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)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tea With Remarkable People, Travels North, & Young Single Adults

Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.   Doctrine and Covenants 19:23

In her nineties, having lost much of her eyesight, this musically gifted woman, with perfect pitch could hear notes in her head when she saw them as a child.  She plays all the Church music on Sundays from memory.  Here she is playing Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 13, Pathetique (pathetic), C minor, 2nd movement, in a private concert just for us as a special gift as we leave the area.
This couple provided us with a lovely meal and a special pear cake (yum) the husband made.  He is also a gifted musician who plays many instruments, having been a music teacher throughout his life.
This piano was given to C. by her father when she was a child.  1906 Boudoir Grand model made out of rosewood--the instrument yields unique and beautiful sounds, which resonate from this priceless treasure with the touch of her magical hands.  It has witnessed the development of her talent for almost a century.  C. says it has been her lover, her comfort, her dreams made true, her security, her precious anchor, and her life.  I'd say, it sounds like the "key" to her existence, other than the gospel, which means even more.
I have been keeping an eye out for thatched roofs as they are rare in the areas we have driven through.  Leaving the Knutsford area the other day, we finally saw one!!
We will get to see a lot of the Preston Temple as our Young Single Adult Center is located right across the parking lot.  This is how it looked on the activity night, which is held every Thursday.  I happen to love this oak tree in the winter, as you can probably guess.
The Young Single Adults at a special multi-zone activity in Manchester, which was Friday night.
We will be responsible for the food at these activities.
A round-robin type of activity with board games and they certainly were not bored.
These two are a remarkable senior missionary couple from Texas.  He is the doctor for all of England for  everyone involved with the missions here.  They travel all over, even fly to other areas when a missionary needs help and is out of England and no doctor is available. This is their second medical mission, which they are leaving in a couple weeks and we will take over.  I cannot figure out how they did the Young Single Adult program, work at the temple on Saturdays, and did the medical stuff.  They are amazing!  

Parable of the Clueless Peasant Girl & Saying Goodbye to Lost Opportunities

O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.  And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, . . . O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.  3 Nephi 10:4 & 6 (also Matt 23:37 and Luke 13:34)

How often have we received promptings about things we need to be doing in our lives?  On this mission, we meet so many people who tell us about amazing answers to prayers, miracles in their lives, and some ask questions about dreams or other experiences they've had.  Many of these events seem to carry a spiritual message for that particular person.  Yet, they don't return to activity in the Church.  There life doesn't change.  People who are not members of Christ's Church, often gain a personal witness of the truth they are being taught, yet they don't follow through with baptism for various reasons.  Human nature is to resist change even to our detriment.
Walking through the Newcastle Town Centre for the last time.  People are everywhere without a clue the gift they could have  in their life that is worth more the any precious gem or metals.  Will the people who refused to listen to the message about the restoration of the fullness of the gospel have another opportunity, or has the moment passed and the opportunity gone?
Walking into the light (strange phenomenon the camera caught that couldn't be seen with the naked eye) through the tunnel we've gone through a hundred times at least as we go to our car after shopping in the town centre.

People have no idea who they really are (sons and daughters of Heavenly Father) and why they are here (to learn, prove faithful, and return to him), and where they will go after they leave this earth (back to that God who gave them life and living with Him forever in endless joy, if they make those choices to do so).

Fare thee well, Newcastle folks.  We will always remember you with great love. 
  In this outfit, it looks like I scared everyone out of the town centre!

The Parable (written for a special purpose to teach a gospel principle)

In Medieval times, a beautiful young peasant girl lived in a secluded spot in a very dangerous forest with her elderly parents.  These parents had given up their hopes of ever having a child, until years ago, to their surprise they found a tiny baby on their doorsteps wrapped in red and purple silk blankets lying in a golden basket.  The couple considered her a gift from God and they loved her dearly and delighted watching her grow through the years.  She was taught to work hard and to be thankful for everything, though they did not really have much but a warm cottage and the items they had accumulate by trading the wood the father cut in the forest.  The family had to always be on the lookout for wolves and other dangerous animals that roamed the forest, so they went out together and one stood guard while the others worked.  Because the couple had always been fearful of the dangers in the forest, they kept their little girl hidden from strangers as well.  Their hearts would have broken if someone had ever taken her away from them.

One day, as the peasant family was working in the forest, a knight on a beautiful white horse was riding by and stopped when he saw the family.  The saddle blanket on the horse was red and purple, along with the bridle and reins.  The elderly couple noticed this, remembering the red and purple blankets in which their adopted daughter had been wrapped.  There was nothing they could do to hide their daughter, since the knight surprised them.
This is an earlier photo of the knight with his red and purple shield, but not decked in the brilliantly colored reins and saddle blanket that is described in the story.
The knight said he had searched with an army of men over the years for the king’s grandchild who had been taken from the palace when she was a baby many years ago and never seen again.  All supposed she was not alive, yet the king had asked his knights to never top searching as they rode on assignments for the king over the years.  The King’s cousin, at that time years before, had tried to take over the throne, but the cousin was killed in the uprising, along with the King’s only child and his wife.  The King was never able to find out who took his only grandchild.  Now that the King was getting old, he wanted more than anything to leave all that he had to his grandchild, if she were still alive.

The old couple looked at one another and at their daughter, knowing she must be that child.  They loved her so much they could not deny her the opportunity to have everything beyond her wildest dreams.  They asked the knight for a moment to speak privately.  As they huddled together, the parents told the daughter she needed to go with them to the King to see if she was his granddaughter.   The girl argued with them as she didn’t want to leave her home in the woods, for she knew nothing else.  The parents convinced her that she could be forced by the king to appear, so it was better to have them take her.

The parents told the knight they would bring their daughter to the king to see if she might be his lost granddaughter.  The knight rode off to tell the king what he had found.  He wasn’t excited about it, since many young girls have been found over the years because the parents claimed she was the king’s granddaughter, but the king knew none of them were when he checked what he was looking for in the way of proof.  The king knew something about the granddaughter that no one else knew.

The couple and the peasant girl left their humble cottage and traveled to the palace.  On the way, they faced danger and difficulty, but they knew what paths to take and where to watch for danger because the knight had given them specific instructions.  Upon arriving at the palace, they asked to see the knight they had met in the forest.  He arranged for the peasant girl to be taken to the king.

The parents were allowed to accompany the girl into the waiting chamber where the girl had to be bathed and dressed in a simple white gown before she could appear before the king.  It was quite a terrifying experience for her, as she had only bathed in a tiny tub filled with water at home.  She wasn’t used to anyone helping her bathe and dress either.  She vowed she’d never return to the palace.  Even though there were dangers around her forest cottage, she thought she could keep safe from them, but the palace, at the moment, was entirely new to her and she didn’t want to have anything to do with it.  She just wanted to hold on to those things she was most comfortable with—her old clothing and her own ways.

The parents and girl were escorted before the king.  The servants who bathed her also walked with her.  The parents carried the golden basket and silk blankets in which the girl had been wrapped.  The king took one look at the peasant girl and gasped.  She looked like his son when he was that age, except for her longer amber-colored hair.  He asked her to speak, and she refused because she was so afraid.  Her parents told her it could mean the end of all of them if they didn’t do what the king told them to do.   He then commanded her to move closer with her family, which she did.  He asked her to say, “Father, I have been out in the garden with the baby and she is glorious.”  She said the phrase haltingly.  The king couldn’t believe his ears!  Her voice was exactly like his daughter-in-law’s who had been killed!  The king saw the golden basket and the blankets and began to cry, but he still didn’t want to be tricked into believing this was his granddaughter.
The king then asked the servants to come forth and tell him if they found any marks on the child as she was bathed.  They said there were two marks.  She had a small mole on her left shoulder blade shaped like a heart and a tiny red dot on her little finger.  The king then knew this was the granddaughter he’d searched for over the years.  He was beside himself with joy!

He explained to the girl that he had gotten old and needed to have her take over the kingdom.  All that he had was hers and her adoptive parents.  He wanted more than anything to get to know her and to enjoy his life with her, lavishing upon her whatever her heart desired.

The peasant girl, much to everyone’s surprise, declined the offer.  She said she was happy in her forest home and had all she needed to make her happy.  The king (and the old couple) tried to convince her this was the best opportunity for her future happiness.  She refused to accept all the king offered and the little family went back to the forest leaving the old king heartbroken and everyone confused as to why the peasant girl would turn down such a marvelous opportunity.

When they got home, the old couple still tried to convince the peasant girl she should accept her inheritance and live up to her potential.  The peasant girl could not see that the couple would one day not be there to protect her in the forest all alone.  She didn’t think ahead as to the consequences of her choice.  All she could see was the present comfortable place she was in and she was fearful to face the responsibility and expectations of being a princess and eventually a queen.  She was perfectly happy keeping things the way they were. 

The king could not do anything to force the peasant girl to accept all that he offered even though he loved her beyond comprehension.  He couldn’t even offer guards to protect her for the rest of her life because she had not officially been accepted into the kingdom as the rightful heir to the throne.

What will become of the beautiful peasant girl in the future?  Will she be able to deny her grandfather, the king, the joy he could have with having her back with him living in the palace?  Will she continue to deny the comfort and happiness her adoptive parents could enjoy with their remaining years if they became a part of the royal family?

Why would she reject all the king wanted to give her and all that her adoptive parents wanted her to have?
You write the end of this story for the peasant girl

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Beautiful Baptism Day--Beloved Czech Family

They were desirous to be baptized as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts.  Mosiah 21:35

We are celebrating a great event today.  The father of the family baptized a month or so ago was baptized today!  What a blessing it is to see a whole family become members of Christ's Church and work towards being sealed together in the temple for time and all eternity in a year!  This family is overjoyed and their smiles and happiness radiate to everyone in their presence.  They are a choice family and will be a wonderful strength to Stoke Ward.  We thought they were going to have to move, but the father found a job in the area.  Now, we all pray they will be able to stay and help build the ward.  Another man was also baptized who will also add more priesthood into the ward.  They are welcomed warmly.
Elder Blain took off the gray tie for the baptism, of course.
This family from the Czech Republic can now become an eternal family.  They are learning English and progressing well.

We all tried to cram ourselves into the photo as you can see.

Just before the baptismal service began

We were invited over to their home for some real Czech food after the baptisms.  Yummy!
The two young men in ties were baptized about a month ago.  The young man in the gray is a neighbor who interprets for us.  The woman in the red helped cook the meal and is the mother of the boy on her right.  She is investigating the Church as well.
Our interpreter bore his testimony today along with everyone else.  He is coming to church and will perhaps be the next new member of Stoke Ward.

The blue door at the back of this photo is where we have met every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. since the beginning of our mission.  A very dear single sister lives there.  She has blessed our lives and this was our last day to visit her.  Farewells are difficult, but we shall keep in touch after our mission is over.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rhyl, Wales and See-You-Later Scriptures

By the sea, the beautiful sea . . .

We had another day in Wales as we opened another apartment for the missionaries.  It was a rainy and windy day, but I walked the beach anyway.  I needed it.  Elder Blain took off with the missionaries to the new place to show them around.  Leaving our present area and moving to another has left me in a rather melancholy mood and reflective of the past year's experience.  For me, there is nothing like the sea to provide solitude for meditation.  Its atmosphere uplifts my mind and helps put perspective to my existence and purpose.
There's a sign telling us where to go to the sea--I'm always so excited when  we're heading for the coast!
The tide is coming in.  It wasn't too many weeks ago when we were here and couldn't see the waves as low tide had receded so far out.  It is a gray, windy and drizzly day
Notice how quickly the tide has covered the pilings.  Just moments before I had walked at the end of those and looked for treasures.
Anyone who knows me will know there is no end to my gathering favorite rocks.  The problem is, I cannot take them all home with me with the weight restrictions on the airlines!  Here's a way for me to preserve what I feel are treasures.  I felt as if I were in heaven while sitting there with my rocks and shells (the shells aren't in the picture because they are in my pocket.  Some rocks and shells stayed in my pocket to be sorted out when I get home.  Some will go home with me because I cannot resist them.  Others, I'll look at later and wonder why I thought they were so wonderful.  The rocks always look better wet and some of the shells will have chips I didn't notice at first until they got cleaned up.
See-You Later Scriptures (not good bye)

As Elder Blain and I go around to visit some of the people who have blessed our lives while we have been in this area, we have found ourselves sharing a last scriptural message, which we share below. We didn't plan ahead as to what message we would leave, nor coordinate or agree ahead of time that this is what we would do, though missionaries are always supposed to leave a teaching, a testimony, or something spiritual for people to ponder upon.  It is just working out this way and we'll go with the flow as long as the Holy Ghost directs us.

My scripture comes from the great sermon that King Benjamin gave his people as a farewell exhortation.  He built a high tower facing the people who had pitched their tents so the doors were facing the tower.  For those who were too far away to hear, he sent out messengers who took his address to them in written form.  It seems his address went on for a matter of days as he reviewed all the gospel principles, called the people to repentance, and gave personal accountability before the people pertaining to his reign.  He must have pondered long and hard as to what needed to be said to strengthen and encourage his people to stay close to the Lord.  He loved them so much and desired to see them all again.  He wished more than anything for them to be happy.  After his speech, he asked for a personal commitment from all the people did covenant to take upon them the name of Christ and to be faithful and righteous the rest of their lives.  What joy must have been in King Benjamin's heart!

The old king, having done his best in all things, then made sure all was organized properly in the Church, appointing priests to continue to teach the people after he was gone.  He turned his reign over to his son, Mosiah, and lived just three more year.  I'm sure he died in peace knowing he would see his people when they were all reunited in great joy to live with Heavenly Father someday.  The scriptures record that his son, Mosiah, ". . . did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him . . . that he might do according to that which his father had done in all things (Mosiah 6:6-7)."

My heart's desire feels much like King Benjamin's and this is why I chose this particular scripture.

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.  For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.  O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.  Mosiah 2:41

Elder Blain's scripture is from Doctrine and Covenants, a revelation given to Joseph Smith, the Prophet to the Church, at Kirtland

Elder Blain counsels that we need to listen, since here the Savior asks us twice, quite strongly, to pay attention--to hearken to what he has to say.

Hearken, O ye people of my church, to whom the kingdom has been given; hearken ye and give ear to him who laid the foundation of the earth, who made the heavens and all the hosts thereof, and by whom all things were made which live, and move, and have a being.  And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.  Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him . . .  D&C 45:1-3

More later.   Have to go to lunch with a dear person and read these scriptures (probably) and do a Young Single Adult activity tonight.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What Do You Stand For?

from mormonshare.com/lds-clipart and http://www.JennySmith.net/-Free LDS Handouts

In the scripture above, we read how Captain Moroni posted why he and his people were fighting against the unrighteous Lamanities who wanted to destroy them, the righteous Nephites.  He wanted everyone to know the moral principles, or standards, by which the people who followed God lived.  He also wanted the title of liberty to be flown across their land to remain through the generations as a reminder of what they stood for.

At a recent zone conference, we were asked to spend an hour and meditate on how we want to be known to others.  What is our title or standard?  What will we hold up to the world to declare who we are?  What are our moral principles by which we live?  Answering those questions is harder than it seems.  If we were to die tomorrow, what would our family and friends know about the things that mattered most to us and what motivated us to live as we did?

We encourage everyone to design their own standard.  Ours are a bit rough due to lack of time, but you can make a true work of art if you so desire.  The point is to put what you stand for in a form that is meaningful to you and clearly understood by others.  Have fun!
This is the Crewe District getting ready to design our own standards to share
Elder Blain's Standard or Title of which he hopes to become and by which he will strive to live to be known and remembered - Yes, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.  Alma 26:12

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.   Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:  for I the Lord Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  Exodus 20:3-5
Sister Blain's Standard or Title - of which I hope to become and by which I will strive to be known and remembered. 

Everything on my standard is connected by the central focus on Jesus Christ, the hope and motivation for life, which radiates from my faith in Christ, love for Him, gratitude for His Atonement and all He has done for us.  The sure knowledge that he lives comes from a very special spiritual witness that I received as a teen when I prayed desperately and in great anguish to know if  He was there and real.  I testify that He loves us and knows us and cares about us individually.  Thus, everything I do has a foundation in trusting our Savior to keep His promises when we are diligent in following Him.  By consecrating my life to Him, I hope to follow his example and do my best to Do What Jesus Did in His life (DWJD).

And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying:  He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.  2 Nephi 31:12

To be an In Tune Instrument in God's hands, I have to keep the commandments (pray, study the scriptures, etc.).  Striving to be righteous will help me hear and feel the promptings and guidance of the Holy Ghost, which will help me know what things I need to do for Jesus Christ as an instrument in His hands meeting the needs of others through service and love. 

 Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.  Doctrine and Covenants 19:23
My Ultimate Goal and Whole Purpose - To help my family and others to gain Eternal Life and a fullness of JOY!

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it.  I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.  Alma 29:9

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  Romans 10:15

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Place to Live--Darwen, & Four Westies and a What?

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee:  he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

Ha, ha, I guess we aren't too righteous since we are being moved.  I am sure King David meant the righteous wouldn't be moved from their faith, but it is a good scripture to use for our upcoming venture further north.

We prayed for help to know where we were supposed to get a new place to live when we were told we could live anywhere between the Chorley and Blackburn area.  Every avenue was exhausted as we endeavored to locate nearer to Chorley, thinking it made the most sense.  One place remained in Darwen that hadn't been taken by yesterday.  It was a spot I had felt strongly was right, but logic had us pushing for other areas.  Finally, we knew that had to be where we needed to be and we took the apartment.  What a great feeling inside to have that decision made and to feel that it is the right one.  We have no idea yet why that particular spot is the right place, but we have faith we will know before the end of our mission.

Our last few days have been hectic.  We have been dealing with getting a missionary flat closed, showing our own flat to prospective renters, getting a new car, coordinating the bike pick up so bikes can be delivered to missionaries, teas with members wishing to say good bye, signing for a new flat for the missionaries, learning a bit about our new assignment, and looking at so many properties we have lost count.  Today, I started researching properties for another missionary flat in Northern Wales.  We also need to visit many people before we move.  We shall move into the new place on 5 February.

We have a shorter address to write and it was posted on this blog, but the address was given to us wrong, and I realized when I was about to correct it that for security issues it probably shouldn't be broadcast all over the world anyway, right?  Anyone wanting the address can email me.  I will have to remember to spell Darwen differently than the Darwins we have in our family.

Below are pictures of our travels (some out of the car window, so quality is not so great):
The old church on the left and new bridge in the back in Runcorn where we had to sign for a missionary flat.  It isn't far from Liverpool as the sea flows into this area.
Cuteness overload.  Oh!  How I wished we hadn't been driving when I snapped this bunch!  Can you believe the tiny one in the middle that looks like a stuffed toy?  Is that a Yorkie?
Runcorn bridge is pretty as we are leaving to go to Chorley
The old on the left and the newer bridge
Skyline leaving Runcorn.  These are not nuclear power plants though they look like cooling towers.
This is a common sight throughout the areas we have been in where they tear down the old housing.  The piles are massive, but this one doesn't look all that big.
The guard cat is coming at me when I was looking for an address of a flat we wanted to see
This doesn't look friendly, but she wanted me to open the door to her home--meow
Young Single Adults (YSA) Family Home Evening with the medical missionaries who also do YSA.  We will receive their assignment when they leave in February.
The man on the right teaches prospective engineers in high school.  Elder Blain looks distressed as he is eating ice cream, which can be a no no for his goofy stomach.  He didn't get sick because it was only a small amount.
 We stayed overnight here so we'd be close to the area to continue looking for flats.  The one in the middle is the doctor and the others are eating banana splits after our Family Home Evening.
A newly married young couple who loves still being with YSA
This man is seen going out of Darwen heading towards Chorley, so I will get a better picture later and find out what he stands for.
Mosques are everywhere in England in certain towns, usually in the central parts.  Blackburn has a huge population of Muslims.  This mosque is across the street from the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) chapel in Blackburn.  It is about a 15 minute drive to the church from Darwen where we will be living.  We didn't see Muslims in Darwen or Chorley.  Many Muslims do not like the Mormons, but there are individuals Muslims who are very kind to Christians when they get to know them and are educated enough to know they are not as evil as they've been taught from their youth.  The same can be said of Christians who get to know Muslims.  
The first thing I noticed going into Darwen was this extremely tall tower dominating the landscape.  I took the picture while moving, so I will have to get a better picture and history later.  We ate lunch (called dinner here) in a pub while waiting to secure the property.  The picture below was on the wall with no explanation for what it is called or the significance it has played in the town's history.
India Tower
This is all I could see of the LDS chapel.  It was gated and down in a hole.  It looks like a fairly small building.
As we left the street the church is on, I saw some English spelling.