Thursday, December 20, 2012

I Don't Know Why You Say Good-Bye, I Say Hello

The first three of the fabulous Visitors' Centre sister missionaries we've worked with left for home last week and are safe in the arms of their families once again. These three are some of the ones who were here in the Visitors' Centre to welcome us on the day we arrived last January. In many ways, they taught us how to run our visitors' centre. We learned so much from their example, their enthusiasm and their love for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each one poured her heart into the work and served faithfully and admirably for 18 months. Now each has earned the official title of "returned missionary."  That's great news!

Sister Casasola, Sister Howard and Sister Burrows -
three happy missionaries on their way home!

On the other hand, it's a little sad around here. We really miss them!!  We have learned to love them so much.  We miss their energy, their passion, their beautiful smiles, and the love they shared with everyone they came into contact with. It won't be the same around here -- but at the same time, it will be O.K.  They will always have a place in our hearts that no one can take, but we marvel at how quickly time passes and new opportunities come - both for them and for those of us who are still serving at the London Temple Visitors' Centre.

Here are a few things that have been going on during this last week:

1.  Our new sister missionary, Sister Ylisaari (pronounce oo-lih-sorry) arrived from Finland just a few hours after Sisters Casasola, Howard and Burrows left for the airport. She is delightful and is already conducting tours and helping with the many activities that are going on in the Visitors' Centre this month. It is always amazing to me how quickly we learn to love each new sister as she arrives or is transferred to our Visitors' Centre. Two more sister missionaries will arrive at the next transfer, in about six weeks. We will need them!

Our new missionary, Sister Ylisaari (left) with her trainer, Sister Cardona

Sister Yapi left the Visitors' Centre to serve in another area of the mission.
We are looking forward to seeing her at Zone Conferences and one of the three
Mission Christmas Celebrations here on the temple grounds this week.

These are our sister missionaries for the coming six weeks:
(L to R) Sisters Reneer, Cabrera, Maughan, Cardona, and Ylisaari.
Aren't they beautiful?

2.  More good-byes and more hellos.  Our good friends, the Bartschis, who have been serving as temple workers since before we arrived, left us this week to return to their family in Bountiful, Utah. Even though we didn't see them often because of our different assignments and schedules, there is an empty spot in our hearts now that they are gone. We know their family is excited to have them home for Christmas this year, though!

Grant and DeAnn Bartschi
We have been blessed with some visitors this past week, too!  We always love to spend a few hours with people we know and love - and introduce them to everyone we've grown to know and love in England. Our dear friend, Cat Larsen came through and stayed for a couple of nights on her way back to the U.S. after some meetings in Germany. She lived with us for a short time after she finished law school and we haven't seen her for a long, long time. She served a mission in the Netherlands, so our sister missionaries loved meeting her. So good to see her!

Heathrow is the third busiest airport in the world - and HUGE!
We've spent a lot of time there recently - and we love it because
that usually means somebody's arriving!

Hyde Park Visitors' Centre with Cat Larsen

Next, my sister and brother-in-law, Marcia and Bill Aird, stopped by again and stayed in the Temple Accommodation Centre for one night. We had time to go out to dinner with them, and even got to attend a magnificent performance of Handel's Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall together.  Best early Christmas gift ever!

Inside the Royal Albert Hall

Curtain call


A view from our coach on the trip home

Her Majesty's Theatre

3.  December has been an exciting month at the Visitors' Centre, as well. Lots of Christmas activities and lots of people.

East Grinstead Ward Primary caroling activity

The sisters of the Lille, France stake Relief Society

Area Authority Seventy Elder Boutoille and his wife
also traveled from the Lille, France stake to speak at one of our firesides.
With a 2 1/2 hour drive, each way, under the Chunnel, we appreciated
their effort to be with us.

The Britannia Ward YSA choir from Hyde Park

Christmas Carol sing-along!

The Staines Stake Choir

The Manna Road Gospel Choir from Wandsworth

A musical evening with the Smith family 

The multi-talented Smith family of East Grinstead

5.  Christmas is just a few days away now, so if we don't get another chance, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May the peace and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, be with you.       ~Pat~

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