We have spent more time on the road lately than ever before. It started with another transfer day. The night before we receive instructions — drive to East London to pick up some missionaries and deliver them to Staines Stake Center. Traffic is horrendous in London and we are already late. Staines is diagonally across London itself, but construction makes it longer and there is a “congestion fee” to drive within London proper. It is quite steep, so we use the “sat-nav” (satellite navigation or GPS) to chart a route using the beltway and travelling 3/4ths of the way around London. Drop off the missionaries there, help with lunch and keeping them all quiet. They are so excited to see each other, since missionaries from all over southern England are there to move to new areas. We then find two more missionaries (and all their luggage) and make the trek to take one to Maidstone and one back to her flat near us in Orpington. In all we are gone for over 12 hours.
A few days later we drive the Orpington sister missionary to Windsor to see her surgeon. She had broken her finger badly and had to see a plastic surgeon. We were able to glimpse Windsor Castle and the Long Walk as we drove by, but as the appointment was at 5:45 and the surgeon was on time and saw her immediately, we were not able to visit anything, but needed to get back home. She has another appointment this week — but sometime we need to go there just the two of us so we can visit the castle.
This month has been full of inspiring meetings also. We had General Conference the first weekend, and because we are 7 hours ahead of Utah, we can watch the morning sessions at night live, but the afternoon sessions come during our night. So they record them and we watch them the next morning. That puts the Sunday afternoon session on Monday morning — so we invited our district over for breakfast on their p-day. We had a nice time eating pancakes and watching the last session of conference. Then the elders used our computer to send in their reports. I overheard a phone conversation — “Yes, president, I will do whatever you want” from both missionaries. They had received a phone call from the mission president, requesting an emergency transfer so a new elder could be trained in Orpington. It happened three hours later, so our newer elder swapped places with a brand new elder who is now in our district.
Later that week we had Zone Conference with some amazing training on hastening the work. it is another long day as we travel to Crawley Stake near the temple to attend. We bring the Ottleys, another senior couple from the next ward over, because it would cost them a lot and take a long time to ride the train/buses. The junior missionaries are provided a bus/train pass but the seniors pay their own way. If they travel after 9:30 am they can go for free, but when they have to travel a long way they have to start earlier than that and it is very expensive to take the three trains to get there. So we drive them and let the junior missionaries take the train.
That weekend we had a senior outing at the temple visitors’ center where we had the mission president speak to us again. Normally we only see him at zone conferences, and he is so busy with the junior missionaries that we only shake his hand and don’t have much contact with him. But because it was Stake Conference that evening and the next day, we met him and heard him and his wife speak at both sessions. I jokingly shook their hands and asked what we would be doing Monday with them! They laughed because we had seen so much of each other.
The work is amazing, we are meeting wonderful people and learning so much. We are thankful to be serving our Lord and helping people to come unto Him. We love our ward but we also get to visit all the other wards. We speak several times a month and have the opportunity to attend the YSA Sunday School classes in different wards. Each week at Institute we have someone new come, so we are getting to know more of them. We are grateful for the technology that supports us and allows us instant communication and connection. We have poster boards with the pictures of the active YSA in Institute, and we keep track of who is new, who is “at uni” (university) and who is married or has a mission call. They really like checking the boards each week and looking at each other’s pictures. We love you and miss you all but are too busy to be homesick. We pray for you daily and think about you when things here remind us of home — or how different it is from home.