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.