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.

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