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, April 30, 2011

God Works in Marvelous Ways-Prepare to be a Winner in the War Between Good and Evil

Finally, [all of us] be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand,  Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.  Ephesians 6:10-18

" . . . and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also.  Amen."  Doctrine and Covenants 27:18 (15-18 similar to Ephesians).

I woke up this morning and let the scriptures fall open to any page.  The verse above is what it opened upon.  Why was this anything unusual for me today?  It is how God answers prayers and guides us for what we need at particular times.

Perhaps, in order for people to understand what I'm trying to share, I'll recount some history of the past three days where I witnessed one more seemingly small miracle, which happen all the time for all of us and we don't always notice.

On the 28th, I received an e-mail from a special person connected to us from our last mission that was served with the military in Columbus, Georgia.  A quote from this friend's e-mail follows below:

I came across Alma 43, and had to read since it is the introduction to one of the most powerful parables for addiction and overcoming our 'enemies' that I have so far found in the canons we study, as well as all the other places I have read outside our doctrine (i.e.:  Buddhism, C.S. Lewis, James Allen, etc). 

You are familiar with the story, Moroni is introduced as being a young, strong, new leader of the army of the Nephites. (vs 16)  It is verse Alma 43:18 that first caught my attention; "And it came to pass that he met the Lamanites in the borders of Jershon, and his people were armed with swords, and with cimeters, and with all manner of weapons of war."
Captain Moroni

 It first caught my eye when I noticed before the word met which implies a confidence, or an upright demeanor.  As with the Son's of Helaman who "walked uprightly before him," as well as D&;C 121:45 "then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of god."  It shows the virtue of Moroni and the Nephites.  So I asked myself how did they come by this virtue. 

At first glance it would look as if their confidence came from all the weapons of war they were carrying, as a gun makes a man more confident in a struggle with another man or beast. But then I remembered that the enemy he was facing had weapons as well, so that could not be the key.  I read the next couple verses, Alma 43:19-21, "And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing--- Now the army of Zerahemnahwas not prepared with any such thing; they had only their bows and their arrows, their stones and their slings; and they were naked...therefore they were exceedingly afraid of the armies of the Nephites..."  

I realized that I had been frustrated with a self created insanity in addiction.  I have been fighting and fighting, and each time assuming a (quite false) confidence which is evident by my failing to come out conqueror because of my supposed 'weapons' or knowledge/experience in the world/field of addiction; when all the while I have no preparatory armor.  I am fighting naked, and it is no wonder I continue to be afraid and to often lose the battle.  I also realized that the mere fact that I was reading scriptures at that moment was in itself preparation for the very war I was searching release from.  What I have taken from these few verses is that in order to fight an effective war, preparations must be made, and eventually my armor will prove itself worthy in bringing me out conqueror. "

The next day, Elder Blain and I were meeting with a woman who is having serious problems understanding why she has had such a difficult life.  She says she bolts and runs when she gets to feeling she doesn't belong in an area she is living, often ending up homeless.  She has been praying for help.  The answer she got to her prayers was, "Stand."  I would guess Heavenly Father wants her to stop running from her past and to take root where she is so she can learn to grow spiritually and overcome the negativity of her thoughts.  We were able to relate the story from above and tell her, "Don't stand naked."

It is true that the Lord answers prayers often through someone on earth.  We are all potential instruments in His hands to bring about His righteous purposes to help every person to conquer his or her own personal temptations and win the war against evil.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pictures: Fuzzy Cows & Flowers-England is Filling in Lush & Green

And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and they were, and as they are to come.  Doctrine and Covenants 93:24

Jacob sheep hanging out with what I call a "fuzzy cow" ( a minature left over from the great Wooly Mammoth, right?)  Actually, we've been informed these are Scottish Highland cattle.
I know for a truth that England is a beautiful green place.  Spring has come, the daffodils have faded and the tulips aren't far behind with the Rododendrons hanging in there.  Now is the time leafy things take over.  The trees, hedge rows, and other plants are leafing out in every shade of green imaginable.  With the leaves comes limited views of the countryside that could be seen through the naked trees and hedges throughout the winter months.  Where we once could peek through the hedges and see new lambs in their darling fluffy whiteness, we now see solid hedges.  The Preston Temple could be seen from the motorway in all its glory up until about a week ago, but now the trees are blocking all but the spire.  The change of seasons is marvelous and we're so grateful to still be in England on this last leg of our mission to be able to see its full height of glory once again.  The Royal Wedding is coming Friday and people will have a joyous holiday with that event.  It is a nice time of year for a wedding and a street party.  Our neighborhood is throwing a party, but but we probably will not join in mainly because many people will be drinking and jolly making.

It was getting dark here.  This is overlooking the towns below from the top of the moors.
Below are more pictures gathered as we drove to and from our various duties these past two days.
Notice the oak tree on the left and compare it to the picture a week later below

Yesterday at the temple.  I LOVE this oak tree in particular (as you can probably guess since I've posted a lot of pictures of it through the seasons).  The flowers don't look as bright because there was no sun--it was getting dark.
A week ago
Say goodbye to the beautiful Lavernia (or whatever it is called).  This picture was taken in its glory last week.  It is waning this week.

These blossoms are beginning to fall off this tree outside our balcony.  Elder Blain says it is a cherry tree.
I finally got some close up pictures of these interesting cows
Mr. Bull means business
YSA at the temple last night
These still- pretty tulips are about gone over the hill
The lilies are awakened in the pond by the temple and are spreading forth

150 Million Copies of The Book of Mormon--It is a Witness That Supports the Bible in Testifying of Jesus Christ

And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.  Moroni 9:6

This quote refers to why we are missionaries.  The message must go forth that there is a great war going on with good battling evil.  Righteousness will win, but we cannot rest until all have have the chance to hear the message of the gospel and choose to follow Jesus Christ through repentance and baptism by those with the authority from God to perform sacred ordinances on earth.
Mormon abridged the records the people brought with them to America, and the ones they recorded since arriving there.  He compiled the records on to golden plates (which, in 1829, Joseph Smith was directed by an angel to find and translate)
The scripture passage posted today, from The Book of Mormon, refers to a letter written by Mormon to his son, Moroni.  Moroni ended up to be the last person with the sacred records (which were written on gold plates) and the last to record in them.  He buried them for safety after all the Nephites, including his father Mormon, were killed by the Lamanites.  Mormon was a great prophet and commander of the Nephite armies.  Mormon was appointed to be the leader of the army at the tender age of sixteen.  He lead the army many years and finally gave up in disgust as they refused to turn to God and receive the help they might have gotten if they'd chosen to be righteous.  He again took command at the age of seventy two to help his people fight the Lamanites, but the people still had not learned to depend on God.

He wrote to the people (Lamanites) who would survive the wars:  "Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record (referring to the sacred records he had kept safe that would be called The Book of Mormon) but also in the record (Bible) which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you.  For behold, this (The Book of Mormon) is written for the intent that ye may believe that (Bible); and if ye believe that (Bible) ye will believe this (Book of Mormon) also; and if ye believe this (Book of Mormon) ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous works which were wrought by the power of God among them.
Here, Moroni, the son of Mormon, buries the gold plates after his father gave them to him for safe keeping.  Moroni records a few verses before burying the plates to let future readers know the fate of his people.  He was the last one alive and we do not know what happened to him.  He wrote the promise that anyone can know The Book of Mormon is true (Moroni 10:3-5).

With the 181st anniversary of the publication of the Book of Mormon in March came another milestone—the distribution of its 150 millionth copy.

“Through all of these years critics have tried to explain it. They have spoken against it. They have ridiculed it. But it has outlived them all, and its influence today is greater than at any time in its history.” — President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), 15th President of the Church
 Read a full article on The Book of Mormon:

Book of Mormon Reaches 150 Million Copies

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter--the Reminder of God's Love & the Love of His Son for Us--Jesus Christ, our Lord, Redeemer, and Savior

To watch a movie about Christ's life, go to mormon.org, click on "Our faith," & choose
"Jesus Christ, Our Savior."  Scroll to the bottom to find the movie:  " Finding Faith in Christ," (29:10 minutes).
 Why weepest thou?  by Simon Dewey

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it.  Isaiah 25:8

No man taketh it fro me, but I lay it down of myself.   I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.  This commandment have I received of my Father."  John 10:18

“. . . If there had been no Atonement, the rising of every sun would be a reminder that for us it would one day rise no more, that for each of us death would claim its victory, and the grave would have its sting. Every death would be a tragedy, and every birth but a tragedy in embryo. The culmination of love between husband and wives, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters would perish in the grave, to rise no more. Without the Atonement, futility would replace purpose, hopelessness would be exchanged for hope, and misery would be traded for happiness. If there were no Atonement, Elder Marion G. Romney declared, ‘The whole purpose for the creation of earth and our living upon it would fail.’ (Conference Report, Oct. 1953, 34.) (Tad R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2000, 54-57.)
How can we comprehend the importance of what Jesus did for us? Is there any way we can sufficiently express our gratitude?

Here the testimony that Christ lives from a modern day apostle:  (short video-couple minutes)

Christ's Atonement Is Central to the Plan of Happiness

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It'll be a Bad Day and Other False Prophecies

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.  They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him . . . Titus 1:15-16
The moon when leaving the temple grounds
The less-active member of the Church we met with today said, "Easter Sunday will be a bad day."  We asked how could the remembrance of our Savior's resurrection and what that means to us be a bad day.  She answered, "It is the day my aunt died."  Then she went on to say that all of May was going to be a very bad month for her because her daughter's birthday was in May and her daughter wasn't speaking to her.  She said many terrible things happened to her in the past during that month and it brings bad memories.  Bad memories can be dimmed so they don't overpower and run our lives.  Yes, those of us with children can relate to how sad it is when we cannot talk to them on their birthdays, or if they've removed themselves from our lives, but we have no control over that and we cannot let it ruin our lives entirely.  We have empathy for anyone suffering in such circumstances and other trials and troubles, but a person need not continue the anguish to the point it makes it impossible to enjoy life and gain some happiness.
Often we hear people say they cannot enjoy Christmas, or some other holiday because of the losses they experience on or around that time in the past.  They predict how horrible a certain day or time will be because of the memories attached to the date.  They are guaranteed to have a bad day or a bad month as long as they choose to believe their self-fulling prophecies.  False prophets are they.  Where is their faith in God?
"X" marks the spot to look towards--Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?  why are they then baptized for the dead?  1 Corinthians 15:29
It is a sad thing to dwell on heartaches and loss of the past and allow those things to dictate forever after the certainty of reliving the same pain year after year.  Yes, people mourn and remember their loved ones or traumatic events, but they can allow their trust in God to bring them peace and understanding.  Jesus Christ died that we might all live again in joy.  His Atonement has fulfilled the promise that we can be lifted of our burdens and blessed with strength to find beauty and happiness in any circumstance we have in life.
We can choose any path or attitude we wish
On this mission, we have often been counseled not to let the weather dictate what kind of day we'll have.  If people in England decided every rainy day was dreary and pulled the cover over their heads in bed all day, not much would happen.  They'd miss many opportunities to accomplish worthwhile things and see the beauty around them.
Distribution center on the temple grounds
Flowers on the Preston Temple grounds in Chorley

As for me and my house, I choose to look for that blessed hope of each new day.  A date is a number.  A bad day long past is not meant to be commemorated with a repeat performance.  I wish we knew how to help those with negative outlooks to celebrate the good memories and forget to focus on the bad.  They do have a choice in the matter.  Jesus Christ showed us the way.

My lovely daughter-in-law from the Philippines, and her family, have a joyful tradition of remembering their now deceased relatives in a positive way.  Each year on the ancestor's birthday, the family gets together in love and a spirit of fun and celebrates the loved one's life.  They project a positive outcome for that particular day and get what they expect!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beautiful Wales & Northern England (Lake District) With Family--Castles!!

"How great the goodness of our God . . ."  2 Nephi 9:10

Our family members are returning home from France today.  They said their favorite part of their holiday was with us in England and Wales because of the beauty of the countries and the friendly people.

Some special prayers were answered while in Wales.  Our grandson is 18 years old and graduating from high school.  He will be turning missionary age in October.  All of us have prayed continually that he will gain a desire to serve a mission and we all hoped something during this trip would touch his heart and that he'd feel the promptings of the Spirit.  While attending fast and testimony meeting in Gaerwen Ward (Wales), we experienced an answer to those prayers!!  A young man bore his testimony of why he has made the decision to go on a mission.  The following testimonies emphasized overcoming fears and relying on faith.  There were other very spiritual things said that were not only applicable for our grandson, but for all of us.  Our prayers were answered through the testimony of others.  Never underestimate the power of a personal testimony or God's power to help us be in the right place at the right time for spiritual strengthening.  He does his part and leaves the rest to us.

Here are more pictures of our travels:

Welsh spelling:  Castell Rhuddlan - 13th Century
High on the wall

The boys exploring the inner court

The mote in front, river on the other side, ruins from the back side
Beautiful fields of mustard?
Food hanging in the old gate keepers house at Conwy suspension bridge
Suspension bridge to the castle in Conwy

Castell Conway-Wales
Cailin's knight in shining armor is home, so this will have to do
Conwy Castle is on the sea.  Bridger overcame his fear of going into the towers.  Here he is very proud he finally made it to the top after he said he could never do it.  Grandpa went in front and his mom went behind and he trusted they'd keep him safe.  Goes to show us we can overcome our greatest fears when we have someone we can trust to guide us and give us the courage to try.
Overlooking the town of Conwy
We all love the Welsh flag
Inside Aberconwy House, the only medieval merchant's house to have survived the turbulent history of the walled town of Conwy over nearly six centuries.  People were shorter in those days as you can see by the height of the doorway.
Seems to be a habit in those days to hang your next meal from the ceiling
Smallest house.

We arrived in Caernarfon when a huge celebration was going on and everyone was marching to the castle.  These drummers were having lots of fun and they were marvelous to watch.  I want to be in a drum group when I get home.
If we'd known we'd get stuck in a huge party crowd, we would have chosen a different day to visit.  It was fun hearing everyone speaking Welsh.  We couldn't read the signs.  Cailin is taking videos there on the right. 

I met the Welsh Dragon--cool fellow

Menai Strait behind this treeTown of Llanfairpwll, Isle of Anglesey

Help in pronouncing this longest Welsh name if you can speak the language-we recorded someone saying it for us

Elder Blain and Bridger visiting Castell Caernarfon

A window in Caernarfon castle

It is easy to get lost in all the corridors and rooms

See the masses of people--they were singing in Welsh and dancing--a huge celebration!
Calm seas, rocky beach at Llandudno
Creative bed and breakfast in Llandudno
In front of Penrhyn Castle
Nice time of year to enjoy the trees and flowers
Castell Penrhyn - more modern (19th century neo-Norman) and a good way to see the inside of what castles looked like - this was a residence and not a protecting fortress like the 13th century ones that were build along the coast to protect Wales

This is Castell Biwmares (Baumaris Castle) that only got half built when they ran out of funds It is a perfect example of a wall within a wall fortress Real estate problems even in the 13th century.  It was still used even though not finished.
These were not fun to walk on and I can imagine the soldiers running along with their bows and arrows . . . ouch--trip!
Within old walls . . .
Lake Windemere in Northern England--Lake District
The Queen's swans on Lake Windemere (all swans are owned by the Queen)
The swans were all nice.  Cailin is feeding them our meal leftovers.
These sheep cracked me up as they came running to take a look at us--sunset and getting too dark for pictures
Beautiful country.  Trees are barely beginning to leaf out.
Oh no!  Another carvery and more gravy!  Elder Blain at the counter stocking up.