Week 65: Last Zone Conference with the Donaldson’s, Elder Bednar, Alone time

I had the opportunity to teach a lesson with Sister Allred and Sister Ellsworth and when I got there it was Mars.  I haven’t seen him for several months.  It was so good to see him again and to find out that he is still reading the Book of Mormon and still asking questions.  He looks great and has committed to being baptised next week.  So I hope that works out.

The week as usual has been so busy.  I don’t even think I can explain the things I do each day right now getting ready for one mission president to go home and another to come in.  I’m busy with missionaries coming and going with several not coming and going on normal transfer dates.  I’m still working on trying to get the missionaries legal in Ireland.  There is just a lot to do.

Elder Derry
Elder Selander

Tuesday we had our All Scotland Zone Conference.  This was our last zone conference with the Donaldson’s.  We decided to close the office so we could attend the entire conference.  Because we were going to be treated to a two-hour Skype session with Elder Bednar the conference didn’t start until 1:30 and lasted until 7:30 so it wasn’t too bad to close the office.  We worked hard all morning and enjoyed our time over at the church the rest of the day.  I went over to the church at 1:00 so that I could take pictures for the president.  All the missionaries were already sitting quietly in the chapel reading their scriptures and we had each zone come out one at a time to the “garden” (yard) and we took a nice picture with the Donaldsons and the Thompsons.  I had to get a picture with Elder Derry.  He is one of the most fun missionaries to talk with on the phone.  He is from Texas and has a Texan drawl.  He is such a happy guy. And here is Elder Selander who is going home this next transfer.  He is one of the first missionaries I met when I got here and I have always kept track of him.  He has never served near me but he is from Alpine so we will continue to keep in touch and I can’t wait to meet his mom.  I love how we make new friends in all different ways. He gave a great departing testimony.   And then way down at the end of this row is Sister Wayne in case Shannon or Carson looks at my blog.  She is a friend of Carson’s from high school.   After watching the baptism power point that we always watch showing all our baptisms so far this year, we had the departure testimonies.  We have 18 going home in July and almost all of them are here in Scotland so we had lots of very touching testimonies.  These are all missionaries that I’ve known since I first got here so I know them all very well.  Some of them I have worked very closely with like Elder Grant, Elder Butler, Sister Ellsworth and Elder Selander.  I love the fact that many of these great kids are going home to Utah and this is not goodbye, just see you in a few months.  I am so grateful for all the new friends I have made.  I can’t imagine not having these people in my life and it just reaffirms to me that we have so many people that we love and those relationships are eternal.  How can they not be?  I believe many of these relationships probably started before this life.

At 5:00 we had the blessing of having Elder Bednar and his wife Skype in and spend two hours with us.  We had cameras set up so he could see us and we could see him.  This was a privilege that we understand is very special and we did not take it lightly.  This was a favor to Elder Grant who is Elder Bednar’s nephew.  He talked about using the time wisely and opened it up for questions.  What a wonderful experience it was to listen to him speak one-on-one with our missionaries.  It was really neat to see the effect it had on many of the missionaries who have never had this type of experience before.

Afterwards all the missionaries filed out of zone conference one-by-one so they could give President and Sister Donaldson a hug.  That was an emotional moment for many of these missionaries.  I am confident they will grow to love President Macdonald as well and these missionaries will go home having learned from two great men.

Thursday Sister Gifford’s son and family came into town so she has gone to be with them for the rest of the week.  I have been busy all weekend.  Thursday I took Sister Allred and Sister Ellsworth to dinner.  We were going to go to Zizzi’s but I couldn’t get reservations so we went to Five Guys.  It was so great to just sit and talk and eat.  I enjoy these girls.  Afterwards I ran and got Sister Miller and she and I went to Primark and TKMaxx looking for baby gifts.  Our ward has a double baby shower on Saturday morning.  One little boy was born seven months ago and the other was born 11 weeks early and is almost four pounds now.  He was born when we were in Orkney several weeks ago.  I might have mentioned this already.  The Jensen’s are from Sandy, Utah here going to school.  It was nice to hang out with Sister Miller.

Friday after work we had a dinner at the mission home.  Our last dinner together there.  The President and Sister Donaldson have been living in a hotel for over a week already and this was the last night they could use anything in the mission home as it gets deep cleaned this next week.  We have had a painter already and I believe a few other things are happening as well.  We had the Edinburgh missionaries and the office staff, minus Sister Gifford, and the Millers.  Wendy was there to help and eat as well.  Afterwards I had an appointment over at the church to work on family history with Andrew who was just baptised a few weeks ago.  I also got a visit some day this week from Elder Gowan’s and Elder Crowley.  Two really great missionaries.

Today I got up early and changed the sheets on my bed and did a bit of cleaning and then took a bus to Holyrood Palace.  This is the Palace at the other end of the Royal Mile.  I have driven by it many times but I have never been inside.  Sister Gifford went in last December while I was in Ireland and her daughter was here.  So I thought today would be a good time to do that.  The Queen still comes to this castle every summer for a few weeks.  They have a tea out on the lawn.  I think that is happening again really soon.  The palace was beautiful inside.  I really liked it.  On the grounds is an old abbey as well.  I then walked around the gardens and then headed out.

I walked past the Scottish Parliament buildings and onto Canongate which is this end of the Royal Mile.  I stopped for lunch at my favorite Oink and got a pulled pork sandwich and a bottle of water and walked a few blocks and found a place to sit outside and eat.  I also walked by a guy with an owl.  Then I walked up the Royal Mile and then over to the University of Edinburgh.  I was in search of a sweatshirt but when I got to the store I was so hot (it’s finally a really warm day) I couldn’t even get myself in the mood to look at the sweatshirts.  And they didn’t have the one I had in mind anyway.  So I went out to the common area and just sat on a bench to people watch.  While sitting there I was treated to three different sets of our missionaries walking through who all took the time to come and say hi and talk for a bit.  I should have taken pictures.  I forget that sometimes.

Pictures from Holyrood Palace:  

Then I got back on a bus and came home.  The day was still early enough that I decided to go see a castle I hadn’t seen yet.  It wasn’t far away.  Blackness Castle which is also known as the Ship that  Never Sailed.  It’s built right on the edge of the water and the front of the castle looks like the front of a big boat heading out to sea.  It was a very unique castle.  Maybe because it sits right on the water like that.  It is rough and the grounds are uneven.  But you could climb all over it and explore.  This one was a good one to see without Sister Gifford.  She wouldn’t have liked exploring this one.  Lots of little stairways and no railings or ropes to hang onto.  But I really liked this castle.

Then I went to a mall in Livingstone since I was out that direction and just walked around and actually found a skirt for 10 pounds that I think is really cute.  Now I need to still run to the grocery store and then I’m just going to curl up and read a book until bedtime.

I hope everyone is doing well and having a wonderful summer.  I miss you and can’t wait to be back home.  But in the mean time I’m getting the most out of Scotland.  I do love this place.

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