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 fiancĂ© 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