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.

1 comment:

  1. What an experience you are having and lessons of history you are learning. The walking is great for your health. Keep it up. Love and miss you.