We attended zone conference with special guest Elder David Evans of the Seventy. He shared with us that the day before, Monday 12 August 2013, there were officially 75,000 missionaries serving. They expect over 100,000 by next spring. He spoke to us in the morning and again after lunch. I think the best thing I heard him say was that “the answers to today’s problems will be in this morning’s [scripture] reading”.
We have been very busy with preparations for a new flat of elders who arrive this week. We had to inspect the flat, submit a list of things to be fixed, measure and shop for furniture that would fit [we ended up switching the living and bedrooms to fit it all], and then all the kitchen items, bedding, etc. Luckily we have an Ikea about 1/2 hour away where we can get the furniture, but then it needs to be transported and put together. We pick it up tonight and spend all tomorrow afternoon putting it all together. Hopefully some of our young single adults will be on hand to help Elder Young do that! We have come to love our YSAs so much! They are wonderful, and we have about 25 who attend Institute weekly. We hope that number goes up when August, the holiday [vacation] month ends. However, we realize that 10 of them got/are getting married this summer — two this weekend, one next week, and one the week after. We will be busy traveling to the temple for those sealings. In England you must be married civilly first, so most take out their endowments a few days before, then marry in an office and then go straight to the temple to be sealed. We have been able to attend the temple once already — it is about 45 minutes away — and will be back twice more this month before it closes for 10 weeks.
We have been able to register for the National Health System at the local “surgery” or doctor’s office. We have also met with the doctor for our initial 10-minute appointment to review medications and needs. Because Larry is over 60, his prescriptions are free. Elaine has to pay for her and then file for reimbursement from insurance. This October the rules for medical needs for senior missionaries are changing. We are not sure how this will affect us since we are not on church insurance, but they are trying to get the missionaries off the NHS so there will be no accusations of getting something for nothing. We will find out more shortly I presume.
Last night we went to the Temple Visitors Center for the monthly fireside; this month one of the senior missionary couples was speaking. There were two senior couples who had just arrived the day before, and one of them was Chaplain Boone and his wife who we knew from Virginia! We only had a few minutes to play catch-up, but exchanged contact information so we can talk some more. They are also serving with YSA in the Staines Stake. We quickly told them a few things that we have learned so far, where to shop for example. It has been fun reminiscing over all the things we have learned over the last month — yes, today is exactly one month since we arrived in England! We feel that the steep learning curve has smoothed out and we are very comfortable with our flat, car, getting around, people, shopping, everything. The weather continues to be perfect — mid 70’s in the day and 50s at night. We have been able to walk every morning without jackets unless it is raining, which has only been twice in a month!
We miss everyone but keep busy enough to not be lonely. There is so much to do — one of our YSA just Facebook messaged us this morning that he received his mission call to Norway. We are proud of the decisions and choices that our young single adults are making, and are working hard to get to know those who are not active in church and may not be choosing the best paths.