Monday, July 29, 2013


I reached the big "7-0" this week. I'm talking age, not height. Since we have been so busy, it came quickly, sort of a surprise. I've never really thought much about turning 70.  It's funny how old you think 70 is until suddenly you get there. Having a 70th birthday is better than not having one, though, so I'll gladly take it. When we left home two years ago, I hadn't considered that I'd be 70 when we returned. Of course I would still be this age whether we served missions or not.

Actually, my birthday was a wonderful day.  We didn't have the fun parade, picnic, boating or fireworks celebration our family usually enjoys together on the 24th of July in Utah, but we did have a great outdoor picnic with Visitors' Centre missionaries on the beautiful temple grounds.  The hamburgers, crisps, baked beans, salad, fruit, American root beer and delicious lemon cake reminded me of home. How cool to have my 70th birthday in England!

Sisters Walmsley, Berati, Stewart and Cardona.

Our good friend and neighbor, Edward, came for a hamburger.

The weather was perfect for a picnic.

Everybody loved the cake.

Birthday wishes from the VC missionaries.

 At age 70, I find that I have become a bit more reflective about many things. Life has been a series of ups and downs, for sure, but I know I've been blessed. Right now I'm just feeling thankful for the numerous blessings that have come my way:

~ 46 years of marriage to a wife who is a lovely person and excellent
~ A supportive family - it would be difficult to leave and serve without
     them sharing our values and goals.
~ Good health, the time, and the means to serve - I know that not all
     who wish to serve missions can.
~ Early upbringing in Cache Valley, with goodly parents, gardens,
     orchards, chickens, horses, and 4-H.
~ Teen years in Berkeley, with good friends, high school, Church, and
     cultural diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area.
~ Education at Berkeley, B.Y.U., U.of U., and career opportunities at
     Dixie, U.S.C. and the Utah Board of Regents.
~ Travel experiences with work, family, school board, international dance
     festivals, and missions.
~ Great memories of family life in Torrance, Cottonwood Heights, and
     Draper with wonderful friends and neighbors.

Spending some time with Ken and Marilyn Anderson
who are our temple missionary neighbors

I feel like I have been blessed more than I deserve, and I am very thankful. I look forward to my 70's and 80's (and maybe even 90's) and hope to achieve some of the following:

~ to live life with more charity and less stress, more concern for others
     and less worry about myself.
~ to spend more time with my wife, family, and friends, but with ample
     time to learn from and serve others.
~ to think more about ideas, truths, and principles -- and less about
     objects and things.
~ to continue to read, write, ponder and learn -- I don't want to die
~ to enjoy whatever life brings, while trying to help others to do the same.

It really is great to be 70.  I'll take it and love it!                      ~ Don~


Monday, July 22, 2013

A Sunny Summer in Surrey

This has definitely NOT been a proper British summer, but you won't hear me complaining. It's been sunny and hot for a couple of weeks straight. The temperature has stayed between 80 - 85 degrees Farhrenheit, which is quite unlike last summer. I, for one, have not missed the rain this year -- though the lawns and fields are certainly not the lush green they were before the heat arrived. Knowing that the lawns will revive when the rain returns, though, I am loving every minute of this hot, dry summer.

With summer has come an influx of visitors to the temple and the grounds. What a busy day we had last Saturday! Over 400 people came to our little Visitors' Center, including 15 separate sets of missionaries who brought people wanting to be taught the gospel by our sister missionaries. We also had two Stake Primary groups come for presentations and movies in our theatre. That may not seem like much in some of the larger visitors' centers, but with our smaller staff and small space, it was a challenge! We juggled people in and out of the Visitors' Centre and the theatre all day -- and we loved it! At one point, each of our sister missionaries and Don were all conducting individual tours (we usually try to teach in companionships) and I was helping a member of our Mission Presidency with 6 rotating groups of Primary children in the theatre. So much fun! We love to see our Visitors' Centre used to full capacity.

Below are pictures of what our temple grounds look like on busy Saturdays. Our security staff doubles as traffic managers, trying to fit all the coaches and cars into the parking lot. Because most people have to travel distances of one to six hours or more to get to the temple here, they tend to come together and to  make a day of it. Families come together, wards come together, old friends meet. There is such a marvelous spirit on the temple grounds when so many people are here. Makes me wonder if it's similar to what we'll experience "on the other side" when we are all reunited in that beautiful place.

Wards and families congregate near the reflecting pool for picnics on the lawn or at picnic tables. It is so fun to see people enjoying the weather and enjoying being together.

Meanwhile, in the Visitors' Centre, lessons are given, testimonies are shared, movies are shown, and love and encouragement are extended.

President Martin, counselor in the ELSM, teaching a group
of Primary children about the temple.

Sister Cardona with an investigator
and the sister missionaries who brought her.

Elder Carpenter teaching two older men
with the two elders who brought them.

Sister Stewart teaching a group at the Christus.

Another couple being taught, with the temple as
a backdrop, by Sister Watt and a friend.
Even the construction barriers that are beginning to go up on the south side of the temple cannot dampen the enthusiasm and the spirit you feel on the London Temple grounds. In about six weeks, the temple will close for 2 1/2 months while some much-needed improvements are made to the temple air conditioning system. The process has already begun on the outside of the temple. Big trucks have been delivering portable construction trailers and fencing for the project. Heavy machinery is already in place. Our landscape has changed a little, but the grounds are still amazingly serene.

During the planned remodeling, the Visitors' Centre will remain open. We expect that it will be much quieter on the temple grounds without temple patrons during that time, but we look forward to being able to give more one-on-one attention to those who come to the Visitors' Centre. The sister missionaries are also looking forward to devoting good amounts of time to the online Chat, email, and Facebook teaching that has become so successful recently.                              ~Pat~

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oh, Happy Day!

One of the greatest blessings of our mission at the London Temple Visitors' Centre is the privilege of working with some amazing young women. In the past 18 months, we've worked closely with 21 young sister missionaries from many parts of the world. We have learned to love and admire each one of them so much! They teach us a lot! They have each had an individual, once-in-a-lifetime influence on us and each one will always have a permanent place in our hearts.

Sister Burrows - Utah
Sister Casasola - California
Sister Howard - Alaska
Sister Jones - Utah
Sister Corbett - Utah
Sister Cabrera - Chile
Sister Barber - Ireland
Sister Corner - England
Sister Maughan - England
Sister Boman - Angola & Utah
Sister Cardona - France
Sister Rodrigues - Portugal
Sister Reneer - Utah
Sister Yapi - France
Sister Ylisaari - Finland
Sister Phermsin - Thailand, Finland
Sister Paulsen - Denmark
Sister Berati - Albania
Sister Stewart - Arizona
Sister Walmsley - New Zealand
Sister Watt - Utah

The first nine have returned home already, and during August we will receive 4 new sister missionaries.

This week we said good-bye to Sister Maughan. It was hard! It's always hard to see our sisters leave. We find ourselves reluctantly counting down the weeks before they go - every time! After being with them and basking in their vibrant personalities nearly every day for many months, when they return home we are relegated to an occasional update on Facebook and wondering if we will ever see them again in this life! Happily, we will see Sister Maughan again. She'll be back in a couple of weeks when she comes to the temple grounds during a Young Single Adult Conference. Hurray!

Sister Maughan's family with us and the Horsleys, when her family met her
at the end of her mission.  We miss her!

Our next missionary to depart will be Sister Cardona. She will go home in 5 short weeks. She is the only one of our 21 sisters so far who has been in the Visitors' Centre her entire mission. When I think of our cute French sister missionary, Sister Cardona, the first thing that comes into my mind is "Oh, Happy Day!"  It's one of her favorite things to say, and it's contagious.

So, in Sister Cardona's honor, here are a few photos of some of our "happy days" lately:

Our neighbors Rob, Debbie and Krista Jolley stopped by to see us in June!

The Jolleys with Elder and Sister Powers, who are serving with us in the
England London South Missions.
Patcee Powers and Debbie Jolley are sisters.  Small world :)

Another friend from Draper is serving with us in the England London South Mission.
Paul Smart and his wife, Annie, were our ELSM Fireside speakers
at the Visitors' Centre in June.

The Smarts and the Carpenters

We got to talk to Colin (Amy's husband) on Skype a few weeks ago.
He's stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Qatar.

Sister Walmsley with Donny Osmond on the temple grounds.
We got to meet him, his wife and their youngest son earlier that day in the temple.
Genuinely nice guy!

We had a fun Visitors' Centre missionary P-Day together in early July.
We all took a trip on the old Bluebell Steam Engine train. 

On the way to Sheffield Park

All our Visitors' Center missionaries - minus Don who's taking the picture.

Sheffield Park is a gorgeous old manor house and estate near Haywards Heath.

Five amazing sister missionaries (left to right):
Sisters Walmsley, Cardona, Maughan, Stewart and Berati

One of the lakes on the Sheffield Park estate

Water lilies on the Sheffield Park estate.

We've written several times about Grant Neale and the great friend he's been to the London Temple Visitors' Centre. He and his family are some of our favorite people. They have been the impetus behind some of the very best things that have happened at the Visitors' Centre since we've been here. They really don't get much in return, but they continue to serve and give out of the goodness of their hearts. They are amazing and an inspiration to us!

Grant's in-laws, David and Leslie Bridgstock, are also an inspiration to us. They own a beautiful home and grounds down the street a few blocks from the temple and they share pretty much everything they have generously with others. Right now one of our missionary couples and two of the Mission Office elders live in different flats (apartments) on their property.

We have watched as the Bridgstock family has shared their home and grounds with others for parties, weddings and receptions. We have had the Bridgstock family give musical performances at the Visitors' Centre several times since we've been here. David Bridgstock also teaches an L.D.S. Family Services Addiction Recovery program at the Visitors' Centre once a week. Yesterday, the Bridgstocks and their daughters and families put on a charity even to raise money for "Tommy's,"  a program that helps women who have had miscarriages and stillborn babies.

The Bridgstock's home on West Park Road

Missionaries and others at the charity event at the Bridgstocks.

As you can see from the photos, it's summer here, at last!

Oh, Happy Day!                            ~Pat~

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Out of Obscurity

"Bring this Visitors' Centre out of obscurity." That's what we were asked to do while at the MTC 18 months ago.  This charge gave us much to think about. What did they mean? We later learned that after the Centre was dedicated in 1969, it had been closed for many years due to its rural location and lack of visitors.  It was reopened in 2008 through the efforts of President Jeffrey and Sister Heidi Swinton and managed  by a senior missionary couple assigned by the England London South Mission president. We were the first to be called by the First Presidency to direct the Centre.

As soon as we arrived, we began to understand the challenge we'd been given. The London Temple Visitors' Centre is not a beacon set on a hill.  It cannot even be seen from the street. The only way to find it is to enter the property through the temple gates and drive past a parking lot.  Those who find it -- mostly members -- already knew it was here. There were no "welcome" signs. We wanted the general public to feel welcome and invited, but most did not know the Centre existed. We felt like we were in a London fog when we first got here. We didn't know where to turn.  We prayed a lot, and went to work, not really knowing where to go or what to do.

With the help of the Lord and the backing of the Church Missionary Department, we've watched some exciting things unfold!  Each senior missionary couple who previously served at the Visitors' Centre gave their hearts and souls and contributed to its progress, but they did not have the support we now enjoy through the Missionary Department. We have been assigned wonderful sister missionaries, two senior couples, and an operating budget. We've been able to extend opening hours at the Centre and had the flexibility to develop new programs, make media contacts, and work with government, community and Church leaders to promote the Centre. We've had the funds to purchase needed supplies, materials, and advertising.

This week we sent our third six-month report to the Missionary Department.  I've written about some of these developments in previous blogs, but I'd like to share a few highlights from that report.  We're thrilled to see some positive progress being made toward bringing the Visitors' Centre "out of obscurity."

1. Five more "brown signs" have been installed by West Sussex County to guide motorists to the temple from East Grinstead, Crawley, and Gatwick Airport.  These are in addition to the five signs installed last year by Surrey County. All ten signs have directional arrows with the words, London Temple & Visitors' Centre.  Brown signs in England lend public credibility to the Visitors' Centre as a recognized tourist/information destination. 

Heading north on the A-22  - the Old Roman Road

Just off the M-23 near Gatwick Airport

Heading west on West Park Road

2. News articles favorable to the Church and the Visitors' Centre have appeared recently in The Surrey Mirror, The Crawley Observer, The East Grinstead Courier, In-Touch Magazine, RH Uncovered Magazine, Crawley Lions Magazine, and A Guide to Tandridge. (See "Uncovered" on Feb. 28, 2013 and "A Good Week in Newchapel" on Apr. 22, 2013.)

3. As a result of these articles, I was interviewed on BBC Radio, along with Annabelle Griffiths of the Maidstone Stake, for two Sunday morning "Faith" programs carried throughout Surrey and Sussex Counties. (See "Our New Edition" on June 10, 2013.)

4. Two new exhibits have been established and promoted at the Visitors' Centre -- We Follow Christ, and a display of the First European Edition of The Book of Mormon, published in Liverpool in 1841. (See "Introducing" on Jan. 29, 2013 and "Our New Edition" on June 10, 2013.)

5. Two new bus routes to the London Temple have been established with connections from East Grinstead, Crawley, and Gatwick Airport.  New bus schedules have been published that include color advertisements inviting people to come to the Visitors' Centre.

6. Town maps have been erected at 15 high-pedestrian locations in East Grinstead, Forest Row, and Lingfield, with a Visitors' Centre advertisement showing its location - along with other community points of interest.  (See "Spreading the Word" on Apr. 4, 2013.)

7. Missionaries have increased the number of teaching appointments and the number of investigators brought to the Visitors' Centre for lessons taught by our sister missionaries. They feel a peaceful, powerful spirit on the temple grounds, which helps them to make and keep baptismal commitments. The number and percentage of nonmembers coming to the Centre has grown.

8. Our sister missionaries have increased their on-line teaching hours, focusing on email teaching and the use of Chat, Facebook, and missionary blogs.  During the past six months, computer-aided teaching has led to baptisms in Canada, California, Texas, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Africa, Haiti, and London. (See "Chat" on Apr. 8, 2013.)

9. The Visitors' Centre sponsors successful Why I Believe and ELSM firesides every other Sunday evening. Monday night family programs for members and friends have been added, including several Family History workshops conducted by directors of the Reading Stake Family History Centre. (See "Firesides and Activities" on Feb. 17, 2013.)

Our Family History experts:  Christine & Alan Johnson

President Anatsui, Wandsworth Stake, speaking at "Why I Believe"

Elder & Sister Morris (New Zealand) with Pres. & Sister Anatsui (Ghana)

10. By invitation, we continue to speak 2-3 times each month in Sacrament meetings and firesides in the wards and branches of the temple district. We speak on gospel topics, but always invite members to bring nonmember friends and family to the Visitors' Centre.

Elder Carpenter at the Crawley Stake Centre

We have learned that missionary work is never finished.  When we are released, other directors will move in and take the London Temple Visitors' Centre in new directions.  We have worked hard, but there is always so much more to be done.

No matter what we do to spread the "good news" of the gospel and enhance the image of the Church, we've  found that many people remain uninterested in God or religion -- their own or any other.  Secularism and atheism, meanwhile, continue to rise throughout Europe.  We remain undeterred, because we know how badly the world needs the truths of the restored gospel and the happiness that is found in living true principles.

Two weeks ago we attended a concert in Brighton by a group presenting the music of "The Carpenters."  We loved it!  With respect to this mission, we feel like joining Karen Carpenter in singing We've Only Just Begun.                                                                                                            ~ Don~