Monday, October 28, 2013

Arrivals and Departures

With the Terry's early departure for home, we've been covering some extra shifts at the Visitors' Centre the past few weeks. That's been fun, but busy! Since our office is in our flat, we find ourselves wandering back and forth between the Visitors' Centre and our flat many times a day. No complaints, though. It's like walking through a beautiful park every time we step outside (well, except when it's pouring rain).

Two weeks ago, we had  an unexpected blessing arrive. Elder Terry and Sister Barbara Fowler arrived in the England London South Mission with some time on their hands. Evidently, they were wanted for more than one assignment, so while that was being sorted out, they stayed on the temple grounds and helped us in the Visitors' Centre - and we are so grateful! Besides covering a shift (usually 6 hours) for us on weekdays, Elder Fowler has been helping our sister missionaries with some of the difficult questions they field on our Chat lines and sharing some gospel study sessions with them, too. He taught and administered in the Institute program for 35 years and has been a great resource to us. We have greatly appreciated getting to know Elder and Sister Fowler and the time they've spent with us. We're sorry to see them go! Last Saturday they were assigned to serve the Crystal Palace Ward in Wandsworth Stake and they have now moved closer into London. We know the people there will learn to love them as much as we have!

We'll miss you, Elder and Sister Fowler!

With two senior couples coming and going during October, we're so glad Elder and Sister Horsley are still here holding down the place! They have been awesome missionaries at the London Temple Visitors' Centre: always responsible, always smiling, always cheerful and kind, always ready to teach the gospel to anyone who comes in search of answers, and always willing to do whatever is needed. We love the Horsleys!

Dinner at the Peacock - our senior missionary hangout -
before the Fowlers were transferred to Crystal Palace.
L-R: Elder Horsley, us, Sister Horsley, Sister & Elder Adams,
Sister & Elder Fowler, Sister Cates, Sister Qumsiyeh (standing).

This weekend, we also said good-bye to our beloved temple presidency and their wives as they completed three years of service at the London Temple. President Raymond Lowry will be succeeded by President Kenneth Johnson when the temple re-opens on November 12th.  We loved and appreciated the outgoing presidency so much and look forward to working with the new presidency soon! What a privilege to rub shoulders with such outstanding men and women!

President & Sister Cook, President & Sister Lowry,
President & Sister Lock - the outgoing temple presidency.

President & Sister Irwin, President & Sister Johnson,
President & Sister Crossland - the incoming temple presidency.

On Saturday, October 19th, the Visitors' Centre hosted a fun activity for the senior missionaries in our mission. Because we are so spread out geographically, it's hard to get everyone together very often. Although we don't see them often, we draw great strength from their examples and association. Many wonderful couples have come and gone in the past two years.

Elder and Sister Hom made all the arrangements for the conference and provided the food for everyone. What a treat!  We met at 11 a.m. and had an hour with our mission president, President Millar, then had a delicious lunch together at noon. In the afternoon, there were workshops on how senior couples can use the Visitors' Centre to better advantage, how to use the internet more effectively, using family history in missionary work, and how to have a successful YSA program.

Most of the current senior missionaries in the England London South Mission.
Not pictured:  President & Sister Millar, Elder & Sister Carpenter,
Elder & Sister Horsley, Elder & Sister Boone.
Also during October, we also got to spend a few hours one day with Marian North, her daughter Whitney, and Marian's brother and sister. They were in England on a family history trip and took the time to come visit the temple - and us! - even though the temple was closed. We loved showing them around and going out to dinner. It was great to see our dear friend and past neighbor from Cottonwood Heights!

Friday, October 11th at the Visitors' Centre

If you've read our blog much in the past two years, you know that as senior missionaries, we are allowed to have short visits from children while we are serving a mission - depending on our responsibilities and living conditions. Our mission president reiterated that policy again in the senior missionary conference on Saturday. What a blessing that can be to families - and to senior missionaries! A little time spent with beloved children can really lift your spirits and renew your energy.

Last week we got to see two of our daughters! Kristen and Amy both came for a couple of days before taking off to explore Scotland together. We were able to spend a few short days with Kristen last weekend and we'll have some time with Amy now that they have returned from their trip. Our kids have all been great at respecting our missionary schedule. Sometimes we can join them on their outings, sometimes we can't.

Kristen caught her dad hard at work
(no, he's not sleeping, he's writing!)...

... and me in my usual spot at the desk.

We took an afternoon off to see Leeds Castle again -
one of the most beautiful castles in England.

A daddy-daughter moment.

I love  black swans.

...and white ones.

And I love this guy.
Thanks, Kristen, for a great photo of your dad.

Another of Kristen's close-ups.

Inside the fabulous library inside Leeds Castle.

Enjoying some time off together.

A windy afternoon at the white cliffs of Dover

We found a thatched roof "cottage" in Alfriston
on our way home from church in Eastbourne last Sunday.

Nope, not Dover:  the Seven Sisters near Eastbourne.

It was so windy that we just about got blown off the look-out point.
At least the rain had stopped :)

Windsor Castle in the fall.

Standing guard.

The Queen's Guard. Queen Elizabeth was in residence that day,
but the guard is on duty whether she is there or not.

In our  family, a trip to Windsor Castle isn't complete
without a trip to The Carpenter Arms.

We finally found Winnie the Pooh's 100 Aker Wood!
It's only about 20 minutes from the London Temple.  We had so much fun
checking out this little store that we almost missed seeing the woods.

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down -
but we still found this monument to A.A.Milne near Heffalump Hollow.

At the temple.

Kristen checking something off her bucket list: learning how to drive
on the left (not wrong) side of the road.

Her reluctant passenger.  ...Just kidding!

When Amy arrived on Saturday, we went to "tea" in Lingfield.

Amy and Kristen at Hever Castle

The only hard part about having your kids or grandkids visit is that it's ALWAYS so hard to say good-bye! Kristen left for home yesterday. I can certainly see why the young elders and sisters cannot have visits from family members. The hellos are great, but the good-byes are tough! But then, I guess that's an experience every missionary has, no matter where they serve. With missionary transfers every six weeks, even the young elders and sisters are always saying hello or good-bye to somebody. So are we. One thing's for sure about being on a mission - there are plenty of arrivals and departures.                    ~Pat~

Monday, October 21, 2013

Come Unto Christ

I've noticed something lately. Even though I've believed in Jesus Christ since I was young, my testimony of and love for Him has been growing even more deep and solid than ever before. Serving a mission can do that to you. What a blessing and a privilege.

President Kenneth Johnson, who has been called as the new president of the London Temple, remarked a few months ago that "the best way to get to know the Savior is to serve Him."  And President Gordon B. Hinckley once said that "there is no true worship without sacrifice." Missions definitely involve some sacrifice and lots of service. Sacrifice and service both bring growth and joy and blessings - and a stronger testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We thought we were serving missions to demonstrate our gratitude to the Lord for His watchful care in our lives, but we have re-discovered the truth that you can never repay the Lord for His blessings. In our service and sacrifice, we have been blessed not only with family miracles but with more understanding of and desire to live gospel principles and a deeper love and gratitude for our Savior.

This past weekend, our faithful sister missionaries - organized by Sister Walmsley - presented a Musical Evening for anyone who wanted to come and listen. They invited the East Grinstead Ward choir and several others to participate with them. The Visitors' Centre was filled with a large audience. Words cannot describe the beautiful spirit that was present.

Uplifting music can be a conduit  for the Spirit of the Lord. For centuries, people have been inspired by great religious music. Saturday night it was our turn to be inspired. The music and the messages bore powerful witness of Jesus Christ, His mission, and His love. It sank deep into our hearts.

Sister Walmsley directing the Ward Choir in "Come Unto Christ,"
a beautiful number that she composed.

Elder Foster singing an adaptation of "Be Still My Soul."

Sister Walmsley accompanied herself as she sang, "Savior In Your Life."

Sister Bastian played a stirring rendition
of "How Great Thou Art."

Sisters Stewart, Maddocks, McLaws and Walmsley sang
"I Know That My Redeemer Lives." Sister Ylisaari accompanied.
Our sister missionaries make beautiful music together!

Elder Wehrman, one of our Mission Office elders,
played  "If You Could Hie To Kolob."  So good!

Ben Craggs, of the Crawley Ward, sang "You Can Believe in Christ."

We're so glad Sister Ylisaari was transferred back to
the Visitors' Centre! She is an accomplished pianist
and accompanied nearly every musical number.

The audience listened intently to Sister Walmsley as she sang
"This Is The Christ."

Another East Grinstead choir number:  "Be Strong In The Lord.'

Elder Sparks, our other Mission Office elder,
was the emcee.
"Be Strong In The Lord" by the East Grinstead choir.

To conclude the program, the audience joined the choir
in singing an rousing rendition of "The Spirit of God."
It sounded like angels were singing with us.

At the end of the program, we all listened to the words of the the Savior as the narrative for the statue of the Christus was played. These are His own words as taken from the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

"Behold, I am Jesus Christ. 
I created the Heavens and the Earth and all things that in them are.
I was with the Father from the beginning.

I came into the world to do the will of my Father.
My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross, 
that I might draw all men unto me.

Learn of me and listen to my words;
walk in the meekness of my Spirit,
and you shall have peace in me.

Behold the wounds which pierced my side
and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet.

Behold, I have suffered these things for all,
that they might not suffer if they would repent.

Let not your heart be troubled.
Ye believe in God, believe also in me.

A new commandment I give unto you
that ye love one another as I have loved you,
that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples.

In my Father's house are many mansions...
I go to prepare a place for you.

If ye love me, keep my commandments."

Only one thing never fails in this world:  the pure love of Jesus Christ. Because He personally took upon Himself each one of our sins and sorrows in the Garden of Gethsemane, and because He died for us, He will never forsake us and He will never stop loving us. By putting aside our pride and submitting our will to His, we can make more out of our lives than we ever could on our own. Oh, how I love Him!

Jesus Christ and His gospel have the answers that the world so desperately needs. He is our advocate with God, our Mediator, the Only Begotten Son, the Good Shepherd, the Prince of Peace, and our Messiah.
Oh, how we need Him!                                                                   ~Pat~

Monday, October 14, 2013

Walking in the Footsteps of Our Ancestors

We mentioned last year in our blog (Who Could Have Imagined? - Monday, Oct. 1, 2012) that one of the great joys of this mission has been the unexpected opportunity to travel to places where our ancestors were born and lived. Before we arrived in England, it hadn't occurred to us that we might be able to visit the ancestral homes of several of Pat's ancestors as well as those of my Carpenter lines. We believe it is no coincidence. Albert Einstein once said, "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." 

We recently had an incredible opportunity to see where several more of Pat's ancestors lived. Because our visas expire just a few days after we leave the country, the Area Presidency gave us approval to take a four day trip north to Liverpool and Preston, where the first LDS missionaries arrived in 1837. Along the way, we passed through many other towns and villages with Pat's ancestral history - eventually visiting nine family history sites.

Our dear friends, the Brooks, directors of the Hyde Park Visitors' Centre in London, offered us the use of their brand-new Ford for the trip. At first we resisted. (Pat worried that her father would be rolling over in his grave to know that we had borrowed somebody's car!) But now we are glad we accepted their generosity. It made our trip all the more special.

On the way to Liverpool, we drove through Birmingham, home to Pat's Clark and Barber ancestors. We found the town of West Bromwich where her Great-grandfather Shore lived with his parents and siblings. We spent the night in the beautiful little town of Shrewsbury, which was the birthplace of her Great-great-grandfather John Williams - and also Charles Darwin.

West Bromwich, 5 miles northwest of Birmingham, England

West Bromwich was a coal mining town during the Industrial Revolution.

Shrewsbury Train Station

Shrewsbury High Street

The River Severn in Shrewsbury, England

We met up with Peter Fagg at the docks in Liverpool on Friday morning, September 27th. He is a well-informed  LDS tour guide in England and had agreed to take us on a personal tour for two days. His knowledge and insights made a big difference in what we were able to learn and experience on this trip.

Peter and Don in Preston

We toured the famous city of Liverpool which was the arrival point for hundreds of missionaries and the departure point for thousands of emigrants as they gathered to Zion during the 19th century. We visited the Maritime Museum and Albert Docks and learned about the lives of emigrants.

Legacy Statue memorializing Mormon emigrants -
 presented to Liverpool by members of the LDS Church

At the Albert Docks in Liverpool

Next, we traveled to Preston, 40 miles north of Liverpool, called the "Birthplace of British Mormonism."

Town square where the first LDS missionaries preached in Preston

Don's 1830's re-enactment

The River Ribble at Preston

Near the baptismal site of the first British converts -
including Pat's 3rd great-grandparents, Miles and Elizabeth Romney. 

Friday night we attended the Preston Temple, which is actually in Chorley. It is situated on the most elegant temple grounds, along with a stake centre, MTC and Accommodation Centre.

The Preston Temple in Chorley, England


The next day, we drove through the beautiful English countryside to Ribchester and the Ribble Valley. We learned that a "chester" is a place where there was an ancient Roman fort or military encampment. We visited the stone cottages of Ribchester, Chatburn, and Downham built in the 1700s, where handloom weavers produced fine cotton. Apostle Heber C. Kimball came to this area in 1837 and baptized many converts despite intense opposition from clergy of the Church of England and the Catholics. 

The River Ribble upstream from Preston

The Ribchester Parish Church.
Heber C. Kimball gained a number of converts in Ribchester.

The delightful villages of Chatburn and Downham,
home to many early converts.


We also visited the Lake District and stopped in Hale at the childhood home of John Taylor, third President of the LDS Church.

The John Taylor farmhouse. 
The plaque was placed by LDS Church in 1987.

We made it a point to visit Dalton-in-Furness, at the south end of the Lake District. At least four generations of Pat's mother's Romney family were born and died there.

St. Mary's Parish - the church in Dalton-in Furness where 4 generations of
Pat's ancestors worshiped. The grave of George Romney, the renowned
English portrait painter, is in the foreground. 

The beautiful grounds of St. Mary's Parish

Inside St. Mary's Parish, Dalton-in-Furness

As we headed back to London on Monday, we made one last stop about 30 miles from Nottingham and the Sherwood Forest, in a little village called Great Gonerby. William Clark, Pat's 2nd Great-grandfather was born there.

St. Sebastian's Church, parts of which date back to the 12th century.
William Clark would have been christened here.

We had a terrific time learning about British emigration, the early history of the Church in England, and visiting several of Pat's ancestral sites.  There is something magical about seeing the places your own ancestors came from that fills in the pieces of your life puzzle.  Pat was thrilled, and so was I.  We felt a connection to the very people whose DNA we share.                                                                ~Don~