YSIOPFACHGARDIAUWRTHYBONTDROSYRAFONDDYFROWYYNLLANGOLLEN

I have told a number of people about this little shop in Llangollen, Wales over the years.  Nobody seems to believe me that this sign and place really exist.  Here, for all to see, is the photo.  It says, “YSIOPFACHGARDIAUWRTHYBONTDROSYRAFONDDYFROWYYNLLANGOLLEN.”  You will have to click on the picture to see it more clearly.

If you do a search by the name, you find only a few hits for it on the web.  I do not know why they placed it all as one word since Welsh does permit spacing when you write it.  Perhaps it was to create a novelty to attract tourists.  At any rate, it means something like “the card small shop by the bridge over the river Dee in Llangollen” and is to clarify just in case you should confuse it with other card shops in Llangollen.  My welsh was pretty weak as I learned some of it in Wales and is even worse these days, so I hope that is kinda close.

We visited one Preparation Day in early 1999.  I only lived and served in Wallasey, Liscard, Moreton, Seacombe, West Kirby, and New Brighton in the Wirral Peninsula from around the 23st of December 1998 to about the 19th of January 1999 before being assigned to Hyde.  We made my first trip to Chester in Cheshire and Wrexham and Llangollen in Denbighshire, Wales.  The Valentine’s Day decorations in the window would seem to hint at later January.  My journals would tell, but they are in Idaho.

Llangollen is a small town, probably not more than a few thousand people.  I really remember very little about it.  I remember seeing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the drive down but not a whole lot more.  We drove down just to see this little store.  Which, now that I have posted the picture, everyone can rest assured it really does exist.

Perhaps some day I can return to Llangollen.  Maybe we can arrange it so it corresponds with the International Eisteddfod.  Or maybe some day I can visit Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.  Only time will tell.  Until then I will just have to make due with the Welsh Festival in Malad, Idaho.

FYI, I cannot pronounce either, so please do not ask.

Shall never thirst

Here is a photo we took in Chester, England.  We took it on 2 July 2008 at Chester Cathedral.  We visited Chester as it was a memorable site in England that I visited in December 1998 or January 1999 as a missionary.

A church has stood in this location pretty much since the 11th century from what I understand.  As a missionary visiting in 1998-99, I just remember the influence it had on me to realize that this place was of importance with relation to Handel’s Messiah, a piece I had learned to love in high school.

The scripture around the base is of John 4:14.  “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

I quoted from the King James Version, but this writing ends with “up for everlasting life.”  Which I thought was an interesting variation of words.

Anyhow, we found it beautiful and I thought I would share.  I know this cathedral is a tourist location, but I also know that many do not venture into the courtyard where this sculpture is located.

Northern Welsh Castles

First, Happy Birthday Dad.  As always, I am sure you will have all the neighbors celebrating with fireworks.  Happy Birthday Jan, I know it was a week ago, but I am still thinking of you.  Happy Birthday America.  May all of you live long!

Yesterday and today we were off visiting several castles of Northern Wales.  They are all built under the direction of Edward I in the late 1200′s.  If Amanda wasn’t sick of castles yet, hopefully we have advanced her towards such a state.

Yesterday we visited Conwy and Beaumaris castles.  There isn’t really any way for us to describe it rather than show you the photos.  Which we will have to upload.

Today we drove straight out to Caernarfon Castle and it took about 4 hours to work our way through it.  We ran into a lady named Gaby, and found out she was going to take a bus to Harlech after Caernarfon.  We invited her to go with us.  We all drove to Harlech when we finished.  It was another beautiful castle situated high above an estuary.  We spent a couple of hours there and then cut through Northern Wales.  She was going to take the train back to Chester so we volunteered to drop her off.  She effectively became our gate opener and closer as we drove through pasture after pasture in Wales.  It was beautiful!

We finally made it back to a main path near Pentre Gwynfryn and cut back down to a main road.  We took a turn at Penrhyndeudraeth and headed inland.  We went right through the Welsh Mountains and it was beautiful.  We had lunch at Blaenau Ffestiniog.  We haven’t a clue how to say it but I did get a fairly descent donner kebab.  We also drove through Mold.  We definitely have to mention that one!  We dropped off our new friend, Gaby, in Chester and came home.

Last night we went to visit some more friends who I knew as a missionary.  As a credit, they all remembered my name even though we almost 10 years on.  One of which was a man we baptized, Adam Dawson.

Anyhow, we are traveling maniacs!

Chester, England

Some of you have already noticed, but I uploaded a whole lot of photos yesterday.  About 250 actually were in the batch.  It includes the rest of the photos from Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and France.  I did not upload any photos from Scotland or England.  They will have to wait for the next chance I get.

We are now staying with the Byrom family in Runcorn, England.  Today we went to Chester and walked the walls.  We went through the cathedral and went down the main shopping streets.  It was a beautiful day for what we were doing.  We quite enjoyed ourselves.  We each had a pasty and a vanilla finger.  She liked it but it was too much.

We stopped by Ellesmere Port on the way home at a outlet mall.  We picked out a couple of suits and bought them.  However, we were not convinced we had the best deal so we took them back.  For as much money as we were paying, I didn’t absolutely love the suits.  With our buyers remorse, we took them back.  Interestingly, on the way out, we stumbled upon another store.  I found better quality suits that were on sale for almost half of the cost for the other two suits.  Hands down, Amanda and I both liked the second store over the first.  Now I have some new suits, one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Europe.

We had dinner this evening, some amazing lasagna.  Rose has always made great lasagna.  Afterward, Rose, Amanda, and I went to visit an older lady I taught on the mission.  She was such a sweet soul and she proved to be the same.  We have all aged, but the sociality has not diminished or changed with time.  I think Amanda quite enjoyed Jane Young and her quaint little home in the English countryside.

Yesterday, we had dinner with Jack and Brenda Millington from Howe Bridge.  Jack used to cook us as missionaries some wonderful homemade pot pies.  Visiting with him on Sunday, he offered to make me and Amanda one.  We agreed and met with them yesterday.  The pot pie was as wonderful as ever, boiled cabbage, and homemade trifle.  We really had some good laughs.  Jack even sent us off with a couple of parting gifts.

There are so many people that nearly 10 years have changed nothing.  We don’t always remember each other’s names, but the feelings are still the same.  Memories seem to come back quickly, surprisingly.  What will heaven be like?

Prairie Home Companion

Well, I just put out a whole philosophical e-mail and thought I would take a moment to do an actual update on life.
I am sitting here listening to Prairie Home Companion enjoying a few good laughts.  Earlier I listened to Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The woman without a shadow) by Richard Strauss.  It was fascinating to listen to.  Made me want to learn my German.  Funny how music can take us other places.
I have just finished my second week at Bank of America.  Things are going very well.  I am learning many more things about mortgages and all the documentations that attend.  The lessons mostly center around learning the DOS-based system they use for processing all these loans.  I have to admit it is a very detailed system that handles thousands of people working on it at all times with large amounts of information.  Impressive as that it, they tell us it has only gone down once in the last 10 years!  They have replaced one or two systems with Windows applications and they crash regularly so they are not in any rush to be replacing the old DOS-based system.  Therefore, I have to learn the codes and names to navigate the system to check and update information.  They teach us how to check the documents and how to put it into the system.  We were done covering the documents within the first week.  I have found out the position I will be in is basically an assistant underwriter.  It has a whole host of names, but currently it is Home Servicing Specialist (HSS).
Last Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference.  I think it was the most powerful Stake Conference I have ever been to.  I have been to some very good ones.  Two were in the Logan Tabernacle (one for the Logan University 4th Stake the other for the Logan University 5th Stake), another in the Springfield Missouri South Stake Center, and the last I can think of was a Stake Conference for the Chester Stake in Wrexham, Wales.  The most impressive part in Missouri was the music and the unity I felt within the congregation.  The Chester Stake was powerful for the fact of some amazing talks given, one particularly by our mission president.  The one for the 5th Stake at USU was that it was basically turned into a stake testimony meeting.  That in and of itself changed the tenor of the meeting but all were invited by name by the Stake Presidency.  The last one for the 4th Stake, I can think of two conferences in particular.  One had Elder Burton, the Presiding Bishop and the other was all the Presidency’s remarks.  President Cherrington usually gave a great talk at all conferences.  So this conference is in good company.  It wasn’t the first conference I have been to with an apostle, but this one had an apostle acted as we expect them to.  Elder Holland gave some powerful comments.
In Priesthood he taught us about Satan binding our tongues, the difference between lips and hearts, and the difference between forms of power and the real thing.  He basically told us we are doing too many things without our hearts and without conviction.  Time to step up to act in the name of the priesthood like we are expected to do.  In Saturday evening, we were taught how we live in a broken world.  Whether you like it or not, things are not perfect.  He taught us about the Atonement and how all broken things will be restored to their proper order at the right time.  Then he pounded out the importance of not whining, not complaining, and going forward in our lives with faith.  He was very direct in those who complain or say something is wrong in life.  He said nobody has the right to complain or wallow in the misery when the Savior took care of them for us.  Time to walk in faith, get up, and be about doing good.  The Sunday session proved to be just as good.  He spoke about his personal experiences of President Hinckley and his prophetic calling.  It was fascinating to learn more about the personal life of a prophet.  He spoke to us about the importance of the gospel and the role of the church.  Again, the topic had to do with looking beyond ourselves and seeing the big picture.  He ended with the importance and the role of the Holy Ghost.  How as latter day saints we live below our privileges and don’t claim the rights that are ours.  We do not appreciate what has been given to us and need to wake up.
Even though I have heard similar talks, the basic point is the power by which he spoke, namely the Spirit of God.  It literally took the message directly to my heart.  I noticed at a couple of points how my bosom literally trembled at what it was he was speaking.  I recognize the power which he conveyed.
In other news, we have been looking for a second car.  With Amanda needing to travel long distances for school this fall, it isn’t going to work to have one car.  So we are looking for a nice little car under $5,000.  So far it has been a miserable failure.  There are very few cars that are below that limit and what we are finding feel like questionable deals.  We went to look at a little Audi A4 for $4,700 and he sold the car at noon.  So we took a little Passat for a drive that he said he would sell to us for $4,000.  It only has 103,000 miles on it.  We took it for a test drive and something about the transmission raised all sorts of red flags for me.  We will have to see if something else pops up.  I may be too picky.  I don’t want a car that smells of smoke or animals.  I would like one which runs well.  I would like one that isn’t completely ugly, like a stationwagon.  Most people take such bad care of cars.  Many have rips in the seats, big marks in the doors or dash, and more.  I keep waiting for someone to give us one so we don’t have to take on a little more debt, but that probably won’t happen soon.  We will have to keep you updated.
Well, I believe that is enough of an update for now.