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)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Connected Again--Hallelujah! Moors & Darwen

Notes from our move out of Newcastle-under-Lyme to Darwen.

And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfill that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days. D&C 109:23

I [We] will go and do the work which the Lord hath commanded. 1 Nephi 3:7

DISCONNECTED!! (sniff)  Feb. 2-14
See-you-later to good friends in Preach My Gospel class.
This past week was, to say the least, a whirlwind of emotions with farewells and moving. I’m feeling a bit disconnected because we are!! It is a good thing I was not the person talking to the Internet and phone company who cut us off four days earlier than requested!! I might have forgotten I was a missionary long enough to give them a right thrashing. It seriously upset me and made leaving harder with not having an outlet to connect with anyone. We still have out mission phone, but that is all church business use. Two things made the timing the worst for losing contact with everyone. One, a great grand baby is due any day and two; a daughter is trying to plan a trip to visit us and needs to know about train stations as she is trying to book her travel over the Internet, which saves money. Tomorrow, a library is the first thing on the agenda!

Our last meal in Newcastle and farewell was with this wonderful family.

The green light says it is time to leave Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent
 February 5-Our New Home

Signs directing us to Darwen and Blackburn is the where the ward to which we are assigned
Downtown Darwen--the Co-op on the right saved our life when we were starving our first night
After two weeks of running back and forth for family nights and activity nights with the Young Single Adults, we are finally at least in the area we are serving!
Entering from the top of the hill.  Our place is the tall red one you can see over the blue car on the left.
With two trips and eleven hours of travel, loading and unloading furniture, the office elders helping us had to get back to their flat by 9:30 p.m. We still have another load to bring here. My coats got left at the old apartment, so it is a good thing it isn’t too cold, just raining constantly. Everything that came into the new apartments was wet last night. We all were operating about a quart low in brain power as we brought the fridge last and had to leave it sitting for two hours so the Freon could settle back where it belongs before it gets plugged in, or else it ruins the fridge. Most of our food came in the first load, so consequently it had to be trashed. A dresser and a shelf got broken, not that it made much difference considering the shape they were both in. They’ll go in the bin (trash) when we’re done here.
The official crest.  I like the bees, which remind me of Utah
 Being totally shattered (English for exhausted) after moving all day, we were very hungry and there was no food in the house. We went out to find something and walked into one place that had great food, but it had turned into a pub on Saturday night and it was so loud we walked in, glanced at all the tables full of beer and no food, and walked out. We walked in the pouring rain to a fast food called, “Chippy.” Looking through the window, it looked like greasy fried stuff was the menu. Finally, we found a Co-Op market and managed to find a few things on the shelf to eat. At home after dinner, Elder Blain topped off the evening with an aaaahiiieeee ice cold shower, since our water heater isn’t working. Needless to say, I opted to remain stinky. In the wee hours of the next day, we collapsed into bed for our first sleep in Darwen.
Welcoming committee during a brief break in the rain
Unicorn goat

Next day - First Sunday in Lancashire
(Poor) Elder Blain got up at 5:30 a.m. so he could attend a 6:30 a.m. high council meeting which happens twice a month (he is serving on the high council). It is those many meetings, often early hours in the morning that caused me to feel ever more grateful for the sacrifice the good priesthood men make to serve the members of the Church. Why any woman would ever aspire to hold the priesthood is beyond me. We get plenty of service that involves a lack of sleep and duty in the wee hours of the morning while rearing our children. It all balances out.

Elder Blain made it home in time for us to be picked up at 9:45 a.m. to go to Rawtenstall with the medical missionaries, who are returning home in a couple weeks. The church house is located in what is called the Rosendale Valley, so the ward is called by that name instead of Rawtenstall. Wise choice. I often wonder if the Chorley residents feel slighted because the temple, located in Chorley, is called the Preston Temple. I’d be miffed if I were a Chorleyite and wonder if the Mormon’s were daft. ‘Tis a shame, but what is done is done and best pay it no mind.

Today was fast and testimony meeting for the regional Young Single Adults. They don’t have a regular single ward, but they meet during the months where there are fifth Sundays. Afterwards, there was a munch and mingle, which we will be responsible to provide from now on. I didn’t get to munch as two lovely young women, who were still fasting, wanted to visit and make me feel welcomed. We were soon joined by a young man who looks like Harry Potter (I promised never to call him “Harry” again). After the young women left, he told me all about the problems of finding women to marry.
Eating is a big part of Young Single Adults

Listening to the testimonies in Sacrament, and talking with many after the meetings, I get the distinct impression that most of them are struggling with personal trials. It seems there are a lot of ups and downs for them, but it isn’t just in England and the economy, since a daughter and her husband are ward leaders for their YSA group and the same problems are in the U.S. with going to school, finding a job and a mate, and staying active in church. It should be easier in Utah, though, with the large numbers of LDS. It is difficult transition time no matter where a person is. We discovered the same challenges working with the soldiers in this age group, as well in my profession as a counselor at the university and with adult education. It reminds me of the quote: “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” As in the last mission, I’m feeling like a counselor once again. It is a privilege to work with this age group, and we are hoping we can be a good support for them during this period of their lives.
The moors above our home
Adjusting to a new place is a small challenge. Yesterday, we smelled smoke in our apartment, so obviously someone isn’t obeying the rules not to smoke. Saturday night seemed made for loud music upstairs and I can hear the screechy little boys next door. So much for apartment living. It is lovely here on the hill as far as the view and the building is new. We have single water faucets!! The water heater has provided us with cold water mostly, but we’ll get that sorted out. My cold shower this morning was a killer and I’m sure the neighbors heard me squeal like a stuck pig every time the water hit me. There is a busy road outside our place, but it seems we are getting used to it fast. I keep telling myself that I can handle this for six months.
The countryside is beautiful round about. Oops, I am falling asleep with the computer in my lap, so time to follow Elder Blain’s example and take a snooze. He has been napping for three hours—totally exhausted. I had trouble staying awake in church today as well, except when we had to share our testimonies. Here we are again, double duty like in our last assignment. We’ll get to do the same next week in our new Blackburn Ward.

Tomorrow, maybe I can walk over the moors and get some much needed exercise. It would be nice to lose the extra stone I’ve picked up (and I don’t mean a rock!).

Library – Baby News!
We saw on our Vonage e-mail answering machine messages that we missed a super important call when the new great grandson was born on the 3rd! That was a total bummer.

The local library is serving as my lifeline, for which I am most grateful.
Looks like the leaning tower of something-or-another, but it has computers!!
Being without communication since 2 Feb. has caused traumatic withdrawal. I am very spoiled being used to daily contact and knowing what is going on out in the real world. Now I understand why the soldiers had such a rough time. It is nice to have someone you can tell how tough things are and share good and bad things that happen along the way. It does make it easier to cope. I’m glad I don’t live in the old days when mail took three or more months to reach the states!! Okay, I’ll quit whining about not having the Internet or a phone. Elder Blain is not whining at all and doesn’t miss it. Being an old warrior, this is no big deal for him. Lucky man. There were only a few minutes to answer questions about travel to England and let people know we were settled. The whole week was impossible for trying to get to the library when it was open and find time to check the back log of messages.
Ceiling in the library
 Darwen with Blackburn Borough
This area of England is known as the old cotton mill country. Locals worked in the cotton mills here as young as 12 years of age. During the Industrial Revolution in America, the workers heard that slaves were providing free labor for the cotton industry. Even though it could meant the loss of their jobs, the cotton workers here and in the surrounding counties rebelled against slavery. This put continued pressure upon the U.S. to do something about the slave situation.

There are also many high towers throughout this region. Some of them are shot towers. It was discovered that cannon balls could be made by taking the hot steel in its round mold up to the top of a tower and dropping in down to a soft landing in straw at the bottom of the tower; it would cool on the way down and harden into a proper useful cannon ball. Ah, the technology of early years is amazing!
Heading up the hill and hiking in the moors
A large tractor was spreading manure on the field and left these deep tracks in the blackest mud I've ever seen.
I need to buy some Wellies if I continue to walk over the moors. It was a wet and muddy walk up the hill, but well worth the lovely discoveries there. It is said of Darwen if you cannot see the chimneys it is raining, and if you can see the chimneys, it will soon be raining.
Looking towards our flat through the eye of history found in the field
Old warrior stone?  Looks like armor.
 Another story about this rainy, cloudy area (it has rained every day here for eight days), is during World War II, one manufacturing company made the canopies for jet fighters. They were located in London, which would make them an easy target with the bombings. Researching where the safest place would be to relocate in England, they discovered that the most cloud cover is found in Darwen, located at an elevation of 868 feet above sea level according to our Sat Nav! We are in the high mountains!! Ha, ha. There are higher ones in the Lake District, we hear, but for now we have moved up on this island. Darwen and Blackburn are at the edge of the Pennine Mountains, so this is one reason for the extra stormy weather. We don’t really mind the rain, though the lack of sunshine can cause depression. Our mission president’s wife makes everyone take vitamin D, which is supposed to help. I’ve had some days where it seemed I was heading that direction, but usually snap out of it a day or two later. Getting out and working hard is a big help.
A small marsh with cat tails just above our place off March Hill Road
Pretty moss growing by the rocks
A bit cloudy looking across to Darwen from the hill we live on
Our place is the tallest one in the middle of this picture, second floor on left end
First Sunday in Blackburn Ward
We woke up to rain (no surprise), with a bit (me—a lot) of anxiety about meeting many new people and needing to introduce ourselves, but there was no need to worry as the people were most welcoming. Our meetings begin at 10 a.m. and we were home by 3:00 p.m. Right before Sacrament Meeting, the counselor in the bishopric informed us we were assigned the first speaker slot. The bishop had asked us to share our testimonies the night before, so it was a little confusing as to what was expected and we weren’t prepared to speak (should have known better to be prepared for the unexpected, being missionaries, but we were still in a daze).

The bishop met with us after the meetings and explained his vision for the ward to become strong. He is very organized and already had an assignment prepared for us to visit certain people. After that meeting, the Relief Society president took me aside and shared her concerns about a young single women needing support. Needless to say, it was delightful to meet so many good people and to be greeted with warmth and love. Still, I was emotionally drained when we got back home and immediately took a long winter’s nap.

Green, green, its green they say on the far side of the hill--here's proof!!

Fascinating part of an old fence
Love the moss!
Interesting building in Darwen
We see buses like these across the street from our flat all day.

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