Well my final week.
It has been a very good week. Monday, we had the chance to go see a waterfall with Jesse and then have dinner with Elder and Sister Bailey. Elder Bailey is a fantastic cook! He used to be a caterer and so he is very talented. He made us a really nice curry. It was good to spend a bit of time with them, they have been very good to me and I've come to care about them. I have generally come to care about the people of England. It's going to be hard to not see them. I'm going to have to find a way to come back to see them more that just in August. These people have become family to me. I truly love this country.
On Tuesday, we had District meeting and I got to give my final training on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was good. In all fairness, I very likely will use if for my homecoming. It was a really fun training to prepare. It brought me to my knees a couple of times in gratitude for the gift of a Saviour. Wednesday, we had a street display in the town centre. It was my last one and it was a real struggle. I just couldn't seem to get anyone to stop and listen to me. I did get some really nice people—they weren't interested in our message, but they did stop for just a second. I remember one quite old fellow who stopped and told me how I was real example of what young people should be like today, that I was doing the Lord's work and then he said a little prayer for me. It was so sweet. He really made the rest of the display doable. I have come to really appreciate the people who are just genuinely kind.
Thursday, we had a lesson with a young man named Kearen who is a friend of one of the YSA in the ward. We taught him at her family's house. He is super solid. He has been coming to church, seminary, and reading the Book of Mormon. His mom even told him that he needs to read the book. Then, after the lesson he actually invited us to come over and teach his parents some time. Sadly, the family wasn't at church this Sunday because of some health problems, so the other Elders will be teaching him soon! Friday was the Temple. That was a REALLY good day, We left at about 10:30 from Shrewsbury with the Baileys and we got there just after 12:30. We had lunch with the other missionaries and then we caught the 2:00 session. We then went into the Marriage waiting room (President knew exactly what he was doing, he put us in there on purpose) to talk a bit more about the temple and some of the symbolism. It was so good!!! I really loved it. It reminded me of the first time I went to the temple because we got through into the celestial room and there was President and Sister Ulrich waiting for each of us and embracing us. It was just like when I went through the first time and had my family standing there waiting for me. It was really special. We spent 2 hours after the session with President and the senior couples learning more about the temple and some of the symbolism of it. On the way home, there was a bit of an issue with the Baileys and so me and Elder Carre had to get a train home (never a dull moment on a mission).
Saturday we started off the morning with a nice stake-wide game of football (soccer) that was bunches of fun. Probably the last I will get to play in this country (or possibly ever). It was great because Paul came and he played for a bit before his back packed out. It was his first time playing in about 10 years. It was fun. After we got back to Shrewsbury, we went down to a place called Luddlow which is the very most southern part of the mission. It is actually farther south of Birmingham and its suburbs. We met a really great man that joined the church some 40 years ago, but due to health and the distance to the church, isn't able to come anymore. We had gone to see him last week, but he wanted us to make sure that we came back for a dinner with him, so we went back. It was so good. He is 91 and so he has seen a lot. He was in the Navy in WWII and was a part of D Day. He has had just about every job under the sun from postman to factory and everything between. I love missions because you get to meet these great people.
Sunday was Church and it was interesting for sure. Since they all knew that I was going home (I didn't announce it, the ward mission leader did), I had the assignment of sharing my testimony. The problem was that I started losing my voice on Thursday and after Friday night, it was gone. I then strained it talking in Luddlow because Rony is deaf-ish. I could only whisper. I have never heard it so quiet in that room before. It was really neat actually. I just whispered into the mic. I had to be very selective with my words because I couldn't get much out, so it was very short. My voice is seeming to make somewhat of a comeback today, I can talk, it's just a bit croaky and quiet. Sometimes it drops back to a whisper.
Well I love you all and look forward to seeing you on Wednesday! I never thought that 2 years would end, but now it has—I can't believe where it has gone.
Caelitus Mihi Vires
My Strength is from Heaven