Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wales: Day 18 We Came, We Cried, We Testified

Wednesday (July 21) was one of my most favorite days we've spent here. It was absolutely fantastic, all day long. Church history, hiking, Tolkien and another great city, what more could I ask for?

First we drove out to Benbow Pond. Wilford Woodruff baptized crazy numbers of United Brethren out here after digging and clearing this pond. All in all, he baptized about 1200 people during his mission in the area. It was early and still dewy when we got there and it was a beautiful crisp morning. We could really feel the Spirit and it was so cool to see the place where so many people made commitments to stand as a witness of God (Mosiah 18:9). Thank goodness for these faithful missionaries and the inspired Brethren who sent them. Because of their diligent work, many of us enjoy the blessings of the everlasting Gospel.

Next we drove a short ways to the Gadfield Elm Chapel on the Hill Farm. The chapel has a lock on it, with a laminated paper giving clues to the code, such as "The number of chapters in the Book of Enos" and the middle initial of some apostle, etc. Once we figured that out and went in, it was awesome inside! They had a cool little exhibit chronicling the work of Wilford Woodruff, the Benbow's and faithful Saints in the area. They even had a costume dress-up in the upstairs part of the cabin, so naturally we dressed up like polygamists.

The main part of the little cottage is a beautiful chapel with rock walls and wooden floors and pews. After perusing the photos and posters, we filed into the chapel and had a testimony meeting. At first I was a little weirded out by how it would go. I mean, it was a random Wednesday morning. We'd all been together for several weeks and been going to church together, but we didn't all know each other THAT well. I wasn't sure what it would be like.

It was SO good. SO good. I loved it. A large number got up to share their testimonies and the Spirit was really strong. I bore my testimony for the first time in a long, long time. Too long. But it was so great to do it again. I hope I can take the liberty of sharing a little bit of it now.

One thing I have learned increasingly over the past year is that the Lord knows us so much better than we'll ever know ourselves. He knows what we love and want, and more importantly, he knows the things that we don't want to do, or think that we can't do. Where those things overlap the things that we should or need to be doing, He prods us along.

In my life it has been evident that the opportunities that I've been reluctant to take advantage of are the ones I need the most. This study abroad was one of them. I remember who I am, and I'm beginning to see who the Lord wants me to be. I finally trust Him and I'm ready to follow Him. I'm done holding back and sticking with what I'm comfortable with. It's time for me to stand up and BE a member, and everything that comes with that. It needs to impact every sphere of my life. I've been reading Jane Eyre and one phrase stood out to me as I was reading today - "All is changed about me, sir, I must change, too" (p. 327-8). My life is moving and changing,

I don't know what's coming. But I do know that I want the Savior at the center of it as my Pilot.

The Gospel is true, the priesthood is real and the Savior successfully performed the Atonement for me and all others. Is there anything else I need to know? No. I'll try my best to keep my eyes on the Prophet and keep moving forward.

After this edifying and uniting testimony meeting, we traveled to Malvern Hills "British Camp." It was a HIKE. Very steep, rocky, and a pretty warm day. We got our heart rates up pretty fast. I hate nature AND hiking, so I was fully expecting to somewhat dislike the hike, but it was actually totally worth it! The view was incredible and the breeze cooled us instantly.

We hung out on the hill top for quite a while. We decided it would be fun to do some human pyramids, and we were right! haha Despite the dangerous and sometimes scary collapses of the pyramids, we had a great time building them. Teamwork!

The sides of the hill are grassy and super steep, then might level out for a bit before dropping sharply again. The wind was blowing like crazy and I was on the edge of the hill taking pictures. All of a sudden, Kayla's flip flop catches the wind and flies off the edge of the hill. Instinctively, I slide a few feet to grab it. Well. The grass was slick. I began to slide and it was so steep my feet couldn't get purchase. I was screaming and laughing and sliding feet-first on my stomach quickly losing ground. Finally, after falling approximately 30 feet, I hit a lip and was able to stop, flip flop in hand. Everyone was laughing and cheering as I stood up and raised my arms in the air and fist pumped with the flip flop. Hilarious and terrifying, so worth it. Such a great experience. We just hung out, laughed and enjoyed the view from the top of the hill, relishing the great experience and opportunity that we had. It was such a natural high, and I'll always remember it.

At the base of the camp was a little ice cream stand. These Brits know their ice cream. Triple Chocolate after the events on the hike never tasted better. I seriously can't get enough of the ice cream here. The Budge Family loves ice cream. Wish I could bring you guys back some!

Our city of the day was Birmingham. Now, we didn't spend tons of time in this city, but it's been one of my favorites! The parts we saw were clean, pretty and just all around cool. First we checked out the Sarehole Mill, a still-operational mill built in the 16th Century. How would you like this millstone hung about your neck?

What's up JRR Tolkien's house? We also ventured into the bog behind his house where he was allegedly inspired to write the LOTR. Sacred ground for some of you (Dad).

Finally, we drove into downtown Birmingham and spent a few hours in the Birmingham Museum of Fine Art. I loved it! I love art museums! I wish we had more time to see them and spend in them while we're here. I'm excited to go to the Portrait gallery and the Tate when I'm in London again. This museum was pretty amazing. My favorites were the 19th and 20th Century galleries, including a Picasso bronze sculpture.

The best part though was the Steve McCurry photo exhibit. Known for his iconic "Afgan Girl," his photos have become a sort of narrative and symbol of the political and religious conflict in the world today, particularly the Middle East. His work is absolutely stunning. We spent most of our time in his gallery, and then watched a Discovery Channel bit about his search to find her again after 17 years. Super cool.
Great day. I am still so happy to be here and amazed at all the things I get to see and do. A little more sleep would be nice, as we got in sort of late and had to be up before 6 am for our 2 day trip to Cornwall, but it's worth the fatigue. :)


  1. Well, your testimony made me cry.

  2. The Lord will always lead us to where we need to go if we allow Him to take us by the hand. However, for some reason it can be so difficult to reach out to Him to do that. I've realized in my life that to have faith can be easy. It's exercising it that can be hard. It's being the member like you said.