Monday, November 26, 2012

Who Are the People in Our Neighborhood?

The London Temple Visitors' Centre has been a busy place during the past few weeks. We are seeing an increase in the number of people who just walk into the centre off the street because they've seen the brown signs or one of our event leaflets (flyers) posted somewhere on a notice board. Besides our busy, busy Saturdays when the coaches bring faithful members and their friends from all over Southern England, we've had more opportunities to share our beliefs and teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ during the middle of the week lately, too. It's what we've been praying and working for!

All our current London Temple Visitors' Centre missionaries.
Front row: Elder & Sister Horsley, me, Don, Sister & Elder Terry
Back row:  Sisters Cabrera (Chili), Reneer (Utah), Yapi (France),
Cardona (France), & Howard (Alaska). We love them!

We've also had a couple of fun events with some of our favorite people in London during the past couple of weeks. Besides our great missionary team in the Visitors' Centre, we love the Mission Office staff who work just around the other side of our building. Some days we wear a path between their door and ours. The office couple (Elder and Sister Kearl), two senior sisters (Sister Hess and Sister Kae), and two young office elders (Elder Gong and Elder Eccleton) are always so patient and helpful to our VC missionaries whenever we need anything. We find excuses to go to the Mission Office several times a week.

Guess where Myrna and George Kearl, our
 favorite  Mission Office couple, come from.

Elder Eccleton and Elder Gong
Evidently they each need two nametags to remember who they are....

Along with the Mission Office staff here on the temple grounds, we love the Temple Missionaries. There are 20 - 25 couples (both British and foreign) living on the temple grounds and serving full-time missions at the temple. In addition, there are many part-time missionaries who come in for a week or a month on a regular basis throughout the year. The temple organizes activities for temple missionaries and we are always invited to join in. Although we are rarely able to go on their field trips on Mondays, we try to carve some time out to attend the events they hold here on the temple grounds.

About a week ago we got to attend the last "Big Bartschi Breakfast Buffet." Elder Grant and Sister DeAnn Bartschi have been in charge of some fabulous Monday morning breakfasts while they've been here. They serve about 50 - 75 people every time. They are not only great cooks but great friends. Their 18 month mission is almost over and they will return to Bountiful, Utah on December 18th. We will miss them for a lot of reasons!

Just part of the Big Bartschi Breakfast Buffet.  

Good friends Ed and Connie Knight getting ready to dig in!

President and Sister Lock (left) of the temple presidency
with Elder and Sister Wood

Boris and Shirley Ann Roberts with the Bonnie and John Fawcett

Bernie, our Housekeeping angel, with Sister Knight and Sister Pilgrim.

The Bartschis are all smiles after everyone has been served.

Also last week, we were invited to go along with a big group of missionaries to see the musical "Dreamboats and Petticoats" at a theatre outside of London. We all got on the train in Lingfield and traveled 45 minutes into London Victoria Station. From there we were to take another train to Bromley, but just as we were making the transfer all the alarms in the train station started blaring and we were told to evacuate immediately. Evidently there was a suspicious package left somewhere. Both the trains and the Underground (subway) came to a halt and all service was shut down for about a half hour until police could be brought in to check out the situation. That pretty much left us with nowhere to go but out on the street.

Our little group hung around outside the train station trying to decide where to go and what to do. Cabs to our theatre (a good half hour away) would have cost us a fortune. There was no bus service to where we needed to go. And besides, with rush hour traffic we'd have been stuck in traffic indefinitely. Eventually, the iron gates that had closed the station opened up again, so we went back in and we waited patiently while the arrival and departure boards began to light up. We somehow made it to our theatre with 5 minutes to spare and really enjoyed reliving the 50's and 60's again. It was a great night!

Evacuation alert.
Lights off and the gates shut to London Victoria Station.

Our street "party" outside Victoria Station.

The Kearls, the Workmans, and the Knights.

Our little group watching the boards for signs of a possible re-opening.

Back in service.

Back on the train.

What do you do at almost midnight in Victoria Station?
Find a good 'ol American Burger King, of course.
Perfect end to an eventful evening!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving a la Newchapel

Even though this Thursday, November 22nd, will be a normal work day for us, and even though many of the missionaries we work with have never celebrated an American Thanksgiving - or maybe even heard of it before - Don and I just had a longing for a good ol' traditional American Thanksgiving dinner this week, so we created one Sunday.

Well, that's not exactly the way it went. We got the idea for it when we thought about how homesick we were going to be for our kids and our grandkids on Thursday. Lucky for us, the Horsleys, one of our two senior couples, must have felt the same way. They generously volunteered to take charge and even cook the turkey. Oh, happy day! We invited all the Visitors' Centre missionaries and the Mission Office missionaries. The Horsleys planned it all, made assignments to everyone, and supervised the whole event. It couldn't have been any better.  It was so much fun, and the food was delicious!

The Horsleys went for a walk in the woods near where they live
at the Bridgstocks and created our beautiful table centerpiece.

You gotta give special recognition to the pumpkin at Thanksgiving!

Sisters Howard and Reneer capturing Sister Cabrera cooking corn.

Elder and Sister Horsley showing us how Thanksgiving is done.

Trying not to look hungry...

Sister Kae, Sister Howard, and Sister Yapi

The turkey is on the table and dinner's ready!
How to fit it all onto the plate???

I'm not going to tell you whose plate this was,
but it sure was delicious!

Can we just get this picture taking over and eat, please?

We even had pumpkin pie and whipped cream - a mini miracle here in England. They just do NOT sell canned pumpkin here. (Not that you can't make pumpkin pie from a whole pumpkin, but the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe isn't written on the side of it :)  We checked Sainsburys and Cost Cutter and CoOp and Morrisons and Asda and Tesco. We even checked Costco. I was about ready to bake a couple of whole pumpkins and use them when Don remembered he had seen some canned pumpkin awhile back at a little Waitrose grocery store in East Grinstead. I drove over to check it out and found a very small corner of one shelf under which the label "pumpkin" was attached. The shelf was empty. After talking to three grocery store employees who said they didn't know anything about canned pumpkin, they referred me to the manager who checked and said there was a shipment coming in that Saturday. We were there bright and early! 

Hooray for the pumpkin pie!

Yours, truly.

Now for the dishes. It helps to have four sinks
in the Accommodation Centre kitchen.

Sister Hess and Elder Horsley cleaning up.
Who's that guy standing there with his arms folded?

Then it was time to try to figure out what to do with all the leftovers.
Despite what it looks like, I promise you Don helped out.:)

Sister Cardona chose these leftovers:
pie and pie.

Sister Howard thinking about how great that
second Thanksgiving dinner is going to be.

About all that's left of our leftovers now is the fabulous memories of a good food, good friends, and good times.

We will be counting our many blessings for the rest of this week and thinking of those of you we haven't seen for nearly a year - or more. You are some of our greatest blessings and we are so grateful for each of you and your part in our lives. WE WISH ALL OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AT HOME (and everywhere) A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING DAY and a bunch of the same leftovers!                           ~Pat~

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


When the London Temple was finished and dedicated by President David O. McKay in September 1958, it was the first temple in Great Britain, the second temple in Europe, and only the 12th operating temple in the world. Today there are 140 operating temples, 12 under construction, and 16 more announced. That's over a 1000% increase in operating temples in just over 50 years. Wow.

The view of the London Temple from the Visitors' Centre at dusk.

Back home in Utah, I think we tend to take temples for granted. From our house, we can be at any one of seven different temples within a 45 minute drive. From our house, two of those seven temples are only 10 minutes away in different directions.We could go to a different one every day of the week. And while we do take advantage of the great privilege and blessing of attending the temple, and Utah temples are generally busy, I'm not sure we always remember how very fortunate we are.

Around here, and in most of the world, getting to the temple takes serious effort and sacrifice - and we see examples of that every week.  Many faithful saints here in our temple district spend a lot of time and money to come to the London Temple. They give up vacations (holidays). They take time off work. Often, they come long distances. Some come on public transportation, some have a six hour drive to get here, and some (on Jersey and Guernsey) have to take a plane. Many come on chartered coaches (busses) on Saturday. We love to see those coaches show up! Wards that sponsor coach tours to the temple tend to have close-knit congregations and great blessings that come to them.

Our temple district includes two stakes in Wales, one in France, a district in Limerick, Ireland, and twenty stakes in England. (And, by the way, a stake takes in a much larger geographical area in England than in Utah. You can travel from one end of the Corner Canyon Stake where we live, in Draper, to the other in ten minutes. Different wards - not stakes - in Great Britain are often two to three hours away from each other.) I don't know how to adequately describe the difference.

A few of the coaches parked last Saturday
at the London Temple and Visitors' Centre

A ward from Norwich came on this coach last Saturday.

Temple trips are often family affairs on Saturdays in England. Parents and children come together, all dressed in their Sunday best from the youngest to the oldest. One parent stays with the children in the Arrival Centre while the other one attends a temple session, then they switch places and the other parent attends the temple. During the warm months, on Saturdays, the temple grounds are covered with families having picnics on the grounds. During the colder months or when it rains, families congregate in the Visitors' Centre and the Arrival Centre.

Many couples and families come to the London Temple and rent a room in the Accommodation Centre for a few days. That way, one parent can watch the children in their own "hotel" room while the other one is in the temple. We love it when these families come to the Visitors' Centre to watch a movie or two, take a tour, or participate in our firesides and programs. Many members bring non-member friends or family members who cannot go to the temple, but who come to the Visitors' Centre to wait. We love this. It keeps our sister missionaries busy teaching.

Among some of our most faithful attenders are the members of the Lille, France stake. It is the only French stake in this temple district, and I'm sure they are anxious to see the completion of the temple that has been announced in Paris. In the meantime, though, they come to this temple often. Stake members come four times a year and stay from Monday to Friday. Youth also come four times a year and stay several days to do temple baptisms. They are diligent, they get along well together and help each other out, and they make the whole Accommodation Centre smell delicious when they are cooking their meals!

The coach from Lille, France preparing to leave.
Coventry Stake members came to the temple on the coach behind it.

All this makes me stop and think about what I and so many of my friends at home take for granted. How many hours/days do we have to sacrifice to attend the temple at home?  How much money (including transportation and housing) does it cost us? When we have a couple of hours, do we think to hop in the car and take in a session or do some Initiatory work? Are we doing our part to make those ordinances available to our ancestors and others? Are we gaining all blessings from temple attendance that we could be?

Whether the temple is 300 miles or 3 minutes from home it always blesses our lives when we make the effort to attend. Last year, in April General Conference, President Monson said: "There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. The saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort. The world can be a challenging and difficult place in which to live. We are often surrounded by that which would drag us down. As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace; we will be renewed and fortified. The all-important and crowning blessings of membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God."                   ~Pat~

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Brown Signs!

This new sign is at the A22 roundabout.
You can see the temple spire on the right.

The long-awaited tourist brown signs are here! They were finally installed this week, letting people traveling the roundabouts and rural roads of Surrey know that the London Temple has a Visitors' Centre and that they are welcome to stop and learn about the temple and examine teachings of the Church. Over the years many attempts have been made to get directional signs approved for the London Temple, without success. We could see the need for such signs as soon as we arrived in January. We were told to start early, the British bureaucracy was slow, and we would not likely get signs up before we were released in two years. It's been ten months, but the signs are now up, and more are coming! We're so happy about that. Now we've applied to West Sussex County for more signs leading to the temple from Crawley and the Gatwick Airport. 

The United States is cluttered with billboards, neon signs, commercial signs, and street signs of every kind and shape, but in the British Isles signs are closely regulated -- both commercial and government.  It's quite nice actually. You can see the beautiful landscape when you drive around, instead of billboards and signs (when you can see past the trees and over the hedges). However, many people drive by right by the temple and have no idea what it is or that they are welcome on the grounds. Even though the temple has been here more than 50 years, without any informational signs, most people would never venture inside the temple gates. That's not good for attendance at a Visitors' Centre. Our work was cut out for us when we arrived.

In checking with the Highways Department of the Surrey County Council, we learned that there was a special  application form for tourist/information centres, and that our Visitors' Centre met their criteria.  We were a tourist destination "open to the public without prior booking during normal opening hours."  This wouldn't be true of the London Temple, of course, which may be why there have been no directional signs to the temple since its dedication in 1958.  Pat and I delivered our application to the Surrey Council on April 2.   We reached an agreement with Surrey highway engineers to erect signs with the words London Temple & Visitor Centre.  We then had to have the Church Missionary Department obtain agreement from the Church Temple Department to approve the signs. The beauty of this agreement is that the new signs now help both temple patrons and visitors find their way to the temple grounds.

The roundabout at Snow Hill and West Park Road
After the application was finally approved, the signs were paid for in July and assigned to contractors to install. Then we waited... and waited... and waited. I watched nearly every day for four months to see if they were being installed. I even called and emailed the department a few times. Since our signs were not about a hazard or emergency, they were not a high priority for the Highway Department.

It was a great day when the signs went up last week! Now that they are finally installed, we are thrilled.  Having brown signs for the Visitors' Centre is very helpful because we are now officially designated as a government recognized tourist/information centre for visitors. In recent weeks we've seen more and more non-members come to the Visitors' Centre.  Last month our missionaries taught three times as many non-members as we did a few months ago.  With the new signs, we expect this trend to increase.                         ~Don~