Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It'll be two months on Sunday since the last time we wrote anything on our weekly blog. Our cold, wet winter has blossomed into a glorious spring already. The forsythia and the heather are in bloom. Daffodils have exploded everywhere. In England, huge clumps of daffodils are planted in lawns all over the countryside. The combined view of green grass and yellow flowers is stunning. What a brilliant idea! When the daffodils have finished blooming during the spring, the first mowing of the lawn levels them until next year.

To be honest, we've thought about our blog nearly every day that we've been here, but writing between midnight and 6 a.m. was about our only option until today. Somehow, we just didn't have the energy to do that, but we're determined to turn over a new leaf! We'll write shorter posts, but we will write. So many stories to tell and photos to share....

It has been astonishing - and exciting - to learn how much work it takes to launch a Visitors' Center for the Church. To be fair, it has also been astonishing to learn how much work it is to move from one country to another. It's been quite a ride. Both the launching and the moving have been equally demanding of our time, but now that we are finally settled, we are having the time of our lives.

We hope that we've finally crested the learning curve about how to survive in England, including:
  • driving through endless roundabouts on the left side of the road from the right side of the car's front seat
  • taking trains into London 
  • setting up internet access, cell phones, and international communication with our family
  • finding housing
  • learning where to shop for what we need (thank heaven for Tesco, Costco, Staples and Ikea - but that's just the beginning!)
  • putting together an entire household with furniture, kitchenware, bedding, etc.
  • finding our way in and out of the villages around southern England
  • dealing with insurance in two countries
  • establishing a "surgery" (medical clinic) with new doctors (we haven't even dealt with dentists yet...)
  • banking - which may be a whole separate blog in the future. What.a.challenge.
  • figuring out substitute products for things we're used to using in the states
  • haircuts - my personal nightmare on both missions. (Don still has the same barber - me.)
  • measurements - miles/kilometers, dollars/pounds, fahrenheit/centigrade, grams/ounces
  • and more....
Not surprisingly, our learning curve with our Visitors' Centre duties has been just as steep. I'm fairly certain we haven't reached the crest of the curve yet:
  • Meeting everyone living on the temple grounds and figuring out what they are responsible for and how we work together. We love them all! (London Temple presidency, temple recorders, temple missionaries, engineers, London South Mission Office staff, Accommodation Centre staff, and more)
  • Working with our Visitors' Centre sister missionaries - establishing schedules, teaching visitors who come to the Centre, training meetings, learning procedures and policies, as well as getting acquainted with the kiosks, exhibits and movies that we use.
  • Working with the Missionary Department and Exhibits Department in Salt Lake City
  • Becoming familiar with monthly reporting forms
  • Building a program of Sunday night firesides and Monday night activities at the Visitors' Centre and working to make them successful
  • Establishing a communication network to get the word out about all our activities - and learning proper British spelling and terms for our flyers (called leaflets), such as "programme," "honour," and "centre" 
  • Meeting and working with stake presidencies, bishops, and Public Affairs councils in the area.
  • Working with local media to introduce them to the idea of coming to visit the temple grounds
  • Working with local government to create directional road signs to the temple and Visitors' Centre
O.K., you get the idea. You can see where our blog-writing time has gone. Phew! It has been a challenging, stressful, sometimes discouraging, but completely rewarding experience that we would do all over again in a heartbeat. To quote the British, we have been absolutely shattered (exhausted, worn out), but it has been a brilliant (dazzling, fabulous) opportunity, and we feel extremely blessed to be here. We are learning new things every day and beginning to see many successes. Things are getting easier - that is, until some new challenge pops up (daily!).

We have so much more to tell you. Stay tuned. We'll be right back.                     ~Pat~

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