Monday, May 19, 2008

An American Touch in London

Another busy week has passed and a successful one to boot! Yesterday, Sunday, we held a missionary open-house entitled the "Mormon Experience". We advertised it extensively and had it all set up with 6 different stations for the people attending to visit. The booths were: The Restoration, the Book of Mormon, the Plan of Salvation, Family History and Genealogy, the Holy Temple, and Questions and Answers. We had a huge crowd attend with at least 6 investigators there. It seemed to be a huge success and the Stake President said that he thought that the ward members learned as much as the investigators did. We felt good and plan to do it again. This week we are helping plan and carry out a big Wandsworth STake Dance on Saturday. WE are in the midst of prepartions for that. We are working with our firends, the Perrys, on this project. It should be a huge extravaganza and we hope a big success with lots of people attending. I thought I would mention grocery shopping store possibilities here. There are three big chain stores fairly close by us. Asda is a subsidiary of WalMart. All of the clerks and people that work there wear florescent green shirts and vests as opposed to the blue ones in the USA. They are probably the least expensive of all the stores here. They are very crowded and do not have near the selection of the WalMarts in the States. The most expensive grocery store here is Sainsburys. It is of course my favorite, not because it is the most expensive, but because it has the best qualtiy selections and the help there is very friendly and helpful. The largest grocery store chain is Tesco. We do not shop there very often because they do not like to take American Credit Cards. They make you go through a whole identity check before they will take your card. Most English Credit Cards have a magnetic strip so that they just stick in a scanning machine and they do not have to sign for it. Our American cards have to have a signature and for some reason they are distrustful of that. It seems to be much more secure to me, but what do I know.
But the find of a life time. We went to North London with our friends, the Perrys, on Friday. And we found the American Icon, a Costco. I thought that I had died and gone to heaven. They have lots of American products and an American atmosphere. It was so great that I included a picture in today's email to prove that we really found one. We bought up a lot of foods that I had not been able to find here before. It was great.
We are really excited because we have several visitors coming in the next couple of weeks. Our son, Brice, Nicole, and family, will be here on Sunday. They will be staying for two weeks and we have a busy agenda of places for them to visit. Also, our friends, Glen and Helen Esplin, are coming and will be here for a couple of days with us. The Westbrooks, Doug, Cindy, and Stephanie, will be in London this week. We hope to see them also. It is so much fun to see people from home that we know and love. Well, we continue to stay very busy. This week was a hectic one. We cleaned all of the carpets in the church, helped organize a member's home, made visits to inactives, prepared lessons, planned a library open house, made preparations for the stake dance, fed missionaries and BYU exchange students stationed here in London, did genealogy for ward members, and even slept a little. We hope you are all well and happy. Sounds like summer is coming back home. It is still cool here and a little rainy. The springtime here is surely beautiful. There is green everywhere.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Parks, Greens, and Commons are all Emerald Green in the Spring on London Town!

I think spring has finally come. It is about 80 degrees here and SUNNY! It has been like this for a couple of weeks so we are excited about seeing the sun and so is everyone else. The parks, greens, and commons are full of people with very few clothes on. They are obviously worshipping the sun! London is a city of many, many, many green spaces. There are park, greens, and commons everywhere you look. It makes the city seem less city-like. In downtown London there is Hyde Park. It is massive and so-o-o beautiful. There are many trees, flowers, lakes, walking trails, and birds and small wildlife everywhere. There is also St. James Park and Kensington Park right downtown plus many small parks and greens. London is a city of beautiful architecture and is laid out with the river running right through the middle of downtown. With the parks and the variety of architecture it does not feel like a huge city
at all. It truly is a magnificent place with such history. Even in the outlying areas the parks are everywhere. Part of the parks are maintained with mowed lawns and manicured flower beds, but parts of them are left wild and uncared for to give a sort of wild feel. I am including a couple of pictures of the flower beds at the Hampton Court Gardens and a picture of wild stinging nettle growing in the park near us. I also thought you would love to see our little garden. It is large enough that we have barbeques there. Our first one was with the missionaries. It is small but precious to us. I even have radishes, onions, lettuce, and tomatoes growing out there. Many people here in London like to grow their own food, but their back gardens are too small so they rent allottments from the local Council. We live in Merton Council here. They rent these small pieces of ground for 10 pounds per year and then they can plant whatever food they want there and harvest it as they see fit. Unfortunately, these allottments are in a large public area where many people have allottments so they are subject to theft. You see these big allottment areas all over town and people are busy watering, weeding, and planting in them.
Life is busy here as usual. We do such a variety of things that I love it. Those of you who know me well know that I love a good project and Kenneth is so good at doing everything that we make a good twosome. At least I think so. He says he is tired of projects, but he doesn't complain much. This week we planted a garden (or allottment) for a part member family, put up shelves in a member's home, held a family home evening with an inactive family, taught a first discussion to our landlord, hung more pictures at the church, cleaned carpets at the church, attended meetings, taught classes, and several other things. It is a very busy life, but that is the way we like it.
We have a big missionary open house called the "Mormon Experience" planned for the 18th of May so we are feverishly working on that. I am doing a presentation on Family History. Oh, I've said that I have been working on geneology at the center downtown every couple of weeks. Last week, I was able to go down there and complete enough geneology for my mom's side of the family that I now have 19 names to take to the temple and do their work. I am so thrilled and am sure that my mom is too. It is such a satisfying work. You feel such satisfaction as you find names and connections that match. I love it!!!
We enjoy hearing from you. It is good to hear your news and how life is at home. We are trying to stay up on the Utah Jazz news. I run to the computer each morning to see how the game went the night before. See, even fans in London are yelling for them to win. We love you all and appreciate how our lives have intertwined through the years. That has been a great blessing for both of us.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Foreign Language?

We are well here and so-o-o-o happy that spring appears to be here. The leaves are out and the flowers are to die for. All of the parks here make for a beautiful spring. You know when we first put in our mission papers, I was really worried about getting called to a country, like Argentina, where I would have to listen to everyone speaking a foreign language and not be able to speak it myself. Little did I know that we were getting sent to a place where they really do speak ALMOST a foreign language at times. I thought it would be fun today to give you some of those foreign language words that we are gradually starting to use ourselves. Here we go:
Tips and pips - turnips and potatoes,
Lorry - truck,
windscreen - windshield,
bonnet - hood of a car,
trousers - pants,
pants - underwear,
purse - wallet,
handbag - purse,
washing up liquid - dishsoap,
toilet - restroom,
cling film - Saran Wrap,
aliminium - aluminum,
torch - flashlight,
dental surgery - dentist office,
surgery - doctor's office,
fly tipping - no dumping garbage,
common or green - park,
hoover - vacuum,
boot - trunk of car,
at the end of the day - result,
tele - television,
sweets - candy,
digestives or biscuits - cookies,
motorway - freeway,
kebab - spit grilled lamb or chicken sandwich,
flick - movie,
washing powder - laundry detergent,
mobile - cell phone.
Not only is the vocabulary different, but the spellings of words are way different. They tend to put lots more letters in words than we do. For instance: favourite and colour. Also, most words that end in "er" here end in "re" such as theatre. I'm not sure who changed the English language through the years, but there are actually quite a few differences in the language from America to England. My mom always used to say that the English used the pure form of the language and we had altered it a lot. I think she would be surprised to hear how many of the uneducated people here in London speak. They leave out half of the letters when they pronounce words and run the words together so much that it is difficult to understand what they are saying. We do love it here and the history and appreciation for the OLD things is marvelous. They treasure the old architecture and traditions of their country. I am including a couple of pictures of magnificent buildings in downtown London, Westminister Cathedral and St. Paul's Cathedral. These are both beautiful pieces of architecture and amazing when you think of when they were built.
We do many different things. This past week we have built shelves and helped to organize a member's home, planted a garden for a member, fixed meals for the missionaries and prospective members, made visits, cleaned the church, burned old records at the church because the shredder does not work, fixed a leaky roof, prepared lessons, helped with YM and YW activities, attended Zone Conference, cleaned carpets at the church, mowed lawns and pulled weeds at the Stake Center, and attended missionary meetings to organize our "MEET THE MORMONS' open house which we will hold on May 18. We keep very busy and stay out of mischief almost all of the time, at least Kenneth does.
We hope all is well there. We think of you often and pray for your welfare. It is good to hear from you. The church is wonderful here, the members are great, and we feel the spirit here just like we did at home. I know that the Lord loves all of his children no matter where they live and no matter what they look like. It is great to be a part of this work!