We are privileged to be in England for the 100th anniversary of the first world war. The memorial events have been outstanding and emotional. The area office of the Church prepared a program to be given in each stake commemorating the Christmas truce that happened on Christmas in 1914 on the lines between the England and German soldiers. Visit http://christmas-truce.com/ to see the video and learn more about it.
Children were given a British flag and visiting dignitaries participated in the program. There was also a real-life Nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. There were readings and musical items along with carol singing by the audience.
During the presentations, eight of our teenagers, dressed in uniforms or as nurses, placed photographs of church members’ family who served in WWI on a giant 16-foot Christmas tree.
This picture shows Gary and Jake Davey; Gary is the high councilman over Young Single Adults in our stake; Jake is his youngest brother. Another brother Elliott is serving his mission in Australia (he left two weeks before we arrived and will return two weeks after we leave). Overall it was a very moving programme and we were thankful to participate in the choir (dressed in period costume).
We wish every a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. We are grateful for our Saviour, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. We love you all!
Well, we didn’t manage to blog in November and now it is halfway through December. The end of the year is coming quickly. We have been particularly busy with mission activities. Sandwiched in between two transfers is the mission Christmas dinner and temple trip, which is done on four days to accommodate the entire mission. We have 260 missionaries in 10 zones. They come from 51 countries and speak 46 different languages. This is the highlight of their year, because they can only attend the temple at Christmas and on the week they go home. It has been our privilege to support them in their temple attendance and for the Christmas meal they have together in groups in 72 missionaries. This year they had ham, baked potato (jacket potato), peas, cranberry sauce, roll and cake. After the meal they had a fun sing-a-long with their very own pipe players — Elder and Sister Cannon make and use these pipes with their grandchildren and it was a hit with the missionaries. The poster had numbers over each syllable of the words to several Christmas hymns and they were to hit their hanging pipe with a table knife when their number came up. They were pretty good at it without any practice!
Another interesting occurrence was that we had 28 sister missionaries go home over the last two transfers (and 20 more came). This group going home was the bulk of the response from just after the age change. We are privileged to work closely with the six (now four) sisters in our zone. We have enjoyed getting to know these choice women, and continue to watch their lives as they return to Facebook when they arrive home.
We also had the opportunity to have our two youngest sons over from Germany for three days. We took them to tour Harry Potter (which was all dressed up for Christmas) at the Warner Brothers Studio, watched the movie Instellar on the IMAX screen, and visited several museums. They decided they could sleep on our floor and couch for three nights, and we hope that didn’t worsen the colds they were starting as they headed home.
Harry Potter Christmas dinner in the dining room
Harry Potter Christmas tree
We had a second YSA Super Sunday with only 40 attending this time (the first time everyone was looking for “the one” and we guess they didn’t find them?). We also had a wonderful activity for the neighborhood called “Meet the Mormons” after the film that none of us have gotten to see over here. We had giant banners and color flyers and ended up with 11 visitors who toured the chapel and learned about who were are and what we do and believe. In addition to that, we are reaching our tenth and eleventh baptisms for the year, with a goal of one more before 2015!
We were also able to attend the musical White Christmas (of Bing Crosby movie fame), which only ran for three weeks here in London. We think it was the best of the musicals we have seen so far. We also attended John Rutter’s Christmas concert in Royal Albert Hall for the second time. We really enjoy this concert because of the sing-a-long songs scattered among the Christmas and other music. The orchestra was joined by the London Youth junior and senior choirs and they were excellent! We also had our annual Ward Christmas Fireside which is written and produced by one of our ward brothers. His son is in theatre and lets us use his giant starry background with twinkling lights that spans the entire back third of the chapel. The piano fronted by a cardboard fireplace and Christmas tree surround a rocker where readers sit for their parts. The missionaries sang a Christmas song by Sally Deford. We weren’t bad for only two practices!
We are excited for Christmas so we can REST and relax and enjoy the holiday. Our weather has been cold and rainy but this week is forecast to be in the 50s even if we don’t get much sun. We wish you all the best holidays and a fantastic new year. We will see you all next summer!