This is the original “computer desk” when we arrived. Since Larry will be programming extensively for a new web site for the Europe YSA program, he needed (wanted?) his usual set up. I confess I wanted it to look the same too, I hate change! So after a trip to PC World, this is the new set up in the upstairs second bedroom.
While we were in Provo, Utah, we saw the new Provo City Center Temple that is under construction. It was the originally the Tabernacle; after a theatrical production on the grounds one of the big lights was left on accidentally and started a fire. It only burned some of the outside, but it was decided to renovate and make it a temple. There is already a Provo Temple but it will probably be undergoing extensive renovation (like the Ogden Temple has) and will be closed for quite some time.
The four conical spires were taken off and are on the grounds behind the building. They jacked up the entire building, excavated out a huge area, and have built a basement level underneath. This is where the baptismal font will be. Perhaps the other excavated area (after construction) may be a parking garage?
Plan for completion
Today I will describe our flat, which is in the “elbow” of an L-shaped building. We enter through our front door at the bend of the elbow. First comes the kitchen, which has a fridge and washer to the right of the picture shown below. The oven and “hob” (stove top) are calibrated in degrees Celsius, so we have a conversion chart posted inside one of the cabinets. The fridge is in two parts, both about the size of a dorm fridge — the top is refrigerated, the bottom is a freezer. They recycle everything here and so we have “rubbish bins” for paper, metal, glass, etc including one for food scraps. I don’t know when or how they pick up as the bins are behind our garages.
After the kitchen there is our living room, with two big windows with ubiquitous lace curtains. What is not shown is the very small computer desk to the right, and the staircase to go upstairs. We do have a small TV which we have not even turned on yet, and will probably only be used to show things from the computer.
Upstairs is our bedroom, with two more big windows and a large closet with three heavy rolling mirrored doors. There is no dresser so we are going to find the IKEA today and see what we can find.
This is the very small second bedroom, with a blow-up mattress (see bag on right) for visitors. However, as you see, the “dryer” uses up much of the space in this room. Right now it is the catch-all room for things we have yet to find a place for. We do have a one-car garage space where we can store some items, like our 6 luggage which we probably won’t use again for 2 years!
We flew from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas, had a 4-hour layover, then flew directly to Gatwick Airport in London. That 10-hour flight wasn’t too bad, we slept most of the way. We arrived at 9:30 in the morning London-time (3:00 AM our time) and were picked up by Elder Adams from the Mission Home. This is a picture of the gatehouse to the Mission Home and London Temple. We spent the night in the patron quarters, like a little hotel room. Patrons attending the temple come and stay for very little money. The next morning Elder Adams, Sister Adams, Sister Qumsiyeh, and Sister Cates took us to our flat. They dropped us off and left us one car and took the second car to go see the sights near Orpington. This was their first holiday in several months, as working in the office take most of their days.
Our flat is one of seven in the building, we are in the “elbow” of the L-shaped building. Downstairs we have a kitchen and living room. Upstairs is our bedroom and bath. Their is a second bedroom which might hold a crib, it is very small. We probably will make it into an office. The weather has been unseasonably warm for London, with highs in the upper 70s and lower 80s. There are no AC units in the houses, so we rely on open windows (no screens). Of course when we leave the flat we have to close all the windows in the lower level.
After unpacking and trying to find a place to put everything, we spent our first night. The sister missionaries, Sister Paulsen and Sister Ernenwein, met with us to show us around town. We also went with them to the church to teach a lesson to an investigator from Ghana. We went to Tescos, the local grocery/homegoods store to get food. The store took a long time to go through since everything was very different. We never did find some things, and had to read a lot of labels to figure out what things were, like squash drinks and piri piri chicken. We bought enough food for the weekend and to try out some new things. On Sunday we met with the ward missionary council; they are choosing new art work for the entire chapel that will be useful for chapel tours that teach the first discussion. Services were wonderful as we met so many new people. There are many multi-generational families in our ward. Several of the young single adults are getting married this summer; I am sure we will be involved in those. After church they had a “munch and mingle” which this month celebrated the 90th birthday of Brother Hugh. His family came to celebrate with us and had a good chat with one of his friends that ended up in a referral for the missionaries. We got home late and exhausted — how much was still jet lag and how much was being in a high stress new situation, I don’t know.
This morning we went for a walk in the neighborhood, finding the post office, dry cleaners, barber shop and a dentist. Those will come in handy. This afternoon we are going shopping for both food and things we need around the house, like batteries, toilet paper, clothes baskets, etc. We are also learning to use the appliances. It took me 20 minutes to figure out the oven, but only 5 minutes for the washer. At least we have a book with all the appliance manuals in it. Will post more later, including pictures as Larry gets them off the camera and into the computer.
We arrived at the Missionary Training Center (referred to as MTC) on Monday morning about 11:00. After checking in and receiving our name badges, we completed a few tasks and went to our first meeting. Lunch at the huge cafeteria was exciting, as 3000 young and old missionaries went through multiple lines for food. There are 3-4 entrees each meal, with fruit, salad and desserts available in massive quantities. Drinks run the gamut from Coke to juices and chocolate milk. Back to afternoon training sessions, we holed up with 4 couples and a trainer. We role played how to talk to new people, learning about them and their needs. Then we practiced using short simple sentences to explain our gospel message, trying not to use “Mormonese” that would be difficult to understand. This evening we are attending a devotional for the entire 3,000 missionaries, held in the BYU Marriott Center. The speaker will be a General Authority (church leader). Tomorrow we get our first chance at teaching a full 45-minute lesson to investigators.
We are staying at a local hotel because we have a car and there are not enough rooms on the MTC grounds. It is a short drive and also allows us to go other places as needed. This weekend we will be off from training and will spend the time with various family and friends. Next week our training will move into more specific skills needed for our particular duties in England. We will be working with the young single adults from ages 18-30 to provide a social center where they can gather to learn, play, serve, and of course EAT! We will be providing dinner every Wednesday evening before the religion class, and expect to feed 25-30 each week. The rest of the details are to come as we arrive on site. Being surrounded this week by thousands of college-age men and women (most ages 18-22) has been reminiscent of being on campus, especially moving in crowds across the grounds and in the cafeteria, which feels like dodging people between classes at the university.
We are so excited to begin our new adventure, to be trained and to share experiences and ideas about how to best do new duties. Other senior couples are going exotic places like Russia, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Austria and Japan. Many of them are also working with young adults or serving in offices or as support to local church leaders. There is a great air of excitement and anticipation as we will be leaving next week to actually live the dream.
We miss all our family and friends of course, but it hasn’t quite sunk in that we will be across the world in just nine days.
We safely made it to Utah, and are currently ensconced in the 10th hotel since closing on our home three weeks ago. We entered Utah during the high heat wave that has hit the southwest part of the country. While we were in Moab it was 107, and yesterday it was 102 in Alpine, Utah, where Larry’s mother and brother live, which is up a canyon.
While we were in Richfield, Utah, visiting Elaine’s parents, we were able to make arrangements for our twin daughters headstone to be moved. Thirty-five years ago it was laid at the base of a small tree. Now that is a very large tree, and the roots have pushed the headstone out of level. We had requested it to be rotated and leveled last year when our niece was buried, but permission from the city was holding it back. We called the city and spoke with the administrator, who brought the cemetery supervisor over within minutes. They agreed that the headstone could be moved and the mortuary did it that afternoon, allowing us to take a picture before we continued on our trip. We are very grateful to their prompt attentions!
Larry’s mom has just moved to an assisted living center, and while moving her belongings, Larry’s sister found several boxes of family pictures and mementos. None of the local children had seen most of the pictures, so we borrowed a scanner and made digital copies of hundreds of pictures. Some of the treasures found in the boxes was the original mission call to Larry’s grandfather Ballard, signed by Heber J. Grant. We also found his mission release certificate, his high school graduation, and various news articles about members of the family who won awards or honors. These are a true treasure, and we will be sharing them with family members and uploading ancestral pictures to Family Search.