Tuesday, April 28, 2009

There'll be joy and laughter, and peace everafter, tomorrow when the world is free!

The Skinners and the Beckstroms

A busy Saturday at the Visitor's Centre

Another week has rolled around and it has been an eventful one. We have had some great experiences as we have met with people in the Visitors' Centre and they have shared their thoughts with us.

On Sunday, I was teaching my Relief Society Lesson in the Crawley Ward and just before I taught, they had music appreciation. The sister in charge shared some World War II songs and the last one that was sung was "There'll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover". That shook me up a little because the last time that I had heard that song was at my mom's funeral. It left me thinking about the words of that song and how much those war time songs meant to the people of the world. "There'll be joy and laughter, and peace everafter, tomorrow when the world is free". We are very blessed here in England just as we are in the United States to enjoy freedom of religion.

The lesson that I was teaching was from Elder Russell M. Nelson's October 2008 Conference talk entitled " Celestial Marriage". There were a couple of quotes in the talk that I thought were so thought provoking. He said, " While Salvation is a personal matter, exaltation is a family matter" and "Celestial marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other relationship." I know we have our work cut out for us, but what a blessing it is to know the plan of happiness that Christ has given to us and to be able to be a part of His Gospel Kingdom.

This week we were able to attend my cousin, Ian's son's marriage. It was a Catholic/Jewish wedding so it was a different experience for us, but very interesting. It was held in a tent or marquis in a large green pasture in a small village just north of London called St. Albans. In England, when couples get married they must first be married in a civil ceremony and then the religious ceremony can take place afterwards. The religious service is not recognized as legally binding. In the LDS religion, the couples are married in their home city and then must come to the temple within 24 hours of the wedding to be sealed for time and all eternity in the temple. If they cannot make it within the 24 hours allotted, they must wait 1 year to be sealed in the temple. So often we have very late sealings on Saturday evenings, because people have to drive many hours to make it here after their civil ceremony at home. My cousins, Mark and Wendy, were married in a civil ceremony at noon and then the religious ceremony was scheduled for 4 pm. We attended that ceremony where the Rabbi read scripted ceremony, they lit three candles signifying their union, drank sips out of a single wine glass, broke a glass on the table and afterwards everyone yelled out the words, "Siman Tov U'Mazal Tov." These words mean, "May this day be a good omen for good fortune!" Afterwards, there was lots of congratulations and merrymaking by the about 100 people in attendance. They then had a sit down meal, dancing, talking, and celebrating. It was an phenomenal experience which we enjoyed very much. What a joy it has been to become friends with my cousins and to feel of their love and acceptance for us. At the wedding we were also able to meet Ian's brother, Keith and his wife, Jill, who now live in Spain. They looked tan and relaxed. The life style in Spain must really agree with both of them. Many English people retire to Spain, because of the lower cost of living, more room to move, and the wonderful climate.

We are furiously trying to accomplish all of the odds and ends of things we have been meaning to do before we come home. How time flies!!! On Saturday, our daughter and her husband, Brenda and Joshua Forest, are coming to visit. We are so excited. What a joy it will be to see them after almost 18 months. We have a great week planned with visits to cousins, the Isle of Wight, and of course London. It has been such a great blessing to have visits now from almost all of our children. Britt will be the last to come and he, along with Brice, will be here in June to tour Great Britain, attend Wimbledon and take us home. Hope all is well with you. We look forward to seeing many of you soon.