got up and even though it was promising to be a rainy day we headed out to visit a town we had never been to before. Dumfries. Friday I realized we didn’t know what we were going to do this weekend and Elder Watson was in the office all day because he can’t walk due to a stress fracture in his foot. So I asked him, since he hung out in my office all day, what should Sister Gifford and I do tomorrow. He is assigned to Dumfries right now and he said, “you should come to Dumfries”. I asked why and he had all kinds of good reasons. One being his favorite castle is there. So I did some research and decided that was where we were going.
We drove just over two hours to get to Dumfries area to Caerlaverock Castle. Pronounced (Ka lava rock) I think!! It was a bit rainy and we drove through one section of fog but it was a beautiful drive and we saw new places. I just have to say – so I can have it documented – that my navigation system in my car is still messed up. We never get put on a freeway or a main road. Everywhere we go we are driving on back farm roads. That as no exception for today. I keep thinking I need to look at my navigation system and see if I can figure out what I’ve done but on the other hand we see country that we would never get to see otherwise. So it’s a decision for another day. For now, we are enjoying the little country roads.
In 1300, Scotland was at war with England. King Edward I of England led an army of over 3000 soldiers to Scotland, and arrived at Caerlaverock in July. They set up camp outside the walls of Caerlaverock and demanded the people inside to surrender. Of course they wouldn’t surrender and instead held off the army for three days and nights before finally losing the battle due to the ceiling of the castle falling in on them. The surprising thing was when the gates of the castle were finally breached the army of 3000 found they had been fighting a group of only 60 men. The king was so impressed with the tenacity of these men that he gave them robes and set them free for the most part.
I am so glad we took the time to come see this castle. It is really a pretty ruin. I love the colors and you can still see carvings all over. And due to the weather we were the only ones there for most of the time. We did finally see one other couple just as we were getting ready to leave. We went into the gift shop and had hot chocolate and then headed towards home. We had planned on driving over to Sweetheart’s Abbey as well but found out it was not open and under refurbishment so we wouldn’t get good pictures even.
We were on the lookout for some special black-nosed lambs that are somewhere around Dumfries but we didn’t find them. We did however find Oreo cows. The true name is Galloway Belted Cows but everyone calls them Oreo Cows.
Tonight we took Elder Gibb and Elder Wright to dinner. We enjoy these two APs. They are hard workers with beautiful testimonies and hearts. It was nice to spend an hour with them. Well, I’m tired. It’s been a long day. I hope you are all home and warm and safe. I miss each one of you.