Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I don't have much to share with you since the last post (you can read that one below if you have not done that yet).  It has been a busy week. Our internet was down on Friday so we decided to go shopping instead of sitting in the office and doing nothing. I did not find anything to buy. The weather has been nice, but still cold and often rainy. Sadly, all these British people think this is summer! So, all the clothes are short sleeves. I could not find anything to buy.  Even shoes in the stores, only sandals displayed now.  How do you wear sandals in the rain anyway? Not that I want to find out... I am always cold of course and can't wear summer clothes in this weather. My companion is always hot, and I am always cold. She wants to turn the air condition on in the office when I am wearing two layers and freezing. I'm strange what can I say. Gladly my apartment is warm always and my companion is considerate of my needs.

Sister Adams invited us to lunch today and we went to a picnic table behind the temple and had a picnic. It was actually the first nice day I have seen in a while. It is nice to see the sun shining once in a while.

I am used to being so busy on Sundays and here Sunday is a day where I have nothing to do. I just watched a movie about President Monson.  One story he shared was how he was prompted by the Holy Ghost to leave a meeting and go to visit a little girl who had cancer and was dying. Her parents prayed and fasted and wanted Elder Monson to visit them and give the girl a blessing. You remember the story he told at General Conference, I am sure.  He said, at the conference he was at, he heard the words: "Suffer the little children to come unto me..." and he knew what he had to do. What I have not noticed before is that the little girl ended up dying shortly after, as her condition was very bad.  I realized today that Pres. Monson's visit meant something to the little girl and to her family and that is why the Lord wanted him to go. Heavenly Father cares for each of us individually and knows our needs and desires.  Those in the meeting probably wondered what could be so important that Pres. Monson would leave conducting and speaking at a meeting of hundreds of people for? It was to seek after the 'one'. One little girl.  This is what the Savior does. He leaves the 99 to seek after the 'one'. Jesus Christ loves us all and does all He can so that we can come home.

What else is going on...Well, I finally found Hummus in a store and I bought some Greek olives which were similar to ours and enjoyed eating those. I normally don't like humus very much, but I have missed it! Ok, when I start talking about food you know I have nothing else to say. So, just want to say I miss you all. I am doing well and enjoying serving here.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Donny Osmond

I got to take a picture with Donny Osmond while he was at the temple today. He's a famous singer/actor who is a member of our church. 
Below is one of his songs, if you love dogs this is really cute:

Link: Puppy Love Song 

I am not really a big fan, but many are. We had people waiting outside the temple to meet him and everyone lining up to take pictures. Sister King encouraged me to chase him as he walked with his family in the garden and we were able to get a picture. I felt stupid, but it was worth it. His wife and son are in the picture and me and sister King at the ends.



We bought tickets for the Osmond brothers' concert in September. His brothers are here to do a concert and we thought it would be fun to go.

Today was a busy day at the office. Sometimes everything goes wrong all at once and everyone wants your attention. Today was one of those days. Pres. Millar was getting a new car, but instead of them coming to drop it off tomorrow, they came today. It would be ok except that they were supposed to have the old car to pick up in it's place...and of course the old car was not here. So, the guy had me sign the papers and gave me the new car without asking who I was or questioning anything. I thought it was strange.  Anyway, I got to drive the new car around and it was fun. Never drove such a nice car before =)

I am finally comfortable driving on the left side of the road and have not gone on the 'wrong' side for a while now. I may not be able to drive on the 'right' when I get home...but then again, at home, they drive in the middle of the road so it does not matter.

Sister Cates may be gathering courage to drive. So, I may take her for a little drive on Saturday morning (early) when there are not many cars on the roads. 

Things are going great...Trying to stay busy and find ways to serve outside of office hours. People are really sweet here. Especially drivers. I have never had people stop to let me in their lane whenever I need to as I drive. 




Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday, June 23

It has been a good week. I kept waiting for them to clean Sister Hess’s flat so I could move in.  It was only next door, so not much change in location. But, she had a much bigger kitchen and more storage space.
The guy at the desk gave me the key as soon as they finished cleaning it. Then he got yelled at for giving me the key that soon. Anyway, I had the Elders help me move and it did not take long. It was a pain to pack things though, but it gave me a chance to go through my stuff and organize it. It is amazing how much you can collect in 5 months! 

Sister Cates moved into my room and she was very grateful to have internet in her place finally. She has been talking to her family all day today. 

Our Mission president's wife has been ill. Today I fasted and prayed for her. We saw her today and she is doing a bit better. She had a speaking assignment on Saturday at a relief society stake conference. Pres. Millar asked me to speak in her place. When we arrived to the conference 10 minutes before the meeting, we thought we were at the wrong chapel because no one was there. Pres. Millar told me not to worry and that they always start half an hour late.  He was right! 

It was so sad because very few sisters came. When I think of a Stake RS conference I imagine hundreds of sisters, but that was not the case. Apparently many wards here have a high level of inactivity. People don't really go to church anymore. It makes me sad...

Our relief society lesson today was about faith and believing. It encouraged me to try to have more faith. We had a mission wide fast today to pray for more success and so that we could serve better and bring others to Christ. We have over 210 missionaries and have very few baptisms. But, when I saw how many inactive people we have in the church here the task seemed impossible. I have to keep in mind that God is in charge and that this is His work and that if we have faith He will perform the miracles for us.

Since I don't have a lot of exciting news to share with you, I thought I would share a funny story with you. The Adams who work in the office with us wanted to have a BBQ. They bought this little BBQ bucket that you can put coal in and light it and have a BBQ. They took it outside and lit it. Shortly after, the fire alarm went off. Everyone gathered outside the building wondering where the fire was, and then here comes sister Adams carrying 'the fire' with her. Everyone teased the Adams about making the alarm go off.  We were laughing so hard. Everyone thought she lit it inside, but it was outside.  She was trying to blow it out using her skirt so the fire alarm would stop. Then Elder Adams came and dumped water on it and killed the fire.  We later found out there was another fire (at the SAME time--coincidence!!) that made the alarm go off. Someone left food on the stove and it burned.

Here's sister Adams trying to put out the fire...




Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday, June 16

I hope you all don't keep checking my blog for posts and find no new ones. I will post once a week on Sunday.  I will rarely put up two posts in one week. So, if you check my blog every Monday I will try to make sure you will find something new.

Last week was Sister Hess's last week here.  On Sunday we heard that Elder Ballard 'may' stop by London and meet with all the missionaries. We instructed our missionaries to wait for further instructions and not do their normal p-day activities. Sister Hess and I planned a trip with the temple missionaries, but decided we would go to London instead. This way, as soon as we heard about whether or not Elder Ballard would come, we would go to Hyde Park Chapel and meet with the others.  There is so much to see and do in London.  After being here 18 months, sister Hess still has not seen it all.

We went to St. Paul's cathedral in the morning. The picture below shows the outside of the cathedral:


The entrance fee is too much, but luckily as 'ministers of religion' we got in for free! We were not allowed to take pictures inside the cathedral but it was so beautiful inside.  We saw people way up high in the dome, looking down at the church. It said we only had to climb about 200 steps to go up there, so we decided to do it..We were so tired when we got up there. 
The view was nice from the top looking down at this magnificent church. You can see that in the below picture. You can see the rail where we climbed the first time and the view we saw from the top.


 

As I looked up, I saw another place, even higher up in the dome with some rail and saw some people up there (you can see the other rail in the picture over the windows).  I saw a sign that said 119 steps to the top. Sister Hess said she was too tired, but said she would wait for me if I wanted to go. Well, after climbing 200 steps, 119 did not seem bad. So, I headed up. I thought I was going to die on the way. Finally, I saw the end...But, it was not inside the church, it was on the outside of the dome. It was surrounded by poles that you could not even see the view very well. Then I saw another sign '159 steps to the top of the dome'. So, I thought: "Did I come 119 steps for nothing? I want to go to the top to look down at the church from the inside, I should just do it!"
So, I went up...and by then I was really high up that I could hardly breathe. I really thought I would pass out...I stopped to rest and saw a sign 'defibrillator', no surprise they have it up there. I told the lady that was climbing with me: "they are trying to kill us!" She agreed.

Anyway, I finally made it to 'the end'....But, yet AGAIN, it was outside of the dome, not inside.  It was a really nice view from the outside, really high over London. But, it was NOT worth me climbing almost 300 steps to see it!  I didn't dare look for another sign that said....X steps to the top. I took a few pictures, then crawled down the stairs. Here are a couple of pictures I took from the top:


 
When I finally made it down, Sister Hess was sitting there resting; she smiled and said: "The guy told me you can't climb up to that place!" Ya, it only took me 278 steps to find that out! He could have told me BEFORE I went up.
 
After St. Paul's we went to the Tower of London and saw the old castle and the crown jewels. It was nice, but I was so tired that I did not enjoy it that much. Below is a picture from the castle of the bridge and the river:
 
 
We got a message that said Elder Ballard will come, so we headed to Hyde park. He was delayed in arriving and was meeting with the London Mission Missionaries when we got there. He finally decided we should all meet together. We were able to get 6 zones from our mission up there and the London mission had all their missionaries there. We had therefore over 350 missionaries in that chapel. It was remarkable.  Elder Ballard spoke to us about the sacrifices the early members of the church had to go through. He reminded us how precious our message is and how we have to cut through the evils of the world and touch the hearts of the people.  As the 350 missionaries sang 'Called to Serve' it was a tremendous spirit in that room. What an amazing feeling to have an apostle of God come to speak to you.
 
Sister Hess left on Friday.  I am going to move into her apartment as it is a little bigger than mine.  Yes, it requires moving, but it is next door so it should not be bad.  My new companion, Sister Cates, is really nice. She has been trying to learn what is required of her. It has been overwhelming for her, but she will get the hang of it soon I think. (She's on my left in the below picture)



We went to the Thai restaurant in town with everyone as a farewell to sister Hess. The pineapple rice was interesting. I had to take a picture as it came in a pineapple shell:


 
And after that big Thai dinner, we had a farewell party with the visitors' center people. We had banana splits...
 
 
The below picture is in the mission office with sister Pilgrim and sister King:

 

 


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stratford

Last Thursday we went to see the Musical play La Miserable in London. You know how much I don't like musicals, but actually it was really good. We had a quick dinner at a Chinese buffet there. We were in China town and so everywhere you looked you would see a Chinese restaurant. The food was not great though except for the shrimp and beef.

On Friday, we headed to Stratford-upon-Avon the place where Shakespeare was born and raised. We stayed at the holiday Inn express hotel. It was an old hotel and not that great..but it was close to everything so it worked out.  The weather was bad in the morning and rainy,  but it got better as time went by. We parked the car and got tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus. We visited Shakespeare’s house and saw the room where he was born (born at home of course). The house looks pretty much the same as it did in his time. Strange how they reserve all these old places here. We also visited his wife’s childhood home and his mom’s home as well. These places have beautiful gardens especially his wife's house.  I will put some pictures of these places below.  We went to this Mexican restaurant for dinner and we thought it was not good since no one was there. But, it was really good!
 
In front of William Shakespeare's house:

The dinning room in the house (his father was a glove maker):


the room where Shakespeare was born:



On the way to Anne's house (William Shakespeare's wife):



In front of Anne's house, really pretty gardens:



I had to take a picture of these flowers. Same as we have at home but 10 times bigger. حنون

 
Stratford town (the river that comes across the town):

 
I learned many new things on our bus tour. For example we learned that people in the 15th century did not bathe at all. King Henry the 8th had two baths in his life, one when he was born and one when he died. And a little while later in history people started bathing once a year (may-June) that is why all the weddings were in June since people were the cleanest. And when they did bathe they would start with the most important person in the household and go down to the servants and others. So, sometimes 30 people would use the same water, and the last person to bathe was probably dirtier after washing than when he started.
Also, the reason why they had curtains over their beds was that their roofs were not quite closed so birds, rats and other things were on the roof. So, something may fall in your mouth as you sleep. They therefore covered the top of their bed.

Often we forget that the origins of the English language came from here in England. Our tour guide was telling us about the reason some terms are used. I had never thought of these things and they were interesting facts. For example:

1. ‘Sleep tight’ came from the fact that the beds were supported by ropes which often went loose and so it made it uncomfortable to sleep. So, they had to be tightened.

2. Their tables back then were made of a board over a wooden stand. The board was loose, and when guests came they would put the board on the floor and have people sleep on the board as it was warmer than the cold floor. Everyone sat on benches around the table for meals except the father who was the head of the household and he sat on an arm chair. From this came the term ‘chairman of the board’.
 
We had tickets to see Hamlet, one Shakespeare's plays. We thought we should see at least one play while there. After seeing the first half of the play we decided we are not one of those people that are made to enjoy such things...Mostly because we could not understand half of what everyone was saying.
 
On Saturday we went to Warwick castle which was very close to the hotel. We waited for the introduction that the gatemen do at the start of the day. the guy was really funny. After that we took the 530 step walk around the towers of the castle. I thought my legs would fall off, but it was worth it. The view from the top was great. It is a one-way thing so you can’t give up in the middle and go back. You must press on. After that we toured the castle which was really nice.  They have a lot of fun shows at the castle. The Eagle show was amazing. They have trained eagles and they make them fly over our heads, it was so cool.

I kept trying to get a shot of the eagles as they flew over our heads but they were too fast for me. Most of my pictures were of this bold guy in front of me...Anyway, below are my best shots.  The first one is the bold eagle (for all of you Americans), and the second picture is of the bold guy and the eagle.

 
 
View of the outside of Warwick Castle:
 
View from top after climbing some of the stairs. Sister Hess is sitting down there somewhere. She said that she climbed those once and was not going to do it again:

 
Nice view of the river from the top of the castle:



Inside the Castle:
 
 
The Peacock just wandering around between the crowd:


 
 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bath

No, no, I did not take a bath...Well, I did, but not in Bath. Ok, let me clarify. We took a trip to a city called Bath this weekend. Bath is called by that name because of the old Roman Bath that exists in the center of town. It is a beautiful city by the river Avon (or River River, because Avon is another word for river). The name stuck with it since the Romans' time.

It was a really fun trip. We left Saturday morning and drove to our hotel which was in the middle of nowhere really. It was an old house (350 years old), but SO beautiful. The road that led to it was so narrow that our car was being scratched by the bushes on both sides. When we saw a car coming from the other direction we found no option but to go into the bushes to let the pass.

The hotel (or house) has 3 rooms and we had the whole place to ourselves most of the time. There is nothing around it, just green fields.  We walked around and could hear nothing but birds singing (Emily, I think this is your kind of vacation). It was so wonderful. Below are two pictures from the area around the hotel.

Front of hotel:

 
 
Sunset view from my window at the hotel:

 
Beside the hotel:

 
So, the hotel was great other than what I mentioned above. We were not able to shower. The water was either boiling hot or freezing cold  (at least I could not get it to work, everyone else showered just fine!). It would not let me adjust. I was going to fill the tub and have a bath because that was the only way for me to get moderate water, but I probably would not feel clean doing that. So, I showered in cold water really fast (I've done that a lot in Palestine).
 
Sister Hess's son, Travis and his wife Laura are here visiting. They came down with us to Bath and Travis drove all the way. The car we rented was so strange. The guy did not have ANY other cars, the air condition did not work and there was smoke coming out from the brakes and bad smell. He said he had it looked at recently and assured us it was fine. Since we did not have any other option we drove the car. Luckily we made it back, the engine light came on right before we arrived back safely.
 
We drove to Bath and toured the city. We visited the Roman Baths. The major church there 'Bath Abbey' was so beautiful. There were many other churches around, but then, England has so many pretty churches. We took the sightseeing tour and hopped on and off the bus. Mostly stayed on the bus because we were so tired!
 
On the way back we wanted to drive to coast to see the ocean. The drive down was ok, but on the way back we got stuck in traffic and were on the road for 5 hours. I think the view of the coast was worth it though.
 
Below are some pictures.
 
Bath Abbey Church:
 
 

 
Roof Inside Church:
 
 
Inside Church, a pretty painting with Talitha Cumi (my highschool):
 
 
Roman Baths:

 
Entrance to Baths:


 
Thermal spring/boiling water:
 


River Avon in Bath:
 

 
 
 Went to a place for Jane Austen (the writer). We were not impressed. So, I thought I would dress up like her just to say I got something out of my tour (cost me 8 pounds!):
 

 
Sea Near Brighton (1 hour from where we live):

 
These white rock formations are called the seven sisters:

 
Another sea view:



At Brighton:
 

Stonehenge: (we came down and they were closed. It was cold and we didn't want to pay 8 pounds to see these funny looking rocks, so we took a picture through the fence) Why would someone pay to see this anyway when they can get a shot like that??