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)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Church History in England Tour!!

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.  Ephesians 1:10
First of all, before I get into the historic site visit, I have to announce that our mission president, Sister B. (mission president's wife), and Elder Blain were the last ones standing with a young missionary in a game of lightening on the sports day held recently.  Though the younger Elder finally won, it says something for our senior missionaries, huh?  Unfortunately, I was ill that day and couldn't be there to take pictures.  The tour opportunity kind of made up for me missing the sports day fun.
 We were invited by the England Missionary Training Centre (MTC) to join all the missionaries in a tour of the historical sites of the Church.  We thought we'd better take the chance now, since we've been here almost 16 months and have never had the opportunity to see any of it.  Not only that, we had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have the President of the MTC, and his wife (who happens to be President Hinckley's daughter) as our tour guides.  For those of you who do not know, President Hinckley, was our previous beloved prophet for more than 12 years until he died at 97, being actively engaged in the Lord's work all of his life to the very end.  Being able to hear his own daughter relate things he said about his mission here in England was a blessing.  We walked where he and the earlier first missionaries walked and saw the things they saw.  It was a moving and spiritual journey.

At the end of the tour, we were given a bookmark that had the famous quote that has gotten me through the two missions we have served, "Forget yourself and go to work."  President Gordon B. Hinckley was shy and it was a big challenge to get thrown right into preaching on the streets when he arrived alone in England (he was terrified, just like I felt when first arriving on these missions).  He wasn't having much luck getting anyone interested in the gospel.  He became despondent and, 'After he had taken as much as he felt he could, Elder Hinckley wrote his father and that he wasn't getting anywhere with missionary work, and that he couldn't see the point in wasting his time and his father's money.'  (Gordon B Hinckley, Man of Faith, Sheri L. Dew, p. 64).  That was when his father wrote the short letter that President Hinckley has often shared with others: 'Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter.  I only have one suggestion:  forget yourself and go to work.'

President Hinckley went to his room with letter in hand, got on his knees, and poured his heart out to the Lord.  He promised to try to forget himself, and lose himself in the Lrods' service.  'That July day in 1933 was my day of decision.  A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart.  The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight.  Everything good that has happened to me since then I can trace back to that decision I made that day in Preston.'
When I was struggling with anxiety in our first mission, a Zone Leader advised me to do just what this bookmark says.  It helped me overcome my fear of having to get up and do things in front of others without prior notice (which happens to missionaries quite often).  I will probably never be comfortable in front of people or in crowds, but this phrase is stuck in my mind forever, and so I cannot whine about it or feel sorry for myself, I just have to get past focusing on me and do the work!

Elder Blain is waiting and prepared for the day.  The Elder next to him asked where he was from.  They got to talking and found out that the Elder's grandfather was a good friend of Elder Blain's when they were children!  Small world.

In the front of this group are President Walker and his wife, Sister Walker (President Hinckley's daughter).

Nice coach to travel in
Comfy and colorful inside
President Walker told us this was "The Cock Pit" where they once had cock fights and it got turned into a Temperance Hall where a relative of his went for a meeting and met Mormons, later converting to the faith.  This is in downtown Preston.
A church near The Cock Pit.  It was one I took pictures of when we were in Preston, but I didn't know how close we were to historical stuff then.
This is the Obelisk that was in the Market Square in July of 1837, when the first missionaries arrived in England.  A local election banner proclaimed, "Truth Will Prevail."  This became the motto for their mission.
This was on the sign for the Temperance Society also, so I assumed it was some sort of Preston City logo.  Further research revealed that represents a Latin phrase--Agnus Dei, Lamb of God.  It is the Preston coat of arms or standard.  The 'PP' stands for Princeps Pacis, or Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, Jesus.  It may also stand for 'Proud Preston' to some.  Since it is an old symbol, used back as far as recorded in Preston (1376), I would guess it started out as Princeps Pacis, due to the symbolic religiosity of that period.

This store was here on Market Square in 1837
The to upstairs room is where Elder Kimball was attempting to give a blessing to Elder Russell when forces from an unseen world made a terrifying appearance.
The rooms on the right are the rooms in which the first missionaries boarded.
Going into Avenham Park near the River Ribble where the first baptisms took place.
A friendly welcome as we went into the park.
Tiny frog we tried to convert.  He didn't want anything to do with us.
Looking down into the garden.  A plaque in the garden says:  "This areas (by the River Ribble) has become important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly know as Mormons.  Mormons are a branch of the Christian Church which began in around 1820 (incorrect information).  The first British and European baptisms took place in the River Ribble on 30th July 1837 and Preston remains the home of the oldest continuous branch of the Church anywhere in the world. 

A few tree were planted in this park in remembrance of the early English saints
Read what this plaque says below

The oak on the left is the Missionary Oak
The gold plaque behind Elder Blain reads:  The Missionary Oak.  Between 1837 and1897 over 20,000 "Mormon" missionaries labored in the British Isles in the service of their fellow beings.  This oak tree has been provided by the young men and young women of the Leeds Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Honour the faithful LDS missionaries - past, present & future.
A nice walk over to the River Ribble baptismal site
River Ribble

On Sunday, 30th July, the first baptisms were performed.  The old bridge that was here at the time is gone and replaced with this one.  Two of the men to be baptized raced one another to be the first.  The novelty of this open-air baptism to be performed by American missionaries drew a crowd of seven to nine thousand from those enjoying the relaxation of Avenham Park.  George D. Watt was the first to be baptized.  He later became secretary to President Brigham Young and recorded much of the Journal of Discourses.
Where the dark shadow falls is the calmer water is most likely where the first baptisms took place.

It was really windy and a bit cold today with the baptismal site just over my shoulder on the right side of this picture.  Elder Blain was carrying a Book of Mormon in case there was a prompting to share it with someone.
Another view of the first baptismal spot
MTC missionaries posing over the River Ribble
I bet this tree was there at the baptisms

Sister Walker telling us about President Hinckley's experience here where he stayed as a missionary.  The room above was where he went to pray after he got the letter from his father.
There's Elder Blain, again with The Book of Mormon, looking a tiny bit like President Hinckley (people often tell him he reminds them of him and Primary children used to kiss and hug him, thinking he was the Prophet).
15, Wadham Road, Preston, England--made famous
A purple door for those who love that color.  One of the homes in Downham, a beautiful village in the Ribble Valley.  The local church here has existed for over 700 years.
This was one of the largest sheep I've seen (and not one of the lost sheep we are always looking for as missionaries).  It had intelligent, golden eyes that didn't show too well in the photo.
Elder Blain is walking were Elder Heber C. Kimball and Joseph Fielding walked.  Elder Kimball, while teaching with the other Elders in the Ribble Valley, was prompted by the Spirit to go to the two small villages of Downham and Chatburn.  The other missionaries tried to dissuade him, telling him they had heard there was no prospect for success due to the rumors they'd heard about the people being non-religious.  Instead, the people welcomed them with hungry hearts for the gospel message and the most amazing spiritual experiences occurred as hundreds of people were baptized.  Joseph Smith later said that the place was "holy ground";  that some of the ancient prophets had traveled in that region and dedicated the land, and that he, Heber, had reaped the benefit of their blessing.
The top of the manor where Lord and Lady Clitheroe live in Downham (which they basically own).
Overlooking the countryside.  All utilities in the village of Downham are underground, so everything can stay the way it was for hundreds of years.
The stream that feeds into a little known baptismal site that was discovered in 2006 in Chatburn.
Chatburn baptismal site and the missionaries.  We had a lovely testimony meeting with them on these banks.
Old building
Men's toilets used to be the stalls or pens for animals.
The Elder whose grandfather was Elder Blain's playmate when he was a young boy in Spring City, Utah.
Taking photos of the missionaries who leave the MTC next week.
The fountain at the baptism site
The wonderful trip is over as we get off the bus.  Elder Blain is getting the information to contact his old friend.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the virtual tour of the churches history in England. I feel like I've been there myself!! Great pics. Also, love that quote by GBH's dad. One of my favs.