Monday, March 30, 2015

March Madness

March Madness.  Mad, because BYU did not play their way into the NCAA tournament. The last couple of season games were available for us to see and they were fun to watch. We anticipated seeing more of them, and then they did not get through the play-in game. Oh well, next year.

So, we cannot crown the basketball team, but we discovered several other crowns. This month we were able to visit Windsor Castle to see some of the English Crowns.  Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.  It as been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years.  For more beautiful details, check out:  and you will get a professional view of what we experienced.  From the opening screen, go to the second picture and click on the link. 

We had a wonderful day taking the train out into the countryside to a village called Slough and then a short ride to Windsor.  We jumped off the train and right into the small village center of shopping and food.  As we came out of the shopping area we were at the foot of the castle looking up and it was a beautiful view.  Each visitor gets a personal head phone connected to a hand-held video of the rooms, information, and history of the Castle you are about to visit.  

According to the flags, it appeared that the Queen was in residence during our visit.  A fire  destroyed a large section of the Castle a few years back, but it has been restored to its original splendor.  This is a place you can visit often and enjoy the art work and scenery repeatedly.  During half of the year, when the "royals" are in full time residence, the tour is shortened and the personal residence areas are off limits.  However, as we toured the Castle, the residence was open. It is amazing to see how the royalty live.  I would be afraid to spill on the carpet.  But, then I am not royalty and I would have to pay for the clean up, not having a small army of support staff.  Be sure and watch the video listed above.

By mid-month, we were summoned for training to Preston, England.  This is a bit out of the mission (100 miles), but because of our mission assignment, we have permission to attend the specialized training.  We drove up to Preston on Sunday night and located Elder and Sister Lee who are a delightfuly Self-Reliance Missionary couple.  They opened the area so they had to find their own flat. It is a quaint old "British" cottage on the edge of town that sits on the edge of a golf course.  They have decorated their flat with furnishings that give it a warm and inviting feeling.  They often have missionaries and YSA come over for dinner and other events.  This is the Lee's base of operation (their flat) as opposed to our office that we work out of at the Hyde Park Centre.  After an excellent home-cooked meal we drove to the temple grounds at the Preston England Temple. We enjoyed the Temple Patron Housing during out stay.

Training consisted of a recap of the materials we have been presenting and new mentoring tools to be activated and used with candidates that need support.  We shared power point presentations and exchanged ideas of ways to present information to the Stake and Ward Councils.  Some of the missionaries are currently holding "My Path Devotional's" which are kick-off meetings to present the new manuals and workgroups.  

Tuesday morning we were up early to attend a session at the Preston Temple and then we had the wonderful experience of a personal walking tour of missionary sites in Preston, England. President Ulrich and his wife from the Manchester England Mission joined us for the tour. We started out our walking tour at Wadham Road, the flat which was previously occupied by Gordon B. Hinckley when he was a missionary. This is where he arrived in the mission field only to write home telling his father that he was not sure what he was doing in the mission field.  His father wrote back and told him to get to work and things would all work out.  He had to decide why he was there and let the Lord help him.  Elder Hinckley got to work, built upon his testimony and served a very successful full mission.  The other picture is a flat where the early Apostles lived and they were attached by legions of evil spirits.  With the Priesthood, the Apostles cast out the devils and went on to gather great spiritual strength and momentum for the Church.  

We visited the "cockpit" which was an area (originally a building) that was used for cock fighting. The Temperance movement had a great start here and eventually the Church took over the building and met there for 3 years. Preston is the home of the oldest continuous congregation of the Church. When the early Apostles started their work in England, the first baptisms were performed in the River Ribble. Within a week of their arrival they were asked to preach at a congregation. The preacher was a relative of one of the Apostles.  They were so successful with their preaching, members of the congregation were asking for baptism.  The Apostles were soon asked to leave that pulpit but many conversions happened that week.  On the day of the first baptisms, the story has it that two new investigator's wanted to be baptized "first" and they actually had a foot race to the River Ribble.  

Brother Watt won and became the first convert baptized in the UK.   By about 1845, there were more members of the Church in Northern England than in all of the United States. When the call to Zion went out, thousands left England with deep rooted testimonies and traveled at great hardship and sacrifice to come and build Zion.  

Other work continues here in London. President Jordan gave Sister Baxter and me the assignment to help a young sister missionary to get a plan in place for when she leaves her mission.  Sister Tshimanga is from the Congo.  She has taken all of the training and schooling available in the Congo and we have spent time helping her to apply for schools in Italy, France, the UK and BYU-Idaho.  Saturday we spent six hours with her as she took the IELTS (English entrance exam).  Stay tuned next month and we will let you know how she did. (We are still waiting too.)

Saturday for Elder Ohman's birthay celebration we had a delightful time at the Royal Festival Hall.  We, along wih the Jordan's, & White's attended the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and afterwards met Mark Oshida one of the violinists in the performance. While teaching at BYU, Elder Ohman met and instructed 3 of the 4 Oshida children, all very talented muscians. Mark became a good friend of the Ohman family. As a banker by trade, but muscian by avocation and love, he has become a world traveler sharing his talents with orchestras around the world. He left following this performance to head for Logan, Utah to work with Craig Jessop and will return to London a week later.  We walked over the Hungerford Bridge crossing the Thames River from the Embankmant tube station to the Royal Festival Hall (in the immediate background). Preston, our Civil engineer son, recognized this prominent bridge so I thought I would include a picture as we were crossing the river Saturday evening.

Finally, See Lesson 2, "My Foundation - Principles, Skills, Habits" as referenced last month.  (see SRS.LDS.ORG,  >  Self Reliance >  Manuals & Videos)   Use Time Wisely   This is from a manual that is not yet announced to the USA, but the skills are wonderful and can help all of us.  As you study the importance of time, you will find it a most valuable gift that God has given us, Evaluate the following principles:

   *  List Task
   *  Pray
   *  Set Priorities
   *  Set Goals, Act
   *  Report (to Heavenly Father)

See if you can apply the principles in your own life.  Check out "The Gift of Time" as a support video of the lesson.

We love the work we are  engaged in.  The people are wonderful and it is a joy to be here. The Church is true!!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

February @ England London Mission

For this installment, we have decided to tell you a bit about how we do things.  Thought we might give you a view of how we get around and do our Church callings.  We use a variety of means of transport: foot, car, van, bus, horse, tube, train, and airplane.  Ok, we only used the airplane to get to and from England.  No flying during our mission - yet. Lets take a look.

Each day when we start out, we leave our flat and walk about 3/4 mile toward the Hyde Park Centre. We walk up through a pleasant community, passing a dozen or so shops and stores, several indian restaurants (4 or 5), we can turn down either Queens Gate Terrace or Elvaston Place and cross over
Queen's Tower at Imperial College Campus
Queen's Gate Road and proceed to the Falmouth Gate of the Imperial College.  If we try to pass through the gate at night after 11:00 pm, the gate is closed and we have a longer walk around the outside of the college campus.

Falmouth Gate to Imperial College

As we split Imperial College essentially in half, we can look ahead and see the HP Centre on the east end of the campus.  At the center of campus we pass the Queen's Tower.  This tower was built about 1887 as part of Queen Victoria's Imperial Institute.  In 1960 the Institutte was being replaced, most of the original structures were torn down.  Through extensive lobbying the 287 ft bell tower was saved. The Queen's Tower has ten bells each named after royalty and the bells chime on holidays. Of course, the area around the Queen's Tower is called the Queen's Lawn. They really like the Queen over here.  So much so that only the Queen can have a queen-sized bed.  There are doubles and king-size beds, but you never find a Queen Sized bed - only for the Queen.

Hyde Park Chapel
 As we depart from the college campus we are face to face with the beautiful Hyde Park Centre.  This is home to four wards (Hyde Park 1 & II, City Ward on wed nights, and Britania Young Single Adult ward).  And in addition, it is the only building in the world with a complete Visitors Centre, Stake Offices, Bishop's Offices, a Self-Reliance Centre, and the London England Mission offices. A very well used building and hub of constant and varied activities.  We often have varied high profile guests that come and vist the Centre.  The HP Centre is home to mission conferences which most recently had Elder Quentin Cook.  Two weeks ago we were host to Brian Grim, President of Religious Freedom & Business Foundation who later that day addressed Parliament on the impact of religious freedom on politics.  Sister Baxter and I were privildged to take Brother Grim to dinner and talk about our Self Reliance program, some of which he is moving to incorporate into his work. (By the way, he is Catholic.)  He is now writing and speaking about the positive impact and inspired programs of the Self-Reliance Initiative of the Church to the Vatican.

The Hyde Park Centre is used for a miriad of activities. We have spoken of the International Celebration put on by the HP Stake which has representation of 110 cultures within its membership. Other activities include extensive sports / games enjoyed by wards, stake, mission, missionaries, and others.  The Chapel is also home of a most beautiful organ and we often have special events there. The most recent was the presentation of a very funny 1925 classic silent movie, The Freshman. Harold Lloyd, the star of the show was a friend of David O McKay's. (Mike Ohman accompanied the silent file on the large pipe organ.) See the pictures below. Remind us to tell you about the amazing impact that Harold Lloyd had on the Church in the Los Angeles area.
Mike Ohman to play for The Freshman
The Freshmen @ Hyde Park
OK, other ways we get around in our London travels.  As Self-Reliance Missionaries, we have a car - a small one, but a nice car to transport ourselves to meetings and training.
Toyota Meriva
 I have taken driver's training to help me adapt to the driving on the wrong side of the road - where did we lose our way when we separated from England.  I guess we just had to rebel to make us left side drivers on the right side of the street as opposed to right hand drivers on the left side of the street. In any case, we try not to drive for two very good reasons.  One, there is usually no place to park, and second, it is really slow to drive (average within around London is 7 mph).  Traffic congestion can be the worst in any part of the world.  The street system runs randomly through the city (Random as in odd angle intersections, streets narrowing from three lanes to one lane or perhps you are driving and all of sudden the center two lanes force you to turn right - ready or not :-) ) with varied one-way streets and you are also limited because you have to dodge the River Thames which runs through the middle of the this huge city.  Bus lanes add to the confusion. Thank goodness for GPS, it is a lifesaver.

OK, I guess we should mention the huge fleet of taxis.

  Apparently there is one manufacturer of cars here that builds nothing but Taxi Cabs.  They are specially built with very tight turning radius' to get around the narrow and winding roadways.  They are all the same shape but they are now being painted in every imaginable color and decoration.  The interiors are utilitarian open in the back so you can often get up to 5-6 passengers and some luggage into a single small cab.

You probably already know that we use the "Tube" or underground train system.  When you get out of Central London, the trains do run above ground, but the tube is definitely UNDER ground.  We walk to the Gloucester Road Station and walk down a flight of stairs to get to our most common train. By the way, the Circle line was the first underground train and it was built in 1863.  Now, however, the Picadilly Line runs underneath the Circle & District lines. In some areas of the city you can have trains running at four or five different underground levels.
Gloucester Station 
Paddington Station

 There is one point where escalators are taking passengers down to their trains and there are two of the elevators like the one pictured here.

Some of the escalators are the longest in the world. The Tube carried 1.23 Billion passengers in 2013 and that number keeps increasing.  It takes a lot of equipment (lifts and escalators) to get people to the varied levels to catch their trains. The Tube then can drop you off at places like Waterloo Station, Paddington Station, Kings Cross / St Pancreas Station, or Victoria Station.  These are major hubs for rail service taking you all over the counry in every direction.

San Pancres / King's Cross Station

 Done with walking, lets take a bus ride.  Many Londoners get around on one or more of the 80,000 busses. The iconic Double Decker red bus is everywhere.  Included is one picture of a stack of busses near Picadilly Circus (not a Circus circus, but a tourist shopping area and entertainment centre).  (Sorry, could not find the picture showing 9 busses criss-crossing Picadilly Circus.  Here is a picture at Hyde Park Corner.  I can count 9 busses here as well.)
9 Busses @ Hyde Park Corner

Bus Ad
The busses can take you wherever you need to go and are good for getting closer to your destination. It is kind of fun to see the "Mormon" influence on the buses.  The play's advertising plan has given an unexpected rise in notariety for the Church.

Queens Brigade -

Oops, Just kidding.  I said that we included "horses" in our transportation.  Not us, but we do hear Her Majesties horses trotting down our street on their way to Hyde Park for their daily exercise early in the morning.

A train related experience.  A young man named Jagath hails from Sri Lanka.  He comes annually to London to visit his X-wife and young son.  This year he came and the mother and son had left for the USA without telling him and he ended up stranded here in London. In late December, Jagath was trying to get in contact with friends and was taking a train toward Northhampton.  Some strong urge told him to get off of the train and to take the next train.  He described it as something dragging him off of the train.  He got of the train he was on and took the next train.  Shortly after, he noticed a young lady talking to another passenger and she mentioned something about a very important book. Jagath was intrigued and wanted to hear what was being discussed.  But Jagath is a real gentleman and could not butt in and he certainly could not approach a single young lady directly on the tube. A few stops later, the lady got up to get off of the train and to his surprise, a second young lady got up and walked out with her. This made it more appropriate for him to stop them to talk,  He jumped up and got off of the train and as they walked down the platform, Jagath stopped the sisters and asked about this Book of Mormon they had been talking about.  The Sister's asked him if he would like to know more and he said yes so a meeting for set for 6:00 that evening.  They met and the Sister's brought the ward mission leader with them and they taught Jagath a first lesson.  They asked if Jagath would like a Book of Mormon and he said yes.  They committed him to reading the book. The Ward Mission Leader could see that Jagath was sincere and also was in need of help.  He took him home with him and Jagath lived a few days with him.  Through help from the London North Ward, and with continued teaching from the Sister Missionaries, Jagath developed a strong testimony and was soon baptized.  The Sister Missionaries introduced Jagath to us during his teaching and we helped get him employment.

Jagath in his Suit
Tie tieing less
We were able to secure a suit from a missionary who had left one behind when he completed his mission.  I even taught him how to tie a tie.  Jagath is going to make such a good member of the Church.  He is resourceful, caring, and honest. He has told us, "I am a totally changed man."

One day when he was the Self-Reliance Center, we were helping him and others.  A Hungarian fellow was in tough straights and Jagath voluntarily gave him advice such as "spend your last 20 pounds on a week bus pass. That way you will have a warm place to stay at night."  Jagath is faithful and is now passing the sacrament and working to save money so he can visit his son in California.

Our purpose here is to help people become more self-reliant through teaching principles.  We (everyone of us) can learn and live these principles, skills, and the habits of Self-Reliance.  The principles will lead us to spiritual and temporal self-reliance.  Here is an invitation to all who are reading this blog to read and examine each of the principles that we will send you over the next twelve months. The first of these principles is FAITH as found in the workbook My Foundation: Principles, Skills, Habits.  
Go to ( > Self-Reliance > Manuals & Videos > My Foundation. Click on the image of My Foundation on the web site and scroll down to Lesson 1, starting on page four.  There are supporting videos at the bottom of the resource page.  Be sure and check out the video listed below. (copy and paste this link into your browser.)

We suggest that you study one principle every month until we get home. These make wonderful Family Home Evening lessons.

The Work of the Lord is moving well here in London.  We love this opportunity to serve and love the people we are able to work with.  We know that this is where the Lord wants us to be at this time in ou lives and hope we can faithfully share some of the highlights with each of you.