Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | October 16, 2012

I”ve Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now . . .

Joni Mitchell wrote a beautiful ballad back in 1969 about clouds and love. Well, we absolutely love the incredible cloud formations in Scotland. They are so amazing, they are incredible backdrops to so many of our pictures. They filter the light, they make such a dramatic compliment to the medieval ruins and castles. They contrast with the azure blue sky when it appears.

They also bring wind and rain and cold. They hide the all too brief daylight and they make you want to stay inside, but it is Scotland of course, so you go. We’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.

“Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
and feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
it’s cloud illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clouds at all.”

Here are our some of our favorite cloud pictures, just wish we could more adequately capture their majesty and grandeur:

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | September 23, 2012

Mormon Mantras

Some time ago I became acquainted with the concept of mantras as used in meditation practices in several Eastern religions. As I understand it, they use chanting or meditating with mantras to free themselves from distracting thoughts and sensory experience to the extent that it allows them to escape the world and focus completely on communing with the Divine. Although I found it interesting, it is not a standard practice within our religious tradition and I did not think much more about it.  Recently however, I ran across an LDS chaplain who had written about the value and spiritual benefit of meditation and mantras and who wrote about “Mormon Mantras.” He offered this definition of mantras (in part):

“The word mantra is defined in two ways. Most dictionaries focus on its origins in Eastern traditions, in which a mantra is a sacred, verbal formula repeated in prayer or mediation. In the past century, it has also become common to use the term to refer to any often repeated word, formula, slogan, or stock phrase. . ..”

He went on to describe several kinds of mantras and the function they could serve within the LDS religious culture. One function he described is using formula mantras consisting of scriptural verses, quotes or phrases repeated often to help you in your daily living of the gospel, to give you power to endure and persist, and which can free your mind and perspective to be more open to spiritual truth.

I realized that the practice of repeating some verse of scripture, quote or slogan to encourage and sustain us, or remind us of a truth or covenant commitment is a practice often engaged in by Mormons.

And it has been interesting to me to realize how often we have used mantra’s in our mission experience. A mission is an amazing and uplifting experience and a deeply challenging and stretching experience; at least ours has been. In the course of our mission we have adopted several mantra’s as we have labored to do all we can to serve the Lord in this assignment. They have been meaningful to us, encouraging us and reminding us of our real desires in serving here. Some have come from the Scotland/Ireland mission, some from our reading, some from our own invention, but all have been and continue to be a useful means for us to stay focused, encouraged and committed. To date our mantra’s (words we repeat often to our selves and each other) have included:

  • What ere thou art, act well thy part– the motto from David O. McKay that became his mission mantra and has been adopted by the Scotland/Ireland mission as it’s motto.
  • Forget yourself and go to work. – the advice Gordon B Hinckley received from his father on his mission to England when he was discouraged, feeling sorry for himself and complaining.
  • We did not come here to sit around– a statement we have said to each other and to others when taking on some new assignment. It is not only a reminder of our desire to be anxiously engaged, but it is a point of humor as we look upon our expanding portfolio of work and assignments and laughingly suggest to each other that we never should have adopted this one.
  • Till the work is done- another Scotland/Ireland mission motto, expressing the sentiment that we must not stop until the Master says the work is done.
  • Bring our family home to the temple, and back to our Heavenly Father – the phrase that came to me in the temple in Preston as to the real purpose in every kind of missionary work.
  • Put it all on the altar, nothing reserved- the phrase we used to pay tribute to our first mission president and wife upon their release, and the promise we made to ourselves of how we wanted to feel about our service when our work was done.
  • We did not come for the weeds, we came for the Savior– a truth expressed by President Eyring in retelling a story about his father weeding in a patch of onions already sprayed with herbicide on a stake welfare farm. We adopted it to remind ourselves when we are tempted to focus on the “weeds” of cultural and personal shortcomings in our mission, that we did not come to pick the weeds, nor even to make a difference; we came as a simple expression of our commitment to serve the Lord, because of our testimony and our love of the Savior.
Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | September 15, 2012

Our First Trip to the Emerald Isle

Our mentor and ERS supervisor retired August 1st. In our last meeting he asked us to “take on Ireland,” so in September we made our first trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland. In many parts of the Scotland/Ireland mission there are very small branches and wards with long distances between units. It is not practical for each of the units to have employment specialists available to help members with employment needs. So we suggested to the mission president and the ERS that we train Senior Missionary Couples in these areas with first level information and resources to help members with employment needs. They agreed and so we headed to Ireland to meet with Stake Employment Specialists in Belfast and Dublin and to train Senior Missionary Couples through out the two countries.

In four days we trained 7 senior missionary couples at meetings in Belfast, Dublin and Limerick, trained and supported Stake Employment Specialists in Dublin and Belfast, addressed a General Priesthood meeting (Sister Hambelton’s first), and presented a mini-seminar to Young Single Adults in Belfast. We travelled the length of the island. Our hosts in Belfast, Elder and Sister Blickenstaff helped us with directions and tips for traveling in Ireland and gave us a brief tour of Belfast and recounted the history of the building of the Titanic, and the “Troubles,” the decades of violence and protests in Belfast that divided neighborhoods and turned the city into an armed camp of paramilitary groups, civil rights protestors, police and the British Army. Life has returned to normal now, but feelings and sectarian divisions still run deep and color politics and life in Northern Ireland, and arrests are still made weekly in the more radical neighborhoods.

Before returning to Scotland, we drove up to the Giants Causeway (a natural wonder of 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns) and down the beautiful Northern Ireland coast, and then visited the Ulster Folk Museum, a turn of the century village composed of actual buildings built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s removed to this museum site with artifacts and furnishings of the period. They also had docents in period costumes to explain the life and times of city and rural life in Ireland in 1910. We then caught the ferry for Scotland and Edinburgh.

Here are a few pictures from our trip, more extensive galleries of the sights in Northern Ireland can be found in the links in the left column.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | August 8, 2012

Moved to a New Flat

We had an opportunity to move to a flat on the ground floor and a little bigger. My knee is loving it.

Our new address is:

42/2 Meadow Place Road



EH12 7RY

We love mail 🙂


Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | July 28, 2012

McKay Ancestoral Home

Following our trip to Aberdeen we traveled up to Thurso, the McKay ancestral home. A missionary couple from Ireland, Elder and Sister Spear serve there as Member and Leader Support and they invited us to stay with them. They are originally from South Africa of Dutch and English origins, they migrated to Ireland when safety became an issue in South Africa 22 years ago.

We enjoyed getting to know them and appreciated so much all they did to arrange for people for us to meet who knew McKay history and chauffeured us around to all the sights. We even visited Dunnet Head the northern most point of mainland Britain.

It was special watching Pat respond to being in the village and farm where her ancestors became the first converts in Northern Scotland. She was truly touched by the pilgrimage to Thurso and the surrounding area. She seemed to sense her ancestor’s spirits and appreciated the wild, hard climate and geography of the McKay clan. We visited the ruins of castle Thurso and the Mey Castle, one of which may have been where Helen’s parents worked. We also went to the village of Tongue where many of the McKay’s originated. The McKay name was everywhere.

We went to the site of the Old McKay Croft (small stone farmhouse with thatched roof that tenement farmers lived in). This is where William and Helen Oman McKay  heard the gospel and joined the church and lived with their family including their sons, David (direct line for David O McKay) and Isaac (direct line for Pat’s grandfather). It is in ruins now and the stones apparently are being salvaged by the current owner for other uses; it has decayed a lot since the last pictures we have of it. Pat even insisted on driving back to the croft site again as we left Thurso to see the croft once again and the burn (or small creek) that was damned up to provide the water for the baptisms of William and Helen. The townspeople came and broke the damn down trying to prevent their baptisms. The burn is now only a trickle, perhaps just a drainage ditch today but Pat was pleased to see it.

As we traveled west and south we entered Southerland (county) and there was a marker inscribed in Gaelic and English that we were entering Clan McKay country. We saw from a distance the Varrich Castle ruins where clan meetings were held. It was all very special to us. It caused us both to reflect again on our heritage and  how much we owe our ancestors, and once again how blessed we feel to be here in Scotland.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | July 21, 2012

Aberdeen Blitz!

We recently concluded a very busy weekend of employment training and meetings for the Aberdeen Stake. Bro  Jim Dressel from the Bridge of Don ward was our primary contact and advocate. He advertised and promoted the Career workshop which we taught that night and the next day. We had 11 people in attendance with 8 completing. It was a great session as they were a great group to work with.  Jim was being trained so that he could teach it in the Aberdeen stake.

Sunday morning we met with the Stake leadership in a special meeting of Bishops, High Council, and Stake Council. We were given an hour to teach and instruct. Because of the distances involved some participated via telephone conference. It went extremely well. Sister Hambelton taught welfare principles and set the tone by inviting the spirit to be present. It is hard to be first up but she did wonderfully well. I then taught the “how to do it” portion of the training. It is a great pattern: teach principles, testify and invite the spirit and then provide concrete how to do it training. It is like the General Handbook of Instruction. The spirit witnessed to our teaching and it was very well received. President Coull of the Stake Presidency committed to organizing the stake and implementing our instruction. We had very positive feedback from the people present.

We attended sacrament at the Aberdeen ward and then drove to the Bridge of Don ward to be introduced to the Bishop for third hour. He asked us to come back on the fifth Sunday and teach a combined Priesthood and Relief Society meeting and administer the Needs and Resource Survey.

Monday we visited some sights in Old Aberdeen in the morning and then in the afternoon trained Bro. Dressel on the Employment Specialist role. We then went back to Aberdeen and met with the Young Adult Centre where we taught a mini-seminar on Marketing Yourself in a Competitive World. We really enjoyed the “blitz” to Aberdeen. It has been wonderful to see this Stake embrace the principles of the employment program and we are grateful for their faith and work. It has strengthened our testimonies of the blessings it can bring to them.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | June 25, 2012

The Fruits of our labor . . .

We are feeling so blessed this week. We are seeing more fruit from the efforts we have been making. Several of our clients have recently gotten jobs they have been pursuing. One Ph.D. student whom we have worked with extensively, told us that her fellow students have been questioning her on how it is that she has gotten so many interviews and now a top-notch position before any of them. She asked if she could tell them about our service and invite them to come see us. A very nice endorsement. Another candidate was told he was a finalist for a good paying position because of his CV, which we helped him write and print since he has no computer. Others have had similar successes.

We are also seeing success on a ward and stake level. Our own Edinburgh ward has caught the vision and every Sunday, the Bishopric asks in Priesthood opening exercises who knows about job vacancies and who is needing a job or job change. The Ward Council reviews employment needs each meeting and makes assignments to assist their member’s in their job search efforts. Other wards in the stake are also beginning to recognize their role in helping their unemployed members.

The Aberdeen Stake has embraced our offer to help. We will travel north to teach a stake Career Workshop; conduct a special training for priesthood leaders on employment welfare principles; train ward and stake specialists; and present a “How to Market Yourself” seminar for the Young Adult Centre. The Paisley Stake has invited us to take half of the next quarterly Bishop’s Council to train on Employment issues.

Combined with all the small improvements in self-confidence, hope, skill and written materials that we see from the candidates we work with, we are genuinely feeling the Lord’s blessings and harvest in our work. We love our mission and are so pleased to be here in Scotland.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | June 21, 2012

Traveling Back to Scotland (see post below)

On our way home from England to Scotland we drove through Preston and stopped to do a couple of sessions at the Preston Temple. What a joy it was to be in the temple again. It was like coming home. We also had time to find some of the church historical sites in the Preston area, which is where the first missionaries to Great Britain taught and baptized. We drove out to the villages of Chatburn and Downham where the saints welcomed Heber C Kimball and Joseph Fielding with great love. Many joined the church and it is a blessed area. The town of Downham looks just like it did in the 1830’s. You could just feel the peace of that area as you visited. Many locals from the area come to just walk the streets or have a picnic.

We also drove home through the Lake District of England. What beautiful country and challenging driving in some places. Like busy one-lane roads. But it was worth it.

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | June 21, 2012

Busy Times

May has been our busiest month on our mission so far. We recorded 547 hours in May. I am not sure that is sustainable but our work has taken off. The changes we implemented in May took us out into the wards more, we met with ward councils, talked in sacrament meetings, administered the Needs and Resource survey to the members, made appointments with those who needed employment help and then returned a couple of days later to meet with those who needed help one-on-one. We have also prepared and given presentations to mutual and YSA groups through out the stake and will continue to do so. It has kept us very busy and the time is flying by. We have also had the opportunity to help teach a new convert with the Sister Missionaries. We love serving with the young missionaries whenever we can. Elder Hambelton had the opportunity to help a missionary from New Jersey and one from Netherlands, give a blessing to a Chinese member in Mandarin Chinese in Edinburgh Scotland! An amazing experience. We have been richly blessed and are so grateful for all the Lord has blessed us with. We feel his influence in our lives daily.

This month we had the privilege of going to Birmingham, England for training with other Employment Specialists from England. It was really helpful for us to be able to ask questions and see how and what others are doing with employment needs in their area. We were also asked to add Ireland to our list of Stake Employment Specialists to support and train. So now we get to go to Ireland at some point. We are doing quite well with the training in Scotland. We have conducted Employment Specialist training in two Stakes and have two more scheduled, soon we will have to schedule Ireland.

Our mission produced a video to encourage senior couples to go on missions, we are in the video. If you would like to watch it click on the play button,  or paste  the YouTube link url into your browser:

We are near the end of the video. The video runs about 25 minutes. We send our love to all of you Elder and Sister Hambelton

Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | April 30, 2012

Until the work is done . . .

The mission here has two mottos, one is the President McKay motto that Sister Hambelton wrote about earlier, “Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.” The second motto is “Until the work is done,” which means endure to the end, or keep working until the master says, the work is done. They even wrote and recorded a mission song with that title and words in the lyrics.

In keeping with that motto, we thought we would share a sampling of the work we do. Our work is not routine and each week has been different. We anticipate that constant change will mark our mission experience. We have much similarity in some of the days but we hesitate to use the word routine- it does not seem to apply. They told us in the MTC to be flexible and we can see already that it was sound advice.

Since we can’t describe a “typical” week, we will describe a “representative” set of tasks and activities that we engage in. We have found it both interesting and frustrating that we don’t have a more fixed schedule and routine. Some days it is hard to know what we should be doing; and other times we welcome the challenge of figuring out what the Lord would have us do next.

We try to follow the mission counsel to young missionaries (with appropriate adjustments for us “Senior” missionaries) to arise early, study, exercise, and breakfast. We study our employment literature and manuals, watch a conference address during breakfast and walk in the neighborhood if the weather is not too bad.

When we work at home, we answer emails, generate a lot of follow up emails and phone calls to our clients and Priesthood leaders; work on client resumes (called CVs here); and score and interpret the psychometric profile surveys we administer. We prepare talks and lessons, study our workshop manuals and calendar and plan and go over supplies needed for the next workshop or event. We have spent a lot of time learning about the higher education system that is quite different from ours, the government and community resources available to our clients, and something about the businesses and industry in the area.

We work 3 days a week at the Stake Centre, meeting with appointments or drop-in clients. We assess their needs, review their job and education history, and help them plan what type of career they want, and what they need to do to get there. We help them know where to search for jobs, how to network for the hidden job market, and how to interview and “sell” their skills and experience. We also help them discover their skills and capabilities and gain confidence in themselves (that is a huge part of our work). Then we pray patiently with them for the opportunity to interview and gain employment.

We visit different wards on Sunday, and try to make our services known and make appointments with those in need. We try to train local leaders on how to identify members with employment needs, how to help them in the quorums and RS and how to support them in their job searches. Unemployment can be so devastating to a member that they really need support and caring by members and not just technical help from specialists.

We are busy now trying to get to the other stakes in Scotland and train their specialists and local leaders –that is proving more difficult than we anticipated, but we push forward.

We stay as connected to the mission as much as possible, going to baptisms, fellowshipping with investigators (sometimes helping them with employment) and having the young missionaries to dinner and just being friends with them as they come and go. We do flat inspections every 5 weeks for a couple of the companionships. We go companion teaching (accompany the full time missionaries on teaching appointments) when we can.

We do not attend many district or Zone conferences due to conflicts with our schedule.

We connect with the other missionary couples whenever we can for meetings, sight seeing, socials, and having them over for dinner. They are a great comfort and wonderful new friends.

We try to support the local members in their assignments and classes and socialize whenever we can. We love being with them.

We are encouraged to learn and experience all we can of Scotland while we are here, and we are trying to do that at least once a week visiting an historic site, museum or scenic location. It is a beautiful and fascinating place, with historic buildings and locations everywhere from 1.000 to a few hundred years old. We love it.

We write our blog, email our kids and family, Skype and Google Video as often as we can to watch our grandkids grow up and stay in touch. We read in the Book of Mormon and study commentaries and citations nightly, we pray earnestly and we fall asleep most nights holding hands and happy to be in Scotland on a Mission.

Till’ the Work is Done.

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