Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Busy Fortnight

We have now been operating the Employment Resource Centre for two weeks on our own.  The Hambelton’s have returned to Boise, Idaho and we are the Employment Specialists for the Mission.  We have been reading through all the material created for us and have been deciding how we are to move forward. 

Last Friday, Carolyn thought we should go to Aberdeen on Saturday…no particular reason, but thought we should go.  That afternoon we received an email from the Stake Employment Specialist in Aberdeen in response to our email introducing us to him.  He told us he was making a presentation on employment resources at the Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting.  He said he knew it was a long shot, but asked if we could come to the meeting to assist and also be introduced to the Stake Leaders.  Well, there was the reason for our trip to Aberdeen.  We drove up Saturday morning (a little over 2 ½ hour drive) and helped with the presentation at the 2:00 p.m. meeting.  Both Carolyn and I spoke briefly at the meeting to introduce ourselves.  On the drive to Aberdeen we saw fields and fields of blooming daffodils.  They pretty much grow wild in yards and along the roadside.

We stayed overnight and attended the Saturday evening session and the Sunday session of Stake Conference.  The Sunday session was a broadcast from Salt Lake City to all the Stakes in the UK and Ireland.  It was a good meeting.  Elder Baxter of the First Quorum of Seventy, (a native of Glasgow) conducted the meeting.  The other speakers included Richard G. Scott, one of the Apostles, and President Henry B. Eyring. 

We are getting settled into the area to better know our way around, and are getting used to the different terminology.  We can make it back and forth to work (to the Employment Centre) without using the “SatNav” which is what they call the Garmin GPS unit.  We attended a birthday dinner Friday night for Sister Price (she works in the Mission Office) and had “Gammon”, sweet potatoes, and beans.  Gammon is Ham.  It is cured differently but tastes pretty much the same.  We buy “Semi-skimmed” milk which is 2% milk.  We have “biscuits” for desert which are cookies.  We have registered at the medical Centre (hope we don’t need medical services while we are here), opened a bank account, obtained a library card, and applied for a bus pass…seniors age 60 can ride free on the local buses…and we can understand almost everyone.  Driving on the left is coming along pretty well.  I have started to study for the drivers test as my USA license is only good for one year.   The challenge is the narrow streets with cars parked on both sides, lots of unusual traffic signs, and lots of markings on the pavement directing lane changes.   (by the way, a "fortnight" is two weeks)
Yesterday we went with a group of senior missionaries to Pitlochry which is a town about 2 hours away.  The purpose for some was shopping but the main purpose was to see a stage play – "Hello Dolly".  It was a small community theatre and the production was very well done.  We had lunch, went the matinee performance, and then went on a short hike to some waterfalls.  It was a beautiful day.  The temperature was in the low 70s and felt like summer.  Today has been cloudy again and it will be rain again tomorrow.
Carolyn at "work" in the Employment Resource Centre
The Falls at the Heritage near Pitlochry
The town of Pitlochry on a beautiful day!  Saturday was the most sunshine we have seen since we arrived in the UK
River near Pitlochry
I used Google Maps to show the location of the Mission Home and the Stake Center.  The Stake Centre is the building on the right...the big roof.  You can see the addition of the Mission Office to the original house of the Mission Home.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Arthur's Seat...Also known as "Pratt's Hill"

Wednesday we spent the morning with the new missionaries who were just arriving from the MTC in Preston.  There were about 23 new Elders and Sisters.  There is a tradition in the mission that new missionaries climb “Pratt’s Hill”.  They also climb the hill again before they leave to go home.  We climbed the hill with the new missionaries and the Mission President & his wife.  The hill rises about 875 feet above the city and there is a great view of the surrounding area. 
In 1840 Orson Pratt was a young missionary for the Church who went to Scotland.  He climbed “Arthur’s Seat”, a hill near the center of Edinburgh to pray for success in his missionary efforts.  About 40 years ago, the mission president in Scotland at the time decided to take a few missionaries with him and they climbed up Arthur’s Seat and prayed for their success in their missionary efforts.  Hence, the tradition was born and the missionaries now refer to the hill as “Pratt’s Hill”. 
When the new missionaries arrived in Scotland, they climb the hill and sent goals for themselves for their work during the next 18-24 months. When they are ready to go home at the end of their mission, they climb the hill to reflect on what they have accomplished.
President Brown (in the hood) and his wife spoke to the missionaries about the tradition of climbing "Pratt's Hill"

The View of Edinburgh City Center - from the Holyrood House (the Queen's palace when she is in Scotland) to the Edinburgh Castle and beyond to the Firth of Forth.

Aye, that is me, Laddie


Carolyn, President & Sister Brown making the hike up the hill

Carolyn on Pratt's Hill

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Work Has Begun...(with some fun in between)

We landed in Birmingham England last Tuesday and were met at the airport by our son, Steve, and his wife and two of their kids.  It was great to see them again.  We had lunch with them and chatted for a couple of hours then took a short nap to try to adjust to the time zone.  At 6:30 p.m. we started a training session on working in the UK Employment Centre.  We had more training all day Wednesday and again on Thursday morning.

We left for Scotland at noon on Thursday and stopped at the Preston Temple to attend a session.  You can see from the pictures that it was cold and rainy.  We arrived in Edinburgh about 9:00 p.m.  We stayed at the Mission Home through Sunday night.  The Home is really a beautiful home that was built in the 1860’s.  An office was added on in the 1960’s. 

Elder & Sister Hambelton
This is the couple we are replacing

Elder & Sister Boden
A cold day at the Preston England Temple
We spent Friday in the Edinburgh Employment Resource Centre learning how it has been operating.  We went to dinner with the Employment Specialists and his wife from the Dundee Stake.  We ate in a pub/restaurant that was 350 years old.  I almost ordered haggis, but thought I would wait for another day.  On Saturday we drove to Glasgow to meet the Employment Specialist from the Paisley area.  They are great people who are dedicated to Employment Services and helping people become self-reliant.
We moved into our Flat on Monday...and started driving on the left side of the road!!  I'm doing pretty well but the biggest challenge is finding where things are around town.  We are very dependent on the "SatNav"...that is the Garmin GPS unit.

Ready for the road...notice where the steering wheel is located.

There is a huge modern grocery store next to our flat.
There is a second floor over the back half of the building and you can take the shopping trollies (shopping carts) up the escalator.  When the trolly is on the ramp, the wheels lock and the cart will stay put until you reach the next level.

Finally out of suitcases

After living out of a suitcase for nearly 3 ½ weeks we have finally moved into our flat.  (For you “yanks”, a flat is an apartment).  The flat has two bedrooms and two baths and is full of IKEA furniture.  J  It is not luxurious, but it will be home for the next 18 months.  We are getting used to being careful what we plug into the wall socket.  All the power outlets are 220 volt and everything we brought with us needs either an adapter plug to fit the wall socket or a converter/adapter to fit the wall socket and adjust from 110 volt to the 220 volt power.   The flat is located about 20 minutes from downtown Edinburgh.  It is adjacent to a major grocery store and petro (gas) station.  We picked up our car (a Vauxhall) tonight.  It is fairly new – 20,000 miles.  We don’t have to pay rent on the car – only the gas (diesel) and maintenance.  We have been driving around the area for the last few days with Elder & Sister Hambelton (the couple we are replacing) so I am getting used to riding on the left side of the road.  I’m not too worried about beginning to drive, but the biggest challenge will be finding our way around town.  The Hambelton’s have been driving about 1,500 miles per month.

In traveling around the Edinburgh area on Friday and Saturday, and traveling to Glasgow, it became clear that we will be relying heavily on our “SatNav” (a Garmin GPS) to help us find where things are located throughout the country.  We will be traveling between Paisley, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, on a regular basis.  We will also be visiting Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin, and Limerick at least quarterly.

Friday we were orientated on the operation of the Edinburgh Employment Resource Centre.  We had dinner with the Stake Employment Specialists (SES) – Brother & Sister Nelson - from the Dundee Stake.  They are a very nice couple with a great sense of humor.  It will be fun to work with them.  Saturday we drove to Glasgow to meet the SES – Brother Mair (we have not yet met his wife) - from the Paisley Stake.  Brother Mair will also be a wonderful fellow to work with.  Today after church we met the SES from Edinburgh – Brother & Sister McMillan.  They are doing a grand job in the Edinburgh area and we look forward to working with them.

Our main tasks while we are here will be to support the Stake Leaders with training the Stake Employment Specialists who in turn will be training the Ward Employment Specialists.  The work will include conducting Work Choice Profiles –(a psychometric test used to assess your interests and preferences on several common dimensions related to work), conduct Career Workshops – (designed to help candidates identify their strengths and skills and prepare them for employment interviews), individual coaching of candidates who are looking for work or looking to upgrade their current employment, assisting the candidates in writing their Curriculum Vitae (CV), using to track a candidates progress and search for available jobs, and operating the Employment Resource Centre in Edinburgh.  Because of the distance to other Stakes, we will assist the SES in all of the above activities in their local areas.

Birmingham Mission office & Employment Centre

Scotland/Ireland Mission Home & Office
This home was build in the 1860's.  The office on the left was added on in the 1960's

Edinburgh Stake Building & Employment Centre
This is our "office" three day each week.  The rest of the time we will be here or traveling

Our Flat for the next 18 months.
We have a ground floor unit - 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, Kitchen & Living room