A new year…

So January has come and gone and we are still plugging along. It has been much colder and rainier than last winter, and we have had a bit of snow on several days. We have moved from continous temperatures of 30-34 degrees to the low 40’s. Another change is the number of senior missionaries is receding quickly. Because we can serve 12, 18, or 23 months, sometimes the cycles run together at a low point. There are/will be nine couples going home by July, and only one couple is coming (so far). We have been formally told that four of our couples will not be replaced. We are not sure whether we will have a replacement or not! It makes it hard to plan — for the next couple, or to close our flat?

Lola, the traveling bear, visiting London

Piper Lola (click on Slide Show to watch)

We had a quick visit from Lola, the traveling bear from the kindergarten class in North Carolina. She toured London and sent pictures back to our granddaughter for the school bulletin board (notice board in England). Here is the Lola movie sent back to our family.

Lunch with senior missionaries at the Imperial War Museum

We have had two more senior outings, one to the British Museum and one to the Imperial War Museum. The war museum cover a lot of history, with a special exhibit on World War I which began 100 years ago. We saw an Enigma machine, a piece of the Berlin Wall, a piece from the World Trade Center, The most touching exhibit was on more recent war-torn countries, with examples of furniture made from hundreds of handguns that had been discarded in the jungle.

New grandson Cole Jacob

The most exciting news is the birth of our fourth grandchild and the first grandson! His name is Cole Jacob and we are excited to see him in a few months. We are letting the other grandparents monopolize him right now, but come July we expect to have some quality time with him!

Our YSA Institute class

We thought you might enjoy knowing the kinds of things that we do in a typical week. Each Sunday we visit a ward in our stake and meet with our young single adults. There are six wards and we rotate among them, with certain weeks in our Orpington Ward so we can sing in the choir and attend ward council. Sunday afternoons and evenings are busy with visiting ward members and going to firesides at Hyde Park (downtown London) or at the temple visitors centre. Mondays we get hair cuts, go grocery shopping for the week, and visit a sister in our ward who is dying from cancer. We talk a bit, sometimes work on puzzles, then give a spiritual thought or Elder Young sings for her. Tuesdays we go to the temple and prepare for our Addiction Recovery Program that night. Wednesdays are busy with district meetings and preparing for Institute lessons and food. Sometimes Wednesdays are also transfer days and we support the mission office by transporting missionaries back and forth. Thursday through Saturday are generally more open, and we can schedule doctor appointments, run errands, and visit the sights. Every six weeks we are involved in preparing the food for Missionary Leadership Conference. It has become routine to prepare breakfast and lunch for 40 people! We have the help of another senior couple and luckily we can repeat the menus pretty often. We have been working with some of the ward members on their family history, doing the research and preparing the names for the temple. We were able to be proxies for an African sister in the ward and seal the marriage of her parents from Nigeria. Other times we support the youth baptisms trips to the temple, or prepare food for the Munch and Mingle activities held after church when people move in or out of the ward. Sister Young has been involved in craft days for the British Royal Legion (women’s group for veterans), and Elder Young is often called upon to give priesthood blessings to missionaries and ward members. We also do the monthly inspection of the sisters’ and zoneleaders’ flats. In between all these “outside” activities, we study the scriptures, prepare our lessons, read the weekly Sunday School and third hour lessons, and prepare talks. It is a very varied life and we love it!

We have about 15 weeks until we are finished with the mission. It really came home last week when we bought toilet paper and had to buy a 12-pack instead of our normal 24-pack! We will be able to take three weeks after our mission to tour the area, and then we will return to the US and be able to travel to visit most of our family members before settling in… we think… St George, Utah. It will allow us to be close to our parents and family, and be WARM!