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. 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 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.
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”.
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.
The most impressive room was the dining room with the theme of dragons. The central chandelier was suspended from a gigantic dragon.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
Harry Potter Christmas dinner in the dining room
Harry 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We were able to visit Scotney Castle on a recent trip to Hastings to attend an open house for one of our young single adults who is leaving on a mission this month. We tracked several places to visit on the way to the afternoon affair.
Scotney Castle is really two houses, the new one built by Anthony Salvin in 1837 for the Hussey family. This architect was the one who picturesquely ruined the original medieval castle and moat. It is a shame that he did so, but have to agree that he did it beautifully!
Another part of the trip was to visit six little towns or villages of our ancestors in Sussex County. We drove through them all, stopped at most of the parish churches, and scrounged around some of the grave yards. This time we were successful finding a few tombstones with family names in Sedlescombe. We took pictures and have uploaded those pictures onto familysearch.org
We continue to visit the six wards in the stake, meeting with our YSA and encouraging them to attend Institute. I have been trying some new recipes for the dinner, and some have become favorites (chicken enchiladas) and some are confusing (clam chowder — Sister Young, we call this creamy soup!). We have a fall social coming up to start the new course (Doctrine and Covenants) and we are planning to serve Cafe Rio… not that our YSA have ever heard of it, but the missionaries think it is the best. Sister Young learned how to make shredded chicken for a missionary moves and was shocked how easy it was! She will also try a new recipe for Nutella cheesecake that night. Wish her luck!
Very late on our August blog — but it did get done before September! We have had some very warm days in the 80’s which with no air conditioning have been very hard. We keep the windows open with fans in opposite windows to keep the air flowing. It has been hard to sleep in the humidity, so we purchased a humidifier also. Suddenly it cooled down and we are in the 60s and 70s so that is much better. We are starting to see the very first leaves turn colors, so fall is coming quickly.
We have been visiting more local sites, this is Leeds Castle, which is perhaps the most impressive one from the air. It has a huge moat so the castle seems to be floating on water.
This is the Tower of London with some of the 888,000 ceramic poppies that will be placed between July and November in remembrance of those who lost their lives in WWI.
We have had another funeral in the ward and another wedding, one of our young single adult ladies who found a returned missionary while at a YSA convention. They were married at the chapel, travelled to the local registrar to register the marriage, returned for the reception and then went to the London Temple to be sealed. It is required by law here that they are married civilly first, then they are encouraged to be sealed the same day at the temple. The happy couple have moved to Norway, his home country.
Our daughter and her partner were able to come and visit us for the weekend before heading to Paris for the Women’s Rugby World Cup. We enjoyed visiting the London Zoo and other sites. They also announced that they are expecting our fourth grandchild in February 2015!
This week was moves and there were so many missionaries coming and going that it took three days to shift them all around. We had 10 go home and 20 new ones. We drove missionaries on Tuesday and on Wednesday, then bought, delivered, and put together furniture for the Hastings sisters’ new flat. Then we helped serve breakfast and lunch for the mission leaders conference. After cleaning up after lunch, we and the other senior couple went to Windsor Castle which was near by. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by succeeding monarchs and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.It is used by the queen and her family nowadays; they spend many weekends there. It is very large, very beautiful, and very well maintained. The changing of the guard happens every other day, but we missed it. They have turned the old (interior) moat into a garden, which is a nice way to keep it useful.
Well, we have been here over a year now, as of September 8th we will only have nine months left. We have a list of things we want to do and places to go so we can fit them all in before we are gone. We continue to be busy, happy, and mostly healthy! We love you all and miss you when we aren’t busy. Please keep in touch by email or facebook!
We finally were able to go see Battle, where William the Conqueror changed English history in 1066. We had been waiting for good weather, which has finally arrived. Sunny days at 68 degrees are marvelous! The battle was fought between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy (now known as William the Conqueror) and an English army under King Harold II. William assembled a large invasion fleet with cavalry, infantry, and archers or crossbowmen. Harold marched the rest of his army (entirely infantry) south to deal with the threatened Norman invasion and took a defensive position at the top of Senlac Hill. The battle opened with the Norman archers shooting uphill at the English shield wall, to little effect. The William sent the spearmen forward. The infantry was unable to force openings in the shield wall, and the cavalry advanced in support. Eventually Harold was killed and his army overwhelmed. Battle Abbey was founded by William at the site of the battle, and historical sources state that the high altar of the church was placed at the site where Harold had fallen.
Painted organ at Hellingly (pronounced Helling-lye) parish church
After Battle we visited some castles and then some parish churches where Sister Young’s PARSONS family was christened/buried. The most impressive site was the organ at the parish church in Hellingly, which was painted and very beautiful. We had never seen an organ with the pipes painted before. We were able to go into each of the churches as well as look at the headstones for family names. Most of the surviving stones that could be read were from the 1860’s and later. Any family names we found were for people buried in the 1900’s, way after her ancestors came to Utah.
Parish church at Brede, Sussex, England where James PARSONS was christened.
After touring Battle Abbey and grounds, we visited several castles in the area and then some of the parish churches where Sister Young’s PARSONS family were christened/buried. We read all the tombstones at each church, most of which were from the 1860’s or later. The few family names were dated in the early 1900’s, way after her ancestors came to Utah. However it was great to tour the churches and villages where they had lived.
One of the castles was Herstmonceux Castle, where we were surprised to learn that it was an alternate location for the observatories and scientists when Greenwich became too busy and too many city light. The castle is not open to the public because it is being run by a Canadian university which does research there. But the grounds were beautiful and had a wonderful “Magic Garden” that made us wish our granddaughters were here to explore it with us!
The grounds of the castles were lovely with many gardens and unique flowers. This particular flower was a large sphere, at first with spiky points which then opened up into little blue flowers.
Sister Young had been having more problems with pain in her arms and hands, and a day at the temple was very uncomfortable even with a pain pill. The next day we participated in a service project with the Orpington Ward, where she was on the crew clearing out the orchard at a Girls Guide Camp. Did you know that stinging nettle helps you with pain? For two days she felt like her arms and hands were shooting out electrons constantly (note to self: wear gloves). But the pain was not noticeable, and has been better since.
On Monday we went to Downe House with the sister missionaries on their p-day. This house is where Charles Darwin and his family lived to 40 years. It is only a few minutes away from our flat, and was very interesting. We toured the house and the gardens, which were extensive. This is where he wrote his famous books and did his experiments and research. His ten children grew up in the house, which had been restored on the first floor to look like it was when they were there. The second floor was a museum and interactive exhibit hall. The vegetable and flower gardens were extensive and beautiful.
As a wonderful end to an eventful week, we were able to skype with our ward in Corpus Christi for their third hour combined adult meeting. The theme was “Hastening the Work” and they asked us to talk about serving a mission. It was fun and the technology behaved very well. Hopefully what we shared was of interest to them.