Monday, September 29, 2014

We Made it !

Here we are in jolly olde England.  This is what it really looks like.

The next picture is our flat on Palace Gate. Ours
is on the main street level and the right windows.

A 14 minute walk gets us to the Hyde Park Building which houses two wards, the mission office, the stake offices, a family history center and our Self-Reliance Center - home for the next 18 months.  During our first week here, our director has been in Germany getting trained on new materials.  For this week, we were on our own.

As we walk down Queens Gate Lane, there are a number of Embassy's and it seems they all drive some rather exotic cars.  We see Aston Martin's, Alpha Romeo's, Massarati's, Ferrari's and other interesting cars.  I love the eye lashes.  They are the rage here.

The first day at the center a lady who had moved from Australia came in to get some help.  We noticed that she needed help with her CV (Curriculum Vitae or Resume).  Luckily a center volunteer named Claire came in and helped us. Wednesday and Thursday we helped prepare and serve food for Zone Conferences and received wonderful instruction on the Book of Mormon from our Mission President. On Thursday we recognized our first miracle when a single adult walked in and asked how she could help.  We were so new we did not know what to have her do.  Five minutes later, a church member from Hungary walked in and requested his CV (resume) and Temple Ordinance Records which were prepared by the previous couple.  We had no idea where to find the papers.  Our volunteer gal searched the entire office and found the documents on the computer ready to print.  Because she knew genealogy, she also knew how to find the ordinance records.  (She had only been a member 10 months herself.)  We had a language barrier with the Hungarian member and I went downstairs to the Zone Conference and found that there was only one missionary from Hungary and he was here serving in London.  Of the four zones in the mission, he was at the center the day we needed him. The Elder and volunteer helped get plane tickets, a visa waiver, and other arrangements to get the member on his way to SLC for General Conference.  How sweet it was to see the pieces come together.  The Lord knew we needed help, Eron - the Hungarian needed help, and he provided the new member and the only hungarian speaking missionary in the mission.  All at the same time in the same place.  Miracles do happen!

On our P-Day we visited a local museum and thought we had found ice cream.   Charisse, we found ice cream.  It was cold, frozen, and on a cone but it tasted like frozen whipped cream or cool whip. We will continue searching.  That will be our quest.

Cheerio to everyone - Steve & Afton

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 2 has been uplifting.  Sunday we had a personal meeting with six missionaries, three staff and Elder Enrique R. Falabello.  We were introduced to the new Initiative of Self-Reliance for church members around the world.  This includes PEF and Self-Reliance in employment leading to spiritual and temporal well being.   Training the rest of the week was an overview of what is happening.  Most of it is about substance that we do not have.

It was exciting to receive on Tuesday an email from the Embassey of the UK in New York that they were finally processing and sending our Visa.  It arrived Wednesday.  Thursday, on the way to the airport, we stopped by the Church Office Building and picked up the visa. Last minute I guess you would say.  Off to the Airport and on the plan from 5:00 pm Thursday to Noon on Friday.

At Heathrow Airport we were met by the mission staff who took us to meet President Jordan, our Mission President.  Following an hour interview, we walked over to the Employment Center and met with Martin Gardner, our Church Director.  He worked with us until about 4:00 pm.  Then we were taken to our apartment and advised NOT to go to sleep till evening so we packed our little cart and went to the store for groceries.  Home at last, unpacked, crashed.  Afton did not surface until 11:00 am the next morning.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

MTC Experience

September 8th, 2014.  Steve and Afton report to the Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah.   With great anticipation and excitement we drove to Provo to begin our first week of wonderful training.   We were greeted by young missionaries and let through the orientation process including immunization and room assignments.  It's like we joined the Army!  (Wait, I guess we did.  The Lord's Army.)  Steve has already been assigned to be a District Leader, which means Afton was in charge of refreshments - chocolate every day. It's important to set a good example.  The first day wrapped up with inspirational training, moving into our small apartment, and collapse.

Tuesday we found our basic schedule looked like:
  • 6:15  Alarm went off way too early!  Maybe tomorrow we'll try the inflatable exercise area.
  • 7:00  Out the door to the famous MTC breakfast.
  • 7:59  Music and instruction started - On time is late, better to be early.
  • 8:00  General training and instruction from PREACH MY GOSPEL.
  • Noon:  More food at the cafeteria
  • 1:15  Back to class  / Basic Training
  • 5:30  Dinner - Still more food.
  • 7:00  Devotional
All of the missionaries met for a devotional with special speaker, Elder & Sister Sitaki from the Presidency of the Seventy.  They came to us from Nairobi, Kenya and were converts in 1986.  About 1/3 of the missionaries participated in a special missionary choir and we all sang Called to Serve.  It was fun to look down the row while singing and see the young missionaries using the words to the song in their own newly learned language as we sang in English.

The highlight of Wednesday was a session at the Provo Temple which has the greatest attendance of any temple in the Church.  It's remarkable to think about how well-used this temple is and yet the building and its furnishings are still in pristine condition.  The experience was beautiful and the Spirit uplifting. 

MTC Training this week has been all about learning to teach.  We have been given skills, practice for those skills, interaction, more practice and testimony.  It was lots of fun yet very spiritual. We are loving lunchtime in the cafeteria with 2600 young excited missionaries. The courage of Senior Missionaries going to foreign language countries with no training and all the assignments given by the Lord is stunning.

To be continued ............
First Day of Missionary School

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Called To Serve

Afton & I have been called to serve in the England London Mission in the Office of the Perpetual Education Fund and Self Reliance Center.