Monday, April 14, 2008

Ninty-Four Ethnic Groups in the Wadsworth Stake!

We are feeling great for a few hours here because the sun is actually shining. You never know for how long that will last, but we are enjoying it for now. It has been really rainy and cold for a few days, so we are praying for a little taste of spring. We even got in the mood and went out and bought us a little barbeque so that we can entertain all of our visitors, ward members, and the missionaries in our back garden. It is pretty primitive, but we think it will work and the food will taste good, just like home.
This is a very interesting area that we live in here in South Eastern London. We live in Morden, the church is in Mitcham, and we do most of our shopping in Sutton or Collier's Wood near Wimbledon. This area consists of about 1/2 million people. There are a few white English people around, but mostly other ethnic groups. A lot of the people in our ward are from Ghana, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Uganda, the Philippines, Iran, Guyana, Jamaica, etc. In our stake there are 94 different ethnic groups. It is a very diverse society here. Most people are here to get a good education, free health care, earn money to send home to their families, and to get ahead enough that they can sometime return home to their home country. Many of the people from Ghana are building homes there with the money that they earn here and will return there at some point in their lives if their country remains stable. Many of them have even left children or wives behind in order to come here and work or get an education. Most of the shops in Morden and Mitcham are owned and operated by people from India or Pakistan. They seem to be very industrious and work very long hours. They have a problem here in London that they call "White Flight". This means that most of the white English people move to the country as soon as they can afford to get out of London. There is a lot of petty crime in London and English people want a different life. That is considered to be a huge problem here.
The church grows slowly here. Many people in this area are difficult to teach, because they are not terribly committed or organized enough to keep their appointments. There are also many people not married to the person they are living with. People seem to be barely existing. Very few people here in London smile. They all act too stressed to be friendly or interested enough to talk to you or even say "hi". The missionaries work very hard and are so thrilled when we see success. We are planning a big open house called "The Mormon Experience" in a couple of weeks. We hope it will be a huge success. We are working hard to get the members to give us referrals. They are starting to get more involved so that is good.
We occasionally get out for a day to visit some of the old historic homes and castles in this part of England. They are so spectacular and the gardens are to die for. Of course, everything here grows without too much effort because of all the rain so it is unheard of to have to water or irrigate your garden. I am just getting ready to plant some tomato, lettuce, radish, and onion plants in some small planters in the back garden. We will see if they will grow!!! I am including a couple of pictures of an old historic home called Hampton Court that we visited. It is not the Henry VIII Hampton Court, but a different one that is a bit smaller. It also had spectacular gardens which we enjoyed very much.
Our lives continue to be very busy here. We finally received the paintings that we ordered for the church house, so we went to Sutton to buy frames and Kenneth and I hung about 13 of them this morning at the church. It looks so much better. We still have 6 more to hang. I need a woman's opinion on how to hang the rest of them so we will wait until the Perrys can come by and have a look.


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