Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Nothing is as certain as change, and that is always true at Visitors' Centers in the Church. Sister missionaries are always on the go, transferring in and transferring out according to the needs of the mission and the mission president. Two of the wonderful sister missionaries whom we have worked with since we arrived - and have come to love - are going home later this week. We have also received another delightful new sister missionary this week from Finland. Sister Phermsin (pronounced pear-m-sen) is originally from Thailand, but has lived in Finland since she was 5 years old. She joined the Church two years ago. Both of our Finnish missionaries, Sister Ylisaari and Sister Phermsin, speak excellent English. It is required curriculum in Finnish schools. We are amazed and grateful. We appreciate all that our sister missionaries do. They are dedicated, gracious young women with a strong conviction of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to change lives.

Sister Maughan, Sister Phermsin, Sister Reneer, Sister Cardona, Sister Ylisaari
Our current complement of sister missionaries.

When we were in the MTC last January, the Missionary Department told us that because of costs and distances, we would not likely be receiving any of the "traveling" exhibits available to U.S. Visitors' Centers. We noticed, however, that while our Visitors' Centre is relatively small, we do have two large empty walls in our theatre that could be used for displays.  So with permission from the Missionary Department, we selected a number of statements from mormonnewsroom.org that clarify teachings of the Church for the news media. We had a local printer prepare these statements with a wood grain background to match the  trim and other Centre exhibits, and then we added pictures and mounted them on the walls.   Our missionaries will be able to use these statements to teach gospel principles with more understanding and depth. The overall theme of the exhibit is We Follow Christ, with separate panels on The Godhead, The Restoration, The Scriptures, and Temples, Marriage, and Women.  The statements we used cannot be read well from this blog, but hopefully you can get the gist of it from these photos.    ~Don

Monday, January 21, 2013


Well, I've had some time to reflect this past week. Seems that I've been flat in bed for days with another one of those blasted kidney infections I've come to know so well throughout my life. This one has left me without energy and in a good deal of pain. Can't remember when I've ever gone four days without a shower before, even when I went through chemo....

I can see I've been taking a lot for granted. And I am humbled. At home, when the symptoms rear their ugly heads, I've had great doctors who hand over powerful medication, give me a couple of miracle working shots, and send me on my way. Often, I hardly miss a beat. The medications take over and I go back to work. Not so, here. For a variety of reasons, those powerful drugs aren't available to me. I've seen some good doctors and I am on medication, but it isn't as strong and it isn't working very fast. I'm learning patience. I'm also learning to take a little better care of myself. I've had to slow down and re-prioritize, which isn't all bad. Just frustrating.

We are so fortunate to live in this day and age. We take so many things for granted - like good health. My own grandfather died at the age of 26 when his appendix ruptured and they hadn't invented antibiotics yet. (Penicillin was first used by Allied forces during World War II.) How many of us would still be here without the intervention of antibiotics, surgeries, and other health care practices originated during the 20th Century?

In the book Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, when Wilbur the pig discovers that he's about to become bacon, his new spider friend, Charlotte, thinks up a way to rescue him. Through a series of descriptive webs that she weaves, Wilbur's life is spared. "Some pig," "Terrific," and "Radiant" webs gain Wilbur some notoriety, but the last web Charlotte weaves spells out "Humble." That's the word I've been thinking about this week. Humble.

               Hum-ble:  marked by meekness of modesty in behavior,
                  attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful; showing
                  deferential or submissive respect.

I'm humbled when I remember that life is fragile.
I'm humbled to know that the Visitors' Centre has been running just fine
     without me this week. We have awesome missionaries at the London
     Temple Visitors' Centre! (Next week Don's going to write about
     some of the things we've been doing lately.)

I'm humbled when I remember that I still have a lot to learn.
I'm humbled by a good husband, good family, and good friends.

I'm humbled to think that despite all the problems in the world there is
      still love and light if we look for it.
I'm humble and grateful to know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and He
      loved me enough to die for me.
I'm humbled when I read the scriptures and gain purpose and direction.
I'm humbled when the Spirit of the Holy Ghost witnesses truth.
I'm humbled that I can repent when I make mistakes.
I'm humbled by my blessings.
But most of all, I'm humbled by the knowledge that there is a God who's
     in charge of everything. He lets us use our own will and agency to
     learn, grow, stumble, fall, and pick ourselves up again, but in the
     end, He makes the final decisions. He knows what's best and I love
     Him and I will trust Him. He can make it all work out best for us
     when we are humble enough to put ourselves in His hands.
Being on a mission is an incredible blessing. We feel the Lord's guidance and direction often as we serve. We watch how He blesses those who are humble enough to put themselves aside and gain a witness that the gospel is true. We have witnessed absolute miracles in our own lives and in the lives of missionaries and members. It is a privilege to have this magnificent opportunity here in England.

Missions mirror real life, though. There are days that just don't go well. Not everything works out the way we'd hope. When we're writing our blog, we generally look back and see the successes, the love, the joy, the fun, and the good stuff, but it isn't always that way. Days are long and busy. Nights are short. We worry about challenges our kids and grandkids are facing. We worry about our missionaries, the Visitors' Centre, and what more we can do to reach out to those in the world who are searching for answers to their problems and catastrophes.

I guess that's where humility comes in -- humility marked by "meekness of spirit, showing differential or submissive respect to the will of God." Not that we are to wait around for God to do everything. We have the responsibility to do all in our power and make the best choices we can -- but, after all we can do, after every plan we make and carry out, we have to humble ourselves enough to accept God's plan. Anything other than that will do us no good. It may work for us for awhile, but not permanently. I'm learning humility and patience this week. It's a lesson we get to learn and relearn in life.            ~Pat~

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mixed Feelings

It's official. We've been in England for over a year!

  • Left Salt Lake City on Friday, the 13th of January, 2012
  • Arrived at Heathrow on Saturday, the 14th of January, 2012  
  • Seems like yesterday

Yesterday is just a memory; tomorrow is a dream. Today is a gift. 
That's why it's called the present.

Time is so fickle. A year ago, this moment seemed like it would never, ever arrive. Today, I can't believe how fast it's come. Therefore, I promise to live each day this year with the renewed perspective that it'll be over all too quickly.

Wow!  That's all I have to say.         ~Pat~         

Monday, January 14, 2013

Happy 150th!

I had no idea that the London Underground is the oldest underground mass transit system in the world and that it has been in operation (at least part of it) for 150 years!  For us Americans, that means it began operation during the Civil War era. Wow! That's amazing.

For those who didn't see Google's title page on Wednesday, January 9th, here it is. I thought it was brilliant.

150th Anniversary of London Underground

So fun! We love the Tube. When we go into the heart of London, we take the train from Lingfield to London Victoria. It's about a 45 minute train trip. Then, we walk through Victoria Station, take the stairs down to the Tube station, and hop on the Circle or District line. From there we can transfer to other lines and travel anywhere we want to go in London. It is such a great system, but it is vast and complicated. We carry a Tube map (slightly different...) with us everywhere we go.

Of course, everybody around here loves the Tube, so it can be a crazy experience. We've had some, shall we say, memorable experiences, particularly during rush hour - which lasts hours - and national holidays like the Queen's Jubilee. Often we are able to find a seat. (Sometimes someone will offer us their seat, but we have mixed feelings about that....  It's such a kind gesture, but do we look that old???)  Usually, we end up standing in an aisle because there is such a crowd, and sometimes we are so smooshed together that we're grateful deodorant was invented. That makes for some interesting experiences. (1) Don was pickpocketed a few months back. Luckily, they picked the pocket with his keys, not his wallet, (2) we've carried on conversations nose to nose (literally) with people we've never seen before and will never see again, (3) we've ended up in different ends of a car - unable to communicate about where we're getting off, and (4) a couple of weeks ago we had to extricate our grandson from a train. It was just before Christmas. The rest of us had managed to fight our way off at the right stop, but 6'2" Adam could not make his way through. The conductor had announced twice that the train was leaving and Adam was still lodged several people back from the door. Two of us had to reach in, grab his arm and pull with all our might!

On the way home

All in all, we still love the Tube. In the past year, we've used it many times. It gets us around quickly and efficiently. There are so many trains we never have to wait more than a couple of minutes. And, we can travel in as big a group as necessary. We've travelled with family, we've travelled to plays with groups of senior missionaries, and we've travelled to Hyde Park Visitors' Centre with all our VC sister missionaries. There's plenty of room for everyone.

Happy 150th Anniversary to the London Underground!                 ~Pat~

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Message From Mum

We received this email from a good friend here a few days ago and couldn't wait to share it.  You gotta love British humor!  We love the Queen.  ~ Don~


To the citizens of the United States of America 
from Her Sovereign Majesty 
Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect ineffectual Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour,' and 'neighbour.'  Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix 'ize' will be replaced by the suffix 'ise.'  Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels.  (look up 'vocabulary').

2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.  There is no such thing as U.S. English.  We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.  The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of 'ize.'
3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists.  The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent.  Guns should only be used for shooting grouse.  If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler.  Although, a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect.  At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.  Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon.  Get used to it.

8. You will learn to make real chips.  Those things you all French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps.  Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

9. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys.  Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters.  Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

10.  You will cease playing American football.  There are only two kinds of proper football: one you call soccer, and rugby (dominated by the New Zealanders). Those of you brave enough will in time be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

11. Further, you will stop playing baseball.  It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America.  Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians (world dominators) first to take the sting out of their deliveries. 

12. You must tell us who killed JFK.  It's been driving us mad.

13. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

14. Daily Tea Time  begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes, plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

We adore England! We have grown to love the people, the cities and villages, the countryside, British royalty, British accents, British food (mostly), British traditions, and even British quirks. (O.K., we have a few quirks in the U.S., too.) Can't say that we've grown to love the price of petrol or the taste of Marmite, but there's so much else to love here :)

I had an interesting experience while I was driving home last night. I had been at the hospital for about 12 hours with one of our sister missionaries who needed some minor surgery. I had about an hour's drive late at night to get back to the temple grounds, so I turned on a satellite radio station that plays my favorite classical music. Turns out they were doing a tribute to American musical history. I listened to cowboy music, ragtime, etc., and then, without any introduction, they played a rendition of God Bless America with a full choir and orchestra. It made me cry! There I was in the middle of the English countryside singing right along with them at  the top of my lungs. Loved every minute of it. They followed God Bless America with Stars and Stripes Forever by John Phillips Sousa. The radio announcer told a little story about how it is not true that he changed his name so it would mean "So U.S.A."  Fun! Sousa's march was magnificent. It took me right back to the front steps of the Capitol in Washington D.C. where we watched the Army Band perform it several years ago. It took me back to every 4th of July parade and fireworks display I've been to since I was a little girl. I love America!

What I learned last night is that there is plenty of love to go around. Just like your love multiplies with the birth of every new son or daughter (you don't have to split your love between your kids), my love for the nations of the world has multiplied. I love America with all my heart! I love England with all my heart! I love Switzerland and Hungary and Israel and Egypt and Brazil and New Zealand and a lot of other countries, too. There's plenty of love to go around.       ~Pat~

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And Then There Were Five

We are so grateful! All 5 Hovorkas arrived a few days before Christmas and were able to stay on the grounds of the London Temple with us and participate in some of our activities at the Visitors' Centre - tours, Christmas programs and firesides, and more. Of course, they spent several days in and around London checking out the sights, too. Everyone had a great time.

We've been privileged to be able to share a little part of our mission with all eight of our grandkids now, and there's a reason why I am so pleased (besides the obvious fact that we got to spend Christmas together!). When I was 6 years old, my paternal grandparents and their daughter, Audrey, were called on missions to New Zealand for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I didn't know my grandparents very well. They lived several hundred miles from us and I had not really had much contact with them, but I was greatly impressed that they would do such a thing. I knew that they knew that the gospel of Jesus Christ was true and they were willing to give their time, talent and means to share it with others. My Aunt Audrey was a young woman at the time. She served faithfully and came home after two years - the normal length of a mission in those days.  My grandparents, 66 years old when they began their mission, actually ended up staying for five years and serving not only in New Zealand but Fiji, American Samoa, Western (British) Samoa, Tonga and Raratonga.

My grandfather supervised and helped build a Church college and many church meetinghouses in those countries. My grandmother established one residence after another, took care of the young missionaries, cooked for everyone, and served in whatever way she was needed. They were 71 years old by the time they returned to California. That's the part I remember best. I was 11 when they came home, and almost all our family was at the airport in San Francisco when Grandpa and Grandma got off the plane. It was a great day! I met first cousins I'd never met before; I got to know all my aunts and uncles; and I finally learned a little about who my grandparents were. They came to visit us in Southern California - and to do temple work - several times during the next few years.

Grandpa and Grandma Dana's willingness to serve the people they learned to love on those islands, as well as their great sacrifices at the expense of their personal comfort, made a lasting impression on me. I could see that they had worked very hard, that they had missed their large family, and they had done much good wherever they went. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to do something for others, and someday I hoped to serve a mission, too.  It took me over 50 years, but here I am!  And I am loving it.  And I think it is interesting that several of my cousins are currently serving senior missions, too. Several others have already served. My grandparents' example has blessed their family for generations. I hope that will also be my happy lot. I don't know how many of my posterity will have the opportunity to serve missions, but I hope they learn that service is a blessing, both for the giver and the receiver. There are lots of ways to serve others.

Meanwhile, we had such a good time with Janet and Kim and their kids while they were here. Here are the highlights of some of the time we were able to spend together:

Hurray! So happy to see the grandkids!

The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Hangin' with a Bobby

Victoria and Albert Museum

Early morning temple baptisms

Regent Street in London

Yummy British Christmas Pudding...
which turns out to be a cake something like fruitcake with a fondant icing.
Rachel decorated the cute top for us. Thanks, Rachel!

Hever Castle grounds - one of our favorite places

The London Eye
On top of the world - well, maybe just London
Boxing Day trip

Janet and Kim

Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey on the Thames

A "Kodak" moment

Janet helped us find a church in Gravesend that
Don's grandfather attended while living with his grandparents
as a child, before he immigrated to America.
She has located several of the places where he lived.
Turns out Pocahontas (the American Indian)
was buried in this churchyard. She became ill
and died on a ship passing Gravesend as she
was returning to America after a visit to England.
Her statue is on the right.

 A beautiful Sunday afternoon on the London Temple grounds.
Janet and Kim and their kids flew home this morning. It was hard to see them go, and it's too quiet in our flat with five less people around. We'll be missing them, but we're sure thankful they came! What great memories we have!                        ~Pat~