Sunday, October 19, 2014

Small, Temple, and Transfers

     We have noticed interesting things about the Brits.  They never look at you.  Well, if they are a half a block away, they might glance at you, but when you approach them they look down, up,out into the street or try and look straight past you.  Unfriendly?  Not at all.  If you overwhelm them with a big smile and say Hello, they are really very cheery folks.  One day on the way to the Hyde Park Center, a small van with building materials stacked on top, pulled over.  It had lost part of its load.  The driver was leaning on a large metal frame (obviously one of several that had been on top of his van) and appeared to be figuring out how to get it back on top.  It was raining, but I stopped and offered to help him heft it back up on the truck.  I offered a couple of times but he refused my help and said he would get a mate to help him.  As we walked on, he jogged after us and told us that it was nice of us to stop and offer help.  He noted that we must be from the US because helping is what Americans do.

     Food here is really quite good.  We stopped at a pub one of the first nights we were hear and of course, I had to order Fish & Chips.  This was a wonderful slab of white fish cooked in a light breading and served with crisp chips (french fries to you and me).  The one piece of fish covered my whole plate and it was quite wonderful. Another night we had worked real late and were beat so we stopped at an Italian restaurant.  One of us order Prawns and I ordered chicken pizza.  Nothing like prawns at home.  These were small cocktail shrimp on slices of avacado and the pizza might have had 6 small chunks of chicken and 4 pepperoni slices on the whole pizza.  The tomato sauce was delicious, but everything else on the pizza was missing in action.  Certainly not a Pizza Hut meat lovers like home.

Small Things
     Brits are into small things.  Small apartments, small cars, small shops and stores, and small packaging.  Here is a liter of Orange juice, butter by the 200 gr, vanilla extract with only a few servings.  Just seems that everything is small.  We bought an electrical plug from an "electrical Wholesale" shop.  Must have been all of 150 Sq Ft, but he had everything.  It was cramed into every conceivable corner.  In fact, much of his inventory was actually in the display window.  We bought a set of hair clippers and he pulled the only pair he had from the display out front.   I don't have a good picture of the sidewalks, but they are wide and large.  Small cars crowd the streets while people get nice wide sidewalks.  If there is a car parked on the side of the road buses have to go fully into the on coming lane of traffic to get past. If a delivery truck stops to drop off produce, it is a major traffic jam because no one can get by.

Lingfield Station
     Let me tell you about the London Temple.  It is NOT in London.  We had the wonderful opportunity to take the train toward East Grinfield which stops at Lingfield where you get off and find a taxi to take you to the Temple.  It is really beautiful.  Our group of senior couples overwhelmed the whole session, but the Spirit was great, the Temple was gorgious and the trip very memorable.  We left our flat at about 9:15 am, walked to the underground station and took the tube to Victoria Station.  There we boarded the rail line toward East Grinfield getting off at Lingfield.  We took a lovely strole up a back alley and it opened into the city center of Lingfield where we came face to face with this historical building.  We visited a very old, yet functioning church, and when we came out it was raining.  We dashed to the Star Inn for a delicious lunch of  Sausage & Mash and then off to the Temple.

Historic Building - Lingfield
Star Inn - Open fire
     When we came out of the Temple, we were in a
Sausage & Mash
hurry to get back to London to fill an assignment. We called for a taxi.  While we were waiting, other missionaries came and more people called for a taxi, about 14 in all.  So, the cab company decided to send a good sized van.  When it arrived people started piling in and when it was full, Afton and I were left behind.  First to order, last to get served :-). The taxi driver told there were no more taxis to come.  He drove off and we were left wondering what to do. Fortunately, an Elder (half of a senior couple) drove by and stopped to see what was happening.  He offered to take us to the train station.  Except after driving for about 10 minutes, we found he did not know the way to the train station.  We ended up at East Grinstead of Lingfield - two stops up the train line away from London.  So it was well after 5:00 when we got on the train and headed back to the Center.  We barely made our appointment.  The whole trip took about 9 hours and cost us about $75.  In Utah we are so fortunate to have temples minutes away.

      Briefly, Transfers are wild.  Seems likes anything that can go wrong did for our first transfer. Missionaries come from all over the mission to bring departing missionaries to Hyde Park. New companionships are formed and sent on their way to their new areas, departing missionaries get a nice dinner with the President Jordan, and then we load them up and take the departing missionaries to the Comfort Inn at the airport.  That way, whenever their flights are throughout the next day they can get shuttled a short distance to their terminals instead of an hour's commute from Hyde Park to Heathrow.  All missionaries were reminded to check tickets, luggage, passports, and to make sure they had returned their flat keys.  Elder Davis dropped them off about 10:00 pm.  8:00 am the next morning, a missionary called and could not find his passport.  Eight missionaries going to SLC tried to checkin at the airline only to find that Salt lake had not paid for their tickets.  A mad scramble to make new reservations, pay the tickets, and with two minutes to spare get them all on the plane. No one has called, so we believe they all made it home.

We are loving the work.  The people we work with are really special.  The work is hard, demanding, and wonderful.  We will miss it when the new office couple arrives, but will get some relief when we start our real assignment in the Self-Reliance Center.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Elder Giles Passing

Such an unusual week.  If they are all like this, we are in for a real workout. Monday was beautiful and we had the day off.  Started out at Kensington Gardens (part of Hyde Park).  We visited Kensington Palace, the home of the Royal Family extended.  They actually live here.
Kensington Palace

We were contemplating spending our last few pounds (sterling that is) when Elder and Sister Giles walked in and told us about a Palace Pass.  For less money we could visit several palaces so we decided to hold off going in.  So more on this when we actually get in.  We went out through the gift shop and found that we must really close to royalty from the signs we were seeing.
Could be the Royal Head
We also found the Wiggly Walk just next to the Palace.  A beautiful stroll up toward the Orangery (elegant dining hall for formal occasions.  No picture.)

The Wiggly Walk
Royals have their privileges and beautiful gardens, all kept up by the staff. :-).  Wish we had a staff. 

Below we are seeing the actual Garden just before replanting for the winter season.
Gardens before changing Plants
Steven & Afton at the Gardens
The arts are really big here.  A guest architect was commissioned to do a work near the Serpentine Gallery in the park.  This is a very large snail shell.  It actually has a small snack stand and tables and chairs where you can sit and visit. 

Later in the day we visited the place where C.S. Lewis lived.  Not much to look at, but the street was interesting and very typical o this particular area within in 10 minutes of where we live.  Oops, can't get the video's to post.  Maybe next time.   Help someoe !

That's all the good stuff.  Now for a brief recap of the rest of the week. 
Tuesday morning, our friends, fellow missionaries, and neighbors went walking in Kensington Garden.  Arriving home, Elder Giles started working on breakfast and preparation for the day.  When his companion came back to the kitchen, he was on the floor unconscious.  She immediately panicked and came and banged on our door,  We sprang to action and crossed the hall to find Elder Giles down and out.  Scout training kicked in and I started CPR (first time ever for real).  We called for help and the Cardall's from upstairs came immediately and the police and emergency services were dispatched.  Elder Cardall and I continued CPR and the paramedics took over with oxygen, medications, and 
 other tools.   After about an hour doing all we could for him, it was called off.  It appears Elder Giles had a severe heart attack and was probably dead before he hit the ground.    

We will miss our new friend. It was a blessing that he was not taken while they were walking in the park where Sister Giles would not have had any support.  The funeral service was planned for Thursday and was very special. Sister Giles had two of her sons fly in from Utah and they spoke telling of Elder Giles' great service as president of the Haiti Mission and experiences of family life and gospel strength.  

Sister Giles, though grief stricken, was so strong.  President Jordan (Mission Pres) asked if Afton and I would step in and and help with the office finances and membership and missionary duties.  Sister Giles insisted on coming to the office to give training.  She could not leave anything undone or incomplete.  Because of her help, we will be able to keep the office running until future plans can be made and personnel secured. This has been a rough week, but full of service, emotion, training, work, and great spiritual help.  Conference is helping and with a wonderful staff, we move on to our first mission transfer.  More on that next time.