Monday, March 31, 2008

Glebes, Courts, Closes, Round abouts, Lanes, Places, and Ways

I thought I would tell you a little about getting around in Jolly Old London. London was definitely not designed by Brigham Young. The road are organized, I think, according to cow paths back hundreds of years ago. Someone said to us, " You won't get lost if you think of London as a onion and the roads are organized like the rings of an onion." That hasn't helped me though. I still get lost, turned around, and thoroughly mixed up. Kenneth spends countless hours reading maps. It has become his new religion. There is a road map, an A-Z map, a tube map, a bus map, a train map, a tram map, a ward map, etc. He does a pretty good job and only occasionally does he get lost. Sometimes we get wandering around in some areas that look like ghettos to me. I have put a stop to any thought Kenneth has of going to those places at night. Even the mission president says that people who live in the Mitcham area should not be out
wandering around at night. We spend most of our waking hours at the church anyway. We are still working hard to get it looking and smelling right so work is progressing there.
We have attended several great mission conferences recently. A couple of weeks ago we went to Reading to listen to Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy speak to us. Reading is a special place to me. That is where my grandparents lived when I came to England as a young child, where my parents were married in 1944, and where my sister, Carol, was born. There is a very impressive, large stake now in Reading and it has one of the strongest Mormon populations in England.
Elder Johnson was a great speaker. He said some really interesting things that I thought I would share with you. Some of the tidbits from his talk were these: Teach what you feel and feel what you teach. Great conversion comes heart to heart, not intellect to intellect. When we take the credit we lose the spirit. We should seek gifts of the spirit to bless others lives, not our life. Information does not bring conversion, revelation does. And finally, Pres. Packer said,"If you're wrestling to recognize revelation, you're on course." The Lord is really with us here in England. We feel his spirit strongly and I feel like he really directs us in all of our endeavors here. Some of the ideas that have come to us of work we should do here have come directly from inspiration. I will tell you just one quick story to give you an example of the spirit that is here in the mission field. "One day, we went down to the London Temple to do a couple of sessions. While we were there I was looking at the beautiful art work on the walls and thinkiing about the beauty of each individual temple. We returned home by train late in the day and we went to bed about 11 o clock. I was sound asleep when about 4 AM a voice woke me up. It distinctly told me to go down to the church and hang up the paintings of Christ that were sitting on the floor in the Bishop's Office. As soon as morning arrived, I told Kenneth that we needed to go to the church to hang up the paintings of Christ in the hallways and classrooms. He said that we had other things to do, but I persuaded him that if someone was going to speak to me and tell me to do that errand, I was positively going to do it. We went down and hung those up. There were about 8 of them. We have now ordered 19 more and are in the process of framing and hanging them. The church house now looks like it belongs to Jesus Christ and I think we can feel His Spirit there more abundantly. I know my Father lives and that he directs this work. He loves each of us and knows our strengths and weaknesses. We can truly feel that spirit as we work here in London.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Our Trip to Reading

I thought you might be interested to see some pictures of our trip to Reading last week. We went there to a Mission Conference where Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy spoke. It was a great meeting. The Stake there in Reading is very strong. The building is beautiful and very new and well kept. Reading is a large city now. I met some members from there. They said that they have several families from there who are very active with the last name of Mills. It would be fun to find out if they are Mom's cousins. I plan to get back up there to see Grandma and Grandpa's house at 91 Christchurch Road, the church where Mom and Dad were married, and the nursing home where Carol was born. I understand that those three things are only about a 15 minute walk from the train station. When Carol, Sheila, and David come over next March we will go there also. Some of the rest of you may want to see those things, too. I hope the pictures come
through of the train station in Reading and the Stake Center there. Have a great week.

Our Church in Mitcham

We have had a very busy week. We have been busy remodeling the library in the church here. This building, which I am including a picture of this week, was built in 1881. It used to be the mission office for years, but has been converted into a chapel and the mission office has been moved years ago down by the temple. It is in bad need of repairs. It is a very unique building as there are a million small rooms and doors and halls running everywhere. It is a very spooky place to be when the wind is blowing, because there are creaks and groans all over the place. Last week when we had our District Meeting there, the Elders were saying that this building would be the perfect place to play the game "Murder". There are so many places to hide. "Capture the Flag" or "Hide and Seek" would also be a hoot to play in there. Anyway, the library has been in a small hall like room on the top floor of the building. It was very
inaccessible and never used. Kenneth called it an archive. When we first explored the building looking at classrooms,etc, I saw the room on the 2nd floor that used to be the mission office and thought that it would be the perfect place for the library. It is large, light and airy, and has a built in glass window in the front of the room. I got up courage to approach the Bishop and asked him if we could move it there and reorganize it. He immediately said,"Yes." So we began to plan. I saw the perfect opportunity it the Perry's, our good friends here because he is builder from Prescott, Arizona. I asked for their help and because he is a man who likes projects just like I am a woman who likes projects, he agreed. He even went out and bought a power drill, hammers, screw drivers, etc. Last Monday, we packed up everything and had the missionaries help us haul everything down the stairs and then Kenneth and Steve Perry began to disassemble the
shelves and cupboards. We moved them with the help of the missionaries to the new room and reassembled them. It was remarkable because everything fit almost as if they were specially built for that room. I figure that the Lord inspired us in our work. Sis. Perry and I spent the next few days sorting through the supplies, discarding much of the old things, and reorganizing everything in the new room. It looks so good. I am now ordering some new supplies and getting ready to hold an open house so that everyone can learn how to use the library to help them in their teaching. It has been such a fun project. I am now looking for another one just like it. Actually, we still have to clean all the carpets, repaint, etc. before we are finished.
The kitchen has been cleaned, the cultural hall has been completely renovated, the janitor's closet has been organized and now this next week we will be hanging up about 18 painting that we have ordered. In between all of this we are working with several inactives and part member families so life is busy and productive.
We did spend one day this week at the family history library at Hyde Park. It is a wonderful spot. I was able to locate a few more of my mom's family members. It is so exciting to finally be doing some of the geneological work that she tried so hard to complete before she passed away in 1996.
We hope you are well and happy there. It sounds like the weather is wonderful at home. It is still cold here. It even snowed today. We told them that they have their holidays mixed up. They are supposed to have snow on Christmas and nice weather on Easter, but they just said that is the way things are here in
England. Oh well, someday spring will come here, too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Small black cabs and Large Red double-decker buses

It is still very cold and miserable here. Spring has not arrived yet as I hear it has done there. We are looking forward to the day that we see the sun for more than one hour a day. We are in the process of remodeling and moving the church library. We are moving it down one floor and completely redoing it. We have thrown at least one more dumpster of old, old, old things away and now we are starting to rebuild and reorder. We are still working on getting paintings hung up in the building. We have just ordered 19 more paintings so I will be busy getting those all rearranged and hung. I now have the nickname of Sister Rembrandt here in the mission!!!
I wanted to tell you a little about the transportation system here in London. There are little black cabs, red double decker buses everywhere, the trams, the trains, and the tube. We use a combination of these almost everyday. You can get anywhere with this system. It just takes a little while to get it done. The buses run past our stops about every 10- 15 minutes. We are constantly running to catch the bus or standing freezing to death waiting for one to come. If we want to go into London, we take the tube and the train as they go much faster than the buses or even a car. Our friends, the Perrys from Prescott, Arizona, have a car so sometimes we go into London with them. It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours to get there by car and only about 20 minutes by tube or train. The tram we use occasionally when we want to go shopping at Asda, which is WalMart's name for their strores over here. Well, this will be short this week as we are heading to the church to continue our rehabilitaion work on the library. I am including a picture of the local tube station here in Morden and the Perry's and their car.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Grocery Shopping in London!

Life is very busy, but very fulfilling. We have inherited a few new jobs so our days and nights are full. Sister Perry and I are working on the music for Stake Conference. We are trying to organize a choir and it is a challenge, because many people here have no idea what part singing in music is all about, but we are up to the challenge so we are willing to give it a shot. We are also working on the May Ball. As you can imagine, Kenneth is thrilled to be organizing a big dance. It might even mean that he will have to ATTEND IT! I am also helping to organize the Relief Society Birthday Party in a couple of weeks, so with Seminary, Choir, Ward Organist, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Bishopric, Ward Janitor, etc. we are out of our heads.
I wanted to explain to you a little bit about one of my favorite parts of London. It is Grocery Shopping. I have often wondered why English people shop for food pretty much every day. Well, now we know. First of all, the refrigerators are so small that you can only get a few groceries in at a time and second of all you have to carry all of your groceries home in bags or a rolling suitcase sometimes for several miles. It is a real treat. I have tried to talk Kenneth into taking one of our big suitcases to the grocery store to put our things in, but he refuses because it will embarass him, so we make up our list of must haves. It always includes ICE CREAM AND CHOCOLATE SAUCE. For the first few weeks we were here, we could not find chocolate sauce and it was almost the end of the world because every night Kenneth had to eat vanilla ice cream by itself with no chocolate sauce. So we head to the store and buy only what we have to have. Then we run
to catch the bus. (You either have to run for the bus every time or you stand and wait for it to come for 15-20 minutes.) You will all be awed to find out that I can now almost outrun Kenneth to the bus stops. I am really getting into shape. You climb onto the bus with hundreds of other shoppers loaded down with their bags. Sometimes you find a seat, but mostly you are standing and trying not to fall over with all of your loot. Then we get off the bus and proceed to carry our bags in our arms for about 1/2 a mile to our house and then the fun begins. You have to try to find a place in our TINY kitchen to put it all away. Then in a couple of days, it repeats itself again. What fun!
We have been busy with reactivation and becoming friendly with several part member families. We have high hopes for a couple of them. We are going to have Family Home Evening with one family this week and another one next week. Pray for our success because these are both great families.
We were able to go to downtown London on Thursday. We went to the Natural History Museum. I am attaching a picture of the huge Diplodicus Dinosaur skeleton that was in that wonderful museum. After the museum visit, we went to the Family History Center at the Hyde Park Chapel. The directors are Elder and Sister Snow from St. George. We had a great visit with them and then proceeded to do some searching for some of my mothers ancestors. I was so excited when we found some names on one line and were able to go back a couple of generations. It was great. I was so excited. Next time we go I will try and find some more.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A minute in the life of a missionary couple in England!

We have had a very busy week cleaning the church, doing service, attending meetings, and visiting part members. The church house is starting to look and smell better now and the members are starting to notice. Kenneth and Steve Perry fixed the leaking roof that has been leaking for over 2 years. That makes a huge difference. We have also been hanging up art work and vacuuming and cleaning. It is nice to feel like the Lord's Spirit can be more abundantly felt by everyone there now.
We also had a wonderful meeting with Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Presidency of the Seventy on Friday. I thought you all might be interested in a few of the things he had to say. He talked about the fast growth of the Church in many of the areas of the world. He said that last year in Brazil they had 47,000 converts. There are now 75 stakes in Mexico City itself. He also said that President Hinckley opened up the Philippines to missionary work in 1961 and now there are 700,000 members of the church there. He also stated that when they rededicated the San Paulo, Brazil Temple they had 60,000 members at the dedication. He told us that a favorite saying in missions in Europe is, " EVERYTIME WE KNOCK ON A DOOR IN EUROPE, THEY BAPTIZE SOMEONE IN MEXICO," so stick with the theme of missionary work, which is, " Work, Work, Do Your Duty! Read the Book of Mormon and Finish your mission with Honor!"
Having President Uchtdorf in the First Presidency will be a great thing for Europe. Internationally, the church's greatest days are ahead. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, " This church will cover all of North and South America. It will cover all of the World." There are missionaries in almost every country of the world now.
He answered questions from the missionaries and was so humble and sweet with them. I was so impressed. Our missionaries work so hard here. They are obedient and we are truly learning to love them, as well as feed them, administer medicines and advice to them, comfort them, and give them a warm spot when they need it. Right now we have missionaries from Sweden, Germany, England, and Spanish Fork, Utah that we work with here in our ward.
All in all, it was a great day. There were about 80 missionaries there and three senior couples.
We are well and happy and feel like we are doing exactly what the Lord would have us do. We pray for inspiration daily and can feel the prayers of many of you in our lives. Thanks for that blessing.
I am including a picture of the huge Art Gallery in downtown London that we went to a couple of weeks ago. It has paintings from most of the great masters, such as DaVinci, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, etc.