Monday, April 29, 2013

Missing Them

Speaking only for myself, I've been just a little melancholy this past week or two. There are a lot of people I've been missing lately! We see blessings around us every day and we love serving this mission, but once in awhile it would be nice to be in two places at once :)

Last weekend, our son-in-law Josh graduated from B.Y.U. with a degree in Psychology. Would have love to have been there with them!  

Emily and Josh at the Marriott Center.

Also last week, we had a great Skype call with our two youngest grandkids -- who are growing up soooo fast. Miss them so much! Luckily, we get to see and talk to all our grandkids nearly every week on Skype. What a blessing!

Our Skype view of Ammon and Laina.

We are so grateful for the love and support our family has given us for the past (almost) two years that we've been away from home. We are so blessed. The good news from home is:
  • Jenn and Iain are settled in and loving their new home in Mountain Green.
  • Our oldest grandson, Jacob, will be graduating from high school next month.
  • Janet's book, Zap the Grandma Gap, is selling well and she is doing a lot of speaking on how to get your kids and grandkids excited about their family's history.
  • Kristen is doing lots of beautiful photo shoots with her business, Sweet Sassafras.
  • Both Jenn and Amy, as well as Amy's husband Colin, are working on their Master's Degrees.
  • Emily is finishing her first year of teaching her own sixth grade class at American Preparatory Academy.
  • Amy was in Utah during her Spring break. She will be there again this summer during part of the time that Colin is deployed to Qatar.
  • Amy and Emily will both be performing in Haiti this summer with Clog America.

Last week also found us saying good-bye to Elder and Sister Kearl, who finished their mission and have already arrived safely home in Canada. We are really going to miss them. We have such good memories of trips taken and times together. Sister Kearl pretty much kept the missionaries fed and looked after for 18 months. Elder Kearl was in charge of everything financial and earth-shaking in the mission. Together, they reached out to everyone, made us feel loved and kept us all laughing.  

Elder George and Sister Myrna Kearl from the Mission Office.
Everyone loved the Kearls around here!

The Kearls are the fourth missionary couple to leave the temple grounds this month. The Knights, Fawcetts and Workmans preceded them. What a wonderful bunch of friends! We wish them all well in their new escapades.

Elder Ed and Sister Connie Knight, temple missionaries and
guardian angels, also left a few weeks ago. We miss them, too!

One great blessing of the past few weeks was a visit from our dear friends, the Berentes, from Draper. We were so glad to see them! Istvan and Lisa and their kids are living in Stuttgart, Germany for six months or so while Lisa is deployed. They spent several nights at the Temple Accommodation Centre here on the temple grounds. During the days, they did some temple work and saw a lot of London and southern England. I got to take an afternoon off and drive to Dover with them. So much fun to be with them! We toured the Wartime Tunnels from World War II, the magnificent Dover Castle, and walked along the White Cliffs. It was such a beautiful day that we could even pick out the shoreline of France on the other side of the English Channel.

The Berentes at the White Cliffs of Dover

Don stayed behind at the Visitors' Centre the afternoon we went to Dover. He had an interview with the BBC in Surrey. There is a "Faith" program that the BBC broadcasts every Sunday morning one the radio. Over the next few weeks, they will be airing two interviews with Don and a public affairs representative for the Maidstone Stake.

Sunday night, while we were at a meeting with all the temple missionaries, Lisa, Courtney and Hannah took off around the temple grounds and made a surprise video for us. We were surprised and amazed. It is such a fun video! You can view it right here (you may have to copy and paste):

Now we've said good-bye to the Berentes. They're off the see the tulips in the Netherlands on their way back to Germany. If a mission is anything, it's a lot of hellos and good-byes. Once again I am reminded of the wise words of Dr. Seuss:  "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened!"

You just have to celebrate the temporary!                          ~Pat~

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Good Week in Newchapel

We had a good week this week.  On Wednesday I had my final driving lesson.  Americans can drive for a year in England on their U.S. licenses, but after a year they have to pass two British driving exams -- a theory or written test on the highway rules and hazards, and a practical driving test on the roads with an examiner.  After driving for 53 years, you'd think I would have no problem passing these tests.  Let's just say that many Americans fail their tests the first time -- both the young missionaries and the seniors.

My last driving lesson with Stuart Ansell

I passed my written theory test in January then started taking driving lessons before my practical test.  I must say there is a lot more to getting a driver's license in the UK than in the States.  I thought I might be able to get by without an instructor, but I learned new things with each lesson.  There are so many things to remember. It's easy to get docked for things that may seem minor in the States.  After I took my driver's test Friday, my examiner, a former policeman, said the British exam is the most challenging of any country in the world.  I passed!  I'm happy.  Truth is, I think this experience will make me a much better driver when I return home next year.  That's got to be a good thing.  

I passed!

Our sister missionaries have come to expect donuts -
our traditional "passed the driver's test" celebration at the V.C.

Early last week, before my driving test, I was contacted by a reporter for the area newspaper.  He wanted a reaction to the Book of Mormon Musical playing in London.  I talked to him for a few minutes on the phone, then waited anxiously to see what he would report.  When the article came out on Thursday, I was pleased to find out that he was honest and fair.  The only inaccuracy was the overstated headline.  

The East Grinstead Observer

It rained again on Saturday, but we had a beautiful rainbow over the temple, which Pat captured by leaning out our kitchen window with the camera.

The view from our "flat"

Late afternoon at the temple

The Visitors' Centre is only a few short steps from the temple.

Last Friday night, after my driving test, we celebrated with some friends and went to "The Neil Diamond Story," performed in an East Grinstead theatre by an impersonator who sounded just like him. A great way to end the week.               ~ Don~

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Mormons Are Coming!

It's an exciting time to be a Mormon in London, especially a Mormon missionary. The satirical Book of Mormon Musical is in full stride at the West End theatre district, and the Church has been getting a lot of publicity. P.T. Barnum is quoted as having said, "There's no such thing as bad publicity," and in this case it seems to be true. It's been interesting to see what's unfolding.

Advertising for the musical began in September of 2012 with billboards and posters proclaiming that  "The Mormons are Coming!"  (See our Sept. 20, 2012 blogpost.) Since then the Church has seen a 10-fold increase in Internet hits to When the play opened on March 21, patrons found three full-page ads in the playbook that featured members saying "You've seen the show, now read the book" or "The book is always better."  On April 8th, the Church began its month-long "I'm a Mormon" campaign, with large banners and video boards in the Charing Cross train station and numerous platform displays at eight tube stations, including Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus near the theatre district.  Posters cover the sides of 250 double-decker buses circulating through downtown London.  Some buses that already have ads promoting The Book of Mormon Musical are now being followed by buses with ads that say "I'm a Mormon" or "Ask a Mormon."  It's pretty amazing!

Last Friday, on our P-Day, Pat and I took the train into London to tour the National Archives and the Family History Centre there. We had a great time visiting Paul and Annie Smart who have just arrived to serve a mission there for the next 18 months. They are in the England London South Mission with us. They are from Draper and Paul and I served together in the Corner Canyon Stake before it was divided. So fun to see them! They took us on a personal tour of the Archives and even got us special access to the area where they do their work.

Yet another rainy day...
The beautiful British National Archives complex
Pat and I with Paul and Annie Smart
Picturesque street on our way back to the Kew Gardens Tube station...

This Tube train starts out above ground until it gets closer into the center of London.
On the way to Kew Gardens and the National Archives, we stopped at Charing Cross and Piccadilly stations to see the "I'm A Mormon" displays and take pictures. We had a great time.

One of the buses at Piccadilly Circus

Right now, in central London, you can't miss the member profiles and messages to "Ask A Mormon" about the Church. Many people in England, and elsewhere, are skeptical about organized religion, but this campaign is an invitation for people to hear directly from British members about their faith and insights, to explore basic LDS beliefs on their own, or to contact missionaries if they have questions.  All inquiries are directed to  for further information. It will be interesting to see how traffic on this Internet site and our Chat lines increases.  

One young woman we met in the Maidstone Stake had a funny experience a week or so ago. She was in London late one evening riding a bus with a bunch of her Church friends. A group of young men having a good time - with the help of a little alcohol - were on the same bus. She heard one of them say to another, "Keep it Mormon." She was surprised, to say the least, but soon realized that what the guy was really telling his friend was to act a little more respectable! She took it as a compliment and struck up a conversation. While most of the group put their earphones back on, one of the guys in the group started asking questions.

More people are becoming curious and wanting to know what the Church teaches, who the Mormons are, and what they believe.  "The Mormons are Coming?"  No!  They've already been here for 175 years, nearly 200,000 strong in the British Isles, and growing.                     ~Don~

Monday, April 8, 2013


At the London Temple Visitors' Centre, our sister missionaries teach the gospel in many ways.
     (1) Our sisters teach in person. They are always happy to greet and teach anyone who comes into our Visitors' Centre and wants to know more about the Church, about our Savior, or about his gospel. Recently, we've had several people who have seen the Book of Mormon Musical - which just opened in London - travel to the Visitors' Centre asking for a Book of Mormon or answers to their questions.
     (2) Our sisters teach online on "Chat," which is the live instant-messaging program that you access if you click on the tab labeled "Chat" at the top of the page on Hundreds of sister missionaries at Visitors' Centres around the world, as well as a group of missionaries at the Provo MTC, spend a few hours each day receiving those requests for information about the Church. Usually they teach in English, but often they teach in their native language as well. Requests for information and questions about the Church and it's teachings come from people in every part of the world. Indeed, the gospel of Jesus Christ is being taught this way to nearly every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
     (3) Our sisters teach by email. When people who contact the missionaries want more information than they can get in a simple Chat session, our sister missionaries are encouraged to begin teaching them by email, where they can have longer conversations and teach principles in more detail. Many people feel more comfortable, at first, exploring the Church's teachings online at their own convenience and in a less structured setting. Email teaching is a great advantage to those who travel or have demanding schedules.
     (4) Our sisters have a local area of their village or city of residence where they proselyte - either before or after their Visitors' Centre shifts.

Sister Cardona (on the right) with Sister Berati
Sister Cardona, who has been with us at the Visitors' Centre for many months, is one of several sisters who are having wonderful, faith-promoting experiences teaching online. (See Frosting On The Cake, December 27, 2013.) Several of our sister missionaries have transitioned online contacts to local missionaries in many parts of the world - the U.S.A., Haiti, Canada and England - where the person has continued to be taught and eventually become a member of the Church.

Following is an excerpt of a letter Sister Cardona received from one of her contacts a few weeks ago. The young woman had written this description of her feelings and experiences to share at her baptismal service and wanted Sister Cardona to know how she felt. It is such a perfect example of the experiences that we are having that I want to share it.

          "I became interested in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day 
     Saints in a somewhat unconventional way. My journey began when 
     everyone seemed to be worried and anxious about the Mayan 
     prediction of the end of the world in December of 2012 and were 
     looking for ways to survive the things they feared would come to pass. 
     Having grown up knowing Matthew 25:13 'watch therefore for ye 
     know neither the day or the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh,' I 
     wasn't thinking in terms of the end of the world happening in 
     December 2012, but I did  become concerned that with all the media 
     attention, that people would panic and start doing things out of fear 
     that they normally would not do. So, I started looking for websites 
     that would give me ideas on how to plan for times of shortage and 

          "I found the LDS website and I began to read. I read and I 
     watched the videos that were available. I went to the 'Meet the 
     Mormons' link and read people's stories of how they knew the Book 
     of Mormon and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was 
     true. The more I read, the more interested I became and the more 
     interested I became, the more I wanted to learn. I went to the website 
     daily and the Holy Ghost put upon my heart that I needed to find out 
     more. I pushed that thought to the back of my mind thinking that  
     I was just getting caught up in what I was reading and that it was my 
     own thoughts and emotions and not the voice of the Lord that I was 
     hearing. Still, I could not resist going to the website and soaking in 
     everything I could find to read.

          "One day, I was on the web and stumbled across the missionary 
     chat line. There was the little button that had the words 'Chat with a 
     missionary' and 'Start Chat.' I wasn't going to push that button. What 
     would I say? I didn't push that button, either. Next day, same button, 
     the Holy Ghost sitting on my shoulder whispering 'push it, push the 
     button.' Finally, I pushed the button and the Chat screen came up 
     prompting 'type your question here.' I froze. I had no idea what to 
     write. Then a message from a missionary came up saying, 'Hello, my 
     name is Virginie [Sister Cardona]. How can I help you?' The Holy 
     Ghost must have taken over because I cannot tell you what I wrote. 
     I honestly have no idea but I did write and it may have been 
     incoherent babble but the Holy Ghost was translating so Virginie 
     knew exactly what I was saying and she knew exactly what to say 
     to me. I made a friend and we talk weekly still. She asked me if she 
     could contact the missionaries in my area and have them call me. 
     I told her yes. 

          "Shortly after, Sister Brown and Sister Jensen contacted me and I 
     made more friends. I was amazed at how inviting and friendly everyone 
     was the day Sister Brown, Sister Jensen and Sister Ponder came to my
     home for the first time. They shared scripture and testimony with me 
     and invited me to come to church the following day and I gladly 
     accepted. Then came Saturday night and the dreams. In the dreams I 
     was in turmoil and struggling against someone unseen. I was being 
     told that I was making a huge mistake. In my dream but I didn't know 
     why. Sunday morning, I woke up with the worst headache and 
     thought, 'Okay, I am not going feeling like this. Who is going to miss 
     me anyway? They don't know me.' I tried to go back to sleep but I 
     could not sleep. I finally got up and prepared myself to go to church. 
     I almost turned the car around and went back home. My head was 
     pounding, but I didn't. I parked my car and went inside where I was 
     met by a crowd of smiling faces and led to where Sister Brown and 
     Sister Jensen were. They then introduced to the dearest lady, Sister 
     Smith. Sister Smith invited me to sit with her and her family during 
     Sacrament Meeting where she explained what was going on and 
     shared the scripture readings with me, showing me where to find 
     them and explaining what they meant when I looked confused. I 
     then followed her to Sunday School and Relief Society and enjoyed 
     everything about the services. 

         "I felt in my heart that I was in the right place; that this is where I 
     needed to be. This was where Heavenly Father wants me. Still, I was 
     haunted by those horrible dreams for the next several nights, waking 
     me up in the middle of the night questioning my feelings, questioning 
     whether this step was right. Finally, I turned to the scriptures and 
     prayed. I asked the Lord to show me. I asked the Lord to bind Satan. 
     I asked the Lord to give me peace and faith and trust. I prayed for 
     peace and that Satan's lies be removed from my mind. That night, 
     there was sleep.No bad dreams, no questions, and yes, there was a 
     peace:  a peace that comes when you are in the presence of the Holy 
     Ghost. I knew that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 
     was true. 
          "I know that the gospel that the Church teaches is true and 
      complete, and most of all, I know that I do belong here. I am at 
     peace here. I feel Heavenly Father's love here and it is radiated 
     through every member of the Church. I stand before you today 
     declaring that I am happy to be a member of The Church of Jesus 
     Christ of Latter-day Saints. I vow to keep the commandments of our 
     Heavenly Father. I vow to keep the covenants and ordinances so 
     that I may return to live with my Heavenly Father forever." 

     It is a wonderful feeling to know that this young woman and many others like her are finding peace and strength in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though the world can be a confusing, dark and painful place, there is still great peace and happiness to be found in the truths of the gospel.                ~Pat~  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spreading The Word

Performances of The Book of Mormon Musical started last week at a West End theatre in London, and next week the Church will start an I Am A Mormon media blitz with prominent signs on billboards, in train stations, on double-decker buses, and in the Underground subway.  Much like successful Church advertising campaigns in New York, Chicago, and LA where the musical has been running, ads have also been placed in the London theatre playbook featuring local people who have read the Book of Mormon.  The ads explain how the Book of Mormon has changed their lives and brought them closer to Christ.  It's a pretty savvy response on the part of the Church.  Can you imagine the outrage if a musical satire were performed about the major religious book of another prominent religion?  Many curious people can see through the satire and are now asking serious questions about the book and the Church.  They are referred to, where ordinary members of the Church living in the U.K. explain why they are Mormon and what their faith means to them.

A response to the musical from the London Temple Visitors' Centre was published this week in RH Uncovered magazine. The ad below has been distributed to about 102,000 households in towns and cities surrounding the London Temple. We're about an hour away from the London theatre district.  We hope that people in our area will also find new interest in the Book of Mormon and the Church and come to the Visitors' Centre for further information.

In a related activity, we have also placed ads on 15 large public maps being erected in strategic high pedestrian locations in East Grinstead, Forrest Row, and Lingfield.  They provide directions to the Visitors' Centre and invite people to come and learn about the Church.    

We are excited for these new opportunities to invite people to the Visitors' Centre.  Here, on the beautiful grounds of the London Temple, they can meet our missionaries, ask questions about the Church, and learn truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.        ~Don~