Sunday, March 29, 2009

The crocus' are croaking, the snowdrops are dropping, but the daffodils are happily daffing!

Primrose in front of the visitor's centre

Fields of daffodils

Roma, Carol, Barbara, Lacy, Alli, Brian, Judy, & Donald
All of the cousins at Donald & Roma's home in Herefordshire

We think that spring has arrived here. We have had a wonderful month. The days are now longer, the sun shines more frequently, and the flowers are blooming brightly, the trees are even bravely displaying the new little leaves. We have had lots of visitors from home this month and we have spent many happy hours visiting and traveling with them. The London Temple was closed for the first two weeks of March so we had limited hours at the Visitors' Centre during those two weeks.

First, my two sisters, Sheila and Carol, and their husbands arrived and Sheila spent a week traveling and visiting with cousins and seeing beautiful places here in Southern England. Carol and Quay are staying now until July so that is fun for them and also for us. They are working at the London Temple and seem to be having a great time. Then on March 20, Brian and Lacy with new baby Alli J. arrived. It was so much fun to see our newest
grandchild. She is, of course, very beautiful and we had a wonderful time getting to know her. The week that Brian, Lacy, and Alli were here was very memorable and we absolutely loved seeing all of them.

Now, we are back to work on a regular basis and the Visitors' Centre is very busy. We have had some amazing experiences the last couple of days with nonmembers visiting here that have been very interesting. Friday morning we had a nice clean-cut man come into the Centre. I played the message that goes with the Christus for him and he seemed to be very touched by it. He then asked how many people we have visit here monthly. I told him that in February we had 2100 visitors, with 100 of those being investigators. He then asked what an investigator was. It was then that I knew that he was not a member of the Church. He then explained that he worked for Marriott Hotels and Bill Marriott is coming to England next week. He wanted to find out about the religion that Mr. Marriott belongs to before he meets him. He then asked me,"Do you remember me?" I realized then who he was. Kenneth and I had been taking a bunch of the new temple workers from Idaho and Canada to London one day for a tour of all of the beautiful sites of uptown London. We were waiting at the train station in Lingfield when this man showed up to catch the train. A couple of the old cowboys from Idaho started talking to him and gave him an invitation to visit the temple site here. He explained that he had always thought that this site was a secret spot and only members could visit here, so when he realized that Bill Marriott was coming to town and he received an invitation he decided to stop by. He spent over an hour here asking questions and said that he would return later with his family to view one of our films. We shall see!!!

We had another very handsome man come into the Centre on Saturday. He was very friendly and after visiting with him for awhile, he told us his story. He said that he had lived in Eastborne, near here, his whole life and had always thought that this place was off limits to anyone but members. A few months ago he moved to Walnut Creek, California and he was contacted by the missionaries there and was baptized just last Saturday in California. He flies Corporate jets for large firms and he flew into London on Friday and he decided that now he is a real member he could come in here. He was overjoyed to find out that it is not a secret place at all, but instead is a sacred place. He is now preparing to go to the temple himself in a year. Life is good. Hope all is well with all of you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring, Sisters, Ships, Singing, Shopping, and Shouting!

Southcliffe Hotel at Folkstone

Ryde Castle - Our Hotel

Carol, Sheila, and Barbara at Dover

Barbara and Sheila in front of Chartwell House

What a time we have had the last couple of weeks. The London Temple has been closed since the end of February so we have been in a "By appointment only mode" at the Visitors' Centre. It has given us some free time to do some touring with my sisters and their husbands. We had a great time visiting such exotic places as historic and memorable London, the quaint villages of the Cotswolds, the wild and ferocious shores of the Isle of Wight, and the beautiful and interesting coast of the English Channel by Folkstone and Dover. We stayed at an old castle that was commissioned by King Henry VIII on the Isle of Wight and spent a lovely evening walking the coast of Ryde and gazing out over the English Channel. We also visited the old Manor House that belonged to my dad's family. The home is still called today "Blackridge Farm". It was built in the late 1400's and contains old beams from some of King Henry VIII's ships. We had a great tour by the present owner, who is from Germany. We also found an old graveyard that contained many headstones with such family names as Dore, Theobald, Smith, and Farley. The old graveyard was awash in beautiful daffodils, crocuses, and other colorful spring flowers. We drove the south coast of the Isle of Wight and walked along the shore amidst the crashing waves and powerful wind. We also spent some time in the quaint villages of the Cotswolds with villages named Bourton on the Water, Burford, and Lechlade on Thames. We visited and feasted with some of our first cousins and had a delightful time renewing old acquaintances. We then traveled to Leeds Castle, an ancient castle that was completely refurbished by an heiress from the US. It has been made to be completely liveable, even very fashionable by today's standards and is so beautiful. It is completely surrounded by a moat and has over 500 acres of beautiful lakes and gardens to enjoy. Finally, we made our way to Dover and toured the old castle on the hillside. In that castle, over 85 years ago, our grandfather was stationed. He was a Major in the British Army and was over all of the artillery at the fort. He and his family, which included my mom, Phyllis, her sister, Gladys, her brother, Leslie, and his wife, Ethel, lived in a house on the brow of the hill overlooking the harbor and France off to the East about 19 miles away. We were able to locate the footings of the old home where they lived so happily many years ago. It was a great visit and brought back many wonderful memories of stories told my mom, Phyllis, of the happy days they spent while living there at the fort. What a memorable visit. It was so good to see our family after so many months apart. What a blessing! Now we are back to the temple and the Visitors' Centre reopens tomorrow. Hope all is well with all of you. I'm sure that spring has also sprung there and you are all enjoying it. Have a great week.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Visitors' Centre Directors!

Walking the grounds of the London Temple

The Christus Statue

Airplanes every two minutes directly over Temple

The London Temple is closed up for the next two weeks for cleaning and maintenance and so the Visitors' Centre is also closed except to those who make an appointment in advance. Because of that we have a few days to relax and do a little traveling. My two sisters, Sheila and Carol, and their husbands, Kelly Cannon and Quay Simons will be here in a couple of days so we are way excited and can't wait to show them some of the beautiful sites here in Historic England.

For those of you who have been here to the Temple site in London, you will know that it is located way out of the city and can be quite difficult to get to. Actually, in 1953, this site of ground was found in the county of Surrey in the southern part of England. It is about 30 miles south of London, on the Newchapel estate, once the home of the Pears (soap) family. It is a beautiful spot, but truthfully you can feel a little isolated here because there is no public transportation of any kind around the Temple site. That is one of the reasons that I worked so hard and long to get my English Driver's License, because we did want to be able to get off the grounds once in a while to go out to eat or go grocery shopping, etc. The closest town to the temple site is Lingfield. It is about 3 miles away and has a train station there where you can catch a train for London anytime from 5 AM to midnight. We usually go shopping in East Grinstead, which is a beautiful peaceful village about 6 miles away.

Our typical day here goes like this: The first thing we do each morning is put on our exercise clothes and go out walking. We walk for about 2 miles each morning and another mile or two in the evening. I then spend some time on the internet checking emails, Utah Jazz updates, and USA Today news. We also go to the laundromat (on site), do our ironing, cleaning, cut hair, study, bake, etc. during this couple of free hours that we have in the mornings. The Visitors' Centre is open from 10 AM - 8 PM on Tuesday, 10 AM - 9 PM on Friday, Noon - 8:00 PM on Wednesday and Thursday, 9 AM - 5 PM on Saturdays and 6 PM - 9 PM on Sundays and Mondays. We are the only couple assigned there so we try to be there together most of the time, but do take seperate lunch and dinner breaks. I go down and fix meals and then I eat. Then I go back to the Visitors' Centre and Kenneth goes home to eat and do the dishes. It is quite a schedule. All weekends and evenings are busy, but occasionally during the weekdays it can be a bit slow. During those times, Kenneth usually reads Jeffrey Holland books and I do genealogy on my laptop at the Centre. We have many wonderful films that we show in the Cinema and all of the interactive displays in the Visitors' Centre are wonderful. The interactive displays are: The Book of Mormon, Temples, Families, and Testimonies of Christ from the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.

Each month our numbers seem to be increasing and of that we are pleased. During February, which we thought would be a slow month, we had 2100 visitors with 98 investigators also coming in to learn about the Gospel. We have so many wonderful experiences as we show people around and explain about the principles of the Gospel. On Sundays we go to Church in Crawley, which is a large city right close to Gatwick Airport. It is a large ward with wonderful members of the Church. It is the closest ward that we have seen to a Utah ward. We are involved with a few assignments like teaching Relief Society and helping with Sharing Time in Primary. They do not need us like the ward in South London did, but it has been fun to get to know all of the great people there. On Mondays, we often go on a trip with some of the Temple Missionaries as they travel to different historic sites here in South England and then it is back to work for the rest of the week.

Now you have had a glimpse into our lives here at the Temple. It has been a great experience. We have served essentially two seperate 9 month missions, because our experience proselyting in Mitcham and our experience here at the London Temple Visitors' Centre couldn't possibly be more different. What a contrast. They say that "A change is as good as a rest" and that has been true for us.

We look forward now to visits from our family in the next few weeks and months. We will be released in the middle of June and will be home for the 4th of July so we are excited to see all of you again. Hope all is well there. We look forward to hearing from all of you when you have a minute.