Shopping and packing

gadfield Gadfield Elm Chapel We were able to tour southwestern England this month. Our first visit was to Gadfield Elm Chapel which has a rich history in our Orpington Ward. Gadfield Elm Chapel was built in 1836 by a Christian Methodist group, the United Brethren. Almost the entire congregation of the United Brethren joined the Mormon church in 1840 and the chapel was deeded to Wilford Woodruff for the use of the saints. As the new converts heeded the call to gather to Zion the Gadfield Elm Chapel became redundant and was sold, with the proceeds being used to assist with the emigration of the Saints. After many years of private ownership and dilapidation the property was acquired by a group of private members (of our ward) who established a charitable foundation in 1994. With limited resources derived entirely from contributions these visionary souls lovingly restored the ruin stone by stone to its present state, as near as possible to how it may have been in the times of Wilford Woodruff more than 160 years ago. The chapel was received by President Gordon B. Hinckley on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in May 2004. Today it is the oldest Latter-day Saint chapel in the world still standing. cove Porthcurno Cove We traveled long distances (for England) to visit the westernmost shore of Land’s End the ruins of King Arthur’s Tintagel Castle. We then headed south to Penzance (as in Pirates of Penzance), twin castles built by Henry VIII for the protection of the southern coast from invading navies, and several beautiful coves with turquoise water. St Michael Mount is a castle and chapel on a tidal island off the Cornwall (pronounced corn-wool) coast. When the tide is low you can walk the causeway to the island, at high tide there is a ferry. st michaels mount St Michael’s Mount We have 17 days left in our mission, so yesterday we did a trial pack to see if everything will fit in our suitcases. We were relieved to find that even all of Larry’s things will fit! Then we made a final shopping trip to pick up various clothing items for our post-mission travels. We have three weeks on our visa to tour the rest of England. We fly out on 30 June to Illinois to pick up our car from Larry’s sister. We then have a month to visit family across the United States, report our mission to our Corpus Christi Ward, and finally arrive in Utah where we will start to figure out where we are going to live and what we are going to do in the next few years. We have some ideas but want to find out what is going on in the family before we make our final decisions. We will be so sad to leave England and the many friends we have made here. At least there is another senior couple coming to love and serve our young single adults and the special people we have been involved with for two years. We are so grateful for this experience and will remember it all our lives.

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April showers

It may be April and time for showers, but we had a bit of a drought here with no rain for three weeks. It was a bit worrisome for the farmers, but our April showers are sure here now. We really miss the sunshine! We have also been having problems with the laptop lately, we hope it will limp along for 5 more weeks. It is almost 6 years old, so what is the problem? We almost have the three missionary flats cleared, just waiting for a trip to the tip (dump) with the mission van.

Our mission is receiving iPads for each junior missionary this month. We had a 6-hour training session with President Patrick Kearon (Europe Area presidency) and Elder Brent H Neilson (of the Seventy). Elder Nielson will be stepping up to head the missionary department in August, under the direction of Elders Nelson and Bednar. The training session was unprecedented in two ways — the first time the entire mission was together, and the first time two General Authorities were present for a mission meeting. The training was entitled “Disciples in the Digital Age” and was very inspiring. Rather than training them on the iPads (since they all know how to do that) it was helping them think about how the digital “tool” can be used to complete the missionary purpose of teaching the gospel and inviting others to learn of Christ. A secondary focus was on safety — staying away from the “dark side” of the Internet and personal safety by not flashing the technology around in public. The most memorable part for us was the statement by the Lord’s chosen: “We won’t let Satan control the Internet”.

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Last week we drove to Brighton and visited the sea front and the Royal Pavilion. It was built by John Nash for George IV in 1815. It looks Indian on the outside and Chinese on the inside. It has been mostly restored to its original splendour (we think it rivals places in St Petersburg for grandour). From 1914 to 1916 it was used for Indian soldiers who had been wounded on the battlefields of the Western Front. From 1916 to 1920 it was used as a hospital for British troops who had lost arms or legs in the war.

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The most impressive room was the dining room with the theme of dragons. The central chandelier was suspended from a gigantic dragon.

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The sister missionaries hosted a ward talent show. We sang with another senior couple. But the very best part was a swimming demonstration by the sisters and two of our young adult men. We were all curious how they were going to swim in the chapel, especially since missionaries can’t swim while on their missions! It turned out they did a synchronized swim routine to classical musical behind a blue blanket (the pool). It was hilarious as they dove in, wiggled their feet, pirouetted in circles, etc. They did such a great job and it was hilarious!

The best news of all is that we have a replacement coming! The McDonalds will be here 6 weeks after we leave. We are so excited to have them coming and so relieved we won’t have to close OUR flat! We have been emailing and skyping with them.

A new grandson and amazing memories

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First of all, the most important news is that we have a new grandchild, a grandson this time! That makes four, and he is a sweet one named Cole Jacob. We will be able to see him in July. Life goes on with the YSA in the stake (and those borrowed from Catford and Britannia). Our numbers were down over the winter but we are starting to see new and returning people at Institute.
We were able to attend a Temple Visitors Centre fireside given by President and Sister Irwen of the temple presidency. They spoke of their time as mission president in Eastern Europe, mostly the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It was an amazing story of the strong faith of members whose heritage lay behind the Iron Curtain and Communist rule. The parents who were members of the Church could not tell their children anything religious for fear that they might inadvertently say something and get the family in great trouble. So the new generation must be taught the gospel and helped to develop faith in Jesus Christ (they were taught there was no God in the government schools). The best part of the fireside was the five missionaries who sang hymns in their mission language. They had had a mini-reunion for the mission that week and they stayed to sing at the fireside.
We had a very special Tri-Zone Conference this week. Our visiting authority was Elder Dyches of the Seventy, and he and his wife taught us how to make origami shirts (or blouses) to leave as calling cards for members and investigators. The sisters in the room added post-it notes to make colorful skirts on the “blouse”. They trained us how to attach pass along cards or the area plan cards and ask members/investigators to accomplish a specific goal by Sunday, or to thank them for a meal or for being loving and diligent in their commitments.
The musical number during the zone conference was very unique. One of the Chinese elders played an ancient Chinese musical instrument called the “sheng”. Here is a picture of it. It is supposed to represent the shape of a phoenix and imitate the cry of a phoenix (mythical bird).
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He played it with fingers covering multiple holes. It is a reed instrument, and can play multiple tones at once. He did a beautiful rendition of “Praise to the Man” that was a bit atonal to our western ears but very beautiful. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
Sister Young was able to attend a special 9-stake Relief Society workshop day. It was a bit of a drive but very worth the effort to be with over 400 sisters and share their spirits and the glow of the gospel. We have also traveled to Duxford to tour the Imperial War Museum there. It is a huge complex spread over seven buildings. Unfortunately the American military building is being renovated and was not open.
Because the number of young missionaries is dwindling after the huge surge (due to the age change announcement), the mission is closing 18 flats. Three of those are in our stake and we have been asked to clear, clean and close them. So we have been busy inventorying, cleaning (UGH! you know how teenage boys live!), and will be meeting with the “letting agents” for final inspections soon. We have to clear all furnishings and “rubbish” as they say in England. We bought two rolls of big black garbage bags and have used one of the rolls so far. Then there is a huge pile to go to charity (stores that resell for charitable organizations, like Salvation Army) and then items that can be given to other missionaries, neighbors, or church members. Those have to be transported. We took a trip to Southampton to take a car full to the missionaries there (in a new flat) and then spent the day at the Royal Navy Dockyard in Portsmouth. It was rainy and dreary but luckily a lot of it was inside. The most amazing part was the Mary Rose Museum. This huge building holds the remains of Henry the Eighth’s flagship and a collection of over 900 artifacts recovered from the sea floor after 400 years. This Tudor-age ship was built in 1510, in service for 34 years, and sank in 1545. It was discovered in 1971 and raised in 1982. It is now in the final stages of conservation.
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There is a very sort video if you are interested. We now consider this the most amazing thing we have experienced in England. The sheer amount of artifacts and the ship being raised intact (only half since the part not embedded in the mud was rotted away) is mind-blowing. There were full skeletons of some of the crew and the ship dog. Probably the most prevalent artifact was the little tips for laces (like our shoe lace tips but used for tying jerkins and other clothing). Gold coins, wooden bowls, several sea chests full of items, surgeon tools, cooking items, and many many more.
We will be having family visitors next week and are looking forward to that greatly. Then we will be preparing to return home. We will spend a week touring England, then a month visiting family before deciding where to settle and what to do in the next few years.

A new year…

So January has come and gone and we are still plugging along. It has been much colder and rainier than last winter, and we have had a bit of snow on several days. We have moved from continous temperatures of 30-34 degrees to the low 40’s. Another change is the number of senior missionaries is receding quickly. Because we can serve 12, 18, or 23 months, sometimes the cycles run together at a low point. There are/will be nine couples going home by July, and only one couple is coming (so far). We have been formally told that four of our couples will not be replaced. We are not sure whether we will have a replacement or not! It makes it hard to plan — for the next couple, or to close our flat?

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Lola, the traveling bear, visiting London

Piper Lola (click on Slide Show to watch)

We had a quick visit from Lola, the traveling bear from the kindergarten class in North Carolina. She toured London and sent pictures back to our granddaughter for the school bulletin board (notice board in England). Here is the Lola movie sent back to our family.

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Lunch with senior missionaries at the Imperial War Museum

We have had two more senior outings, one to the British Museum and one to the Imperial War Museum. The war museum cover a lot of history, with a special exhibit on World War I which began 100 years ago. We saw an Enigma machine, a piece of the Berlin Wall, a piece from the World Trade Center, The most touching exhibit was on more recent war-torn countries, with examples of furniture made from hundreds of handguns that had been discarded in the jungle.

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New grandson Cole Jacob

The most exciting news is the birth of our fourth grandchild and the first grandson! His name is Cole Jacob and we are excited to see him in a few months. We are letting the other grandparents monopolize him right now, but come July we expect to have some quality time with him!

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Our YSA Institute class

We thought you might enjoy knowing the kinds of things that we do in a typical week. Each Sunday we visit a ward in our stake and meet with our young single adults. There are six wards and we rotate among them, with certain weeks in our Orpington Ward so we can sing in the choir and attend ward council. Sunday afternoons and evenings are busy with visiting ward members and going to firesides at Hyde Park (downtown London) or at the temple visitors centre. Mondays we get hair cuts, go grocery shopping for the week, and visit a sister in our ward who is dying from cancer. We talk a bit, sometimes work on puzzles, then give a spiritual thought or Elder Young sings for her. Tuesdays we go to the temple and prepare for our Addiction Recovery Program that night. Wednesdays are busy with district meetings and preparing for Institute lessons and food. Sometimes Wednesdays are also transfer days and we support the mission office by transporting missionaries back and forth. Thursday through Saturday are generally more open, and we can schedule doctor appointments, run errands, and visit the sights. Every six weeks we are involved in preparing the food for Missionary Leadership Conference. It has become routine to prepare breakfast and lunch for 40 people! We have the help of another senior couple and luckily we can repeat the menus pretty often. We have been working with some of the ward members on their family history, doing the research and preparing the names for the temple. We were able to be proxies for an African sister in the ward and seal the marriage of her parents from Nigeria. Other times we support the youth baptisms trips to the temple, or prepare food for the Munch and Mingle activities held after church when people move in or out of the ward. Sister Young has been involved in craft days for the British Royal Legion (women’s group for veterans), and Elder Young is often called upon to give priesthood blessings to missionaries and ward members. We also do the monthly inspection of the sisters’ and zoneleaders’ flats. In between all these “outside” activities, we study the scriptures, prepare our lessons, read the weekly Sunday School and third hour lessons, and prepare talks. It is a very varied life and we love it!

We have about 15 weeks until we are finished with the mission. It really came home last week when we bought toilet paper and had to buy a 12-pack instead of our normal 24-pack! We will be able to take three weeks after our mission to tour the area, and then we will return to the US and be able to travel to visit most of our family members before settling in… we think… St George, Utah. It will allow us to be close to our parents and family, and be WARM!

Christmas 2014

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We are privileged to be in England for the 100th anniversary of the first world war. The memorial events have been outstanding and emotional. The area office of the Church prepared a program to be given in each stake commemorating the Christmas truce that happened on Christmas in 1914 on the lines between the England and German soldiers. Visit http://christmas-truce.com/ to see the video and learn more about it.

Children were given a British flag and visiting dignitaries participated in the program. There was also a real-life Nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. There were readings and musical items along with carol singing by the audience.

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During the presentations, eight of our teenagers, dressed in uniforms or as nurses, placed photographs of church members’ family who served in WWI on a giant 16-foot Christmas tree.

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This picture shows Gary and Jake Davey; Gary is the high councilman over Young Single Adults in our stake; Jake is his youngest brother. Another brother Elliott is serving his mission in Australia (he left two weeks before we arrived and will return two weeks after we leave). Overall it was a very moving programme and we were thankful to participate in the choir (dressed in period costume).

We wish every a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. We are grateful for our Saviour, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. We love you all!

Coming to the end of 2014

Well, we didn’t manage to blog in November and now it is halfway through December. The end of the year is coming quickly. We have been particularly busy with mission activities. Sandwiched in between two transfers is the mission Christmas dinner and temple trip, which is done on four days to accommodate the entire mission. We have 260 missionaries in 10 zones. They come from 51 countries and speak 46 different languages. This is the highlight of their year, because they can only attend the temple at Christmas and on the week they go home. It has been our privilege to support them in their temple attendance and for the Christmas meal they have together in groups in 72 missionaries. This year they had ham, baked potato (jacket potato), peas, cranberry sauce, roll and cake. After the meal they had a fun sing-a-long with their very own pipe players — Elder and Sister Cannon make and use these pipes with their grandchildren and it was a hit with the missionaries. The poster had numbers over each syllable of the words to several Christmas hymns and they were to hit their hanging pipe with a table knife when their number came up. They were pretty good at it without any practice!

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Another interesting occurrence was that we had 28 sister missionaries go home over the last two transfers (and 20 more came). This group going home was the bulk of the response from just after the age change. We are privileged to work closely with the six (now four) sisters in our zone. We have enjoyed getting to know these choice women, and continue to watch their lives as they return to Facebook when they arrive home.

We also had the opportunity to have our two youngest sons over from Germany for three days. We took them to tour Harry Potter (which was all dressed up for Christmas) at the Warner Brothers Studio, watched the movie Instellar on the IMAX screen, and visited several museums. They decided they could sleep on our floor and couch for three nights, and we hope that didn’t worsen the colds they were starting as they headed home.

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arry Potter Christmas dinner in the dining room

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arry Potter Christmas tree

We had a second YSA Super Sunday with only 40 attending this time (the first time everyone was looking for “the one” and we guess they didn’t find them?). We also had a wonderful activity for the neighborhood called “Meet the Mormons” after the film that none of us have gotten to see over here. We had giant banners and color flyers and ended up with 11 visitors who toured the chapel and learned about who were are and what we do and believe. In addition to that, we are reaching our tenth and eleventh baptisms for the year, with a goal of one more before 2015!

We were also able to attend the musical White Christmas (of Bing Crosby movie fame), which only ran for three weeks here in London. We think it was the best of the musicals we have seen so far. We also attended John Rutter’s Christmas concert in Royal Albert Hall for the second time. We really enjoy this concert because of the sing-a-long songs scattered among the Christmas and other music. The orchestra was joined by the London Youth junior and senior choirs and they were excellent! We also had our annual Ward Christmas Fireside which is written and produced by one of our ward brothers. His son is in theatre and lets us use his giant starry background with twinkling lights that spans the entire back third of the chapel. The piano fronted by a cardboard fireplace and Christmas tree surround a rocker where readers sit for their parts. The missionaries sang a Christmas song by Sally Deford. We weren’t bad for only two practices!

We are excited for Christmas so we can REST and relax and enjoy the holiday. Our weather has been cold and rainy but this week is forecast to be in the 50s even if we don’t get much sun. We wish you all the best holidays and a fantastic new year. We will see you all next summer!

October activities

Well cooler weather has come and brought some rainy days, but we are still mostly in the 50-60’s so it isn’t too bad. Can’t believe the year is almost over, it has gone so fast! This month we have been able to visit the Tower of London with the 888,000 ceramic poppies in remembrance of those fallen British soldiers.  poppies tower of london

We were able to go to Westminster Abbey with some of the other senior missionary couples. We toured the Abbey and then had lunch at the nearby Methodist Church cafeteria.

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Westminster Abbey was opened in 1090 as the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, and became a Cathedral in the mid 1500’s. It was built mainly in the Gothic architectural style. It is a fully functioning Cathedral of the Church of England, located in Westminster, London. It is one of the most notable religious buildings in the United Kingdom and has been the traditional place of coronation and burial for English and, later, British monarchs. Besides numerous Kings and Queens having been buried there, there are many famous people buried there also. We saw tombs or plaques for Dr Livingstone (I presume), Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Sir Isaac Newton, The Unknown Soldier, Geoffrey Chaucer, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Browning and so many more. Since 1100, there have been at least 16 royal weddings at the Abbey. Two were of reigning monarchs (Henry I and Richard II), although before 1919 there had been none for some 500 years. Most recently married there were Princess Elizabeth who became Queen Elizabeth II, and her sister Princess Margaret, the Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew Duke of York, and on 29 April 2011 Prince William married Miss Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey

The Abbey is quite large and has many smaller chapels inside it. One is the Lady Chapel, which has the most amazing “pendant fan” ceiling! Several monarchs are buried in this chapel.

Abbey ceiling

We also had the opening social to begin the new Institute year. We are studying the Doctrine and Covenants this year. The manuals are very old so we are having to update them with current quotes, videos, etc. But it makes great study time for us! Here are some of our Young Single Adults trying to build the tallest people pyramid.

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