I would like to start off by saying that I highly discourage living in a different area than the one you are serving in. Not that I had any power over it, but it’s pretty hard. It takes about an hour training every morning and every night to get back and forth from Harborne to Wylde Green. And we also have to bike to and from the train station each time. Tuesday was quite disastrous. It was very hot all day long, and we were biking pretty much non stop, so we were really sweaty and sticky. And then just when we were trying to get back to Harborne on the train, the entire training system in the Birmingham area decided to go caput. For some reason they were ALL having problems with one thing or another; either they were having door troubles, or breaking, or steering, or navigating problems, so almost every single one was delayed, and then delayed again, and then this one just cancelled, so your next best one is this other one. But wait a minute, this one is cancelled too, so the next one. But that one is delayed by 45 minutes, so try this other route, and on and on and on. And you wouldn’t believe how many people use trains to travel back and forth, so there were hundreds of angry English people delayed in one of the biggest train stations in Britain, running up and down the stairs from one platform to another, and then back, and it was DRIPPING humid hot. We sat on several trains for a while, just sweating like dogs while we waited for them to take off, but they never did. Finally after about an hour, and four trains not do anything, we decided to bike the four miles up hill on a route we didn’t know, when it was nearly dark, to our Harborne flat. But we said a prayer and got God helped us get there without getting lost, and in time for our call-in.
Oh, I did have a rather exciting spill on my bike though. Let me just say, I was SO tired from the day that I hardly remember what happened. When we were biking from the station to our flat I was supposed to be getting up off the road and onto the sidewalk, but there was a curb there…..and a pole. And those two things don’t mix very well. There was also a car coming up behind me trying to pass me very closely. And honestly I was so tired and disoriented that I’m not sure if it clipped me or not, and thats what made me slam the curb and the pole, or if it was just my own out-of-whack mind. But I slammed the curb at a weird angle, and then I slammed the pole at another weird angle, and then I slammed the ground at another weird angle, and I got a scrape in my knee. And that was all I had to show for it! Besides a really embarrassed giggle all the ride home.
Sister Christy also had a small accident that turned out to be a little bit bigger. She’s a little bit not good at judging spacial relations and coordination and such things, so she cycled too close to a low wooden fence, and it scraped/burned her leg. She thought it was fine, and just put medicine on it for the next couple of days, but then Sister Leppard saw it and told her that it was infected with poison, and then sent us to A&E, which is the British equivalent of the ER, and stands for accident and emergency. So we were there for about three hours on Friday afternoon.
I remember you asked me some questions a couple of weeks ago that I didn’t have time to answer, but I think maybe I remember the questions. Have I been chased by a dog yet? No, thankfully. You wouldn’t believe how petty the dogs are here. Maybe it’s just this country-bred girl, but it seriously is so funny to me when I see people out taking their dogs for a walk with them tied to a leash the whole time. And then they have to stop awkwardly while their dog goes to the bathroom, and then clean up the manure, put it in a plastic bag, and then put it in special bins that they have about every two feet. I really just want to burst out laughing, and sometimes I do! It just seems like such a petty way to keep a dog, and it’s like having a little kid that you’re potty-training and teaching to walk. That’s too much trouble for an animal if you ask me. If you can’t just let it run around instead of tied to a leash where you have to clean up after it, it’s just not worth it.
All our flats have washing machines in them! So we just do our laundry in our flat. Only some have dryers. The Harborne flat has a dryer, but the Wylde Green ones doesn’t, so we have to hang them on racks to dry, but that’s never bothered me.
I think I ride at a minimum ten miles a day. Sometimes it’s a lot more though, and there are a lot of hills to get up and over, so that’s difficult as well. It’s probably closer to fifteen miles a day. Ever since I bought rain boots last week though I’ve felt so much better about the winter, because now my feet won’t get wet, and they are wide enough that I can wear a lot of socks underneath to keep warm, so now riding in the winter doesn’t scare me as much.
Saturday night we went to dinner at a member family’s house. It was a little bit weird and awkward at first, because they didn’t really talk much, we just sat right down and started eating. But once I got them talking they were really great! I guess British people are just shy at first. The night they even texted us and offered to come pick us up from Harborne for church on Sunday so that we didn’t have to take hours of busses, so that was really nice of them. And we got the dad and son to commit to coming out teaching with us. The son is the one who just got back from his mission in Germany, so he cooked dinner, and he made strudel, and it was SO good. But one thing I wish they wouldn’t do is serve you your food. They eat a LOT in one helping! We went to the bishop’s house for dinner, and it was him, his wife, their daughter, and her friend, and they made a thing of shepherd’s pie twice as big as our family eats, and ate the WHOLE thing. I think our family would have eaten about half of it with all of us put together. May I suggest letting the missionaries serve themselves when they come to eat? At least the sisters anyway. I think the Elders are probably fine, but it seriously makes me sick afterward because I have to ride my bike. I’m going to have to start bringing containers with me and holding them in my bag on my lap, that way I can get rid of some of it and not waste it.
Our district got all mixed up this week after transfers because half of them went home, so at our district meeting this week we were showing each other pictures of our families and telling a little bit about ourselves, and I was scrolling through my ipad trying to find a picture of our whole family (which I don’t have), but the elders saw the video you sent me, Dad, from the helicopter over the farm and they wanted to watch it. So I showed it to them and they thought it was the coolest thing ever, not only that it was taken from a helicopter, but they thought the farm looked super neat. They watched it like three times.
This week I ate my first kebab. It’s just a pita bread with different kinds of meat in it, some BBQ sauce, and some salad and onions, but apparently it’s a British thing and everyone has to do it. It’s gonna be a four-dog night, because I have no idea what kind of meat was in it.
Today we had a district P-day and went and saw some donkey’s! (I knew I missed Obama. NOT!) For some reason there is a donkey sanctuary in the middle of this big park, and the whole day I was thinking of Willy Crup, and I really wanted to say, “You old jack ass you!” to someone, but it was sad because no one would have gotten it. I find that happens a lot. Something will happen, and a movie or book quote comes into my head, and I almost shout it out, then stop myself because I know no one will understand, and everyone will think I’m stupid. Like yesterday, I was super tired and we walked into the office, and the APs mattresses were on the floor because apparently it is too hot to sleep upstairs in their flat at the moment, and Sister Christy said, “Why don’t you lie down!?” and I wanted to say, “Hadn’t you ever thought of that before? You’re sleeping in one of THEIR beds?” But I knew it wouldn’t go off well. Oh dear. (Name that movie reference!)
We are really trying to work hard with Kevin and Jordi. They didn’t come to church yesterday, and they felt really bad about it, because they were working. Like, its amazing how bad they felt about it, but I think it was more they felt like they were letting us down, not the Lord. We also have another man being baptized now. His name is Nas, and he is ex-Iranian military. He was in the war for eight years and saw some pretty horrific stuff. He was kicked out because he refused to send a bunch of teenage trainees into a particularly dangerous situation where they would have gotten killed. He’s a pretty tough guy. There have been some people who have been harassing him and vandalizing his house and breaking in and stuff, and the police won’t do anything about it. So he just sat watch all through the night in the same spot and position for 24 hours, and then when the guys came, he just sicked his dog on them and broke their legs. Literally. I didn’t ask details.
There is a guy in our ward named Brother Rubery, and he works at the shooting range. He’s been professionally trained as a marksman, and in his job people call him up, say they have a fox problem around their chickens, and he goes out and does some hunting. Sounds pretty good if you ask me. He found out I was from a farm and liked to shoot, and he talked to me FOREVER about guns, and about which ones he had and how many and stuff, and he really enjoyed himself. He said he was real close to getting an AR15, he just hadn’t quite saved up enough yet. I didn’t tell him Dad got one from a pawn shop for pretty cheap. Oh! You should send me the picture of me shooting it if you can find it. It’s on my laptop somewhere in the photos.
Tomorrow the new greenies are coming in! (I have to say new greenies because I am still a greenie, just not the newest one anymore:) But I’m excited because we get to help with their orientation and show them around.
I found out that we can read any church-produced book, just not in our personal and companionship study time. We have to use the missionary library for that. But any spare time we have, we can read anything we want to of the church’s material. Now I’m wishing I brought SO many of the books I wanted to from home.
There is a less active we are working with names Louise Connolly. She was baptized maybe two years ago, but she’s never been converted if you know what I mean. We have recently discovered that all the less actives we are working with were baptized at the same time by the same two elders, and it irritates me so bad. It’s like they just dunked them and left them there to fend for themselves. I can see why the bishop here is slightly wary of missionaries, because all those elders did was build up his inactive list. We found out in our last lesson that she’s never even read the Book of Mormon, and has no idea what it is. So we’ve helped her get started on reading it, and we have a set time each week now that we go see her, and talk about what she’s been reading, help her understand it, and teach her the missionary lessons again. I’m really excited for her to read it, because that is how she will gain a testimony, and I’m excited for her to get a testimony, because if it’s anything like I feel about mine, it will be the most valuable thing she has, and the thing that gives her all her strength, peace, and joy.
The Book of Mormon is really the basis of everything. Families here don’t read the Book of Mormon together. They’ll read it with their kids once, and then when their younger batch is about 10, they’ll read it with them, but it’s not a constant, important thing to them. the Book of Mormon is SO important. I’m so glad we read it all the time growing up. If these families would study together I know their lives would be so much easier, and their children would quite falling away. NEVER stop reading the Book of Mormon, or reading something together as a family.
Oh boy, I had other stuff to tell you, but I always forget. If I remember it before our time is up, I will write it to you.
I can’t tell ya how much I love ya. I love all the pictures you all send to me. Thank you for the letters and things you send me in the mail Grandpa and Grandma Ventura, those are always really special treats. I have been reading the talk you sent to me Grandpa, and I am enjoying it a lot. I’ll let you know when I am done with it.
Thanks for all of your prayers. I told this to Dad and Mom, but when I’m saying my morning prayers, you are saying your night prayers, and we are praying for each other, and that’s what I think of in the morning when I pray, is that you’re doing it at the same time, and that makes it really special to me. It makes me feel like we can have family prayer even when we’re across the world from each other.
(We didn’t get any photos this week! Well, we got one that came through email the next day even though it showed that Marie sent it the day before at 10:30am. We think she did send some but they never made to us and are lost in cyber space somewhere. The photos used in this post were mostly found on the internet, except for the one of Marie shooting. If she resends them next week I will update the post with her pictures. )