Missions are Fun

Preston Temple photo taken 21 Nov. 2010

A missionary is someone who leaves his or her home for a little while so others can have their families forever.

Curious about Mormons? Go to the source and find real people at mormon.org--read what they believe and have live chats if you wish! (an official Church website)

Or, go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, official web site: lds.org.

Note: The Blain's England Manchester Mission blog is a personal blog that is not endorsed, approved, or sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Our Mission Scriptures

Our Mission Scriptures:

"Oh, that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart . . . Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth." Alma 29:1-2 (Book of Mormon)

" . . . be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (Bible)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Out in the Country and a Castle!

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."  Matt 6:33 

I've been searching the United Kingdom for a castle (well, England at least thus far).  We found one today accidentally as we were looking for a member's address out in the country!  It was a beautiful day with lots of wonderful things to see.
First we saw two castles way off in the distance.
I zoomed in to get a better look, getting more excited.  Elder Blain got out of the car to look 
even though he has seen lots of castles.  

We ate some berries growing along side the road as we looked at the castles.
 
 The wall in the foreground is the front of the original medieval Alton Castle.  This castle was designed by Augustus W. N. Pugin.  Pugin's restoration of the Gothic style of architecture is widely know (his reputation grew when he had much influence on the design of the Palace of Westminster).

 
I couldn't get a good picture of what was written about the history.  I'll research it and add more details later if I get time.
This is used as a camp for disadvantaged and city youth during the school year.  Church was once held in it also.
 The moat is below.  The bridge was rebuilt a few years ago.  The medieval wall is on the left.
Lots of chimneys to heat this place!
 This is the other side as we were driving up the hill on the way out.
 
 Here's an ariel view I pulled off of the Internet.  Inside this castle are the remains of a medieval castle build about 1175.

 This little angel was seen from the road.  She was standing in the church yard over a 1919 grave.

Remembering the British soldier.                               

This church has one of the tallest steeples I've seen.
These are the doors to the tall steeple church.  I wasn't where I could get a decent picture.  There was no place to park because it was in the middle of town on this little narrow one-way road.
 
 This was taken out of a speeding car.
 
 This is part of the Catholic Church that was by the castle.
We were standing at this door talking to a man who was going into mass in this church.  He was very interested in what we were doing in England and he came out of the church twice to give us more information about the area.  As we were standing there looking like we were welcoming the people going into the services, three priests came in with their long robes, etc. on and one of them said, "The Mormons," to the other.  Elder Blain nodded to them and one of them nodded back.  The looked quite serious and I'm sure they thought we were brazen enough to try to steal their parishioners!  As the man followed the priests into the building so he wouldn't be late, he said, "See you on the other side!."  We did get his address--hee, hee. ( :

 
A man said this is the second cross (on this spot) in all of England that was allowed to be erected after the king made all the churches remove the crosses.  I'm sure this has to be a renovated version.  It looks too new.
 
A child's grave. 

 
 One more church by the castle.  All designed by Pugin.
 
 This round jail is where they kept the prisoners who were going to be hung the next day in the towne
square.  They also used it to put naughty youth and adults in over night to give them a good scare.  Below is the interesting curved door.


Another interesting old door in a church we saw along the way.

The house by the round jail.
 
 This picture is for the horse lovers.  Notice the blanket on the one by the tree.  It is common to see some horses with blankets all year.
There is no way to describe the noise that arose when I went to the fence to take a picture of these free-range chickens and the ducks, geese, chickens and whatever else was in there all started running quickly straight towards me making the loudest racket!  It is a good thing I was on the other side of the fence or I would have been mowed down!  Elder Blain was sitting across and down the road a ways in the car and couldn't see them because of the hedge, but he heard them and couldn't figure out what was happening.  I should have put the movie mode on but I didn't think of it because they took me off guard.  I just took some quick shots and took off so the owner didn't come charging out of the house to chase me off for bothering the birds.

 
This guy was ready to take me on.  
Ah, would you like a Book of Mormon?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Remarkable Young Men and Women

 "Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." John 15:8       "And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."  Abraham 3:25

Today was our interview and training day.  At these meetings, we meet with the mission president for a few minutes and discuss our work, then we are trained by the young elders.  We also get instruction from the mission president's lovely wife on keeping healthy, eating properly, keeping clean apartments, cooking, and many other useful things missionaries need to know to stay safe, healthy, and productive.

Tip of the day:  If you have a gas appliances (water heaters, stoves, etc.) in your home or apartment, please have a carbon monoxide detector.  The mission president said two missionaries lives were saved this week because they had a detector.  It was discovered there was a leak in one of the valve connectors.  Some missionaries have died in the past year in another mission because they didn't have an operating detector, so the mission keeps checking to be sure everyone is in compliance.

Here is a picture of what we saw most of the day today (except when there were those up front training).

There were about seven other missionaries not in this picture, but this is most of our zone.


Now, think about around 50,000 + of these 19-21-year-old young people (Elder and Sister missionaries) all over the world giving up prime time in their lives to unselfishly serve the Lord by getting up at 6:20 a.m. every morning, praying, studying, preparing, and then going out the door exactly at 10:00 a.m. to spread the restored gospel message to anyone who will listen.  They do this all day until 9 p.m. every day, with the exception of an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner, Church on Sunday, and preparation day on Monday.  They go to bed at 10:30 p.m. every night.

Preparation day consists of the regular study schedule until 10 a.m. cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, banking, writing home, grocery shopping, service projects, and a variety of other duties.  It ends at 6 p.m. and they go teach.  We unexpectedly dropped in at a missionary flat to talk with the missionaries the other day.  It was two minutes past 10 a.m. and they had already disappeared to go work.  Impressive.

That is how obedient these amazing young people are.  They all have varied personalities and are not ruled over with an iron fist with anyone checking up on them constantly.  They know they are accountable to the Lord for this time doing His work above all else.  They govern themselves.  We never cease to be amazed at their faithfulness.  Of course there are periodic inspections of apartments and interviews, and they report at the end of the day by phone to the district leader, but they are on their own for most of the time.

The young missionaries are miracles in and of themselves.  They are evidence of the truth of Christ's Church and its inspired organization on the earth today.  Where else would you be able to keep a workforce of this number productive and motivated like missionaries are every day?  Those who train are as prepared and skilled as (and usually more so) any professional trainers I've had in the work force.

Today, I celebrate and deeply appreciate the finest youth in the world--our faithful missionaries!  Please continue to pray for the young missionaries, the senior missionaries, and the mission presidents and their wives every day.  You will bless our lives in this way and you will also be blessed.  Thank you for your constant support.  We love you all.

 
Saturday it was raining and we were out trying to find members who haven't attended in years.  We found one very delightful lady and one who had died.  This is the view the passed-on lady had from her home.  We taught the live member.  (Come on, smile.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

40 Days and 40 Nights Sounds Familiar?

"And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain . . ." Deuteronomy 11:13-14

A little elderly woman told us a couple weeks ago that the news man said it was going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights.  I wondered if she only thought she'd heard that.  Didn't God make a promise never to do that again and establish the rainbow as a reminder?  (Genesis 9:13)

Later, we heard other people mentioning this forty days of rain thing, and it was attributed to some saint. I didn't have time to research it, and today our ward missionary sent an e-mail with the information explaining it. He didn't know I was wanting information about it. Hum, inspiration?  It is as I guessed, something like our Groundhog day. Below is the educational piece for the day.

St Swithin's legend - will it rain for 40 days?
By Paul Simons

It's with some trepidation that we watch today's weather, because this is St Swithin's Day. According to the legend, if it rains today another 40 days of wet weather will follow. But if the weather is fair, then it will stay dry for another 40 days.

St Swithin's Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithin's Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t'will rain nae mair.

This may sound like a load of hocus-pocus, and a study by the Met Office showed that St Swithin's forecast failed every summer for 55 years. But there is a grain of truth to the old folklore because summer weather patterns tend to settle down into a pattern around the middle of July and then persist for the rest of the summer, until late August. The extraordinary thing is that it holds statistically true around 7 out of 10 years.

Perhaps a more accurate, if less poetic, St Swithin forecast would be:
"St Swithin's Day, if it does rain, then expect several weeks of fairly unsettled weather, but if it is fair, then there's a good chance of warm, dry conditions."

In fact, this is one of the most noticeable bits of predictable seasonal weather in the whole year, which explains why St Swithin's rule is widespread through western Europe. In France it is known as St Gervais's day (July 19), in Germany St Margaret's Day (July 16), the Belgians have St Godelieve (July 27), The Dutch have St Henricus on (July 15), and there is St Gallo in Italy (July 15).
     The dry mane is her glory. It is not a bad wet hair day.


A lone poppy in the field. No rain on the petals.

Even a thistle can be lovely. No raindrops here.

There! Here are your three witnesses that there is no rain in England at least during this brief one hour period. Oops, I feel something dripping from the heavens. Perhaps it is only an angel crying.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mi CompaƱero

 
"But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another."   Mosiah 4:15

As you know, married senior missionaries never face transfers from their companions.  This can be both a good and a not so good thing, depending on the day.  Being like Siamese twins joined at the hip for 18 months can infringe on one's personal space, which both of us value greatly.  The only times we are not together is when we are in the bathroom, I'm not well and he goes to the store, one of us goes on a walk, or Elder Blain is in a priesthood meeting.  Consequently, we go to the bathroom--a lot.  No, just kidding.  Actually, the Lord must work some sort of magic to make it so we don't kill one another over loud eating noises and annoying habits that can grate on one's nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. 

Speaking of going to the bathroom, the other night, Elder Blain left the lid in the loo up, which he rarely does.  In the middle of the night, I got up in the dark and proceeded to about kill myself falling into the gaping, cavernous sinkhole they call a toilet here in England.  My back hasn't recovered fully yet.  He feels bad about it, but he now knows how to mangle me if for some reason down the road I deserve to be tortured and drowned.

Thank goodness Elder Blain has many redeeming qualities, which I shall focus on now.  The best part of this missionary arrangement is serving with a  man who prays at least twice a day, studies his scriptures constantly, does all that is asked of him in the Church, is there to help others when he is aware someone needs something, and donates everything he has of energy, spiritual and temporal means, and all of his time to furthering the work of the Lord.  He is humble and teachable in the gospel and absolutely loves Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.

On top of the spiritual stuff, Elder Blain opens doors for me, carries heavy items, won't let me do any heavy work he thinks a man should be doing, puts me first in everything, will buy anything I ask for, will feed me whatever and whenever I want, gives me the best piece of anything yummy, never eats the last of anything we both like because he saves it for me, warms my side of the bed on cold nights, and stands around while I take photographs of everything under the sun.  He has driven me by to see "the little horsey" a billion times, and usually bites his tongue when I'm off on some tangent about something and can't quit ranting on about it.  He didn't call my looking for a hedgehog a waste of time or silly.  I cannot list all he does for me, but it is all tremendously unselfish.

In Sacrament Meeting today, the Stake President said that everything done in the Church is designed to bring us closer to our Savior.  I believe everything Elder Blain does is to first support anything and everything that will help others, and secondly himself,  be closer to the Savior.  He has consecrated himself to God's work.  His example makes me want to be a better person.

Today, I am extremely grateful that I am married to this remarkably faithful man.  He does not believe he is anything special or better than anyone on this earth and would not be happy to be singled out in this post, but he doesn't read the blog so I'm safe.  Ha, ha.

Tomorrow, I may be ready to strangle Elder Blain for some silly thing that he's doing that is bugging me.  Maybe he'll wish he could shake me until my teeth rattle for some goofy thing I do.  Maybe we will temporarily forget why we even like one another.  Luckily, we will just clench our teeth, or bite our tongue, or put ear plugs in, or go for a l-o-n-g walk!

Elder Blain is my senior missionary companion.  He is a good trainer.  I plan on keeping him. Don't tell anyone, but me thinks we are in, you know, love like (as an English person might say).

These nice people have a lovely little Eden of their own in their back yard.  They invited us to lunch last week and below is the bouquet I gathered for y'all to enjoy on this lovely Sabbath Day.



This same kind of flower is in our shrubs outside our bedroom window at the flat.
See the ivy on the roof?  There were bird feeders and a birdbath in this yard.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ladies' European Tour Professional Golfers at Preston Temple

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  Matt 5:16     "The light of the body is the eye . . . "  " . . . If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."   Luke 11:34-36      "To give light to them that sit in darkness . . ."  Luke 1:79
These very special ladies were spending a couple days at the Preston Temple.  We were able to go there to do Norma Rae Blain's temple ordinances.  Elder Blain was excited to get his sister's work done and I was honored to be baptized for her and do all the other necessary work so she can be with her family if she so chooses to accept the ordinances.  We have a special feeling that Alden and LaVern (parents) and Jay (brother) are celebrating with Norma today.  Elder Blain is the only surviving member in this family.


The woman in the middle is the professional golfer and golf coach from Zimbabwe (native African).  The one on the left is from South Africa, and the one on the right is from Norway.  One hurt her wrist and just dropped out of the British Open.  These choice women help people in Africa get fed and to have cataract removed from their eyes.  The children on the card are seeing for the first time in their lives.  The woman in the middle on the card is the one on the right in the photo.  She was prompted to speak to us and sat down in the cafeteria at the temple and discussed the culture in Africa.  It helped us better understand the Angolans we are teaching.  

This lovely woman served a mission in Provo, Utah.  Imagine that!  Their Eyes for Zimbabwe charity is meeting the needs of many Africans.  They do a lot of humanitarian aide in Africa when they aren't on the circuit.  What a beautiful example of selfless service!  They said they cannot feed all of the hungry in Africa, or restore sight to all who cannot see, but they can help one at a time and make a difference to them.  I think this organization may be one worth becoming involved with when we get home.  She gave us her e-mail for later contact.  Apparently, she is close friends with Sherrie Dew, who does charity work through them.  She is sending Books of Mormon and Bibles to Africa for them to distribute.

I heard an uplifting talk in Sacrament Meeting last Sunday related to all of us finding a way to be lights unto the world for others.  The speaker said to picture a dark room where there is no light whatsoever.  This room is divided by a wall in which there is a door.  On one side of the wall is the room with darkness so heavy that even a candle cannot be seen if lighted therein.  On the other side of the wall is a room full of light.  When the door is opened, the light penetrates the darkness.  The darkness does not have the power to darken the light.  Light always is more powerful than darkness.

Choose to believe that no matter how much darkness there is in the world, or in your own personal life, all you need to do is let the light in through faith in Jesus Christ and let your own light so shine so others can be uplifted. 

The three women golfers are shining forth with their light of love and generosity, literally bringing light to the eyes of thousands.  What marvelous people we meet along the way in life!

The golfer lady took our picture.  The wind was blowing and Elder Blain had the sun hurting his eyes.
This is looking up at the ceiling in the temple foyer.  The sky is so pretty today!
See how quickly the sky can change?  This was taken as we walked around the temple taking the other pictures.
The roses are about gone for the season here.
A pretty little corner of the temple grounds.
These trees looked so much better in the spring when we took the picture with them barely leafing out and the temple could be seen through their lacy shapes.
The English countryside as we sped along the motorway.
Leaving the temple.
Here's what the hay is wrapped in.
Oh, oh, looks like rush hour traffic already!
Lovely ride home--not.