Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | May 10, 2013

Coming Home

“Who would have supposed?” has been a constant theme in this blog as we have reflected on things we would have never anticipated when we began. “So who would have supposed” that 18 months would have passed so quickly and that you could make so many friends and have such great experiences in so short a time.

We board the plane for home this Monday, May 13th and arrive in Boise late in the evening.

We will report our mission to the ward on May 26th at 11:00 am at the Tuscany Ward at Eagle Road and Lake Hazel.

We leave you with a few random pictures of a few of the many people and activities of our mission.


A few of our colleagues in the Employment work:

A very brief sampling of our work activities:

A few of our fellow missionaries, young and old

A few of our Scotland Edinburgh Stake family and friends. . .

The lighter side . . . after all a mission should be fun too!

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | May 2, 2013

A Time to Share . . .

One of the special experiences we have enjoyed is sharing our mission and this interesting country of Scotland with our four daughters and their husbands (and a few of the grandkids). Each made a special effort to come to Scotland and experience first hand the people, sights and country of their ancestral homeland and the work of our mission.

We were blessed each time to be able to arrange our schedule and the work we do to accommodate a few days of sharing and showing off Edinburgh and other areas of Scotland. Last spring, when Mitzi and her whole family came we were not able to accommodate them in our first flat but the others came this spring and we were able to fit them into our second, larger flat. Pat organized the trips and the meals and each expressed how much they enjoyed being “home” with their parents in Scotland. Tara summed up the feelings of each of her sisters, “Mom’s house feels like home no matter where it is. She could be stationed on Mars for all I care, but my mom manages to make whatever space she’s in feel like home.” And that she has done for the two of us and all our visitors for 18 months.

We visited castles, Abbeys, villages, glens, mountains and sheep pastures. We played with grandkids who came and we enjoyed them all and were grateful for their faithful support and the fact that they were able to share first hand in our mission experience.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | April 10, 2013

These are my Countrymen

All the missionaries including us “Seniors” from all over Scotland came to Edinburgh for an All-Scotland zone conference. Elder Kerr, our Area Authority Seventy presided and led several sessions. He was amazing and inspired everyone. We have met him at stake conferences we have attended and even a few socials we have been to. He is an out going and positive leader who once was the Edinburgh Stake President.

On this occasion President Brown, our mission president and the first native Scot to serve as president of this mission taught powerfully. During his training he spoke with some emotion about the missionaries carrying a message that was “so needed by my countrymen. You are blessing my country and I love you for it.” It was a tender moment to hear him speak emotionally about his countrymen. Only minutes later, as Elder Kerr spoke, he referenced President Brown’s remarks and also spoke with emotion about the message of salvation and blessing the missionaries were carrying to their countrymen and how badly they were in need of it. He spoke movingly of the need for the gospel to light the way for his country. Our eyes brimmed with tears and we felt lumps in our throat as he spoke.

Afterwards, we reflected on our emotional reaction to their words and thought how tender it was for these two native Scots to literally plead with the missionaries to work hard to bless the lives of the people of their country and to strengthen the church here which they have helped lead and maintain for so long. But as we reflected a bit longer, we realized that we were reacting as we did not simply as observers of this tender moment; we were reacting from a deeper emotion. We were moved, because we too have come to love this country and especially it’s church members. We have learned how much they struggle to maintain the church and grow spiritually. We have come to appreciate how hard it is to be faithful church members with so few to carry the load, with a government whose policies sometimes undermine self-reliance and moral behavior; in a country hardened by centuries of sectarian strife and burdened by their grand history, entrenched tradition and modern secularism. We realized that we too want to see the church strengthened, supported and expanded. We too, want progress and enlightenment and the blessings of the gospel for this people. These are Sister Hambelton’s countrymen by blood and while they may not be my people by birth or blood, they are now our people through adoption and love. This was yet another tender moment to us of the truth of the gospel and the universality of the church.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | March 11, 2013

Rabbie Burns

There are many aspects to Scottish culture that are clearly identified with Scotland; the kilts, bagpipes, clan tartans, Highland games, and the Scottish brogue among others. But few are as unique and colorful as the Burns Suppers. Robert Burns is Scotland’s immortal Poet Laureate. He wrote in a combination of auld Scots and English and is renowned around the world. There are Burns Clubs who study and celebrate the poet on every continent and certainly everywhere the Scots emigrated and settled. On January 25th of each year (or the nearest weekend) Scots gather at “Burns Suppers” to eat a traditional Scottish meal, and participate in what is now a ritual observance and celebration of their “Rabbie Burns” and everything Scottish. This year we attended two Burns Suppers at two different wards. The spirit and fun was brilliant. We will describe the proceedings illustrated with a few pictures from each dinner we attended.

Traditionally the evening begins with a welcome. All of the guests are seated and grace is said, usually using the Selkirk Grace, a well-known thanksgiving said before meals, using the Scots language.

The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat,

And sae let the Lord be thankit.

The supper starts with the soup course. Normally a Scottish soup such as Scotch Broth, Potato Soup or Cock-a-Leekie is served.

Presentation of the Haggis

The haggis is brought in with much ceremony- pipers playing or a formal escort (at one meal the full time missionaries were fitted in full Scottish dress with ceremonial swords). The host, or a guest then recites the Address to a Haggis (at one meal it was offered in authentic Scotts/Gaelic language as written by Burns).

At the line “His knife see rustic Labour dicht” the speaker normally draws and cleans a knife, and at the line “An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht”, plunges it into the haggis and cuts it open from end to end. When done properly this “ceremony” is a highlight of the evening.

At the end of the poem, a toast will be proposed to the haggis, then the company will sit down to the meal. The haggis is traditionally served with mashed potatoes (tatties) and mashed turnips (neeps) and a dessert.

One of the guests gives a short speech, remembering some aspect of Burns’ life or poetry. This may be light-hearted or intensely serious. Everyone drinks a toast to Robert Burns.

This is followed by the Toast to the Lassies

This was originally a short speech given by a male guest in thanks to the women who had prepared the meal. However, nowadays it is a humorous commentary on women. It is normally amusing but not offensive, particularly bearing in mind that it will be followed by a reply from the “lassies” concerned. The men drink a toast to the women.

Reply to the Toast to the Lassies

This is called the “Toast to the Laddies” and, like the previous toast, it is generally quite wide-ranging. A female guest will give her views on men and reply to any specific points raised by the previous speaker. Like the previous speech, this is amusing, but not offensive. The women drink a toast to the men.

Following the toasts, music and poetry from Burns and Scotland are recited and sung. At our ward, three non-Scots were selected to compete in a Sword Dance competition to be crowned as an honorary Scot. Sister Hambelton was selected to compete. Even though she was by far the best dancer, another American who clowned it up was voted honorary Scot and was presented with a “jimmy hat.” Sister Hambelton was relieved she did not win.

The finale of the evening is everyone joining hands in a rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” written by Burns. Great fun and a vital Scottish tradition.

We have enjoyed all aspects of Scottish culture we have encountered. We have also enjoyed tuning our ears to the various Scottish dialects and learning Scottish and British terms. It is definitely not as challenging as a completely foreign language but we have many conversations where it might as well have been! We sometimes look at each other and ask, “did you understand any of that?” Edinburgh is pretty easy to understand except for some of the old timers. “Glaswegen” is spoken in the Glasgow area and is a thick accent with many unfamiliar terms. Dundee and Aberdeen like wise have very different and sometimes difficult accents. The northern highlands is thick with Gaelic vocabulary and strong accents. We have managed pretty well but we definitely will not leave fluent in Scottish. Like most languages, inflection and pitch form part of the meaning and is not just learning the vocabulary it is learning the dialect and pronunciation.

We have appended a few pages of some of our favorite words and phrases for you to enjoy (see the top tabs).

We love Scotland and our experience here has been very satisfying. We hope to have a few more entries on our blog before we are released,

so . . . . .

Haste ye back!

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | February 4, 2013

The Real Work of Our Mission

One draw back to our work is the confidential nature of our interactions with clients. We don’t photograph them and we don’t blog about them and their employment challenges. The result is that we do not have a good representation on our blog of the amount of person-to-person work that we do. We have reported meetings with stake and ward leaders, training stake employment specialists and Senior couple missionaries and some of our workshops and similar activities but the real rewarding work and the work that has the most individual pay off is the work we do with individuals who come to our consultation sessions.

We have consulted one-on-one with people in cities throughout Scotland and Ireland. They have come from all walks of life and include many immigrants, some investigators and many young adults. Each consultation can take 2-4 hours and most return for additional sessions. We listen to their histories, help them focus on their priorities, help write CV’s (resumes) and applications, coach them on interviewing, and try to get them registered online on the Church’s employment website so they can access additional information and services and we pray for them and worry about them. It is thrilling when they get the jobs they want, or even temporary employment that encourages them and helps pay their bills.

We have had some professional and skilled adult clients who have lost good paying jobs they have held for years. Many have never been unemployed for very long, and now in this economy, they cannot find work. We help some evaluate their interests, skills and experiences to choose new careers and occupations to pursue. Some need help brushing up an old CV, or practice unused interview skills. Some take our workshop to retool their job finding skills. Once they get some renewed energy and hope they are often independent and work hard to find new jobs. They are always grateful for the help we give them and many are successful in getting something even when it is not always at the pay level they had before.

We work with many young adults, some just finishing schooling and too many who have not yet begun or finished their education. We worry the most about these clients because they sometimes do not realize the future options they are eliminating by settling for low-level jobs and getting trapped by not finishing or taking more education. It is difficult for them to sacrifice now for such delayed benefits later. The graduates we help are qualified but inexperienced and they get discouraged. Unemployment is highest among this group, so the difficulty is real. We encourage them and teach them to network, to interview well and write clear and compelling CV’s and cover letters. Most of these clients finally land jobs they are happy to have.

Some of our candidates are immigrants who have come to Scotland or the UK for a better life than they had in their home countries. Some have qualifications and skills that are not recognized here and they have to settle for lower level jobs. Many have language difficulties that really reduce the options they have. Some have spent all they have to get here and find life is just as hard, with the added challenges of a new country, a new language and new customs. Most have to get entry-level manual jobs and live at subsistence levels. Most will never see the prosperity they hoped for, but many of their children will. They attend school, they learn the language, they absorb the culture, and they have the immigrant drive to succeed, and they face fewer obstacles than their parents. The parents sacrifice much so that their children can have success in the future. Others have the drive and native ability to climb up from the bottom themselves. They take the most time and they are very grateful. We did not imagine we would be helping people from Ghana, Kenya, China, Spain, Ukraine, and Poland among other countries.

A good many of those we see, have been unemployed for years, sometimes many years for a variety of reasons, from a lack of skills and education, to illness or injuries, to addictions and dependency. Many are taking the first steps towards self-reliance. They come with little hope and a history of rejections. We try to help them identify the skills they have but don’t see and we help them write their CV and coach them on job searching techniques and interview skills. Most have to take entry-level unskilled jobs, usually part-time and the money they get sometimes is less than the government benefits they already have and may lose. We rejoice when we get some to start school or find jobs and begin the climb to self-reliance. Others we rejoice that they are even trying. All report that our services are better and more caring than the Government Job Centre’s that are their only alternative.

Many require long-term help and support from their wards and quorums. Education and training would be an answer but some lack any literacy or academic skills to succeed in an education program. Apprenticeships are mostly reserved for younger applicants and many of our clients are beyond the age restrictions. They have few options. The choices they made early in life have foreclosed much of their future. Some are determined to do what they can and take the jobs they can get and are at least working. Others fall back into welfare dependency and we often see them lose interest in church and wander away. It is sad. These are the people we most need the wards and quorums to reach out with support and with long-term help.

One-on-one consultation is the most challenging and exhausting work we have ever done. We are frequently rewarded with progress and success and sometimes discouraged by those that give-up or fail to come back. It is hard to see them let fear and low expectations discourage them, and settle for little. It is wonderful when they make progress or find success.

Considering it all, this has been a challenging but rewarding mission. We have learned much, and we would encourage anyone, from any background to consider such a mission, especially here. A foreign mission, making a genuine difference in a beautiful country with amazing history, and wonderful people who speak English (sort of), how can you beat that?

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | January 26, 2013

Dublin & Limerick, Ireland

Our third trip to Ireland was centered primarily in the Republic of Ireland. On Friday January 18th we ferried across to Belfast in heavy seas, and were greeted by snow and sleet. As we drove to Dublin the weather steadily improved but we still drove in and out of rain, sleet and snow. In Dublin our good friends and fellow missionaries, Elder and Sister Hicks who had invited us to stay with them, met us. We really enjoyed our brief visit with them. We met on Saturday with a member of the Stake Presidency and our stake employment specialists, Brother and Sister Lamb and the Hicks. We provided some training and coordinated an agreement for Elder and Sister Hicks to help one night a week in their Stake Employment Centre. President Anderson really took on board the training and suggestions we made and immediately scheduled training meetings for Bishops and Quorum leaders to follow up and to better help their members with employment needs. It was a very productive meeting.

That night we drove down to Limerick. Another great missionary couple, Elder and Sister Condie helped us to connect with the Branch President and the District President. We were given the Sunday School hour to provide some employment search guidance to about 8 members of the branch and we arranged to meet with additional members that night and the next morning. Altogether we met with 12 members of the branch and gave them some guidance and suggestions for their employment needs. President Murphy, the District President met with us and committed to finding a couple he could call to be local employment specialists. Another amazingly productive visit.

On Monday, after meeting with a couple of members, the Condie’s came and took us to see some sights around Limerick. We drove out to the Cliffs of Moher, a spectacular rocky cliff coast line, shrouded in mist and fog. We drove up the coast through some beautiful coastal villages and fields. The next day we took a few hours and toured Bunratty Castle and an 18th century Irish village. It was cold and foggy but we enjoyed the culture and history we saw. Then we headed back to Belfast, the ferry and back to work at the Edinburgh Centre and Glasgow where the work has really picked up and we have a full day of appointments.

We love our mission and cannot think of anything we could do that would provide us much growth, spiritual experiences, friendship and wonderful surroundings.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | December 29, 2012

Our Christmas 2012

This year we have enjoyed Christmas much more than last year when we were so new and still bewildered by the new experience. Edinburgh lights up downtown Princes street and has a carnival and German Market leading up to Christmas and lots of tourists. Our Edinburgh Ward missionaries and a few members sang Christmas Carols at St. Mary’s Cathedral at their craft market. It was a festive time.


We spent time with the other senior missionaries attending a 17th century Christmas concert,  and a trip to attend the musical “White Christmas” in Pitlochry in the Highlands. Sister Hambelton arranged to visit elderly sisters in the ward, and cooked early Christmas dinners for missionaries and investigators.

On Christmas morning all the missionaries (Seniors and Elders & Sisters) enjoyed a fun Christmas Breakfast. After breakfast we drove to Alloa (about 45 minutes) to enjoy a few hours with our wonderful Stake President and his family. They have really adopted us and it was brilliant to share the fun and chaos of Christmas with them and get a few hugs in from the children (which helped our longing for hugs from our own grandkids). Then home for 4 hours of video conference calls to our kids and grandkids. It was a beautiful and satisfying Christmas!

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | December 15, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Family and Friends!

Once more we are celebrating the birth of the Savior in Scotland, far from our loved ones and friends, and yet we are happy and at peace. We are surrounded by people we have grown to love, and sweet memories of those we love back home. Even more than last year, we have come to know that Christmas is about the Savior and about his love and compassion. How blessed we feel to be engaged in His work during the season we celebrate his Birth.

We are warmed by your love and support and we are anxious to wish each of you, family and friends, a most beautiful, love-filled Christmas Season!

Merry Christmas,

 And God Bless Each of You

Christmas Portrait 1146

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | December 1, 2012

Another Milestone: The Defeat of the UK Monster

There is a monster in the UK and it is not the Loch Ness Monster. It terrifies every senior missionary who comes here. It looms over us like a smothering black cloud that never leaves. Anxiety about it has given some senior missionaries shingles, some have been sick, others have sought a transfer to Ireland to escape the monster. Still others limit themselves to a small, comfortable known area and do not venture far from their flats.

Everyone who faces the monster spends hours and hours in preparation and many spend hundreds of dollars. Nearly every non-UK senior missionary knows they must face the monster or leave for Ireland or stay close to home. When you reach one year in your mission, you must study for and pass the hardest driving exam in Europe, maybe the world. This is the monster that looms over senior missionaries from the day they arrive in the country and are given a car to drive. The stress of both learning to drive all over again the British way, and preparing for the monster is a principle discussion topic at every meeting of senior missionaries. Everyone fears the monster and few are successful without vast investments of time and effort and worry.

The UK monster test consists of 3 rounds each administered separately: the theory test, which is a comprehensive test of the Highway Code (the laws). The second round is called the Hazard Perception test and it consists of 15 video clips taken from the perspective of a driver of a vehicle driving in various driving situations, that contain at least one driving hazard that you must identify within the proper “window” of time in order to score the necessary points on the clip. The third and final ordeal is the “practical test” where you  drive for 40 minutes with an examiner who scores you on your driving. You must not only drive legally and safely but you must perform certain driving procedures and maneuvers correctly or you fail. They only pass 50-60% of those seeking a license.

We have had to face the monster. Our calling requires us to travel and we cannot finish our mission without a license. Sister Hambelton is chief navigator and I try to not hit anything or be hit, nor go the wrong way on the roundabouts. Together we have managed to drive safely over 12,000 miles and navigate ourselves to locations in every major city in Scotland and Belfast, Dublin and Limerick in Ireland. Our one-year mark finds us perhaps the most experienced and travelled senior missionary couple in the mission.

After hours and hours of study, practice, a few driving lessons, and fasting and prayers for Grandpa Ben, we faced the monster. We won round one, I passed the theory test with a perfect score. In round two, the monster rallied but I prevailed and passed the Hazard Perception test. In the third match with the monster, he doubled his intensity and though I seemed to survive relying on our experience, in fact the monster won, I failed the “practical” exam. No license, no car, no travel, our mission hung in the balance.

We scheduled a rematch and prepared with zeal and dedication. More prayers, fasting, a Priesthood blessing, and more lessons and practice and more confidence. With no more time remaining for a third rematch, we returned to face the monster. This time the monster retreated; this time preparation and faith vanquished the monster. The examiner concluded, “I seldom get a clean ride with no faults, especially from an older driver and never from an American. You obviously have taken on board your instructions and executed them; well done and keep up the good work.” The impact of that began to dawn on me – I had passed without a single minor fault. The Lord had bestowed a tender mercy, indeed. Pat was ecstatic, and was so happy and relieved. She was grateful that I would not have any more stress from the monster and that we would not have to deal with trying to fulfill our mission without a car. I am now the proud but knackered (Scottish for worn out) owner of a UK license – good until I die. All this for 6 more months of roundabouts, slip roads, one track lanes, dual carriage motorways and the completion of our mission. The monster has been faced.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | November 11, 2012

One Year Milestone

We had an interesting mental “Kodak Moment” this weekend as we taught a workshop in Belfast, Northern Ireland. During the break on the first day, Perpetua Cull called on the cell phone from Edinburgh. She is the amazing immigrant from Kenya we have helped get a job and she was calling for assistance in “academic writing” for an online course she is taking. We told her we were in Belfast, and we would try to help her when we returned.

We hung up to return to our workshop – a diverse group of wonderful individuals consisting of: a black couple newly arrived from South Africa; an Italian who speaks broken English who moved his family to the UK to give his children a better future and who wants to start a business supplying Italian cakes to restaurants; an Irish sales manager who lived 17 years in the Phillipines and his Filipino wife, an experienced hospitality professional; a new university graduate with a young family; a very bright, personable young man with a severe speech impediment; and a young women who has had several head surgeries; and finally our self-styled Irish leprechaun stake employment specialist and his wife. We were teaching in a church building with no heat, using a computer monitor we commandeered from the clerks office.

Then we realised that this was our one year milestone on our mission. Could we have ever imagined what we would be doing in one year when we arrived, already tired and dazed, just one year ago?

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