Friday, March 30, 2012

TGIF.........England Trip.... March 21-28

Manchester, England….. Picking up Elder Welch 
Wayne and I flew all day and over night to England.  We tried to get everything done to leave, but I was sad that I left gifts at home for Pres. Preston and wife…and Doreen.  I don’t now what I was thinking.  Huge travel day.  Walked in the men’s restroom in SLC… didn’t know til a man came out of a stall… very embarrassing.
3/21  Arrived in Amsterdam on our 29th Wedding Anniversary.  This flight to Manchester was a true international flight…probably a lot like Truman’s mission… we had people from Nigeria, HongKong, Uk, Jewish, India, China, Korea, Iran, Ireland, Dutch all represented.  I wanted to go around and have everyone introduce themselves so I could hear everyone speak.   Walked into a woman’s restroom in Amsterdam…but Saw a man in it and thought I was in the wrong restroom again… the man was a cleaning man… it was funny.
This felt like our adoption day… So many memories of when we flew out to get Laila.  We were just biding our time waiting to see our son.    We rented a large Volvo to carry all of our luggage in.  In the first 2 hours of being here, we were lost 3 times, whilst we struggled to figure out addresses and the SAT Nav, and received a parking ticket whilst we ran into a bank in Wilmslow to change our money.  It was a 35 pound funny. Wayne did great driving after that… he thought he could have Truman drive, because he has an English license, but he is too young.
 We got to our Hotel at noon and were able to sleep for 4 hours.   Jet lag is amazing.  We found our way to the mission home in the light, then went to eat  in Altrincham at a pub… The Unicorn… we had fish and chips and mushy peas and Fish cakes with chips.  The chips are fries… and the potato chips are called Crisps in the UK.   We arrived at the mission home at 9 pm and spoke to the assistants as we waited to go inside.  Elder Smart had served with Truman and couldn’t say enough about what a great missionary he was.  “Love Elder Welch, he’s the best missionary ever!”  We found out later as we served in and around  Truman that this is true, especially from the 3 different ward mission leaders we spoke to.
It was so great to hug my boy.  He seemed much taller and thinner than I remembered…but still very smiley and happy.

Pres. Preston and his wife were lovely , very “Brittish” looking and very laid back.  We met the group of missionaries going home that day.  Two other Elders….Hanks, and Stocking and three sisters…. Allison, Suaybagio and Chuo.  They fed us brownies with banofee ice cream and strawberries and cream. 
Pres and Sis Preston
Truman stayed and played with the missionaries that night..and we picked him up the next morning at 7:00 to head to Scotland.  The most difficult part of this now, is I have to remember to call him Elder Welch, and not Truman.   

Elder Welch showing us  "the board"
Daffodils are along all of the highways and byways..... Spring in the UK is filled with daffodils

3/22—Off to Scotland.  We had a bit of breakfast in Wilmslow and began our 5 hour drive to Ayr.  The weather is gorgeous…blue and sunny skies.  Scotland is all about little villages and round-a-bouts.  Green fields with lambs and daffodils are everywhere.  We had some lunch and checked into our hotel.  We spent the afternoon at the wonderful Sharkey’s home, blathering on about anything and everything.  They are in a remodeling mess with their bathroom, and so we ate out with them, instead of Eileen feeding us in.  George took us all out for Indian food with Karen and Liam as well.  Karen and Liam are having a baby in June.  It was lovely food… infact, the best Indian food I have ever eaten.  It was wonderful to be with Truman and just take him all in.  He had the missionary spirit …..he did a cold contact to a store clerk in a little village Tesco, and also out the car window at a stop.  He is brilliant. 

George, Eileen, Karen, Me, Elder Welch, Wayne, Liam at the Indian Restaurant
Eileen walking Brady and Bailey on the Ayr shore
At Castle Culzean... with the Sharkeys

3/23  Up and out to the Sharkeys at 9:30.  Truman is sharing our hotel room, and I love having him so close.  We went site seeing…to the coast of Ayr… with the two puppies, Brady and Bailey in tow…. These little maltese dogs are like Eileen’s and Karen’s real babies.  Eileen says, “would you like…” and they wait for her to say “ a bone.” Then they go crazy.   We went off to Culzean Castle and walked around the grounds. The Castle tour was closed, which was disappointing, but just chatting on and on with George and Eileen was bliss.  There was a bag piper playing there and a wedding happening, so that was fun to see.  It really doesn’t matter to me what we see or do in Scotland, I just like being with the magical Sharkeys…. They really are such choice, wise, spiritual, loving people.  I don’t know why we are so fortunate to count them as our family friends, but I’m certainly grateful.  

Culzean Castle
Lambs are green fields are everywhere
Marlin and Lez Cairn's home for a Scottish food night

We had tea that night at Lez and Marlin’s with Bishop Gilardi and wife joining in as well for a “real” Scottish” dinner…Scotch Pies with Aberdeen Angus made by Bishop Gilardi.  You put baked beans on top of the meat pie….so very good. We also had Haggis Balls and  drank Vimto, and IrnBru.  For dessert we had custard, cakes and short bread.  All very tasty.  Bishop Gilardi was loud and loveable and difficult to understand, as usual, and his wife, Angela is like tinkerbell—so cute. The Scots are so opinionated and just like to tease about the English a lot.  They couldn’t believe that Truman actually likes the English….”all one of them.”  Lez and Marlin are  delightfully, funny people.  All teased Lez most of the night  because of his OCD tendencies.  Lez immediately pegged mine and Wayne’s ancestry…and decided I looked “anglo saxon” but Wayne was definitely scandanavian with some  red headed Norse blood mixed in as well.  He was a hoot.   Marlin has a low , melodic voice..plays the piano beautifully and we ended the evening singing hymns around the piano.  Just a treasure filled night.  It was wonderful to hear Truman’s tenor again, and sing soprano with Eileen.  I couldn’t stop greetin’-- that means cryin'.

3/24 Breakfast at Dobbies garden “cathedral” with Blood pudding…. Black pudding and all the fixins.  Spending time with George and Eileen was so grand… we also enjoyed Liam very much.  We saw Karen’s wedding album…so beautiful, stunning, like Karen would do it…so detailed.  Eileen let me try on her Hattinator that she wore as the mother of the Bride.  Posh. 
British chocolate is lovely… Truman liked to use the chocolate analogy  to help people who were “satisfied” with what they have so they aren’t interested in talking about the Church. He talked about Hershey’s chocolate and growing up with that, and that was all he knew, but once he tasted Galaxy or Cadbury there was no going back…he recognized something sweeter…just like the gospel.  Love this. We had to get Daffodil/cancer  pins for mom and Thornton’s toffee for dad…. Plus more pictures of sheep and lambs.  We must have taken a picture of every sheep and lamb in the UK…atleast we joke that we did.
We drove  to Turnberry…to see the beginnings of Golf , golf course and get some pics and hats, then back down to Chorley.    We had “Mac” donalds along the way.  
Wayne and Elder Welch outside of Turnberry Golf Course

Doreen Winn 

We  arrived  at Tom and Doreen Win’s home at half 7…they had dinner for us.  The Win’s are lovely.  Tom Win is Burmese.  He is a doctor and works up north all week and is only home on the weekends.  Doreen is a Saint.  She was baptized by Clark Bentley 35 years ago and It was great to be with them.  They have a large 5 bedroom home that backs onto the Preston Temple grounds.  We could see the temple day and night…just so beautiful…the weather is warm and blue skies every day.  We can’t believe how beautiful the daffodils and budding trees all are.   Just Glorious.   

Truman says when he arrived here 2 years ago in April, he thought everything he had heard about England was a lie… it wasn’t rainy, there had been a drought, so it wasn’t green and the people were warm and receptive (in Rochdale), and the food was good. ….
Truman is much more proper, dignified, refined and mature.  He enunciates clearly and so it sounds like he has an accent. He shows a lot of reverence for spiritual things.  Such a lovely man.

3/25  Church at Macclesfield ward.  We met so many wonderful people.  Bishop Burgess,  the ward mission leader-Bro. Moss, the Gregson’s who were the office couple while Truman was in the office.  The ward is very close.  There are only 3 girls in YW, 1 inactive.    We sat by a family with 3 little boys under 5—who played at our feet.  I was quite teary.  Time just flies.  That was Wayne and me with our little boys  at one time, and now here we are with our baby T all grown up.  We had a lovely testimony meeting and heard from a returned missionary who just gotten home from serving in Greece.  After church we headed to the Gregson’s home for a nice mission “catch up.”  They know the Schwartz’s and have stayed at their home in Bountiful.  Small world. 

The Elders' Welch walking to Tegge's Nose

We headed up  to Tegge’s Nose- a look out point on the way to Buxton.  Picturesque and pastoral.  The roads are so narrow… Wayne has done a really good job driving with all of the tight parking spaces and narrow, winding roads.  He has only hit the curb on the left side one time… and Tru has helped him master the round-a-bouts.   

Buxton is a famous resort town, famous for it’s “healing” waters.  The sun was shiny and it was hot in the park.  Tru is a great tour guide.   We stopped for a toilet break and I walked in to the women’s room, this time there was a man in there, dressed like a woman- transvestite.  One of the tallest women I have ever seen.  I can’t seem to get a break with the restroom situation.
 We ate tea at the Wilson’s in Rochdale.  They live in council housing and were the first people Tru met, two years ago.  They are humble and helpful to all of the missionaries.  We had all different kinds of sandwiches…including cheese and onion, and then went off to a fireside in Ashdown for the evening.  It was put on by Elder Hanks and his mom and Dad.  His mom is Julie DeAzevedo…she shared many songs she was written including, “Window to his Love.”  It was lovely.  This was a great place as well for Truman to see and say goodbye to many more missionaries and members…and Pres. Preston one last time.
Doreen had “bacon butties”  ( Bread, bacon, egg, sausage and tomato ketchup) ready for us as a late night snack when we arrived back in Chorley.  She is a gracious host and is so easy to talk to.  We are running all day long and are fed at night, so we aren’t at her home much.
OUtside Slattery's with Ann, Jeff and Harry Wilson

Sunshine in Manchester..... and eating at the Sushi Train restaurant

We spent the rest of the afternoon in down town Manchester…it’s a like a mini London.  It even has it’s own Manchester Wheel…  Ferris Wheel for site seeing.  It’s very busy and filled with people and traffic.  We went shopping for clothing for Truman’s after mission stuff.  He wanted to buy it in England so it would be more “posh.”  We found many bargains at PriMark….loved the shopping there.  We found a little something for everyone… then off to NEXT—Tru’s favorite store, and Burtons and River Island.  We had lunch at Yo Shushi…it’s a sushi train restaurant, where you just pull food off of the conveyor belt as it goes by.  Then they count up your plates at the end to charge you for your meal.  Even the water is at the counter, self serve and the condiments.  It was a fun experience.  Wayne will be glad Truman is home to have Sushi with.  

For our evening we were off to Liverpool.  I fell asleep while Wayne maneuvered in bad traffic.  I have been able to get naps in the car, but not Wayne.   Truman likes to look into the back seat and laugh at me, with my gaping mouth.  Oh well. 
We had tea with Peter, Carole, Maureen and Steven in Crosby.  Truman served in this area last Spring time and baptized Maureen.   They pulled out her baptismal suit and  they call it the “oompa loompa”  It  is giant and has about 5 inches of leg left after the crotch.  Peter said it’s the only one that would fit her around…..she was more round last year, and very short…..  We were joined with Elder Hanks and his parents.  We sat in a small room, and ate curry  and cakes.  It’s so generous of all of these people to feed us.  We laughed a lot at Peter’s stories.  They also have a dog named Buster who eats chocolate Easter eggs and anything else you want to feed him…. Buster is always asking for food. 
We went into Liverpool and walked around the docks and saw some church statues and plaques commemorating the saints sailing to the “new Land” in the 1800’s.  75,000 English saints migrated to Zion out of these ports.

Deborah and Rory Weavers and the Hotchkisses

3/27  Baptisms at the Preston Temple day.  I had been really looking forward to this.  We met up the the Hotchkiss and Weaver families.  The Hotchkiss couple are the ward mission leaders…and once again, couldn’t say enough about Elder Welch.  Rory Weaver (16) and his mother Deborah Weaver were just recently baptized by Truman,  and this was their first temple experience.  They brought family names with them.  I was just going to do temple names, but a Scottish sister had 16 family names for me to do.  She was so appreciative.  It made me cry.  It was wonderful to have Truman in the font and Wayne as one of the witnesses.  I was truly choked up…and couldn’t speak with out crying.  The Spirit was so strong. The Weavers love Truman and it was so evident.  Truman just feels such a kinship with these Saints.  I‘m grateful for Facebook, so he can stay in touch with so many, easily.  

Outside of Pres. Gordon B. Hinkley's flat when he was a missionary
Wayne and Elder Welch by the River Ribble

We spent the rest of this afternoon with church history sites around Preston. I read a book on the early saints and growth in this area on the way over in the plane that Sandy and Clark let us borrow.  It was so touching.   Pres. Hinkley served his mission here in the early 1900’s.  We took a picture outside of his flat on Windham road.  The River Ribble was the place that the first baptisms took place in 1839.  They were so excited to be baptized that there was a race to the river.  Heber J. Kimball did the baptizing.  He and Orson Hyde and Joseph Fielding Smith were able to preach to and baptize entire congregations in various villages.  Downham was one of these.  Downham is a throw back in time.  The church and houses all just perfectly 1800’s.  The sheep dotted country side and everything was quaint and lovely.  This was my favorite spot.  So many things to take a picture of. We ate ice cream cones on a street bench and soaked it all in.

Wayne preaching at the church in Downham

Pendle hill is in the background
Dinner with investigator Sylvia...and full time missionaries Ringwood and Palmer

Our final evening we spent with the missionaries… Palmer and Ringwood at an investigator’s home.  Sylvia and children invited us all over for tea and a lesson.  She cooked Spanish food for us…. Chicken croquetas, russion egg salad and tortilla y pappas.   Sylvia loves Truman and can’t stand he is leaving her – she is very dramatic.  (They can now be Facebook friends.)  She has many questions and can’t even believe that she is a child of God and that God loves and forgives.  It was a fascinating evening to be there.  We all bore testimony of our Saviors love and hoped that she would continue to have the missionaries teach her. 
We had a visit at Andrew Stroud’s home… a 6’7” man, and his wife.  They are investigating the church as well.  Andrew is waiting for his wife to join with him to be baptized.   He is strong and ready to jump in.  They have 3 little children. It was lovely to be at their home.   They Love Truman. 
We raced to the church before 10pm to meet up with Rory Weaver and the Saunders mom and daughter-Mia who introduced the church to Rory.  Rory gave Tru some treats to take back home and some Vimto .  Brilliant! A nice big hug and words of encouragement and we were off.

3/28—travel day.  We said goodbye to Doreen…she got up early to make us more bacon butty’s…. My butt is lookin like bacon after everything I have been eating… but that’s a different story.     We took the rental car back… it was a great way to go all around England and Scotland…we put 175 L ( pounds) of petrol in it…total.  Petrol is pricey and sold by the litre…at 1.45 a liter.
Traveling with Wayne is grand…we all got upgraded to 1st class… so better food and full, stretch out, leg room and chairs…. YEAH! 
It has been a whirlwind of a week… really just running from sun up to sun down.  My head hits the pillow every night, and I am “dead’ til the alarm.  We are going to need a vacation from this vacation.  I thought I would have time to email and call home more, but it hasn’t worked out. 

I have really enjoyed seeing Truman as a missionary. It has been a most precious experience.   It’s amazing to be with him 24/7 and watch him and soak up his enthusiasm for the gospel.  When a missionary comes home, I say, either pick them up, or go on a family vacation as soon as they get home.   Otherwise Wayne would just be at work every day and we would be doing “life “ as usual.   
We were blessed to have our English Elder Welch time and I will treasure this trip.

We arrived home to a group of mustache wearing family.  I knew Tru would think this was Brilliant… and I love my family for being such great sports at the airport all sporting black mustaches.  We laughed at each other and Tru laughed at all of us.  It took the “sad” out of the welcome home…which is good. Tru, Wayne and I were all in a “zombie” state after being awake for 22 hours.

The Airport group......
Elder Welch was officially released at 10:00 on the 28th.  It was a bittersweet ending.  He loved being a missionary SOOOOOOO much.  In England as we hugged and said goodbye to so many lovely Saints, and investigators I just cried.  They all loved my boy so much . It was a pleasure to see and feel this.  Truman didn’t cry.  I think he saved up his tears for his release moment.  It was very traumatic for him to know he was at an end to this two year chapter of his life.  His tears flowed and flowed. 
Life is good.


Erin Blake said...

oh I am crying. Kimi told me about the release. So so sweet. I'm so happy for you and Truman looks great!

Brooke Shoko said...

This completely warmed my heart! WELCOME HOME TRUMAN!

Teri said...

Mel- thanks for sharing your awesome adventures with us. So happy you have your missionary home safe and sound. What a glorious time!

Haskell's said...

I wish I could blame it being 35 weeks Pregnant but I know that's not why I cried through this whole post. I just love that boy of yours. He looks great and skinny:) so fun for your family. I can't wait to see him in July!!! I told him I'd have another baby when I saw him again... It's a fifth sense ( you have to be really lucky to have a sixth) haha kidding. Love and miss you all... All the time:)

Si said...

Finally had time to read this whole post. So great you documented this!!! What a wonderful experience for you all. love you.