Thursday, 18 March 2010
Lessons learned . . .
The Gospel is a thing of joy. It provides us with a reason for gladness. Of course there are times of sorrow. Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety. We all worry. But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice.
~Gordon B Hinckley
All the packing materials arrived last night and the move became all that much more real. Our laundry room is filled to overflowing with cardboard boxes, paper and bubble wrap. Now begins the real work of packing everything away and getting it ready to move. It doesn't seem possible that in two short weeks from today it will all be over and we will begin the business of sorting everything out at the other end.
Oh how very much I will miss the good and kind people here in our church congregation in Tundbridge Wells. Oddly enough when we first moved down here we did not like the Ward at all. We found them to be a bit stand offish and hard to get to know. Of course having come from the North part of the country, that is to be understood . . . Northerners are a completely different breed of people. Open and gregarious . . . five minutes at a bus (boos) stop and they know everything about you, including what you had for breakfast!! Todd and I are quite shy people and we had a really difficult time at first fitting in down here.
We came to church week after week, and would go home feeling empty and sad. We really missed our friends up North . . . we really missed feeling a part of the Ward. On one particular Sunday we decided not to go. I said to Todd, why didn't we find a local church where they did a Sunday Evening Song of Praise Service . . . and so . . . we decided that is what we would do, for if nothing else, we would at least enjoy the music. I went upstairs to our bedroom to change, while Todd began to search on the computer where the closest one of those might be.
I got as far as my bedroom door and all of a sudden the thought came into my mind. Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God?? The answer came immediately. Of course I do! If I believed that to be true then . . . how could I go anywhere else to church. Little did I know that downstairs at the very same time, Todd was asking himself the same question. I turned around to go downstairs to tell him what had come to me, as he began to come upstairs to tell me the same. We met each other halfway and the first thing we said to each other was . . . Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God???
There was nothing else for us to do but to continue to come to the Tunbridge Wells Ward . . . where else could we possibly go??? There was nowhere. We took up the attitude that if we were not a part of the solution then we were a part of the problem and we decided to try to move outside ourselves and reach out to others instead of waiting for them to reach out to us, and in no time at all we felt completely at home and at ease with everyone. I was inspired to do a monthly newsletter for the ladies in our Ward, which was instrumental in me getting to know them better. Little by little we wove ourselves into the fabric of the Ward and began to love it's members. Now, some almost 7 years later they are family to us and we can clearly see that they were not cold and stand offish at all at the beginning . . . it was only that we were missing our Chester friends . . . and feeling a bit homesick, and holding ourselves back and aloof.
Now . . . it will be very painful for us to bid them farewell and leave. We will be leaving a huge chunk of our hearts behind here in the South. It is a well known fact that the Ward in Tunbridge Wells is a special Ward, filled with kind and special people, filled with love. This Ward has a wonderful reputation for being one of the nicest, kindest and warmest, most loving Wards in this whole area. We have been so blessed that we got to be a part of them, and we will miss them dearly. They all know that there is a standing invitation for them to come up and visit us at any time and I hope and pray that they will. (Just not all at once though!)
Where love is, there God is . . . and He is surely present in the Tunbridge Wells Ward. We may give without loving . . . but we cannot love without giving.
This is a delicious, comforting casserole that will become a family favourite I am sure! Adapted from an old cookbook my mother gave me years and years ago. Todd just loves this.
*Heaven and Earth Casserole*
Sweet potatoes make a change from regular potatoes here. It may sound like an unusual combination to put together sweet potatoes, onions and apples, but trust me when I say they go together beautifully! Heaven and Earth because it epitomizes all the best of both . . . the apples from the tops of heavily laden apple trees, and the sweet potatoes and onions from the earth . . . and everything else in between.
1 pound of pork sausaages (I use cumberland)
3 cups peeled and thinly sliced sweet potatoes
1/2 cup peeled and sliced onions
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 peeled and thinly sliced apples
1 TBS packed soft light brown sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Lightly butter a casserole dish and set it aside. Begin by browning the sausages over medium low heat in a heavy skillet. Continue to cook them, turning them often while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Layer the vegetables in the prepared casserole dish. Start with some sweet potatoes and the apples, Sprinkle with some seasoning. Then layer on some onion. Repeat the layers until all are used up, ending with a final layer of sweet potato. Pour the stock over all, and then sprinkle the brown sugar over top. Cover with a lid and then bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and take off the lid. Top with the sausages. Scatter the cheese evenly over top. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and beginning to turn a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for several minutes before serving. Delicious!
Over in The English Kitchen today . . . a scrummy Milky Way Cake!