We went to a Star Trek concert at Royal Albert Hall. They showed the latest movie (the one where they are all younger) with accompaniment from a full orchestra and choir. Because at points the music overwhelmed the spoken word of the movie, it was subtitled. It was an amazing experience, and we really enjoyed it. They do this pretty frequently, and we may catch it again another time and another movie.
We have completed our year of studying the Book of Mormon in Institute, and we had a nice recognition ceremony and full-on banquet (salmon, ham, quiche, and much more). We are now starting the summer class on studying the scriptures. It will be a more informal experience with lots of applications.
A sister in our ward lost her ex-husband and we took her to the funeral. While we were waiting for it to begin, the minister approached us and explained that the oldest son (her stepson) had asked that we not attend as he didn’t think the family would like it. We went to the car and read while she attended the funeral. She was having a hard time being there for her own sons as they mourned their father. We have also had another death in the ward, the father of one of our YSA families. He went in for an operation and complications took his life. We have had so many funerals in the year we have been here, but that is because we have an older-aged ward. We also attended a charity concert for a man who died just before we got here. The concert was to remember him (he was a musician) and to raise funds for the charity hospice that cared for him and two others in our ward. It was well attended and a nice evening. Elder Young sang as part of a group that night.
The last week we have had our son and his fiance visiting. They are both in the US Air Force stationed in Germany. We were able to spend three days with them; they went to the museums their other days here while we were busy. We had a zone training where Sister Young prepared lunch for 32 all on her own (we have been helping another senior couple do the cooking up to now). Luckily we have acquired a third slow cooker! Then the next night was the previously mentioned Institute banquet for 40. It was a stressful time, since we had to shop the morning of for each meal–we can’t fit very much into our small fridge and freezer, and put half of it in the church fridge on the way home from the store. Coupled with three late nights in a row, it has taken a toll on Sister Young’s health…but she is better today. We will have to watch that more carefully in the future.
While Doug and Sidney were here we took a tour of the Globe (Shakespeare’s theatre), saw the musical Wicked, and went to the Harry Potter Experience. The Globe was very interesting, we were most interested to see how well the theatre in Cedar City matched it. The stage was encased in black fabric for the current production, but otherwise looked very similar. We walked to Trafalgar Square, where they were having Brazil Day, part of the upcoming World Cup celebration. Football (soccer) is very popular here and the Cup is well watched and argued over. People are flying flags for their teams from windows, cars, etc. We grabbed something to eat and then walked around until it was time to go see Wicked, which we got half-price tickets for. Sister Young had read the book but it seemed little of the musical matched the book. We enjoyed the singing, costumes and stage, but had a hard time understanding the words. We did get the gist of the story, and it surely is a twisted fairy tale, especially the part about the tin man and the scarecrow!
The next day we toured Warner Brothers “Harry Potter Experience”. This was truly the highlight of all we have seen here (and Doug and Sidney agree). It was a great three hours of seeing the actual costumes, props, rooms, mockups and even a full size Diagon Alley. It was amazing–basically they packed up everything and brought it here (Watford) and set it up. Each section had a short video describing how it was used with cool trivia– the videos were the best part of many of the scenes.
Here is a display of wands used in the film, all labeled with who used them. Another room had the shelves and thousands of wand boxes, each with a hand-drawn label on the end. At the gift shop you could purchase a wand in a similar box from probably two dozen styles. We saw lots of kids carrying wands in the parking lot later, even though they seemed to cost about £17 or $25 each.
Maybe the best part of the tour was the 1/16 model of Hogwarts in a very large darkened room. This model took eight weeks to build but is amazingly intricate. This was used in all of the dementor attacks and flying dragons and brooms and parts where it was the backdrop in the green room. Overall, we would love more visitors so we have an excuse to go back! We are going to suggest this for a senior missionary outing as well.
Well, as of Saturday we have been here exactly half of our mission, and it has gone by so quickly! We are starting to make plans for after mission, realizing that it will creep up on us quickly. Also, Doug and Sidney will be married in July at the court house but will have the big ceremony celebration in Germany next spring, so hopefully we can have somewhat of a family reunion with that opportunity. Everyone, have a wonderful summer!