Gadfield Elm Chapel We were able to tour southwestern England this month. Our first visit was to Gadfield Elm Chapel which has a rich history in our Orpington Ward. Gadfield Elm Chapel was built in 1836 by a Christian Methodist group, the United Brethren. Almost the entire congregation of the United Brethren joined the Mormon church in 1840 and the chapel was deeded to Wilford Woodruff for the use of the saints. As the new converts heeded the call to gather to Zion the Gadfield Elm Chapel became redundant and was sold, with the proceeds being used to assist with the emigration of the Saints. After many years of private ownership and dilapidation the property was acquired by a group of private members (of our ward) who established a charitable foundation in 1994. With limited resources derived entirely from contributions these visionary souls lovingly restored the ruin stone by stone to its present state, as near as possible to how it may have been in the times of Wilford Woodruff more than 160 years ago. The chapel was received by President Gordon B. Hinckley on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in May 2004. Today it is the oldest Latter-day Saint chapel in the world still standing. Porthcurno Cove We traveled long distances (for England) to visit the westernmost shore of Land’s End the ruins of King Arthur’s Tintagel Castle. We then headed south to Penzance (as in Pirates of Penzance), twin castles built by Henry VIII for the protection of the southern coast from invading navies, and several beautiful coves with turquoise water. St Michael Mount is a castle and chapel on a tidal island off the Cornwall (pronounced corn-wool) coast. When the tide is low you can walk the causeway to the island, at high tide there is a ferry. St Michael’s Mount We have 17 days left in our mission, so yesterday we did a trial pack to see if everything will fit in our suitcases. We were relieved to find that even all of Larry’s things will fit! Then we made a final shopping trip to pick up various clothing items for our post-mission travels. We have three weeks on our visa to tour the rest of England. We fly out on 30 June to Illinois to pick up our car from Larry’s sister. We then have a month to visit family across the United States, report our mission to our Corpus Christi Ward, and finally arrive in Utah where we will start to figure out where we are going to live and what we are going to do in the next few years. We have some ideas but want to find out what is going on in the family before we make our final decisions. We will be so sad to leave England and the many friends we have made here. At least there is another senior couple coming to love and serve our young single adults and the special people we have been involved with for two years. We are so grateful for this experience and will remember it all our lives.
It may be April and time for showers, but we had a bit of a drought here with no rain for three weeks. It was a bit worrisome for the farmers, but our April showers are sure here now. We really miss the sunshine! We have also been having problems with the laptop lately, we hope it will limp along for 5 more weeks. It is almost 6 years old, so what is the problem? We almost have the three missionary flats cleared, just waiting for a trip to the tip (dump) with the mission van.
Our mission is receiving iPads for each junior missionary this month. We had a 6-hour training session with President Patrick Kearon (Europe Area presidency) and Elder Brent H Neilson (of the Seventy). Elder Nielson will be stepping up to head the missionary department in August, under the direction of Elders Nelson and Bednar. The training session was unprecedented in two ways — the first time the entire mission was together, and the first time two General Authorities were present for a mission meeting. The training was entitled “Disciples in the Digital Age” and was very inspiring. Rather than training them on the iPads (since they all know how to do that) it was helping them think about how the digital “tool” can be used to complete the missionary purpose of teaching the gospel and inviting others to learn of Christ. A secondary focus was on safety — staying away from the “dark side” of the Internet and personal safety by not flashing the technology around in public. The most memorable part for us was the statement by the Lord’s chosen: “We won’t let Satan control the Internet”.
Last week we drove to Brighton and visited the sea front and the Royal Pavilion. It was built by John Nash for George IV in 1815. It looks Indian on the outside and Chinese on the inside. It has been mostly restored to its original splendour (we think it rivals places in St Petersburg for grandour). From 1914 to 1916 it was used for Indian soldiers who had been wounded on the battlefields of the Western Front. From 1916 to 1920 it was used as a hospital for British troops who had lost arms or legs in the war.
The most impressive room was the dining room with the theme of dragons. The central chandelier was suspended from a gigantic dragon.
The sister missionaries hosted a ward talent show. We sang with another senior couple. But the very best part was a swimming demonstration by the sisters and two of our young adult men. We were all curious how they were going to swim in the chapel, especially since missionaries can’t swim while on their missions! It turned out they did a synchronized swim routine to classical musical behind a blue blanket (the pool). It was hilarious as they dove in, wiggled their feet, pirouetted in circles, etc. They did such a great job and it was hilarious!
The best news of all is that we have a replacement coming! The McDonalds will be here 6 weeks after we leave. We are so excited to have them coming and so relieved we won’t have to close OUR flat! We have been emailing and skyping with them.