Week 48: Creating, Quiet week, Pucks Glen

This has been a week of creating.  The university has been asking for some literature they can give out when their students ask about the missionaries so we created a tri-fold brochure for them to hand out to their students.  This involved several hours at home looking through different things on lds.org and having a photo shoot out in the meadows.  It was fun and a nice change from my usual daily activities.  The brochure was finished on Tuesday and the APs ran it up to the university.

In working on the brochure for the university we thought it would be nice to have a pass along card that fit university students as well.  So I started working on creating a new pass along card patterned after one that they had in our area for a short time.

And as long as we were creating new things we also worked on our Baptism Calendars and added a whole new section to that.

On top of that I am still busy trying to get the lesson manuals bound.  Anytime someone asks if I have anything they can do – I pull these out and get a few more done.

Oh, I have to throw this one in here.  After our photo shoot Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu went back to my car to change their clothes into their P-Day clothes.  They were going to play Frisbee at the park with a group of missionaries.  Sister Wu thought that was so exciting.  She had never changed clothes in a car before!!

I have started studying hard for my drivers license exam.  It’s not easy.  They use words we don’t.  Their crosswalks have different types and names – zebra, pelican, puffin and toucan.  They all look different and work differently.  They use words like dual-carriageway, and lorries and …dreadful meters.  If I am traveling on dry roads going 30mph how many meters will it take for me to stop?  Oh boy, I need to know all those answers for 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70.  I think I have them down.  Then there are the signs.  Most of them don’t even look like anything.  And the ones that do have a picture are not that obvious in many cases.  So I hope I can pass this next week.  I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday we got two new missionaries.  These are two young men from Utah – one Alpine and one Bountiful who are coming as Mandarin speaking missionaries.  So the president collected them from the airport and they got back to the office about 6:00 PM.  I stayed until about 8:00 processing them in, sending a letter to their parents and taking their pictures.  They are both in good hands with great trainers.

Wednesday Elder Bradley called and asked if I could help him and Elder Miao out.  Elder Bradley is from Canada and Elder Miao is from Bejing.  They had a dinner appointment out quite aways and didn’t have time to take the 45 minute bus ride out and wondered if we could run them out.  This is the first time Elder Bradley has ever asked for help and I was so happy he asked.  He’s a quiet guy and we don’t see much of him even though he is right here in the city.  But the times I’ve had him in the car he has always been talkative and I have really enjoyed our conversations.  So of course, Sister Gifford and I were happy to help them out.  We left work just a bit early and picked them up at the university and drove through rush-hour traffic to get them to their appointment.  It was at one of the bishopric members flat so we thought for sure he would bring them back into the city since there was a baptism tonight so we ran and got a bite to eat and then walked into the baptism just in time for me to sit down at the piano and play the opening song.  This was a Chinese girl named Meggie getting baptized.  She is a really cute girl.  (Elder Worley and Elder Butler have been teaching her.)  Just as it was time for her to be baptized my phone rang and it was Elder Bradley.  They were done and didn’t have a way back.  So we left to go back out and get them.  When we got there, they were standing out on the corner on a busy street in the cold.  They were so relieved to see us.  The first thing Elder Bradley said when he got in the car was I’m so glad you could come.  I didn’t even know which direction to start walking to get home.  We love helping these missionaries.

It’s been a great

week.  Not as busy as the last few weeks.  I’ve actually had a little free time and feeling like I’ve progressed in my personal studies.  I have been trying to memorize “The Living Christ” and I have gotten through 4 paragraphs and have them down with no hesitation.  I’ve read my scriptures every day and studied the things I’ve been reading. I love weeks like this.  The sun is peeking out earlier every day and we are no longer going to work in the dark each morning.  And it is staying light until about 6:00 now which is wonderful.  I love the light.  We need light.  What great symbolism.  Light.

Friday I got to leave the office for a bit.  Sister Quintana from California and Sister Schulze from Germany took a train into Edinburgh for an appointment so I picked them up at the train station and drove them to their appointment.  I practiced my parallel parking while I waited for them and then we ran to get a prescription filled, grabbed a snack and then they were back on the train.  They are both such cute girls.  I wish I had more time to get to know all the missionaries.

Oh, and I have a picture of Elder Gowans who always stops by my office for a chat when he comes in for exchanges or leadership.  I’ve known him as long as I’ve known anyone here.  He is from Orem.  Anyway, he walked in this week and I took one look at his tie and said – “That’s an Anderson Tartan tie.  He said yes, it is and pulled it out so I could take a picture.  My Scottish Family History is the Anderson Clan.  

Today being Saturday Sister Gifford and I decided to go to a place called Pucks Glen.  So we went in a bit of a circle going one way and coming home another.  We drove up past Glasgow on the M8 and then just after the Glasgow airport we took the A82 up into Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park.  It was a beautiful drive alongside a big beautiful blue lake that was brimming full of water.  There is so much water here.  All the lakes are right up to the top almost ready to bubble over.  They are so beautiful.  I was just thinking as we passed by all these little holiday caravan parks how fun it would be to just spend a week in this park by one of these beautiful lakes.  It’s so quiet and the amazing feature of Scotland is there never seems to be any bugs.

Well we stopped for lunch in a very little town just as we were to the end of the lake.  The cafe was hooked to the post office and general store which consisted of one very small aisle.  (Smaller than Aunt Delena’s store.)  But we had a great meal and then we drove the final 15 minutes to Pucks Glen.  For those of you that have read Fablehaven – or any other fantasy book about fairies.  This is what I kept thinking about as I roamed around the glen.  It was beautiful.  Incredibly still and calm, no sound whatsoever but an occasional song of a bird and even though we saw a few people there, for the most part we felt completely alone.  And I did feel completely alone for a good 30 minutes while I explored the area that looked a little too frightening for Sister Gifford.  We walked some steep little paths and by the time we got to the top and then found ourselves at the top of lots of steep stone steps leading down into the glen she was content to sit on a bench while I wandered off on my own.  She does pretty dang good for a lady in her 70’s.  And by the end of the day, I was the one who took a tumble down a mossy little section of the path.  My hands and knee are a little sore.  But I’m fine.  I caught myself so I didn’t totally lose control and that is why my hands hurt.  I think I bent my fingers weird catching myself.  Anyway, I will put the pictures all together here at the end.  I’m so glad we went today.  The weather was perfect and once we got walking we never felt cold at all.  Going home we drove the opposite direction and actually took a ferry across Loch Long to get back over and above Paisley and Glasgow area.  It turned out to be a great day.

I hope you are all well and I hear you finally have lots and lots of snow.  Of course it would come but sorry, and please be safe.  I love you all.

Week 47: Dublin, Cold, Scone Palace

Saturday we were still in Dublin and took this as another day to explore the city.  We first went to the Museum of Art and a library and the Museum of Archaeology.  That last museum was really nice and we saw an unusual exhibit called The Bog Men.  So, if you remember when we went to Stornoway, I talked a little bit about the Peat.  Well this peat grows all over Scotland and Ireland.  Bogs are a type of peatland found in cool, wet, and usually oceanic climates.  The peat just keeps getting denser and thicker over time and things that are left in the bogs are just covered up by the peat.  The peat decays slowly and so things left in it are preserved by the remarkable properties of the mosses.

Murder weapons are a common find.  Archaeologists believe the bogs were sites for ritual sacrifices, because along with the murder weapons are bodies.  They usually appear to have been tortured or killed in unnatural ways.  Some of the bodies found in the peat bogs date back to 200 BC and yet they are preserved so well you can actually see the prints on their fingers.  Their nails are still there too.

We also visited St Patrick’s Cathedral.  The first documented reference to a church on this site was in 890 AD.  Construction on the current cathedral building began in 1220.  In 1432 the choir school was founded and is still in operation making it the oldest school in Dublin. The pupils at the school still sing in the Cathedral on a daily basis.  Unfortunately we missed that.

In 1492 two royal families, the Fitzgerald’s and the Butler’s, were at war with each other competing for positions of power.  The title of Lord Deputy of Dublin Castle was at stake and it fell to Gerald Fitzgerald which upset the Butler’s and they began to battle.  The battle went badly for the Butler’s and they retreated into the Cathedral claiming sanctuary.  The Fitzgerald’s followed them to the Cathedral and they stood on either side of the chapel door, arguing for hours.  Eventually Gerald Fitzgerald called for a truce and told the Butler’s if they would come out there would be no harm done to them.  The Butler’s were afraid and refused to leave the protection of the Cathedral.  In an act of good faith, Fitzgerald took an ax to the door and hacked a hole into it.  He then thrust his arm through the hole and offered his hand in peace.  Basically saying take my hand or chop it off.  They two families shook hands.  All that is left from this is the actual door now but the saying “to chance your arm” comes from this experience.

Later that evening we ran into missionaries out on the Dublin streets doing there thing.  We took Elder O’Connor and Elder Valiati out for dinner to Nando’s and then we got on a bus and headed back to our little cottage.  It was a freezing cold night and it had begun to rain.  When we got to the church someone had closed and locked the gates so we were stuck.  Neither of us had our church phones with us so I used my personal US phone and started dialing numbers hoping I would figure out a missionaries number.  I don’t really have any memorized but I know how a lot of them start!!  Well, after several tries and actually getting my own church phone (I got my own voice mail), we found Sister Montierth.  She called the President and got the phone number of the Zone Leaders in Dublin and we waited by the gate until they were able to come rescue us.

Sunday all we had to do was walk across the parking lot to the church.  Sister Bingham was sitting on the stand along with her husband and another couple who turned out to be an English Area Seventy, Kenneth Tunnicliffe and his wife Vanessa.  I hadn’t thought about the fact that they would also be at church.  So they all spoke during sacrament meeting to the 50 or so of us who were in attendance.  Then they joined us for Sunday School and Relief Society as well.  Sister Bingham sat directly in front of me during Sunday School and then right behind me during Relief Society.  I got to talk with her for a bit.

After church we took the bus back to town and walked into the GPO or the General Post Office.  During the Easter Rising of 1916, the GPO served as the headquarters of the uprising’s leaders.  The building was destroyed by fire during the rebellion but the facade is original and you can still see where bullets hit the columns during the fight.

We enjoyed the fireside that night listening again to Sister Bingham and the Tunnicliffes.  Then we were picked up Monday morning by a taxi at 4:30 AM and came directly to the office when we landed back in Edinburgh.  We had a very busy day and didn’t leave to go home until 6:00 PM so we went to Mia’s for dinner and then home and crawled into bed.

Tuesday was Sister’s Conference here in Edinburgh and we had all our sister missionaries in for the entire day filled with workshops, speakers, food, exercise and fun.  It’s always good to see the missionaries interact with each other.  They love to get together.  I drove to the airport a couple times and to the train station.  Busy busy still.  I have tons of pictures and a few I want to add here but they are all on my computer at work.  I used the mission camera so that will have to wait. 

Wednesday and Thursday were just busy work days and Friday we decided to have a dinner at the mission home together.  We hadn’t done anything to welcome the Helps yet so Sister Donaldson asked if we wanted to do a staff dinner.  I made the comment – if we can do Mexican, not thinking we would but we did!!  Enchiladas.  It was so good.  And I even got to pick the dessert.  Sticky Toffee Pudding.  One of my two favorites that she makes.  It was perfect.  Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu came and ate with us and it was a great evening.

Saturday we headed to Perth and Scone Palace.  This is where I had found the Highland Coo with Lacey and Blaze when they were here and I have been promising Sister Gifford ever since that we would go back so she could see the coos as well.  So off we went to Perth.  When we drove up to the Palace I noticed the gates were open but there was no one in the ticket booth outside the grounds like last time.  So we didn’t have to pay anything to drive in.  The Palace itself was closed for winter, which I didn’t realize was going to happen, but the grounds were free and the gift shop was open.  The biggest thing I noticed though as we drove up were the coos were gone.  So we went straight to the gift shop to ask.  We found out one of the coos had a baby and they had put them out back and down a road from the palace as a quieter place for awhile.  We were told we were welcome to go see them and she told us what road to walk down.  So off we went.  We found the cows and they were just as cute as last time.  And there was the baby.  I’m so glad we asked.  There are peacocks all over the grounds of Scone Palace.  That was fun to see as well.

The grounds of the palace were covered in Snow Drops.  These are little bell-shaped flowers that grow wild all over in grass and mossy areas around here so we walked all through the grounds admiring the beautiful flowers and feeling the cool breeze as we walked.  It wasn’t very cold so it was a pleasant activity.

Then we drove into Perth to High Street and parked along the River Tay and walked a few blocks through the shops.  We found a little cafe to have lunch in and then headed back to the car.  We decided since it was still early we would see what else we could find on our navigation system under Points of Interest Nearby.  There were two castles nearby so we headed out to find them.  The first was Elcho Castle.  I had never heard of it but it was only 3 miles away so we headed up to it.  It turned out to be a nice looking castle that was just up off the River Tay.  But it was closed for the winter as well.  We got out and took pictures and we think we might come back and try and see it another time.

Well, that’s about it for this week.  President has me busy working on a tri-fold pamphlet that we are going to be using at the University.  It’s titled 10 Things to Know about Mormon Missionaries.  We are also designing a new pass along card that is unique to our area.  We will see how that all unfolds in the next week or so.

Oh, I forgot… driving home today we finally stopped at a little street that we pass all the time so I could take this picture.  Everytime we drive by I say I want to stop and get a picture of this statue.  So here it is.

I hope everyone is doing well and looking forward to Spring.  I miss you.  I love you!!


Week 46: Departing, Incoming and Dublin

Sunday was our very large group of missionaries getting ready to go home.  I worked until 8:00 PM on Saturday night and was back in the office before church and immediately after Sacrament Meeting.  We are using British Airways this time and they are not easy when it comes to getting boarding passes.  Also, someone goofed up (not me – this time), and only got one piece of luggage for most of the missionaries and I am not being able to add a bag when I checked them in like I had hoped.  This picture shows all the departure packs and boarding passes.  If there is an orange tag, there was still a problem when I finally left on Sunday night around 9:00.  I decided I was going to be going to the airport on Monday to sort out the problems.

The longer I am here the nearer these missionaries become to me.  I was so busy they had to come to me for pictures.  Here is Elder Davainis from Hungary, Elder Watson from Boise, Elder Abel from Oregon and Elder Wang from Beijing.  They are all leaving this time.  I’ve talked about Elder Wang before.  It’s amazing how six weeks can feel like a life time when you really connect with someone.  He is such an open person, ready for love and just wants to get to know everyone.  He goes back home to China but I don’t think this is the last I will see of him. 

And now Elder Gibb is on his last transfer so he is leaving his position as Assistant to the President and finishing out his mission in Dublin.  He is one that I will really miss as well.  He is a gentle spirit.  Very tender and caring.  He plans to go home to Lethbridge and probably become an orthodontist so if you are looking in Canada in about six to eight years… find Dr. Gibb.  

Monday, like I said I went with the missionaries to the airport first thing in the morning.  This was my first experience doing this and it was fun.  I mostly stood by the ticket counter and handed them the credit card after each missionary to pay for their additional bag.  But it was fun to go and see them off.  I’m hoping it made it easier for the President as well.  I had another project on Monday, to get enough lesson manuals punched and bound for the incoming missionaries to have.  So along with Elder Watson, who was going home a transfer

early and spent the day in the office with me, we got them done.  Then virtually the rest of the day was getting read for the 16 new arrivals coming on Tuesday.  Most of them are heading to Ireland so I had a lot of work to do on their GARDA cards, which is basically their Irish VISAs.

Tuesday came and so did our new missionaries.  One in particular that we were waiting for was Elder O’Connor.  He was in the MTC last summer and tore his ACL.  He finished out the MTC and then was told he would have to go home for surgery.  He hung in there and was determined to come back and here he is.  We are so proud of him for sticking to his goals and for working hard to get back in shape.  This young man has a constant smile on his face and has such a sweet personality.  I got to know him this weekend, but more about that in a bit.

Wednesday we were lucky enough to have another baptism in our ward.  This was another Chinese girl named Xinyu Chen or Lily.  At the end of the baptism once she had changed her clothes she came out and bore her testimony of how being baptized has made her feel and how she wants to share what she has learned with others.  It is such a sweet experience to hear these young students talk of their feelings.  

Thursday I just sat down at my desk and the APs called saying there were more leaders coming in for meetings at the airport than they could fit in their car so could I run to the airport and pick some of them up.  Of course, I hopped right in the car to head off to the airport. I actually like doing this.  I picked up Sister Kim, Elder Gowans, Elder Carter and Elder Turner.  We had a great chat as we drove back to the office.

I just walked in the door and there was Elder O’Connor and his companion and trainer Elder Valiati (from Brazil).  They were supposed to be on their way to Dublin so I said, “What are you still doing here?”  Well, President had them stick around so he could talk to them so they missed their bus to get down to the ferry (3 hours away).  So I got them new tickets and put them in the car and drove them over to Haymarket to catch their bus.  Elder Valiati has only taken the bus and ferry to Ireland one other time the day after he arrived on his mission and this was only Elder O’Connors third day here so I was feeling a bit nervous dropping them off.  The construction is so bad over there that you can’t even see the bus stops around all the barricades.  They had packed their tickets (which I had just handed them 10 minutes before we left) so I waited for them to find those again.  I couldn’t just drop them off, it didn’t feel right so I got out of the car and walked out to the street with them and pointed the direction they should go.  They were both silent.  I think they were both very nervous.  I told them they would be fine and to just find the sign that said Citylink 900 and they would be on the right track.  That is literally all I know as well about getting on the bus.  I’ve never done it either.  I left them and they started moving.  I got all the way back into my car and started it up when I had an undeniable feeling to get back out and check on them again.  So I did.  I walked out past the barricade to see if they were walking down the wrong side of the street but I couldn’t see them.  I stood there for a minute and then felt okay so I headed back to my car.  The whole time I was driving back to the office I was saying a little prayer – please let them get on the right bus…

Well, as I neared the street the mission office is on I saw our Sister Wahlquist who has just become a new trainer herself (straight from being trained) with her new companion Sister Wu.  They were running and looking like they were in a hurry so I pulled up along side them.  They were late for an appointment and had 12 minutes to get to Quartermile which is at least 12 minutes away driving.  So I said, Hop in and I drove them up to their appointment.  It was with two snowboarders from California.  I got thinking on my way back to the office that if I hadn’t stopped and got back out to check on the Elders I would have never seen the Sisters and wouldn’t have been there to help them.  So sometimes it pays to listen to those promptings, even when they don’t seem valid at the time.

The rest of Thursday was just crazy.  Another Dublin bound set of missionaries missed their bus after the ferry and called for help.  Some other missionaries in Ireland called because when they went to the immigration office they were told they came into the country illegally and they would have to go to Belfast and get on a plane and fly in.  (It never ends.)  The laws are a bit mixed up over there right now and every GARDA station seems to have their own opinion about what the law is.  But the laws haven’t even been voted on yet and we won’t really know what is going on with religious workers until the end of March.  Anyone can enter the country for 90 days on their personal passport so the missionaries are getting nervous over nothing but it still makes them nervous when what they expect to happen doesn’t.  Well, that was how the rest of the day went.  I don’t think I ever lifted my head up once.  And before I knew it, it was after six pm and we were ready to go back home.

Friday Sister Gifford and I had early morning flights to Dublin.  Sister Bingham (the General Relief Society President) was going to be in Dublin to speak at a fireside on Sunday night and the President was unable to go so he asked Sister Gifford and I if we would like to be there.  We of course said yes.  We stayed in a little cottage that sits right in the parking lot of the Dublin Stake Center and we just took Friday and Saturday to see Dublin.

My favorite activity that we did on Friday was to go to Trinity College.  This college is one of the oldest colleges in the world and is ranked in the top 100.  The campus sits right in the heart of Dublin and is known for it’s libraries and especially that is houses the Book of Kells.

The Book of Kells is a book containing the four gospels.  It was written in Latin by monks around 800 AD but no one is sure where it was created.  The monks also drew and painted pictures all through the book.  It was printed on calf-skin and was well preserved.  After a Viking raid on the monastary on the island of Iona, Scotland the book was brought to the Kells in 806. The scholars have been able to identify three different scribes and four different artists who have contributed to the book. And it is believed the book was made for display and ceremonial use, not just to be read.  Trinity College has had the book since the mid 1600s.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the Book of Kells display but the images are worth looking into on the internet.

After seeing the Book of Kells we walked into the Long Room which is one of the libraries at Trinity College.  They say this room was the inspiration for Hogwarts Library.

We were also able to view other old manuscripts that were pretty incredible.  Here are a few pictures that I took.

We rode the Hop On Hop Off bus around town for two days and I think we saw just about everything there is to see in Dublin.  We stopped at Dublin Castle which wasn’t much to look at.  It is more of a palace and we were tired so we didn’t really pay much attention to it.  We did stop for treats at The Queen’s Tart and I took a picture of a really neat building just down the street from there.

Then to end the day off we went to Christ’s Church Cathedral and went in to see the crypt.  This Church was built somewhere after 1028 when King Sitric Silkenbeard, the Hiberno-Norse King of Dublin made a pilgrimage to Rome.  Most of it has been rebuilt over the years but it is still very old and has the largest cathedral crypt in Britain and Ireland.  We saw a lot of things down in the crypt – old statues, old silver and gold plates and candlesticks etc used in ceremonies.  But the most famous thing down there is the mummified cat and mouse that were found in the organ pipes around 1860.

Well, after all that we were exhausted.  We went back to the cottage and Sister Gifford slept in the bedroom and I stretched out on the couch and we didn’t stir until morning.

I will finish out our Dublin trip in next weeks blog.  Sorry this one was late.  We have been so busy.  I keep thinking it can’t get any busier but it has yet to prove me wrong.

I love you all.


Week 45: That sounds monumental!!

Well, I just looked at my phone and I didn’t take any pictures this week!!  We have been so busy with a very large transfer planning week.

Here it is Saturday night at 8:00 PM and I can’t even remember what we did most of the days this week.  I know that Elder Gibb, who has been our AP since sometime in July I think is now going out for his last transfer and being a zone leader (and training a new zone leader) in Dublin.  That is one young man I am really going to miss.  He has such a stillness to his personality.  I enjoy feeling of his spirit and listening to his testimony.  He has a tender heart.  I’m going to have to get a picture with him tomorrow and I will add it here.

So the end of last week I arranged travel for our new AP to come in on Monday of this week.  We get Elder Grant back, who was a zone leader here a few transfers ago.  (Originally from Star Valley).  It is going to be fun to have Elder Wright and Elder Grant.  They are two busy, always running missionaries who will keep things lively around the office too.

The first few days this week we had one of our senior missionary couples in town so he could get his driver’s license.  Elder and Sister Handy are always good for a story and entertain us with their love of history and so I took advantage of having them here to learn what I need to know to pass my own drivers test and to figure out what to do when Sister Gifford and I go to Dublin this next weekend.

Wednesday it snowed off and on all day and it was cold.  The snow of course doesn’t stick around and even though it was on the streets it was literally a dusting of snow.  This was the day Elder Handy was supposed to take his drivers test but the driver testing people cancelled due to snow.  He was taking his test in Airdrie which is an hour away because they have the highest pass rate in the country.  So he drove an hour in the snow and had to turn around and drive an hour back in the snow but they wouldn’t let him test in the snow because it might not be safe.  That was expensive for him since they flew here from Ireland to do this.  They had to buy new plane tickets for Thursday.  It’s impossible to get a drivers license in Ireland.  The wait time just to get an appointment is almost a year.  So that is why he came to the UK to get his license.  That gives him a year again in Ireland which is more than he needs since they go home in July.

Thursday we were hungry all morning at the office.  All of us were.  I don’t know what it was.  I joked with Sister Gifford that it was because we had gone all week without going out to eat.  So at lunch time I took everyone’s orders and I drove to Oink to get pulled pork sandwiches.  They are so good.  I even tried the applesauce on mine this time and it was really good.  Thursday after work we took the Handy’s to the airport.  He passed his test that day with 100%.  Maybe I need to go to Airdrie.

Friday was the day I got all the moves and was told it was final so I got to work.  No one can ever imagine just how much work goes into moves.  My part alone is just crazy.  I’ve been trying to document my thought process as well as my actions on the computer and everything for my replacement.  I don’t leave until the end of September but I already have my replacement.  She has her call and she comes Sept 12.  The bad thing is there is no transfers during our overlap.  So I am trying really hard to create a step-by-step training manual that starts two weeks before transfer planning and what I am doing to get my charts ready etc.  I was doing really well until Friday night and then it just gets too much.  I’m thinking eight different thought patterns at the same time and checking who is going which way and who can meet up with them where.  Is Ryanair or AerLingus cheaper.  Will the train get them to the right place or should we get them on a bus.  Etc etc.  It’s really crazy.  And with more than 100 of our missionaries moving on the same day…it gets a little confusing.  But this is my favorite part of my work.  I love the thinking and the planning.  The filling in charts and creating spreadsheets.

Friday I worked until 7:30, ran home and had a bite to eat then said goodnight to Sister Gifford and went right back to work until 12:20 AM.  I got home but I was so wired that it took me until after 2:00 AM to fall asleep and then I was up wide-awake again at 7:00 AM.  I did finally fall back to sleep about 8:30 AM and slept until 9:45 then I got ready and we were back to the office.  It’s not hard to work all day when there is so much to do.  I told Sister Gifford, let’s work two hours and then we can run to see if we can find some new shoes.  Well those two hours flew by and I needed two more.  Then we did run to shop for shoes and grab some lunch.  But then we were right back to the office working until just now at 8:00 PM.

I’m still not done.  I have 15 missionaries who are entering Ireland for the first time and 2 who have expired GARDA cards.  So I am getting their packets together so they can get their GARDA cards when they get to Ireland.  This is their “green card” basically that allows them to live and work in Ireland.  On top of them having to pay 300 euros for their card I have letters to print and sign, insurance information to gather on each of them, church financial letters, and instructions to obtain your card all to put together in packets for each missionary to take with them to Ireland.  I can have them partially put together before hand but there are a few personal things like current address etc so it does have to wait until this point before I can have them done.

Then we have the GARDA Vetting which is paperwork I have to do on each missionary going into Ireland that certifies them to work with children and vulnerable adults. I have to have that paperwork ready for them to sign and then I scan and submit that along with their passports and VISAs.  I also have to have a list of every address they have lived at since birth.  That’s a pain right there. This is a new thing and this is only my second month working on this.  So in the future that list of addresses is something I am getting from them before they even get on their missions.  It will really save me.  Once everything is scanned and filed I send it all off to GARDA (which is like the police in Ireland) and then wait for the certificates.  Then I file them as well.

Well, there you have it.  My crazy week.

Tonight I ran one set of sister missionaries to a dinner appointment and another set of sister missionaries to a lesson.  Transfers are hard in the fact that some of these sweet sisters that I have learned to love are moving on.  Sister Hill goes home this transfer to Yuma.  Another one of our Edinburgh sisters is getting transferred.  I can’t give details here.  Next week I can.  We don’t talk about moves in detail until after they happen for the safety of our missionaries.  Elder Wong goes home to Bejing.  That is a whole other part of my job.  Departures.  And when they are going back into mainland China it’s a whole different set of rules.  I will miss Elder Wang.  I hope I get to see him again.  I keep telling him when he gets called to be an apostle I will be able to say I knew him when…  He has a powerful testimony and a great ability to articulate and express his feelings.  He has a deep understanding of the gospel.  You would never believe he has only been a member himself for three years.

Well, I think I will try to get to bed early tonight.  Tomorrow is another busy day.  Eight of the departing missionaries came in tonight from Ireland.  It was so good to be there at the office when they came in.  They are so excited and unable to believe it is really here.  They are going home.  I do understand myself now just how fast time really does go.  I never thought I would get to the point where I was worried about time but now I’m hoping I have enough time to get everything done I want to do here.

Well, thanks for getting through this post.  I know it wasn’t very entertaining.  I love you.  Have a nice Sunday tomorrow.  It’s February!!  Can you believe it??

Week 44: Four Baptisms, Burn’s Supper, Caerlaverock Castle

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.

Love you!



Week 43: New Office Missionaries, the Royal Yacht, 35 year anniversary today

Well this has been a week of changes.

Monday morning the Help’s arrived in the office.  They actually flew in on Saturday and spent the weekend with the Winters.  They are replacing the Winters and the Winters go home Thursday morning, along with the Markers.  The Helps are from Provo, Utah.  He was teaching at BYU but they are both originally from South Africa so they have a strong accent.  They are not hard to understand by any means.  Change is hard but it’s also nice.  A way to start over or fix things for the better.

I think we ate out almost every night this week because of one celebration or another.  Monday was President’s birthday so we went to dinner at Miller and Carter.  Not my favorite place.  I’ve been there twice now and both Sister Gifford and I are glad that will be our last time.  It is the place the Winter’s always want to go and neither of us think it is very good.  Maybe we don’t order the right thing.  It’s expensive and lucky for us both times we’ve been Elder Winter paid, so at least I don’t feel bad I spent my own money there.  But happy birthday to President.  He turned 60 today (Monday).

Today was also a snowy day.  As you can see by Sister Hill and Sister Palmer.

Tuesday we took Sister Irving and Sister Wahlquist out for dinner.  I got to pick and we went to Zizzi’s.  Still my number 1 choice of places to eat.  It’s so good and normal.  I don’t have to pick at anything I get there.  I like every bit of it.  It was so nice to just sit a bit with Sister Irving and Sister Wahlquist and enjoy their enthusiasm and loving spirit.  I have loved these girls and I’m afraid one of them, if not both will be moving in a couple weeks.  It’s always hard to see these girls move on and not be a part of your every day.  But I always fall in love with the next ones as well.  They are all great missionaries and they all have their unique things that makes them endearing.

Tuesday another new missionary couple arrived.  These are the Pattersons from Grand Junction Colorado.  They flew in this morning and will be taking a ferry Wednesday morning to Belfast where they will be replacing the Pohlmans.  The Pohlmans are taking the ferry the other direction and will be replacing the Marker’s in Stranraer.  Both areas are beautiful and I hope all goes well for both of them.

Wednesday was zone conference and that always brings a little extra work with travel arrangements and now I am also handling supplies so this is a big day to stay on top of what supplies are going out and what will I need to stock up on again.  I didn’t spend any time at zone conference this time.  I usually go over and hear some of what is going on but with new office workers and plenty of work to get done I didn’t take the time.  I missed it though.  I did run over for lunch and enjoyed seeing the missionaries.  This was also Winters and Markers last night here so we went out to dinner again to say goodbye to them.  We went to Papillios which is a good Italian restaurant over on Bruntsfield.  We’ve been there before and it is a tiny little place but the owners know us and are so nice to us.  This was a nice dinner with the Winters, Markers, Walkers, Millers, Helps and Sister Gifford and I.  We were hoping the Donaldson’s would come too but they are always exhausted after zone conference and they hit the road the next day for interviews and then they speak in a stake conference on the weekend.  So they wanted to have a night in with nothing to do.  Ha ha.  I’m sure that part doesn’t happen.  They are always finding something to do.

We did have one problem on Wednesday.  One of our senior couples who are new as of last week was driving to zone conference, bringing two missionaries with them, and their car quit working on the way.  They ended up sitting with their car for several hours waiting for a tow truck and then mechanics to figure out what was wrong.  They never made it to zone conference and then found out they accidentally put diesel in the car instead of unleaded.  That is a confusing thing over here because I think the colors on the pump are switched from the US.  I’m going to have to have someone send me a picture of a diesel and unleaded pump from home but I think the handles are switched.  I know I’ve grabbed diesel a couple times but then realized before pumping that I had the wrong one.  I think at home in the US the diesel pump handles are green.  And Unleaded is black.  Here it is the other way around.  The Unleaded are green and the Diesel are black.  Someone send me a picture from Maverik or something.  We can compare.  I’ll take a picture here next time we buy gas.  I should put something together with the two pictures so others don’t make the same mistake.

Thursday I went and taught Morris with Sister Hill and Sister Palmer.  Morris is a nice man from Kenya I think.  I’ll have to ask again to be sure.  I actually sat by him at the baptism we had last week so I had met him before.  He has read all of 1 Nephi and is just about finished with 2 Nephi.  He has really paid attention to what he is reading and had some questions.  He has been baptized before in a different church but realizes that he needs to be baptized by someone who holds priesthood authority and he as agreed that he will be baptized again if he feels like this is something he wants.  He talked about prayer and how he recognizes the difference when he prays and when he doesn’t pray.  We talked some about Joseph Smith and read through the first vision.  We will see.  I hope he continues to learn and want to finalize his baptism.  I can see how this will help change his life.

Friday finally came and I worked on re-organizing my office.  I am moving things around a bit hoping to find a better flow for supplies as well as the tools and supplies that I use in my job.  I have not had the liberty of being able to chose where things go in my office before and I am really excited to make it a more manageable area for myself as well as the other office workers.

Today Elder Worley and Elder Wang asked if I would work with them and Carol, a member of our ward who was baptized a few months ago, and teach her how to use Family Search.  Actually Elder Worley and Elder Wang were on exchanges so it was Elder Worley and Elder Nadauld that came over to my office with Carol.  It was so nice to sit with her and listen to her talk about her reading in the Book of Mormon.  She is in Alma now and she talked about the different groups of people and where they were living and how they were getting along.  It makes me feel so good when I see these converts reading the Book of Mormon for the first time and really comprehending everything they are reading.  I don’t know if my first time through the book was that clear for me.  Of course I was much younger when I first read it.  But I’m glad that I’ve continued to read it through out my life and I’m glad that I’ve taken the time to memorize scriptures and to understand the stories so that I can participate in these discussions with our new converts.

Once we were done talking we got into Family Search and it didn’t take long before we found a match.  It is so rewarding when it works like that.  This Sunday we are going to get her membership number and plug that in so she can see where there is work to be done.  Then she can begin to plan for a temple trip.  Unfortunately for us she is moving to Orkney very soon so she can be nearer to her daughter.  Sister Gifford and I plan to take a weekend trip to Orkney one of these summer weekends coming up so we will have to find her and take her to dinner.

I got my drivers license in the mail.  It’s just the provisional which means I am in the process of getting my real drivers license.  It’s a step in the right direction.  Now I just need to pass the written and the driving test.  I wouldn’t be worried except I have to parallel park and I’m horrible at it.  It doesn’t count that I wouldn’t parallel park somewhere unless I was sure I could get in to the spot.  Ha ha.

Well, today 20 January 2018 is my 35th anniversary.  I didn’t know 35 years ago that I would be a widow for now almost 23 years and that I would be serving a mission in Scotland and Ireland by myself but here I am.  I am grateful for the blessings in my life that has given me the ability to serve a mission and to live a life filled with love, adventure and security in knowing who I am and where I am going.  I know the end game and it is what I am working towards.  To be back with my eternal companion and best friend and to have my family surrounding us, not just my children but my extended family in all directions.  Family is what it is all about.  Parents, Grandparents, Children, Grandchildren, Cousins, Aunts and Uncles.  We are all linked together and I hope that when all is said and done my family will all have a testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ and understand why we are here and what they need to know and how they need to live so life goes on forever with those we love the most.  I hope the human faults and feelings will diminish as our eternal understanding and love grows and we can all see past the earthly, human obstacles that cloud our vision and stunt our progression towards exactly what we came here to move towards.  I love when an investigator says they feel like this is something they already knew or the scriptures fill a hole they have felt for a long time.  I love when they see the guidance of the Holy Spirit and recognize his companionship as something not so new but instead something familiar.

Well, also today Sister Gifford and I, after spending a couple hours in the mission office went to see the Royal Yacht Britannica.  This was the yacht that the royal family has had for over 40 years and spent a lot of time on for vacations and get aways.  It was their home away from home.  At least one of them.  They have many homes away from home I guess.  One of my favorite things was the grand dining room where it takes the servants 3 hours to set the table.  They even measure each piece of silverware so it is placed exactly where it should be.  It was really nice and we had a fun time.  And lucky for me, I got to choose dinner again.  We didn’t realize there was a Zizzi’s right by the yacht.  But yes, we had Zizzi’s again this week.  Things don’t get much better than that. 



Week 42: A normal week, Scottish Deer Centre, Goodbye President Monson

Well, this week just flew by and I don’t even know what we did really.  Of course we are in the office every morning by 7:00 AM and we leave at 5:30 PM but other than that this week was a bit uneventful.

Tuesday Elder and Sister Pedersen arrived in Scotland fresh from the Provo MTC.  They are here as our new self-reliance couple.  And the way their week has began, self-reliance is becoming exactly who they are.  President Donaldson picked them up from the airport but then he was off with interviews and then All-Ireland Zone Conference so they were not able to meet with him and find out what he is expecting.  Their self-reliant contact in England seems to be incognito so they haven’t spoken with him.  They can’t get their phone to work from home, they are not finding a company that can help them with internet service, the phone that was dropped off for them to use is locked and we can’t figure out how to unlock it.  They hit a curb and got a flat tire today.  They are getting the baptism by fire their first week.  She still has a smile on her face but I know this has been incredibly hard for them.  I think we as seniors don’t really know what we are getting ourselves in to when we come out on a mission.  Senior missions are not as cut and dried as a young missionary.  It’s a big adjustment and there is no one to do that adjusting but ourselves.

I know that they are going to love it here and they are going to love working with the missionaries and everyone else they touch through self reliance.  They will find themselves and they will do great.

Wednesday evening after I got home from work, I got a call from Elder Gibb.  There were eight missionaries coming home from All-Ireland and with the two Elders driving the van to the airport there wouldn’t be enough room for everyone.  So he was calling to see if I would mind coming to the airport and picking them up.  I left home about 7:40 PM and found them at the drop off point at the airport.  The funny thing was the four girls got in the van and the four boys got in my car.  As we were pulling out I was just going to ask if they were hungry or if they needed anything when Elder Gibb said, Sister Call could we run through McDonald’s?  We are starving.  So 4 Big Mac combo meals later I dropped Elder Gibb, Elder Wright, Elder Selander and Elder Gowans off at the mission home.  As we were driving Elder Wright asked me what my favorite part of my mission was.  I answered you guys.  He said, I knew you would say that.  It’s true.  It is so great to see these missionaries serving the people around them and leading them to the waters of baptism.  They are great missionaries.  I had only been home about 30 minutes when my phone rang and it was one of our zone leaders, Elder Wang.  I said Hello, this is Sister Call and he said, Sister Call it’s your favorite missionary, Elder Wang.  I love that they all think they are my favorite.  I get that a lot when they call.  And it’s true.  They are my favorite.  Just like my own kids, they are all my favorite for some reason or another.

Thursday morning I picked up two missionaries at the train station who were coming in for a doctor appointment.  I wish I had thought to take their pictures.  Elder Nadauld from Springville and Elder Heggie from Canada are two pretty new missionaries but they are both doing a great job.  Their appointment got delayed so I took them to McDonalds for breakfast and we sat and talked for a bit.  Elder Heggie gave me a pecan log his grandma had sent for Christmas.  She sent a whole box of them.  Amazing.  Sister Gifford and I ate every bit of it.  It was delicious.  As I was driving back to the office from dropping them off at the train station, I was sitting at a red light and I noticed this really neat looking doorway in the middle of a street full of shops.  I love the little details when you really start to look around.

That night I drove Elder Gowans and Elder Selander back to the airport to catch their flight home to Ireland and raced back to the church for our baptism.

We had a great baptism.  They just keep getting better and better.  More and more people show up to witness the baptisms (members and non-members) and the talks are right on point and bring the spirit.  This week were two baptisms of people who I have had the pleasure of sitting in on lessons with.  Shia Glynn who is an outgoing, vibrant, loving lady who finds a friend wherever she goes and Macaulay Lock who is a talented classical guitar player.  Two wonderful young people who will add so much to the dynamics of the ward and who are seriously wanting to join this church and find the blessings that are waiting for them.  Macaulay was baptized by Austin Jensen from Sandy, Utah who is here in Edinburgh with his wife both going to the University. 

It’s been a bit crazy this week with lots of little projects to do.  The 2018 Mission Plan and Pocket Card are coming out this week so I’m working on that, I’m getting going away packets together for the Winters and the Markers who both go home next week as well as the missionaries going home the first week in February.  Welcome packages for the Pedersens, the Helps, and the Pattersons who all come this week or next.  And while I’m at that I’m getting the 16 welcome packets for our incoming young missionaries that come the first week of February.  I am taking on more responsibility in the office as I’m taking on supplies as well as my regular duties.  Our receptionist, Sister Winter has always done supplies but we have been told Sister Helps won’t be able to lift things so Sister Winter has asked me to take over supplies.  I’m looking at this as a very temporary solution and as soon as Sister Helps is ready for more things to do I will give supplies right back to her and offer to lift anything that needs to be lifted.  Lifting is about 5% of the supplies duties.  So this change doesn’t make sense, it is just creating peace for now.  And extra work but that’s okay.  Now I get all the calls for special Book of Mormon’s etc.  Here you see I’m sending a Zulu Book of Mormon and a Turkish Book of Mormon to Sister Osmond and Sister Scheib in Galway.  I also have Ukranian pamphlets because they were sitting next to Turkey and I grabbed the wrong ones.  (Another trip out to the garage for me to get the right ones.)

Friday after work we drove the Winters to the airport so they could get a rental car.  The Helps fly in tomorrow morning and they are replacing the Winters so they get their mission car.  Then we drove out to a members flat to pick up Sister Wahlquist and Sister Irving who were at a dinner appointment and had a lesson back in the city right after dinner with not enough time to wait for a bus.  Those two girls are tearing it up with their lessons.  They had a great lesson today and the investigator (I didn’t get to meet him), was so excited he can’t wait to get baptized.  Of course he does have to wait, and read and pray and attend church a few times etc.  But he is excited an feels he just found what he has been looking for.

Well after all our running around Sister Gifford and I decided to find a place to eat out instead of going home and cooking.  We tried a new place over on Bruntsfield, which is a good sized street nearby.  Being Friday and this being a popular street to wander to on Friday we were really lucky to find a table at the first place we went into.  We had never been here before but it looked nice and there were lots of people there.  The food turned out to be really good and we got a nice window seat so we could look out at all the people walking by.  I did realize though, that we were probably in the section they put people who have dogs.  The table by us emptied with this cute puppy and then immediately filled back up with another dog and his people.  Oh well.  The dogs are all so well trained here.  The restaurant even brought a dog bowl of water to the table.

We got home and I sat down and watched President Monson’s funeral.  What an amazing prophet he was.  We all have our stories we can tell about him and we all love him so much.  It will be interesting to see what this next week brings but of course things will continue without a glitch and our new prophet will fill his shoes with his own personality and strengths.  I can’t help but wonder if President Nielson (if called) will lead us into China.  I have grown to love these people so much and it would be so amazing to see the gates open to that country.

Today, Saturday we got up and headed out to a place I had bought tickets to on Groupon a while ago.  It is the Scottish Deer Centre.  It is up from Edinburgh in Cupar which is near St Andrews.  They have over 12 species of deer there and also Elk.  They also had Moose but they think they are Elk as well.  We got in this long conversation over the fact that American Elk and “Elk” (really moose) have the same genetic composition so they are both Elk.  Well that may be scientifically correct, who knows but they are moose to me and they look nothing like Elk.  But regardless they had 3 “moose” and several American Elk.  Most of the deer have been born and raised at this place so they have imprinted on humans.  They do some work with releasing them to the wild but the ones that have imprinted stay at the park.  They are well taken care of.  I was impressed with the cleanliness and the open space they have to live.  They also have 3 red fox which we say barely as they came out to get their lunch, a bear which we didn’t see since it is winter and he sleeps most of the time, a couple lynx which we were able to see, we also saw a few wild cats and three wolves.  It was a nice day walking around outside but a bit chillier today than the last few weeks.  We got cold and didn’t stick around for the otter show that was later in the day.  We did go look at the otter, they were very cute.  They also have birds and we saw a couple owl and a falcon but the bird show that was supposed to happen at 1:00 didn’t happen.  The other nice thing was there was an Edinburgh Woollen Mills which is our favorite place to shop.  They always have such good sales and today didn’t disappoint.  I got a couple new tops and another pair of gloves, I seem to wear my gloves out rather quickly.  I guess because I buy cheap gloves.  Oh well, I like that kind.

After leaving the Scottish Deer Centre we headed back to follow some signs we had seen on the way there.  The first was Giffordtown.  Sister Gifford has been told a few times there is a Giffordtown here so when we saw the signs today we knew we needed to track it down.  It didn’t disappoint.  It is a very little village but we drove the whole thing and took her picture in the middle of the street.  She was very excited.

Then we drove up to Falkland Palace.  We knew it was closed until March 1 but we decided to drive up anyway to just get a look at it and decide if we want to come back or not.  It sits at the top of the town of Falkland and has a nice charm about it.  This palace was commissioned by King James IV and his son King James V as a pleasure palace where they could hunt and enjoy their falcons.  I think we will try and come back when it is open.  We found a place right next to the palace and had a quick lunch then headed home to get our grocery shopping done and wash our very filthy car.

Well, that about sums up my week.  I hope you have all had a wonderful week as well.  Happy Birthday tomorrow to my little Aspen.  You are two-years-old.  I can’t believe it.  You have grown into a little person who talks and has developed a really cute personality.  I hope you warm back up to me when I return and we can become good friends again.  I love each one of you.

Love you all.

Week 41: Goodbye to Landon and Ashley, Two great baptisms, catching up on work

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.