Dearest family and friends,
This blog is really late this week as we have been very busy! I'll tell you about that next week! So the trick is remembering what we did last week!!! I can't even remember what I had for breakfast this morning!! Luckily, I have a daily planner which helps me remember!
But the news of the day is HAPPY BIRTHDAY CARLEE NOEL (SUE) NELSON!!!!! She is 11 years old today. Oh, sweet Carlee Sue, we love you, so I will write you a poem........
Roses are red,
Ivy is green,
You have the most exquisite eyes,
We've ever noticed!!!
(This is a family tradition--mom's rhyming poems!)
Love you Carlee! Have a fabulous day!
This week we got to serve with the Methodist church and the Church of England Church! There are some very lovely people in this city. They have set up a program during the winter months where 7 churches combine to house and feed the homeless (12 to 15 men) every night of the week. We are helping the Methodist church across the street. Our job is to show up at 6:45 a.m. to clean up the church following the night the homeless are hosted. It reminds us of the homeless shelter service we have done in Provo. We have met the nicest people! Then we got to help clean up on a local cemetery project. This time, just Brad and I went because our YSA's have mostly left or are involved in exams and essays, and we didn't schedule the missionaries soon enough. So when we got there, the gardner was very glad to see us, but wanted to know where are those fine young people were who helped last time!
We had our ward Christmas party and the YSA's were in charge of decorating the cultural hall! We did a great job, I must admit! The YSA's wrapped a bunch of empty boxes to arrange on the tables and I must say, it looked really good!
The highlight of our week was teaching our dear friends who live in Littleport! The husband is not a member and his wife has had church discipline and we have been working with the Bishop in her behalf. She has been so anxious to return to full fellowship in the church and has been waiting for 8 years. The Bishop wants her to return as well. So we told her Wednesday night that the Bishop wants to meet with her and begin the process. She was very excited, but her husband was the one that was deeply touched! She has had some health issues so Brad asked if she would like a priesthood blessing before we left. So I took the two year old into the other room while Brad and Carl the ward mission leader gave her a blessing. Her husband was in the room with them as well. She wept during the blessing and I think the whole evening was one of those miraculous experiences one prays for on a mission! There was such a spirit of love in their home. The husband had two single spaced pages of questions for us that he had written down during the past week from his reading we gave him to do. Because it was so late, we only worked on the first one, about Adam and Eve and the Fall! He is very well read in the Bible and his questions are very thoughtful and deep. As missionaries, we have been taught in Preach My Gospel that we need to ask questions and teach in very simple and short doctrinal statements. I have such a testimony of that concept and the more we teach, the more I see the wisdom in that. We gave him some more to read from the scriptures and we are all anxious to meet again! In fact, tonight, the wife has a disciplinary council scheduled to determine if she can have her blessings restored. While I host institute tonight, Brad will wait with this wonderful husband at the church while his wife is meeting with the council. I can see why they are called councils of love! This has been a very tender experience for both of us, and I have felt the love of the Savior in an incredibly personal way I've never felt before! This is why I love this mission. I love the Savior so very much and appreciate His infinite love and atonement for everyone of us!
We were able to take one of our full time missionaries to receive his patriarchal blessing. He is from Malaysia and was not able to get his blessing before he came on his mission. We met the newly ordained patriarch in our stake who is a wonderful man as all patriarchs are. He invited his parents-in-law over to the church to meet this missionary as they served as senior missionaries in his stake. They brought a journal of their missionary experiences with pictures of this missionary and his family from about 7 years ago. Elder Tamilarasson remembered the missionary couple and they had a wonderful reunion! We also had an incredible visit with them as well. We were instant friends!
We met up with two senior couples (Elder and Sister Blackham--YSA missionaries in Norwich and Elder and Sister Parkes--military relations missionaries) for dinner this week and had a ball! It is so fun to compare notes (like how to use English ingredients to make American cookies, and YSA meal ideas) and be with other senior missionaries. We feel like family! Because we are way out in Cambridge which is the furtherest most part of the England London vineyard, we don't get to see other senior couples as often as we would if we were in London, so we decided we must do this more often!
Well, I'd better close this epistle as I have to get things ready for institute tonight! We love you all so much! We have decorated with your wonderful decorations you sent! We love it and so do all the YSA's! We have played Heather's new Christmas CD which is fabulous and even features Brian with a solo and Kinner's saying Merry Christmas! I just cried! In this very old English village, I have not seen one nativity set or scene anywhere! (and there are a zillion churches everywhere!!), so I ordered a sweet, and simple set from Amazon. Now I feel like it is Christmas! I now just need you all to pop in for dinner on Christmas Eve and it would be complete! We love you all! Keep the faith! Jesus Christ is real! His gospel is on the earth today!!!
Love you all,
Dad and Mom, Papa and Grandma J