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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man of Storr

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

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

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

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

Week 55: The prophet and Elder Holland – worldwide tour starts here.

Well, a four week transfer goes by very fast.  And here were are again with moves planning.  We only have five missionaries going home and five coming in so that sounds like it should be simple but it’s still a decent sized transfer coming up.

So the weekend has been busy but not as bad as a normal moves weekend.  It’s been very enjoyable actually with lots to do.

Sunday the bishop asked me to come into a temple prep class with him to be available for anyone to set up a time to work on family history with me.  The ward is going on another temple trip next month and he wants as many as can to bring their own names for baptisms.  I really wish I had more family history skills under my belt.  I want to help these people so much.  Many come after joining the church within the last couple months and they have very little knowledge of their grandparents and no permission from their parents to get baptized for their grandparents so we need to get to that next generation and it is not easy.  Some we find things rather quickly and I’m always just as amazed as they are but others we try and try and I know it’s just because I don’t know all the tricks.  I hope I can learn more when I get home so I can help others with this.  It’s so rewarding when something pings.  I did take a picture in Relief Society because I just couldn’t not.  This is Christine in our ward.  She is from somewhere in Africa.  I can’t remember where at the moment.  She sews all her own clothes.  She is always totally decked out and I think she is just beautiful.

Tuesday was a very cold and wet day.  Sister Gifford and I had to run into town to pick up some keys to the flat just below ours.  We are moving the Edinburgh Sisters, Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu over to our building.  The flat downstairs opened up and it is so much nicer over here for the same amount of money.  They live in a great flat but the area it is in is a bit sketchy so we were really excited when this happened so we could move them from that other flat.  I took two pictures while we were walking to the letting office to get the keys.  The checkered one is the sidewalk we were walking on.  And the other is St Mary’s Cathedral just at the end of the street but shrouded in clouds.  The fog has been like this for a few days this week.  Not so close that you can’t see where you are but you can’t see much further out.

Tuesday night we met the girls at their old flat and helped them carry down all their luggage and stuff from the flat.  They are both feeling sick and don’t look like they feel good.  Sister Wahlquist had a fever for sure.  We waited outside in the freezing cold for Elder Worley and Elder Butler to come and help us drive everything over to our place and we got the girls all loaded into their new flat.  We bought bunk beds for the flat and they wouldn’t be here until the next day so they slept over at Sister Allred and Sister Sun’s flat.

Wednesday the Miller’s were so kind to help us with the bunk

beds.  They spent about four hours tearing down a queen-size bed and then setting up the new bunk beds for the girls.  What great troopers.

Wednesday morning Sister Gifford and I had to drive out to Corstorphine where Sister Allred and Sun live to grab the keys to the new flat so we could get the bed delivered.  We took a wrong turn which is common for me and as we were getting back on the right path we came across this really cool Doocot.  I couldn’t believe this was just in a neighborhood we were driving down so I had to pull over and snap a quick picture.  Apparently this is all that is left of a castle that once stood in that area.  Who knew?  I’m glad we got lost.

This beehive shaped home for pigeons was built in the 1500’s.  These are common features with castles as the pigeons provided eggs and meat for their meals.  I don’t know much about the castle that was here but I know it belonged to a Laird and a Lady.  

Wednesday night we had a baptism for Diane Armstrong.  Diane is a great lady who has been coming to church now since the first part of December.  We just love her.  I hope to add a picture soon.  Her first impressions of the church where the speakers in sacrament meeting.  She loved coming to church because it was the first time she felt like the speakers were uplifting and telling her how to be a better person instead of what she was used to in the other churches she has gone to.  She said it was so different not to be told how awful she was and have her sins aired in front of everyone else.  She said church was always a place where she learned what not to do but never what to do.

I do have this picture to add from the baptism.  We have a problem with the water in our font.  It only comes out hot and it gets too hot to even get into.  The missionaries are supposed to watch it when they are filling it and to start adding cold water but often times they forget and we end up with so much steam and condensation in the room that the alarms go off.  So this is what they do know to keep the smoke alarms from going off.  It is so funny to see.

After the baptism I worked with two converts on their family history.  Ruthie and Sophie came to the baptism and then stayed after with me.  We worked for about an hour and it was a good session.

Thursday was a remarkable day for us.  President Nelson and President Holland are both on a world tour beginning here in the UK.  They are in London at the Hyde Park Church but we got to tune in for the broadcast as it was meant for all of UK and Ireland.  There was a 2:00 broadcast just for missionaries and then a 7:00 broadcast for everyone.  It was incredible.  So personable.  Especially the 2:00 missionary one.  President Nelson just opened it up more like a discussion and it was so uplifting and wonderful to see him in operation.  He kept looking to President Holland and calling him Jeff as he asked him for help with a question or needed a comment.  It was neat to see that personal relationship that they have.  Both their wives were with and all four spoke each time.  In the evening session Sister Nelson talked about how she received personal revelation not just once but twice that President Nelson was chosen by God to be the next prophet.  It was a real experience that she didn’t elaborate on but you could feel the spirit bearing witness that what she was saying was true.  She did give very detailed experiences of watching President Nelson receive revelation and being awakened early on Saturday morning and urged out of bed by the spirit.  Then two hours later having President Nelson come out of the bedroom saying to her she wouldn’t believe what was just happening to him over the past two hours.  She did believe it because she knew she had been kicked out of the room before the prophet was even awake.  It was such a neat experience to see the beginning of this worldwide tour they are embarking and to have a personal connection with it.  It would have been neat to have the right in our chapel but it was the next best thing and we didn’t feel like we missed out on anything but a personal handshake.

On Friday night I met with Kevin Richardson who was baptised around Christmas time and we didn’t get very far with his family history.  This is where I got frustrated this week because I knew if I could figure out how to find the census we could find his grandfather.  But I just need to learn a bit more.  I’m hoping to find time on Tuesday to wander over to the family history library and see what I can learn so I can be a better teacher.

Well Saturday morning I went to the office and finished up a few things for moves weekend and put some things together to send to a missionaries stake president who is going home for a surgery.  We are hoping she will just be gone a transfer and then come right back out but just in case I prepare everything as though they are finishing their mission.  I was done by noon and after running the girls up to the university I ran home and picked up Sister Gifford.  I had gotten a phone call from a missionary in Paisley that they had just met a family from Hungary and they need a couple Hungarian Book of Mormons and the pamphlets as quickly as possible.  Well since I know all the moves I looked to see if there was someone moving to that area and there was.  Elder Grabe in Kirkcaldy so I grabbed the books and the pamphlets and asked Sister Gifford if she would mind running to Kirkcaldy with me for P-Day.  We didn’t really have any other plans due to it being moves weekend and we don’t always have time to do anything.  So off we went to find Elder Grabe and Elder Cosmas.  Fortunately they already knew they were whitewashing but they didn’t know where they were going yet.  (Whitewashing means both missionaries are transferring so they are whitewashing out of their flat.  Everything has to be clean, empty, etc so two new missionaries can move in.  They also have to have their area book up to date and good notes for the incoming missionaries to follow through on.)  These two missionaries have been together for three transfers I believe so they knew at least one of them would get transferred.  They are happy to try new places and sad to say goodbye to each other.  I have loved getting to know both of these Elders.  They are great examples of a good missionary.

Since we had a few hours to kill we decided to find out if there were any sights to see in the area that we hadn’t seen yet.  We discovered two castles on our GPS so we set out to find out what they were.

First was Balgonie Castle.  We drove about five miles and we loved the look of the castle but it wasn’t open so we could only get out and take a picture of it.  Outlanders has been filmed at this castle.  We are finding that most of these little unknown castles have been filming sites for Outlanders.  Episodes 13 and 15 were filmed here.  I’ve actually never seen Outlanders and I don’t know anyone who has but it is a big deal over here.  They even have their own tartan and it is a really pretty one.

Next was Aberdour Castle and Gardens.  This was a castle open to the public and there were several groups of people at this castle today.  We were pressed for time by the time we got here but we did go in and look around a bit.  It’s a nice castle but not my favorite.  I think if I had taken more time to just enjoy being there I would have noticed the beautiful views more and enjoyed it more but I was worrying about getting back.  This was near a place called Burntisland and I think I would like to go back there.  We heard it was a great little town with some neat things to see and good ice cream.  So maybe another weekend we will wander over there.

Well, after all our wanderings we ran home and grabbed Elder Worley and Elder Butler for dinner.  We had signed up to take them for dinner this week and we were on the last night to get this done.  Elder Worley goes home on Monday and he had never as of yet tried Haggis or Black Pudding.  So he wanted to have that opportunity.  We promised him we would get it done.  So we took them out to Dalkeith to the restaurant we went to when Elder Kapalnosi got the muscles.  They didn’t disappoint.  Oh, and as we were driving Elder Worley and Elder Butler were calling their zone (they are the zone leaders in Edinburgh) to talk about moves.  It was so funny, they were on the phone with the Dalkeith Elders as we were pulling down the street to go to the restaurant and Elder Arenas and Elder Rodriguez who are our Dalkeith elders said – we can see you.  There they were, right next to the restaurant we were going to so we invited them to come along.  The more the merrier.  We told the waiter about our dilemma to give Elder Worley a good Scottish send off and they brought us a plate of black pudding, haggis, and trays of bruschetta, and other breads.  I don’t even think they charged us for any of that.  It turned out great and everyone had lots to eat (we ordered entrees as well) and had a great time just laughing and talking. Elder Worley is going home to Arizona but he will be up to BYU for Spring/Summer Semester.  Elder Butler is from Bountiful I think.  I’m going to have to check that but I think that is right.  Elder Arenas is no stranger to my blog but I haven’t had him on here for a while.  He is from the Philippines and Elder Rodriguez is from Columbia.  It’s always an eye-opener to talk to these boys from other countries and learn of their life growing up and the things they have done and how they found the gospel.  It is so humbling and rewarding to make friends with these young men.

Well, I better get to bed.  We have a full day ahead of us.  The Donaldson’s are in Aberdeen for stake conference and won’t get back until just in time to hike Pratt’s Hill tomorrow so Sister Gifford and I have cooking to do in the morning and a few other things before church.  Back to the smaller groups so we are helping more in the kitchen again.  We love it though.  No complaints here.

Have a great week.  I love you.

Week 54: Snow, Rain, and 3 Castles

Well what a wonderful conference we all experienced this past weekend.  This will be one we talk about for a long time.  There were so many highlights and exciting things going on but overall I think for me it wasn’t so much the messages and the announcements but the sense of peace and well-being that I felt.  It seems the past few conferences have been filled with anxiety as we have worried about apostles that were missing due to illnesses and a Prophet who was clearly reaching the end of his life and that always seemed to put a cloud over the wonder of conference for me.  But this conference was so upbeat and happy feeling.  I loved to see the smiles on every face.  Even watching Elder Oaks with a literal grin on his face, which seemed a little foreign to me, was such a great experience in and of itself.

Elders McDaniel, Selander, Smith, Gregory

This weekend we had a plan to go to Aberdeen to see Dunottar Castle but we have had so much rain and snow this week that the castle is flooded and not open to visitors.  So I thought I would share this picture and message from Elder Smith who is a zone leader up in the Aberdeen area right now.  He is from Australia and I haven’t had too many experiences with him but I know he is a great missionary.  He sent us this picture with this message, “While we were there we noticed around the ruins this great archway that still remained intact because of the strong keystone placed in the middle.  My thoughts immediately turned to the Book of Mormon and how essential this sacred volume of scripture is to each of us. Without it, the fullness of the gospel would be lost. How grateful we all are for the Book of Mormon and for the way in which God reaches out to his children every day who ponder and study it’s passages.”

This week was pretty much just work.  It has been cold and on Wednesday it snowed and snowed.  I was supposed to have my driving test on Wednesday in Livingston and I had ran Tuesday night out to purchase the mirror and learner plates that I have to have on the car to take my test but by the time I got to Livingston Wednesday morning the sky was getting darker and darker and the rain was falling harder and harder.  There were six of us there to take our tests and the rain was starting to turn to snow and I ended up not getting to do my test.  So I have rescheduled for the 17th in Dunfermline.  To schedule your test you go on-line and it gives you the dates of open times and the location.  To take the test in Edinburgh they are booked out until the end of May.  So that’s why I’m going other places instead.

Well Wednesday evening Sister Gifford and I drove Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu to their dinner appointment.  We picked them up just after 5:00 and it took us almost an hour to get them about six miles to their dinner.  This snowstorm was so full of water the roads were totally slushy and by Thursday morning everything had frozen over.  Our parking lot at the office was a giant sheet of uneven ice.  I didn’t take any pictures.  I wish I had.

Friday I was playing chauffeur most of the day.  I picked up Sister Quintana and Sister Peterson for a doctor appointment and then ran them to get a prescription and a bite to eat at the grocery store. While I was waiting for them to come out of the train station another set of missionaries happened to be there and opened up my car door and asked if I was there for them.  I have picked them up before so that was a good guess but no I wasn’t there for them.  Then just after they walked away some stranger opened my door and asked me if I was a taxi.  I was glad the girls were coming out right then.

After I got back from dropping them back off at the train I took Sister Gifford to the store.  We were having an office staff dinner with the Donaldson’s and we had to get our stuff for salad and salsa.  Just as soon as I got back from the store I ran Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu to a doctor appointment as well.  I didn’t get a picture of us but as I was sitting in the parking lot listening to my book I snapped this picture of the building where our doctor is.

As usual we had a great Saturday planned for P-Day.  We headed a different direction than originally planned but we had a great time.  We drove up near Glasgow and then over near Paisley to Kelburn Castle.  We had just heard about this castle and thought it would be fun to check it out.  Kelburn Castle is home to the Earl of Glasgow and the outside of the backside of the castle has been painted graffiti-style by some Brazilian artists.  The grounds around the castle have become a great place for children to come and play.  There is a secret forest, a fort and saloon play area.  A fire pit area with a stage.  A teepee.  It kind of reminded me of a cub scout day camp area.  There are also some beautiful garden areas and a glen with waterfalls.  And to top it all off it sits right on the edge of the sea.  So it is a beautiful place to be.

 

After this castle we headed north west to Inveraray Castle which looks a bit more like a palace to me.  It was built in the 1700’s.The castle is the home of the Duke of Argyll.  I don’t think he is very old.  He is married to a Cadbury (yes the chocolate Cadbury family) and they have three small children.  This castle is absolutely stunning and again sits on the western edge of Scotland right on the water.  The Duke of Argyll is also the head clansman of the Campbell Clan which is a very large clan in Scotland.  

The final castle we were in search of today is Kilchurn Castle.  This is a castle ruin that sits on Loch Awe.  We couldn’t find a road to take us down to it so we had to take a picture from the side of the road across the loch.  It was a beautiful sight and I wish we could have gotten closer.  It was built in the 1400’s and was used by the Campbell Clan until they moved over to a different area.  It was eventually destroyed by lightening.  I know that is a little hard to see.

Well, after six hours of driving and having a great day we ran to the grocery store to get what we needed for dinner tomorrow and then I waited for a very important phone call.  It came at 9:00 PM my time.  I was so happy to take part in watching my grandson get baptised all the way in Utah.  Congratulations Kaden.  You did a great job.  I got to see my family and listen to Avery play the violin.  Great job Avery.  You are getting so good on the violin.

 

Thanks so much to each of you.  I love sharing my mission with you.  I love to hear that you read my blog and enjoy it.  I have enjoyed keeping up to date each week.

Love you all.

Week 53: Oh my goodness, I’ve passed the year mark!

I have to begin by expressing my feelings at church on Sunday last week.  As I was sitting on the stage playing the prelude music I was able to watch Austin (a student from Sandy, Utah) teaching Hamish and Sam how to pass the Sacrament.  They both received the Aaronic Priesthood this past week and are worthy and able to pass the sacrament now.  I felt like a proud mother.  I have sat in on discussions and worked with them on their family history and have been so excited to see them come to church week after week since they have been baptised.  If I could have taken a picture I would have.  I am so happy for these two young men who have found the gospel and found happiness and blessings.  It is so nice to see someone really understand what it is they have a hold of now and become better because of it.

This week was busy as usual.  Transfers happened a week ago and this is a short transfer period with the next transfers happening in four weeks so that means moves planning is in two weeks since one week has already gone by.  So everything is a bit busier and lots to get done in a shorter amount of time.

I don’t even think I can do a day-by-day play of this week – it all is running together in my mind.  But here are the highlights.

I went with Sister Allred and Sister Sun who are now our sister missionaries in Corstophrine, to do a follow-up lesson with McCauley.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation.  What a wonderful lesson and McCauley is such a great guy.  It was totally enjoyable.

I ran a lot of errands this week it seems.  I had to go to the doctor to get my prescriptions refilled again.  They may not charge much for medicine but you can’t get a full year’s prescription.  I get about 3 months at a time then I have to go back and pay for them to write a new prescription for me so I can get more.

I also ran a plaque to an engraver so that we can add our new mission president’s name to the plaque and President Donaldson’s end date.  I can’t believe that is happening in the next couple months.  It will be a hard thing not to have the Donaldson’s around.  What amazing people they are.  I am so happy that I had the opportunity to meet them and become friends.  They will be eternal friends, that’s for sure.

Thursday we just closed up the office and took Elder Hinckley and Elder Crowley out to Zizzi’s for dinner when the President called.  They were in Belfast and their plane was cancelled and could I get them on another plane right away.  There I was at the restaurant.  My mission phone was not with me.  I thought it was in my bag that morning but it must have been tangled up in my bed somewhere instead because I didn’t have it.  So I was talking to him on Sister Gifford’s phone which had about 2% battery left and trying to get on the airline’s site with my US phone.  I couldn’t purchase a ticket on-line because the only other flight was less than two hours out and they won’t sell on-line that close to departure.  I told President he would just have to get in the queue and buy a ticket there but he said the queue was too long and they wouldn’t make it.  He said to try and get them into Glasgow so I decided to Facetime with Lacey instead and see if she could get on her computer and get the tickets.  But the same thing.  The flight was too close and it wouldn’t let her purchase them.  So I am in the restaurant with a phone on each ear trying to eat a little bit since I had skipped lunch and breakfast that day and nothing was happening in our favor.

Finally, I told the President, hop in a taxi and get to the ferry terminal.  I will get you ferry tickets and Sister Gifford and I will pick you up on this end.  The ferry terminal is 3 and a half hours away and the ferry ride is 2 and a half hours so I knew we needed to get moving fast.  I hung up with Lacey quickly and then without thinking told the President I was hanging up and that I loved him – (I got a funny look from Elder Hinckley and Elder Crowley) and then really flustered hung up the phone.  I called the ferry and booked them tickets and we ran the missionaries to the church and got back in the car to head to Stranraer.  I picked up Sister Gifford’s phone to text the President that we were on our way and her phone was completely dead and my personal phone was about dead as well.  That was actually a small miracle that Sister Gifford’s phone actually held out until I didn’t actually have to have it.  We were able to do everything we needed before it died.

Well the zone leaders, Elder Worley and Elder Butler knew what was going on and they saw that our phones were dead and said – you can’t drive all the way to Stranraer without a phone so they ran home to get a car charger that they have so we could get Sister Gifford’s phone plugged in and we were off.  We realized as it got dark just as we reached the coastal road that is narrow and filled with large trucks coming at us that this was the first time we had driven this stretch of road without it pouring rain.  We had good weather.  And the forecast for that day had actually been snow.  So another small miracle for us.  We got to the ferry about ten minutes after it landed due to the ferry leaving Belfast late and all was well.

We pulled into the mission home just after 1:00 AM and President said, “It’s Good Friday tomorrow.  Businesses are going to be closed anyway, take the day off.”  So we did!!  We slept in and when I got up I got some laundry going and then I cleaned the kitchen and went for a walk.  When I got back Sister Gifford was waking up so once she was ready we left to

go to the store.  The Miller’s had invited us over for dinner and games and we were very excited.  Since we had a free day I decided to go to Primark.  Lacey is always wanting to shop vicariously at Primark so I got her on the phone at 6:30 AM her time and we strolled through the store and pic

ked out a few things for her kids.  I got Skyler’s kids a few things as well and then we got a hot dog at Five Guys and headed home so I could make salsa.

Dinner was wonderful with the Miller’s and we played some games afterwards.  The Helps joined us and it was a great evening.

Saturday we got up and even though it is a rainy day outside we got out and picked up the Miller’s for another adventure and headed on our way to the border’s area.  Every time we drive to Galashiels we pass two roads that have castle signs on them and I have always wanted to drive down them to see what we could find.  So today, that was the plan.  The first castle was Borthwick Castle, just a mile down the road.  I was delighted when I saw it.  It was exactly what we were hoping for but then we got out of the car and walked up to the gate, which was wide open, and saw the sign – Borthwick Castle is a private venue with no general public access.  So we had to take pictures from the gate.  But what a beautiful castle.  There was also a lovely old church right by it.

The next road we travelled down was to get to Crichton Castle.  Again, we had no idea what we were going to find and this jaunt was 3 miles away.  But again we weren’t disappointed.  Except that these out of the way castle’s are not open during the winter and so they don’t actually open until next week.

 

I loved this poem that was on the sign at Crichton Castle gate.

That castle rises on the the steep

Of the green vale of Tyne;

And far beneath, where slow they creep

From pool to eddy, dark and deep,

Where alders moist and willows weep,

You hear her streams repine.

–Sir Walter Scott

Then of course you can’t take a trip to Galashiels without going over to Melrose to see the Abbey.  It’s still one of my very favorite things to visit.  

Now we are heading over to the church to attend conference.  Of course we have had a full day and you are just starting your morning but it feels good to know we are doing something together at the same time.  I hope you have a wonderful conference and that you hear words meant for you.

I love you.

 

Week 52: Moves, Talent Show, P-Day with the Millers

I guess I’ll just start where I left off last week.  In the middle of transfers.  This was a big transfer.  It was stake conference this Sunday so we had a two-hour meeting Saturday night and then again on Sunday morning.  The meeting was actually really good and I enjoyed all the talks but as soon as it was over it was straight to the mission home to get back to work.

Sister Palmer
Sister Brodien
Elder Donovan

It takes a lot of hours and work to make a transfer happen but I love every minute of it and Sister Gifford and I are always rewarded a wonderful Sunday dinner with the departing missionaries for our efforts.  This is a special group.  I can say I know every single one of these missionaries and some I have become very close to.  Elder Gibb of course who I think is totally top notch.  I didn’t get a picture alone with him this weekend.  But here he is with Elder Wright, Elder Donovan and Elder Grant.

We had 13 going home this time and of those two were going to different countries other than the US.  One went to Brazil and the other to Tahiti.  The five heading into Salt Lake City ended up getting stuck in Paris for a night due to a connection not being met on the fault of the airline.  I’ll have to find out how their adventure in Paris went.

Of course as I start to check the missionaries in for their flights with a big group like this and everyone heading different directions there are always a few issues and due to the volume of suitcases and missionaries it was decided that I would go to the airport with them Monday morning to help drive luggage, people and pay for bags that didn’t get covered on tickets and to make sure everything goes smoothly.  I don’t mind doing that at all.  In fact, I really like it and I was prepared enough with the moves that were happening on Monday that I was able to go and not be worried about something else not working out while I was away from my desk.

Tuesday we had 9 new missionaries come in.  And then on Wednesday we had Leadership Meeting with 8 or 9 new District Leaders.  That’s a big change in District Leaders.  They are all going to be great and they had a great day of meetings.  Thursday was MLC which is the day all the zone leaders and the Sister Training Leaders come in.  This was a busy week and it is mostly a blur to me now.  I know I slept here and there during the nights and never left my desk much during the days.  But they are fulfilling days and I enjoy them.  I made numerous trips to the train station as well.

Wednesday was another baptism.  Two more great people entering the waters of baptism.  Sister Gifford and I had to miss it this time due to a few things.  Khrys came to us as a 7th Day Adventist and has been attending church for a while now.  She is great.

The other is Jaymus who I didn’t know but I met him Friday when he came to the Ward Talent Show and participated with a beautiful musical number on the piano.  (I’ll add a picture as soon as I get it.)

Friday was our long anticipated Ward Talent Show.  I have been practicing with Heather Spence for several months after church for her debut violin solo.  We played the first two lines and the last two lines of Onward Christian Soldiers.  She did very well and enjoyed herself and the thunderous applause she got from the audience.  But the highlight of the night was Sister Wahlquist playing a jig on her violin and Elder Crowley and Elder Wright dancing the Highland Fling!!  I am hoping to get a better picture – I pulled this one off of Facebook.  I was busy filming the whole thing so I don’t have a picture.

Saturday Sister Gifford and I had company on our P-Day.  We were so excited when the Miller’s asked to join us for an adventure.  So we planned out a great day of travel and off we went.  The sky was blue and the air a bit chilly but we had a good time.  First stop was The Falkirk Wheel.

The Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift.  In the pre-railway era the Central Belt of Scotland had two main canals. The Forth and Clyde Canal and the Union Canal.  Both canals were a means for shipping and they were linked together by a staircase of 11 locks which took nearly a day to transit. These were dismantled in 1933 and the two canals were no longer connected.  One being a lower canal and moving in one direction and the other being above and going in a perpendicular direction.  Later it was wished that the two canals could be connected again but by this time there were things in the way.  So the wheel was envisioned and built.  There is nothing else like this anywhere in the world.  It really is a wonder to watch.  A boat comes into the enclosure area and sails onto the lift.  Then the wheel turns and puts the boat up at the elevated position and it sails off the wheel and onto the other canal.

Then we headed over to the Antonine Wall.  This is a wall constructed by the Romans after conquering what is now southern Scotland, in about AD 142.  The wall is not made of rock but instead used physical features of the land and built up using the earth itself.  The wall is about 37 miles long but we just stopped at one spot near the Falkirk Wheel called Rough Castle.  In this area you can see the deep trenches and defining rows and trails that make up the wall.  It was a beautiful place to walk around and we enjoyed ourselves.  I’m including an actual picture of a wall because I love the rock walls – this was at this spot but it is not “the wall”.  There is no rock wall on this particular Roman Wall.  The middle picture below is the only one from the wall side.

I did see a short poem written on a sign at this spot.

Roman, remember that you shall rule the nations by your authority, for this is to be your skill, to make peace the custom, to spare the conquered and to wage war until the haughty are brought low.  – Roman poet Virgil

Next we headed back to Culross to pick up our photos that we had bought last week.  The Miller’s hadn’t been to Culross and I discovered there was an abbey there.  When we told the Miller’s where we would like to go today they were excited because they actually have ancestors from this part of Scotland and one of them was married in Culross.  The abbey was a really neat place.  I was feeling adventurous though and was climbing all over everything like I was a kid.  On a steep embankment that led to no where so why I thought I needed to go up it – I don’t know, I slipped in the slimy mud beneath my feet and went down hard flat on my face.  I was covered in mud on my hands, hoodie and jeans.  Oh well, I wasn’t hurt at all but now that I’m sitting here a few hours later I am feeling the effects of hitting the ground.  My ribs are sore, my wrist is sore and my shoulder is sore.  That’s what I get I guess.  Here are some pictures of the abbey.

Next stop was lunch.  We had Indian food at a place in Dunfermline.  It was very good.  Then we headed over to Dunfermline Abbey.  Here we found some graves with the names of the ancestors the Miller’s were looking for.  That was rewarding.  Now they will have to go and figure out if any of these are actually relatives.  This abbey is where the body of King Robert the Bruce is buried.  As I’ve said before in my blog his heart is buried at Melrose Abbey but his body is here somewhere.  If you look carefully at the top of this abbey you can see where it says KING on one side and ROBERT on the other.  As you circle the building you see THE and BRUCE on the other two sides.

After the abbey we walked down into the Pittencrieff Gardens which were purchased by Andrew Carnegie who was born and raised in Dunfermline.  He always wanted to play in the gardens as a boy but was not allowed.  When he made his money he bought the entire garden/park area and gave it to the people of Dunfermline.

The whole day was lovely and it didn’t rain at all.  We made it home safely and refreshed for another week.

I hope things are well at home.  I miss you and love you all.  Have a great week.

Week 51: Quiet, Moves Planning, Happy St Patricks Day!

Sunday was a lazy day.  It was Mother’s Day in the UK and true to the day, I enjoyed feeling like I was a mother taking care of our missionaries.  Before church, Sister Gifford and I drove about 30 minutes away to pick up an investigator for Elder Walker and Elder Grant.  This girl is from Morocco.  It was nice getting to know her on our ride back into church.  I remembered as a young girl when I collected stamps Morocco was some of my favorite stamps.  They always had really good, colorful stamps.  After I dropped her and Sister Gifford off for sacrament meeting I ran out to the airport to pick up the Sister Training Leaders who were coming back from exchanges in Belfast.  Their plane didn’t come in until 10:30 which is what time church starts.  When I dropped them off, sacrament meeting was just about over so I walked over to the mission home and moved all the Book of Mormon’s (20 boxes or 800 Book of Mormons) off of the pallet they were delivered on to the shelves where they belong.  I should have done that on Friday but I was wearing a nicer dress on Friday and I didn’t want to get it all dirty.  I promised Sister Donaldson I would have them put away before Monday so that was my window to get it done.  Once church was over Sister Gifford and I went home and made Spaghetti and Meatballs and then I worked on my drivers test a bit more then went to bed a bit earlier than usual.  Moves planning week is coming up and I know by the end of the week I’m going to be exhausted.

I’m at the point where I have to get my UK drivers license and I’ve been studying for the test.  There are two tests you have to pass before you do the practical driving test with a person in your car.  I haven’t been worried about the first test.  I’ve studied enough and knew I would do fine but the other part is like a video game.  You are watching simulations and you have to click when you see a hazard developing.  You need to click at just the right moment or you don’t get any points.  I have been trying and trying on my own and more than not I get zeros or one point.  You should get five points on each video.  There are 14 of them that each last at least a minute.  So Monday night Sister Gifford and I went to the bishops house for help.  Bishop Haws was out of town but Jayna was kind enough to have us over for dinner and then she showed me how to figure out the clicking.  Then we had Family Home Evening with them which was totally great.  Layla who is 11 I believe told us a story she had read in The Friend and then asked some questions about what we thought about the situation in the story and how we could apply that to our lives.  She then bore her testimony.  What a great lesson.  We sang songs and talked.  Then we played a few rounds of Scum and headed home.  It was a great evening.

Sister Gifford’s son is in town with his wife so Tuesday night she met them for dinner.  I took the opportunity to go to Five Guys of all places.  Sister Gifford doesn’t love Five Guys so we have rarely gone there and I’m not burned out on it anymore so it sounded really good.  I dropped Sister Gifford off at the restaurant in town then drove to Fountain Bridge by my flat and parked in the underground parking.  When I got to the gate to enter the parking the bar raised and I didn’t get a ticket.  The machine said FREE PASS so I assumed Tuesday nights must be free parking.  Well, after having the most delicious hot dog and cajun fries I went back to the car and tried to drive out of the parking lot.  I got to the barrier and it wouldn’t open.  I had no ticket and had no idea what to do.  So I backed out of the little lane I was in and drove through some pillars to get back to the parking area, locked my car and got out.  I went over to the machine where you pay for parking to see if I could figure anything out but there was nothing that said what to do if you don’t have a ticket.  Finally a man came over to the machine to pay for his parking so I asked him if he had any idea what I should do.  He said the machine I came in at was probably out of tickets so when I try to get out there is a small button on the machine you can push to get help.  So I drove back to the gate and found the button.  I pushed it and pushed it for almost three or four minutes before someone came on to see what I needed.  But without any question they lifted the gate and I got out.  Free parking.  That was nice.

Wednesday after work we drove Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu to their dinner appt.  It was out quite a ways and they had lessons before and after so the bus wasn’t going to work for them.  We dropped them off and tried to find somewhere to eat but we couldn’t find anything in that part of town that had room for parking.  So we just drove around for an hour and explored the area.  We found this nice building that we have driven near before but never up to it.  It’s an Observatory.  We will have to see if they have programs here.  After we picked them up we headed to the church for a baptism.  Krystal was an investigator for Elder Bradley and Elder Miao.  She is a really cute girl.  So happy for her.

Thursday was my two driving tests.  I took a taxi into town to take my tests as I was worried about parking.  It was crazy.  They made me roll up my sleeves and show them I didn’t have any answers written on my arms.  I had to show behind my ears that I wasn’t smuggling anything in.  I had to take my badge off.  I had to turn my phones completely off in front of them and then place everything I brought with me into a locker.  The test could take up to 90 minutes but I finished the first one in about 15 minutes.  I even went back and read through all 50 questions to make sure I liked my answers.  I changed the answer on one question.  Then the video part of the test takes another 20 minutes or so.  You are given no feedback or any indication of how you are doing on the videos.  So you are just sitting there going through them hoping you are getting something right.  When you are done you walk out and open your locker to get your things.  Then they walk up to you and without saying a word had you a folded piece of paper.  I was so flustered that I walked all the way down two flights of stairs and out into the rain before I even unfolded my paper.  I PASSED!!  I needed a 43 on the first test and I got a 48 out of 50.  And I got a 68 out of 75 on the video part of the test.  I was so happy.  Now I have to schedule my practical next week.

Sister Gifford is gone Thursday and Friday with her son so I went back to work and then afterwards picked up Elder Bradley and Elder Miao up at the University and took them to their dinner appt.  I hung out in a parking lot with a Diet Coke and listened to my book on my phone then took them back to the University then went and grabbed a pizza to take home.  It was 8:00 by the time I got home and I was tired.  It was a long day.

Friday was the best morning ever.  Sister Gifford was gone with her son and his wife for the day again.  The Helps left the office just after 8:00 and were gone a few hours and I sat at my desk listening to Sister Wahlquist and Elder Worley practice their musical number for stake conference this weekend.  It was the most peaceful I have felt in a long time just working on my moves charts and listening to their uplifting music.  I could have stayed like that the entire day.  Two of my favorite things – Excel and Music.  I’m a bit of a nerd.  Before they finished I had to run in and snap a picture of them.  And another of their companions – Sister Wu and Elder Butler.  (They were enjoying the practice as well.)

By mid-Friday I am deep in moves again.  I’m feeling the crunch of Spring and transportation is getting harder again.  I have to be creative to get these missionaries where they need to be.  But it is totally fun.  I stayed and worked until 9:00 Friday night and then was back again this morning, Saturday, at 7:00 AM.  Sister Gifford came in around 10:30 and we worked until noon.  Then we ran to Oink for a sandwich.  While we were there we met a lady who was on vacation from Seattle who was LDS.  She was so excited to see missionaries.  We always get the same remark.  They are looking for young missionaries and are always surprised to see us.  Ha ha.  Then we took a drive back to Culross which we visited last August to see about purchasing a few more pictures to bring home.  The photographer that has a shop there is really good and his prices are low.  So we had fun doing that and then went right back to the office.  Here is a picture of Culross Palace.  (Not very palace looking.)

Tonight was stake conference and again tomorrow.  We have missionaries coming in tonight and tomorrow and the cycle just keeps going.  There are several missionaries going home this time and I feel so close to many of these missionaries.  Elder Gibb leaves.  I saw him tonight just before I left to go home.  He had his big grin on his face and I know that is a young man I am going to miss.

Well, I’m home now and ready for bed.  It’s going to be another big day tomorrow so I need to be ready for it.

Today my kids all went to Taco Amigo in Pleasant Grove for lunch.  The Keetch Family was holding a fund raiser in honor of Von Keetch and the proceeds are all being gifted to the Huntsman Cancer Center.  And since Taco Amigo is my favorite lunch spot and we want to see cancer research move forward they all got together for a good lunch.  KSL was there filming and asked permission to film the grandkids so we will see if they show up on the news tonight.

Have a wonderful weekend and a safe week.  I love you all.  (I had Windy talk to the bishop and we are tentatively planning my homecoming for September 23.)  That’s actually a day before I’m technically supposed to leave Scotland but my replacement comes on the 12th and my new grand baby comes around the 13th so I am hoping to come home a week early.  I’ll keep you updated!!

Week 50: Kirkcaldy, Falls of Bruar, 50!!

Well, it has now rained enough that we have no sign of snow here in Edinburgh – except for the occasional giant ball of snow that will take awhile to melt.  The sun has been shining and it has been a nice week.  On the way home from work on Wednesday we had to stop at the park near our house and take this quick picture.  We had seen these just before the great snowfall (by the way, we got more snow in March than Scotland has seen in over 50 years), we were amazed when we saw the springtime flowers had survived the snow and were still showing their beautiful colors.

Wednesday I went over to the church to meet with Hamish at 8:00.  Hamish and Michael are the beginnings of our family history and indexing committee.  So Hamish and I started to work on getting him started on indexing.  He had already looked into it himself before we got together and had actually indexed a batch.  He is loving it.  He is doing what I did when I first started indexing.  He wants to know about the people and he can’t help but research a few.  I can see the love he has for this work.  We even discussed him taking some research-type classes to help him with family history.  He also had entered his family into family search and it clicked in and he has a line that goes back to the 1600s.  We are going to get his membership number on Sunday and plug that in but we know at least one of those names that clicked into his tree was baptized in Ogden, Utah a few years ago.  He was so excited about that.  It was a great evening and I’m looking forward to a few more like that with him and with Michael.

Friday was a great day!!  Sister Gifford and I have been without a washing machine for almost two weeks.  Ours broke and when we called the landlord he said to just go ahead and replace it so today our brand new washing machine came.  (We don’t have a dryer but this machine has a drying feature that helps a bit.)  I was so excited to get my whites washed, they look so much cleaner and they smell so good.  I had been washing them in the sink the past few days.  Sister Gifford had taken a load of her clothes to the mission home and borrowed their washer and dryer so I had the greatest need so I got to use it first.  I did two loads and now she can do what she needs.  It will be so nice to not have a big pile of dirty clothes in my clothes basket.

After the delivery of our washing machine Sister Gifford and I hopped in the car and headed to Kirkcaldy.  We have two missionaries there and we had never actually been into that town

.  They are out aways and so their flat gets missed in inspections quite often.  We have a few like that and we try to get to them now and then.  So we found Elder Grabe, from Denmark and Elder Cosmas, from Uganda and inspected their flat.  It was spotless.  Elder Grabe loves things to be clean.  We should have him teach a few missionaries a thing or two.  After that we took them to lunch.  We went to Beijing Banquet.  It was a huge buffet of Chinese food. It was very crowded but very good.  Boy those boys can eat.  They like going there because lunch carries them through the rest of the day and they don’t have to worry about dinner.  We enjoyed getting to know both of them better.  They were so fun to talk to and then they showed us the way to the castle we had on our agenda before they walked into town to start working again.  

So here are some pictures of Ravencraig Castle.  James II gave this land to his wife to build a castle in 1460.  He was killed just a few months later in battle.  She was in her mid-20s and was left to govern with her young son, James III.  She took over the Scottish kingdom and ordered the construction of this castle.  She was unable to complete the castle as she died in 1463.  But I bet she loved this place.  It is just beautiful sitting on the shore.

Saturday morning we woke up and looked outside and it was raining and raining.  But we decided we were not going to let that stop us from having a great day and we hopped in the car and headed up just past Pitlochry to Bruar.  Lacey stopped here when they were here and loved the hike up to the falls and then my friend Jayna who is our bishops wife recommended it when I asked her for new ideas of places to go.  So we decided this was the place for today.  The rain was steady the entire drive but not so bad that we had a hard time.  We got there without any problem and decided to just start at one end of the shopping outlet area.  This was the best shopping we have found.  I found so many things that I loved in the first store but I only got a cover for my ipad which is something I have really been wanting.  Then we went into a large store that was filled with Easter treats, food, fun things and a restaurant.  I bought a bottle of Lime Cheese spread.  I’m not sure what I’m going to spread it on but it really tastes good.  (They had samples out.)  I also bought two chocolates and a bag of chocolate covered peanuts.  I could have bought lots more so I think I did pretty good there.  Lunch was good.  It was a buffet-type place and I loaded up my plate with carrots and broccoli and potatoes.  And a few pieces of pork.  It was good.  Sister Gifford had roast lamb.  Then we hit the cashmere store.  I resisted but Sister Gifford ended up buying three sweaters.  It helped that I was on the phone most of the time with the APs helping them with a problem.  And then the first cashmere sweater that I liked was over 500 pounds.  So that did it for me.  I quit looking.  But then as we wandered around we ended up behind the shops and found a sale store or more like an outlet-type store.  Oh boy.  I ended up getting a skirt and a cashmere sweater that I’m going to save for when I come home.  They were both on sale cheaper than I’ve ever seen cashmere before so I was happy.

Then we put everything in the car and started up the trail to the falls.  It was really raining and the ground was wet and a bit slippery so we only did the first part of the hike.  There are four parts and we heard it got steeper on each part so we were pretty happy with just the first part of the hike.  It is good to be out breathing the fresh air.  I love hearing the rushing waters and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.  We were almost alone out there today and it was nice. It is very beautiful there.  We saw a sign that said in 1787 Robert Burns visited the falls and found it exceedingly picturesque and beautiful but remarked that their effect was much impaired by the want of trees and shrubs.  So he wrote the following poem to the landowner, the 4th Duke of Atholl, to plant trees along it’s bank.

Would then, my noble master please
To grant my highest wishes?
He’ll shade my banks wi’tow’ring trees,
And bonie spreading bushes.
Delighted doubly then, my Lord,
You’ll wander on my banks,
And listen mony a grateful bird
Return you tuneful thanks.

In closing this week I just want to say before we know it we will be having Easter.  It comes early this year.  I have decided a few things.  I am studying The Gospel of John and I’m memorizing The Living Christ before Easter.  I’m halfway done with both.  I have enjoyed both activities so much.  I fall asleep at night reciting The Living Christ and I wake up and recite it again before I even move a muscle.  What a wonderful feeling I have when I contemplate those words.  If you haven’t read it in a while you should pull it out and read it.  Maybe take my challenge and try memorizing it.  It really isn’t hard.  If you can get past the line – all things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made – you can get through the whole thing.  That is the hardest line.

I also read a great conference talk yesterday from Neil L. Anderson called Spiritual Whirlwinds.  In it he says – the world will not glide calmly toward the Second Coming of the Savior. The scriptures declare that “all things shall be in commotion.”

But the thing that I really felt I wanted to share with you is the following:  More concerning than the prophesied earthquakes and
wars are the spiritual whirlwinds that can uproot you from your spiritual foundations and land your spirit in places you never imagined possible, sometimes with your barely noticing that you have been moved.  

Satan moves quietly and subtly.  It’s like the story of the camel wanting to get warm in his masters tent and he just sticks his nose in then before long he was completely in the tent.  You are all doing good things but without even realizing it we can find ourselves not where we thought we were if we are not careful.  I hope you are attending your church meetings and reading your scriptures.  I hope you are saying your prayers and seeking personal revelation.  All these things are yours to have if you just ask.  Don’t let your guard down.  Don’t forget who you are and who you have waiting for you to come home to.

I don’t mean to get preachy but I do realize just how easy it is to get tricked into thinking we are doing okay when we really should be paying more attention.

I hope everyone has a great week.  Spring is coming!!  The sun is up.  You are moving your clocks up tonight.  We don’t do that here in Scotland for a few more weeks so we are an hour further away for a few weeks.

Take care of each other.  I love you all.

Week 49: Snow, snow, snow

Oh my goodness!!  This place just shuts down when it snows.  We are literally an island here and when it snows – that’s it folks.  The stores have no fresh milk or bread, the buses stop running, the mail doesn’t come and everyone is outside wandering the streets, building snow forts and snowmen all over town.

Monday was a beautiful day here.  Not sure when this picture landed on my phone but I love it. 

Tuesday was a little colder and beginning to snow.  Tuesday was zone conference and we had two new missionaries arrive.  Elder Baake and Sister Khoo.  They came in a taxi from Preston.  Then half way through zone conference I headed out in the snow to the airport to pick up the Maxwell’s – our newest senior missionary couple.

Tuesday night after zone conference all the senior missionaries who were there were going to go to dinner together but the weather just kept getting worse so only us local missionaries ended up going out to dinner.  President left for Glasgow because we had heard Wednesday was going to be the worst weather in three years.  I bet the statistics are even more than that.  We have literally been dumped on here and they just don’t get snow like this here.

Wednesday was so snowy we were glad the president had left the night before and he had also told the Maxwells to get on the road as they were being assigned to Glasgow as well.  All the mission cars have been grounded and the missionaries are to stay off public transportation as well because it would stop without any warning and they would possibly be stranded farther from home than they were able to safely walk.  We have lots of missionaries who have bad colds, flu, etc. on top of all this.  So it has been a quiet week for the missionaries.  Many are just nursing themselves back to healthy status.

Elder Berry and Elder Turner on exchanges from Dublin.
Macauley at the baptism
Elder Worley and Elder Butler with an investigator.

Wednesday night we had a wonderful baptism.  Two people were baptised.  Izzy Seik who I have met several times was baptized.  She is from Poland but lives here now.  I’ve talked about her before.  She was so excited.  The other was Peter Struthers from Scotland.  He had always been an atheist but the missionaries talked to him and asked him how he knew he was an atheist.  He realized he hadn’t given the possibility there was a God a chance so he began to read the Book of Mormon and listen to the lessons.  He realized that his thinking had been wrong and he was so happy to be baptised.  He shared his testimony at the end of his baptism and he was very solid.  We were thinking the baptism might get postponed but the missionaries pulled through and got everything ready and found a bishopric member who would come preside.  I’m so glad they pushed.  We probably had the biggest crowd there, many non-members who had never been in our church before.  It was a great night.

As we drove home after the baptism I was amazed how many people were outside.  Edinburgh hasn’t had snow in three years and we have at least 10″ by now.  As we drove by the park that is just outside our flat it was filled with people of all ages building snowmen and snow forts.  There were people sitting inside igloos and babies all bundled up.  By now it is 8:00 and yet everyone is out.

Thursday the snow didn’t let up.  It snowed the entire day. The President grounded the mission cars and told us to go straight home after work but we had plans to take Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu out to dinner.  We told him that and said we would stay close to home so we made a reservation for Zizzis which has parking nearby.  We tromped through a blizzard to get into the restaurant and again to get back to our car.  I gave my boots away a few weeks ago to a refuge drive so they are half way to Greece by now so I’m just traipsing through the shin deep snow in my every day church shoes and no socks of course.  I’m glad I bought these black leggings to wear under my dresses the last few months.  They keep me warm.

After dinner Sister Wahlquist insisted they still needed to go out finding.  I told her President said for all missionaries to stay close to home and stay in if circumstances warranted it.  She said it was too early – (7:00 pm) and they had a lesson at 7:30 in Starbucks over on what we call the holy corner.  As we drove and slid through the slushy streets I was beginning to realize nothing was open.  Pizza Hut was closed, Five Guys was closed and on and on.  I wanted to just take them home but she said no, she wanted to go to the Holy Corner (called this because there is a church on all four corners).  Her lesson had not confirmed so I told her she had to call him and make sure he was really coming and we started driving there.  When we got to Starbucks it was also closed and the only people in this end of town were a little sketchy looking.  I did not feel like I should be letting these two girls out of the car.  I told her this and made her promise me she would stay home if I took them there and I would tell the President that I had made this decision.  She consented, but warily.  Friday morning when I saw the President I told him what I had done and said it is my fault that the girls didn’t stay out.  He said I did exactly as I should and they should have been home.  So all is good. By the time we got home that night there was 10 to 12 inches of snow in our parking lot.  No one shovels it.  We just plowed our way in and took the first parking spot we could slide into.  We had no idea if we would get out the next morning.

Well Friday morning after several attempts, we got out of our parking lot and slid to work.  Every little incline we would come to we would slide.  Luckily the only cars on the road were us and a few work-type vans.  However, the vans were horrible in the snow and we got behind two that were stuck.  We got to the office and the snow was so deep again that I didn’t dare park so we just pulled straight in up to the door.  An hour later Elder Turner who is stuck here on exchanges since there is no transportation, offered to shovel the parking lot.  His companion and both APs are very sick so Elder Turner spent a good part of his day outside shoveling and putting sand down on our driveway and parking lot.  But as I looked out the window I noticed the front tire on my car was totally flat.  So poor Elder Turner changed my tire for me and then carried the snowy, dirty tire right into my office to show me the screw that had embedded itself into my tire.

Friday night we took Elder Bradley and Elder Butler to dinner.  Zizzi’s again on account of the parking.  They were so happy to have a dinner.  They didn’t get any member meals this week.  We went to their flat to pick them up but they were still clear up by the university so we were going to go grab them there but we got stuck in their parking lot and couldn’t move.  So they walked all the way back to us and pushed us out of the parking lot.  Poor guys.  But the rest of the night went well and we had a great time with them.  Elder Butler is from Sandy, Utah.  He replaced Elder Wang as the new zone leader in Edinburgh.  Elder Bradley, I’ve mentioned before but he is from Canada and is our District Leader here.  They were on exchanges together today.

Saturday, due to the cold and snow we just had a day home.  We cleaned and then ran a few errands and went to the grocery store.  Our washing machine quit working this week so we also went to see about buying a new washer.  Our landlord said to just buy a new one and take it out of our rent.  So that was how we spent today.

Well, sorry this post is a bit boring.  I’m a bit bored actually.  But I guess I’ll read or something!!  Have a wonderful week.  Be safe.  I love you.