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~

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