Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dear family and friends,

The week has flown by so quickly, and Scott and Sherri and the girls are coming for a week, so I will send a quick update on my blog!  We are soooo excited for the Miles family to come.  We just wish that baby G could have fit inside their suitcase!!!

We had some sweet and tender experiences this week!  Last Wednesday we took a sweet friend, a member of our ward to lunch to celebrate her 75th birthday.  She chose this little diner type establishment and we enjoyed the meal and time together.  When Brad went to pay, for some reason the card didn’t go through, so he ran it again and it showed that the card had been charged so he figured everything was ok.  He told the owner that he would watch and make sure the purchase went through, or we would be back to pay in cash.  The cashier noticed his missionary tag and commented that the owner/manager was a member of our church.  He is from Turkey and when Brad invited him to come to church, he said, “no, I’m too busy!”  Well, Friday morning, Brad checked the credit card and saw that the lunch purchase did not go through, so we went back to make things right, and yes, we took a Book of Mormon with us.  Ollie recognized us, we showed him our bill and Brad gave him the correct cash.  I think he was quite surprised that we would come back in.  We handed him the Book of Mormon and a card with the address of the church and our contact information on it and again invited him to come back to church.  He said he was too busy, but was so grateful that we would return, that he offered to give us a cup of coffee!!! (I’m not so sure he was a Mormon!)  But the name of his restaurant was BLD’S!  Who knows?  Maybe something will touch his heart!!!

A cute couple we have gotten to know, Jim and Nita Haskins have become sweet friends!  When we visited them, they told us that Jim had gone to A and E (emergency room) with chest pains.  We felt bad that Nita didn’t call us as we would have come and given Jim a blessing.  I guess we should have been close enough to the spirit to have known, right?  Tests were taken and Jim was fine, but Nita has had some health issues and her doctor told her she needs to quit drinking tea and coffee.  She is the one who told us that she would never join the church until the Word of Wisdom is rescinded!!!  So when she said she wasn’t to drink tea and coffee, we both said together, “Yeah, now you can join the church!!!”  They will be heading to Utah and are going to visit Thanksgiving Point, so if any of you happen to visit Thanksgiving Point and hear a cute English accent, stop them and say hello!!!  They will be there the week of May 30!

We had a great treat this week as Teresa Liu and her friend Ann came all the way to Cambridge to see us!!!!  I love Teresa like a daughter!  She and Ann had come to tour London and were so sweet to take an afternoon to spend with us!  We picked them up at that train station and then showed them around Cambridge.  It is so beautiful here right now and luckily the weather cleared so we had a lovely day.  It was so fun just to enjoy them enjoying King’s College, the streets of Cambridge, and the beauty of the college backs!!!  We enjoyed a great lunch of salad and pizza at a really good restaurant.  Thank you Teresa for coming!  How we adore you and I just want you to know how precious you are!!!

Again, we have some dear friends, John and Vivian Cook who are in Utah for the next 2 weeks.  If any of you get a phone call from an English bloke, just know it is a very wonderful friend!!!!

Great week!  Lots of fun with YSA’s, barbecue, FHE and temple trip!  Our life here is sweet and very rewarding!!!

We love you all!  Thanks for making our life so wonderful!

Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Brad and Vicki

our zone leaders and district!! from L to R back row Elder Toa, Elder Coon, Elder Walker, Elder Jensen (ZL) Sister J, Elder J, Sister Vizaco, Sister Becker front, Elder Dalley, Elder Withers (ZL)

Brad in cemetery behind gravestone for Joseph Smith and his wife Lucy Smith  (I wonder if they are related!!)

Kings College  backyard

Ann, Vicki and Teresa at King's College

Ann, Vicki, and Teresa at Cam River

Wisteria delight

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Beautiful Week

Dear family and friends,

Happy May week!  The wisteria and lilacs are in full bloom and are cascading everywhere.  It is breathtaking and the air smells unbelieveably glorious.  May is definitely the time to visit Cambridge!  We are so looking forward to Scott and Sherri, Chloe, Carlee and Jaylee coming to visit next week!

We had a great week, albeit sad!  It was transfer week.  That is always hard on us.  Sister Bader and Elder Champion went home and Elder Hiltunen was transferred.  We've started a tradition to have a waffle breakfast for the departing missionaries the day they leave.  It is really fun to gather for the last time, swap addresses, hug them and express our love.  We got three new missionaries; Elder Daley from Lehi, Elder Coon from West Valley City, and Sister Becker (a greenie) from Hanover, Germany.  We got to meet them the next day at district meeting, which is always a great thing, especially watching the deer in the headlights look we get from the new ones!  Our purpose is to hopefully put them at ease and let them feel of our love and support.

We had a glorious day on Wednesday.  We usually meet with the Tilbrooks on Wednesday night and this was no exception.  We have taught Andrew all the discussions and have decided to review gospel principles with him.  Brad felt strongly that we challenge him to baptism.  They will be moving to Scotland within the month and we didn't want them to leave without their knowing of our desire for him to be baptized.  The spirit was strong in the home as we talked about faith.  I think he was quite taken aback when Brad issued the challenge.  He was quiet for a while and then said, I am just not ready.  I know what is required for membership in the church and I am an all the way kind of person.  I don't want to join until I know for sure and can honestly commit myself to live the gospel.  The thing that was touching was that his wife Gail offered the closing prayer and prayed that Andrew would be baptized.  The spirit in the room was palatable!  We left feeling so grateful for the blessing of being on a mission.  We feel that maybe this is why we came to this mission--to meet and grow to love Andrew and Gail.  We really believe that he will be baptized some day!  We will be eternal friends!!!  They are so excited to meet Scott and Sherri and the girls, so we are planning for the girls to have a first class missionary experience and share a FHE lesson with them!

One of our missionaries we have grown to love (Sister Collette Nebeker), returned to visit us with her mother and twin sister.  They came right before institute and it was like old home week.  Both she and her sister are engaged within two days of each other and they will be married at the end of the summer.  It’s amazing to me how we have made eternal bonds of friendship in such a short amount of time.  That is one of the miracles of serving a mission!

Friday we were able to meet at the mission home with President and Sister Stevens and all the YSA missionaries in our mission.  It was a forum of sharing ideas, successes and love for the work.  Each couple has a slightly different assignment.  One is a couple serving in a YSA ward in London.  The others are serving over an entire stake of YSA and we are serving in a ward YSA program.  Two of the couples will be phasing out a full-time missionary YSA assignment, meaning that the stake will call a local couple to serve.  The Area Presidency is feeling very strongly that eventually the whole YSA program will be organized and run through the individual stakes.  As we talked with the couples leaving soon, they shed tears thinking about leaving their missions.  They are very tired, but also are dreading to leave the young people they have grown to love and cherish.  I can understand their emotion very well!

Sunday, Brad was able to confirm Alex Towey, a young single adult that will be now joining our ranks!  He will be a blessing to the ward.  He is strong and committed.  Then one of our YSA’s , Kalil Studer (from Brazil) had conferred upon him the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained to the office of priest.  He asked Brad to ordain him, which was a real honor for Brad.  Generally, one doesn’t give his priesthood line of authority to someone unless they are receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, but Brad felt impressed to give his line of authority to Kalil.  In this way, he could explain to Kalil that he was ordained by the power of Jesus Christ.  Kalil was so touched and said that he was going to frame and hang this priesthood line of authority next to his certificate of  receiving the Aaronic Priesthood and being ordained to the office of priest.  It is so humbling to us to see the childlike faith and joy that these young people possess.  Then Brad was able to give priesthood blessings of healing to three more young single adults.  They have become like our family and Brad was so humbled and honored to be asked to use his priesthood in these sacred ways.

We attended a Sunday night stake YSA committee meeting with some of our committee members, Jordan Clarke, and Sam Ablett.  Like I said, we are the only senior missionaries in our stake and we serve in one ward.  The other wards were anxious to ask us how our program is organized and wanted to know what we have found successful.  We likewise were anxious to learn how the other wards were working and hear of their successes.  It was a great meeting, however, like many in the missionfield, we had to travel about an hour and a half each way to attend the meeting.  It sure makes me appreciate having to go about 4 blocks to the church and even then, we drive!!!!

I want to thank you all for your kindness and thoughtfulness for my birthday!  I felt so loved that day and want you to know how much I love and appreciate all of you.  You are such a strength to us!  May you have a wonderful week and know that you have someone in the UK who is praying for you every day!!!

We love you all!  Missions are the best!

Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Brad and Vicki


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Young Single Adults--Hooray!!!

Dear family and friends,

Cheers our dear loved ones!!!  We think of you every day and remember you in our prayers!  It was so fun to skype to all of our children and see you all!!  We are blown away with how much our little ones are changing.  They are getting bigger and their vocabularies are increasing!  We just ache to hold and hug them!  But we love how you wonderful parents are so dedicated to teaching your children and appreciate how much you love them!

We also were able to talk to our mothers on the phone to wish them a Happy Mother’s day.  That is always a joy for us!  We are praying that Jackmans are able to sell their home quickly as they have found a beautiful smaller place to live in the South Ogden area. 

We had a great week with the Young Single Adults.  Monday night is always FHE!  I think that is my favorite night of the week!  A young adult is asked by the YSA committee to share a thought, either a scripture or talk from general conference, and then open it up for discussion.  The discussions we have had are absolutely inspiring.  The youth feel safe in this group and open up in real honest feelings, concerns, or questions they have and we have had some incredible meetings.  We are so proud of these young adults as they are so inclusive and make each member feel valued.  As I look around the group, all are so different, some members, some return missionaries, some non-members, some struggling members, from different parts of the world, some going to school at Cambridge (which tells you they are very smart), and others going to Anglica Ruskin (another Cambridge University—they are very smart as well), some professional jobs, and some are labor intensive jobs.  They are from many parts of the world and yet they all are so non-judgmental and accepting of everyone who comes.  We know them quite well and are aware of their challenges, successes, joys and concerns.  Sitting in FHE a few weeks ago, I had the thought that if the Savior would come to earth, He would come to our group and embrace every one of them!   We then have treats, and play games.  They are hilarious, and everyone loves them!!!  We invite the full-time missionaries to join us and they add so much to the group as well!

 This last week, instead of a lesson, we listened to a rebroadcast of the YSA talk by Elder Richard J. Maynes about the Prophet Joseph Smith, the First Vision, the different accounts and the sacred truths revealed from the vision.  It was magnificent!  We had a non-member, Alex Towey attend who was so touched by the spirit that he was determined to find out for himself that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet and really did see what he said he saw.  His answer came in a very sacred way for him, and he knew for himself!  He has been taking the missionary discussions, and received a testimony of the Church, and this added measure of testimony of Joseph Smith was an incredible blessing for him.  He was baptized this past Sunday, on May 8.  We love baptisms!!!!  Sister Bader and Sister Vizaco taught Alex.  When Alex told his girlfriend that he was joining the church, she gave him an ultimatum, either your church or me.  He told her that he had had too many witnesses that were undeniable of the church, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation, so he had to join the church.  This young man is amazing.  But Marissa (his girlfriend) attended the baptism, despite the fact that she didn’t seem very pleased about it. Amazingly enough, the Sisters are now teaching her.  Alex was baptized by Sam Dearden, one of our YSA’s and Alex has asked Brad to confirm him this coming Sunday!  He has been one of the highlights of our mission!

We had Stake Conference this past week.  Brad was asked to speak in the Saturday night adult meeting on ministering to the one as well as to put a plug in for senior missions!  I was so touched by Brad’s words and testimony.  He gave an example of ministering to the one by our YSA committee in activating a young man by reaching out to him.  Also, he told about Brian’s experience with a wonderful Bishop who loved him and reached out to him in a way that we will forever be grateful.

The whole weekend was a spiritual feast.  President Simon Fagg is our Stake President. ( It took a while for me to get used to the name!!!!)  He is one of the most incredible men I have ever met.  Every talk was so inspired and we came away motivated and super-charged to improve our efforts to build the kingdom here.  Also, President and Sister Stevens spoke, and they are always amazing!

I will close with a quote from President Fagg, one of my favorites from President Ezra Taft Benson, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.”  May obedience become our quest is my humble prayer and deepest desire!

We love you all!
Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Brad and Vicki


 The lilacs have burst open in glorious splendor!!!  Brad always looks great!

Sister Bader, Sam Dearden (he baptized Alex), Ales Towey, Sister Vizaco

our garden!  Brad fixed the fence, Brad mows the lawn twice a week with our hand pushed mower (it takes him 5 minutes to mow it)  We trimmed the bushes, planted some flower pots.  The lilac tree is my favorite!!  Reminds me of Grandma Taylor!