Monday, September 29, 2014

I hope you haven't held your breath!

Goodness!   When your life gets turned upside down, it takes you a while to
'right' yourself.   Let's see if I can backtrack to tell you some of the wonderful happenings of our last week in England.

We had so many wonderful times for hugs, laughter and tears with all our friends.

And then, too soon, Elder Meese was filling up the Meriva for the last time.   I can say, the price of petrol at almost $9 a gallon will not be one of the things we miss!

On our last evening in our bungalow, with an empty fridge, Bernard came to make us the most fabulous dinner we've had in England - Beef Wellington.

Our own private, professional chef creating for us this last luxury dinner was the perfect cap to our time here.   And the extravagance of this meal on a student's income wasn't lost on us.   Thank you, Bernard.

The next day we were off to the mission home for dinner and a night's stay before our flight.   As you can see, we arrived a little worse for wear; Elder Meese decided he had to have a souvenir rock from the River Ribble before we left.   We were probably fortunate he just sacrificed the shoes and not the whole suit in the attempt!
But he was happy.

President and Sister Ulrich could not have been more gracious during our stay.   The President even 'resurrected' Elder Meese's shoes for him so he was missionary-fit to travel!  

You know, with our minds filled with thoughts of family we were leaving in England as well as those we'd soon see in Boston, the flight passed quickly.  
And soon the Boston skyline came into view.   And then the sweet home of our Boston kids, decked out for our arrival.  

And so the next six days flew by, filled with sights and sounds like these:

You're just there enough days that you're finally not a stranger....and then it's time to pack up!  
But it was wonderful all the same.  

Below, Grandpa's little (Bob the Builder) helper was in 'hog heaven' helping paint Becky and Tim's entry and stairway.  

This is one of my favourite family shots. Totally the personality of each person in their group...especially Grandpa's little namesake on the right.  
Hey, here is a side benefit of the Eastern stopover:   we got to adjust to a five-hour difference in time zones first!  

Okay, so the final return?   Here are some shots.   It was a sweet, sweet vision to see all these wonderful faces at the bottom of the escalator.

Our house was immaculate, our yard beautiful, and they had put our favorite 'mints' on our pillows!   What a grand welcome home.   We fell gratefully into bed that night.  
Enough for now.   More musings on the 'transition' later.   Our kids said once we had all hugged around, it felt like we'd never left.   Us too, except for all the dearly loved people we left in England.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

No Time! No Time!

How did this happen?   How could we be at the end of things?   I was going to tell about the wonderful events of the past week...the combined party, the YSA farewell FHE, the dinners, the neighbour's gestures,... but there's been no time.  It just started going too fast!

 No, seriously, no time to sit down at the all.   And now we're packing to head out the door to Manchester, to spend the night at the mission home.   Really??

How did it all rush by so fast, like someone just did a fast-forward of our lives?
Well, I promise, the minute anything slows enough to sit down, I'll catch up.

Until then, we...and little Andre, our gentle Romanian giant, wish you all a wonderful day from beautiful Preston.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Gift

I received a gift Sunday...a piece of heather.

But the heather wasn't the real gift.   The gift...was the view.  Sunday morning, at the beginning of Relief Society, our friend Richard Wellington came in and grabbed Elder Meese and I to go on a 'short jaunt' to show us something.  After a beautiful and winding drive, we ended up atop a hill outside Longridge.

There he seated us on a little bench and explained some of the expansive view before us.   It was glorious.   And then, he told us to listen.   You could faintly hear the Sunday bells from some church in the valley below.

Elder Meese took a number of photos, but none will capture the feeling of being in the quiet of that morning overlooking that glorious Lancashire vista.

Richard said he probably wouldn't be able to make it to the combined ward party (I'll tell about that later) Wednesday, and he wanted to give us this gift before we left.

On our way down toward town, he stopped to pick us a souvenir.  

Luckily, he's a cyclist, in great shape. He hopped across the dry stone wall and was back with the prize in no time.

It's now pressed under several copies of the Book of Mormon.  Thank you, dear friend, for a morning we'll never forget.  

So people ask if we've started to pack.   Haven't even thought about it until today. We still have 'places to go and people to see'.  

Elder Meese is still holding Family History training sessions for both Preston and Lancaster Districts.  

Here are some interesting facts!  Elder Nelson (right) has his lineage traced back past the 1200's.   By the way, his beautiful 'ginger' hair is evidently not so sought after in England.  They have more 'ginger' jokes than we have blonde jokes!   Interesting.  

His companion,  Elder Pape, (second from right below) is a descendant of Bro. Martin...of the Martin handcart company!

I don't think I mentioned that we held a sunday school class party a couple of weeks ago.   Elder Meese thought it would be fun to let the kids hike up the tower on St. Wahlberg's church.  

This picture doesn't do it justice, but looks taller than the Preston temple spire!   There are 189 stairs, which the class bounded up in less than five minutes.   Then we went to our house for lunch and a couple of games. It was a good time.  

We're going to miss this group.   For a mixed group of twelve to eighteen year olds, they have become quite united and focused in class.   So different than a year ago!  

This last week, Elder Meese also found an 'old friend'.   Last year he wanted to go see the oldest lady in Preston Ward - Ellen Huntriss.   She was 101 and lived in assisted accommodations.   Well, he wanted to say good-bye to her before we left.  And even though she'd been moved to a new facility with more care, he found his 102 year old friend.   She was just as bright as ever, and seemed quite excited to see him again.

Talk about longevity!  I guess all her years of hiking English peaks and 'pot holing' down into the caves kept her in pretty good form.   She now has a walker, but she still gets around!

Okay, earlier in the post I mentioned a combined ward party.  Both South Ribble and Preston are gathering tonight to say good-bye to us.  I was originally pretty embarrassed by the idea, but then realised this will be what we've hoped for!  We have really wanted to see our two wards mix together .  They don't seem to have any activities that throw them together, and they both need to shake hands across the borders once in a while.  They are doing desserts and drinks, and word has it that there might be square dancing.  Anyway, I'm excited.  So I will close this post and get ready for the evening....leaving you with another gorgeous view, this one from Ribchester near Bro. Wellington's beautiful home.  

Love you all!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Forty and Counting...

No, that isn't the number of days we have left. It's the number of years my sweetheart and I have been together.   So...we took a 'day off' to celebrate our anniversary, in beautiful Kendal.

Elder Meese arranged for us to stay in a sweet little bed and breakfast, a short bit from town center.  Earlier in the day....we met our senior couple friends, the Cunninghams, to enjoy an afternoon together before they were to be released, and 'drive home'.  True...they are the first English senior couple we've had during our time here.  And they're wonderful.

Zoom in on this shot and see if Elder Cunningham doesn't look just like the quintessential Englishman.  I love hearing him speak.  When they get home, they're leaving on a church history tour that includes everything from Nauvoo to Salt Lake!

So, after an afternoon with our friends, we headed into Kendal, on the 'edge' of the Lake District (think gorgeous, woodsy, big lakes, hills,...tourist haven).  We found some great Italian food.

The next day we 'kicked tires', bought some expensive chocolate and some great crusty bread, and enjoyed being together.   Kendal is sort of the 'Park City' of our region and just oozes local colour!

I am still in awe of the hedge rows and especially free stone walls dividing acreages here.  How in the world does a wall hold together for hundreds of years with no mortar?   hmmm.

Well, here are some happy moments in the past days:

Ben is engaged!  Our former ward mission leader has found her at last!   And they are set to marry in November.  And...he's making plans to come over and stay with us in the next year!

Okay, speaking of young people with big plans, three of this group are talking about making a trip to Utah this coming November!  I reminded them that there might be snow and which they said, 'Great! That's what we're hoping for!'  I hope they know Utah snow is a little deeper than Preston's...

So where was this picture taken?   Elder Meese invited the whole group to join him in hiking Pendle Hill one more time.   They said they all had a fabulous day together.

Our YSA group becomes more united all the time, and is about to get a boost with the return of the Uni students!

Another sweet YSA moment from the other night - we hear a knock at the door, and we are being 'caroled' by the YSA!   This is how modern carolers look singing 'Praise To The Man'!

Did I mention that summer is pretty much over here?   Yup, back to crisp morning air, and jumpers (sweaters) on many days.

Hey, exciting happening from Book of Mormon class: one of our new class members received the Book of Mormon in Farsi. The missionaries ordered it for him.  He was really thrilled.

So, table of contents in the back?   It's 'front' to him!

With days rushing by, we're trying to find time to visit with Ward friends. Bishop Cooper and Sylvia came over Sunday, and brought this beautiful piece of Nottingham lace.

And of course we had to challenge Peter and Eni to one more evening of Quiddler. Except this time they tried beating us at Speed Scrabble!  And, it was Eni's evening.  

Tonight, at Jason's invitation, we had tea with he and his Hughes family!   Few things bring us more happiness than seeing Jason doing so well.  And the family could not have been more warm and gracious (or the dinner more delicious).

I know I need to bring this post to a close, but I have another wonderful event to mention:   we invited all our close neighbours over for lunch.  And it was (to
use a British description) 'brilliant'!  We decided the best result of our three hours together was that Susan became acquainted with her other three neighbours! English people stay pretty private as a rule, and she just hadn't become acquainted since she moved in a few years back.   I just looked across the table of 'happy chatter' and smiled at Elder Meese. We were thrilled, and I was grateful for the inspiration of my husband to make this happen.

Yup, there have been some very blessed happenings in our lives this week.