Week 64: Catch up week, Dunnottar Castle, Arbroath

Wow!!  It’s Friday and I feel like I’m just taking my first breath.  It has been a crazy week and I’m not sure where it has gone.  I have been sleeping really weird this week as well which doesn’t help.  I am exhausted by the time we leave work and I fall on my bed as soon as we walk in the door and fall sound to sleep with my dress still on.  I’ve done it every day this week.  I wake up about 11:30 at night and then I can’t get back to sleep so I watch something on Netflix and then I talk to one of my kids who might notice I’m awake and then around 2:00 or 3:00 am I am finally in my pajamas and back in bed.  Then my alarm goes off at 6:00 AM and I’m back up and heading off to work again.  Finally I think I’m back on track.  Last night we had a women’s conference which was really nice.  I accompanied a duet so we were there and didn’t get home until just after 9:00.  I went right to bed and slept well.  I woke up ten minutes before my alarm this morning and I feel great.  Just in time for a great weekend.

It’s been cold this week and windy.  Major windy.  The streets and yards (gardens) are covered in leaves and tree limbs.  All the beautiful flowering trees are bare.  My beautiful rhododendron bush that I look out at every day from my office window is in tatters.  Just a couple pink petals hanging on.

We took Sister Lough and Sister Belliston out to dinner on Wednesday to Tony Macaroni’s.  We are finding this is the best place to eat.  We can choose a pizza and a pasta and they split the meals and give each of us half of each.  It tastes wonderful, we get full and it hardly costs anything.  We ran to Five Guys last night before the Women’s Conference and I spent £2.00 less there just on myself than what we spent at Tony Macaroni’s for two of us.  But Five Guys is the one place we can go that is totally the same as at home and you can’t beat that.  The only difference is the potatoes come from England instead of Idaho so they are smaller.  Doesn’t affect the taste though.

I have mostly been working on Ireland problems this week.  I mentioned last week we had a problem getting our missionaries back into Ireland after they were here for meetings.  The laws for volunteer religious ministers and workers have changed in Ireland.  We have been in limbo the last few months while they were sorting out what the new laws were going to be and now we find ourselves in a big mess as the laws have been totally turned on their head.  It used to be we could send missionaries into Ireland and we had 90 days to get them their garda card (basically a VISA to stay in the country for one year).  Now they have to pre-qualify to enter the country and the documentation needed is near impossible for me to gather.  The missionaries that are over there are seeing the police (garda) stopping people and asking for identification.  They are stopping cars randomly and checking ids.  Our four missionaries who had problems at the border last week were given stamps in their passports saying they had 7 days to leave the country and they were not allowed to proselyte during those seven days.  We got them out in three days but during those three days they were in a line of cars that were all being stopped by two teams of garda.  Each car was being stopped.  When they were second in line the garda waved the car in front of them on without stopping them and did the same to the car our girls were in and then stopped the car right behind them.  The girls felt like they had not even been looked at, almost like they were invisible to the garda.

So needless to say, my priority right now is to get this all figured out so we can stay legal in Ireland.  We always want to be sure and follow the rules and laws but it isn’t always an easy thing to do.

Saturday arrived and Sister Gifford and I set out for Dunnottar Castle which has been on my wish list since the day I got here.  It was pouring rain with 80% chance of rain all day long but we have learned to give it a try anyway.  You never know.  As usual, we lucked out and even though we drove home in the most torrential rain storm I have seen here in Scotland, we didn’t get a drop of rain the whole time we were at Dunnottar Castle.

Dunnottar Castle is up towards Aberdeen and so is is just over 2 hours driving for us.  It rained a good part of the time we were driving up to the castle but once we got there the rain stopped and didn’t start up again until we were well on our way home.  Dunnottar Castle is one of the most stunning castles sitting out on a rocky cliff overlooking the North Sea.  There is so much history centered around this castle dating back as far as 1200s.  In the 1600s it was considered the safest place in Scotland and the crown jewels were kept there for some time until in 1651 when Cromwell’s army surrounded the castle.  There were 69 men and 42 guns in the castle and they knew they wouldn’t be able to defend the jewels for long.  Reverend Grainger lived in a nearby

parish and his wife was close friends with a lady inside the castle.

Christine Granger was alsovery pregnant and she went to Dunnottar and spoke to the English commander, General Overton, asking if she might go in and visit her friend.  When she left the castle she was carrying the Scottish crown under her skirts and the orb and sceptre were in her spinning tool.  She smuggled  them to safety and her husband buried them deep beneath the pulpit in their church.  There they lay for 10 years until they were brought up and taken to Edinburgh Castle where they remain today.

After Dunnottar Castle we drove into Stonehaven which is an oceanside town next to Dunnottar Castle.  We found a place for lunch and I had a panini and Sister Gifford had Haddock that was so big it didn’t fit on her plate.  Then we went down the street and found a place that was recommended to us called Aunt Betty’s which had really good ice cream.  You pick a topping for your ice cream as well.  I had Scottish Tablet and Honeycomb with a Praline’s topping.  It was amazing.

We decided we had time for another castle if we could find one so we looked on our GPS and found Crathes Castle which was 25 minutes away so off we went with the anticipation of seeing another castle.  This was when we realized just how many castles we have seen.  We got to the castle, paid 3.00 for parking and walked halfway up a hill before we realized we had already been there.  This is the castle with the really neat painted ceilings.  So we got back in the car and tried one more time.  The only other castle we could find that wasn’t too far away was Drum Castle so we headed over there which was just about 10 minutes away.

Drum Castle was very small and we didn’t even find a gift shop or anything.  They were having some kind of golf event but no one was there but us.  So we took a picture and after again paying 3.00 for parking before we realized we wouldn’t be there for longer than a picture, we started back the way we came.

Last on our list to see today was Arbroath Abbey.  I had no idea what it would be like but I saw it mentioned as I was searching for what was between Dunnottar and Edinburgh.  By now the rain was falling so hard we could hardly see out the window and the water was accumulating so much on the road that I had to slow down so we didn’t hydroplane.  As we entered Arbroath we could see the Abbey in the distance.  But due to the rain, we didn’t spend any time there.  We hopped out of the car and took a quick picture and that was it.  It was almost 5:00 anyway so it was either closed or would be soon.  We may have to go back there.  Arbroath looked like a great town.

Dad, I wish I could be there tomorrow for Father’s Day.  I love you and I’m hoping you are exercising and getting stronger and stronger.  I miss you and will see you in a few months.

Love you all!!

 

Week 63: Departing and Incoming Missionaries; Isle of May; Puffins

Sunday I sat in on ward council as we discussed Family Search and how to get everyone in ward council on board with finding a name to take to the temple.  We have a few new members, just baptized who are really enjoying family history and we are hoping the ward council will start by setting the example of taking their own names to the temple.  We will see.  I am available for anything but I don’t always get results in attendance or in actually finding anything.  I keep at it as much as I can though.

After church was our departure dinner with our missionaries going home this time.  These are all great missionaries who I have known so well.  I am going to miss them.  It was a small group going home which made the day a bit less hectic but I was still very busy planning moves for 91 missionaries who were moving around the next day.  It takes so much work and coordination.  But I love it.  I don’t know how I let the whole evening get away without taking any pictures.  But I did send my phone out with the boys when they put on their kilts for a picture with the Donaldsons.  Elder Wright is one of our APs and not going home yet.  Then we have Elder Huang going home to Taiwan and Elder Woodfield to Texas, and Elder Yip to Australia. I will really miss Elder Huang who I became very close to since he served here in Edinburgh.  He would call me often even after he was transferred and would always end his calls with – thanks Sister Call, I love you.

Monday Sister Gifford needed to go pick up some keys in the city so we took a few minutes afterwards to find a street I’ve been wanting to find.  It’s named Circus Lane and is supposed to be one of the most photographed streets in Edinburgh.  It was a quaint little street and I’m glad we wandered over there.

 

On Tuesday we got our new missionaries.  Only three in this group.  Sister Coffman was here in the office while her companion was going through some training so she helped me out with my projects and she was a super office worker.  I appreciated her so much.  She took care of a big job for me.

Elder Calley

I had to take a picture of Elder Calley this week while he was in for meetings.  Every time I see him I tell him my grandson Everett is going to look like him when he grows up.  This time I showed him a picture of Everett and he agreed.  His baby pictures look like Everett.

More pictures from lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday with our trainers and new leaders.

 

Elder Arenas and Sister Donaldson
Elder Winn, Elder Dunn, Elder N Spencer, Elder Brockbank
Sister Allred, Sister Ellsworth, Sister Wahlquist
Elder Orchard, Elder Cosmas, Elder Calley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a baptism on Wednesday night.  This was extra special as Hamish was able to baptize Andrew Kenny.  It has been so wonderful to watch Hamish get baptized himself, work in Family History, pass the sacrament, attend ward council meetings and now exercise his priesthood power and baptize a new member into the church.  Andrew is going to be a great addition to this ward as well.

Here is one more picture I want to add to my blog.  This is a picture of Sister Allred and Sister Belliston “gqing” on the street.  I really like this picture.

Friday after work Sister Gifford and I were so tired and hungry we ran to Five Guys to get a good ole hot dog.  We had been gone about an hour when my phone rang and President called me back to the office.  I had found out that morning that some of our missionaries were stopped at the border trying to get back into Ireland and were told they had one week to leave the country and they couldn’t proselyte during this week.  The requirements have changed on religious volunteers in Ireland and we are going to have some real problems until we figure out how to get everyone legal again.  It’s not going to be an easy task.  So President decided we just as well get them out of there Monday because he is out of town for the next week.

So I was at the office until 10:30 Friday night and back again at 7:00 in the morning working on moving 10 missionaries around.  I still didn’t have everything figured out but we had tickets to sail out to the Isle of May and find the Puffins so I had to leave knowing I would be  back early Sunday morning to finish everything up.

Well, after a very busy week we took Saturday to go in search of puffins.  The Miller’s came with us and we took an hour ride on the North Sea out to the Isle of May.  We were not disappointed.  No rain, even though the forecast said we were going to have heavy rains.  There are over 48,000 pairs of Puffins on the Isle of May.  I have no idea how they count them but we saw hundreds at least.  We couldn’t get really close to them.  There are several different species of birds that nest on the isle and the Tern were right on the ground so we had to stay on the paths.  The Puffins nests are actually in holes in the ground and once the babies are a few weeks old they go to the water and stay in the water for a three to four years before returning to the Isle to lay eggs.  Puffins find a mate for life.  They fly fast from the water to their nests with their beaks full of fish.  I did the best I could with my iphone.  I was envious of the people who had their big cameras and huge lens.  I bet they got some really neat pictures.  We had a great time though and hiked all over the isle.  There is a lighthouse there as well which we could go in.  I made the mistake of sitting down on a bench outside the lighthouse while we were waiting for it to open and decided I was way too tired to venture in the lighthouse.  I just sat and enjoyed the fresh air and the sound of thousands of birds while the others explored the lighthouse.

I want to document that we also stopped at Burntisland

On the way to Burntisland

and saw some beauty around the water there.  And stopped in Leven and found some beautiful poppies that were huge.  The town we got on the boat was Anstruther.  Another really nice place.  I wouldn’t mind exploring Anstruther again.

Anstruther

We got home around 10:00 PM and pretty much just went straight to bed.  This morning, Sunday, I was back at the office by 7:00 AM to finish up the emergency moves.  Now it is off to church.  Love you all.

The boat we came over on

 

Week 62: A day on the coast, Moves Planning

Every morning lately we wake up to a foggy morning and a bit of crisp chill to the air but by the afternoon it is warm and sunny.  One thing I love about Scotland is the beauty we see every day as we drive around.  It is amazing how green and open the land is.  It’s a small country and yet we see so much vast open valleys and hills.  I think it is funny that we are so obsessed with cows.  We can’t drive by a herd of cows without slowing down and looking at them.  I don’t think I do that at home.  Of course we are always wondering if they are the shaggy Highland Coos but even when they aren’t we just look at them.  I’m thinking I need to learn the types of cows so at least I can say – oh look, there is a Black Angus or there is a Jersey.  That’s my knowledge of cows at the moment.

Monday was Memorial Day of course in the US and here it was another bank holiday.  I wonder how many bank holidays there are in a year.  Several.  We have always worked on bank holidays but lately the President has told us to take the day off.  We love to follow his advice.  Actually the days off make us work harder and better when we are in the office.  Sometimes you just need a break.  Of course I know by looking at my blog you might think that is all we ever do is take breaks.  But the truth is, even though we jam pack our Saturday’s full of sightseeing, we work very long hours and work very hard all the other days.

So Monday I had a goal to see several castles.  I had looked at the map and found an area I knew we had never driven to before and then looked up what castles were in that area.  There were several, so I wrote down all the postal codes and we headed off.

We were going to the Border’s area but a different part than we have been before.  We love the borders.  They are green and beautiful.  They are called the Borders because they run along the edge of Scotland and England.  We first went to Dun’s.  There we planned on seeing

Dun’s Castle.  As we were driving through Lauder, just before we got to Dun’s we saw a sign for another castle that I didn’t have on my list so I veer

ed off and we followed that road to Thirlestane Castle.  It was beautiful and seemed more like a palace to me.  It was built in the 1500’s and is still home to the Duke of Lauderdale.

Then we headed to Dun’s as planned.  As we neared the castle we saw a sign saying no one could drive in so we parked and started walking.  It was a beautiful walk down a country road and we thought we could see the castle up ahead.  But when we got there it was just the gate into the castle grounds and we were not allowed any further.  It sure would have been nice to know it was a private castle.  But it was a nice walk anyway.  After Dun’s Castle we tried to see two other castles but basically had the same success.  Wedderburn Castle was a private road and we couldn’t see anything at all.  And Ayton Castle also seemed to be a private road.  That one we saw as we drove down the road but I wasn’t able to pull over and get a picture.  I did get a picture of the gate leading into the grounds.

Duns Castle
Duns Castle Gate
Ayton Castle Gate

What we did get accomplished though was to take some good pictures of the Rape Seed fields.  These were out last year in April but I guess it has been colder this year so they are just now coming out all over the country.  The brilliant yellow is so beautiful against the deep green.  I wanted a picture in the field and we tried but it was so windy so my picture isn’t the greatest.  But I did get some beautiful scenery shots.

 

 

Finally we did have one castle success.  Again it was a castle we just saw a sign for and went for it.  We didn’t walk up to it.  It looks pretty much like just the outside walls although who knows, there may have been something really neat in there.  But this is Hume Castle.  We were in a small town named Kelso.  Hume Castle sits atop the only hill in sight and is quite formidable looking.

We then headed over to the coast of the North Sea to Coldingham and St Abb’s Head.  It was misty and foggy as we drove up to the beach but decided it was worth the walk down to the beach anyway.  We stuck around for about an hour and by the time we left it was bright and clear.  I took my shoes off and waded out into the water just a bit and the temperature wasn’t too bad.  I wouldn’t want to get in and swim but it was a nice beach.  I even found a dog to play fetch with for a bit.

Then of course since we were in the borders we once again ventured to Melrose and stopped into our favorite clothing store.  I didn’t buy anything for myself, just a few gifts to bring home.  But we did finally take the time to stop at a spot I’ve been eyeing every time I drive by it.  It was beautiful.  I could have stayed right here for awhile as well but we were tired and wanting to get home.  This is the Leaderfoot Viaduct and it was built between 1862 and 1865 for the Berwickshire Railroad.  It spans the Tweed River.  Each arch is 43 feet high and is over 900 feet long.  The highest point of the bridge is 126 feet above the river.

As usual move’s planning week becomes a bit of a blur.  I put my head down to work at 7:00 AM and often don’t even look up until about 3:00 to see if it is lunchtime yet.  That’s the way this week has gone.  And we haven’t had hot water this whole week so we have just gone out for dinner after work every night.

Wednesday we had a baptism with Elder Gedlaman and Elder Butler.  Another cute girl from China named Cindy.

Thursday a repairman came to work on the men’s bathroom in the office.  There have been some issues in there.  Not sure what but he tore the entire room apart and the smell was horrible so we left the front door leading outside open all day Thursday and Friday.  Of course President and the APs have been behind closed doors most the week but they did venture into my office and the President asked me if I could hurry and make two crowns.  I had no idea what for until I saw him usher the APs out the door.  Then I realized just where they were going.  Photo opportunity.

Everyone needs a bit of a break now and then.

Thursday night we took a few Elders out for dinner to my favorite Zizzi’s.  These boy’s – there are three things for certain when it comes to missionaries according to my friend Elder Miller.  And I agree.  One – they are always late.  Two – they will eat you out of house and home if you let them.  Three – they will steal your hearts.  Here we have Elder Hinckley from Clinton, Utah (I will go home with him in October);

Elder Crowley from Bountiful; and Elder Allen from Thatcher, Arizona.

I got moves on Thursday afternoon so it was work, work, work from that point on.  It’s summer so when trying to purchase 13 tickets from Scotland to Ireland I could only get 6.  So I had to be creative to figure out how to get the other 7 there.  That’s about how it goes in the summer.  It’s a big moves this time.  91 moving missionaries.  But that’s the way I like it.  It’s like doing a puzzle.

Saturday I went into the office early and worked the morning then came home and ran a few errands with Sister Gifford.  We also had to meet up with a couple from California that are from Elder Dunn’s ward who are here on a trip and brought a package for him.  I took this picture as we were waiting at a red light on Princess Street after we got the package.

Then we met up with the Miller’s and drove to Portobello Beach which isn’t very far away from Edinburgh.  They happened to be having a volleyball tournament there so that was kind of fun.  We found a little place to have lunch and walked the boardwalk then came back to the office to finish up some work.  Pictured here is the beach with a lot of volleyball nets going down the beach.  Another picture of the water.  A beautiful purple tree – I’ve never seen anything like it.  And a door I really thought looked nice on our walk once we were back on a regular street, 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s itfor this week.  It’s been a big, long week.  I hope the next few go a little faster.  I feel like time slowed down a bit and even though I love it here and I love the work I’m doing and the playing that I’m doing – I’m still anxious to come home.  I’m not sure if I put this out here already but I have my date for coming home now.  I should have been coming home on Sep 27 but I am going to stay long enough to get the next transfer done before I leave.  So I am coming home October 8th.  I’m actually leaving with the missionaries which isn’t what the senior missionaries usually do.  So that will be fun.

Enjoy the summer.  Do lots of fun things.  Start reading your Grandma’s Summer Book Club books and let me know when you get each one read – Avery, Kaden, Cal and Kaylee.

Love you all.

 

Week 61: Baptisms, Dinner in Galashiels, Nashville Tribute Band

We had another nice Sunday.  Our ward took a temple trip on Saturday, which we didn’t go on, but on Sunday a few of our new members talked about their experience going to the temple for the first time to do baptisms.  It was great to hear their fresh, new testimonies and to see fruition from our family history lessons.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Sister Gifford and I had the office to ourselves as the Donaldson’s hosted a couple’s conference.  We held the office down and enjoyed the quiet.  I had lots of work to do but I also took a little time to read and catch up on some of my Book of Mormon class that I’m trying to keep up with from home.  I’m only a few weeks behind and they just started their summer break so I will be caught up very soon now.  And eagerly anticipating the beginning of the next session.  I keep thinking I will be home for the next session but then I realize I will still be here when it starts up again but I’ll be home for about week five or six.  It’s funny how some ways of thinking makes coming home very soon and other ways seem so far away still.  But either way, I’m happy to be here and excited to go home all at the same time.

We got some fun pictures of the missionaries here in Edinburgh this week.  I decided to put one here on my blog so you can see some of the great missionaries that we work with on a daily basis.  We also have two sets of Sister missionaries and one other set of Elders. This is Elder Allen from Arizona; Elder Grant from Millcreek area; Elder Wright from Pleasant Grove (his parents moved there just before he came on his mission.  He grew up in Henderson; Elder Hinckley from Clinton, UT; and Elder Crowley from Farmington, UT.  We have been entertained many times by these young men.  They are a lot of fun and hard working missionaries.  We are missing in this picture Elder Butler and Elder Gedlaman as well as Sisters Allred, Osmond, Belliston and Lough.  Three of these four girls are from Utah (Mapleton, Alpine, Highland) and Sister Belliston is from Michigan.This picture has everyone but the zone leaders – Elder Butler and Elder Gedlaman.

 

Wednesday night we had two baptisms again in our ward.  Yue Zhang from China  and Nina Becx from the Netherlands.  As usual a great evening to celebrate the gospel and welcome new friends into the ward. 

Thursday after work Sister Gifford and I took a drive to Galashiels to find our sister missionaries there and take them to dinner.  We drove in traffic most of the way so it was a little longer of a trip than we had hoped but it was one of those trips where you are driven by the spirit to go and we were so glad we did.  The day before these girls came across a situation that was very scary for them.  I don’t want to say much because it isn’t my story to tell but they were emotionally drained by this experience and we thought they could use a little pick-me-up.  We took them to dinner at a nice little restaurant that we just happened to find without knowing where we were going and we had a private area to just sit and talk and enjoy really good food.  We grew to love these two girls within minutes.  We knew one of them already but the other was new to Scotland since she had gone directly to Ireland when she arrived a few months ago.  They shared their experience with us and we felt their spirits and love that our Heavenly Father has for them.  They handled a tough situation very well and today were even able to see the good in it.  I have to share one funny part of that day

for them.  Sister McNamara was in the thick of an emergency with a stranger and upset and trying to be strong and work with this person and Sister Schulze was off to the side not wanting to scare the lady by jumping in as well.  So Sister Schulze had a whole difference experience to share.  She told us a police car drove by and just honked at them but didn’t slow down or seem to even notice that some help might be needed.  Then a few minutes later a little old man came walking by with his walker and oblivious to anything that was going on stopped in front of Sister Schulze and asked her if she was enjoying her mission.  Then just started walking away without even waiting for an answer.  He was just out on his morning stroll enjoying the sunshine I guess. So we had a good laugh with them as well.  And as far as the situation, Sister McNamara was prepared and in the right place at the right time to help someone in a very distressing, emotional state.  Sister Schulze is from Germany and Sister McNamara is from California.

Friday we went to Five Guys after work with the Donaldson’s.  So that officially makes it five days in a row this week that we have eaten out.  Who needs a kitchen?  Good thing I guess because our hot water isn’t working and we haven’t been able to figure out what is going on.  Thankfully our showers are electric so they still have hot water.

We also had a baptism again on Friday night.  Another cute Chinese girl.  She goes by Yoyo.  (Hinckley and Crowley)

I have also had a few conversations with our new mission president this week.  We are trying to figure out how we are going to get new office people trained.  The lady replacing me will take over housing because the lady replacing Sister Gifford is a friend of the new president and she will be his secretary.  However, I will already be home by the time she gets here.  We have a few things to figure out still.  Although I know where this is heading and I think I’m going to end us staying an extra week to get them through a transfer.  So I will have to come to terms with that.  I hope it’s a warm fall at home.  I’m not wanting to come home to winter.  But this isn’t the time to stress over that.  Nothing is set yet.  We will have to see in August when we are in the thick of things and see what our new president thinks.

Well, today Sister Gifford and I drove over to New Lanark because they have a really nice gift shop there.  This is where we went a while ago and saw the village that supported a woolen mill.  And we walked along the banks of the Clyde River.  Today we just ran in the store and back out.  We are trying to find something nice for the Donaldson’s when they leave.  We aren’t finding what we want.  We will keep trying.  Since we were in an area we rarely go towards we checked our Points of Interest on our navigation system and saw there was a castle just five miles down the road so off we went.

This is Craignethen Castle. It was built in the 1500’s and looked to be pretty big in it’s day.  It sits in a beautiful valley.

We then drove into a small little village named Bigger which we didn’t think we had been to before but as we drove out we realized that we probably had been there before.  We had lunch at a little cafe and then headed home.

Elder Hinckley, Elder Elton and Elder Huang
Elder James from Provo – he is good to always seek us out and visit for a bit.
We got our pictures with them but I doubt you can even find them in here.

Today the Nashville Tribute Band was in town to play for our missionaries.  It was really fun to have an afternoon of fun while listening to good music.  The missionaries were familiar with their songs and sang along.  The Ireland missionaries and those up in the islands got to watch it on Skype.  The concert only lasted an hour and then it was back to work.  But it was good to see everyone. Well, that wraps up our week.  Monday is once again a bank holiday and President told us to take it off so we have some fun plans in place.

I miss you all and love you.  My prayers are always for you as well.

 

Week 60: Busy week, Beautiful Drummond Castle Gardens

Sunday was Mother’s Day in the US but not here.  We went to church as usual and I knew this year that there would be no mention of Mother’s Day.  That threw me off last year.  However we had a wonderful sacrament meeting.  Hamish, who I’ve talked about some spoke for his first time ever.  He was baptized in January and I have worked with him a bit before and after his baptism.  He is a great guy.  He was a history teacher in Dubai for awhile and came back to Scotland and found the gospel.  He had always gone to church as a child and his grandfather was a preacher in the Protestant Church.  His talk was very touching.  He was well prepared and what impressed me was he referred to other talks that have been given in our sacrament meetings and who gave the talks.  Not talks from this day but from weeks ago.  It made me realize how important sacrament meeting talks are.  But he ended his talk saying he has always heard the words in church, “We believe in…” or “We teach of…” but until he came to our church he had never heard members of the congregation or even the preacher get up and use the words – “I know…”.  Now he can say I know as well.  His testimony is real and it is so rewarding when you see new converts really grasp hold and understand what they have found.

Then we heard from a girl who is putting her papers in to go on a mission.  This is the third girl since I have been here who is leaving from here to go on a mission.  It’s exciting.

Then last we heard from Stefano who has been in our ward about a year now.  He is from Sicily and served a mission in Spain I think.  He is a gymnast and works in a gym here as well as going to school I believe.  He has spoken a few times in the ward and he is such a great speaker.  I always learn from him.  He knows how to express what he is thinking and he speaks in ways that I can just visualize what he is talking about.  And his Italian accent just adds to the talk.  I enjoy listening to him.

After church Sister Gifford and I had dinner and then we drove up to a lake on Arthur’s Seat and just sat and watched the ducks and swans on a lake for about an hour.  As we were driving home I noticed all the pink blossoms were beginning to fall off as the wind was picking up so I pulled over to take a quick picture. We have so many pink trees I love to look at them.

 

On Tuesday we had zone conference here in Edinburgh.  Our mission has three zone conferences each transfer.  One in Dublin for All-Ireland; one in Aberdeen for Aberdeen and Dundee zones; and one here for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paisley zones.  Elder Spendlove brought us each a picture from the Paisley Zone for Mother’s Day.  I got him to send me the file so I could add it here.  Here is Elder Kilgour, Elder Keim, Elder Heggie, Elder Mueller, Elder Sanders, Elder Bang, Elder McLeish, Sister Wayne, Elder Showgren, Elder Myers, Elder DeMille, Sister Tucker, Elder Spendlove, Sister Naef, Sister Cheatham, Sister Gibson, Sister Edholm, Sister Killian, Sister Kearns and Elder Fehoko wishing us a Happy Mother’s Day with the scripture found in Alma 56:47-48.

Wednesday morning I met with Frank Downie, one of our new members, to help him find a name to take to the temple this Saturday so he can do his baptism work, which we did find!  Frank is quite the character.  He is Scottish and loves to sing and play his ukulele.  He wanted to know if he could dictate his life story to me and I could type it up for him.  I laughed.  I only understand about one in five words that comes out of his mouth.  That would be an impossible feat I think.  But I’m glad to know Frank and I love to watch him pass the sacrament every Sunday.  He is doing so well with his new life.

John from Shanghai
Robert from India

Wednesday night was three baptisms in our ward.  It was nice to go to a baptism.  We haven’t had any for a few weeks with school getting out.  Besides the two pictured here we had one more Chinese baptism.  It was a guy our zone leaders met on the street.  They gave him a few lessons and he came to church but his finals were happening the next week and then he was going back to China.  They knew they wouldn’t be able to get him baptised so they met with him one more time to just give him some advice on how to follow the spirit and to give encouragement.  But as they got done speaking with him he said – but what about my baptism?  So in spite of having several finals he made it to church again the next Sunday and they were able to finish up his lessons and his interview.  So now we just have to hope that once he is back in China (this week) that he will be able to find members and join a branch.  We have two return missionaries there right now so if we can get him introduced to one of them that will help.  The problem is they are not allowed to email or chat about religion.  If they are found doing that the message is erased quickly and so it’s not a good idea to even try.  We also want to abide by governments rules so we don’t encourage anything like that.

Thursday I met with Sister Allred and Sister Osmond as we did another follow-up lesson with Macauley.  He was baptized last winter and has been actively coming to church every Sunday.  We have had him play his classical guitar a few times in church and he has been very well received by ward members.  He informed us yesterday that this past Sunday was his last time coming to church.  That was a total surprise to me but the sisters already knew this was coming.  We had a warm, wonderful lesson with him about listening for answers to prayers and left him expressing our love for him.  It’s so sad to see people turn away when they have finally found their way back to something they left when they came to Earth.  He has continued to attend another church every Sunday as well, which I didn’t know and he attends a Bible study during the week with some other friends.  He just doesn’t see the need for more scripture, even though he will agree if the Savior had something else to say we would all want to hear what it was.  All we can do is continue to love him and pray for him.  After getting back to the office, Elder Allen was looking for something to do while his companions were busy being District

Leaders so I got a few things accomplished through him and Sister Allred and Sister Osmond hung out for a while which is always a good thing.

Thursday evening we took Elder Gedlaman (from Calgary) and Elder Butler (from Sandy) to dinner.  They were so much fun to catch up with.  Very talkative and they kept us very entertained with stories.

 

  Oh, and I keep forgetting to let you all know that I am now the proud holder of a UK driver’s license.  It’s good for ten years so when I decide to go on a mission again that will be a benefit for coming back to Europe.  

Friday I once again went with the Sister missionaries to teach a lesson.  This time it was Sister Osmond and Sister Lopez who was here with Sister Barnhurst for exchanges.  The lesson went well and afterwards Sister Osmond and Sister Lopez were trying to decide what to do about dinner.  The other half of them (Sister Allred and Sister Barnhurst) had a dinner appointment.  I overheard them and thought – why not.  So Sister Gifford and I took them to dinner at Jashans.  We hadn’t been there in a while and it was so good.  That rounded out Friday very nicely and we even went to bed pretty early.

Saturday the ward was heading to the temple and the Miller’s were going with them so we decided to head back up to Bruar’s Falls to do some shopping.  So we headed up there and dug through their cashmere sweater sale racks.  They were pretty low so we didn’t get what we were hoping for.  Afterwards we were ready for lunch but we didn’t want to eat there again.  It wasn’t that great the last time.  It was fine but we weren’t really in the mood so we explored on our GPS to see what was around.  We found a castle that was 10 miles away that said it had a cafe so we plugged that into the system and off we went. Well, it turns out it was 10 miles away by “crow” because 25 miles later we finally pulled off the dusty narrow country road we had been driving on for 40 minutes and found Castle Menzie.  We went into the main door and into the shop where I bought a deck of cards (I always buy cards if they have the castle on them) and asked about their cafe.  It’s only open June, July and August.  She gave us a few ideas of where to find somewhere to eat and after snapping a few pictures we headed off down the road.  Next stop was a hotel that had a restaurant in it.  We parked and walked over to it.  We walked into the hotel and around to where the restaurant was and there was a man standing at a bar.  He was alone so I asked if they were open.  He said it depended on what we wanted.  I said, Lunch!  Well, no they weren’t open because he

didn’t have a chef at the moment.  He had bags of crisps!!  So we went back to the car and drove a little farther.  This time we came to a great little town and stopped at Habitat Cafe and had a great lunch.  One of the best burger’s I’ve had here in Scotland.  Actually probably the best.  And the family sitting behind us had a chocolate lab which was so fun to watch.  Dogs are always welcome in places to eat.  The waitress brings a dog bowl with water for the dog when they first sit down and then the dogs usually just lay down and go to sleep.

Then we got back on the road with Drummond Castle Gardens on our schedule next.  We again drove about 25 miles down a small country road that didn’t usually fit two cars wide so we had to stop often to let a car pass or we would pass another car who pulled over for us.  Drummond Castle Gardens didn’t disappoint.  It was a perfect place to go on the day of the Royal Wedding happening just south of us.But first I had to throw this picture in.  As we were driving this was the type of scenery we were driving through.  At this point I had to pull over and snap a quick picture.  You can’t tell but there are six pheasants sitting in that field and swans out on that lake.  You could hear cows mooing in the background but it was so peaceful and calm.  I could have just sat right down there and stayed.  Not all of Scotland is rugged.  Some of it is lush and beautiful.

Drummond Castle’s gardens were beautiful.  It reminded me of Thanksgiving Point but of course, Thanksgiving Point is so much more than this.  But it was as big and pretty as we have seen here in Scotland.  It was nice to walk around.

Well, that sums up my week.  We are getting busier and busier as we make way for a new mission president to take over.  It’s crazy to think we only have just over a month longer with President Donaldson.  He has been so great to work with and I have enjoyed every minute with him and Sister Donaldson.

I hope everyone has a great week.  School is probably wrapping up soon.  Enjoy your summer and do lots of fun things.  Enjoy the sun!!  We do when we see it here.

I love you all.

Week 59: Just how many castles ARE in Scotland??

So I’ve been wondering how well we are doing on our quest to see all the castles in Scotland.  We have been to 44 castles – in the true sense of a real castle.  We have also been to monuments and palaces and other historical sites that don’t really count as a castle.  I thought that was pretty good.  Well guess again.  There have been over 2000 castles in Scotland.  Not all of them are still around and many only have a visible foundation or a few rocks left but that is a lot of castles.

What exactly is a castle?  There are two key criteria to claim the title of castle for real.  It had to be a domestic residence for at least a minor Laird AND it had to be a defensive structure.  A castle protects from wars.  Most castles were built in the 1100’s to the early 1600’s.  During the 1600’s and later there have been many country homes that have been built for show – and they did not really act as a castle even though they bear the title of a castle.  By the mid-1600’s people were building tower houses that looked like castles but they were never expecting a king to show up and start trying to tear down their walls.

Well, that’s a little information on castles.  Today we added four more castles to our list.  CRAZY!!  But we had a great day.  The sky was blue, the wind was not blowing and we were warm without any kind of a jacket.

But first I want to write about the rest of the week.  Not a lot going on.  We were very busy every day.  And exhausted every night.  But Monday was a bank holiday and President told us to take the day off!!  So Sister Gifford and I did just that.  The weather was nice and we decided it would be fun to see if we could find any sales going on for a new skirt or something.  We have always heard about a town over in the borders named Peebles but we had never been there.  So we decided to check it out.

I had to pull over at one point as we were driving and hop out and take a picture of the road.  There were yellow daffodils as far as the eye could see lining the road we were driving down.  This is something we have been seeing everywhere lately and last week we even drove by some daffodil farms where the flowers were lined up row after row after row in three different shades of color.

At first we just drove around to see what we could see.  A few times we had to remind ourselves that we were there to see the shops and not go on long walks to find a castle.  But we did find a pretty old bridge that had a sign saying it was built in 1702.

A castle named Neidpath Castle.  The gate was locked to drive down to it and we decided not to go for a hike so we only got this picture from up on the road.

We also saw a really neat cemetery with a tower in it and a few nice churches.  As we were walking down the street where all the shops were we turned a corner and walked a ways through some houses.  I loved these sleeping lions at this house.  Usually the lions are sitting up or laying down with their heads up.  I really liked these.We had lunch in a little Italian Restaurant that sat right on top of the entrance to the bridge that crossed the big river right in town.  The food wasn’t that great but the view was wonderful.  We also came across a place we hadn’t read about before we left.

Peebles Cross Kirk is a ruins of a church.  In 1261 a cross and an urn containing ashes were found at this site.  People believed they were the cremated bones of St. Nicholas so they came to pray, seek miracles and bring offerings.  King Alexander III was inspired to build a church at the site.  It was used over the years as a religious house for friars and then a parish church in 1560 after the Protestant Reformation.  This now sits in the middle of a neighborhood surrounded by people’s homes.  We just happened upon it as we were driving.

I taught one day this week with Sister Allred and Sister Osmond.  We taught a nice young man from Shanghai China named Paul.  He committed to be baptised on the 16th.  He also asked if he could come with the sisters as they teach others so he can learn even more.  Next week I should have pictures of him at his baptism.

Well, here we are again to a Saturday.  It seems I was just writing about last week.  The weeks are just flying by even though some of the days seem long.  I’m anxious to come home.  Spring is here and it makes me homesick again.  I want to play with my grandkids and enjoy my family.  But I can say I also love it here and I see a purpose to what I’m doing so I have no problem hanging out here for 19 more weeks.  Look how fast the time goes.  It won’t be long before I’m saying – I can’t believe I’m coming home already.

Today Sister Gifford and I decided to check out a few more castles.  First stop was in Kinross at Lochleven Castle.  This castle sits out on a small island in the middle of a lake (or loch).  This castle was visited by Robert the Bruce in 1313 during the Wars of Independence.  Mary Queen of Scots came to this castle four times.  She was a guest but then in 1567 she was held prisoner.  During that time she miscarried twins and was forced to abdicate her crown to her son, James VI.

We had to get to the island by way of boat.  This boat was just a regular small boat that 12 of us could fit in.  It was a beautiful day and the lake was smooth as glass so it was totally enjoyable.  The crazy thing out here though were the lake flies.  They look like gnats or mini mosquitos (midges they are called here).  The difference is they don’t bite but there were literally billons of them in the air – all over the island.  It was crazy.  They have a two day life cycle and we happened to be there on a day when they all hatched I guess.  But we enjoyed our time out on the island.  We walked around the castle in the thicket enjoying the green mossy ferns and flowers.  The castle was pretty sitting on the lake and the boat was back in one hour to pick us back up.

When we got back on land we headed back to check out a Cashmere Mill that we had passed but was disappointed that there was no sales going on.  Then we got some lunch at a really good restaurant.  I had nachos which were not bad.  I think the salsa was just their pasta sauce but other than that…  The chicken on them was really good.

Next stop was Burleigh Castle.  This was literally just on the side of the road and we couldn’t get inside.  But the structure was really neat and we got out and walked all around it.  It dates back to 1446.  Next we headed over to another

 

 

castle named Balvaird Castle.  This castle is only open June, July and August and it sits up on a hill.  The gate at the bottom of the hill was locked so we decided to go ahead and walk up to the castle.  It was a ways up there but it was so worth the hike.  This castle was built in 1500 by Sir Andrew Murray and the family was still living here in 1567 when they inherited the title of Lord Scone.  So they then moved to Scone Palace which of course is a much nicer place.  But the location of this castle was beautiful.  This picture was about half way up the hill. Also, this yellow bush is everywhere in the hills of Scotland right now.  I don’t remember seeing them last year.  But they are very fragrant and seem to be a type of evergreen.  I’m not sure what they are but they are very pretty.

Here are a few more pictures of Balvaird Castle.

We were close enough to the Perth area at this point that we decided to throw in one more castle.  We had gone to Elcho Castle a few months ago because we were nearby but it wasn’t open.  So we decided to go today.  It sits right on the Tay River and it was built around 1560.  It’s very well preserved.  I’m glad I got pictures of it before because it is completely covered in scaffolding now.  But we did go inside and explore.  This was a delightful castle to explore.  Lots of staircases (and they were wide stairs) and lots of hidden little rooms.  We even got out on the roof.  This was a nice surprise and I would put this as one of the castles to try and see.

Well, that wraps up our day.  We ran to the store once we got back to Edinburgh and got stuff to make tacos tomorrow for Mother’s Day.  We are so excited.

Happy Birthday Avery!!  I can’t believe you are turning 11.  Last year in Primary.  Keep practicing that violin.  I love you.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and also my mother-in-law.  I love both of you and feel so blessed to have your influences in my life.  Have a wonderful day tomorrow.

Week 58: Orkney Island

Missionaries have P-Day which stands for preparation day on Monday’s here in Scotland Ireland Mission.  Since I work in the office my P-Day is Saturday which is why we have the weekends to do what we want with.  Since Sister Gifford and I both have “assignments” (they can’t give us callings) in the ward that keep us busy on Sunday’s we try to cram as much as we can into our Saturdays so we don’t leave any stone in Scotland unturned.  But this week we got subs and went to Orkney Island.  It was a wonderful weekend.  Elder and Sister Miller came with us.

First off though, one of my assignments in our ward is to work with the new converts on getting their family history going.  Our goal is to find a name they can take to the temple to do baptisms for.  This becomes a challenge since the majority of the new converts we have are first: not from Scotland or America but from China, Romania, and Brazil; and second they are very often university students whose parents have no idea they are getting baptised or if they do know, they won’t give permission for them to get baptised for their grandparents who have passed on.  Last week as I was working on the computer with one of our new investigators Sister Allred and Sister Osmond had both opened up their family history as well.  Sister Allred said something about her great, great, great grandfather who settled Manti and I’m thinking to myself –

no my great, great, great grandfather settled Manti.  But I brushed it off thinking maybe the Morley’s and the Allred’s were friends and there together.  I’m sure it wasn’t singly settled just by Isaac Morley.  But then I mentioned his temple apron that hangs inside the Manti Temple and she said that is so cool.  Who is he?  When I said Isaac Morley she said wait, that’s my ancestor.  So there I found a new cousin right here in Edinburgh.  Then Sister Osmond was saying, wow you guys are cousins.  How cool.  And then it dawned on me.  The Calls are related to the Osmond’s through the Covey line.  So that made us cousins too.  So here we are… cousins serving together in Scotland Ireland Mission.

The other great thing that happened this week was Elder Schmidt made it back to Scotland after going home to get his tonsils out.  It turned out to be a longer process than we anticipated and we were getting worried we wouldn’t see him again.  So glad to have him back.  Here he is poking into my office to say hi before they head off to Dundee.  Elder Schmidt, Elder Shiels, Elder Elton and Elder Peterson.

Well we have been planning a trip to Orkney Island since the time we went to Stornoway on Harris and Lewis Island.  (Not sure that’s exactly what you would say but the islands are the Hebrides Islands.)  We have missionaries on three of the islands above mainland Scotland.  Orkney, Lewis, and Shetland which is a 12 hour ferry ride so we are still trying to decide if we want to do that.

To get to Orkney you drive up to Thurso which is a 5.5 hour drive and then you get on a ferry for a 90 minute ferry ride.  We left the office at noon on Friday totally prepared to leave the office unmanned for the weekend.  President even offered us Monday off since Monday is another bank holiday.  Not much work gets done on bank holidays and he told us to close the office.  On the way to Thurso, which by the way is a beautiful drive, we stopped quickly to get a glimpse of Dunrobin Castle.  This castle is visible from miles away and is beautiful.

You see the large towers poking up from forests of trees.  I am so glad we got a chance to stop and take a few pictures.  We didn’t go into the castle because we didn’t have time but it is the largest of the great houses in the Highlands with 189 rooms.  It dates back to the 1300’s, is continually inhabited, was used as a naval hospital during the first world war and as a boy’s boarding school from 1965 to 1972.  It would have been fun to go into.  It sits right on the Moray Firth and was even more stunning coming back on Sunday and seeing it from the water side.  (In Scotland Firth means an inlet of water or a coastline.)

Well, after a long drive we finally got to the ferry.  I thought we were well on our way for a fun weekend but I didn’t realize how crazy the ferry ride was going to be.  The water was so choppy we couldn’t even walk on the ferry.  We had to sit down right

away and every time I tried to get up I couldn’t walk in a straight line.  Sister Miller and Sister Gifford had to sit with their bags and both of them used them several times.  Elder Miller just disappeared to go sit by the mens restroom.  But we finally made it to Orkney and got to our hotel room in Kirkwall.  The ferry leaves mainland Scotland from Scrabster which is right by Thurso and arrives on Orkney at Stromness.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day on Orkney.  We said something about it to a man who lives there and he said they get one day a year like that so we felt very lucky.  The temperature was about 65 degrees and the wind was there but not too bad.  We were very happy.  We ate breakfast at our hotel and then headed out to pack in as much as we could in a day.  We first went to the Earl’s Palace and the Bishop’s Palace.  They share the same lots.

The Earl’s Palace was as nice a palace as we’ve seen in ruins.  The detail and the design were totally fancy compared to other buildings in this state.  It was built in 1601 – 1606 by Patrick Stewart, the Earl of Orkney.  He built it to incorporate the old Bishop’s Palace and spent more than he had with his taste for luxury.  He was an illegitimate cousin of King James VI and was known as ‘Black Patie’ and had a reputation for cruelty and violence.  He lost the Palace just a few years later and spent his days as a prisoner in Edinburgh and Dumbarton for ‘moneyfauld wrongis’, along with theft of lands and funds, oppression of local people, kidnapping, torture and murder.  He was indicted for treason in 1610 and ultimately beheaded in 1615.  The Bishop’s Palace right next door was first built in 1137 but the part we saw was erected in 1541 – 48.  We climbed to the top of the tower and got some beautiful views of Orkney.

After that we drove out to a place called Maes Howe. This is a mound out in a field that when you enter through a tunnel that you have to bend clear over to get through for about 30 or 40 steps opens up into a tomb. This dates back to Neolithic peoples, about 3000 – 2000 BC.  We couldn’t take pictures inside but there were standing stones as the corners of the room and you realized that the tunnel was one long

standing stone on it’s side on each side of the tunnel as well.  There was also writings on the walls that date back to 1100 AD when the Norse Crusaders found the tomb and broke into it and must have used it for some time.  The tunnel that leads into the tomb is in-line with the setting of the mid-winter sun and illuminates the tomb for a few weeks during December and January.

Speaking of standing stones – I don’t know if you remember the Callanish Stones I saw in Stromness.  They were used as the model for the stones in Disney’s Brave.  Well, Orkney has standing stones as well.  Scientists believe the Standing Stones of Stennish are some of the earliest standing stone circles in Britain.  No one really knows what the stones were used for but they are huge and really neat to see. Very near by is the Ring of Brodgar which is another ring of standing stones.  This massive stone circle originally had 60 stones dating back to 3000 BC.  36 stones still stand today; along with 13 prehistoric burial mounds and a rock ditch that runs the full circle around the stones.

Then we were on to Skara Brae.  This is a Stone-Age village which was uncovered on the coast in 1850.  Preserved beneath the dunes was this 5,000 year-old village with 10 different houses, tools, toys, stone beds and stone dressers or shelving.

Next we were on to a site called Gurness which was very similar to Skara Brae but was built during the Iron Age.  This site was discovered when Robert Rendall went to the seaside to do some painting.  He set up his easel and his three-legged stool and sat down to paint.  The leg of his stool went down into the ground and after digging a bit he uncovered the top of the staircase on the tower which was in the center of this village.  Scientists now know that this was built around 400 to 700 AD by the Picts.

Just so you know who the Picts are… The Romans called the Picti which means ‘Painted Ones’ in Latin.  They were northern tribes that during the Dark Age of Scotland were the largest kingdom. They repelled the conques

ts of both Romans and Angles, creating a true north-south divide on the British Isles. They disappear from history by the end of the first millennium.

The Picts took part in one of the most decisive battles in Scottish history – the Battle of Dun Nechtain (Dunnichen). If the Picts had lost, Scotland might never have existed. For the Angles of Northumbria it was simply a disaster – ending their domination of Scotland.

 

 

After that we started heading back to Kirkwall and made several attempts to get some good baby lamb photos.  Since I was driving I didn’t get many photos on my phone so hopefully I will get some good ones later from Elder Miller.   When we got back to town we went and visited the St. Magnus Cathedral which is known as Britain’s ‘the Light in the North’.  It’s a beautiful large cathedral but like all gothic cathedrals there is no feeling of the spirit in the cold, stone walls. I do enjoy walking around in them though.  They are very interesting.  This cathedral was built by Vikings in 1137.  We went back later in the evening and listened to part of a choral concert there.

We then met our Orkney Elders, Elder Wayment from Henefer, Utah and Elder Rothlisberger from near Snowflake, AZ for dinner at a local Indian restaurant that is known because Chef Ramsey has visited there a few times.  Still not as good as Jashan’s right here by us.  But fun to visit with the Elders. Sunday we attended the Orkney Branch which meets in the local Grammer School.  But don’t be fooled, this has to be one of the nicest public schools I have ever seen.  But the dear members of this branch pray daily for a building of their own some day.  They have a total of 55 members but are lucky if 20 come.  We were there for fast and testimony meeting which was sweet and filled with the spirit.  Good people on Orkney.  We won’t forget them.

After church we drove out to another island to see an Italian Chapel that was built during World War II.  From 1942 to 1945 this small island held a military camp and a POW camp.  The POWs were Italian soldiers of the 6th Anti Aircraft Regiment of teh Mantova Division and men from the Italian Tank Corps.  They were brought here to assist with the building of causeways to link the small chain of islands together.  The prisoners had a wide range of abilities from artists and sculptors to electricians and iron workers. To make camp more homey the prisoners laid concrete paths and planted flowerbeds. They constructed concrete benches and tables so they could sit outside.  They entertained themselves by putting on lavish productions in a makeshift theatre.  They published a newspaper and made a billiards table. They organised sports competitions against other POW camps and crafted small trinkets which were sold to local people.

But they lacked a chapel.  They longed for a chapel.  So in 1943 they were given to huts and they placed them end to end.  They began work on their sanctuary. They completed works of art to embellish the areas in the hut as they worked to make it beautiful.  Lampshades were made out of tin cans.  They found colored glass and scrap wood from shipwrecks and created masterpieces.

This was a special part of our journey as my own dad built a chapel during the Korean War.  This was a chapel for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Although the circumstances were different, my dad wasn’t a POW but he was a soldier stationed in Korea, away from his new wife and family.  It’s always nice to know that God is not forgotten even during times of war and strife.

Here are the pictures of the Italian Chapel built by POWs in 1943.

We made it back to the ferry, rode back to Scrabster without any seasickness this time and drove home to Edinburgh.  We got home at 12:30 AM safely but very tired.  Luckily Monday was a bank holiday so the President told us to just take the day off!!  I’ll tell you what we did today (Monday) next week.

Love you.  If you are still reading – you are a champ.  This was a long one.  Sorry mom.  I know you print this all out.  There are lots of pictures.  I tried to limit them.

Week 57: A Couple Really Neat Castles

Well this is one of those weeks when I have no idea what I have done all week.  I didn’t take many pictures and all I know is I was busy.

Thursday evening we went to Elder and Sister Helps flat and had dinner and played some games.  It was a nice evening and we had fun.  Sister Helps made chili and corn bread and we had flan for dessert.  They had to drive us there and then back to our flat because I am currently not driving.  I have been here too long now and legally I can’t drive.  It’s driving us crazy.  Sister Gifford can drive to and from the office but I am learning what anxiety feels like.  I’m not a good passenger.  I have my driving test on Tuesday again so I am hoping I pass this time.  If not, I just as well come home.  I don’t think I could survive if I can’t drive.  (That’s a pretty lazy thing to say, I know.)  And of course, I wouldn’t really come home.  But I would feel like it.

I did some family history with Leif on Friday evening.  He is from an island off the coast of Denmark called the Faroe Islands and everything we were doing was in Danish so I wasn’t much help but I cheered him on.  We didn’t get very far but we did get what he had into Family Search and we were able to add a few family members by googling his home area.

Saturday was another adventure day with the Millers.  They drove since I can’t so it gave me a chance to just stare out the window at the scenery and not worry about the road.  It was kind of nice.  But when did I turn into such a control freak?  I’m not sure.  But I really like to be the one in the driver’s seat.

First stop today was Edzell Castle which is up above Dundee.  It was a 2 hour drive and we weren’t sure what we were going to exactly but it is a castle on our Historical Passes so it is free for us to get into.  To our delight it was a wonderful castle.  The land and original castle was acquired by the Lindsay family who had a some turbulent times in their history.  They were also knowledgeable and gifted

in many ways.  The wall around their garden was decorated with carvings.  One wall held carvings of the Roman Gods whose names became the names of the planets that could be seen from Rome.  Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Mercury, Sol, Luna.

The next wall had carvings for subjects in school.  Geometry, Music, Grammar, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Logic and Astronomy.

The last wall had virtues on it.  Faith, Hope, Justice, Charity, Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance.

The garden was beautiful and I can just imagine how it would look in the summer when all the flowers were in bloom.   We climbed up in the castle up spiral staircases and really enjoyed the beauty of this castle in ruins.  The nice thing about coming to castles this time of year is we are usually the only visitors.  it’s so nice.

Next stop was Finzean Farms where we knew of a nice little Tea Room to have lunch.  It was a beautiful drive up to this farm and the scenery from the farm was spectacular.  We had a nice lunch and then headed on our way to the last castle.

Crathes Castle is about 15 miles outside of Aberdeen.  I think this is going to become one of my favorite castles.  It wasn’t much to look at on the outside.  Half the castle was destroyed in a fire in the 1960’s and when they rebuilt that section they didn’t make it look like it used to.  It was pretty plain on the outside but never judge a book by it’s cover.  Also, the grounds were spectacular and they said even if we hurried it would take 30 minutes to get through the gardens there so we didn’t even try.  It was raining a bit and we had to get back to Edinburgh because the Miller’s had an obligation they needed to be at.

The really neat thing about this castle was the entire castle was still decorated and full of furniture and everything else you would find in the castle if you were to go there back in the 1600’s when it was a fully functioning home for the Burnett family.  But to make it even more special the ceilings had been painted with all kinds of pictures and on the exposed beams were sayings from the Bible and other words of wisdom.  It was really unique and I could have stayed there even longer just studying the ceilings.  

It was a great day and I’m glad we are taking chances on castles we have never heard of.  It has really paid off with some wonderful places to learn about and see.  Next week we are planning on heading up to Orkney which is an island above mainland Scotland.  We won’t get home until late on Sunday so my blog will be late.  But it should be full of lots of interesting things about Orkney.

I love you and I hope you all have a wonderful week.