Monday, June 9, 2008

Visits and Vacation in the British Isles

I have not had a minute to send an email for a couple of weeks. We have had some wonderful visits from people that we love from the States and it has been mostly a time of visiting and renewing friendships and love. We had visits with three groups of people this past two weeks. The Esplins, Glen, Helen, and Erica, came for a few days. The Westbrooks, Doug, Cindy, and Stefanie, came for a short visit. And our son, Brice, Nicole, and sons, Matthew and Brandon, came and stayed for two weeks. We had a great time doing some touring around the south of England, visiting family, seeing tourist sites, and touring some old family homes and areas. Now it is time to get back to work and continue on in our duties here. While Brice and Nicole were here we traveled to Oxford to visit my cousins in that area. It was fun for Brice and Nicole to meet this side of the family and begin to cultivate some new friendships
there. We also visited Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill and spent some time touring the beautiful Cotswold area of England. We then took the train and the ferry to the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England. That is the area where my dad's family, The Theobalds, were from. We visited the old cemetery there and found about 22 of the family graves that we could still read the inscriptions on. It was a beautiful cemetery set around on the grounds of the All Saints Church. We spent a lot of time there brushing up on the family history of the Dores, Stevens, and Theobalds that stayed behind and did not join the church in the 1800's and come to the USA.
Then we went exploring to find the Theobald/Dore family home called "Blackbridge House" where the family had lived before coming to the States in the 1850's. We found the house and I am including a picture of it.
It is a huge thatched manor house built in the 14th Century. The man who owns it currently was standing in the driveway as we went by. I visited with him and he took us on a tour of the house. It was so wonderful. Much of the old building has been carefully restored and an addition has been added on to the back. You can still see the buzzer where the servants were called to serve the meals to the family and an area in the back of the barn where the servants lived in a very small space. I think all of the rich ones in the family stayed here and only the poor part of the family came to America. I know that I never saw any of that money when I was growing up in beautiful little Toquerville.
We also spent several days exploring uptown London. We spent many hours on the tube, buses, trains, etc. Brandon loved that part of the trip. London is a city of magnificent architecture and places to see. Most of the beautiful buildings are very, very, very old and that adds to their charm. We would be so fascinated with the history of the buildings and what took place there that we would spend most of the evenings after our visits researching the interesting things that transpired in these buildings. It was a great course in English History. We were also able to visit my Grandpa and Grandma Sharpe's home in Reading and we found the church in Reading where my parents were married during World War II. What a special time that was for all of us to be able to find that area that we have always heard so much about. I am including a picture of my grandparents home in Reading. I have many happy memories of that home on my visit there as a child.

Now we are back to work. We spent a very busy Sunday teaching, doing music, making visits to part member families and so on. It just continues on. We love the people we are working with here and hope that we are an influence for good in their lives.
Hope you are all well and happy. Summer has come here, I think. It is about 80 degrees right now and beauiful. Hope it is not too hot there yet.
Oh, the most exciting thing of all, our daughter, Brooke and her husband, Ben, just presented us with a beautiful new granddaughter named Emma this past week. She is healthy and doing well. For that we are grateful.