Thursday, December 10, 2015

November & Perseverance

November and Christmas

We were trying to remember November and thought we had not done much.  Then, referring back to Afton’s journal, WOW.  We have been busy.  Here are the highlights.

Teddington Locks
River Lock being filled
Lots of work in our Self-Reliance Centre, but one November P-Day, we took off with another missionary couple named the Updikes.  We wanted to explore the Teddington Locks.  Not paddle locks, but river locks on the Thames River.  After you get upstream a ways, you find that the Thames is a tidal river which means that its level goes up and down as the ocean tide changes.  In downtown London the River Thames can change up to 18 feet between low tide and high tide.  As you get further inland (or upstream as it were), that 18 foot shift in water level can mean the difference between having a navigable river and one with just sandbars and obstacles. The first set of Locks are the Teddington Locks and we were able to visit and explore them.  We happened along as a school class was there getting educated about locks and the lock-master was there and actually opened and closed the locks showing us how he could raise and/or lower boats as they traveled the river.  As there are many boats and barges that are used even for living on the water, the lockmaster is on duty from sun up until sun down to keep the boat traffic moving smoothly along this part of the river.
River Lock being opened
Afton viewing river level stabilized

Recently we have had a lot of change in personnel in the mission. With the bubble of 18 year old missionaries completing their missions and returning home, our number of missionaries is down and the baptism rate has dropped a bit.  The Mission President decided not to change the baptismal goals so he initiated a mission fast.  The whole mission fasted for the purpose of finding new people to teach.  The Lord has blessed the mission and our November baptism goal was actually exceeded.  The Lord continues to guide and direct this great work.  During the week after the Fast, many missionaries reported miracles they experienced as a result of this fast.

The Ashby's, Anna, and the Baxter's @ Rules
Rules Restaurant
Working in the Center is a great experience.  Recently we made a wonderful new friend, Anna.  She is a Hungarian
Hungarian Violinists
lady about 75 years young.  By profession she is a tour guide and when you get her talking about places she has been, she is a fountain of stories and information.  But, in some ways, she is like me.  She struggles with the computers.  Her company is now sending her tour assignment, receiving her reports, and providing all types of communication via email.  She comes in to have me help her with the internet and her email.  Every time we complete a task for her, she literally praises the Lord and blesses us.  Well, she has invited us to go out with her a couple of times and we finally made a great connection. Because she is Hungarian, she wanted us to go to Rules, the oldest operating restaurant in London (opened in 1798).  It was a delight and a wonderful dinner.  Then she took us to the Hungarian Cultural Center for a concert.  Three sensational violinists performed.  The program was introduced by the violin professor from the Royal College of Music.

One of the wards that we are working with has started a Workgroup teaching English to Portuguese speakers.  Last week the missionaries needed help with their class because the actual teacher was unable to get there.  Afton and I came up with a version of charades that we had learned from Neil and Brittney (thanks kids, you saved the class).  Drawing from a bowl of English words, Team One, all Portuguese students, speaking only in English, had to describe as many words as possible without using the original word.  They had one minute.  Then Team Two had the same opportunity.  Next round, using the same words, the teams had to draw a word from the bowl and with only one word, try and get their team to say the word.  The final round each team alternated drawing words and doing strictly charades – no words.  The students thought it was great fun.  We love helping the missionaries whenever we can.  By the way, of the 25 students, 8 are non-members and the missionaries have had 3 baptisms out of the group so far.

Banqueting House
Banqueting House Throne
From time to time, we get a bit of culture and historical training.  We returned to The Banqueting House which was built by Henry the 8th.  It was part of the fabulous Whitehall Palace, the largest working palace in Europe for its time covering some 30 acres.  However, in the1790’s there was a huge fire and the whole place burned to the ground except for this beautiful Banqueting House.  The main hall was used for receptions and for events called masques – story telling theatre in and amongst the visitors.  The ceiling has the largest and most beautiful of Reuben’s
King Charles on Throne
original paintings.  One evening it was opened up late for a celebration and reenactment of the great debate of King Charles and Cromwell.  Early in the evening, King Charles was visiting among the crowd and just before the debate, a moderator asked the King many questions about life in the court and in his home.  The actor expertly answered and responded.  They then opened the questions up to the audience with some very historical and specific questions being asked.  The King handled the questions with ease and grace.  A most enjoyable evening.
Reuben's Ceilings 

Play Billboard - it is right side up
Not everything in London is historic and straight-laced.  Afton and I went to see The Play That Went Wrong.  My goodness, what a romp.  It was a murder mystery and the corpse could not stay dead, the props would not cooperate and stay in their places, wrong props showed up where they were not supposed to be and it just got crazy fun.  One of the actresses was injured (as scripted) so because the show must go on, a stage hand was commandeered to take her place.  The whole stage ended up collapsing by the final curtain.  It was hilarious and very well done.  Charisse, you would have loved the show.
Tom Who wasn't there?

As we have worked with our stakes around London, we have seen a lot of growth this month. The new inspired initiative with the MY PATH devotionals and personal assessments helps each member of the Church find out where they stand with Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance.  We have seen wards take the My Path Devotionals to over 480 people in November.  It has taken many months to get rolling, but some of the slowest stakes are now catching on.  We still have 3 out of nine that are not yet on board with this inspired instruction and direction.    With the Lord’s help, it will come.   We hope you see this soon in your areas.

One of the key principles of Self-Reliance is Perseverance.  Getting up, acting, and carrying on until the goals are achieved, until service is complete.  View the video, “Only A Stonecutter” and let us know of your feelings toward perseverance and of the dedication of John Rowe Moyle.  Here is the link to the full video.    For help in using this video in your Family Home Evening, see My Foundations: Principles, Skills, and Habits,  Principle #9 .  This can be found on SRS.LDS.ORG

Where has the year gone?  The Christmas Season is here and may we all share in the message of the grandest of events, the birth of our beloved Saviour.

As part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ worldwide initiative titled "A Savior is Born,"  a live nativity is located outside the Hyde Park Chapel on Exhibition Road across from the Science Museum near the South Kensington Underground Station in London, England.  This is one of the most popular areas in London where annually more than 10 to 11 million people walk on this street.  Each evening from 5-7pm, live actors will portray Joseph and Mary.

London - Hyde Park Chapel - Live Nativity
The actors will be members of the Hyde Park Stake and the England London Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Alan Phillips, president of the Hyde Park Stake said, "At a time of so much conflict, fear and uncertainty, we look forward to sharing the joy of our Saviour's birth and the peace that such knowledge brings."
"The purpose of this live nativity," according to Elder Duane Cardall, Director of the Hyde Park Visitors' Centre, "is to remind us that Jesus Christ came into the world.  He was born; He lived; He died; and was resurrected.  And because of Him all humankind will have the blessing of eternal life.  It is our mission to proclaim the divinity of Jesus Christ.  This is one way we have chosen to do that."
The Spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul.  To catch the real meaning of the Spirit of Christmas, we only need drop the last syllable and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.  
              President Thomas S. Monson

What a glorious gift it is to be celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ while serving as a missionary!  It is a perfect time to share with conviction our witness of Christ's birth, His life, and His mission.  We share our witness that Jesus Christ lives.  He stands at the head of this Church and is involved in the very details of our lives  We can only do His work with His help.  So trust in Him.

It is a MUST! Visit and view A Savior Is Born.  This is the current Church Christmas initiative. Following that viewing, there are two additional short videos teaching us why we need a Saviour.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

October means Fall in London

October has been a cool month.  That is cool – temperature drops and rain picks up.  It stays pretty constant with highs at 60 and lows in upper 40’s.  We still get an occasional day of glorious sunshine.

Early October we visited another of the English Heritage Trust properties.  This time it was the Banqueting House.  There is quite a history of this magnificent structure.  Architecturally it is very prominent.  It was designed by renowned architect Inigo Jones and it is the only surviving building from the old Whitehall Palace.  You can read more about it at:

Banqueting House
"Reuben's Originals" - ceiling

Basically, it is one large banquet hall with beautiful decorations and ”Reuben’s” originals installed on the ceiling.  Some of the most remarkable art of the times.

October also brought General Conference.  We have an interesting schedule.  Sunday morning, 8:00 am, the men had Stake Priesthood Meeting and the women watched the General Women’s Meeting from the prior week.  From 10-12 am Sunday we watched the Saturday Priesthood meeting (actually had 3 women attend without incident).  1-3 pm we viewed the Saturday Afternoon General Session, 3:30 to 5:00 had Stake Choir Practice, 5-7 we viewed the Sunday Morning General Session (live), and then we came home and streamed on the internet at 9 pm the Sunday afternoon session.  A wonderful conference with great instruction and of course, historic installation of 3 apostles. 

Karl Max tomb
Monday we visited the Highgate Cemetery. As one of the largest and oldest cemeteries, it has some very prominent residents.  Highgate East is the resting place of Karl Marx whose monument attracts visitors and comrades from all over the world.  Highgate West is much older and so has less foot traffic.  It is closed to the public but you can take a guided tours.  They have beautiful and symbolic statuary and grave stones.  There are several large crypts and large family burial plots.  It was also interesting to see grave stones of the family pets and even a piano. 

Entering Cripts at High Gate Cemetary

October saw us hosting a Self-Reliance training seminar in London.  The other Self-Reliance Missionaries came from across Great Britain and Brother King and Brother Rueckert came from the Area Office in Frankfurt, Germany.  We held an all-day training session on a Thursday and then we all went out to dinner.  We returned so that we could facilitate our Pathway Gathering.  It was fun having one of the couples stay with us and share mission experiences.  Friday we met for another round of meetings and training.  Afton was running around keeping everyone well fed, hydrated with plenty of water, and awake with delicious snacks.  About 3:00 pm we all piled into the mission van and headed for the London Temple where were able to do an endowment session.  Traveling to the temple took a little over 2 hours and that gave us time to chat and discuss what we had been taught.  Of course, it was dark and when you leave the London Temple, there is not much around.  Martin told us we would meet for dinner just a ¼ mile down the road.  We made a couple of wrong turns but finally found the only restaurant that we saw.  Then just an hour later and we had everyone back to their rooms in London.
Sunday Training - Stake SR Reps

The weekend of training continued.  Saturday morning, Elder Rueckert, Director for Self-Reliance for the Church, wanted to see one of our workgroups in action so we sat in of Starting and Growing your Own Business.  Sunday, we had organized a meeting of the Stake Self-Reliance Specialists and all nine of our Stakes were represented.  It was good to hear Elder Rueckert present the Spiritual side of Self-Reliance.  Everyone went away with great materials and renewed motivation to carry the initiative forward.

The following weekend was the Hyde Park Stake Conference.  We had Elder Kearon, our Area President speaking along with Sister Burton, General Relief Society President.  The spouses of both talked also and it was a terrific conference weekend.

Cousin Elaine;s Daughter - Mary, Bryant, & Cora

During Stake Conference, we were able to meet Afton’s cousin Elaine’s daughter Mary and her family.  We had them come to our flat for dinner.  Her husband, Bryant, had been transferred here with his work and they have a precocious 2 year old.  We are so blessed to have a wonderful extended family.

Sometimes the work is challenging.  During October, we were invited to come to the Crawley Stake and so we drove for 2 ½ hours to get to the meeting.  The member of the Stake Presidency in charge had sent out 31 personal letters inviting the YSA to come and chat with us.  Only one man and his fiancé showed up.  We made our presentation and developed plans for the Self-Reliance message to get to all who missed the meeting.  Sometimes we do feel like there are setbacks in the mission when almost no one shows up after a long drive.  But, we carry on.

Hyde Park Geese - Fall
Fall Colors
Fall has been really beautiful this year.  One morning, instead of walking through Hyde Park, we decided to rent bicycles.  We wanted to see what was at the other end for the park (so far it had been too far to walk). We were able to pedal the full length of the park and then north up to Speaker’s Corner.  We had visited that corner years earlier with Dick, Afton’s brother who served a mission there.  There was one fellow on a box looking for an audience.  The tradition carries on.  By the way, biking takes different muscles than walking.  By the time we got back, we were done.

A wonderful Iranian man came to the Self-Reliance Center recently.  He had been Muslim but had converted to the Church 2 years ago.  His wife, brother and sister-in-law are also members and live in the UK.  He left his homeland because of his conversion and will never be able to return to his home.  If he returns, he fears he would be killed because of his conversion.  He has a truly amazing story of coming into the Church.

A couple of blogs back, we mentioned that we had helped one of our volunteers open up a small restaurant.  Claire has been doing pretty well, but during September she was feeling very discouraged. She decided the way to get out of her unhappiness was to host a service project.  She decided to hold a “Cakes for Cancer” event and invite all to a special luncheon.  We jumped on the Tube and supported her in this event that was very successful and gathered many of her friends and community neighbors together for a good cause.  Service always brightens your life.

Nathanel, our bus driver success story from a while back, came into the SRC on his day off to do some Church work on the computer.  We had not seen him for about 5 weeks.  Sister Cardall brought in a sister for us to help who was desperate for a job.  However, we had a problem.  The guest spoke only Portuguese and we spoke only English.  Sister Cardall left her in our hands to assist her. Well, Afton hustled down the hall to the Mission Office to try and find the Portuguese missionaries and I was trying to help some others who were in the center.  We turned to Nathanel and asked him if he happened to speak Portuguese.  He reminded us that he was from Portugal.  In 20 minutes he had 2 solid job leads for her from members of his ward plus he had helped her with some other pressing issues.  Now there’s a volunteer when you need one.  The Lord really puts people in the right places at the right time.

Two days later, 4 new people came in to the Center at the same time needing help.  We needed help so we asked if any of the two extra computer users could help with the translation program on the computer for the one (non-member) Portuguese man.  A YSA girl named Paige immediately volunteered.  She had arrived in the UK the day before and had come to the SRC to email her parents.  Another miracle recue from the Lord!

The Lord continues to bless us and things are looking really good for November.  We will see.    So, in parting, your lesson for this month comes from My Foundation. Principles, Skills & Habits, Chapter 8, COMMUNICATE: PETITION AND LISTEN.

“I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.”  Doctrine & Covenants 8:2

When you know where the communication is coming from, then you have to learn to listen and hear.

“Your soul will be blessed as you learn to listen, then listen to learn from children, parents, partners, neighbors, and Church leaders, all of which will heighten capacity to hear counsel from on high.” RUSSELL M. NELSON, “Listen to Learn,” Ensign, May 1991, 24

               Elder and Sister Baxter

Monday, October 19, 2015

September 2015

September – Busy Month

Ben at London Temple
     September was a wonderful month, full of special experiences and great people.  We have mentioned "Ben" Zhang, our Chinese friend who has sought asylum here in the UK.  He is so good and so strong.  He was able to go to the London Temple and receive his own endowments.  He has given up everything in his quest for freedom and has chosen to stay here in England to build a new life of service and growth.  Ben asked me to be his escort at the Temple. Everything was a new experience for him and he was so ready that the Spirit was there teaching us and strengthening us.   As a trained attorney, he is starting to get his training transferred to the UK so that he can again be a productive part of this new society.  He is currently volunteering his legal services for the Red Cross.  May God be with him always!

    Some of our Stakes have been a little slow to come on board with Self Reliance.  One Stake had given the Self-Reliance assignment to a Counselor in the Stake Presidency.  Because of “holidays” and other delays, nothing  happened.  The Stake President decided to take the responsibility back upon himself and he called a new Stake Relief Society President and was prompted to assign her to be the Stake Self-Reliance Specialist as well.  Her husband, a past bishop, has been called to the High Council and so he was given the Self-Reliance assignment and so now when we need to have a Self-Reliance Committee Meeting, the Shepherds and Stake President get together and they nearly have a full Self-Reliance Committee.  All we need is a representing Bishop.  We went out to train the couple and they were so very responsive.  They realized that the next “Bishop’s Training Meeting” was not for three months so they took the initiative to call a special meeting with all of the Bishop’s.  It was brilliant.  Every Bishop was there, we were there supporting, and the Stake Pres. Counselor attended.  The principles were presented and all were responsive.  President North asked Bishop Gonzales what he thought of it all.  He had been quiet most of the meeting but spoke and said that he loved the ideas, immediately looked at Sister Baxter and I and asked us to come speak in Ward Sacrament Meeting, gave us the date he was going to present this to his Ward Council and he had a date for the MY PATH devotional. The other Bishop’s there felt the urgency and their plans started to be formulated.  We left the meeting with three assignments for follow up and support.  That was terrific.

     September was also a good month for training.  We had Clayton Christensen visit.  He is a Seventy and also a Harvard Business Professor.  He has a special way of teaching where the Gospel is important  and we should share that with our friends and neighbors.  As a successful missionary, he invites the Spirit and listens more than he speaks.  He asks investigators what they know and what they have difficulty with in terms of the Church.  Then he invites the investigator to read and as they talk, he guides them to answer their own questions.  Reading from the Scriptures and allowing the questions to come and fall where they will he allows the Spirit to direct the teaching.  He is a brilliant teacher.  We attended one of his public business meetings and heard him explain Disruptive Management and he explained it so well that even we understood what was being taught.  If you understand something well enough, then you should be able to teach in terms and ideas that anyone can understand.  That is what happened, not only in a Mission Conference, but also in the House of Lords and his prominent government meetings.  What a great ambassador for the Church.
Upon leaving the meeting from the government office building across the street from Parliament, we were walking toward the Tube when a tall man whizzed by.  He spotted our name tags and immediately stopped to chat for a moment.  It turns out he was the Stake Executive Secretary for one of the stakes that we had been trying to get a meeting with.  He asked us about Self-Reliance after noticing our name tag designation and then told us of a Bishop’s Training meeting that was scheduled for the following week.  After a brief chat and our explanation of the Self-Reliance Initiative, he promised to get us on the agenda for the meeting.  What a “tender mercy”.  We followed up with the Stake Self-Reliance Specialist who had previously been unresponsive.  Things are now starting to move forward in that stake.

Lincoln Just Arrived
    September we welcomed Grandchild #18 into the family.  Lincoln was born  to Neil and Brittney. He will be in good hands with his Brothers and Sister.   
Lincoln with his Sister and Brothers

     Another Tender mercy.  A few weeks ago, we had been invited to a Ward to make a presentation.  We enjoyed their Sacrament meeting and during sunday school we were checking out the electronic equipment and trying to get the TV to talk to my computer.  They would just not talk to each other.  As I kept trying different configurations, several men dropped by and asked if we needed help.  Of course, we said yes.  Each tried, each suggested, and nothing seemed to work to get the two pieces of equipment to communicate.  This was destined to really scramble our presentation.  A young missionary from Germany walked by on his way to an assignment.  He stopped and asked if he and his companion could be of assistance.  How could a German speaking missionary, in a British meeting house get an American and a Japanese piece of equipment to talk to each other?  Whatever he did, it worked. We whizzed across to the Chapel with 2 minutes to spare and made a  successful presentation in a MY Path Devotional and signed up 21 participants for workgroups.  We felt the Lord watching over us and bringing us assistance in our time of need so that His work could continue moving forward.

Mid-September, we were asked to come to the Wandsworth Stake to help out at a YSA weekly meeting. School is just starting up again and the leaders wanted to help the youth gain a bit more direction.  We came to administer a Work Choice Profile (psychometric testing experience).  This is the first time we have used our new tool which is an electronic version of the vocational interest evaluation.  We had 22 YSA all attempting to do the test at the same time.  We met in the family history room of the church and had only 4 working computers.  However, with two additional laptops, 6-8 tablets that the youth had brought and the rest using Smartphones, they all got on line and took the test.  See if you would like to try it.  Amazingly, everything went pretty well.  We were there to help counsel the students once they had completed the testing and help them identify and prioritize occupations that they showed interest and aptitude for.  It appeared to us to be a good evening.

It is not all work over here.  Some may have heard that England is hosting the Rugby World Cup for 2015.  We have one senior couple that are Rugby fans.  The opening match of the tournament was England vs Fiji.  Well, this couple served a mission in Fiji just prior to coming to England so we got together and watched the opening match on our TV.  What a brutal game.  Not sure I know all of the strategy, but I am learning.  I know that when you Try, you get points, and at times the men on the field are actually gentlemen.  After the guy with the ball gets brutally tackled, he merely sticks his hand out of the pile of bodies (keeping at least a finger on the ball) and no one takes it away until one of his own team members picks up the ball and tosses it down the line to his team mates.  Scrums are hard to describe and the throw-in actually causes one team member to be thrown into the air to catch the ball about 10-12 feet off the ground.  I guess you have to see it to believe it and it takes more than one watching to understand the game.

We have to tell you about Anna, a Hungarian tour guide.  Anna is a cute little lady about 75 years old.  Keeping up with the new working conditions of guiding tourists is driving her crazy.  She has to use the computer to get her instructions, set up tours, make reservations, and to communicate with her office.  She is not a member of the Church yet has found some dear friends in our Hyde Park chapel.  She comes up to our SR Centre and asks for help to get past her logins, her web searches, and dealing with passwords that seem to change every week.  Anna invited Afton and I to go to a Hungarian restaurant and to a Hungarian concert to say thank you for the repeated help we have given her.  She could not get a reservation at Rules, the oldest restaurant in London, but we did walk in and look around. Then we walked up the street to a restaurant named Carlucci’s  (Italian, not Hungarian).  As we went in, Anna asked if Carlucci was in and the waitress said she had not seen him in the last couple of days.  I thought they were making jokes as Carlucci’s is a chain of restaurants over here.  During dinner, we found that Anna actually knows the originator of the restaurant chain and that this was his original restaurant.  Meal was excellent.  The Concert was held in a Church in Covent Gardens – a very popular shopping and entertainment area.  The concert was a tribute to Bartok, a prominent Hungarian composer.  It turned out to be absolutely amazing.  There was a 24 year old violin soloist who was incredible playing mostly in chords instead of single notes and the young pianist was an award winning girl of about 21.  One of the best pianists I have ever heard play.  Quite an evening.

London has so much to see and do.  There are many many homes and estates that have been built in the past by families with boo-coo loads of money.  They are usually tucked in the middle of very busy part of the city.  You only see a driveway with a small sign, and then when you go in you can find these magnificent estates that sit on hundreds of acres of ground and are beautifully built architectural marvels.  These places are usually loaded with interesting artifact,historical treasures and magnificent art collections... Two we have visited include 
                          Kenwood House 
Kenwood House - home of 1920 Mayor of London

 Beautiful Library

Loads of cool Art
Poacher taking game

                                 and ….

     Waddesdon House.  This second one was built with the Rothschild fortunes and employed 20 full time gardeners during its hayday. A group of senior missionaries took a P-Day and drove out to see this magnificent place.   Here are a few pictures.

Waddesdon House
Gardens behind the home
Coming from the Aviary back to the main house

     We walked the grounds to find riding area, stables, a huge Aviary, fountains, and so many beautiful places to explore.  At the time it was lived in by the family, there were about 20 of these estates in Europe all supported by this family fortune.  When the WWI and WWII broke out, they could not get enough domestic help to keep the places running.  This estate has been turned over to an historical trust for  preservation and public viewing.

    Well, we have to get back to work.    Our last P- Day was spent at Costco.  We had to get supplies for the Self-Reliance Centre, for the Self-Reliance training meetings where we had to provide meals for two days for 13 people, Pathway treats for the three groups we have each Thursday, supplies for the Mission Office, and we also a bit of shopping for ourselves and for some of the other missionary couples.  Costco is not close so it is almost a full day experience when you are shopping for so many different groups.  But it makes life a bit more interesting and life better for others, so we do it when we can.   We did manage a walk in Hyde Park to visit our Parrot friends.

     One big joke around London is that someone will say that they are going to have a spot of Royalty drop in.  Well we did – sort of.  Each the other morning we were walking in Kensington Garden / Hyde Park. As we were walking and we heard a large machine coming in from behind us.  We looked around and there was a deep blue helicopter coming in for a landing about 100 yards away from us.  It was landing next to Kensington Palace. Police drove up and guards were quickly posted on the edge of the park while Prince William got out of the chopper and shuffled passengers around. A few minutes later they were off.  I guess that is how Royalty drop in and get ferried out. 

Just want to let everyone know that we are working hard, loving the experiences, especially the people, and hopefully doing some good.    Note:  We have a new friend here, Michael Warner.  He is a retired actor who has performed with Audrey Hepburn, Lawrence Olivier and others.  He was the voice of the BBC for many years with his clear deep and rich voice.  For his own project, he decided to read and record the full Book of Mormon.  It took him about 3 months but he got it all on cassette tape.  Now he has asked me to fix a few spots and then to record it digitally so that it can be preserved and shared more easily.  It took me a while, but I now have the means to duplicate and share this wonderful work with him and his friends.   He has some other writings that he has done and recorded on cassettes.  Looks like I will be doing some more for him in my spare time.

We leave you with the Family Home Evening lesson material for this month :

See: My Foundation, Principles, Skills and Habits, Chapter 7  Become One, Work Together
       Found at SRS.LDS.ORG
Check out this video and ....
     Copy and past the above link into a browser and hit enter

For home evening you can do the activity in the manual, see Chapter 7 above.

Keep Calm and Carry On

         Steve & Afton from JollyOlde' England

Thursday, September 10, 2015

August Adventures

August Adventures

Small portion of the Gardens
Have you ever heard of the Horniman Museum and Gardens?  Neither had we, but we wanted to try something out of the ordinary.  The museum was founded in 1901 by Frederick John Horniman. Frederick had inherited his father's Horniman Tea business, which by 1891 had become the world's biggest tea trading business.  With lots of inherited cash, he started doing what wealthy people do, collect things (stuff).  He collected all sorts of animals, birds, bugs, trinkets from all of the world.  We found his collection of musical instruments the most fascinating as it displayed the development of several family types of instruments. 
String Instrument Display
BBB Tuba

I loved seeing the BBB Tuba (Triple B-flat Tuba).  It stood about seven feet tall and it plays low notes down to the next to last on the piano keyboard. Wouldn’t want to carry that in a marching band. 

Let me share a driving experience in London.  One Sunday morning, we made an appointment with a Bishop in a neighboring stake.  Little did we know that there was a major bike race going on through the middle of London.  We left our flat for a leisurely one hour drive and gave ourselves an extra 20 minutes just to make sure.  We drove about one block from our flat and the traffic came to a halt.  Not slow, but a halt. It was Sunday morning and they were making movies on the edge of Hyde Park.  We turned around and headed another direction.  The GPS kept taking us back to this same location.  We were hemmed in by Hyde Park on one side, movie making on the other. We turned south and almost immediately were blocked by the London Bike Race.  Oh my, what a crowd.  Not to worry, we would try another direction to get down to the River Thames and try crossing any of the many bridges to get to our meeting.  All roads were blocked so we asked traffic patrol for help, construction workers, and even stopped a taxi driver and asked what to do.  We could not get through the race and we were in trouble.  We called the Bishop and told him we would make the Church meeting, but would have to reschedule our meeting with him to be after Church instead of before.  That was good.  As a last resort, we asked a patrol “Bobbie” officer how to get across and he said the only way across the river was to go through the Blackfriar Tunnel.  That was good news.  As we approached the tunnel we found it barricaded and not accessible.  Argh!  After driving for nearly three hours, we were not yet to the River Thames.  End of the story – we never did make it across the river.  We went back to our flat, parked the car, called the Bishop to reschedule and then we walked to Hyde Park for Church.  However, we arrived early enough at church to visit one of our Self-Reliance workgroups in session and were very pleased with the progress they were making with individuals.  (sweet blessing)

Another Sunday, we were scheduled to meet and train some Bishops in one of our stakes.  There was a Tube Strike going on so all of the sub-ways were closed.  To get around, 250 extra buses were on the road and everyone who had a car had to be on the road.  A sixteen mile trip took us 2 ½ hours of driving and we barely made it on time.

August was our first Zone Conference with our new mission president, Pres. Mark Stevens.  Because we had to man the Self-Reliance Center, we had to split up to attend Conference.  Afton stayed in the SRC and answered phone calls.  One call came in and the man said, “Oh, I really didn’t expect you to answer because the front desk said you were in a conference.”  When she ended the call, Afton was decided to call down to the security desk and tell them that the Self-Reliance Center was open.  Only I was at the Conference.  Then she was prompted to “jog down the 4 flights of stairs (she wanted some exercise) and tell them in person.  After giving security the information she turned around to trek up the stairs.  A family was just starting a tour when the mom stopped her and said, “Wait, don’t I know you?” It just so happened that she was the daughter of a dear friend and co-worker some 16 years ago.  They had a fun visit.  Now really, what are the chances?  We work in an office 4 floors up and for 7 ½ hours almost never come downstairs during the shift.  Such a sweet tender mercy for Afton. 

Holland Park
We don’t want this to sound like a travel log, but we had a good month.  One Saturday afternoon, we went walking. We found Holland Park. A narrow canyon-like entrance that opens into a lovely play area and then into some formal gardens, a life-size chess game, and the most delightful Japanese Garden.  It was crowded, so the next Monday, instead of going to Hyde Park (our usual exercise route) we walked down and explored (re-explored) Holland Park. We went back especially to see the Japanese Garden and water feature without the crowds.  It was delightful.

Holland Park Gardens

Japanese Gardens @ Holland park

Large piece Chess Set

Dover Castle

For nine months, we have been trying to find a good reason to go to Dover.  Finally we just said, let’s go.  Sunday after finishing our ward visits, we took another couple and headed off for Dover and the English Channel.  We stayed one night in a B&B that had the world’s steepest stairs.  After getting to your room, no one worried about how good or bad the bed was because you were so exhausted just laying down anywhere was all you wanted.  We asked about dinner and The Eight Bells was a recommended location and it was down-hill from our B&B.  Great dinner.  Next morning we wanted to take a little walk.  The lady at the B&B said to go down the street and up the stairs. A nice leisurely walk along the Western Heights.  She should have said down the walk, Up the Stairs, turn, Up more Stairs, cross the street and Up more Stairs. It did take us to a beautiful vista of Dover and the Dover Castle.  After wending our way back down the mountain, breakfast at the Eight Bells (so good we went back) we spent the day exploring beautiful Dover Castle. 
Castle Guards

White Cliffs and Dover Harbor

After leaving Dover, we made a short stop near Waltham Castle.  Sorry no pictures.  But we did stroll down to the beach.  Afton just had to smell the salt air and see the ocean.  Well, she got her wish and a bit more.  An unexpected wave filled her shoes.  She smiled all the way back to London.
Afton Catching a Ware - or - A Wave Catching Afton

Back to reality and our office.  As you are aware from last month, we are now also Pathway Missionaries.  We have been promoting Pathway as a preparation for people to get back into learning or a way to prepare for university studies.  BYU-Idaho initially hoped to get about 30 students and we now have 61 applications in hand.  We have organized a second site here in London and recruited an assistant to help in our site.  We have divided our group and we now have an additional site in the London South Mission.  We will each have about 30 students to mentor and support as they start the Pathway program. 

The Lord has His hand in everything we do.  About two weeks ago, our Manager, Martin Gardiner, came to our office to meet with us.  He asked us for some success stories, pictures, and videos that can be used to promote Self-Reliance in the UK. That very afternoon, in walks Nathanial on his day off.  We had given assistance to Nathanial two months earlier and put him in touch with a local bus company.  He has been so excited to go through training and now has his own route that he drives five days a week.  He was very happy to write about his success in the Self-Reliance Center and how it helped get his dream job (London Bus Driver). He even had a video of himself in his new bus uniform and images of him driving through the streets of London.  Our area manager is very excited to send this into the Church SR headquarters with his story.

We pray every day for the Lord to guide us to people we can help.  Be careful what you pray for.  Prayers are answered.  In walks lady with a major disaster.  She is a bit of a frail lady who is an artist and writer.  Turns out that two days earlier, she was awakened at 3:00am with water streaming down her walls and out of her light fixtures.  All of her life’s work was floating around in water knee deep in her living room.  She had no idea what to do and her landlord was taking his own sweet time in responding to her needs.  We didn’t really know what to do, but we dove in and helped her start recording everything that was damaged or lost and we helped her push her landlord for help.  We have now gotten her relocated into a Bed and Breakfast and repairs have been started.  She will have to rework many of her paintings and scrape the mold off of much of her writing.  The adventures continue.

Eltham Palace

Jester with kids in Great Hall
A Monday last, we had a couple of hours free so we looked at our Heritage Trust membership (the one we bought in Dover) and found that we had free entrance to the Elthan Palace.  Few people had ever heard of it.  However Charisse had given us a list of 18 little known secrets in London and this was one of them.  When we arrived at this spectacular property, we found a Great 

Eltham - Oldest working bridge in London
Hall that was part of the favorite palace built by Henry IV.  Over the years the building had been run down but in the early 1900’s the Courtauld family purchased the lease on the estate and rebuilt the Great Hall. Then a beautiful mansion was added with extraordinary Art Deco décor with the most modern conveniences of the time (central vacuum, wired phone service, elevator, and hidden passage ways. This is a very well-kept secret that has been one our favorite sites to visit. (If you want more elaborate pictures, Google:  Eltham Palace and view Wikipedia images and history.)

See: My Foundation, Principles, Skills and Habits. 
Lesson #6 is on Solving problems.
“Creative approaches are sometimes needed in order to adapt to local conditions. We have general guidelines and principles, but the Lord expects us to help solve our own problems. . . . We are thinking, reasoning human beings. We have the ability to identify our needs, to plan, to set goals, and to solve our problems. . . . Too often people hold on to ideas, inventions, and approaches to life that will not work. The creative approach is a disciplined approach to meet life’s needs.” ROBERT D. HALES, “Every Good Gift,” New Era, Aug. 1983, 8–9

As you work on solving problems in your life, check out this video.  Copy and past this link into your browser and see what "pig" teaches you to do.

Missionary Miracle:
 Tom, an investigator, is progressing! He ended up coming to church after going on and started chatting with a missionary in Salt Lake. The missionary told a bit about the Church. He came on Sunday and was pretty quiet the whole time until he asked how he liked the meetings. He said that there was just a great spirit about the place. He said he was feeling things he had never felt before. He has always had a general belief in God, but never took it further. Tom was asking a lot of questions. It led to teaching the Restoration and the pre-earth life along with some other principles. He just took it all in like a dried up sponge. When offered a Book of Mormon, he got so excited. He was asked if he would want to get baptized and this is how he responded. "Well, I came along just to see what this was all about because of my friends serving missions, but you guys have hooked me... you just have to reel it in now." He is very excited to have further discussions.

We are thoroughly enjoying this wonder work.  We know the Lord has a hand in all that we do and is guiding our steps and actions and brings us people to teach and assist.  We feel so blessed to be here in the England London Mission.  We love you all and love hearing from friends and family.   Till next month, May your service to others bring you great joy.