Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Great Things Are Happening at the London Temple Visitors' Centre

As I look back over the nearly 10 months that we've been living in beautiful southern England, it amazes me how much has changed in that short amount of time. It is certainly true that the only thing certain is change.

In particular, lots of things have changed at the Visitors' Centre - including our missionary staff. When we arrived, the VC was being staffed by five energetic and faithful sister missionaries who had been on their own for a few weeks. They were doing a fantastic job of running the VC together, and in many ways they were our best teachers as we learned our responsibilities. (See Jan. 23, 2012:  How To Build Another Nest in 7 Days or Less...)  Four of those first five sisters have long ago been transferred to different parts of the mission, and some of them will even be heading home in December. Since we arrived, we've had fourteen fabulous sister missionaries serve in the London Temple Visitors' Centre with us -- so far. Our sister missionary staff has fluctuated from four to seven at different times over the intervening months, but as of this week we will are again working with five sister missionaries.

This photo is already out of date and it was just taken a week or two ago. Sister Rodrigues (front and center) has been transferred to the island of Jersey, and we have welcomed Sister Yapi from Paris, France.

Back row: Elder and Sister Terry, Pat, Don, Sister and Elder Horsley
Front row: Sisters Cabrera (Chile), Cardona (France), Rodrigues (Portugal), Reneer (Utah), and Howard ( Alaska)

Don and I with our newest missionary, Sister Yapi, from France

In addition, we are pleased to report that we now have two senior couples who are serving with us at the Visitors' Centre. Three weeks ago, on October 4th, our second senior couple, Elder Rick and Sister Vi Horsley, arrived from Midvale, Utah.

Elder Rick and Sister Vi Horsley

The Horsleys have adapted so quickly and are so easy to work with that it already seems like they have been here forever. Since their arrival, we are realizing how much we've needed their help! We are really grateful to have them! They are taking over a few of our administrative duties so we can focus on plans and preparations for the future.

One of the things that we are already working on is Christmas. Brother Grant Neale, a member of the Church who we've mentioned before, is a fabulous friend to the Visitors' Centre and is helping us put together a wonderful Christmas season. He has spearheaded a project to build a simple wooden creche to shelter the outdoor nativity scene that we have. He is also working with local wards to put together some evening programs at the Visitors' Centre during the month of December. He often helps out by manning the Visitors' Centre on Tuesday mornings while we have our Training Meeting. In addition, Grant's wife, Emma, is helping us find a Christmas tree and a few other decorations for the inside of the Visitors' Centre. We are most grateful to both of them for generously sharing their many talents with us on an ongoing basis. They have become dear friends and we don't know what we'd do without them!

Elder Carpenter with "St. Grant"
When we arrived in January, we initiated a series of firesides and Monday night activities. Ordinarily, we schedule two firesides and two Monday night activities each month. We have had some terrific programs and speakers throughout the year. Many thanks to all who have made our events such a success. Here are a few photos of recent events:

President and Sister George, who recently returned to our local ward in
East Grinstead after presiding over the Greece Athens Mission.

A highlight of our missionary service in the visitors' centre is observing the precious children who come in with their families. I think I've mentioned before how I love to watch the babies as their parents show them the statue of The Christus. Almost always, they tilt their little faces upward in reverence and admiration and they become very focused on gazing at the face of the statue. Yes, I know it's just a statue, but somehow I get the feeling that it stirs memories in their little heads and hearts. If it wasn't so irreverent and out of place, I would love to take photos of them and capture that sweet look on their faces.

We see children of all ages, shapes and sizes during the week. They spend time in front of the Christus, at the kiosks, and watch movies in our theatre. Here are a few fun pictures I took several weeks ago.

And last, but not least, I am thrilled to report that we were set apart this week as London Temple ordinance workers. When President Lowry, our wonderful temple president, asked us last week if we might have time to be ordinance workers on an occasional basis, as our schedules permit, we enthusiastically said "Yes!"  We have missed our previous temple callings, and as much as we love to attend the temple here, there is great joy in being able to officiate in the performing of ordinances, too. It's a great privilege and a blessing to serve in the house of the Lord.

Our kind temple president and his wife, President and Sister Lowry

There are great things happening at the London Temple Visitors' Centre. Now, if we could just get the county (shire) to install those "London Temple and Visitors' Centre" brown directional signs out on the roadways....

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