Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hello again from the London Temple!

Kenneth standing by the pond outside the London Temple

Life is still good here but things are not progressing very quickly at least not quick enough for me. The workers from Salt Lake City are here putting everything together over at the Visitors' Centre. All of the displays are interactive so there are huge bundles of wires going everywhere. The cinema is being set up with a great number of possible movie selections on the server so just a touch will turn the right one on. We hope it won't be too technical so that even dummies can run the technical video and audio equipment.

The men who came in to hang the mural behind the Christus statue did a very poor job and there are big wrinkles in the mural so it is going to be torn down and they have a hired a muralist from here in London to recreate the mural and paint it directly onto the wall. We hear that his name is Michael and we are hoping that his last name is Angelo. Maybe then we will get a good job done!!!

We have been furiously practicing driving, working on correspondence to go out to everyone in the world in the England South Area, and going over all of the details that have to be worked out to have his Visitors' Centre up and running we hope by next week. It has been a very interesting experience and also quite a learning one, as well.

Every day we go out and walk the 32 acres of ground. We do two laps in the morning and two at night. We figure that those four laps are about 4 1/2 miles. It is so beautiful. It is almost as good as hiking around in the beauty of Pine Valley!!! It is nice to be doing some pleasurable walking instead of just running for buses, trains, trams, subways, etc like we were doing when we were in London. Just outside the temple fence is a large wooded area where quite often we see deer, etc. Also, there is a racetrack and a large piece of ground that used to belong to Winston Churchill just through the fence. This temple site once belonged to the Pears family who had made their fortune making soap. They sold the manor house and the property to a family named Rudd from America. He later got himself into financial trouble and had to sell most of the estate. The Newchapel Manor House was put up for auction in May 1924 and the stud complex was
purchased by Winston Churchill and later became known as the Churchill Stud. In the Daily Herald, this article appeared in 1958, "I heard last night of a strange deal between Sir Winston Churchill and the Mormons. Under a gentleman's agreement he is paying them rent to graze his racehorses and use the stables adjoining the new Mormon Temple. The Mormons bought the Newchapel Manor House, formerly the home of the Pears (soap) family and the 32 acres of surrounding land for 21,000 pounds in 1953. " Winston Churchill's home called Chartwell House is right near here also. We have not been there yet, but hear that it is truly something to see. We shall try to go by there soon.

We are thoroughly enjoying learning more about this part of England. We live in the County of Surrey, right near Kent. The borough of Kent is where the Jackson family came from (my dad's mom's family) It is just so gorgeous. There are many large stately homes here and lots of castles. We drove over the Hever Castle yesterday. It was once owned by Henry VIII's wife Anne Bolyne, who he beheaded. After he had her killed, he kept the castle and later gave it to his new wife Anne of Cleves when he divorced her. Quite a nice quy, huh!!!The roads are very narrow here and the trees grow over the roads so it is like you are driving inside a beautiful green tunnel. in lots of places. The scenery is just spectacular. When you think of England with the small, green country lanes, this is it.

We are having a real adventure here. I even got signed up on the New Family Search so I am able now to do more genealogy work faster and simpler.

We hope you are all well and happy. We think of you often and how you have touched our lives for good. We value all of the friendships and relationships that we have had with you all through the years. Have a great week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Exciting news from London! The Christus Statue arrived yesterday!

The David O. McKay tree

The entry gate at the London Temple

Lifting the crate off the Lorry

This has been quite a week. We have finally completed our move out to the London Temple Grounds. It is a beautiful place, so serene and peaceful. We enjoy walking around the perimeter of the grounds (about 32 acres) every night. The grounds are a combination of beautifully manicured grounds right around the temple to a more natural landscape further out away from the temple. There are massive trees, bushes of every description, gorgeous flowers, shimmering ponds with little bridges over them, and wildlife running through the undergrowth everywhere. We saw three small deer when we were out walking the other night. What a contrast to London where we have been living for the past 9 months. There was nothing peaceful there. It is truly a city that never sleeps. There are constant sirens and traffic all night long.

We do miss all of our friends that we had learned to love, but I think the change will be good for us. We are learning to drive now. We go out practicing almost everyday. The hardest thing so far has been not driving too far to the left. We often forget that there is a whole car's width on the left hand side of the steering wheel. It is actually easier to drive than I thought it would be. We have to have at least one driver's license within the next 4 months. Our American licenses are good for one year over here so by the middle of January we need an English driver's license. We'll see who can pass!!!

The Christus statue and all of the displays and sound equipment for the Visitors' Center arrived yesterday from the USA by boat. It sat in customs for almost a week before they would release it. We were so excited when it showed up yesterday. I have sent a picture of the large container filled with everything to set up the Visitors'Center just right. It was quite the occasion here. Everyone was out there to see the delivery and unpacking. The Christus is beautiful. The statue of Christ is about 8 feet tall and will have a gorgeous blue sky background behind it and that will look out of huge windows facing the lit temple. It should be quite stunning. We are hoping to be trained this week and be up and running by sometime next week.

Right now we are writing letters to invite everyone out to tour the Visitors' Center from all walks of life both church members and others alike. We hope to make it a real destination for everyone to come to and learn about Christ. There is a lot to be done before we open up. We had our first group of Scouts yesterday, even before the building is finished. We had a good tour of the grounds and watched the Restoration DVD with them. It was fun to be working with children again.

We are almost at our half way mark. We are still trying to decide what to do to celebrate. Kenneth doesn't like any of my ideas so we shall see. Our boys said that we should burn something, but we haven't got enough room here to have a bonfire, so maybe we'll just burn some toast!!! Boy, does this big building smell when someone burns toast in here.
We hope all is well with you. Sounds like you are having some cooler weather now which I'm sure you are enjoying. It is truly fall here. There are red, yellow, and gold leaves all over the trees and some are even beginning to fall to the grounds. It is very beautiful. We are having a glorious Indian Summer or whatever you call it over here. Take care and keep us updated on your news.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Goodbye to Morden! Hello to NewChapel, Surrey!

Our last trip carrying groceries home!

St. Helier's Avenue - waiting to catch the bus!

Well, it has been quite a whirlwind of a week. We knew that we were going to be moving to the temple soon, but we did not know when so we were told not to tell anyone in the ward in Mitcham until we knew for sure. On Friday night, the 12 of September, we were having a dinner party with some members of our Stake and the phone rang, telling us that we would be moving early on Monday morning. We had to do some quick scrambling to get addresses changed, people called, our ward notified, our landlord notified, etc. On Sunday, we were called upon to speak to the ward and many tears were shed. They then held a munch and mingle lunch for us after the block and gave us gifts and many hugs. We will miss the good people that we have grown to love there. Luckily, many of them will come to the temple regularly so we will be able to see them. On Monday morning very early we made one last quick trip to Morden to get a few
groceries and then the move began.

Our flat here at the temple is in the accommodations building where most of the temple workers, office workers, groundskeepers, janitors, etc. live. It is nice and new, but very small. We have a nice large kitchen and bathroom, but our bedroom and living area is very tight. I'm sure that we won't be spending much time in here, so that will be good. The surroundings here are beautiful. The London Temple is really not in London. It is in the Burrough of Surrey which is south east of London and is about a 45 minute drive from the southern part of London where we lived in Morden.

We have been treated to many different ethnic foods by the members of our ward since we have been here, our ward members are mostly from Africa and Asia. We have eaten roast tongue (from Zambia), foo-foo, a mixture of stiff plantane and peanut soup (from Ghana), jolif rice (from Ghana), potato casserole (from Zimbabwe), traditional foods from Thailand, Spain, France, England, and even a little American food. Everyone loves the American desserts so we make lots of those for everyone who stops by. Life will be different here. Our kitchen table here is about 2 feet by 2 feet so we will be limited on how many people we can feed. Maybe our food bill will go down a little. We will be attending the East Grinstead Ward here at least for a little while. It will be mostly white English people that attend there, so it will be a different experience for us. We may not stay in that ward, but we shall see.

Our job here will be very different from what we have experienced in Morden/Mitcham Ward. We will mostly be organizing, training, and learning how to run a Visitor's Center. Hopefully, it will open up in about 3 weeks. So far the Christus is tied up in customs, so it has not arrived here yet. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of all of the equipment and displays this week. We will see how that all goes.

Our challenge now is to get our English driver's licenses. We have been able to drive here for one year, but our year will be up in January so we have to have at least one official driver's license by then. We are trying to decide who has the best chance to pass the tests. So far we each have received one vote. I'm not sure who will win!!! The temple is a long way from anywhere so there are no buses really close by. WE will have to drive in order to be able to get anywhere. There is a train stop about 2 and 1/2 miles away in Lingfield, but we will have to get that far by car. The race is on now to be ready by January.

We hope all is well with all of you. It is good to hear from you and know a little about life back in the good old USA! We miss you and pray for you often. Thanks for the influence you have on our lives.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New location and new assignment for this couple missionary in London, England!

Elizabeth Sintim-Aboayge and Sister Beckstrom at the Temple

Ken outside the London Temple

Mitcham Ward Elders August 2008

We have had a very busy, exciting week. We were able to go to the Family History Center in Hyde Park in uptown London and finish enough geneology that 37 more people on my mom's line can now have their temple work completed. We are sending those cards to our children so that those can be completed at the St. George Temple. Sheila, if you would like to do some of those ordinances, just contact Brenda about that. It has been so exciting for me to be able to do this work here in the home country. What a blessing that has been!

On Tuesday, we attended a Zone Meeting and received a call from our Mission President Jeffrey Swinton to have our assignment changed to be the directors of the new London Temple Visitors Center. 2008 is the 50th anniversary year of the opening of the London Temple. As part of that celebration, the visitors center has been refurbished and will have its grand opening on Oct 9-10. We will be moving down to the Temple Site as soon as possible, probably in the next couple of weeks, and living in the housing provided by the Church there. We will immediately set to work lining up tour groups, Stake and ward groups, school field trips, etc. to tour the visitors center and learn of the history of the Church in the British Isles. The goal is to make this visitor's center a destination for people traveling in the London, England area. We have our work cut out for us, but we are really excited for the change. They say that "A change is as good as a rest!" so we will set to work soon doing a different assignment, but serving the same purpose here.

On the 17th of April in 1952 President David O. MacKay authorized a search for two temple sites in Europe, one in Great Britain and one in Switzerland. Two or three sites were selected in the London area, with the most attractive site being just on the fringe of Wimbledon in South London. They began negotiations on that site, but suddenly a 32 acre site in Newchapel became available. As soon as Pres. McKay saw the Newchapel site, he loved it and in June 1953 they purchased the property here. He recorded in his journal after the dedication of this beautiful site that his goal was to "bring the temple to the people."

Pres. McKay and the Church Architect spent some time deciding on the best spot on the property to build the temple. The site they selected was partially covered with a lily pond. The engineers feared that the marshy ground would prove unsuitable for the foundations of the temple, but Pres. McKay insisted that this was the place. Further studies were completed and they discovered that a natural solid shale platform under the ponds was exactly at the correct depth to support the temple. One of the engineers commented, "You could build the city of London on that site." The temple was constructed on that site and dedicated in 1958.

It is a beautiful, peaceful place not far from the busy center of London. We look forward to working there for the next 9 months and having an opportunity to get the Visitor's Center up and running smoothly.

It will be hard to leave the Mitcham Ward and all of the people that we have learned to love here. We will also miss the opportunity of working with the great young Elders. They are an asset to the Church and a living tribute to the influence of good families that support them back at home. We love them all. They are all so different and some are easier to love than others, but they all win your heart over eventually.

We hope you are all well and happy. Summer is almost over with and the beautiful fall season in St. George and the surrounding area will soon begin. We love that time of the year.

We love you all and enjoy hearing your news from home.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Missionary Work in London - Then and now

Bowl Court area in London

Graves outside St. Lukes

Telephone boxes still in use in London

We are still staying very busy here. It is starting to feel like fall and the leaves on the trees are even starting to turn. It is unbelievable. In June it was getting light at about 3:30 AM and was still light at 9:30 PM at night. Now, as fall is approaching, we have lost about 4 hours of daylight already. By winter, it will be dark by 3:30 in the afternoon. Sometimes we forget how close to the Arctic Circle we are here because the weather is pretty mild with the Gulf Streams around this island. The darkness can be pretty depressing!

Last night we attended and participated in a Stake Missionary Fireside. Part of the presentations were on the beginnings of the church here in London, so I thought I would tell you a little more about that and send a few more pictures of the historic spots here.

The first missionaries here were Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruf and George A. Smith. They first came to London in 1840. They met a man by the name of Henry Connor. He lived right next to St. Luke's church at 51 Ironmonger Road. St. Luke's Church is still standing and I have sent you a picture of that building. It is a beautiful old white church and later the missionaries rented a flat across the street from the church where the missionaries lived for the next 2 and 1/2 years here in London. That building is no longer there either. Mr. Connor later became the first person baptized here in London. While living in this building on Ironmonger Road, Wilford Woodruff had an experience similar to the one that the first missionaries in Preston, England had in 1837. He described the experience as follows:

"We retired to rest in good season and I felt well in my mind and slept until 12 at night. I awoke and meditated upon the things of God until near 3 o'clock and while forming a determination to warn the people of London and overcome the powers of darkness by the assistance of God, a person appeared unto me which I considered was the Prince of Darkness or the Devil. He made war with me and attempted to take my life. He caught me by the throat and choked me nearly to death. He wounded me in my forehead. I also wounded him in a number of places in the head. As he was about to overcome me, I prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ for help. I then had power over him and he left me, though much wounded. Three personages dressed in white came to me and prayed with me and I was immediately healed and delivered from all my troubles."

I think the Devil worked very hard then and still does today to try and stop growth and progress of the Church in this huge city.

The first indoor preaching was done on the 6th of September at a Methodist School at 137 Bowl Court. All three apostles preached there that day. We tried to find that building. Most of that area is pretty depressed and they are in the process of tearing down many of the buildings. We did find this old bridge that was in the middle of Bowl Court. I have sent a picture of that area of London. Just a half a block down the street is a massive Redevelopment District with very modern buildings so all remains of the Bowl Court Area will probably disappear soon.

London is a mix of modern and very old architecture. It truly is a beautiful city, especially at night. All of the buildings are lit and it is gorgeous with all of the bridges crossing the Thames fully lit also. It is amazing to see all of these historic places that you have heard about your whole life. What an experience we are having!!!

We have many opportunities to serve and meet members, former members, inactive members, etc. We are involved in many teaching opportunities right now, which we really enjoy. Missionary moves were just this past week and two of our missionaries have moved that we have learned to truly appreciate and love. I am still holding fast to my promise to our son, Brian, that I must not cry when they get transferred. It is hard because you truly learn to love them as you serve alongside them for many months at a time.

We hope all is well there. This is an exciting time of the year back at home. Fall has finally come and with it all of the fall sports. We used to love all of the football games, etc. this time of year. Please enjoy for us! Take care and keep us posted on your latest news.