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)

Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year's Eve Reflection and a Visit to Conwy Castle in Wales!

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained: What is man that thou art mindful of him?  Psalms 8:3-4

Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth.  Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever.  Amen.  Alma 26:37

Tomorrow begins a new year--2011.  One daughter will have a birthday next year that will be on 11-11-2011.  Will it be significant or just another number and another year passing along as swiftly as the pages of the calendar did this year?  Whatever we do with 2011, may I suggest we reflect on 2010 and the things that were most important that we will want to focus on for the coming year?  Hold on to that which was good and build upon it. I would venture to guess the "things" that were most important were not things but people, specifically family and friends and events involving and surrounding them.  First and foremost, throughout the history of the world, most dear to human hearts have been personal relations.  May the peace and joy we desire be found in the presence of our loved ones this coming year.

Speaking of personal relations, Elder Blain and I had to look for another missionary flat in Rhyl this week, so we took one day for us, as we had been advised to do, and went to see some of the sites in this beautiful area of Northern Wales.  Wales is sometimes called the castle capitol of the world with its some 400 castles, with about 100 still standing.  We saw three castles in the area, but we shall focus on just one for the blog today--Conwy Castle.  It was exciting to see a 12th century castle!  Exploring and marveling about history and this ancient land was an experience never to be forgotten.

As I reflect on man's ingenuity in building such an impressive structure, I realize we are only in our infancy compared to God.  He must have watched the people who built these castles and chuckled a bit to Himself as a parent does while watching a toddler building with his blocks.  I'm sure He was proud of man's progress each step of the way from hut building to castle building to where we are now with architecture and technology.  It never ceases to amaze me what man is capable of doing after seeing the creations of man throughout the centuries on into our modern days.

I testify that God is ever mindful of our comings and goings and doings on this earth.  He has watched His children grow and progress since he placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  His hand is in all things and He guides us ever onward and upward in knowledge and light as times unfold and the world progresses.  There is wisdom given to mankind from God in human progression as it fulfills eternal objectives.


I have tried to capture the sign going into Wales every time we have been there.--finally proof!  (even if it is through a wet windshield that Elder Blain tried to clean with the window wash just before I took the picture)
Driving into the village of Conwy, the castle dominates the landscape
This bay is part of the "mote" protecting the castle.  It is low tide here as we arrived.  Part of the castle wall that surrounds the city can be seen going into the bay just beyond the pier.
We parked our car on this side and walked to the other end to get into the castle.
I took this picture as we walked in.  The entry to pay is on the right.  They punched holes in the walls so people could get in and explore the castle easily.
A painting in the visitor's center showing what it must have been like with the sea against the castle walls.
How the castle originally looked

Romantic, isn't it?  Probably very hard living is more likely the reality, except for Royalty.

Elder Blain and the Raven nevermore

Hi Y'all!
A Welsh Seagull guarding the castle.  Actually, the pigeons have claimed it for their property.
A view of the harbor looking out from the castle at the modern yachts 
Being blessed by a priest?
Part of the castle wall surrounding the city
More of the wall

Looking up a tower
Ground floor

We got a workout climbing to the top of all the towers
More of the wall around the city
Can you see the steps going down?  I wonder how many fell?  There must have been ropes or hand rails.
I don't know if this was a murder hole or a chimney
One side of the "mote" where the sea came in
Modern necessities mixed with old.  motorway, toll bridge, and train tunnel.

Here you can see the two levels of tower.  Winding, steep stairs, with a rope to hold on to takes people to the top.
A chapel area
It was very easy to get lost in the maze of rooms, stairs up and stairs down . . .
This was part of the king's room
Elder Blain on the left
Looking down a tower to the bottom from a lower floor
The frames around the windows must have at one time been very beautiful wood

There are about 200 photos and I tried to post the ones that display the different aspects of this amazing building.  The weather was very damp, but it did not rain all day.  It wasn't too cold, so we enjoyed everything about this day, including trying to convert a knight we met across the street.

Elder Blain is on the cutting edge.  Don't mess with the sword!
Sister Blain tries different tactics, which, um, are NOT in the missionary handbook!

We went around the block so we could drive out of the city and see the magnificent castle one last time.
A little more information for those of you thirsting for more castle history:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Cracker Jokes

My soul shall be joyful in the Lord:  it shall rejoice in his salvation.  Psalms 24:9 

Below are the jokes we collected from Christmas Crackers over the holiday. After the New Year celebration you won't have to tolerate them, but indulge me for now.  Don't peek at the answers at the bottom of the page until you've 'ad a good go at it.

1.  What type of room has no windows or doors?

2.  What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?

3.  Why did the strawberry get a lawyer?

4.  When is a boat like a pile of snow?

5.  How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?

6.  How do you make a jacket last?

7.  Where do sick gnomes go?

8.  What do you call a row of men waiting for a haircut?  (You may not guess this unless you are British or European)

9.   What did the policeman say to his stomach?

10.   Why did the chewing gum cross the road?

11. What must you know to be an auctioneer?

12. What is a vampires favourite food?

13.  Who invented fireworks?

14.  What gets bigger the more you take away?

15.  Which players can't you trust in an orchestra?

16.  Why is it not safe to sleep on train?  (You won't get this unless you are British or European)

17.  How do you save meatballs from drowning?

Trivia (sometimes added on the paper in the cracker) Q:  To the nearest million, what is the population of New Your City?

A Missionary Cartoon:

1. A mushroom  2. A stick  3. Because it was in a jam  4.When it's adrift  5. Deep and crisp and even  6. Make the trousers first! 7. To the Elf Centre  8. A barbecue (que is a waiting line) 9. You're under a vest  10. Because it was stuck to the chicken  11. Lots 12. Nectarines 13. Some bright spark 14. A hole 15. The fiddlers 16. Because they run over sleepers (railroad ties)  17. Put them in a gravy boat.  

A.  (for trivia) 15 million

Monday, December 27, 2010

'Tis the Season of Sufficiency of Fatness--Christmas and Boxing Day Feasts

Christmas cards decorate our apartment.  Below is a really extra special one.
This Christmas card was sent from the First Presidency to all the missionaries.  It reminds us of what a great and marvelous gift The Son is!!
This card will be treasured the rest of our lives.  How often do you get a card signed by the prophet and his counselors?
"And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food . . . "  Ether 6:4  ". . . Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food."  Alma 8:20

Food, food, and more food!  None of our children need fear we aren't being taken care of by the members of the Church in England.  We have a bounty of cookies any child would think was a king's ransom.  Christmas cards and happy wishes fill our apartment.  Never have I seen so many cards since childhood when people sent Christmas cards out to the extent you could use them for decorating the whole house!

We managed to have at least one crashing of the Christmas tree even without cats or toddlers to help (just bring in an Elder who can accidentally accomplish that traditional task).  All in all, minus family over here, it was as glorious a celebration as one can have away from home.  The Spirit of Christmas hangs on still with giant snowflakes gently falling throughout today and everything still covered in white.  Indeed we are fortunate, people say they have rarely had a white Christmas since the 60's.

Below is a Kevin Beckstrom LDS cartoon from Meridian Magazine:

Our holiday season adventures:
Two days before Christmas we shopped to fill Christmas stockings for the missionaries with whom we work and get food to feed them on Christmas Eve, since Stoke Elders and we didn't have tea appointments for that night.  Can you believe these decorations were taken down in the store by Christmas Eve?
Two months ago, we were given a huge bag of Christmas decorations.  We hid them away and didn't get around to pulling them out until the day before Christmas Eve.  Among the many new items in the bag were these ornaments and two huge stockings.  I decorated the house with the items to enjoy for an hour or two and filled the giant stockings with the ornaments to take to our Czech family who had nothing at all for Christmas.  Since they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, we decided to deliver everything, plus some small gifts on that morning.
Rudolph always makes me happy

The pictures were sent to us from our Bishop's family.  Elder Blain was their home teacher before we left and we have been adopted as extra grand parents.  There were two brand new stocking like this one were filled with toys and animal cookies for the two little Czech boys.
 The items below also went to the Czech family, along with fancy candles and a bunch of other cute things.

I was tempted to keep this ornament, but realized it was silly to transport it back to the U.S.  Besides, the Czech family needed it more than I did.

Day before Christmas Eve:  (Shopping With Our English Family)
We caught Santa and made him take a picture with us

Ready to shop!!

It was a really fun time watching the girls try on items and decide what they wanted.   It is a good thing  we had them to fulfill Elder Blain's joy of taking his loved ones shopping whenever he gets the chance.  It made the Christmas season for us.
We shopped in the covered mall area
Lots of people were outside in the open mall area
That night we picked up the Stoke Elders and had tea at some Church members' home.  It was lovely.

The members had two beautiful aquariums with BIG fish in them.
 Christmas Eve:
At 8 a.m. I was at the hair dressers Christmas Eve morning for a long overdue cut (their blue tree is beautiful).  We delivered our Christmas Eve surprise to the Czech family immediately after I was done being transformed into a presentable missionary again.
Christmas Eve, we picked up the Stoke Elders and began a feast.  Elder Z. worked in the restaurant business, but learned to do this fancy stuff with food from watching his mother.
I ate the banana eel/fish
The apples were ducks.  I ate the ducks.

The Elders cleaning up in the kitchen.  Everyone should have Elders on hand.
Two kings (Christmas Crackers hats).  Guess who knocked over the tree?  Ha, ha!
We opened our one gift as is the tradition.  I chose this one because of its elegant wrapping and it felt like something I could wear to church the next day.
Indeed, it was warm socks to wear under my boots--YAY!
Elder Blain got a tie with little beehives on it.
Christmas Morning:
All our wonderful gifts from home!  Lots of warm scarfs and gloves for me!
It truly was a Merry Christmas!  We went to a Christmas Day service at the church and enjoyed the new ward choir.
Christmas Afternoon:

One of the coolest Santa decorations I've seen

They got this in the U.S.  I love stuff like this.
The older girls have a fantastic sense of humor, thus the looks here at the table as I tried to capture the festive decorations.  Notice the traditional Christmas Crackers.   We had fun popping them open for our hats, prizes, and silly jokes.
Somehow a little girl with her favorite toy being a snake seems odd
This snake slithered around and was quite creepy.

I'm not sure this item is found in the U.S.
Christmas Evening at the English Family's:

Teaching the Elder card tricks
Playing Christmas tunes
The ghost of Christmas?  I took a picture of the fantastically huge moon, which didn't show on the photo as always, but this mist was not visible until I posted the photo.  Weird, huh?  It is actually kind of spooky.
 Boxing Day--the Day After Christmas:
More food!  This is at the home of a new member and an investigator.
This is a really large home in England, which is more like an American home with a large Kitchen.  We brought the Zone Leaders with us to this food feast.  Their car was ruined in a crash a couple of weeks ago, so they have had difficulty getting around.  We get the new car when it gets here and they inherit our older one with lots of miles on it.  Ha, ha, the special privileges of senior couple missionaries!  We didn't know this was happening until the Elders told us today.  That is like another Christmas present!
Elder Blain imparting wisdom, or stories, or something to the Zone Leaders.  The one sitting is from Scotland and the other is from the Utah.  They are awesome leaders.
Looking regal in his crown.  He IS in the royal army of the Lord.
We stopped at a home of a newly baptized member on the way home and this crazy dog was there.  He kept biting the TV.  It is some kind of compulsive behavior because he used to be left home alone all day without exercise and developed strange behavior.  He is a rescue dog who has improved much of his compulsive behavior, though the remaining stuff may never go away unless the telly falls on him.  This breed seems to be the ultimate hyper animal.  We know one other one like him and they are impossible to wear out.  I would never own one.  They were meant to be out chasing sheep all day.
At the next house, for food in the evening, was this happy fellow.  Notice the wagging propeller tail.  I'm surprised he didn't go airborne.
MORE food!!  Burp.  Such generous people!!
Another wagging tail.
Yes, it was a happy and filling time both in the joy of association with  great people and good food!

Marvelous, wonderful holiday season!!
Any suggestions on how to lose the 15 stones we've probably accumulated around the waist?