Week 80: I’m coming home!!

Well, after loving and caring for over 200 missionaries, supporting 2 mission presidents, visiting 67 castles, 11 palaces, 18 abbeys and cathedrals, and spending time at 33 different locations I think I have done about all I came to do.  I hope that I have left no stone unturned in Scotland.  I know there are a few things we didn’t get to up to the very north but other than that I think we have drove every little country road that exists.

I can’t even express the love I have for this beautiful country over here.  It’s a part of my heart now and I will treasure it forever.  I have made eternal friends and I can’t imagine not ever have knowing them.

I’ve been so busy this week I haven’t even been able to grasp that I am doing things for the last time.  It’s moves week so of course I have been very busy putting that all together and trying to document every thought I think and every key stroke I make so someone else can do it next time.  I wish that my replacement was here before I leave instead of almost three weeks after I leave, but I know things will go on and everyone will be just fine.

This week, I’ve been living at the mission home and it has been very exciting.  I can now stay at my desk until all wee hours of the morning getting work done and all I have to do is climb a very long set of stairs to get to my bedroom.  We have been having a battle with wasps all week long.  It’s been a little crazy and one night I finally just left my room and went and slept down the hall in a room where I couldn’t even close the door.  Ha ha.  I was desperate.  Each day this week I have seen about four or five wasps dead in my room.  We get them cleaned up and the next morning there are more.  There was even one in my shoe one morning.  So on Wednesday an exterminator came and found several wasps nests and sprayed.  Well, Wednesday night when I got to my room I was so tired and I crawled into bed.  As I was sitting there setting my alarm I heard a loud buzzing and then whack, a very large wasp landed right on my bed.  I knew I couldn’t scream even though I really wanted to, but President and Sister Macdonald are directly across the hall from me, so I threw the duvet on the floor and got up and started to shake it.  Just as I saw the wasp fall out of the folds, another wasp flew right in front of my face, so close I felt it.  I grabbed my shoe and hit both of them – and then there was another one climbing up the night stand and another one over on the bin.  I felt like I got all four of them with my shoe but I left my lights on and got back in bed and pulled the covers all the way over my head.

When I woke up in the morning, there were only two wasps where I left them and I was so hot from sleeping under the covers but at least I didn’t get stung or bugged during the night.  President searched my room Thursday night before I got home and felt he had found any wasps and my room was clear but when I got to bed, the same thing happened.  Another really big wasp landed right on my bed.  I gave up and went down the hall to the girl’s bunk room and slept in there.  President felt really bad when I told him on Friday.

So Friday night he once again searched my room and declared it clear.  We now have three sisters sleeping in the bunk room so I really wanted to be in my own room, and it worked.  No wasps.  Lets hope it stays that way for the rest of the week.

The worst thing is in the room I’m staying in, one of the decorative pillows on my bed is a bee pillow.  I can hardly stand to look at it and when I threw it back on the bed the other morning it landed upside down.  I was going to leave it and then had to turn around and fix it because I’m superstitious and I didn’t want any bees seeing I wasn’t respectful about their pillow!!

Monday night I decided to take all the boys in town out for one last dinner.  I ended up with four sets of missionaries and we had a great dinner at Zizzi’s.  My last Zizzi’s trip.  That is something I am really going to miss.  We don’t have great Italian restaurants at home.  I wish we did.  It has replaced Mexican food in my life since that isn’t really available here and I know I’m going to miss it.  Here is (starting right behind me) Elder Clancy Christiansen from St George, Elder Logan Norris from Orem, Elder Cosmas Obedmoth from Uganda, Elder Cody Lybbert from Canada, Elder Jonah Jensen from Central, Utah (near Enterprise), Elder Noah Miller from Danville, CA, Michael O’Connor from Saratoga Springs, UT, and Denham Gedlaman from Canada.  It’s obvious that I’m not going to see a few of these guys much anymore.  Some live close to home and I will get to see them

but others are so far away.  They have touched my life.

Tuesday night I took all the girls out for dinner.  That was half the size of Monday night and we had a great time visiting and remembering things about our missions.  These girls are the best!!  I love each one of them.  We went to Papillos because I can’t get enough Italian food.  Here is Sister Kesli Curtis from West Point, Utah; Sister Queen Oren from the Philippines; Sister Laura Belliston from Michigan; and Sister Jenna Irving from Alpine, Utah.  Again, how do I say goodbye to these girls that I see every day and spend time with.  I love each one of them.

Thursday we went to Pitlochry after work.  I love Pitlochry and really wanted to attend their Enchanted Forest that they put on every October.  I wanted to go last year but by the time I thought about it, it was already sold out so I bought tickets for this year in July and it was so fun.  It was a very relaxing evening and well organized.  We drove to Pitlochry which takes about 90 minutes and we found parking really close to where we needed to be.  We had enough time so we had some dinner in a cafe on main street and then headed over to where you catch your bus to go to the forest.  The lines moved fast and we were on a bus in no time.  The drive to the forest only takes about five minutes and while you are driving you listen to the cutest recording of a little girl telling you all about the Enchanted Forest.  Once you get there, you can stay as long as you want and walk around as many times as you want.  I’m not sure how long the walk is but it is a good walk all through a forest and around a lake.  The lake was so incredibly still and clear that it made for some really pretty pictures.  It was almost easier to see the lights in the water than just looking at them.  It was so worth the trip and I am glad I ended my Scotland travels in Pitlochry.


Friday the office, President and Sister Macdonald and the Millers all went out to dinner.  We went to a place I love in Dalkeith called The Cavaliere.  We have been here a few times that I’ve blogged about.  Once with Elder Kapolnasi and Elder Chappel when Elder Kapolnasi got the muscles.  Once for Elder Worley so he could try haggis before he went home.  And recently when we drove home from Preston and couldn’t find anywhere for dinner in the small towns without a reservation.  They have the best meatballs so I was very happy to have that one more time. 

Then we got back and Elder Pelham and Elder Palmer were pulling in from the train station.  They are two missionaries who are going home the same day I go.  That made it a bit more real.  So good to see both of them.  I have enjoyed both of these young men.  I’ll have to get pictures later.

Today is General Conference but because we are in Scotland, nothing happens until 5:00 in the afternoon.  We may decide to go get an ice cream or something this afternoon before that.  Other than that, I’m just here, working on moves.  I’ll be working until the minute we leave for the airport.  But that’s okay.  I love the work.

Well, Monday night is going to be the best ever.  I can’t wait to get off that plane and see my family.  I have seven grand kids that I’m not going to be able to let go and I’m so excited to get caught up with everything new in their lives.  One being only two weeks old so I will be holding him for the first time.  I’ll see my parents that night, and all my friends before a few days have gone by and then it will seem like I never left.  But I do know my life has been enriched by the opportunity I had to give it to service for 18 months.  The time has gone by so fast.

I love you all.  See you soon.

Week 79: Birth of my new grandson, New places close by, I’m living in the mission home

Well, here we are!!  My second to the last post.  I don’t know what I’ll do on Saturday’s if I don’t stop to write in my blog.  Last Sunday I gave a talk in church on the Blessings of Paying a Fast Offering.  It went just fine.  I’m glad that I got a chance to speak in our ward.  After church and dinner I started packing up my room.  I came with two big suitcases and a bag that I carried but there is no way what I’m taking home is going to fit in those two suitcases.  So I packed a box with a few things in to send home and got one big suitcase completely full of things I won’t need the next two weeks and on Monday I ran and mailed those off to Lacey.  She called on Thursday to say she got the box and the suitcase got there on Friday.  So far so good.  Of course on Tuesday I filled another very large box and sent it off on Wednesday so we will see when that gets there.  I hope there is no problem with that.  It has a few souvenirs in it plus grandkid presents.

Best news on Sunday…Landon and Ashley finally got their little guy here.  All my kids got together on Saturday and cleaned my garage, which was so great of them.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I thought to myself as I peeked at them from time to time on my camera that Ashley was going to work herself into labor and she did!!  So Sunday just as I was getting out of church Landon called to say they were at the hospital and just a couple hours later he called again to say that Riker Landon Call had been born and was doing well, as was Ashley.  He looks just like Landon.  So cute!!  I can’t believe I have to wait two whole weeks to hold that little bundle of joy but he was little, 6 lbs 13 oz, so he will still be little when I get there.

Monday the Miller’s made dinner for all the Edinburgh missionaries and included Sister Gifford and I.  It was so nice to have a warm home-cooked meal.  And the company was wonderful.  The Miller’s feed the missionaries.  They are always feeding someone.  We love it.  Thanks Elder and Sister Miller.

On Wednesday I was putting some things on President’s calendar and I came across where I had put that I was leaving.  He added Nooo to the end of it!!  I thought that was cute.  I wanted to save it.  So here it is.

Also on Wednesday Sister Smith arrived from the Preston MTC.  She is the missionary replacing me but training with Sister Gifford to learn housing since President has a secretary coming from home the end of October.  She is going to fit in nicely here.  She already has great office skills and is handling everything very well.  Sister Gifford is already sighing a sigh of relief.  So here is Sister Smith and Sister Gifford, new companions as I have now moved out of my flat and I am living in the great, famous Scotland Mission Home.  

So, the mission home…  It’s a beautiful old home that the office is attached to, as I’ve said before.  Also above the office is a conference room and an apartment for the APs, along with a bunk room for visiting Elders.  There is a similar (but nicer) bunk room in the mission home for visiting Sisters.  Anyway, I’m staying in the room that must have been for the maid because there is a secret stairway leading from my room directly to the kitchen.  I’ve been using that so I don’t feel like I’m intruding on the Macdonald’s personal space.  Although they have been totally gracious and happy to have me here.   I am realizing I don’t have a good picture of the front of the mission home.  I guess I better wander around tomorrow and take a few pictures.

Friday night I went over to the church and sat in on a family history evening.  I used to be in charge of these but now Michael Gould, who was baptized while I was here handles family history.  He had the room all ready with a few laptops and the computers up and running.  Only one girl showed up but I was so proud of him.  He has come a long way and loves family history.  He is going to make a difference for the new converts as they discover family history.  He is excited and he is learning lots.  

Well Saturday has rolled around and as I was looking over my weekend calendar activities that I’ve been keeping for months I really felt we had done just about everything.  But it was Sister Gifford’s birthday on Friday and I have been wanting to take her to the village of Gifford here in Scotland so I planned a day centered around that and it didn’t disappoint.  We saw a lot of things we had never seen before and had a wonderful lunch in Gifford.  So here goes…

First stop was Newhailes House and Gardens.  You had to pay for parking and to enter the grounds here.  We didn’t really want to take a tour, just grab a picture so when we got to the parking lot I asked the attendant what our options were.  He asked what we wanted to do and I said just take a picture.  He said we could come in for free if we thought we would be less than 10 minutes.  So off we went to find the house.  It was very pretty but we got all we wanted in the ten minutes.This house is supposed to be absolutely beautiful inside but we didn’t want to stick around for a tour today.  We had too much to see and do.  I decided long ago I wasn’t going to get to do every little thing that came along and if I could at least get a picture and walk the grounds a bit that was more than enough.

We drove through a few little towns that really are not that far from Edinburgh and for some reason we had never been over that direction before.  Musselburgh and Inveresk were really nice towns and I would have liked to stop a few times for pictures but it isn’t that easy to do.  There are no places to put your car.  So we carried on.  We were heading to to garden places.  The first was a place called Inveresk Lodge Garden but when we got there we weren’t too excited.  It probably is nice during the summer but it was not too great today.  We wandered in and didn’t see anyone so we snapped a few pictures and moved on to the next place.

Shephard House Garden was someone’s house and we could see a door leading to a garden area but it was a private home and we weren’t sure what to do.  But Sister Gifford tried the door and it opened.  So we stepped into the neatest, most magical back garden.  The owner of the home was in the garden working and he was surprised to see us.  We told him we had searched the internet for beautiful places in this area and his garden came up but we would leave if he wanted us to.  He said, no, come in, I’ll show you around.  He has lived in this house that dates back to the 1600’s for just over 60 years.  When they moved there they had one big tree and one apple tree.  The rest he has done on his own.  It was amazing.  He was such a nice man and we enjoyed the time with him.  I’m so glad Sister Gifford opened the door.  It was the highlight of my day.

This little building tucked into one corner was so cute but then we got closer and he opened up the door.  The walls were covered in a shell pattern and there were stain glassed windows with different flowers all around the room.  And the ceiling was painted really pretty.  I noticed there was a staff of music on each section of the ceiling so I said to him that I really liked that he has music staffs along the ceiling.  He said he plays the bagpipes and that is a song he wrote for them.  It was really neat.  I would have loved to hear him play.    He kept apologizing that the garden was all ready for winter and not as beautiful as it usually is but we loved it.  He had every thing labeled.  Every tree and bush and flower.  This last picture is an example of his labeling.  This is in a place where something will come back next year but it is so detailed.  It says what it is and how it is from South Russia and that it is easily recognized by the bright green shiny leaves.  A lot of love has taken place in this garden.  

Next we were heading to a castle named Fa’Side Castle.  We found it but it wasn’t something we could go into.  We had to drive up another road to even get a look at it because it was behind a wall and gate.  But here it is.  We also saw a cute horse and a few cows out in this field.  

From here we move on towards a place called Haddington.  It also was a great little town and I did pull over here and ran back around a corner to get a picture of a church and graveyard.  I couldn’t resist.    Then we drove over to another great house called LennoxLove House.  We were possibly going to take a tour at this house but when we got there we found out they are not open on Saturdays.  So we just got out and wandered along the grass and took some pictures.  This house dates from the 14th century and is supposed to house some beautiful furniture and art.  They have a herd of wild cows that are the only ones like this in Scotland.  It is believed they are descended from the sacrificial cows of the Druids.  I don’t know about wild.  I walked over to where a group of them were laying in the grass and this one stood right up and walked over to check me out.  He posed for me to take several pictures.  

Well, next stop was Gifford and it was a great little village.  We stopped for lunch at a really nice pub/restaurant called The Goblin Ha’.  Apparently they believe there are goblins in that area and that they constructed a gothic chamber below the old Yester Castle (which we couldn’t find) and that it is haunted.  We did try to find Yester Castle but it is so overgrown and there are no roads to drive on so we decided we would leave it a mystery and move on.  Lunch was really good though.  We don’t always hit jackpot when we wander into a place but this was a good place.  I had an Alfredo dish.

Last stop was Preston Mill.  It was just a little place but it was very quaint and worth finding for the pictures.  We loved the atmosphere of the area.  Here are a few pictures from there.  

Well, we ran to the grocery store after this and I got dropped off back at the mission home and here I sit at my desk working on my blog.  It’s now 7:30 pm and I’m wondering what to do with myself for the rest of the evening.  But that’s okay.  One more week!!  I’ll be home!!  I am so excited.

Love you.




Week 78: Zone Conferences, Lots of goodbyes, Still playing catch-up

These missionaries

never fail to touch your heart.  After a long weekend of coming home from Ireland and trying to get some sleep before work, I was still feeling very tired on Monday.  But Elder Norris and Elder Cosmas popped into the office with some flowers for me.  What a way to brighten my day.  Thanks so much you two.

Tuesday we took Elder Cosmas and Elder Glasgow, from Wales, Utah, out to dinner.  We went to Five Guys and Elder Glasgow was so excited.  He had never been to a Five Guys before and his eyes were huge when he pulled his hamburger out of the sack and he saw all those fries.  It is nice to take missionaries we don’t usually get to take out to dinner.  Elder Glasgow came to the mission during the very first transfer after I got here but was immediately sent to Ireland so it’s only been a few months that I’ve gotten to see him around.  He is assigned to Stirling right now so he pops in now and then.

Wednesday was a rainy day.  The weather has been getting a bit colder and the skies are growing darker again.  It’s no longer light outside when I go to bed or even when I wake up.  I am so glad I’m not going to be here for another winter.  I miss the sun too much.  And the rain, it’s so wet here.  I don’t know how to describe it any better than that.  You get soaked immediately in the rain here.  Here is Elder Jonah Jensen from Southern Utah and Elder O’Connor coming in from working in the rain.  Elder Jensen has been sick all week so they only worked a half day in the rain and then got a ride back to their flat. 


Thursday was All-Scotland Zone Conference.  It’s been a very busy week for me because it is the mission tour week.  This is where a General Authority visits the mission, holds zone conferences, leadership meetings, inspects the mission home, mission office and a few missionary flats.  He also has a tight time-frame and it didn’t help that we had planes cancel and this big storm on Wednesday that literally shut down all modes of transportation.  I was so worried we weren’t going to get all the missionaries where they needed to be.  But I should know better by now.  There is a greater hand at play than mine.  All things worked out.  All we had to do was trust.

This was my very last zone conference so I had to give my departing testimony in front of a general authority.  That was a bit nerve wracking but all I had to do was look out at all these missionaries who feel like my own children and I wasn’t nervous at all.  I just wanted to talk to them and tell them my testimony and how much I loved them.  It was so easy to do.

Here is a picture of the whole Scotland group with Elder DeFeo in the front row on the stage, in the middle.  He was such a great man to get to know.

Elder Smith from Australia and Elder Cosmas
Sister Scheib and Sister Schlutsmeyer
Sister Syphus and Sister McNamara
Sister Coffman
Elder Crowley
Sister Hood

Well, we are not doing anything today to write about.  I have to give a talk in church tomorrow and I haven’t even started to think about it.  Sister Gifford is speaking next week.  So we are both working on our talks.  Also, Sister Smith, who is replacing me comes this next week so I need to figure out how to pack up my room and decide where I’m going to go for a couple weeks.  I might get a hotel but probably not for the whole time.  That would be expensive.  There is an extra bed downstairs in the Sisters flat and I might go there but they don’t have bedding so I have to decide if that matters.  I can’t believe I have just over two weeks left.  We all know how fast two weeks goes by.  I still have a lot of work to do.  But that doesn’t keep me from being excited about coming home.  I can’t believe September has gone by so fast.  I thought it would be a really slow month but it isn’t.  Before we know it I’ll be home!!

Have a great week and know I love you.  Hopefully next week when I write I will be telling you I have a new grandson.  He is late already.


Week 77: Ireland

Well, first off I just want to say that I’m grateful to be home and writing my blog.  For a while this morning it didn’t look like we were going to make it home today.  That would not have been good.  But here is my week and I’ll get to that in a minute.

I am just continuing to work very hard every day to get caught up on regular work and to make progress on the Ireland border issues.  I enjoy the hard work but I don’t hardly even look up from my desk these days.  And I still feel like I have more work than hours left.

Wednesday we took our delightful sister missionaries (Chinese-speaking) out to dinner.  We had a baptism on Wednesday evening as well and on top of that I told the sisters from Dublin who were in town for exchanges that I would take them to the airport to catch their flight so dinner ended up being at Five Guys because that is the fastest place in town.  What a joy to spend a few minutes catching up with these girls.  I really love Sister Belliston from Michigan and Sister Orin from the Philippines.  These two girls are power-houses.  The work so hard and have brought several to the waters of baptism.

We have had a trip to Ireland planned for a couple months now so that Sister Gifford could see Ireland.  The Miller’s wanted to go with us as well because that is where Elder Miller served his mission as a young missionary and they had hoped to serve there together but the chances of that are fading away.  There is still hope and I really hope they do get to go, but right now, who knows.  I asked the Miller’s to plan our trip because I have been so busy and they were happy to do so.  I bought the plane tickets and sent them an email about the time for the flight but somewhere between that email and our memories we goofed on what time the plane was taking off and Sister Miller didn’t catch that until after 10:00 Wednesday night and I had to then wake up Sister Gifford and have her set her alarm for an hour earlier than what we had planned.  We had to re-book a taxi and re-think our morning.  But no worries, it all worked out and off we went to Ireland on Thursday early morning.

We landed in Dublin and rented a car then drove to Waterford.  In Waterford we parked along the waterfront and walked a few blocks to the Waterford Crystal Factory.  I have been here once before with Landon and Ashley but it was enjoyable just the same again.  I didn’t buy anything but Sister Gifford bought a small vase.  There are some beautiful things at the crystal showroom. 

After that and a quick lunch we headed off to Cork and Blarney Castle.  I had also been to Cork with Landon and Ashley but it was on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and nothing was open so we saw the city but didn’t get to to anything.  Blarney Castle was wonderful.  I hadn’t heard that great of things about this castle but I really liked it.  The grounds around the castle were very nice and if we hadn’t been on such a time crunch, I would have enjoyed wandering them a bit more than we did.  But we did climb to the top of the castle and kissed the Blarney Stone.  We were dressed in our missionary attire which made that a little harder to do.  In order to kiss the Blarney Stone – to gain the gift of gab, you have to lie down on your back and reach over your head with both your hands and grab on to two pipes.  Then you have to pull yourself back a bit over a ledge and lean your head back as far as you can to kiss the stone.  It was a bit crazy but I can say I did it.  I’m happy for that.

Tis there’s the stone that whoever kissesHe never misses to grow eloquent;

‘Tis he may clamber to a lady’s chamber,

Or become a member of Parliament.

“A noble spouter he’ll sure turn out, or

An out and outer to be let alone;

Don’t try to hinder him, or to bewilder him,

For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone.”

     -Francis Sylvester Mahony

The Blarney Stone is up at the top where you see the opening. That’s what you lay back over.

The next day we drove around Cork a bit and Elder Miller showed us where he lived 50 years ago while serving a mission.  The place was all boarded up so he wasn’t able to do anything but get a picture out in front of the building but I think that was nice for him to see his old stomping grounds.

As we headed off to drive the Ring of Kerry we came across several small villages that were so neat looking.  With Elder Miller driving we don’t stop as much as if it was just Sister Gifford and I but we got him to stop in one town called Killorglin.  I learned about a tradition they have here.  As you drive into town there is a statue of a goat with a crown on his head.  I didn’t get to take a picture but here is one from the internet.   So this village has one of Ireland’s oldest fairs called Puck Fair.  Every year a goat catcher goes up into the mountains to catch a wild goat. The goat is brought back into town and the “Queen of Puck”, traditionally a 12-year-old school girl crowns the goat “King Puck”.  He is then paraded through town and then elevated up onto a high stand in the town square for three days. Where he rules over the festivities.  Then he is brought back down and led back to the mountains to his home.  While he is in the village he is well taken care of, fed well and looked after by a vet.   We also walked over to a pretty church and went inside.  The grounds were nice with a nice statue.

The weather was beautiful at times and at other times it got a bit leaky but we had a great time and saw some beautiful sights.   The best part of the ring for me was Ross Castle.  This was a place I wanted to take Landon and Ashley when they were here but for a few reasons, like it was


Christmas Day and we couldn’t find a gas station open (or anything else) we didn’t go to Ross Castle.  It wouldn’t have been open anyway and now that I’ve been there I know we probably wouldn’t have even been able to get close enough to see it.  Ashley can trace her family history to this castle and it sits on a beautiful lake.  We didn’t stay long but it was very nice.   After getting through the Ring of Kerry we drove to Limerick where we stayed the night at a great B&B.  It was nice company visiting with the owners of the place and they directed us to a much needed really good restaurant for dinner.  We had a horrible lunch earlier and were all very hungry.  I had lasagna and it was by far the best Italian food I’ve had here.  I ate every bit of it.

Saturday morning it was off to the Cliffs of Moher.  This was a different experience than on Christmas Day.  The place was full of people but it was still fun and the sight is beautiful.  We got to go into the visitor’s center and do a little shopping in the gift shop as well.  

As we drove thru the countryside I rolled my window down and took a couple shots.  I love the Irish scenery.  Here is one shot I took from the car window and also a shot of Dunguaire Castle near Galway.  (Not everyone wants to stop at every castle we drive by.)  But this picture turned out pretty good.  

After the cliffs we drove into Galway which is a place I’ve wanted to go.  We always have senior missionaries in Galway.  Currently the Walker’s from Mesa, Arizona are here and we were planning on meeting up with them for dinner.  We got to Galway and parked then walked a ways to Eyre Square to wait for the Walkers.  Their P-Day is usually on Monday and they had some missionary work going on for a little bit.  Here was a cute statue in the square but no one could tell us who he is.  We decided he was just a cute little leprechaun. 

One more picture I had to take of this phone store…

And a few at dinner…

Well, we were very tired by the time we got to Dublin at about 9:00 and it took almost an hour for us to find our AirB&B for the night.  We were so tired but we found it and had a noisy few hours of sleep since the place we stayed was right across from a canal with swans and it seemed the people just stayed out there all night having parties.  We were up at 3:30 AM to leave for the airport at 4:00 AM so we could get to our flight and home in time for church.  But that wasn’t in the plans for us.

We got to Enterprise to take our car back and it didn’t open until 5:00 AM.  That would have been okay but they didn’t open until about 5:10 and there were three cars ahead of us.  There seemed to be only one guy there to work and we waited for him to slowly check the cars in front of us.  We told him we were in a big hurry and he didn’t keep us long on our car but then we got over to where the shuttle was supposed to take us to the airport and there was no shuttle.  Everyone was just standing there waiting which is what we ended up doing.  We didn’t get on a shuttle until just about 5:30 and after we got through security, which was packed, and a couple of us got stopped for luggage checks and body checks we had missed the plane.  We walked all the way down to the gate anyway in hopes that it had been delayed but by the time we were almost there (which was as far away as you can get for a gate) we knew we had missed it.  So we ended up walking all the way back and through customs (not fun) and back down to the front of the airport to find the RyanAir Ticket Counter.  We waited in line and got to the agent who told us there were no flights for the rest of the day that had any room.

We decided to figure out our options and considered the other airline, AerLingus but when we looked at prices they were high.  We looked at taking a bus from Dublin to Edinburgh which would include a ferry but the soonest we would get home would be 10:30 PM and not all the legs of the bus were even available so we would have had problems along the way.  We thought about renting a car but the fee to drop it off was high and they wouldn’t let us take it to Edinburgh, only Belfast which still left us with problems.  So we decided again to find better prices on airline tickets.  We finally found some on-line tickets for a little less than the first time we searched and decided it was what we were going to do.  Problem was the plane didn’t leave until 4:30 PM and it was only 9:00 AM at the moment but it was better than nothing.  We bought the tickets on-line and once again started walking to the other Terminal.  

Well, all is well again.  We went to AerLingus ticket counter after buying the 4:30 tickets and asked if there was anyway we could move to an earlier flight and they got us on a flight that got us home at noon.  Now Sister Gifford and I are at the office trying to play catch-up on all the work that didn’t get done while we were away.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.  I’ll see you in 22 days.



Week 76: Refreshed but still physically tired, Getting there

Sunday last week was a day for me to catch up on my personal Book of Mormon studies.  I have gone to Highland South Stake’s Women’s Gospel Studies for two years and knew that I would keep up with the class since they always record it for those who can’t attend.  I did really well for a while keeping up but I got about 4 weeks behind a while ago and haven’t taken the time to get caught back up.  But this week the new year started and I knew I had to finish up the Book of Mormon course so I didn’t get behind in this year’s classes.  I plan on going back and attending just as soon as I get home and I want to be right where I’m supposed to be.  This year they are studying Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel which will be a great year.  So anyway, I read and listened to three weeks worth of classes on Sunday which was actually a great way to spend my Sunday.

We still had missionaries moving around Sunday and Monday and I actually did go into the office twice on Sunday to fix a couple ticket issues but other than that it was a wonderful day.  And actually if I’m helping the missionaries I am totally happy so that last sentence wasn’t worded they way I really feel.

Monday Sister Gifford and I took some time away from the office to drive to Galashiels (again) to check out the one and only flat she could find, with the hopes that it would work for the girls.  We were so delighted when we saw the cute little house on the corner with a park right across the street and only a block or two away from shopping.  And when we entered the street level flat we were overcome with the realization that this was the place for our new sisters heading to Galashiels.  I don’t need to remind you of the crazy few trips and hard work we just experienced the last month closing up an apartment in Galashiels so to find this perfect place was a blessing.  Sister Gifford and I could agree that we would have been thrilled to live there as well.

Tuesday night the senior missionaries got together at the mission home for Taco Soup and good company.  The Pohlman’s go home on Monday so this was our last dinner with them.  They actually came out on their mission 4 weeks after I got here so it is weird to be sending them off but the plan always was for them to go home after 17 months so here they are.  That’s the nice thing for Senior missionaries.  The church needs you and whatever it takes to get you here, they will work around it.

Wednesday we took the sisters out to dinner.  Sister Irving and Sister Curtis, our Sister Training Leader Trainers also had guests because of all the Ireland moves so we were so happy to have Sister Westbroek and Sister Curtis join us.  We love it when our dinners can extend to other missionaries we don’t usually get to treat.  Poor Sister Gifford had had five new flats to find in Scotland with the Ireland moves and amazingly she has done it in less than two weeks.  These girls are going back to Galashiels (I say back because we just closed that area a transfer ago, and are now reopening it) but Galashiels is new to them.  Sister Clark (from Sacramento area) just got here from the Preston MTC and Sister Westbroek (from Syracuse area) is her trainer.  Two very sweet girls.

Friday was a baptism in Galashiels for Vivian, who we had taken to witness a baptism a few weeks ago.  This was also her birthday so that made it extra special for her.  We were asked to attend her baptism which we were happy to do.  The Galashiels flat was ready for the girls as well so we hauled their luggage to the flat and they met us there with Sister Irving and Sister Curtis and we got their luggage in.  Being a new place there was, of course, no food and so we decided to take them shopping before the baptism.  And as well as that, the kitchen was bare.  No plates, pots, utensils etc.  We also make sure they have a broom, mop, vacuum, microwave, toaster, garbage bins, etc.  So we split the shopping list in two and ran through ASDA as quickly as we could getting everything for their new place.  I didn’t think there was anyway we were going to get it all in our little car with four people as well but we made it. We weren’t able to keep the rule of companions within sight and sound of each other.  There was no seeing Sister Westbroek who was completely covered with things.  But we had a blast.  Something those girls will never forget.

The baptism for Vivian was very sweet.  Her parent’s attended and brought her flowers so it was so nice to witness their acceptance of her decision.  She will be loved and taken care of in Galashiels.

After the baptism Sister Gifford and I headed off to England.  We are finally on our way to the temple after putting it off for a week and then wondering all week if we would actually be able to pull it off this weekend.  I knew if we didn’t do it this weekend we wouldn’t have the time. We decided to drive as far as the Lake District on Friday night to get us a little closer to the temple.  I’m glad we did because Saturday turned out to be a very wet and rainy day.  It was not easy to drive when you can barely see the road signs.  The roads we drove on Friday night were narrow and windy.  I really wish we could have seen where we were, I bet it was beautiful but we were safe and we had a great place to stay in Windmere right on a lake.  It was a beautiful sight to wake up to.  We walked outside Saturday morning and just took in the beauty around us for about ten minutes and then ate a quick breakfast and headed to Chorley.

The drive to Chorley was beautiful and a few times I took a little detour to follow a sign, never knowing what we were going to see. The scenery was beautiful and I had to pull over a couple times to take pictures.  This really neat house was a delight to stumble on. I would have loved to learn the story behind this area but of course we weren’t able to spend the time to figure out anything.Maybe my next mission will have to be in England so I can do more exploring over here.

We got to the temple in a torrential rain storm and rain in quickly.  What a wonderful feeling to walk into the house of the Lord. Escaping the real world is so easy when you enter the calming atmosphere of the temple.  We really enjoyed the session and I realized how sweet it is to listen to the words of the endowment.  For a few years I heard those words every week as I worked in the Mt Timpanogos Temple, but then to be here and go almost 18 months without attending a session at the temple, I realized just how much I love to be there and listen to those words.

After the temple we headed back out to the car.  It was still raining quite hard so we didn’t take many pictures.  But here is the one I took.

Next stop was the River Ribble.  This is where the first England baptisms took place.  Somewhere along the banks of the River is a small plaque that tells of this but with the rain we decided not to hike down to the river.  We think we are in about the right place here and this picture will just have to do.

As we headed off towards Alnwick Castle it was clear to me that we were not going to get their in time to actually go in the castle so I just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery.  We followed a sign for Kendal Castle that was only a mile away but when we got there it was just to a trail head to hike to the castle and we couldn’t do that since we were only given permission to go to the temple and then to follow a certain road home so we could see Alnwick Castle.  So we didn’t get to see the first castle but it’s funny how sometimes we are rewarded for our obedience.  We got back in the car and just a few minutes later came across this place.  Langley Castle.  So I’m counting it, even though we just snapped a picture from the driveway.

We could have stopped about every 3 to 5 minutes to take another picture, the scenery was so beautiful but we didn’t.  The rain did put a bit of a damper on my excitement to see what we could – legally in England.  But here is one last picture that I took on the way to Alnwick.

We finally made it to Alnwick and the castle did not disappoint.  It was magnificent.  I would have loved to have explored it but the picture was going to have to do.  It’s what I wanted and I got it.  Now I really have a desire to explore the castles of England.  

By the time we got done at Alnwick Castle we were starving.  So we went into town at Alnwick and tried to find somewhere to eat dinner.  We walked up and down a couple streets going into little cafe’s and nicer restaurants but we were turned away at every place.  They were all full.  No room for two little missionaries.  So we filled up our car with gas and bought a bag of crisps and headed back to our beloved Scotland.  I actually felt like I had returned home when I saw the Welcome to Scotland sign.

As we drove into familiar territory we took the road that leads to Dalkeith and stopped at our favorite restaurant there and had an amazing meal.  Probably because it was 7:30 PM at this point and we hadn’t really eaten since about 7:00 AM we thought we had died and gone to heaven.  But the food is always good there and we felt great.

Today we enjoyed The Singing Children of Africa for 30 minutes before church.  They are a darling group of children from Africa who come to Scotland every year and sing.  Their little voices singing praises of God was the perfect ending to our week.  I didn’t take a picture since we were in the chapel but here is one I found online of the same group.

Well, I am actually going to head into the office for a few hours to get things ready for the Pohlman’s to leave tomorrow and to get ready for a Mission Tour that is happening soon with the President and a member of the Area Presidency, Elder De Feo.

Happy Birthday Everett.  I hope you love that bunny.  I am so glad I got to see you open it and your reaction was priceless.

Have a great week everyone!!


Week 75: Worn out, Moves times two

Where do I begin.  I really just want to crawl in my bed.  I’m exhausted.  But we have had so many blessings and protection this week so I do want to get it down in my blog.

Sunday was a typical moves weekend Sunday.  We had twelve going home and I have to say every single one of these twelve are special missionaries to me.  I have been with them my entire mission and most I have worked very closely with.  It gets harder and harder to see them go and yet I know I’m that much closer to seeing a lot of them again.  It’s a weird feeling. Missionaries in order:  Elder Liberty Haynes, Elder Jon Schmidt, Elder Brett Gowans, Elder Christoffer Grabe, Elder Ryder Nelson, Elder Daniel Siswick, Elder Walker Wright, Elder Taylor Thompson, Elder Riley Bain, Sister Mikelle Wayne, and Sister Hannah Tucker.  I’m missing one…Elder DeMille.  I’m not sure where he was when we were taking picures.

Moves on Monday went well and everyone got to where they were going and were getting settled.  I was getting ready for our 13 new arrivals on Tuesday when the lawyer I’ve been working with on trying to get all our missionaries back legal to be in Ireland called.  I have been asking for help for several months now since the laws have changed for religious workers in Ireland.  There is a lot more to getting our missionaries legal to go into the country now.  Some of it is near impossible to pull off.  But we have been working on it and in the meantime I keep updating the police (garda) with who we have in the country and where they are living.  Well, this past month has gotten worse.  We have had several problems at the border and some of our missionaries have been stamped in their passports that they have to be out of the country within so many days.  This transfer we had 13 new missionaries coming in and we wanted to put eight of them over in Ireland.  I mentioned this to our lawyer and all of a sudden it was like a switch was thrown and everyone started realizing that I really did need help and that we really shouldn’t be allowing missionaries to go into the country until paperwork is done.  So people in Salt Lake began calling the President and by Tuesday afternoon the decision was made that we would pull everyone out of Ireland who did not have proper documentation to be there.  We had 45 missionaries in the Republic of Ireland and all but about 8 needed to come out.  So the day after moves I began moves planning again.

Because of this, our new missionaries who came on Tuesday stayed in Edinburgh for a couple extra days and didn’t even find out who their companions were going to be until a day late.  There were just too many things up in the air and President was juggling all he could.  So parent letters were a bit different.  Because I was so busy working on moves planning, Sister Macdonald sent out the parent letters just telling them their missionary was safe and we would let them know where they were going soon.  So that was something else I had to get done this weekend.  It has just been none-stop work.

In Edinburgh this transfer we had one AP, one Zone Leader, one of our Sister Training Leader Trainers and our District Leader all going home so we have a new AP which I showed last week, two new zone leaders, Elder Norris and Elder Cosmas, a new STLT, Sister Curtis, and a new District Leader.  Here is Elder O’Connor with his brand new companion straight from the MTC.  That makes Elder O’Connor a District Trainer which is a District Leader who is also training.  First time doing both for him.  He is going to do well.  And he is staying here in Edinburgh which is great.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we have over 50 missionaries being transferred in and out of Ireland with the bulk of them on Friday.  So I spent many, many hours back at the office with Wednesday being 18 hours of sitting behind my desk planning moves and then another 14.5 hours on Thursday and then back to the office on Friday by 6:00 am to start running missionaries to the airport.  If it hadn’t been for some extremely talented zone leaders, we could never had pulled this off but we worked hard as a team and things have gone smoothly for the most part.  Friday we got the bulk of our missionaries moved with virtually no problems.  The one problem I know that we encounter is not being allowed on the bus with two pieces of luggage so I carefully bought two bus tickets per missionary in the Glasgow legs where we have had this problem before and all went well.  We had 23 missionaries into Belfast by 4:30 PM and they were all congregated at the bus and train stations and we had to get them and 46 pieces of luggage to the airport and ferry terminal.  That should have been an impossible feat but a man from out of the blue (who is a member) offered to empty out his truck and came and picked up all the luggage and took it where it needed to go.  So then a few hours later six of our cars and van over here in Scotland made a run to pick up these missionaries and all their luggage and got them to flats around here for the night and then they all got on early morning trains and buses to their destinations.  We didn’t lose anyone and no one had problems in that large group.  I got to bed about 12:30 AM after this and it felt so good to just close my eyes and know that everyone was where they were supposed to be and were safe.

Then this morning, (Saturday) my phone rang at 4:30 AM and our Aberdeen missionaries had been refused to be let on the bus because they had two suitcases each.  4:30 in the morning…there is no way that bus was full enough that the extra luggage would make a difference.  So I sat in my bed, bleary eyed on the phone with Elder McLeish and worked out new routes and tickets for those two missionaries.

Sister Gifford and I had gotten special permission several weeks ago to attend the temple this weekend.  We were going to be heading to Preston England and then we were going to drive back, stopping at Alnwick Castle in England which is a castle I would really like to see but didn’t think I would get to since it is in England.  After talking to President Donaldson before he left he suggested that since the castle was on the road we would be driving to Preston anyway, we could stop off there on our way back from the temple.  I was really looking forward to this weekend to go to the temple and then to the castle but I think I have reached the end of my energy and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stay awake in the temple, let alone while driving.  So we stayed closer to home and did a little shopping.

So I don’t even have any great pictures to show you this week.  We drove to Stirling today in hopes of seeing the Dunmore Pineapple House but we tried everything we could think of and the gates were locked and we couldn’t get in.  So if you want to see a neat looking house, google Dunmore Pineapple House.  We also thought we were going to see something else we had never seen before called Mars Wark but when we got to it we realized we have seen it many times as it is a ruined castle-looking building right next to the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling.  So our culture for the day was non-existent.  We did walk the streets of Stirling looking for souvenirs to take home and walked along the old city wall.  We saw some beautiful flowers as usual too.  So here are a few random pictures of what we saw today.  Nothing too exciting.

And now I think I’m going to go to bed, even though it is only 7:00 PM here.  I hope pre-school was fun this week Kaylee.  Also, I want to say that I challenged my family to read the Book of Mormon while I’m gone on my mission and then we would do something fun for everyone who accomplished that when I get home.  Skyler and his entire family finished the Book of Mormon last week.  I am so proud of them.  That’s a big accomplishment.  I know Lacey’s family isn’t far behind.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.  It’s feeling like fall here.  We have our heat back on.  Summer doesn’t last long in Scotland.  It’s been rainy again several days this week.

Love you!!

Week 74: Moves Planning, The Tattoo, Day with the Macdonalds

Here we are, moves planning again.  This should be my last time to do moves but I’m staying ten extra days to do the next one as well.  But that means six weeks from today I will have my bags packed and we will be watching General Conference and I’ll be counting the hours until I get on a plane back home.  It doesn’t seem real.

Last Sunday we had an enjoyable day at church and then went back to the mission home later that night to listen to a BYU Woodwind Quintet who needed a place to practice before their performances at Fringe this week.  They had written to the mission office a month or so ago asking if we could help them out.  I was excited to do just that.  I’ve played in quintets before and I really enjoy listening to them.  The clarinet player was a missionary here in Scotland several years ago.  He and the Bassoon player are BYU professors.  I’m not sure about the others but they were amazing.  It was fun to listen.   We had to leave before their last song and go and pick up Sister Belliston and Sister Orin who were quite aways from home out seeking less actives and seeing what they could do for them.  They actually had a great night and made some great contacts.  They also met a couple new people who set up lessons with them.  They are very hard working sisters.

Monday of course is the missionaries p-day.  I love that they come into the office to say hi.  Here is my usual visitors.  Elder Brockbank (from Lehi), Elder Thompson (from Perry I think) who goes home this transfer, Elder O’Connor from Saratoga Springs, and Elder Gowans who also goes home this transfer from Orem.  As you can tell I have lots of new friends to come home to.  These missionaries have touched my heart and I hope that I’ve been able to return the favor to them.  It’s been such an honor to serve with the wonderful missionaries here in Scotland and Ireland. 

Tuesday after work we took the APs to Tony Macaroni.  We are losing Elder Wright this transfer.  He is from Pleasant Grove.  He has been in Edinburgh more than half his mission so I have gotten to know him so well.  We are really going to miss these missionaries.  Dinner was so much fun.  We were all in the mood for dessert so we got the large Sundae for the boys to split.  It was huge but they plowed through it.  So much for their body building they’ve been trying to do.  I’m sure they walk it off though, they walk miles each day. Elder Gedlaman is still our other AP and the new AP in the middle here is Elder Christiansen from St. George.  He has been in Dublin his whole mission so it will be fun to get to know him better.  He has been a wonderful missionary.  I have worked with him since he has been a zone leader and he is very organized and a great leader.

Wednesday was a baptism.  Two baptisms actually.  Patrick from Edinburgh and Phoebe from China.  The APs asked me if I could pick Patrick up because he isn’t able to get to the church very well on his own.  I said I would and then a little later the girls called and asked if I would go out to Corstorphine and pick up Vivian who is getting baptized next week and bring her to the baptism.  I still haven’t learned the word “no”.  So I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get everyone picked up and to the baptism in time and I realize it just isn’t going to happen.  So I mentioned to the President that I had over extended myself and he volunteered to go get Patrick.  Good thing because what was supposed to be a 20 minute drive to get Vivian turned into a 40 minute drive and then trying to get back to the church we were just not going to make it.  I told Sister Gifford to call the APs and see if they would stall.  They said they would try.  But we were becoming so late I really thought we would miss the whole thing.  But this is when we see God reaching out and fixing things for us.  Vivian has never seen a baptism and is a little worried about the actual act of getting baptised.  It was important she see this.  As late as we were, we walked in just as Patrick stepped into the water.  Phoebe was second.  So we saw what we had brought Vivian to see and it was perfect.  She is so excited to get baptised.  She actually lives in Galashiels and even though I swore a few weeks ago that we would never be driving to the borders again, we are going to her baptism on Friday night next week.  One more trip to Galashiels.

It has been rainy all week and we had tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on Thursday night.  We were worried since we knew what it was like to be there in the rain from last year.  But Thursday night we, along with President and Sister Macdonald headed off to the castle.  It rained a few drops just as we got there but then the sky cleared up and we had a wonderful night watching the bands and precision military groups.  It wasn’t as big as last year, there were only half the size of bands but it was every bit as good.  We enjoyed it so much.  

I just want to talk for a minute about how much my mission has helped me with my scripture study.  I have always loved to read the scriptures and have done so ever since I was little when my Grandmother Morley gave me a Children’s Illustrated Bible.  I read that book over and over again.  I kept up with my reading all through seminary and with the institute classes.  I have also tried to go to church scripture study groups over the years.  It’s something that I love but I have never felt like I retain the scriptures.  I never feel like I can just talk in Sunday School or other lessons and pull everything together and say something that others would enjoy hearing.  I am always a little jealous when others seem to do that with no problem.  But I have found on my mission that when I study using Preach My Gospel and concentrate on the missionary lessons and read each scripture and do this over and over that I’m learning so much more.  I still can’t just talk in Sunday School like some people can but I know personally I am getting more and more out of my scripture study.  It doesn’t matter how tired I am when I get home, I love to sit down at the table and study.  Sometimes for several hours.  At home I would crawl into bed and turn on my TV and watch a couple hours of sitcoms or TV dramas while trying to fall asleep.  But this has been so much more rewarding.  I know it isn’t something that will be as easy to maintain once I’m home but I hope the habits I’ve created here will still influence me when I get home and I have the same desire to study.  I keep telling myself that as long as I’m getting it into my head, at some point when I really need to know it, it will be there.


Today I got to the office at 7:00 am and worked until 1:00.  It’s not a big transfer this time but the pope is in Dublin and it’s a bank holiday on Monday so travel is a little tricky.  A normal two-and-a-half hour bus ride from Cork or Limerick to Dublin is going to take up to four hours on Monday because of road changes.  And our missionaries have to get there and then some onto Belfast and then on a ferry to Scotland.  I’m hoping I’m figuring out the timing right.  Also, many buses are full so we are having to rely on taxi’s for a few short segments of the trips.

I got everything done that I could do and the Macdonald’s asked what we were doing today so we decided to take them to a few places close by that we could all enjoy.  First stop was to Dalhousie Castle which was a place we discovered several months ago and their falconry.  It was just as fun the second time.  These birds are so neat and you literally can get inches away from them.  Here I have a picture of a Siberian Owl and a Little Owl.  Yes, that is his technical name.  Little Owl.  And he is little.  Maybe six to eight inches tall.

Then we went to our favorite Pizzaria and Fish Bar in DalKeith for some take away then over to Dalkeith Country Park for a picnic.  The weather was delightful.  Not hot at all but very pleasant.  Then we drove around the park and then over to Dobbies to do a little shopping.  Skyler told me I needed to find something I could put in the backyard about Scotland for the kids to find when they come to visit.  I didn’t realize they like to find my lizards and fairies and the tiki statue that I bought in Hawaii.  So I found a Highland Cow and a cute little duck to hide in my yard when I get home.

Now it is back to the office to do some follow-up with some of the missionaries who will be traveling tomorrow and Monday.


Look at these two pictures of plants.  Dobbie’s has such a great nursery.  That first is a succulent with a bright pink plume and the purple is a flower growing out of it.  The second is called a Lipstick plant.  It looks like a paper chain.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  I am thinking of each one of you and hope you are all doing well.  I got a phone call on Friday from Elder Pelham who is going home the same day I’m leaving.  He said, Sister Call, we have 46 more days!!  Oh boy, that’s a little soon to start counting days but wow, that’s going to go by quick.

Love you.

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!!