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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Beautiful historical England!

Leeds Castle in Southern England

Ken and Barbara at the state apartments at Windsor Castle

Dover Castle

Beckstroms and Neumanns at Leeds Castle

It is hard to believe that it has been a full year since we left home on the 31st of December of 2008. It has been an eventful year, which in some ways seems short and in other ways feels like a long time since we walked down the stairs and out the door on that cold winter day last year. We have met some amazing people, had many awesome experiences, and seen many wonderful places in this historic land of our forefathers. I think the most memorable of all of these experiences has been getting to know people of so many different ethnic groups and to learn about their customs, food, habits, and the things that they hold dear. South London is truly a melting pot where many people who are new to England come to settle and start a new life.
We have also thoroughly enjoyed being able to do some traveling and view many of the historic castles, historical spots, cathedrals, and stately homes in southern England. While our children, Brooke and Ben and their family, were here we visited Dover Castle, which is on the southeastern coast of England and overlooks France, just 19 miles away. This castle was a strategic spot during both of the World Wars and for many other wars before that. Secret tunnels were dug into the white cliffs where surveillance, communication, and strategies were carried out by English army personnel. It was fascinating to walk into those tunnels and see all of the activities that took place there. The Castle at Dover has been there for centuries and was used by William the Conquerer as early as 1066 AD when he invaded England from France.
We also visited Windsor Castle just west of London, which is the oldest and largest continually occupied castle in Europe. It is still used by Queen Elizabeth II on weekends and for state occasions. We were able to tour the state appartments because the queen was not in residence on the day that we were there. They are beautifully decorated and very impressive. On the grounds there is St. George's Cathedral where many of the Kings and Queens of England are buried.
Leeds Castle is my favorite of all of the castles that we have visited. It is about halfway between the temple here in Surrey and the portside city of Dover, on the southeast coast of England. It was built in about 1000 AD, but has been constantly updated and cared for so that even today you could live in it comfortably. It was bought back in the 1960's by an American heiress and one half of the castle was completely redone with indoor plumbling, under floor heating, etc. She and her family lived there until the last member of the family died in 2001. It was then turned over to the National Trust who runs and maintains it to this day. It is where many of the official functions of the British government take place. There are 43 bedrooms and bathrooms and several large convention rooms that are use regularly by various governments throughout the world for meetings and conventions. A large group of government leaders throughout the world
convened there when the Camp David Accord with Israel was being discussed and worked on. The castle has large windows that look out upon the gorgeous countryside and the huge moat that still surrounds the castle completely. It is a beautiful place to visit. The grounds are well manicured and many birds from across the world swim in the moat and the lakes there on the grounds. Their mascot is the beautiful and rare black swan. They swim majestically in the lakes that surround the castle. We are living in a rather dark, cold world here right now. It is dark by about 3:30 PM and the sun does not come up much before 8:00 AM. The days are short and the sun is just a distant orb in the south side of the sky. It comes up in the south eastern sky and sets in the southwestern sky and never really comes up high enough in the sky to warm it up much. We spend long days at the Visitors' Centre, walk, eat, and sleep. That is our reportoire! We
look forward to longer and warmer days as we inch forward into spring. Hope all is well with you. We love to hear from you and how your lives are going.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas to you all from Jolly Old England!

Christmas decorations in the visitor's centre and the temple

Christmas at the temple

Angel Moroni peering out from the scaffolding

Just a quick note to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We have been very busy at the Visitors' Centre. Everyone in the temple district seems to have brought their families to the temple to view the Christmas lights, the Nativity scene, and the decorated Visitors' Centre. We have decorated with poinsettias and red garland. It looks very pretty with the Christus Statue looking out through the large glass windows. We have showed many Christmas movies, as well as "Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration" movie to many, many people. Most of the English people who live and work on site here will be going home for the holidays, but the Americans will be staying to celebrate a different kind of Christmas for most of them, this year. We will be going in to London to stay with our friends, the Perrys. We hear that the Christmas decorations in uptown London are phenomenal. We are looking
forward to it. We will be up tonight (actually in the morning for us) at about 4:00 AM when our family gets together at a family dinner in Utah and opens their presents from us. We will be joining them and watching on Skype, a program on the computer that allows us not only to visit for free, but also to see all of their beautiful smiling faces. This program has been a godsend for both of us. We have been able to see the new babies and all of the older ones, too, every week for a year now. What a blessing it has been. We think of all of you often and pray that you will have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones, We will look forward to that next year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

And I saw an Angel flying in the midst of Heaven!

Moroni in the crate

Barbara and Elder Ard touching the Angel Moroni


Almost vertical

Up, up, he goes!

All lined up!

Wow, what an exciting day we have had here today. We have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Angel Moroni and his placement on the spire of the Temple. Today it finally happened. At about 1:00 pm this afternoon, a Alloette helicopter arrived above the buildings and landed in the middle of the green in front of the manor house. They attached a large rope to the top of the angel and lifted him from the crate. He was suspended from the rope and lifted into the air. They flew across the grass and up, up, up into the air. It took about 10 minutes of delicate maneuvering for the helicopter to drop him carefully into the slot made just for him to balance and sit on. A great cheer came up from the large crowd as he was finally set into place. These saints here in England have waited a long time for Moroni to arrive, 50 years to be exact. We understand from what we have been told that the Church was turned down originally because of radar issues at Gatwick Airport. They reapplied recently and finally after an appeal, they received approval to put the Angel up on top of the 160 foot spire of the temple. He looks out to the East over the green, verdant fields of Southern England. Everyone here is so excited about the prospect of having this beautiful icon on the temple and overlooking the A22 as it runs right in front of the Temple property. It was quite a day with the national and local press here having a briefing in our Visitors' Centre. We hope many good things will come out of this event.

We are well here and keeping very busy as we approach the Christmas Season. We will be spending Christmas in London with our friends, the Perrys. We are looking forward to doing some small service projects for some of the good people that we have learned to love here in the past year. Hope this is a great holiday for all of you. We will miss seeing and visiting with you all. We think back on great memories of this time of the year with wonderful friends and family. We love you all. Love and best wishes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

An American Thanksgiving - with an English twist!

The men siitting around after Thanksgiving Dinner - Donald, JP, Ben, Ken

Cleaning up after dinner - Hanna, Roma, Adam, Jo

Christmas in Bourton-on-the-water

We have just spent a wonderful two weeks with our daughter, Brooke, and her family here in England. It was a whirlwind two weeks, but so exciting. What a great time we had with the sweet little girls, Ady and Emma. We saw so many marvelous sites in England and spent so much time together. It is always a little bit of a let down when it is all overwith. Oh well, now we have only about 6 more months to go until we return to the good old US of A!

We had a very American Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday, November 29, at my cousin, Judy's, home in Lechlade-on Thames with all of the traditional foods, many of which were foreign to our English cousins. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams and apples, fruit salad, rolls, cranberry sauce, veggies, jello salad, and pumpkin ice cream dessert. We set the date six months ago with all of my cousins for this Thanksgiving feast day. They were all there and with anticipation we enjoyed the morning cooking, visiting, and reminiscing about our families and memories of the past. Before the dinner began, we held a beautiful family prayer and Kenneth explained the reason behind the Thanksgiving feast each year in America. They knew a little about the story of the pilgrims coming to America in 1620, but not all of it. They were very interested and impressed with the significance of this very American holiday. I then had to explain a little about how the foods worked together. They were very intrigued by the fact that we eat fruit salad with the main part of the meal. Everyone ate and ate and by the end of the day not one scrap of food was left for leftovers even though we explained that the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers that everyone can eat for the next few days, making it so that Mom does not have to cook again for several days.

We then went to a small Cotswold Village and did a little Christmas shopping. The small village is called Bourton-on-the-Water and there is a miniature village there that is exactly built to the specificatons of the real village. It is amazing. We had fun visiting and shopping at the many and very popular Christmas shops there. We found some amazing Nativity Scenes that we all like to collect so much.

It was a magical time for us and I know that my mom must be very pleased. These long lost cousins just feel like family. They are so pleasant and have many of the same likes and dislikes that we have. We truly do have a grand time when we all get together.

We also visited Dover Castle on the Southeast coast of England while Brooke and her family were here. It is here that you can look across the English Channel for just about 20 miles and see France on a clear night. We could truly do that from the hotel that we stayed in there. It had a sea side view and you could see the lights of France right across the channel. My mom actually lived in a house on the castle grounds as a young girl as her father was a Major in the British Army over the artillery guns at the castle. We were able to visit the church where she went as a child and saw the area where the home she lived in once stood. It is no longer there, but the foundation still exists. I could just imagine what it must have been like to have lived in a place such as this as a young child. We were also able to tour the Secret Wartime Tunnels that exist under the castle. There are 6 levels of tunnels that were used by the English during World Wars I and II and some were even used for surveillance and secret operations as far back as the Napoleonic Era. There was a fully staffed and equipped hospital, radio equipment, telephone switchboard, facilities to house over 2000 men, etc. down there in the dark dank tunnels.
It truly has been an exciting two weeks and now we wait with anticipation for the Angel Moroni to go up on the top of the temple. That should happen any day now. The Christmas lights are all turned on here on the temple grounds and the Visitors' Centre is decorated with poinsettias and red garland to commemorate this remarkable season. Life is good and we are very busy and involved here. Hope you are all well and happy this holiday season. We think of you and home often. We will miss all of you this Christmas time, but will have warm memories in our hearts of all of the good times we have had through the years at this most special time of the year.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

England - the land of Early Christians!

Barbara at the Museum of Art

Lord Nelson Statue

Old, Old Tudor Home


Hope all is well with you. We are both fine here and are staying very busy. We took the train into our old stake, Wandsworth Stake, to judge Road Shows last night. I had forgotten how much work went into those when we used to do those years ago. They were very entertaining and the youth of all of the wards there had a great time and that's what it is all about, isn't it? Kenneth declined to be a judge so he sat around and visited while I tried to figure out who should win the prizes. It was great fun!!! We are anxiously awaiting Brooke and Ben's arrival here in the morning. It will be so much fun for us to see all of them. I can't wait to hold those two sweet little girls. How lucky and blessed we are to have such a great supportive family. They are the best.

As those of you know who know us well, Kenneth and I are really into history. We have loved being here and being able to see so many of the places that we learned about as children in nursery rhymes, history classes, movies, and many books. Those historic places are all around us here in London. A few weeks ago we traveled to Canterbury. I sent an email about that trip. While riding down there in the temple van, I got talking to an English lady sitting next to me in the van. We were talking about Henry VIII and somehow early Christianity came up and she began to talk about a place here in Southwestern England called Glastonbury where an ancient cathedral was built shortly after the time of Christ. I mentioned to her about a poem/song we sing here in all of our Zone Conferences called Jerusalem, written by William Blake. Many of you have probably heard the poem/song. It goes like this,

"And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England's mountains green? And was the holy Lamb of God on England's pleasant pastures seen? and did the Countenance Divine shine forth upon our clouded hills? and was Jerusalem builded here among these dark satanic mills? Bring me my bow of burning gold: Bring me my arrows of desire: Bring me my spear, O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of Fire. I will not cease from mental flight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand till we have built Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land."

The song was also the theme song in the movie "Chariots of Fire". She began to tell me of the legend or tradition here that tells that Joseph of Arimithea owned tin mines in Cornwall, in the southwest part of England. He was an uncle to Mary, Jesus' mother. He supposedly brought Jesus here to England with him on one or more trips during Jesus' growing up years before he began his ministry. It is recorded that Joseph of Arimithea, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Lazarus, and 8 other followers of Christ were set adrift in a small boat by the Sadducees who wanted to eradicate the followers of Christ after his crucifixion. They drifted across the Mediterreanean and miraculously landed in Marseilles, France where they were greeted by Phillip, an Apostle of Christ. They later made their way to Avalon or Glastonbury in England and Mary lived out the rest of her life here surrounded by many of the early Christian leaders. She is buried in Glastonbury beneath the old Cathedral. We were incredulous at this story and a little skeptical, too. She offered to let us borrow a couple of books written on the subject so we have been ravenously devouring those books the last couple of weeks and it has been very enlightening to read the books and study all of the sources that he has compiled the information from. For any of you who are interested, the two books are "Whence Came They" and "The Drama of the Lost Disciples". Now we realize why the English people were so receptive to the Gospel when it was first preached to them in 1838 by the Early Apostles. Joseph Smith himself said, "This land of England was consecrated and dedicated by ancient Apostles." The people of this land are from the lost tribes of Israel, principally Ephraim and the Gospel when it was restored spoke truth to them. I ordered these books from Amazon.com and sent them to our children, because now we have all of them hooked on reading them. It has been fascinating to read of this ancient legend and the sources that testify to its truth. My mother would be so pleased that we are studying the history of England, the land that she loved so much. We have truly learned to love this land and the people here.This week is Thanksgiving at home. We are preparing an American Thanksgiving for all of my English family on Saturday. We will think of all of you fondly this week and remember how thankful we are that we have had the privilege of associating with all of you through the years. You have truly blessed our lives for good. Have a great holiday week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Peace and solitude on the London Temple Site!

Walking the temple grounds

Storm clouds approaching

Night in the Visitor's Centre

Another week has come and gone. We are very busy and the days skip by quickly. The daylight hours are short here. It is dark by about 4:00 PM in the afternoon now. The leaves are quickly falling from the trees and winter is on its way. The Visitors' Centre is really busy most of the time. We have large groups on Fridays and Saturdays and on some evenings, most of the rest of the time it is small groups and individuals who come in for a tour and maybe a movie. The word is getting out there about the new facility so we are getting a good response from members and nonmembers alike. The Christmas lights go on here the first of December so we have four big open houses planned for December. We have a media open house on Dec. 10, a clergy tour on Dec. 11, a government leaders open house on Dec. 17, and a business leaders open house on Dec. 18 so we will be busy. We hope to see lots of response for these, but we shall see. I am busy sending out invitations and getting articles in newspapers, etc.

I thought I would tell you about a couple of the neat experiences we have had in the Centre in the last few weeks. A gentleman came into the Visitors' Centre on the third Saturday that we were open and said, " You probably never hear the end of a lot of stories of people that come in here and are sincerely affected by this place. I am here to tell you the end of one of those stories. I brought a young woman in the very first Saturday that you were open and you showed her the Christus Statue and played the message and she spent considerable time looking at the other displays in here. As we left that Saturday, she began to cry because she had felt the Spirit so strongly. I'm here to tell you that because of the experience she had here, she is being baptized today and I have the pleasure of performing the baptism."

The Centre was recently dedicated by President Robert C. Oaks, the President of the Europeon Area. The day before the dedication we had four people come in who have lived in the area of the temple for about 40 years. They said that they had always felt that nonmembers were not welcome here, but recently they had read that the public was cordially invited to the new Visitors' Centre here so they decided to come. We played the Christus message for them and explained our belief in the Savior. They then spent considerable time looking at the temple kiosk, the family kiosk, the prophet kiosk, and finally the Book of Mormon kiosk. One lady in the party then picked up a Book of Mormon and began to read it. The rest of them went into the cinema to view "Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration". When the movie ended, they ordered a Book of Mormon to be delivered to their home and one of the men said to me," I have always heard that Mormons are not Christian, but now I know the true story."

It is exciting to see the message getting out there that these grounds are not locked and private, but are open for everyone to enjoy. If we have accomplished that one thing in our time here we will have been successful.

We hope you are all well and happy. I'm sure that you are all getting ready for Thanksgiving and the excitement of having family near. We will miss most of our family, but are so excited to have Brooke, our daughter, her husband, Ben, and their two little girls, Emma and Ady, here with us. We will be having a huge American Thanksgiving feast with all of my cousins up in Lechlade-on-Thames. It should be a great celebration.

Hope you have a great week. We love hearing from each of you and love the impact that you have on our lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day, or Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day in England!

Ken and Barbara at war museum

We are well here and very busy. We had our Dedication Ceremony on Saturday with President Oaks, of the European Area Presidency, here to do the dedication. He did a marvelous job. There were lots and lots of people here for both the ceremony and to visit the Centre on that day so we were very busy. Everyone is so excited to have this Visitors' Centre. It is the only one in Europe so we are very blessed to be able to be part of it.

The last two or three weeks have been filled with many patriotic moments as we lead up to Veterans Day/Remembrance Day/ or Armistice Day as it is called over here. I have been very impressed with the way they honor their veterans over here. They feel so strongly about the way that this nation has been preserved through the years because of many, many brave men and women who have fought for their freedom. They had a special meeting at church on Sunday. The Bishop was one of the speakers and he spoke of the significance of this day to English people. He said that over 11 million people were killed during World War I and over 59 million were killed during World War II. Everyone at church and all over the town is wearing the poppy pin. They have been wearing them for 2-3 weeks now. The Bishop talked about the significance of that poppy symbol. He told about Belgium during all of the fighting in that area during World War I. He said that because of all of the men walking around, fighting, pulling cannons, etc. it stirred up the soil so that the next spring all of the dormant seeds in the earth came to life and the whole country was covered with Red Poppys. Hence, the poppy has become a symbol of those historic battles and the brave men who fought and lost their lives there.

He then told a very touching story about the Gospel and how it affects lives for good, no matter what ethnicity we might be. He told this story of World War II:
There was an LDS family that was very active in the underground in the Netherlands. They would rescue both British and American pilots who were shot down and harbor them in their attic until they could be safely returned to England via the underground. One Sunday morning, they had a British pilot and an American pilot in their attic hiding there. The British pilot happened to be LDS. He asked if they could hold a Sacrament Meeting service that day in the home. They were just about to begin when there was a knock on the door. The mother of the family went with trepidation down the stairs to the front door. Standing in the doorway were two German soldiers. She invited them in with much fear and forboding, but much to her surprise, they said that they too were LDS and asked if they could take part in any LDS church services that she might be holding that day. She took them up the stairs and introduced them to the British and American pilots. One of the German soldiers and the British pilot sat side by side and blessed the sacrament. They held the service, afterwhich the two German soldiers left, never to be heard of again. They never let on about the two pilots that were hiding there. The two pilots were later returned to England and safety. To all of us, this story teaches a great lesson. "Serving God is the most important thing we do!"

Being over here has made me really appreciate all of those great men who have served to keep the world free through the years. My Grandfather Sharpe (British Army Major during World War I and World War II), my dad, Clarence Theobald (US Air Army-Air Force during World War II), and Kenneth (US Army during the Vietnam War) are all heroes to me. Kenneth and I both have several uncles and cousins that served in the Armed Forces during those wars. They sacrificed much so that we can be free. What a great experience it has been to be here and see the appreciation afforded our veterans. We need to do more of that in the great US of A, the greatest nation on earth!

Well, another busy week is beginning. It is beautiful here today. We are even seeing the sun for the first time in several days. It has been pouring with rain for it seems like forever. The leaves are beautiful though and fall is truly in the air.

We are looking forward so much to our daughter, Brooke, and her family who are coming over to visit us for a couple of weeks. They will be here on November 24 and will be here for two weeks. We are so excited to see that sweet new baby, Emma, and of course sweet little Ady. We are having a real American Thanksgiving Dinner with all of my English cousins while Brooke's family is here. It should be great. Hope you all have a great week.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Canterbury Tales from Ken and Barbara

The cloisters at Canterbury

Ken in front of Canterbury Cathedral

This has been another busy week in the Visitors' Centre. We had 200 visitors on Saturday so it was very hectic. The Centre is open from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM on Saturdays and it is crazy all day long. Everyone is so thrilled with the new Centre and particularly the Christus Statue so everyone is stopping in to see it. Even the taxi drivers bringing people in from the train stations close by are telling people that they just have to go to the new Visitors' Centre and see that beautiful statue of Christ and they aren't even members! It is exciting to see so many people bringing family and friends to come and view this beautiful facility and to see one of the many films that are available here. Our dedication is on Saturday. We will have President Oaks, the president of the Europeon Area headquartered in Germany, here to dedicate the Centre. It will be a big day for us.

Every Monday
, the temple workers take an excursion somewhere historic or interesting. Today, they went to see Canterbury Cathedral in the county of Kent. Canterbury Cathedral is the headquarters of the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury lives here. He is similar to the Pope in Rome. We decided to go along. It is especially interesting to me because a distant relative, Archbishop Theobald, was the head of the Church, which was then the Roman Catholic Church, in the 1100's. He was the Archbishop just before Thomas Becket whom you have probably all heard of because he was murdered inside Canterbury Cathedral in the late 1100's by King Henry II's knights. In AD 597 missionaries from Rome converted the king of Kent to Christianity. Augustine, the leader of the mission from Rome, was consecrated as the first Archbishop and his cathedral was established at Canterbury. The Cathedral was the site of the Roman Catholic Church until the 1500's when King Henry VIII seized most of the Catholic Cathedrals and converted them into cathedrals for his new church, The Church of England. If you remember your history lessons, King Henry VIII wanted a divorce from his first wife, Kathryn of Aragon, so that he could marry Anne Bolelyn. The Catholic Church would not allow him to divorce, so he created his own church that would do as he asked. Archbishop Theobald was a very powerful man and in his time even the Kings and Queens paid homage and took orders from him. Many of the Archbishops are buried in fancy crypts inside and below the church. The architecture is beautiful and the stained glass windows are beyond description. There is constant restorative work going on to keep the cathedral and the old Roman walls built in 250 AD in good repair. The walls built by the Romans are huge and they surround all of the old city. The Romans ruled England for about 500 years and many parts of the country still have ruins left by the Romans and others that invaded and ruled here for a time. In St. Albans, a community just north of London, my cousin, Ian Sharpe, goes out hunting Roman artifacts and has boxes and boxes of coins, buttons, small tools, and weapons that he has found in the areas of old Roman forts.

Well, so much for your history lesson for the day. I didn't mean to go into so much detail, but the history is fascinating to both of us, so we really do enjoy these excursions and all of the old ruins and buildings that are everywhere here. The English are all about protecting their history and heritage.

We are both well and happy here. We keep busy and that is how we like it. We think of you often and have sweet memories of all of the good people we have known and loved through the years. We enjoy hearing from you.

We just had a new addition to the family this week. Our son, Brian, and his wife, Lacy, just had a little girl named Alli J.. She was born on Saturday, November 1, and she weighed in at 7 lb. 13 oz. We have been able to see her on Skype. I will be anxious for the day when we can see her and hold her in real life. This new little one makes an even dozen grandchildren for us. They are all wonderful!!! Take care and have a good week.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The transportation system in England!!!

Pears soap of London Temple fame

Ken and Brother Hobbs at the Bluebell Railway

Barbara and the old engine

We are keeping very busy these days at the new Visitors' Center. Lots and lots of people show up every day, the majority on weekends, and everyone is so thrilled with the new center. It has brought about a lot of renewed energy to bring investigators, family, and friends to the Temple and the area to visit. The big dedication is coming up on Saturday, November 8, at 10:00 pm. We are in the process of helping to plan that and get everything up and ready to go. Elder Oaks from the Seventy and the President of the Europe Area will be here to dedicate it. It is very exciting. Right after that they will be putting Moroni up on the top of the steeple at the temple so that will be another exciting day.

We were instructed to begin immediately to get our drivers licenses as soon as we moved out here. We now both have our provisional licenses. Those cost us $200. The next test is the Hazard Perception Test and Theory Test and last of all is the actual driving test. We have a computer disk to help us get ready for the tests. We decided that whoever got the highest scores on the practice tests would go on and take the 2 final tests because the final two tests would cost us $200 each. So far, I have had the highest scores so it looks like it is my responsibility to get my license. We have to have it by the middle of January in order to keep driving on the English roads.

Oh, it is quite an adventure to drive here. It is not the fact that they drive on the opposite side of the road that is the hardest part. It is the narrow roads, cars parked all over the road in inopportune places, stop lights in weird places, roundabouts of every size and description everywhere you go, ten times as many cars as is safe on these narrow little roads, motorcycles passing you on every side, people riding horses up the middle of the roads, and bicycles coming and going everywhere. Then, the most exciting part is that Kenneth is the person who tells me where to go (literally). He reads the maps and flinches everytime I go into a roundabout or pass a stop light or any other little thing. My kids will be able to relate to this. The first few times we went out to practice, I came back with a terrific headache and shaking all over. Now, it has become easier. I just put cotton in my ears and drive. We get along a lot better that way.

There are so many wonderful sites close by here. There are many old castles, beautiful tree lined lanes, historic spots, etc. Last Monday, we went down to Winnie-the- Pooh land (where the author of Winnie-the-Pooh lived when he wrote the books) and rode the Bluebell Railway. It is an old train that has been restored. The stations are all restored to look like they did back in the early 1900's and it was such a scenic route. We had a great time. A lot of the temple workers went on the trip. They go on a trip each Monday, which is their P Day. We don't go very often, but this was a good one.

We hope all is well with you. If you have any extra time, pray that Ken and I will survive this driving practice and I will be able to pass the test. 40 years is a long time to be married and get separated over getting an English Driver's License!!!

It is always good to hear from you. I have a St. George temperature icon on my computer and right now at 3:00 in the afternoon there, it says that it is 81 degrees. That sounds perfect. I always did love St. George in the fall.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Life at the London Temple Visitors' Centre

Ken in the Visitors Centre

The London Visitors Centre at night

Trees of every variety on the London Temple grounds

Our first week at the Visitors' Centre is over and it has been a very hectic one. We are putting in 12-14 hour days without any breaks at the moment. Lots and lots of people are thrilled about the new facility and the engineers here still haven't got the locks working on the doors so people are just wandering in and we have to be there to supervise. If they don't hurry up and get things fixed around here, we are going to be completely worn to a frazzle! We are happy here though and trying to work out the bugs as we go along. We are keeping a journal of some of the many great, spiritual things that happen here. I thought I would tell you about a few of the wonderful people we have met here. Of course, here in London we meet people of every nationality that you can imagine. We had a young father from India in last week. He lives in London and is a regular visitor to the temple here. He was telling me that there are many missionaries now in India, especially southern India. They have built many new chapels and the church is flourishing there. He said that his parents became acquainted with the church in New York City. They went back soon afterwards to India and there was an American businessman there who they became acquainted with that was holding church services in his home. At first there were only 3 people attending, but after 3 years when the man was getting ready to return to the US there were over 60 attending in Bombay. They now have a new chapel and a large congregation there. He was so excited to be a part of the Gospel. He even gave me his parent's addres in Mombai (the new name for Bombay) just in case that I might go on a mission there someday.

We also had a man from the Philippines in the other day. There are actually many members of the church here from the Philippines. He said that his family joined there when he was a child. His father always encouraged him to go on a mission when he turned 19, but he decided to go abroad to school instead. While he was away from the Philippines his father passed away. He said that he always felt that he had let his father down by not serving a mission. He said that he came to the London Temple and before he went on the session, he prayed that he would have an assurance that his father was with him while in the Celestial Room. As soon as he entered the Celestial Room, he said that a man he did not know came up to him and gave him a hug, a peculiar hug, that he had never seen anyone give except for his father. He felt that it was a sign that his father was there and was pleased with him and his life. By the time he finished his story, he was in tears and so was I. There are many people who have great faith and love to come to the temple to feel closer to Christ. This truly is a blessed spot in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle on busy London. You feel the spirit of peace and our Savior Jesus Christ here. What a blessing it is to be living here and be able to feel it every day.

We hope that all is well at home. We pray for you and love to hear your news and experiences. Take care and have a great week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall has arrived at the London Temple!

Reds, oranges, and golds - beautiful in the fall!

The Christus Statue at the London Temple Visitors Centre

Well, here we are again. Another week has rolled around. We have now been living on the temple grounds for a month. The Visitors' Centre is up and running and we have had huge crowds for the first three days of our opening. On Saturday, we had 5 Stakes here for their Stake Temple Day so it was a mad house and we had people steadily from 8 am until 5 pm. On Sunday, we held an Open House for all of the Temple Workers. It was very nice and everyone was very impressed. Last night, we held Family Home Evening for a group of about 35 people. We all watched the movie "Joseph Smith- Prophet of the Restoration". If you haven't seen it, you should. It is marvelous! Today, we are working on invitations for our next few open houses scheduled all throughout October, November, and December. It is really quite exciting.

I have told you that I have been using new.familysearch.org over here and it has been marvelous because we have been able to do lots of temple work for our families. I was feeling quite good about all that we were accomplishing and I was just plowing right through our direct lines of ancestors on my mom's side. Then, one day, I got an email from our son, Brice, and he began to tell me about the Theobald line (my dad's family) that came from the Isle of Wight just off the southern coast of England. We actually went there to visit while Brice, Nicole and the kids were over here in May. The Isle of Wight is where William Theobald lived before he joined the church in the 1850's. There is an old church there called "All Saints Church". We went there and found over 20 gravestones of our relatives in May. Brice tells me that he has been doing some research on that old church and the church itself was built during Saxon times. It was present during the British "Doomesday Survey" of 1086 AD and could have been present up to 300 years prior to that survey. That would place the origins of that church in the 8th Century potentially. That cemetery is the largest cemetery on the Isle of Wight. There are over 4500 people entombed there. It makes it even more amazing that we were able to find our Theobald/Dore/Smith relatives in that huge cemetery.

And then he went on to ask, " Have you been doing any family history work on the family on the Isle of Wight side?" I suddenly realized that the lines where I just assumed that all of the genealogy had been done are badly in need of more current work being done. Much of the Theobald work was done in the 1880's and beyond, but not much has been done since that time. I am finding now all sorts of people who were left out, so I am renewing my efforts on all of the family lines and not just on my mom's side so much.

Behind all of this genealogy work there is such a human story that underlies it all, things that we quite often never think about. It must have been so difficult for many of our ancestors to join the church because many of them had family members that disagreed and often disinherited them. To give you an example" My great-great grandfather William Theobald was from a very wealthy family (the Dores) who were probably the most well-known and well placed family on the island. He joined the church, along with his first wife, Martha Lane, and came to the states in the 1850's. In 1872, he returned home to visit family and friends on the Isle of Wight and to hopefully convert some of them. In his history, he only mentions that he was able to see one older sister, Mary, and some old friends, even though at least 3 of his siblings were still alive as well as his mother and father in law, plus many of his deceased wife's siblings. No one on either
side of the family ever joined the church or even greeted him, it seems, when he returned to England to visit. I can just imagine how difficult that must have been for him. Many sacrifices were made by many people in our families to join the church and establish it in the West. I feel now even more how difficult it must have been for my mom to join with most family members really against her decision. No wonder it took her almost 10 years after she met and married my dad before she made that big decision. I think it will be fascinating one day to meet and talk to our ancestors and be able to hear all of the details of their life stories that are often left out of their written life histories.

We are fine here and enjoying our daily 4 mile walks around the temple grounds. The colors or the leaves are so beautiful and the weather is just perfect for walking. That walking is a stress reliever for us both and we enjoy it a lot. We hope you are all well and happy and enjoying the beautiful fall weather in that part of the world. We love hearing from you. Keep us posted on your news. Our thoughts and prayers are with those of you who are struggling with illness or other challenges at this time. I keep the prayer rolls really full at the temple here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Beautiful Surrey in the Green, Green English Isle!

Approaching Bodian Castle

Beautiful Old Bodian Castle

We are still here and getting closer and closer every day to having things up and running here at the London Temple Visitors' Centre. . The backdrop behind the Christus statue is beautiful. Actually, Russ Rasmussen, the head man from SLC here putting the Visitor Centre together said that finding the right man to paint the mural was the first miracle that happened here. He was looking for a muralist to paint the wall behind the Christus after the mural from SLC got ruined. He found one in the yellow pages and contracted with him to do the mural. The man said that he had been praying for work just before he got the phone call from here. Russ told him that he'd have to be careful what he prayed for when the Mormons were close by. He did such a marvelous job that Russ asked him to come to the USA and paint a mural in the newly refurbished Los Angeles Visitors' Centre. We should be up and running by Friday or Saturday. We have a bunch of people scheduled to come on Saturday so we certainly hope that we are ready!!!

We do have a little down time right now as we are writing letters and coming up with policies, etc, to run this place. Last Monday, our friends, the Perrys came down and we went about an hours drive away from here down into Kent. There we went to Bodian Castle. It is so amazingly beautiful. It is a massive stone fortress surrounded by a huge moat. The castle was actually built by a nobleman back in the 1300's. He worked for years building the castle and then fortifying it from enemy attack. Not too long after the castle was finished he was sent off to France to fight in the war that was going on there and he was killed. The castle passed through many hands through the years. It was attacked and the inside pretty much gutted during the English Civil War in the 1600's. Later, it was bought by a wealthy man who donated it to the National Trust so that it could be preserved. It is a wonderful place to visit. When you think of a traditional old English castle, this is exactly the picture that you paint in your mind. We climbed to the top of the turrets where they had old toilets. They were a seat built into the outside wall of the castle with a hole that made it so that whatever went into the hole actually fell all of the way to the moat. You can just imagine how those moats must have smelled on a hot-humid night in the summer time.

I was able to get registered for the New Family Search Program that is now up and running here in London so that I could work more easily on genealogy. The program is so wonderful. I have found over 100 names of people on all sides of our genealogy who have not had all of their temple work completed and I have only just begun. We have been able to do some of the work here at the London Temple. We actually did over 50 sealings on Friday here. I have also sent names to my sister, Carol, our daughter, Brenda, and our son, Britt, to do some of the work. It has been so much fun. I love going through all of the names, dates, and locations and learning a little more about my family and Kenneth's, too. They say that Utah will not come on line for a few more months. Be prepared to be amazed when it finally comes to you. It is going to be a great tool in clearing up all of the duplicate dates, names, etc. that have collected through the
years. For the past 9 1/2 months I have been working on my mom's genealogy, but now it is easy and quick to work on all sides of our genealogy.

Well, I had best go. We were really pleased to be able to see all of the sessions of conference. We watched most of them here in the Mission President's Office, but on Sunday we went down to our old stake at Wandsworth and watched the sessions there with many of our old friends from the Mitcham Ward. We had a great time there. It was fun to see everyone again. All of the sessions are 7 hours behind us, so we finished the Sunday afternoon session at 11:00 pm last night. We thought the talks were wonderful and the spirit was strong. We were particularly pleased about the announcement of the five new temples. Have you wondered just which of the historic sites near Kansas City might be the place that the temple will be built? Could it be Independence, Far West, Adam - Ondi - Ahmand, or will it be somewhere completely different? We've had fun spectualating on it here.

Well, hope all is well there. We love you and think of you often.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hello again from the London Temple!

Kenneth standing by the pond outside the London Temple


Life is still good here but things are not progressing very quickly at least not quick enough for me. The workers from Salt Lake City are here putting everything together over at the Visitors' Centre. All of the displays are interactive so there are huge bundles of wires going everywhere. The cinema is being set up with a great number of possible movie selections on the server so just a touch will turn the right one on. We hope it won't be too technical so that even dummies can run the technical video and audio equipment.

The men who came in to hang the mural behind the Christus statue did a very poor job and there are big wrinkles in the mural so it is going to be torn down and they have a hired a muralist from here in London to recreate the mural and paint it directly onto the wall. We hear that his name is Michael and we are hoping that his last name is Angelo. Maybe then we will get a good job done!!!

We have been furiously practicing driving, working on correspondence to go out to everyone in the world in the England South Area, and going over all of the details that have to be worked out to have his Visitors' Centre up and running we hope by next week. It has been a very interesting experience and also quite a learning one, as well.

Every day we go out and walk the 32 acres of ground. We do two laps in the morning and two at night. We figure that those four laps are about 4 1/2 miles. It is so beautiful. It is almost as good as hiking around in the beauty of Pine Valley!!! It is nice to be doing some pleasurable walking instead of just running for buses, trains, trams, subways, etc like we were doing when we were in London. Just outside the temple fence is a large wooded area where quite often we see deer, etc. Also, there is a racetrack and a large piece of ground that used to belong to Winston Churchill just through the fence. This temple site once belonged to the Pears family who had made their fortune making soap. They sold the manor house and the property to a family named Rudd from America. He later got himself into financial trouble and had to sell most of the estate. The Newchapel Manor House was put up for auction in May 1924 and the stud complex was
purchased by Winston Churchill and later became known as the Churchill Stud. In the Daily Herald, this article appeared in 1958, "I heard last night of a strange deal between Sir Winston Churchill and the Mormons. Under a gentleman's agreement he is paying them rent to graze his racehorses and use the stables adjoining the new Mormon Temple. The Mormons bought the Newchapel Manor House, formerly the home of the Pears (soap) family and the 32 acres of surrounding land for 21,000 pounds in 1953. " Winston Churchill's home called Chartwell House is right near here also. We have not been there yet, but hear that it is truly something to see. We shall try to go by there soon.

We are thoroughly enjoying learning more about this part of England. We live in the County of Surrey, right near Kent. The borough of Kent is where the Jackson family came from (my dad's mom's family) It is just so gorgeous. There are many large stately homes here and lots of castles. We drove over the Hever Castle yesterday. It was once owned by Henry VIII's wife Anne Bolyne, who he beheaded. After he had her killed, he kept the castle and later gave it to his new wife Anne of Cleves when he divorced her. Quite a nice quy, huh!!!The roads are very narrow here and the trees grow over the roads so it is like you are driving inside a beautiful green tunnel. in lots of places. The scenery is just spectacular. When you think of England with the small, green country lanes, this is it.

We are having a real adventure here. I even got signed up on the New Family Search so I am able now to do more genealogy work faster and simpler.

We hope you are all well and happy. We think of you often and how you have touched our lives for good. We value all of the friendships and relationships that we have had with you all through the years. Have a great week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Exciting news from London! The Christus Statue arrived yesterday!

The David O. McKay tree


The entry gate at the London Temple

Lifting the crate off the Lorry


This has been quite a week. We have finally completed our move out to the London Temple Grounds. It is a beautiful place, so serene and peaceful. We enjoy walking around the perimeter of the grounds (about 32 acres) every night. The grounds are a combination of beautifully manicured grounds right around the temple to a more natural landscape further out away from the temple. There are massive trees, bushes of every description, gorgeous flowers, shimmering ponds with little bridges over them, and wildlife running through the undergrowth everywhere. We saw three small deer when we were out walking the other night. What a contrast to London where we have been living for the past 9 months. There was nothing peaceful there. It is truly a city that never sleeps. There are constant sirens and traffic all night long.

We do miss all of our friends that we had learned to love, but I think the change will be good for us. We are learning to drive now. We go out practicing almost everyday. The hardest thing so far has been not driving too far to the left. We often forget that there is a whole car's width on the left hand side of the steering wheel. It is actually easier to drive than I thought it would be. We have to have at least one driver's license within the next 4 months. Our American licenses are good for one year over here so by the middle of January we need an English driver's license. We'll see who can pass!!!

The Christus statue and all of the displays and sound equipment for the Visitors' Center arrived yesterday from the USA by boat. It sat in customs for almost a week before they would release it. We were so excited when it showed up yesterday. I have sent a picture of the large container filled with everything to set up the Visitors'Center just right. It was quite the occasion here. Everyone was out there to see the delivery and unpacking. The Christus is beautiful. The statue of Christ is about 8 feet tall and will have a gorgeous blue sky background behind it and that will look out of huge windows facing the lit temple. It should be quite stunning. We are hoping to be trained this week and be up and running by sometime next week.

Right now we are writing letters to invite everyone out to tour the Visitors' Center from all walks of life both church members and others alike. We hope to make it a real destination for everyone to come to and learn about Christ. There is a lot to be done before we open up. We had our first group of Scouts yesterday, even before the building is finished. We had a good tour of the grounds and watched the Restoration DVD with them. It was fun to be working with children again.

We are almost at our half way mark. We are still trying to decide what to do to celebrate. Kenneth doesn't like any of my ideas so we shall see. Our boys said that we should burn something, but we haven't got enough room here to have a bonfire, so maybe we'll just burn some toast!!! Boy, does this big building smell when someone burns toast in here.
We hope all is well with you. Sounds like you are having some cooler weather now which I'm sure you are enjoying. It is truly fall here. There are red, yellow, and gold leaves all over the trees and some are even beginning to fall to the grounds. It is very beautiful. We are having a glorious Indian Summer or whatever you call it over here. Take care and keep us updated on your news.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Goodbye to Morden! Hello to NewChapel, Surrey!

Our last trip carrying groceries home!

St. Helier's Avenue - waiting to catch the bus!

Well, it has been quite a whirlwind of a week. We knew that we were going to be moving to the temple soon, but we did not know when so we were told not to tell anyone in the ward in Mitcham until we knew for sure. On Friday night, the 12 of September, we were having a dinner party with some members of our Stake and the phone rang, telling us that we would be moving early on Monday morning. We had to do some quick scrambling to get addresses changed, people called, our ward notified, our landlord notified, etc. On Sunday, we were called upon to speak to the ward and many tears were shed. They then held a munch and mingle lunch for us after the block and gave us gifts and many hugs. We will miss the good people that we have grown to love there. Luckily, many of them will come to the temple regularly so we will be able to see them. On Monday morning very early we made one last quick trip to Morden to get a few
groceries and then the move began.

Our flat here at the temple is in the accommodations building where most of the temple workers, office workers, groundskeepers, janitors, etc. live. It is nice and new, but very small. We have a nice large kitchen and bathroom, but our bedroom and living area is very tight. I'm sure that we won't be spending much time in here, so that will be good. The surroundings here are beautiful. The London Temple is really not in London. It is in the Burrough of Surrey which is south east of London and is about a 45 minute drive from the southern part of London where we lived in Morden.

We have been treated to many different ethnic foods by the members of our ward since we have been here, our ward members are mostly from Africa and Asia. We have eaten roast tongue (from Zambia), foo-foo, a mixture of stiff plantane and peanut soup (from Ghana), jolif rice (from Ghana), potato casserole (from Zimbabwe), traditional foods from Thailand, Spain, France, England, and even a little American food. Everyone loves the American desserts so we make lots of those for everyone who stops by. Life will be different here. Our kitchen table here is about 2 feet by 2 feet so we will be limited on how many people we can feed. Maybe our food bill will go down a little. We will be attending the East Grinstead Ward here at least for a little while. It will be mostly white English people that attend there, so it will be a different experience for us. We may not stay in that ward, but we shall see.

Our job here will be very different from what we have experienced in Morden/Mitcham Ward. We will mostly be organizing, training, and learning how to run a Visitor's Center. Hopefully, it will open up in about 3 weeks. So far the Christus is tied up in customs, so it has not arrived here yet. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of all of the equipment and displays this week. We will see how that all goes.

Our challenge now is to get our English driver's licenses. We have been able to drive here for one year, but our year will be up in January so we have to have at least one official driver's license by then. We are trying to decide who has the best chance to pass the tests. So far we each have received one vote. I'm not sure who will win!!! The temple is a long way from anywhere so there are no buses really close by. WE will have to drive in order to be able to get anywhere. There is a train stop about 2 and 1/2 miles away in Lingfield, but we will have to get that far by car. The race is on now to be ready by January.

We hope all is well with all of you. It is good to hear from you and know a little about life back in the good old USA! We miss you and pray for you often. Thanks for the influence you have on our lives.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New location and new assignment for this couple missionary in London, England!

Elizabeth Sintim-Aboayge and Sister Beckstrom at the Temple

Ken outside the London Temple

Mitcham Ward Elders August 2008

We have had a very busy, exciting week. We were able to go to the Family History Center in Hyde Park in uptown London and finish enough geneology that 37 more people on my mom's line can now have their temple work completed. We are sending those cards to our children so that those can be completed at the St. George Temple. Sheila, if you would like to do some of those ordinances, just contact Brenda about that. It has been so exciting for me to be able to do this work here in the home country. What a blessing that has been!

On Tuesday, we attended a Zone Meeting and received a call from our Mission President Jeffrey Swinton to have our assignment changed to be the directors of the new London Temple Visitors Center. 2008 is the 50th anniversary year of the opening of the London Temple. As part of that celebration, the visitors center has been refurbished and will have its grand opening on Oct 9-10. We will be moving down to the Temple Site as soon as possible, probably in the next couple of weeks, and living in the housing provided by the Church there. We will immediately set to work lining up tour groups, Stake and ward groups, school field trips, etc. to tour the visitors center and learn of the history of the Church in the British Isles. The goal is to make this visitor's center a destination for people traveling in the London, England area. We have our work cut out for us, but we are really excited for the change. They say that "A change is as good as a rest!" so we will set to work soon doing a different assignment, but serving the same purpose here.

On the 17th of April in 1952 President David O. MacKay authorized a search for two temple sites in Europe, one in Great Britain and one in Switzerland. Two or three sites were selected in the London area, with the most attractive site being just on the fringe of Wimbledon in South London. They began negotiations on that site, but suddenly a 32 acre site in Newchapel became available. As soon as Pres. McKay saw the Newchapel site, he loved it and in June 1953 they purchased the property here. He recorded in his journal after the dedication of this beautiful site that his goal was to "bring the temple to the people."

Pres. McKay and the Church Architect spent some time deciding on the best spot on the property to build the temple. The site they selected was partially covered with a lily pond. The engineers feared that the marshy ground would prove unsuitable for the foundations of the temple, but Pres. McKay insisted that this was the place. Further studies were completed and they discovered that a natural solid shale platform under the ponds was exactly at the correct depth to support the temple. One of the engineers commented, "You could build the city of London on that site." The temple was constructed on that site and dedicated in 1958.

It is a beautiful, peaceful place not far from the busy center of London. We look forward to working there for the next 9 months and having an opportunity to get the Visitor's Center up and running smoothly.

It will be hard to leave the Mitcham Ward and all of the people that we have learned to love here. We will also miss the opportunity of working with the great young Elders. They are an asset to the Church and a living tribute to the influence of good families that support them back at home. We love them all. They are all so different and some are easier to love than others, but they all win your heart over eventually.

We hope you are all well and happy. Summer is almost over with and the beautiful fall season in St. George and the surrounding area will soon begin. We love that time of the year.

We love you all and enjoy hearing your news from home.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Missionary Work in London - Then and now

Bowl Court area in London

Graves outside St. Lukes

Telephone boxes still in use in London

We are still staying very busy here. It is starting to feel like fall and the leaves on the trees are even starting to turn. It is unbelievable. In June it was getting light at about 3:30 AM and was still light at 9:30 PM at night. Now, as fall is approaching, we have lost about 4 hours of daylight already. By winter, it will be dark by 3:30 in the afternoon. Sometimes we forget how close to the Arctic Circle we are here because the weather is pretty mild with the Gulf Streams around this island. The darkness can be pretty depressing!

Last night we attended and participated in a Stake Missionary Fireside. Part of the presentations were on the beginnings of the church here in London, so I thought I would tell you a little more about that and send a few more pictures of the historic spots here.

The first missionaries here were Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruf and George A. Smith. They first came to London in 1840. They met a man by the name of Henry Connor. He lived right next to St. Luke's church at 51 Ironmonger Road. St. Luke's Church is still standing and I have sent you a picture of that building. It is a beautiful old white church and later the missionaries rented a flat across the street from the church where the missionaries lived for the next 2 and 1/2 years here in London. That building is no longer there either. Mr. Connor later became the first person baptized here in London. While living in this building on Ironmonger Road, Wilford Woodruff had an experience similar to the one that the first missionaries in Preston, England had in 1837. He described the experience as follows:

"We retired to rest in good season and I felt well in my mind and slept until 12 at night. I awoke and meditated upon the things of God until near 3 o'clock and while forming a determination to warn the people of London and overcome the powers of darkness by the assistance of God, a person appeared unto me which I considered was the Prince of Darkness or the Devil. He made war with me and attempted to take my life. He caught me by the throat and choked me nearly to death. He wounded me in my forehead. I also wounded him in a number of places in the head. As he was about to overcome me, I prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ for help. I then had power over him and he left me, though much wounded. Three personages dressed in white came to me and prayed with me and I was immediately healed and delivered from all my troubles."

I think the Devil worked very hard then and still does today to try and stop growth and progress of the Church in this huge city.

The first indoor preaching was done on the 6th of September at a Methodist School at 137 Bowl Court. All three apostles preached there that day. We tried to find that building. Most of that area is pretty depressed and they are in the process of tearing down many of the buildings. We did find this old bridge that was in the middle of Bowl Court. I have sent a picture of that area of London. Just a half a block down the street is a massive Redevelopment District with very modern buildings so all remains of the Bowl Court Area will probably disappear soon.

London is a mix of modern and very old architecture. It truly is a beautiful city, especially at night. All of the buildings are lit and it is gorgeous with all of the bridges crossing the Thames fully lit also. It is amazing to see all of these historic places that you have heard about your whole life. What an experience we are having!!!

We have many opportunities to serve and meet members, former members, inactive members, etc. We are involved in many teaching opportunities right now, which we really enjoy. Missionary moves were just this past week and two of our missionaries have moved that we have learned to truly appreciate and love. I am still holding fast to my promise to our son, Brian, that I must not cry when they get transferred. It is hard because you truly learn to love them as you serve alongside them for many months at a time.

We hope all is well there. This is an exciting time of the year back at home. Fall has finally come and with it all of the fall sports. We used to love all of the football games, etc. this time of year. Please enjoy for us! Take care and keep us posted on your latest news.