Week 56: Transfers, my friend Bonno, Isle of Skye

I have to start out this week telling you about my friend Bonno.  He is in our bishopric here in Edinburgh.  He came to Scotland when he was 14 and joined the church when he was 16.  He is from Botswana.  His parents were killed when he was young and he and his brother were alone after that.  When his brother was old enough to join the military he did so and came to Scotland.  As soon as he could he sent for his little brother Bonno, and found him a place to live here.  I am touched every time I listen to Bonno talk about his home in Botswana and how he came to Scotland and found the gospel.  He has a strong testimony and understands how his life has been blessed.

This week Bonno and his Scottish wife of less than one year are going back to visit Botswana.  Bonna has never been back in the ten years he has been here.  He is so excited to return and share the good news of the gospel with his relatives.  Bonno was told in his patriarchal blessing that he would teach the gospel in the country where he was born and he has never forgotten that promise or command.  So now that they are heading back Bonno has big plans.  He has been busy planning a large gathering with his family and friends who have decided to throw them a traditional wedding celebration. It is during this celebration that Bonno plans to share with his family the Gospel, his testimony and the positive influence it has had on his life. That in itself is a pretty big deal but for those who know Bonno, he doesn’t do anything by half. Bonno has been busy emailing the stake president about his plans, he’s also been emailing the mission president asking for copies of the Book of Mormon and even missionaries to come and help. He’s also had conversations with public affairs leaders wanting him to share his conversion story.  I think this is making his dear wife a bit nervous but none of us would expect any less from Bonno.  I wish him all the success possible in Botswana and pray that the ears of his family and friends will be open and their hearts will be soft when they become reacquainted with this wonderful young man.

Monday was moves and even though it was smaller than usual it seems the work load doesn’t really get smaller.  Things went well, I thought until I got home and my phone rang about 8:30 PM.  It was the President and we had an Elder stuck in London.  I tried to help him from my apartment but that didn’t work.  So I ran back to the office and tried as I might, I couldn’t get him on a plane.  Elder Fehoko was traveling to Papua New Guinea to be with his parents who are mission presidents for a few weeks before heading home to Tonga to live with his brother.  We had plane tickets for him to Papua New Guinea and VISAs for him to travel with his parents to New Zealand and Australia but no proof that he would be leaving Papua New Guinea so they wouldn’t allow him on the plane.  We ended up putting him up in a hotel and he had to wait an entire 24 hours to get on another plane.  He still isn’t home and it is Wednesday night here right now.  He had a 13 hour flight to Singapore then two more flights after that.  I ordered him pizza to be delivered to his room, spoke over and over again with the hotel customer service people, Elder Fehoko’s parents, our travel people and Elder Fehoko himself who was nervous, anxious and without a phone or much money. I am just waiting to hear he made it to his parents.  Poor kid.  That’s Elder Fehoko at our dinner on Sunday.  I always tell him he makes me homesick for Landon.  They look a lot alike.

Monday we went out to Five Guys at the end of the day as well.  We had several missionaries around and all the local missionaries had been invited to dinner at the Millers so President and Sister Donaldson took the others to Five Guys so Sister

Gifford and I tagged along.  It tasted so good after a long day.  So nice to not have to go home and figure out what to do for dinner.  This is Elder Gregory, Elder Kroes from Germany, Elder Lawson and Elder Cosmas our Uganda friend.

Tuesday our four new missionaries came.  Only four.  Such a small group for us.  One is Chinese speaking so she flew in from Salt Lake City and the other three came in a van from Preston MTC.  We got them settled quite easily.

Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu were both transferred this time.  We just got them moved in downstairs and enjoyed three nights with them there.  Every night when they would get home from their missionary work they would walk up and knock on our door to tell us good night.  Sunday morning they showed up in time for breakfast and we helped them out.  Monday night after I had gone back to the office and was coming back at 10:30 I saw their lights still on so I rapped on their door and told them goodnight.  I felt like I was at girls camp and I should be leaving a pillow treat or something.  I’m going to miss those two girls who have become missionaries who I care very much for.  We now have Sister Lough and Sister Belliston living downstairs.  Sister Lough is from Highland but I don’t believe she attended Lone Peak.  She has been here a while but went directly to Ireland so I haven’t gotten to know her yet.  Sister Belliston is from Michigan and she is our new Chinese-speaking missionary.  After this crazy week slows down I plan to get to know these two.  Sister Gifford and I will have to take them to dinner this next week.

Wednesday was another crazy day at the office.  I’m still catching up with new bus passes for everyone and making supplies for new leaders and getting Ireland VISAs figured out.  They are still in negotiations on how to handle religious workers so we are still waiting but we have to be actively trying anyway.

I left work at 2:30 to drive to Dunfermline to take my driving test.  It’s an hour long driving test where you have to answer questions about your car, show how to park (parallel) follow a GPS for about 30 minutes and then take direction from the person driving with you.  He had me clean my back window while I was driving and even though I know perfectly well how to do that, I had to try a few times.  He was okay with that.  But even though I drove really well I failed.  He told me he could tell I was an experienced driver and I had all the skills necessary to get my license.  He wasn’t worried about anything – except my right foot.  For some reason I kept going over the speed limit.  I never speed, in fact I find that I’m driving too slow most the time because I’m just enjoying myself as I drive.  But today I kept going over.  Of course most of the time we were in 30 mph speed zones and it is hard not to go over.  I caught myself every time but once and because he had to tell me that once, he failed me.  So I get to do it all over again in 10 days.  Oh well, I just chalked that up to a driving lesson.  It was good.

Friday was a half day of work.  Sister Gifford and I along with the Miller’s were doing an overnight adventure to the Isle of Skye so we asked if we could leave at 3:00 to get up to Inverness in good time.  I also had a hair appointment in the morning so I didn’t work much but there was lots to do and I worked hard.  Then we were off for our weekend.

Inverness is just over a three hour drive and we took the time to drive into Pitlochry and had dinner on our way. The Millers had never seen Pitlochry and it is one of our favorite little spots so we drove up and down the main street, got out and walked up to the river to see if the Salmon were jumping yet (they weren’t) and then had dinner before we finished our drive up to Inverness.

When we got to Inverness we found our little hotel which was on a busy street full of clubs and pubs and we had to park about three blocks away and walk back with our suitcases.  But as we were driving down the street looking for the hotel we saw our missionaries walking down the road.  I wish I could have taken their pictures but it was so great to see them out working.  We honked and yelled hi to them.  They were surprised to see us.  Once we got settled in our room I left to find some water.  I walked a couple blocks to a co-op store and bought a bottle of water and a bottle of Diet Dr Pepper.  I don’t always find that so I had to get it.  Then I walked back to the hotel and we basically just fell asleep.  Sister Gifford was already in bed when I got back so there wasn’t anything else to do.

Saturday morning we met the 16-seat van at the bus station and headed on our way to the Isle of Skye.  This was a trip I knew I had to take so I could say I’ve been there but I also knew it would be going and looking at the scenery but not much exploring.  That’s okay though.  Isle of Skye is known for a few things but they are all hikes into areas.  I did ask about the Fairy Pools and he said they aren’t like Pinterest makes

them out to be.  Occasionally they will look all Emeraldy and clear but usually they are just grey and don’t look much different than any other pool so I don’t feel too bad about not making it to the Fairy Pools.

First stop was Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness which I’ve already been to three times now so the quick stop that we made was just fine with me.  Our driver’s name is Duncan Fraiser and he is from the western side of Scotland out on a small

isle.  He has been a driver for 15 although he doesn’t look much older than 30 or so.  He was very energetic and full of stories.  It was delightful to just sit back and listen to his stories the entire day.

After Loch Ness we headed up into Skye and the Highlands.  Here is an example of the terrain change as we headed North up to Skye.  One is just past Loch Ness and the other is as we neared Eilean Donan Castle which is the castle the Piano Guys filmed at if you’ve seen that video of Fight Song.  If you haven’t you really should google it.

 As we got higher up the land got more and more sparse of vegetation and color.  It has it’s own appeal in beauty but it is different than what you are used to seeing.

Eilean Donan Castle was a great castle.  They had several rooms furnished and we had plenty of time to explore.  This castle is home to the MacRae Clan and the day we were there the MacRae’s were in the castle for their annual get-together and then a wedding that evening so we were lucky to get in.  It was closing at noon.  This spot for a castle was chosen back in 634AD by Bishop Donan to create a place for monks. The area is very tranquil and beautiful.  By the 13th century the Vikings were sailing along the lochs that surround Eilean Donan in their long boats with the dragon heads so the castle was built to help protect the area from the Vikings.  It is believed the original castle was very large and covered most of the island.  Over the centuries the size of the castle changed a lot.  Eventually the Jacobites took over the castle and was living there with some Spanish soldiers when in 1719 the Royal Navy came and bombarded the castle and actually blew it up when 343 barrels of gunpowder were discovered inside.  So for 200 years the castle was in ruins until 1912 when Lt Col John MacRae-Gilstrap made it his family home and reconstructed the castle, adding the bridge which is as well known today as the castle itself.  To this day the castle is considered the MacRae Clan home and is used from time to time for clan activities.

Here is a cute Scottish Hound that I made friends with before we left the castle grounds.

One of the highlights of my day was on our drive from the castle up to the town of Portree.  We stopped along the side of the road to see some Highland Coos.  They were in a pen but there were three different colors of coos which I had never seen.  I’ve only seen the red before.  And there were two little babies that were both white.  This black coo just wanted attention.  I couldn’t get him to back up so I got a very up-close picture of him.

Man of Storr

 Just up from the cows was where you can see the favorite spot called Man of Storr.  Legend has it that Old Man of Storr was a giant who had lived in Trotternish Ridge and when he was buried, his thumb was left jutting out of the ground, creating the famous jagged landscape.

We had lunch in the main town in Skye named Portree.  Of course sitting right on the Atlantic Ocean the choices were fish or fish so I let the Millers and Sister Gifford go enjoy lunch and I wandered around town and found a croissant to nibble on.  Here is a picture I’ve been hoping to get.  The village along the harbour in Portree.Heading back down out of Skye we stopped at a little village named Kyleakin.  Here they had a harbor and a small castle on the other side of the harbor named Castle Moil.  Legend tells that Castle Moil was built by a Norse princess nicknamed, “Saucy Mary”, who married a MacKinnon chief. She is said to have stretched a chain across the loch and levied tolls on ships sailing through the narrows.

We got back to Inverness at 8:30 and drove back to Edinburgh since we all have Sunday obligations.  The Miller’s were actually speaking in Sacrament Meeting so we were glad when we made it home safely at 11:30 PM Saturday night.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week.  I miss you and love you all.

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