Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

It's been a beautiful day here in Newchapel - even though the temperature hasn't been out of the 30's for weeks. They say this has been the coldest March on record in the U.K. and April promises to be the same....

But never mind, it's Easter, and the sun is out and the sky is blue as I write. There's a lot to be grateful for. We were able to attend the East Grinstead Ward this morning. It's our home ward here, but I think you could count on one hand the times we've been to church there in the last 14 months. Most weeks, we are on the road visiting wards all over the temple district. We speak almost every Sunday. We've gotten to meet a lot of wonderful people as we've traveled, but this week it was wonderful to sit in the congregation and enjoy the inspiring talks given by three people we've known and loved since we arrived last year. What a treat!

Today I have spent the day being particularly grateful for my sure knowledge that we have a Savior whose resurrection we celebrate on Easter. I know He was born in Bethlehem as the Son of God and spent His life in the country we now call Israel. I know He was the only perfect person to live on earth and He showed us by His example and the things which He taught the way that we should live. I know that He took upon Himself all our sins, then died and was resurrected three days later, paving the way for us to be able to return to live with God again.

During the last couple of years, the Church has been producing a series of short online videos, simply called "Bible Videos." There are 43 of them now, and I love them. For me, watching them makes the life of Christ more personal. You can find them at   BIBLE VIDEOS   and there is even a mobile app for smartphones and IPads.

Here is one you can watch about the last week of the life of Christ:   HE IS RISEN .   It's about 7 minutes long.  It has made me think more deeply about the Easter celebration this year. If you haven't already taken the time to watch it this week, I highly recommend it.

One of my favorite quotes about the Savior and what He did for us was spoken by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland several years ago. He said, "Considering the incomprehensible cost of Crucifixion, Christ is not going to turn His back on us now." If all of us, as the recipients of His ultimate gift, really understood and took advantage of Christ's atonement and acted according to our deep gratitude for Christ's Crucifixion and sacrifice for us, the world would be a better place. Easter is a wonderful time to recommit ourselves to being more Christlike.            ~Pat~

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


We had a busy and inspiring weekend this week!

Don with Brother Cornelis Taekema
 On Saturday night, March 23rd, the Wealdon Consort Choir performed a wonderful and inspiring concert at our Visitors' Centre. They are a community choir from Hastings, in the county of Kent. Cornelis Taekema, Director of Music at the Dulwich Preparatory School, and a member of the Church, is the director of the choir. They performed here on the temple grounds in January inside the Manor House and we have been anxious to bring them to the Visitors' Centre ever since!

The Wealdon Consort Choir
Their program (or programme to those reading this in England) included:

  • Down to the River to Pray - from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • Swing Low - American spiritual
  • Steal Away - American spiritual
  • Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)
  • Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
  • Ave Verum Corpus
  • Lift Thine Eyes
  • How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings (How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place)
  • Crucifixus ad 8
  • The Deer's Cry
  • Ave Maria
  • Two solos from the Messiah
  • The Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah
  • Abound in Love - composed by Brother Taekema
  • Gaelic Blessing

A very impressive repertoire, indeed, for a choir of 26 people, and they did a magnificent job. It was a wonderful way to begin the week preceding Easter. We hope to see them again at the Visitors' Centre at Christmastime.

President Brian Martin, ELSM

The next night, Sunday, March 24th, we welcomed back President Brian Martin of the England London South Mission presidency for a Fireside presentation that he first presented last year just before Easter. We were eagerly anticipating his return. His presentation, "An Eight Day Walk With Christ," also prepared us  for the observance of Easter this coming Sunday. With his permission, we have included the scriptures and commitments he presented which are designed to help us each individually turn our hearts and minds to our Savior at this most important time of year. You are welcome to consider the scriptures and suggestions yourself this week.

"An Eight Day Walk With Christ" Fireside
An Eight Day Walk With Christ

Sunday, March 24th - Day of Recognition
Read:  Matthew 21:6-11
Challenge:  Today, think of Christ more often and find a time to bear testimony of Him. Have meaningful prayers to draw closer to Him.

Monday, March 25th - Day of Authority
Read:  Matthew 21:12-15
Challenge:  Choose one thing that you need to cleanse from your life and sincerely repent and strive to do better.

Tuesday, March 26th - Day of Teaching
Read:  Matthew 25
Challenge:  Today let your light shine and let others come to know Christ through your actions.

Wednesday, March 27th - Day of Rest
Read:  John 15:4-17
Challenge:  Try to show greater love and kindness to friends and family.

Thursday, March 28th - Day of Atonement
Read:  Matthew 26
Challenge:  Today strive to have greater trust that the Lord is aware of your problems and is always near to help you through them if you turn to Him.

Friday, March 29th - Day of Suffering
Read:  Matthew 27
Challenge:  Today remember the sacrifice the Saviour made for you and show your love for Him by being obedient, by defending the truth, by being strong and faithful.

Saturday, March 30th - Day of Silence
Read:  I Peter 3:18-19
Challenge:  Today look for the hand of the Lord in all things in your life.

Sunday, March 31st - Day of Triumph
Read:  Matthew 28:1-8
           John 20:11-18
Challenge:  Today stand as a witness of Jesus Christ and carry His name in your heart from this day forward.

And one more personal suggestion about preparing for Easter. This is a perfect week to spend some time watching the beautiful Bible videos the Church has produced. There are 43 of them now, most of them from 1-5 minutes in length. There are several available now about the last week of Christ's life. You can find them at, or you can just go to and click on "Bible Videos" under Quick Links on the left side of the page. There is also an Bible Videos app available. How cool is that? During the past year I have grown to love these videos! They are inspired representations of some the most sacred and important events in the life of our Savior.

On Monday March 25th, we had a complete change of pace. We had an unexpected opportunity to tour the inside of Parliament and meet with one of the members of the House of Commons. (Well, actually, we have been eagerly anticipating this event for several months, but it was something we had not expected to be able to do while we were here in England.) We just happened to attend the Brighton Ward early in December on the week that a very dear sister invited her ward members to a private tour of Parliament and meeting with her son, David Rutley, the only member of Parliament who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We asked if we could join the group and she graciously included us. 

Pat on the way into the Parliament Building
Our little group was given a special tour by a man who has worked with Parliament in various capacities for 26 years. He took us from Westminster Hall through the Robing Room (where Queen Elizabeth will dress before the opening session of Parliament on May 6th), the Royal Gallery, the House of Lords Chamber, the Peers Lobby, the Commons Corridor, the Members Lobby, and the House of Commons Chamber. He told us some fascinating stories about his experiences in all of those areas during the time he has worked there, and he gave us a greater education about the workings in Parliament than we ever had in school! I wish I could have taken photos (no photos for security reasons) or better yet, videotaped everything he said (obviously not allowed...). We enjoyed every minute of the tour. At the end, we were led into a beautiful meeting room overlooking the Thames, Westminster Bridge and the heart of London. There we met with Mr. Rutley for nearly an hour. He, too, educated us to the workings of Parliament and answered questions from the group about a wide range of subjects. He was gracious, sincere and completely focused on our visit. I guess that makes him a good politician! 

Inside Westminster Hall before the tour began.
We came away with a great respect for the Parliamentary system that has served Great Britain and all of its subjects since the year 1386.  Yes, we know there are a great many problems facing governments in Great Britain, the U.S., and most of the world, but they have stood the test of time, and a discussion of what's wrong in government would take several thick books, not just a blog. Just let me say that there are still good, outstanding men and women who sincerely want to do what's best for their countries. That's what we need.
We should be praying for them every day.                                  ~Pat~

Monday, March 18, 2013

Missionary Miracle

This week we want to share the story of an amazing missionary miracle. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a miracle is "an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by nature or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to divine agency."  Missionary work is a work of miracles. We have seen so many during the past couple of years. Sometimes they just look like coincidences (but the timing is so perfect they are more than that). Sometimes they are unmistakable divine intervention that defy all odds. But always we give thanks and recognize that all good things in our lives come from God. Miracles just need to be recognized and appreciated.

This story is one that we heard first person from President John Gonzalez toward the end of 2011 while we were on our first mission, but it was recently published in Meridian Magazine online. We think it's worth repeating. President Gonzalez' daughter was a favorite student in one of the Institute classes we taught in Washington, D.C.

While President Gonzalez was presiding over the California Fresno Mission a few years earlier, a new missionary arrived from Tonga. President Gonzalez felt impressed to assign him to work with his first companion in the city of Patterson. A day or two after the Tongan elder's arrival, as the two young men were out knocking on doors in Patterson, a pregnant young woman opened the door and upon seeing them, rushed forward to give the Tongan elder a big hug. As his companion stood in surprised silence, the Tongan elder and the young woman had a joyful reunion. It was soon explained that the young woman was his sister, Leloni, whom he hadn't seen in almost ten years. She had recognized something familiar about her little brother's face and when she looked down at his name tag, her hopes were confirmed.

The elders were invited inside and the rest of the story began to unfold. While still in Tonga, Leloni had fallen in love with a young Catholic man, married him and moved to America. With little money and no access to a computer or cell phone, she eventually lost contact with her family. They only knew that she lived somewhere in America. Leloni was now pregnant and expecting a child in several weeks.  She and her husband had recently been discussing religion and what part it would play in their family.

This is a portion of President Gonzalez' written account of what happened next:  "They [Leloni and her husband] started to argue about which Christian religion their new child should attend - the Mormon Church or the Catholic Church. The husband then made a rather startling promise. He said to his wife, 'If your brother knocks on my door, then I'll join the Mormon church, and we'll raise our baby to be L.D.S.!' Smugly confident that the argument was now over, he quickly dropped the issue."

"The two missionaries were... told of the promise Leloni's husband had made earlier in the week about joining the L.D.S. Church. Arrangements were soon made to teach her husband the restored gospel, and the discussions were taught and accepted. True to his word, as soon as he felt the Spirit confirm the truthfulness of the gospel message, Leloni's husband was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church."

"This miraculous and happy story does not end there. His conversion was heartfelt and sincere. He did not convert solely due to his earlier promise about their unborn baby. After a year of faithful church attendance, this wonderful couple, together with their new baby, was sealed together as an eternal family in the Oakland California Temple." President Gonzalez called the Missionary Department in Salt Lake City to obtain permission for the Tongan Elder to leave his mission boundaries and attend the ceremony in Oakland.

President Gonzalez calculates that the odds were well over 1 in 300,000,000 that an elder would come from Tonga, be assigned to the Fresno Mission, then to Patterson, California, and be out knocking on doors on his sister's street within a few days of arriving in his mission.

Some may call it coincidence. We call it the hand of a merciful God who knows and loves each one of His children. Through faith and prayer, God's mighty miracles often come to pass.        ~Pat and Don~

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Changing Seasons

I'd like to think the seasons are changing in Southern England. We're just not sure which season is coming and which one is going! The heather is blooming and the daffodils and crocuses are thinking about it. We even had a full day of sunshine one day last week! Now it's turned bitter cold and windy. We're ready for a change!

A brief moment of Spring yesterday in London

The view today on the temple grounds

Another thing that is constantly changing is our Visitors' Centre. Lots of comings and goings this month.

Sisters Reneer, Ylisaari and Cardona
First, both Sister Reneer and Sister Ylisaari were transferred to other assignments in the mission. Sister Reneer will likely stay out in the field for the rest of her mission, but we hope to see Sister Ylisaari in the Visitors' Centre again in a few months because her call is to be a VC missionary. Almost all the sisters we've worked with received a specific assignment to this Visitors' Centre when they received their mission call.

The AP's (Assistants to the President) preparing to
drive sisters to their new assignments
Later that same day, Tuesday, March 5th, two new sisters arrived to serve in our Visitors' Centre. Sister Paulsen, who is from Denmark, arrived from the Isle of Wight. Sister Berati, who is from Albania, arrived from her training at the Provo MTC.

Sisters Berati, Cardona and Paulsen
We feel very fortunate to be working with these great sisters, and for the first time since we've been here, there isn't an American among them! The gospel is indeed spreading among every nation, kindred, tongue and people.

L to R:  Sister Phermsin from Finland, Sister Berati from Albania, Sister Cardona
from France, Sister Paulsen from Denmark, and Sister Maughan from England

Sister Horsley capturing a Kodak moment in the VC while
Elders Carpenter and Horsley watch

It's always interesting to see how things come together. The new sisters met their new companion, Sister Cardona, and went home to unpack and get a few groceries. The other sister companionship and the senior couples covered the rest of the shifts that day. By the next morning, everyone was back to work at the VC for their regular shifts and the new sisters were learning their responsibilities. They are already giving tours. I can't say enough about how impressed I am with the caliber of all the young women we have worked with at the Visitors' Centre. If all twenty-somethings were as intelligent and responsible and gracious as our sisters are, the world would be in good hands.

Sister Jones
This weekend, on Saturday, March 9th, Sister Jones returned to the Visitors' Centre for the last couple of days of her mission. When she flies home to Utah this Wednesday, March 13th, she will be the last of the sister missionaries who were here to greet us and train us when we arrived. We hate to see her go. She was an outstanding missionary and taught us so much!

L to R: Elder Kearl, Sisters Berati, Paulson, Cardona and Jones, Sister Kearl

Don, me, Sisters Boman, Woods, Phermsin and Maughan
Sunday afternoon we had dinner with all the VC sister missionaries and the Mission Office missionaries and presented a few momentos to Sister Jones, then on Monday morning, Sister Kearl and I got to be the ones to accompany Sister Jones to London for the day. Because the northern boundaries for the England London South Mission are on the south side of the Thames, each of the departing elders and sisters in the mission get to spend the last Monday of their mission in downtown London seeing the sites. Usually the mission president and his wife are the ones to accompany the departing missionaries. This time they asked Sister Kearl and me to go. Such fun! So very, very COLD!

The Tower Bridge
How quickly the seasons are passing here in England. Rain or snow, cold or sunny, the time is flying and we have much yet to accomplish this year. Missionaries departing and missionaries arriving. We celebrate all that has happened since we've been here, and we're looking forward to an abundant season to come.            ~Pat~

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


WARNING: This post kinda got away from me and is really long, but there are plenty of photos to look at :)

Besides all the Visitors' Centre events Don and I have been reporting lately, there've been lots of other things going on. Never a dull moment around here.

We've already had a couple of visits from friends and family this year and we are expecting a lot more. Seems this is the year to come to England. We're looking forward to seeing those of you who are coming! We run a Visitors' Centre, so everyone is welcome to stop by and visit!

In addition, we've had the opportunity to do some more traveling. Early in January we drove to Bristol over a weekend for a speaking assignment. We traveled with Elder and Sister Horsley, one of our Visitors' Centre senior couples. In their early 20's they both served missions in England and actually met in Bristol. It was a long awaited dream come true for them to go back and find their old mission home and see where they had lived and worked. After 40 years, they were able to drive right to it.

The trip was also a long awaited dream come true for me, because my Grandma Dana's family goes back to the early 1700's in an area not too far from Bristol. During the weekend we took the time to go find it. Chelwood and Farmborough are two little villages where the Shore family lived  for generations. To be able to see those places - the countryside, the hills, the houses, the church where they were  christened and married - meant soooo much to me. What a great gift it has been to me during this mission to visit several of the towns that I wrote about three or four years ago in my Grandpa and Grandma Dana's history. When I was writing, I had no idea that I would ever have the opportunity to actually visit the towns and villages they came from. The topography hasn't changed much in the years since they lived there. I've mentioned the "spirit of place" we've felt before. As we walked and drove around I felt like I was watching myself in an episode of Who Do You Think You Are! I felt such a connection to the place, the time, and the people who lived there.

Farmborough, England -
not to be confused with the large city of Farnborough 90 miles to the east

The three mile long one-lane road between Farmborough and Chelwood

The Chelwood countryside

The only church in Chelwood - this is where some of my Shore ancestors
would have worshipped and married. The clock tower dates back to 1796.
At the end of our weekend, on the way back to Newchapel, we stopped for a quick look at Castle Combe. The Horsleys had been there before and loved it. We fell in love with it, too. It's a quaint old village in the Wiltshire district of England, dating back to the 1300's or earlier.

Castle Combe
A walk back through time

The majestic Manor House (now a hotel) in Castle Combe
Later in January, our dear friend Eva from Hungary was able to come see us again. (See September 2012:  It's Been A Busy Week at the Visitors' Centre). It has been one of the blessings of our mission to have her be able to visit us while we live so much closer to Hungary than usual. Our sister missionaries just love her - and so do we!

Sisters Cardona, Ylisaari, Reneer, Phermsin, and Maughan with Eva (third from left)
Besides visiting the Cathedral in Canterbury together after Don and I spoke in the Canterbury Ward (See February 2013: Churches), I was able to take a P=Day while Eva was here and spend a day with her in London. The highlight of the day was when Eva and I searched out and found the Handel House Museum and explored it to our hearts content. Another "spirit of place" experience. Being in the home where George Frideric Handel spent 36 years of his life in the early 1700's (through the height of his career and until his death) and visiting the room where he composed the Messiah is something neither Eva or I will ever forget. Eva has a beautiful soprano voice and sings with an Oratorio Choir in Budapest (The Budapest Academic Choral Society). She has sung many of Handel's works. I have only sung parts of the Messiah, but my love for it and other music by Handel runs very, very deep. Such inspired music. Words can't begin to adequately describe its magnificence. We had such a great time there. It was a marvelous coincidence that we had tickets for a concert at St. Martin in the Field the next night and were able to listen to a few of Handel's most beloved compositions (see February: Churches).

Evening Concert
In early February we had a speaking assignment in Cornwall, in the Helston Ward. Another unexpected privilege. We traveled one last time with the Kearls from the ELSM Mission Office. They will return home to Canada in April and we are already sad! Aside from a punctured tire as it was getting dark Saturday, some crazy guys in a truck (ask Myrna), and a couple of good Samaritans who rescued us out in the middle of nowhere (who we took to dinner and loved getting to know), it was an uneventful but long drive.

After church in Helston on Sunday we took a drive straight south to Lizard Point for a view of the vast North Atlantic ocean. What a beautiful, desolate piece of land on the southwestern tip of England! The locals said it was a mighty cold weekend for Cornwall, but not having been there before, we didn't know the difference. At least when the wind stopped blowing our teeth stopped chattering....

Elder and Sister Kearl at Lizard Point

Overlooking the English Channel at Lizard Point
Monday morning, before heading home, we headed west from Helston about 25 miles through Penzance to Lands End. Very cool! Definitely worth the time and effort to get there, though the best thing about the trip is the scenery. Unless you have time to stay in the beautiful old hotel and relax for a few days (would have been nice!), there's not much there in the winter except a few gift shops.

Lands End!
Looking out over the North Atlantic

Off-shore lighthouse at Lands End

The beauty of England

On the way home

A few weeks after our trip to Cornwall, Janet arrived to participate in the Who Do You Think You Are - Live Family History Conference in London. This was her second year to have a booth at the conference and it provided the perfect opportunity to promote her new book. Zap the Grandma Gap is a step-by-step guide about how to invest your kids and grandkids in their family history and why it is so very important in today's world. This year Janet also had her first out-of-country speaking opportunity. She taught two classes at the conference. We heard they were a great success!

Before the conference started, Don and I were able to spend some time with Janet by "dividing and conquering." By each of us taking a separate P-Day on different days that week we were able to spend some one-on-one time with her that we really enjoyed. Janet has been yearning for her dad to accompany her to Taunton to do some new research on his Carpenter lines. He was able to spend a day with her in the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton checking out parish records and copying christening, marriage and burial records on his patriarchal line in Bradford-on-Tone. They had an amazing opportunity while there. They were able to hold some of the original wills and documents of Don's 4th and 5th great-grandparents - including their signatures and wax seals. Some of the documents are older than the Declaration of Independence. What an experience!

Janet and her dad visited Trefusis Farm where at least four generations
of the Carpenter family lived near Bradford-on-Tone

St. Giles Church in Bradford-On-Tone

Carpenter family property deeds from the 1700's at the Somerset Heritage Centre
Inside St. James Church in Taunton-
where Don's 5th great-grandparents were married in 1731

On the next Sunday, February 17th, after church, we took a drive with Janet to the cemetery in Gravesend, an hour north of where we live, to find some Carpenter ancestors' graves. We had already visited Gravesend once before at Christmastime in search of Carpenter homesteads (see January 2013: And Then There Were Five). We were so excited when we found this headstone in the cemetery:

At the Gravesend Cemetery
It is the gravestone for seven Carpenter family members buried there, including Don's great-grandparents and great-great grandparents. We were thrilled to find that the tombstone was still in great condition and we could read every word.

The Carpenter  family tombstone
The Carpenter headstone in the cemetery at Gravesend.

On Monday I got my turn to spend some time with Janet. She had already invited me to take the train into London with her and go to tea - a thank-you of sorts for some editing I did on her book before Christmas. She didn't have to twist my arm -- I really wanted to go to tea once while we're in England! We had a great time!

Janet in Victoria Station

Having tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace
with my oldest daughter was so much fun that I'm thinking
we'll make it a new mom and daughters tradition at home...

I could get used to this!
The lemon ginger herbal tea was the best!
The next day it was back to the Visitors' Centre for Don and me. Janet's friend and fellow conference speaker, Lisa Louise Cooke, arrived from California. We really enjoyed having them stay with us. Lisa Louise shared a lot of her Family History experience and expertise with us, including copies of her books, in the evenings. We learned a lot! She and Janet spent a day or two sightseeing on their own, then they were off to their family history conference in London.

"Who Do You Think You Are - Live" at the Olympia Exhibition Centre

This Family History conference draws about 40,000 people every year
Family History is a huge hobby in the U.K.

Lisa Louise Cooke and Janet at their booth
On Sunday, February 24th, Don and I spoke in the Farnborough Ward outside London, then drove in to walk around the conference exhibit hall before we helped Janet and Lisa Louise pack up and head home.
The conference really made me long to get back into family history when we get home!!!  I love family history conferences!

Spending a few minutes at the Church's FamilySearch booth 
It's been ten days or so since Janet and Lisa Louise left for home. Seems like longer. A lot has happened since them. Our travel schedule has calmed down for a few weeks. It's a good thing because Don is just now getting over another serious bout with pneumonia. Thankfully, our dark, wet, cold, gloomy weather has finally gone away, too, and we've had two straight days of sunshine. Today we even took our coats off!! And we've had some big changes in our sister missionary staff in the past few days. More on that next time we write.                       ~Pat~