Tuesday, December 2, 2014


November was a good month. We started to learn what we had been asked to do (Self Reliance Center work) and after two months finally had a P-Day.  We decided to take the "Original Big Bus Tour" and see the layout of London.  We were fortunate to have Malcolm, a Hyde Park ward member as our tour guide.  We started out by meeting him at Piccadilly Circus (it is a circus to drive through, but not an amusement park).  It is an entertainment center with many theatres and shops.  We got a glimpse of The Book of Mormon, the Musical theatre.  Here in London it has been the #1 rated musical for many weeks now.  The missionaries like to come on Matinee days and set up a table and banner across the street.  When patrons come out they theatre they see the white shirts and name tags and the missionaries are able to tell them, "Now that you have seen the show, read the book, it is even better".   
            We saw famous landmarks and tributes and had our picture taken with Paddington the Bear.  To get his full story,  you

The Book of Mormon the Musical
will have to go on-line and do a bit of research.  See if you can find his original birth place and then read the story behind his creation.  He is really famous now in England. 

We left Piccadilly on the bus and saw many unusual and interesting sites and whenever Malcolm found the bus stalled, he pulled out interesting pictures about the area we were in.  He is not allowed to preach Mormonism, but was able to put in a significant plug about the indexing of all of the old English records that were deteriorating in the archives.  During the part of our tour that included a Thames River Cruise, the guides were sure surprised about the number of people that were visiting the Tower of london to see the poppy presentation.  It was amazing and stirring when you understand that each poppy represented a soldier who gave his life during WW I.  You will see below a shot of a Beefeater giving a tour at the Tower of London, a picture of a small portion of the Tower of London Poppies, a Royal Barge passing the T of L. and if you look close you can see the huge crowds lined up to see the poppies and also two shots
and also two shots of Piccadilly Circus - Tribute to double decker tour busses and a shot of Buba 
Gumps Fish Co.  It was a great tour, but you really need to Malcolm along to make is so memorable.  We went on to see the Tower Bridge, and statues and interesting buildings and sites.  Don't go without Malcolm.  Call us for contact information if you come over the pond to visit London. 
Royal Poppies

Royal Barge passing on the Thames the Tower of London

When we completed our tour, we came back to Piccadilly Circus and had to visit the M & M store.  It we quite delightful.  They have M&M's with different kinds of nuts in them, M&M's of every imaginable color and of course toys and gadgets and gimicks to sell more M&M candies.

OK, back to missionary work.  The replacement office couple arrived, Elder and Sister Williams.  We are training them to take over the office so we can get back to the Self Reliance work that we were called to do.  After a week of training and in-office work, we were ready for another P-Day.  We are supposed to get one each week and this was number 3 in almost three months.  We were able to visit Kensington Gardens and the Kensington Palace.  We visited the older public half.  The west side is still used today and we under-stand that Andrew and Kate and their child are living there.  We visited Queen Victoria's side and started by seeing her wing of the Palace.  It was beautifully rebuilt in 1637 with Christoper Wren adding his design touches.  In the queen's side there are gently sloping staircases and lots of porcelain pots that the queen liked to keep planted with flowering plants of all kinds.  At one time, there were over 800 potted porcelains.  Nothing like a bit of excess.  You did not get much of a tour, but there were men standing around called "informers".  If you asked them questions, they bubbled forth with the most interesting facts and tales about the royalty.  Next we visited the King's wing of the palace. It was guady and full of stark contrasts.  There was a gambling room with the original games of chance set.  It was tough gambling with the King.  You wanted to win, but if you did, you might lose something other than your money.  Interesting tales were told of ghosts that currently haunt the palace and strange happenings every spring when Mad King George returns to the Palace and every fall when he leaves.  The "informers" can pretty well pinpoint the days when he arrives (stormy, windy, and dark) and the days he leaves (calm and sunny).  In between strange things happen like flying objects, tourist cameras thrown across the room, and other actual manifestations of King George's displeasure with the visitors who do not abide by the rules. :-).  
Fall Day in Kensignton Gardens

Most mornings we have been able to go walking in Kensington Gardens (west half of Hyde Park) and the morning when the weather is good are really beautiful.  You can see just a touch of fall in this shot of Afton.  Our walks are very pleasant.  You just to watch out for the bicycles and runners.  These shots don't show the crowds, but it is a great place to get a little exercise.  A good 30 minutes brisk walk will take you from our flat to the Kensington Garden and across the gardens and back.  Probably abut 2 miles. 

To close this installment, let me tell you that missionary work is alive and well here in London. Our mission goal is to have 500 baptism by the end of the year and we are closing in on that number.  Great things are happening.  A 60 year old man from Egypt was contacted by the missionaries (cold calling) but he was too busy to talk.  Unbeknownst to the missionaries he wanted to know more and so he went to the Mormon Channel and the internet.  He started reading about the Church and because of his interest decided to visit the Hyde Park Center and started taking lessons.  Two weeks ago he was baptized.  His son is coming with him to Church and when he is 18, he will no longer need his mother's permission and he also will be baptized.  Another young lady had been learning about the Church for the last four years.  Three weeks ago she came to London for a short "study abroad" session and met the missionaries and decided that the time was right and she was baptized.  She is going to tell her family when she returns home for the holidays.  The Spirit is strong and the Hyde Park Center is full of the spiritual experiences touching many and helping the Church to grow. 

Watch for  HE is the Gift.  It is touching.  Check out Christmas.mormon.org


  1. Dear Steve and Afton:
    We love your newsletters, please keep them coming. These places are of particular interest to since I serve my first mission here 50 years ago.
    Elder and Sister Foote

  2. Dad,

    Hope you get to do something special for your birthday. Oh, wait - you're doing some extra special for 18 months straight! Thanks for your example of work, service, and love!

  3. Hope this comment makes it! It's so fun to see what you're doing. I'm thrilled to be able to recognize some of the landmarks. We miss you terribly, but Dick's recovering more every day.