Here is the promised picture of the missionaries dressed up in Chislehurst Caves. It was a wonderful p-day activity that they will always remember! From left: Elder Nohangoinaina from Madagascar, Elder Herrod, Elder Goldsmith, Elder Hale, Sister Gunnell, Sister Hickman all of USA. Great missionaries to work with!
And for other dressing up, it is rather common here for adults to wear onesies pajamas, even in public! Here is a group of teenagers we saw at the London train station, celebrating a birthday. We didn’t know them but they gave permission for a picture.
Our latest senior missionary expedition was to Bath, three hours west of us. It is our longest trip yet. Bath is a beautiful city, given a royal charter in 1590 but settled long before that with a history from the Bronze Age, Celts, Romans, etc. There are three natural hot mineral springs in the original city area, used in the past and still functioning and available. The main bath has been restored to its Roman glory and you can tour the entire facility to see the waterworks and artistic effects. We did not have time for this tour but would like to go back and do it. Bath may have been the site of the Battle of Mons Badonicus )about 500 AD) where King Arthur was said to have defeated the Anglo-Saxons. A temple was constructed in 60–70 AD, then a cathedral in 1088, and then Bath Abbey in the 1500’s which still stands today. It is famous for the “Jacob’s ladders” on the front with angels going up and down from heaven.
Most buildings in Bath are made from the local, golden-coloured Bath limestone, and many date from the 18th and 19th centuries. The dominant style of architecture is Georgian, and it makes the central old city look very homogeneous. There are no “new” buildings, they all fit together harmoniously. Two intriguing architectural pieces are the Royal Crescent and the Circus. They are both oval-shaped buildings — the Circus has three buildings in an circle, the Royal Crescent is in an oval arc. The Royal Crescent has 30 houses in it but you can’t tell where they start and stop because the facade is so perfect. Behind the facade the houses are willy-nilly shapes and sizes, they look really crazy from the back of the building.
We had lunch with the other senior missionaries, then went on a 2-hour tour of the city, walking around these important and fascinating places. It rained off and on but wasn’t too bad, and the explanations were very interesting. Another important part of Bath is the pride they have in being the home of Jane Austen (for four years) and where she wrote two of her books, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
A very pleasant surprise on our trip from Bath to the London Temple, where our YSA were singing for a fireside. We drove right past Stonehenge! We couldn’t stop because we were running late, but you can no longer go near it as it is now partitioned off. So we probably saw as much as we could if we stopped.
We continue to be involved in singing in the ward choir, and Sister Young and two other sisters from the ward sang a trio a few weeks ago. Elder Young has an upcoming solo in a few weeks. We also sang in the choir for Stake Conference, and Sister Young was asked to repeat a talk at stake Conference that she had given in another ward last month. We just had our ninth baptism for the year! Our ward goal was eight, something we never thought we would make since we had had only one baptism in the past two years. But the work is moving forward, and wonderful people are joining the Church. It has been interesting being involved in the teaching of investigators from other countries like Lithuania and Albania. We have been able to order Books of Mormon in their native languages, and the virtual missionaries from the Temple Visitors Centre have been able to set up skype lessons with missionaries from those countries to help work with the people.
We sent home our closest senior missionary friends a few weeks ago, and because they are not being replaced, we have been working to shut down their flat. We had to sort out all the furnishings and supplies and give them away or arrange for large furniture pieces to be stored until needed again. We have the flat inspection this week, and then that should be over with. We were able to acquire some items for ourselves, like a third slow cooker. We have a small one for our food, a large one for Institute, and we need all three when we cook for Zone Training and feed 30 missionaries.
We hosted a Indexing Night for the ward to teach the youth and adults how to index, and then a Genealogy Workshop for the members and community. We had two non-members attend who were very interested and came with names to input into FamilySearch. We will be doing this monthly and hope that others will come in the future. Our Europe Area Presidency has named June the “month of invitation” and this is one of the activities that people can be invited to participate in.
Well, in 15 days we will have been here half our mission, and only have one year to go. It has gone so fast, and we are enjoying it very much. We miss you all but love emails and family hangouts!