Monday, July 21, 2008

A lovely July in the United Kingdom!

We are enjoying a nice cool July here in London. The weather has been cool and damp all month long and I love it. I did go out and buy a few summer shirts because I didn't bring many with me and so far I have not been able to wear them. I wear a jacket every day. I will not feel too bad if it stays this way all summer long. It is really lovely, really!!!
This has been a fun week. We have done our usual meetings, visiting, preparing lessons, teaching lessons, and feeding the Elders, but we have had a couple of special treats this week. One of the Elders that we had come to know here in Mitcham in the spring was Elder Dennis Carlberg, from Sweden. He went home in April and this past week he came back to visit and stayed with us here in our humble abode for a few days. It was great to see him and hear all of his news. I think he had a wonderful time visiting people that he had converted here and renewing friendships with the Elders who he knew here. It was really fun for us, too.
It was missionary moves again this past week. It is always difficult for me to see our Elders move that we have come to love and enjoy so much. I have held true to my son, Brian's, advice to never cry as the missionaries move on. I almost lost it this week as Elder Binks, who has been here for about 6 months, was moved, but I did well. Thanks, Brian, for the good advice!
Also, this week, on Friday and Saturday, we went up to Lechlade - on - Thames (near Oxford) to visit my cousins and to celebrate a couple of July birthdays. It was my cousin, Donald, and my birthday this month. We had a great celebration with most of the family there. Only one cousin who lives in South Africa was not able to attend. We had a wonderful time getting to know this magnificent family a little better. We have quite a multicultural family. One spouse is from Germany, one from South Africa, another from France, another from Scotland, and yet another from Ireland. It is fun to get to know a little more about their cultures and listen to their experiences in life. Hannah is my cousin and she is married to J.P., who is from France. They live in the North of England near the Lake District, which is a National Park. He works for a company that races cars for Ford Motor Company. He is the brains behind the race car. He engineers the cars to go the very fastest times possible in Rally Races all across Europe. He is working with a Ford Focus right now that costs about 1/2 of a million dollars to build. They then take this technology that comes from racing this car and incorporate these ideas into their regular cars to make them the best cars possible. The Ford Focus is a very popular car over here. It is a diesel and gets approximately 61 miles per gallon. I would say that about 1 in every 4 cars here is Ford built. There are also quite a few Toyotas, Vauxhalls (which is a GM brand), BMW's, and VW's. Most cars here are lots less expensive than US cars. I do not think that they have all of the fancy gadgets and safety engineering built into them that we have over there. Almost all cars here are also stick shifts. J. P. said that Americans like automatic transmissions because they are too lazy to shift gears. That caused quite a reaction. You know how the
French love the Americans!!! (ha-ha) Just to make you all feel better there, gasoline or petrol as they call it over here is about 1.25 pounds per litre. There are about 4 litres per gallon, so that puts the price at about 5 pounds per gallon. Converting that to dollars makes petrol about $10 a gallon or diesel is about $11 a gallon. We are noticing that alot more people are riding the buses now. There are many, many cars parked along the roads that are for sale. Many people here are really struggling financially as I'm sure people are there also. House prices continue to go down, too, so the economy here is not in very good shape.
We are well and the work is progressing. We have several new converts, part member families, and inactives that we are working with very extensively. We think that we are making inroads and will see many good results from our efforts. There is much work here to do and we never have enough time to make all of the visits, etc, that we need to make. The people here in the ward are so loving and so appreciative that it makes working really hard very easy.
We hope that you are all well and happy there. The summer continues to speed by. Soon school will be starting up again. I remember all of those years that I prepared for the beginning of another school year and how much I loved meeting and teaching my new students. Good luck to all of you as another school year begins.