Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And Did Their Feet in Ancient Time Walk Upon England's Pastures Green!

The scaffolding is gone - finally!

Blackbridge house - the TheobaldDore home

Elder Smith and his snowman!

Well, February is almost half over with and the weather has now turned from cold,blowing snow to brilliant sunshine(even if only for a few minutes). It was amazing how the snow and ice finally melted because of a warm rain that came last Friday and immediately the lawns turned a brilliant green. It really looks like spring!

We are staying busy here at the Visitors' Centre. We had 225 people here for tours on Saturday. 24 of those were investigators, so that is really exciting. The Visitors' Centre has become a great missionary tool, just what it was hoped to be. One of the things that we do a lot of here is marketing the Centre to government leaders, business owners, schools, tour groups, clergymen, and other groups. I am sending out letters again now so we hope that with spring on its way we will be able to spark even more interest in groups coming here to visit.

In our spare time, Kenneth tends the centre and I do genealogy. We counted up the different individuals in our family lines that we have been able to find that need their temple work done. So far we have found over 300 family members to do temple work for. It has been exciting! I have sent names to my kids, my sisters, my cousins, and other members of the family so hopefully that work will be done soon. It has been exciting to be over here living right in the footprints of my ancestors. The Jackson family (my grandmother Martha Lorena Jackson Theobald's family) lived right here in the Surrey/Sussex area in small villages by the name of Horley, Pratt's Bottom, Chatsworth, etc. We have been able to drive through the small villages and imagine what life must have been like for them while living here through the centuries.

My great grandfather James Jackson came to Utah with a handcart company in 1857, the year after the tragedies of the Martin and Willie handcart companies in 1856. He later returned to England and baptized many members of his family and most of them immigrated to the States, too. The Theobald family also hails from right near here in Kent, near Canterbury. My great grandmother on the Theobald side was also a handcart pioneer. She came from South Africa in 1860, the last year that the handcart companies came across the plains. She came by herself with three small children. I am not sure how she could have pulled that handcart by herself. She must have had divine intervention because my dad said that he could remember her when he was a small child. She was only about 5 foot tall and about 95 lbs. We call her "Courageous Elizabeth".

I am finding that by doing this genealogy work I am developing a great appreciation for everything our forefathers gave up to come to America and gather with the Saints. You notice things like the loss of three children in two years because of a terrible epidemic of flu, a mother who had 6 or 8 children but only 1 or 2 survived, people who had the courage to leave home, family, lands, inheriitances, just because of the strong testimonies that they had, lives cut short by accidents that happened while crossing the plains, and other heart rending incidents. All of a sudden these names on the sheets of paper or on the computer screen become people with real feelings, with times of sadness, happiness, and joy in their lives. I look forward to one day meeting them and being able to converse with them.

I am currently reading a book called "London" by Edward Rutherfurd. It is historical fiction and is the story of the founding of London from its earliest beginnings up to the current time. It is amazing to realize all of the freedoms that we enjoy and take for granted were not even thought of back a few years ago, especially womens' rights. I am so glad to live in this day and age when there are still many things wrong, but life has truly changed for the better for the majority of us.

Well, enough of that. We hope all is well there. I love this time of the year in St. George. Spring is coming, the home show is going on, the spring sports are beginning and everything about the world is beautiful in the spring. We love hearing about your news and lives.