Sunday, August 2, 2015

Jolly July

July, what a month to be a missionary.  President and Sister Jordan, gone.  Sort of slipped away in the night.  We did have a really special lunch for the Jordan’s and we even presented a song with special lyrics from My Fair Lady, “I’m Leavin London in the Mornin”   sharing our love and appreciation for them and promising to get them to the plane on time.  President and Sister Stevens, arrived well and happy.  The Church is missing a General Primary Presidency Counselor and the Tab Choir is missing one of its members, but we have a new wonderful couple leading our mission. Day One they were off to meet all of the missionaries starting with the furthest point north and working their way down through the mission.  We shook their hands and said Hi, and that was all that we saw of them for nearly two weeks.  The life of a Mission President is so demanding.  They are so dedicated to knowing their new sons and daughters and stepping into the leadership roles that they now have.  They are going to be just Great!

.  As PATHWAY comes to London for the first time, the Church has asked us to wear a second hat – Pathway Missionary Couple.  Things went really well, for about 20 minutes it seemed.  The first week we had the assignment, BYU-Idaho called to give us some training on what we would be doing.  A Pathway Devotional had already been held and a good number of people were excited about the program.  In fact, before we had our training, we had 22 candidates already signed up. Then BYU-I called us to start our training.  First thing, they had us do was log onto the web site to see how the applications were going.  We noted that names like Salim, Maphosa, Espana, Oliveira, Bueno, Gomez, Massaquoi, and Luzon were signing up.  During the devotional, it was explained that Pathway is only taught in English, but that there were two versions of PATHWAY available – a Standard version and a Language version for those who needed support learning in English.  As we logged on, we asked where the Language version was and how do we assign students to that course.  The response from Idaho was, “We did not make the L version available. You are in England.  Doesn’t everyone there speak English?”  A few minutes later when we could finally control our laughing, we explained that about 30-40% of the people in England speak English.  Then you have all of the other languages from every part of the world represented.  Immediately, they  closed our training, cut the call off in mid-sentence, and said that this had to get fixed – Right Now!  They would call us back soon – when this was fixed. We will definitely have a Standard and a Language version of Pathway taught in London. 
Happy 4th of July !

            We had our July 4th celebration here in the office.  We taped up a few extra copies of the flag, made some flag poles out of straws, and gathered all of the office staff together to watch the patriotic presentation that our son Preston had prepared for a flag raising ceremony he had presented as the guest speaker in Oregon.  It was really touching and  a great way to reflect on the freedoms in the USA.  Well done Preston!

Polish, Hungarian, & Chinese helping each other

            Work here is never boring.  Always something new to challenge us.  We are currently helping a Chinese member of just over a year who is seeking asylum here in the UK.  He is needed housing, food, support, legal aid, and encouragement.  He already feels free from the bonds of his homeland.  He is so positive and happy.   By the way, his name is Ben.  We have a grandson named Ben who is also learning Chinese.  We will have to get them together one day.  Another fellow we are helping is a Hungarian who is trying to learn English and  find work.  We are working with people  to rewrite their C.V.’s, guide them in their search for work, and we are dealing with people from Portugal, Spain, Hong Kong, England, Ireland, and we even have had requests for help from the USA.  We most enjoy working with the YSA.  They are so ready to learn and they really appreciate any help that is given.  We have given many Work Choice Profile assessments and that has given guidance and identified personal interests and strengths. 

Lord Mayor & Elder Baxter at Dedication
            It is not all work.  We have mentioned that one of our volunteers has been starting up her own new business – a catering/restaurant business. She is located in a space that is shared with a non-profit community service organization. She has been open a few weeks and decided to have an official Open House.  What an event.  Her little place can  handle a crowd of 12-16 customers at a time.  We must have had 50 or 60 people show up for the Open House.  The Lord Mayor of Islington was there dressed in the robes of his position with all of the spangles and decoration of his office. He spoke. Another person wrote a poem about the new centre and its purpose and inviting nature of the place. We had some Jamaican men try to teach us some songs.  Oh yes, they asked me to give a dedicatory prayer and blessing on the new operation and particularly for the restaurant.  What a day.  Of course, it was topped off with lots of very tasty food. 

Just thought of something.  With all of the new changes, there is not one senior at the Hyde Park Building that is legal to drive, except one.  That’s me.  I am the only one with a valid driving license for the UK.  That will have to change – real soon.  Elder Ashby has started his training, but you have to arrange for three hours of driver’s training (we have a very good teacher in a local member), learn and understand the rules, take the written exam, pass the “perception” test, and then you have to schedule and take the actual driving test.  About a three month process.  Driving by seniors includes multiple trips to the airport to pick up missionaries, move missionaries during transfers, and special trips to help out wherever needed (like doing a transfer of a missionary with chicken pox who could not ride the train J).  Here are a couple of driving test sample questions – really.  Here is one of the medical questions:  Do you suffer from bouts of disabilitating giddiness?  Another question seemed serious, but it was a bit tricky; “You cannot, should not, may not, or must not park near a zebra crossing.”  Choose the correct answer?

            We were asked to help Elder Gale close a couple of flats as the number of missionaries is fluctuating and realignment is needed.  Remember, we are in England and there is NO storage space, anywhere, so items are thrown away.  So, we had furniture from two flats including couches, chairs, tables, beds, a refrigerator, microwave, dishes, etc. (we are voluntary missionaries, we did not sign up to be furniture movers, but oh well….)  We contacted the ward local missionaries to see if they could find a home for the items, with no success.  As we arrived to clear out one of the flats, the Relief Society President showed up and informed us that the Bishop had just heard from a young family moving into the ward from Spain. They needed a place to stay and they had a very young child and a two week old baby. Nothing else. We were able to make available just about everything that they would have needed to get started.  Such a tender mercy. 

Alert !     We had summer here on July 19th & 20th.  The temperature actually hit 90 degrees.  

(Thanks, Charisse for sending this notice to us.  Now we know what happened to summer and why our daily high is only 69 degrees at the end of July.) 

            One of the first wards that we presented the Self-Reliance material to was the City Ward, a Portuguese speaking unit.  After our 30 minute presentation to the Ward Council, they went about the rest of their ward business. Of course, that was all done in Portuguese and we had no idea what they were talking about.  The meeting was very animated and comments were coming from every single member of that Council.  At the end of the meeting, we had to ask the Full-Time Missionaries what they had talked about.  Had the Ward Council understood what we were teaching and were they ready to start one of the new courses of study?  The answer was “Oh, Yes!  They have grasped the principles.”  They went on to explain that the Ward Council thought the teaching was great, but that the greatest need in their ward was to teach the ward members English.  A class has been developed and a teacher from within the ward is teaching English to a class of about 25 every Wednesday.  The missionaries follow up on Friday evening with a workgroup and support class.  The best part of all is that we have had one baptism so far and 8 prospective members actively participating in the group.  They are all so excited to learn English and improve their job opportunities. 

Hyde Park Flower Walk
Feeding birds and squirrel
            Most days we get to enjoy wonderful morning walks in Hyde Park.  Close to us is what is called “The Flower Walk” which has a gorgeous display of some very unusual flowers.  This part of the park is irrigated so the flowers are quite spectacular.  The park is about 4 miles long and about a mile wide and most of it is very natural.  We came upon one area where the sign indicated an area of colorful and unusual birds.  To our surprise, we walked up on an English fellow who was feeding the parrots.  He has made friends with both the birds and the squirrels.

Hyde Park Gardens - Flower Walk
Birds in both hands

Lesson Challenge for July:  My Foundation, Lesson #5.  Work, Take Responsibility
“Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself .… (and men and women are free) to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.” 2 Nephi 2:16, 26
“Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.”  Doctrine & Covenants 42:42
For a complete lesson, see SRS.LDS.ORG, My Foundation, Lesson #5.

Missionary Miracle:
In one of the mission areas, Elder J & C were preparing their investigator for baptism on November 30. Because he had some issues his baptismal date postponed. The Elders had to drive some distance for the interview. What happened was awesome! We taught him and through listening to the Spirit and through using the scriptures and being bold we helped him to prepare for baptism on the 7th of December. In the lesson he had a lot of misunder-standings that we had to help him resolve, but at one point we pointed out a scripture in Mosiah 3:19 that we read with him. Elder B asked him a great question and as we waited in silence for him to ponder and respond the Holy Ghost touched his heart and mind and he finally understood! It was so awesome to see how he taught himself from the scripture, or better how the Spirit taught him from the scriptures without us really doing a lot. We were just there to ask a question and to direct him on his way in his search for knowledge and understanding. I've probably never seen an investigator changing so suddenly from misunderstanding and stubbornness to humility and courage. It really was a miracle! I'm grateful for the power of the Spirit in conversion!!

 Keep Calm and Carry On (as they say here in the UK)

 Cheerio from the Baxter's.

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