Week 73: Ron and Sonja, Still busy, Culzean Castle

Well, I feel like I am running out of things to say.  It’s just the same cycle every six weeks.  It’s been busy as usual.  We still are working 10 – 11 hours a day without a lunch break and we still have more work than we can get done.

Sunday we picked up a lady from China who has been living in Scotland for several years.  Three years ago she had started coming to church and even had a few discussions with President Donaldson and then we lost track of her.  The missionaries found her recently and she expressed a desire to come back to check out church again.  Her name in Ning and she is a great lady.  We enjoyed talking with her and learning about her as we drove her to and from church.  She called me Lori the whole time.  It was funny.  I’m not sure how she knew my name.  I guess she wanted to know my first name and the missionaries had told her or something.  Caught me a little off guard.  I certainly didn’t mind.

Monday was a special treat.  My brother-in-law and his wife Ron and Sonja came to Scotland on a tour they were on.  They had the afternoon on free so I met them up on the Royal Mile and took them to Craigmillar Castle.  So for the second week in a row I wandered the floors and passageways of Craigmillar.  This week however has been so rainy and foggy it was a different experience.  We got on top of the castle but couldn’t see past the grounds it stands on.  No city skyline or 

sea to look out at.  Just dense clouds.  I don’t know why I didn’t take any pictures.  Probably because it was my 6th visit to this castle but I probably should have taken a foggy picture.  After the castle we went back to the office and grabbed Sister Gifford and went to Zizzi’s for dinner.  Yes, I think I’m going to turn into a noodle.  After dinner we came back to our flat and they did a load of laundry and we just sat and visited.  It was nice and I enjoyed the time we had.  I haven’t had too many chances to get to know Sonja yet so I really enjoyed talking.  She is now a sister to me and I am so glad she has joined the Call family.

Tuesday Sister Gifford and I drove out to Livingston and met the elders there early in the morning with a new phone.  Their phone was stolen over the weekend and it is really hard to do missionary work without a phone at least.  These poor missionaries here are all working with the most ancient phones you have ever seen.  It’s like trying to find the phone with the least amount of problems to give the missionaries.  We are hoping at some point our mission will be given the opportunity to have smart phones or ipads or something.  But for now we are still the old-style mission.  It is becoming more and more debilitating as the world as a whole becomes more reliant on smart phones.


Also Monday night the Macdonald’s got an email from travel with their daughter, Lydia’s flight plans.  She was scheduled to go home on Wednesday and they had no idea.  So we threw together a going away dinner for her on Tuesday and the office staff went to Tony Macaroni’s for a send-off party.  I am glad I had the opportunity to get to know Lydia.  She is going home to Utah so I hope she will know that she can call me if she ever needs something once I get there.

Wednesday we got a new senior mission couple.  The Williams are from Australia and they are going to be great missionaries.  This is their second mission together and their first mission had been as office couples.  So I picked their brain and got some ideas of what I could do to improve some of the things we do.  It’s always good to see what other people do.  They are going to Ireland so I won’t see them again before I go home I don’t think.  Although Sister Gifford and I have decided if we can fit it in we are going to make one last trip to Ireland since she hasn’t been to all the areas that I have been.

Wednesday night we had an office dinner with the Williams.  I made Taco Soup and it tasted so good.  I love tastes from home.  I used my coveted can of Rotel Tomatoes that the Selander’s brought me and some of the Fritos.  So it was just the way I like it.  This week has been cooler and it has rained every day so soup was just the right thing.  We also had two baptisms this night be we didn’t make it over to them.

Thursday I went after work with Sister Allred and Sister Irving out to Leith to teach a family.  It was such a tender experience.  It was a wonderful mother and her nine-year-old son and her very teeny pre-mature baby who looked like a toy doll.  I wish I could have taken their picture as we sat in their living room and talked to them about the Plan of Salvation.  Their eyes just shown and you could see what good people they are.  They both agreed to get baptised in a few weeks.  Esther the mother speaks very little English and her son speaks really well so he translated when it was necessary.  I am going to pick them up for church on Sunday.  On the way home from the lesson I asked the girls if they had dinner plans and they didn’t so we stopped in at a Chippy and got dinner.  And then the girls were off to another lesson and I went home to do my usual reading my scriptures and settling in for the night.

Today we got up and went into the office and worked for about an hour and then we picked up the Miller’s and headed down past Glasgow.  Our destination was Culzean Castle but I looked up what else was around there so we had a few things to do.  It turned out to be a great day even though I don’t think it ever stopped raining and my hair just kept getting frizzier and frizzier.  First stop was Dunure Castle.

Dunure Castle is a castle ruin that sits out on the edge of the water.  The original building dates pre-13th century but the existing building is a bit new than that.  It looks like it might have burned at one time.  There is a pretty good Dovecot still next to the castle and as we approached and looked in we could hear birds cooing inside so the birds must still like it there.  This was a neat looking castle and I’m glad we decided to detour over to this on our way.

Then we went to a little coffee shop for lunch.  Elder Miller and Sister Gifford both had Haddock.  I had mac and cheese and chips.  Sister Miller had soup and a toastie.  It was good food.  Then we went in search of Electric Brae.  Electric Brae is a place just like Gravity Hill at home where the road is built in such a way that it looks like you are driving downhill but when you put your car in neutral it actually rolls up the hill instead of down.  So there we were out in the middle of no where stopping every few feet and letting our car roll.  We never did figure out exactly where it happens.  And it’s kind of hard to do it because there is traffic.  We thought about getting out of the car, we even brought water with us to try pouring water on the road to see which way it would run but it was raining so hard we probably wouldn’t have been able to tell anyway.  Oh well.  We tried.

Look for the little yellow bird up above the mess bird feeder.

Next stop – Culzean Castle.  Wow, what a great castle.  I had no idea.  We didn’t pay to go in the castle but we did pay to go to the grounds and it didn’t disappoint.  The grounds were huge and we really enjoyed ourselves.  We found the Swan Pond and watched the swans and ducks for a little bit.  Then we walked through the walled garden area and then went over to the Deer Park and looked at the deer, llamas and a few Highland Coos.  Then we walked over to the castle.  It’s a beautiful castle with beautiful gardens.  It also sits right out near the water.  But this is not a ruin.  It is a beautiful building in a beautiful setting.

After the castle we had to come home.  There was a couple more things we could have done but we ran out of time.  It’s good.  It was a very wet day and we actually got a lot done.  A totally enjoyable day.

Love you all!!

Week 72: Skyler and Janelle, Fringe, Monastery and Mansion

Well this is going to be short.  I didn’t take very many pictures this week.  Monday Skyler and Janelle were still here and I took the day off of work.  We went to Craigmiller Castle which is nearby where I live.  It’s still one of the very best castles to explore.  I think out of all the castles we saw this was first or second best in their opinion.  We found this little bird down one of the

hallways just sitting inside the castle.  He let us get right up to him to take his picture.  He is a JackDaw and they make a very unique sound.

Then we went up to the Royal Mile and shopped and had lunch at an Italian Restaurant (we are not very adventurous when it comes to food), and then it was time to take them to the airport.  It was a quick visit but I think we packed about as much as you can into the time we had.  They headed off to London to spend two days there and then they got home Wednesday night.

Tuesday Sister Gifford and I were alone in the office.  The Help’s went to Ireland and the President and his family was also in Ireland so we had a nice quiet day and were able to get a lot of work done.  We did sneak out for about an hour and a half to go see David and Brittni Smith and their friends at Fringe.  We saw the Best of Movies Music.  It was so good.  I loved seeing them again.  We went to both of their shows last year and it was so nice.  This year Rex Kocherhans was with them as well.  Blaze was in South Pacific with Rex a few years ago and Cal was in a band with his dad – also Rex many years ago.  So that was fun too.  Rex has a beautiful bass voice.  Of course David and Brittni are amazing entertainers and I could watch them for hours.

Tuesday night we ran missionaries to the airport and I was ready for bed very early.  Still trying to catch up on sleep after the weekend.

Wednesday we took a couple missionaries out for dinner.  Other than that it was just a long day at the office.  I just can’t seem to get caught up.  I have piles of work to do and I’m a week behind in emails.  And yet I never stop working.

Thursday I went with Sister Allred and Sister Irving to teach Mars again.  We have been working with him for several months.  He is still reading the Book of Mormon and still attending church.  I had a very precious experience this time when I was with him.  I was overcome with a sense of love and felt like I was getting a glimpse of what our Heavenly Father feels for him.  I had this feeling that God cares and loves him.  I shared that with him.  It was so real to me, it was almost a tangible feeling.  I hope he can get all his questions answered and he will find what he is looking for.  He is such a great guy.

Thursday night we went back to the Fringe to watch the other show with David and Brittni.  This was Best of West End.  It was also good but they sang a lot of songs I’m not as familiar with so I enjoyed the other show more but it was still a great show.  The Miller’s came with us and we had a great time.

Friday I took Sister Kearns and Sister Winn to a doctor’s appointment and then to pick up a prescription and to grab a bite to eat before putting them back on a train to Paisley.  They were so fun to talk with.  I wish I had taken a picture.

Saturday Sister Gifford and I had to go back to Galashiels one last time to finish up the house we are closing.  We had a charity shop coming to take the furniture.  There was a lot and they filled their entire truck but now we are done and we will probably never go back to Galashiels again.  I think we have exhausted the things to do in that direction.  After getting done at the house we drove out to a place called Samye Ling.  It’s a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery.  We had lunch at their tea room, walked through their herb and vegetable gardens and their peace gardens.  We also went inside their temple and watched them do their prayers.  It was very interesting.

Then we drove about another hour to Drumlanrig Castle which is near Dumfries.  It is more of a palace than a castle but it is called a castle.  It has over 120 rooms and 17 turrets.  It is steeped in history and we had a wonderful tour guide all to ourselves and one other girl from France so we had special attention and were able to ask lots of questions. The paintings were amazing at this place.  They even have a Rembrandt.  They have a couple bureaus (they call them comodes) that are over a million pounds each and a Ming Soup Tureen sitting on one of them that is also over a million.  It’s crazy the amount of money in stuff inside this place.  They wouldn’t let us take pictures because a few years ago a DaVinci painting was stolen from there and so now you can’t take pictures inside.

Well, I’m ready for bed so I’m going to wrap it up here.  I have my plane tickets now for coming home and my bishop wrote and told me my homecoming talk is on October 21 at 9:00 AM.  So we will have to make some plans on a breakfast or something afterwards.  I can’t wait to see everyone.

Love you.

Week 71: Zone Conference, Skyler and Janelle are here!!

First off I just have to say how exciting it was on Sunday to see Hamish walk into church.  He cut his hair and was receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood that day.  He is doing so well and totally embedded into the gospel.  He is going to be missed here when he leaves in two weeks for a teaching job in Malaysia.  But Bishop Haws has already contacted the bishop there and they are waiting for him with open arms.

Elder DeMille, Elder Calley
Elder Arenas, Elder Winn, Elder James
Elder Baklan, Elder Scheils
Elder Dunn, Elder Grabe
Sister Oren, Sister Fahina

Tuesday was zone conference.  It’s always such a moral booster to have a day with these missionaries and to listen to council and doctrine.  We also get to listen to departing and incoming testimonies which brings the spirit with a vengeance.  There is no denying the presence of the Holy Ghost during these sweet testimonies of how missions have changed lives and also how nervous the new missionaries are and yet are filled with the Spirit as they speak the truthful words of the gospel.

After zone conference the missionaries come looking for supplies to take back with them.  I love this interaction with them.  They are always so upbeat and excited.  Nothing seems to deter them from what they need to do.  These two, Elder Allison from Germany and Elder Chuah from Malaysia were looking for Dutch and Arabic supplies.  

Tuesday night was also our night to enjoy dinner with Elder O’Connor and Elder Gowans.  This was Elder Gowans last zone conference and his sweet, strong testimony was so wonderful to hear.  I tell you these missionaries become such a part of your daily life and then they go home.  I am excited for them to move on but I will miss them also.  Elder Gowans and Elder O’Connor come into the office a lot and I enjoy visiting with them so much.

Wednesday we had another baptism.  Always a great evening when we can go to a baptism.  This was Linh Nguyen from Vietnam.  She is so ready to be baptised.  She thanked everyone for coming and had so much poise when she bore her testimony.  So happy for her.

Thursday was a day I had been waiting for.  Skyler and Janelle came to Edinburgh.  They flew into London and took a train up to Edinburgh.  The train was an hour late which threw my plans off a bit but we rushed to Zizzi’s for dinner once they got here and then took them to their hotel so they could get some sleep.

Friday morning I picked Skyler and Janelle up and after picking up a rental car we drove up to St Andrews to see the golf course, the cathedral and the castle.  Then because it is that good we had a quick lunch at Zizzi’s. 

Then we headed on up to Dunnottar Castle.  We hiked over to the castle and found a wedding going on so there was a bagpipe player which added to the feel of Scotland.  I enjoyed this castle just as much the second time and I’m glad we decided to come over to it again.  After the castle we went to Auntie Betty’s in Stonehaven for a well-deserved ice cream and then headed out to the place we were staying for the night.  I was very excited about this place, hoping Janelle would enjoy the fact that we were staying in a castle.  It was a neat place and we enjoyed walking around the grounds and watching the sun start to set for the night.

Saturday we went to two castles I hadn’t been to before.  They were both great choices.  The first was Castle Fraser which we toured the inside of.  It was a lot of climbing stairs (104 stairs up and 107 stairs back down).  There were several stories that we climbed and we enjoyed it very much.  It was very authentic feeling on the inside.  We also wandered through the gardens there.

Then we drove to Craigievar Castle.  We didn’t go into this one but walked around the grounds and took pictures.  It is a very unique looking castle on the outside.  I’ve always wanted to see this one so I’m glad we stopped.  I love the salmon color.

 As we were driving towards Stirling we saw another castle right off the road and so we also pulled over to see Braemer Castle and take a picture.  It looked very similar to Castle Fraser so I’m not including a picture here.

Well, we drove all the way to Stirling, stopping at Pitlochry for a break.  We wandered the streets of Pitlochry for a bit and Skyler bought a shirt and some pants that look really nice on him.  Janelle also found a purse so they both got their souvenir.

By the time we got to Stirling the castle was closed but we drove up anyway and then walked down into the Church of the Holy Rude cemetery.  It’s a great cemetery to walk through.    I have to say that the day turned into a great day and we had a lot of fun.  We found our hotel and I went up and probably fell asleep rather quickly.  Skyler and Janelle went for a walk and found a place to get ice cream cones and enjoy the evening air.

Sunday we attended church in Alloa and then walked up to Stirling Castle for a quick visit.  We didn’t stay very long but I wanted to be sure Skyler and Janelle saw it.  Turns out, even though I love Stirling Castle, it wasn’t their favorite.  That’s okay.  We then headed over to Loch Lomond.

I had not ever officially been to Loch Lomond.  I have driven by the signs many times and have driven along other Loch’s very close to it but I don’t think I had ever actually seen it.  We got on a boat and took a 90 minute trip around the loch to see the many islands.  We saw an island that has Wallabys on it and another with some Osprey nests.  We could actually see the birds sitting up on the giant next in the trees.  We saw another teeny little island named Isle of Inveruglas with a small fortress that took up most of the space.  It was surrounded by trees so we could only see bits and pieces of it.  The Loch was beautiful and we enjoyed the ride.

On the way to Edinburgh we stopped off at the Kelpies which is another of my favorite places.  These horse heads are enormous and fun to visit.

I’m going to end here since this is Sunday.  I will add our Monday adventures to next weeks blog.  Unfortunately I didn’t even take any pictures for Monday but maybe Skyler will have his for me to share.

It’s been a great week.  Love you.

Week 70: Seventy Weeks – that’s unreal!!

Well, this week once again just flew by.  I think that is the way the rest of this summer is going to go.  Then we will hit September and it will probably feel like the brakes got put on.  I need to figure out how to not start dwelling on coming home so the time will keep on moving.  For now, I don’t even have time to think about coming home.  It’s still really busy around here.

Sunday we had the Miller’s over for dinner.  I used the chow mein noodles that the Selander’s brought me and we had Hawaiian Haystacks.  That was so fun to have something familiar and to share a new recipe with Sister Gifford who had never heard of Hawaiian Haystacks before.  She liked them.  Just as dinner was getting over I got a phone call from our missionaries up in Orkney.  They were trying to get on a ferry and there was no record of the ticket I had bought for them.  I was sure I had bought them a ticket.  So I told everyone I would be back and ran to the office.  I found the ticket, called Elder Foster and Elder Price back and gave them the ticket number and started home.  I was just turning onto my street when the phone rang and it was them again.  The ticket was not for Orkney to Scrabster it was for Shetland to Aberdeen.  That got me really confused because I had also bought that ticket but I had the ticket right in front of me and it said Orkney.  So I went back to the office and got back on the computer to look up the Shetland ticket.  Somehow they both had the same reference number.  When I bought Orkney and then turned right around to buy Shetland somehow the system cancelled out the first trip and made it the other.  So I had to re-buy the Orkney tickets and write a long explanation for our finance elder so we don’t have a problem when we get audited.  Just as I got that figured out the phone rang at the office.  Someone needing train tickets.  I tell you these missionaries think all we do is work at the office.  It doesn’t matter that it is Sunday, they call and figure we are there.  Well, I didn’t disappoint, I was there and I got their train tickets for them.  By the time I got home the Miller’s had left but I didn’t have to do any dishes.  They were all done!!

On Tuesday we welcomed a new senior couple to the mission.  Terry and Kay Walker from Arizona.  They are my age and so excited to be here.  He served his mission here when it was the Belfast and Glasgow Mission.  President Macdonald was away on Tuesday for zone conference in Aberdeen so I went to the airport to pick them up.  The Miller’s and Maxwell’s were going to meet us at the office with brunch to welcome the Walkers.  Boy it was so good.  We had a really good breakfast casserole and a granola-based yogurt and fruit pizza and other good things.  It was so nice and the Walkers are going to do well.  They were fun to get to know.  I couldn’t tell them where they were going, but I had to get them to the President up in Aberdeen and then on a plane the next day to Ireland.  Once off the plane they had a bus to take them to Galway where they will be serving.  I was having a hard time trying to talk to them about what to say when they entered Ireland without telling them I was actually talking about them and what they should say.  And I had to seal the travel plans and tell them they could open them after they talked to the President.  We were all having a hard time not saying where they were going.  So we all agreed to say they were going to Norway so we could talk more freely about what to expect as they traveled.  It was really funny.

Tuesday night we took Sister Belliston and Sister Oren out to Jashan’s for Indian food.  We didn’t have much time because they had a lesson they had to get back for.  They had two people getting baptised the next day and they were meeting with them to get clothing figured out and to teach some more.  Well Jashan’s was so slow that we ended up asking them to make it to go.  Then we ran the girls to their lesson and went back to the office to eat our dinner and wait for the girls to come back.  They got back at 7:30 and ate then we ran them to their other lesson that started at 8:00.  Luckily that wasn’t very far away and we made it in time.

Tuesday’s are also District Meetings which I never do anything with.  But this week the Edinburgh District decided they need extra help to find more people and to just have some extra blessings to get everyone where they should be so they passed out this card.  It was so nice of them to include us in their prayer roll.

Wednesday night was the two baptisms for Kerry and Danny.  I played the piano so I was in the back of the room with the missionaries.  Everyone has colds right now so no one feels totally good.  Poor Elder Schmidt was sitting right next to me and he couldn’t stop sniffling and blowing his nose and coughing.  I’m surprised I didn’t catch what he has.  Of course that didn’t stop them from playing with my phone while we were waiting for the boys to come back in so we could wrap up.  Here is Elder Gowans, Elder Crowley and Elder Schmidt.

Thursday we drove to Galashiels to finish cleaning out the house we had there for our missionaries.  We are less missionaries now so five areas closed down this past transfer.  The girls left the house very clean but there was so much stuff in there the Millers, who had gone to check it out last week, needed help to clear out the house.  There was so many supplies and Books of Mormon we filled the whole backseat of our car with just that.  There was about 40 cans of soup, cupboards full of food, Christmas decorations, linens, just stuff.  We filled our car and the Miller’s car as full as we could and our friends Wendy and her son John came and filled their car with stuff they wanted.  We still have enough stuff there to fill another car so we are going back in about a week to finish up.  But on top of that, we found out everything in that house, including the washing machine and the fridge belong to the mission.  So I was out watching for anyone to walk near by offering tables and beds and a fridge for free.  No one wanted anything.  We did give the fridge away to a neighbor that was wishing they had a second fridge for their garage so I helped them carry that out of the house and over to their house.  We had a guy come that has a used furniture store but he didn’t want anything.  Sister Gifford is now calling charity shops to see if they will come take things.  We didn’t get home until about 8:00 again Thursday.  We drove the long way home and enjoyed seeing lambs along side the road.

Friday I ran some girls to the doctor and then out for a quick lunch before putting them back on a train to go back to their area. Sister Gifford and I went to see a flat in town that we are going to put an application in to get for our zone leaders.  Also, our friend Ruth wanted us to meet her for dinner up in town.  We were both so busy and had so much work to do we wanted to postpone but decided we better not and hired a taxi to get us up where she wanted to meet us.  Just as we were pulling up to the place she called and said she couldn’t meet us after all.  So we got out and wandered around town for a bit and then found a place for dinner and took a bus home.  As we were walking back to the office to get our car we were passing under this tree.  I looked up and thought it was so pretty so I grabbed a picture.  Again, we got home about 7:30.  So this was a week of not getting home on time.  But it made it go by fast.

Saturday I got up and went to the office at 7:00 in the morning and worked until 10:00.  I still have a huge list of things that needs to be done but I’m making headway.  At 10:00 I picked up the Millers and Sister Gifford and we headed off on our adventure for the day.  It was raining pretty hard this morning but we decided to go on faith and it paid off.  It rained a lot but anytime we were getting out of the car for an activity the rain stopped and we did just fine.  It was such a refreshing day and the weather was just right for the activities that we did.

First stop was the Great Polish Map of Scotland.  This was built by two Polish men and it is the largest outdoor relief map in the world. The map was thought up by a Polish man who was over here during the war in 1942 and he was wounded and cared for in a hospital in Galashiels.  He married a Scottish nurse and he began to purchase places and turn them into hotels.  So he bought Barony Castle in 1968 and added that to his line of hotels.  He commissioned two Poles to come and make this map saying, “I shall die, but I shall leave my map as a gift to the Scottish people to thank them for the hospitality they showed the Poles when it was needed.”

We saw a crazy growth by a tree here so we took some pictures.

We drove along the Tweed River and I had to pull over and take a picture.

Then we drove to a place called Scott’s View.  This was a beautiful look-out point that William Scott used to go to and ponder.  It is said when William Scott died his funeral procession was over a mile long and his horses were pulling his casket that day and when they came to this place they stopped and refused to move for 15 minutes.  It was part of their routine to always stop at this place.  It was beautiful and didn’t disappoint us.

Breathes there the man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land! – Sir Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel

Then we drove a little further to a forest.  We walked about a half a mile down a beautiful path to find this William Wallace Statue out in the middle of nowhere.  It was huge.  Much bigger than I had imagined it was going to be.

Next stop was Mellerstain House and Gardens.  We stopped here to have some lunch in their cafe.  It wasn’t the best lunch but we sat outside under the threatening sky and it was enjoyable.  We found a really neat tree again here and stopped to take a few pictures.

After this we headed to Dunbar which is on the coast.  I wanted to see a statue that I had just learned about and again we were delighted with what we found.  The statue is called The Creel Loader.  It’s a woman taking the catch of the day in her basket or Creel which is so big it takes two men to help her.  The detail in this sandstone statue was so neat.  It looked like a sandcastle.   Then we walked down to the beach to look at the water and there was a music festival going on so we wandered over to that and hung around for a little bit.

We were heading to North Berwick to end our day with a delicious ice cream cone but decided it was worth a stop at Tantallon Castle since the Miller’s had never been there.  This is still one of my favorite castles.  It was the first castle I saw when I got to Scotland and it is where my love for castles began.  It also helped me to want to stay and not run home.  I enjoyed that day when Sister Dent and I went to this castle and Dirleton Castle.

Well that puts us to the end of the week.  I’m tired so I’m going to get some sleep.  I haven’t had a lot of that this week.  I’m so grateful for the friends I have made here in Scotland and for wonderful P-Days like we had today.  It was so nice to just get out and not think about work for a short time.  It really does rejuvenate you and get you ready for another week.

Have a wonderful Sunday tomorrow.  I love you.

 

Week 69: New Arrivals, Lots to do, The Ostler’s

Sunday was busy with 19 missionaries going home this time.  15 Elders and 4 Sisters.  They start coming in on Saturday night if they were in Ireland or up in the islands and then the rest come on Sunday.  I usually leave church after sacrament and start working on everything that I haven’t been able to get done up to that point.  This week with so many going home I was at my desk and the APs came in and said they didn’t have enough room for everyone to get them up to Pratt’s Hill (Arthur’s Seat) and would I please take my car and go with.  Well, I hadn’t planned on hiking that day but I’m glad I went.  This group, like all the others, was full of missionaries that I have memories with and it was so good to spend this extra time with them.  Even though we hike up a big hill in our Sunday best.  It was a beautiful day to do it.   Can you see the four missionaries sitting on the hillside thinking about their last days here in Scotland and what they have accomplished on their missions.  The hill is so brown.  It’s usually more green but we haven’t had any rain for a month.

On the way home the Elders in my car were spotting people walking around with headphones and we passed by a few pubs that had screens with the World Cup going.  Every time I stopped at a red light they would be rolling down their windows trying to find out what the score was.  Someone did yell to us that they just scored a goal.  We weren’t sure who “they”were but it was fun.

Then it was back to work.  I didn’t even leave my desk for dinner.  I just ate while I worked but we got everyone taken care of and it was so fun to be in the middle of all the goings ons with departures.  I got home just after 10:00 PM on Sunday night.

Monday morning we got to work early because I knew I would have to help drive to the airport.  With 19 missionaries going home there are a lot of suitcases.  Five of the missionaries were being picked up by their families but that still leaves 14 missionaries, 28 large suitcases, 14 small suitcases and 14 backpacks.  So it is some effort to get through all that and get them all to the airport and on their way.  Besides missionaries going home on this day all the other missionaries how are being transferred (over 80) are in transit to their new places.  I am very happy that we are getting Elder O’Connor here in Edinburgh.  I have become friends with his mom over the past months and I’m glad for the opportunity to get to know him better.  He is companions with Elder Gowans so I’ll see him a lot.  Elder Gowans likes to stop by the office to say hi.

Elder Skelton
Elder Brockbank

Monday of course is P-Day for all the young missionaries.  Our P-Day is on Saturday’s and we work on Monday’s but it’s nice because we always get a few missionaries hanging around a bit on p-day.  This past Monday was no exception and because it was moves day we had several missionaries hanging out waiting for new companions to show up from all over the three countries we cover.  We knew they were outside on the grass playing ball, we could hear them cheering now and then and yelling.  But when a few walked in for some water we asked them what they were doing for P-Day.  Elder Brockbank and Elder Skelton both said, “We are playing World Cup.”  Of course, we should have known.  The World Cup has been a big deal around here lately.  But it was so funny to hear that come out of their mouths like we would just know that playing World Cup was a thing.

I got some beautiful flowers from Lacey and Jake.  Jake picked them out and had them delivered since Lacey was off having a great time in Iceland.  Way to go.  I think they are beautiful.  They came with a small box of chocolates to.  I loved it.

Tuesday our new arrivals came.  We had seven come from the Preston MTC and one coming from Provo MTC who was coming as a Chinese-speaking missionary. She is from the Philippines and is going to be great.  But I had told our new president what time her flight was coming in and I assumed he would go get her.  I was sitting at my desk thinking it wouldn’t be long before they would be walking through the door.  Her plane had been here for about an hour now.  I mentioned to Elder Gedlaman as he walked by that the President should be back soon with Sister Oren.  He said, the President is upstairs with the trainers.  Apparently me assuming the President was going to go to the airport was not the right thing to do.  Elder Gedlaman ran upstairs to tell the president he needed to be at the airport and the APs were heading towards a car to go but realized they couldn’t because it was time for the other new ones to head to Pratt’s Hill to hike and they needed to go with, along with the President.  So I hopped in my car with nothing but my credit card and drove as fast as I could to the airport.  I kept thinking they whole way there that I was going to go running in and she would be standing there crying because she didn’t know what to do.  Well, I got to the airport and found a parking spot pretty quickly and started running.  Once inside I had to go all the way to the end where the international flights come out and I frantically looked all over the place.  I didn’t see anyone who could be Sister Oren.  Then I spotted Duncan and Jane Garden from our Edinburgh Ward waiting in the seating area and went over to them.  Turns out their son was on the same flight and it had been delayed.  Sister Oren had not even come out yet.  In fact the airport was so busy I wanted about an hour before she emerged.  So all was well and she has no idea we about forgot her.

Thursday night after work Sister Gifford and I ran a few errands and then we got home but I had to leave again at 9:30 to go find Elder O’Connor.  His mom had texted me to say he had broken his leg brace and she needed pictures and the serial number so she could get to work on getting it replaced before he re-injured himself.  So I left about 9:20 to drive over to their flat near the meadows.  I called once I got there and they came down to the parking area so I could take the pictures.  We got them sent off to his mom and hopefully his new brace is coming soon for him.  Elder Gowans has also been having knee issues so these two are quite the pair.  They are both a bit in pain and hobble around a bit but they are both wonderful missionaries who I adore.  Lucky for me both these boys come fromUtah so I hopefully won’t loose touch with these missionaries that have grown in my heart.  This picture looks like it is the middle of the day but it is going on 10:00 PM.  It doesn’t get dark here until well after 11:00 and then it is light again by 4:00 AM.  I love it.

Friday was a conference day for our STLs which are the Sister Training Leaders.  They were in the mission home all day learning and having a good time together.  It’s so good to see these girls.  I didn’t do very well with taking pictures but here is one with me and Sister Wahlquist.  I miss her being around here.  She will always have a special place in my heart.  Sister Gifford and I were asked to sit on a panel and answer questions at one point during the day and it’s so fun just to sit around with them and have a great conversation.  Then of course we had the party after the party in my office and enjoyed each others company as they all came in and sat down on the floor and just talked while I worked.  Then we looked at the clock and realized they were not going to make it to the airport if we didn’t leave that very minute.  So again, I piled missionaries in my car and off we went.  I got them to the airport with 20 minutes to spare before the plane was to begin boarding.  Good thing they don’t have luggage.  Instead of saying goodbye I just yelled – RUN!!  Love you!!

 

Today, Saturday was a day I had been looking forward to.  The Ostler’s, my next door neighbors from home, were in town.  They were on a British Isles cruise and Edinburgh was the stop for today.  They caught a bus and we met them right in the middle of Prince’s Street and hopped on the Hop On Hop Off bus and rode around.  Then we got off up by the castle and spent some time shopping and walking up and down the mile.  Then we went to Zizzi’s for lunch.  Kurt and VaLayne paid for everything for us so that was really nice.  We appreciated that.  After that the kids all left to do their own thing and to get back to the ship and Kurt, VaLayne, Sister Gifford and I walked down to the Elephant House, Greyfriar’s Bobby and Greyfriar’s Church and cemetery to find Tom Riddle’s grave.  Then we walked down Candlemaker Row and over to Grassmarket.  Up Victoria Street then back up to the castle.  We shopped a bit and people watched a bit.  They agreed that Edinburgh is a beautiful city.  It’s getting crazy now that it is summer.  Lots of people.  August will be worse.  But we had a great day and the weather was wonderful.  It was so good to see them and remember home for a bit.

J. K. Rowlings handprints

Did you notice that I am just finishing up Week 69!!  52 weeks in a year and 26 weeks in 6 months equals 78 weeks.  I have less than 10 weeks until my 18 months are up.  That’s crazy.  Of course I’m staying almost two extra weeks but still.  The countdown is on.

Love you and I’ll see you before you know it.

Week 68: Moves Planning, Glasgow, My Birthday

Well, this week just zoomed by.

Monday Sister Macdonald came into the office at about 4:00 and said she wanted to take her daughter, Lydia shopping but they didn’t know where to go.  She said the main reason was she wanted to get out a drive a bit.  She wanted to practice.  Well, I said Sister Gifford and I would be happy to drive our car and she could follow us to a shopping place.  That’s a good way to learn.  I followed a mail truck one day a long time ago and I learned a lot just by following him and observing.  So we left a little early and drove out to the old Five Guys shopping area where there is M&S, Primark and TKMaxx.  There is also an H&M and a few other stores really close in the same area.  We offered to stick around and do some shopping ourselves and we could meet up in two hours and head home.  Well, after two hours we were all starving so we found each other and decided to go get dinner at Pizza Express and then actually went back to the stores again for a little bit.  It was great.  There were major sales going on and I got the white shirts I wanted to go with some plaid skirts I got my grand daughters.  And a few other things.  I love that I can find modest clothes here that fit me.  I actually enjoy looking at clothes here.

Tuesday we worked until almost 6:00.  Moves planning is this week and it is already hitting hard.  It’s July and I should have arranged travel on the ferries for our seven missionaries going home from Ireland last week.  But with all the new things with a new president I didn’t even think of it and I’m suffering for it now.  This is not going to be an easy moves.  Buses and ferries are already full.  I am going to have to be creative.

Wednesday Sister Gifford and I drove to Glasgow after work to see Elder James and Elder Miao.  They had met a man named Henry who was on Amazon trying to buy a couple Bibles and an ad popped up that said “Click here for a FREE Bible.” so he did.  But a Bible never showed up.  He saw the missionaries on the street and said to them that we were supposed to give him a Bible.  Well, this is the third person now who has said they clicked for a free Bible and they didn’t get one.  We are not even aware of this campaign, nor do we know where the Bibles are supposed to be coming from but I ordered about 10 Bibles a few weeks ago and they finally came.  Henry is now reading the Book of Mormon but won’t let the missionaries come back until they have his Bible so we thought it was worth the drive to Glasgow to hand deliver they Bibles.  And then we were able to take them out to dinner as well.

So it is just over an hour drive to Glasgow and we told them to figure out where they wanted to go for dinner and even make a reservation if they thought they should.  So we found them at the church and said hop in the car and let’s go.  They were hesitant so I questioned them and they thought we would just walk somewhere to eat.  I asked what they had in mind and they didn’t know but most things were about a 15 minute walk away.  Well, that is 19-year-old’s talking and they forget Sister Gifford is 77.  She is pretty spry for her age and can keep up with the best of them but after a full day of work and still over an hour to get home once we were back to our car, I didn’t want to do that.  When they hopped in the car you would have thought it was Christmas when they saw the two Bibles sitting there for them.  They were so excited.

Well after some back and forth conversation I asked them if there was a good carvery around.  Carvery’s usually have parking and they said yes, so off we went.  It was good.  Lots of food.  Elder James and I had calzone’s.  Sister Gifford had an enormous chicken sandwich and Elder Miao had pizza.  But you can also go to the buffet and get anything you want (except the meat) so Elder James had mashed potatoes and gravy along with his calzone.  He was very happy.  We drove them home after that and I’m so glad we did because Sister Gifford has now decided they are on top of her list for better housing.  They live out so far from where they work and it’s not the best feeling area.  Of course they don’t complain at all.  

Thursday we took the APs out to dinner.  It’s our last dinner with Elder Grant.  He goes home this next Monday.  Elder Gedlaman is the new AP and so we had all three of them for dinner.  We went back to Tony Macaroni which is a favorite.  I also got all the moves on Thursday so I got started on travel.  It is a tough one this time trying to find buses and stuff.  But it’s coming along.

Friday was my birthday and early that morning President Macdonald told the APs to send a text out to all the young missionaries that it was my birthday and to call in and wish me happy birthday.  Wow!!  160 missionaries – 80 companionships and I think I got a call from every one of them.  Most started singing when I said hello.  Some were in harmony, others were pretty sad sounding and others were so funny.  One that stood out was Elder DeMille and Elder Rodriguez.  I don’t think Elder Rodriguez knows the Happy Birthday song.  Elder DeMille sang and Elder Rodriguez would pipe in at the end of each sentence with “to you”.  It was so funny.  I got nice texts from the missionaries too that made me feel really special.  I love these missionaries.

I got a beautiful orchid from the Macdonalds and Sister Gifford and the Helps.  And the STLTs brought me flowers and so did the Selanders when they came.  And Wendy brought me some incredible candy.  I wish I hadn’t tried them because I’m hooked.  They are called Ferraro Raffaello.  They are coconut balls that when you bite into them they are filled with melted chocolate and a hazel nut.  Delicious.

Friday evening the Selanders from Alpine came to the office.  She had asked me what I wanted from home before they came and I said Fritos Bean Dip.  Well I got a bit more than that.  I had also asked for some chow mein noodles because Sister Gifford has never had Hawaiian Haystacks and I want to make them for her.  You can’t find chow mein noodles anywhere here.  We have looked everywhere.  As you can see I got a bit more than what I asked for.  I’m set for the rest of my mission I think.  Thank you so much Selanders.  This is going to be put to some good use.  They took us out to dinner to Zizzi’s as well and then we drove around the city a bit.  It was so nice to finally meet them after this past year of keeping in touch.  I’m so glad I have made new friends that will be home when I get there.

Saturday I got up and went in to the office to work for a few hours this morning and then Sister Gifford and Sister Miller and I went to a bridal shower for Lucy our Relief Society President.  Lucy is from Arizona but she is here getting her PhD in Theology.  She will be here for three more years except for when she is doing her research in the Middle East next summer.  She is amazing.  What a life.  Her fiance is from Florida and she met him here in the same college and he will be working on his PhD as well.  Different study than her but both Theology in nature.

Then I went back to work for another hour and then Sister Gifford and I took a bus up to the Royal Mile and walked around a bit and went in and out of shops then went to a place up on the Mile called Makar’s Gourmet Mash Bar for dinner.  It was delicious and we were so glad we found a new place to eat.  We thought we were going to walk down to Grassmarket afterwards for some Gelato but we were so full we couldn’t even imagine having some ice cream too.  So we just walked around a bit more and then hopped on a bus and came home.

That catches me up to right now sitting here typing my blog.  I need to make some plans because Skyler and Janelle will be here in just a couple weeks and I haven’t decided what we are going to do yet.  Lacey is off in Iceland with Danielle Smith this week and it looks like she is having lots of fun.  I wish I could hop on a plane and go see her.  It’s not that far away.  Oh well.  It’s a lot warmer here I think.  We had a huge rain storm yesterday but it is still quite warm and I am loving it.

I love you all.  Have a good week.

Week 67: New President, 4th of July, Hogwarts Express

Well, President and Sister Donaldson are officially gone and we have our new mission president and his wife here now.  President and Sister Macdonald.  (That’s not at all confusing.)  They are from West Jordon, Utah and they have brought their 18-year-old daughter Lydia with them.  This has been a great week.  They are fitting in nicely and I am anticipating a great end of my mission with them.

Last week were going to take Elder Crowley and Elder Gowans out to dinner but it didn’t happen with everything else going on and we had already told the Zone Leaders, Elder Gedleman and Elder Brockbank that we would take them out to eat this week so we decided to just take all four of them.  Then Elder Derry and Elder Glad showed up.  Elder Derry is who we ran into clear last September in Inverness and offered to take him and Elder Haynes out to dinner.  They couldn’t go because they had a lesson right then but I have always promised them if I ever got the chance I would take them to dinner.  I haven’t had the chance with either of them yet.  So we decided – what’s two more missionaries as long as we are going.  So off we went to Tony Macaroni.  The perfect place to take a crowd.

Elder Crowley and Elder Gowans
Elder Gedleman, Elder Brockbank
Elder Derry, Elder Glad

 

Dinner was great and the company was even better.  I love being with these missionaries.  They really make my day.

Tuesday was zone conference (just a two-hour one) so the All-Scotland missionaries could meet the Macdonalds.  It was a wonderful zone conference full of the spirit and excitement and love.  I am so excited to learn from President Macdonald my last few months.  He is a great guy and I know we are going to get along really well.  On Wednesday they did the same thing for the All-Ireland Missionaries so they got a taste of traveling to Ireland this week as well.

Wednesday was the 4th of July so all the senior missionaries in Scotland got together for a dinner at the Pederson’s.  They live in the middle of all of us so it was the perfect place to get together, plus it is big enough to do so.  We had a wonderful dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, salad, fruit, vegi’s etc.  Sister Pedersen made an amazing homemade strawberry shortcake that everyone raved about.  Then we played a game and just sat around and visited for a while.  It was really nice to get together.  We really should be doing that more often.  It’s nice and we all get along really well.  (In order – Millers, Pohlmans, Pedersens, me and Sister Gifford, Maxwells and Helps.

On Thursday I met with Sister Allred, Sister Ellsworth and Robert to do some family history in the morning.  We got a name for Robert to take to the temple this Saturday.  I left the room for just a minute and they had fun with my phone!!  I’m glad.  I love pictures. Thursday night I met with Sam and Hamish to help them with some names as well.  They both got several names to take to the temple on Saturday.  (Not because of anything I did.  They are really doing well with their family history all on their own.  I was just there for moral support.)

Friday I went with Sister Allred and Sister Ellsworth to teach Mars again.  It’s always good to see him.

Saturday was our day to finally go on the Jacobite Steam Train.  This train goes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct which is the very bridge you see when Harry Potter and his friends are traveling to Hogwarts on the train.  We even had the trolley going up and down the aisle and I got a chocolate frog.  It was the most beautiful drive getting there to Fort Williams where the train leaves from.  The train then heads up to Mallaig which is just over 40 miles away.

Here are pictures from our drive to Fort Williams.     The train has a real steam engine and we were able to climb into the engine room to see the fire roaring in the furnace.  The train was long with about 9 long cars behind the engine.  We sat in 1st class on the way out and regular coach on the way back.  That was just the tickets we were able to get.  I videoed the bridge so I don’t have a picture to put in my blog.

Train going across the bridge.

When we got to Malliag they announced that there was a boat that was going out to spot sealife that would go out for an hour which would still give us 40 minutes to find something to eat before we had to get back on the train so we decided to go for it.  It was great.  We didn’t see much but we spotted lots of jelly fish in the water and we did see one dolphin quite well but I couldn’t get my camera going quick enough.  And we saw lots of seals and sea lions.  It was fun to be out on the water enjoying the fresh sea air after being on the train.

Well that wraps up my week.  I’m going to bed.  I hope everyone is happy and enjoying summer.  It’s been so warm here.  Everyone is Scotland is amazed at the weather.  It’s not usually like this.  They are actually worried because it hasn’t rained for quite a while.  A couple weeks at least.  But I’m not complaining.  I’m loving the warm weather.

Love you!!

 

Week 66: Goodbye President and Sister Donaldson, Peterhead

What a week.  There is lots to be done as a new president leaves and another one arrives.  We cleaned and scrapped and scoured everywhere.  I spent several hours out in the garage trying to make it look nicer and organized.  It wasn’t unorganized to begin with, but you know how garages can get.  Leaves and dirt filter in.  People leave things there will good intentions of getting them to the trash.  There were several boxes of all kinds of things that had been dropped off by missionaries who had flats that were totally closing down.  Lucky for me, Wendy and John came out to help.

Monday Elder Gowans and Elder Crowley dropped by for a minute.  Elder Gowans was looking for something to do I think.  He found my phone and that entertained him for a minute.  I’m wearing my hair curly here because President Donaldson has been asking to see me with curly hair.  Problem is, now that I’ve done it I’m liking it and I haven’t gone back to straightening it yet.  I guess that’s not really a problem.

Well, we worked hard all week but I can’t even tell you what we did really.  I have no pictures to show for it either.  So I guess this is going to be a short blog and we will go directly to Saturday.

First though, on Thursday we went to Papillios with just the Donaldson’s and the office staff.  This is a great Italian restaurant on Bruntsfield, near the office.  They love the Donaldson’s there and took great care of us.  They didn’t charge us for our appetizers and were so sad to see the Donaldson’s leaving.  It was a wonderful evening and we then walked down a few blocks to a great gelato place for an ice cream cone.  Sister Gifford and I also drove Sister Lough and Sister Belliston to a dinner appointment before this and ran afterwards to find them and bring them home.  They were out walking the streets while they waited for us.  Our ward encompasses all of Edinburgh so many times the dinner appointments are a long way away.

Friday the Macdonald’s flew into Edinburgh.  Their plane was delayed by a few hours but they did arrive safely.  They didn’t come to the office on Friday so I still haven’t met them.  On Saturday morning they would have come to move into the mission home and spend an hour with the Donaldson’s before the Donaldson’s drove off to go home.  I am assuming they will be at church today so I will see them there.

Saturday Sister Gifford had an appointment in the morning and then we did our grocery shopping and ran to find some new shoes.  I really needed some new tennis shoes.  (Trainers as they are called here.)  Then we went to the church to check on the Miller’s who were there cleaning with the YSA.  They were done so we didn’t do anything there.  I have been having a nagging feeling to go visit a certain missionary all week long so we decided to find out where he is exactly and decided as long as it wasn’t over 4 hours away we would go.  Well, I checked and he is in Peterhead which is 3 and a half hours away so that was my final sign that we needed to go to Peterhead.  I called them up and said, “What are you doing for dinner tonight?”  They were happy to hear we were coming up to Peterhead.  They made reservations at a carvery that some members recommended and were waiting for us at their flat when we got there.

 

We have never been up as far as Peterhead.  It’s about 30 minutes north of Aberdeen.  We had never actually been to Aberdeen yet either so it was a nice trip for us.  Aberdeen is a big city.  I didn’t realize that.  It feels bigger than Edinburgh.  More city looking with high-rises and more modern architecture mixed in with some beautiful old architecture.  I would have liked to wander around a bit and take pictures of some of the buildings but we didn’t stop.  Here is the one picture I took from the front window of our car while we were at a stop light.  When you drive into Aberdeen everything is gray.  All the buildings are gray and then when you drive into Peterhead all the buildings are brown.  I don’t know enough about where the stones come from in each area but I thought that was interesting.

The drive was beautiful as we followed the coast of the North Sea all the way up to Peterhead.  There is a lighthouse just before you enter Peterhead and the water is so blue.  We were feeling a bit rushed since we had so far to drive there and back so we didn’t really get out and enjoy it.  Maybe I’ll get that chance another time.

On the way there we could see what looked like a castle up above Dundee so we got off the main road and drove over to it.  It said Castle Huntly so we decided we would go up and get some good pictures, but we couldn’t get near it.  It is a prison and they have it all marked off.  Here is the best picture I could get.  

Near Aberdeen we found one more castle.  Tolquhon Castle which turned out to be a fairy-tale looking castle.  It is in ruins but you can tell it was a pretty castle in it’s day.  Our Historic Scotland passes expire today so this was the last castle we can get into with our passes.  Now we will have to decide if it is worth paying to get in from now on.  Or renew our passes but we are only here for a few more months so we probably won’t do that.

And look at that sky!!  We are having a heat wave here and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s amazing.  It feels like summer!!  They say this past winter was the worst winter in 20 years and now they are saying this summer is the hottest summer in 20 years.

So dinner – we went to a carvery which is kind of like going to Chuck a Rama only much smaller.  And you can only go through the line once.  They carve the meat for you and then you get the vegi’s you want.  This place we went was by far the biggest helpings of meat we have ever seen at a carvery.  Our plates were huge and I felt I could have fed my whole family with the amount of meat they gave us.  I barely made a dent in my meal and was totally full.  Our missionaries on the other hand, had no problem getting through their meal.  Here is Elder Chappel from West Jordan and Elder Morgan from Wales.  It was so nice to spend an evening with them just letting them know we love them and are aware of their hard work.

Well, I hope this finds all of you well.  I want you to know I think of you every single day and I pray for you and your well-being as well as for opportunities for each of our testimonies to grow in our Savior Jesus Christ.  He is my rock. He is the one who truly knows my thoughts and feelings, even better than I know them myself.  He has felt every emotion and loves each one of us.  He understands us always.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be an instrument in his hands and to feed his children and be his helping hands here.  I hope that I can always do my best to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and to be willing to do what it takes to learn, grow and bless.  I am grateful for the knowledge that we have forever families and that we are all brothers and sisters and that life goes on.  That the friends we make each day will be forever friends. I am so grateful for the gospel and the good news that it brings into our lives. That we know where we come from and where we are going.  And we know through Christ that path is made more bright.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week.  Enjoy the summer!!  I miss you.