Thursday, December 10, 2015

November & Perseverance

November and Christmas

We were trying to remember November and thought we had not done much.  Then, referring back to Afton’s journal, WOW.  We have been busy.  Here are the highlights.

Teddington Locks
River Lock being filled
Lots of work in our Self-Reliance Centre, but one November P-Day, we took off with another missionary couple named the Updikes.  We wanted to explore the Teddington Locks.  Not paddle locks, but river locks on the Thames River.  After you get upstream a ways, you find that the Thames is a tidal river which means that its level goes up and down as the ocean tide changes.  In downtown London the River Thames can change up to 18 feet between low tide and high tide.  As you get further inland (or upstream as it were), that 18 foot shift in water level can mean the difference between having a navigable river and one with just sandbars and obstacles. The first set of Locks are the Teddington Locks and we were able to visit and explore them.  We happened along as a school class was there getting educated about locks and the lock-master was there and actually opened and closed the locks showing us how he could raise and/or lower boats as they traveled the river.  As there are many boats and barges that are used even for living on the water, the lockmaster is on duty from sun up until sun down to keep the boat traffic moving smoothly along this part of the river.
River Lock being opened
Afton viewing river level stabilized

Recently we have had a lot of change in personnel in the mission. With the bubble of 18 year old missionaries completing their missions and returning home, our number of missionaries is down and the baptism rate has dropped a bit.  The Mission President decided not to change the baptismal goals so he initiated a mission fast.  The whole mission fasted for the purpose of finding new people to teach.  The Lord has blessed the mission and our November baptism goal was actually exceeded.  The Lord continues to guide and direct this great work.  During the week after the Fast, many missionaries reported miracles they experienced as a result of this fast.

The Ashby's, Anna, and the Baxter's @ Rules
Rules Restaurant
Working in the Center is a great experience.  Recently we made a wonderful new friend, Anna.  She is a Hungarian
Hungarian Violinists
lady about 75 years young.  By profession she is a tour guide and when you get her talking about places she has been, she is a fountain of stories and information.  But, in some ways, she is like me.  She struggles with the computers.  Her company is now sending her tour assignment, receiving her reports, and providing all types of communication via email.  She comes in to have me help her with the internet and her email.  Every time we complete a task for her, she literally praises the Lord and blesses us.  Well, she has invited us to go out with her a couple of times and we finally made a great connection. Because she is Hungarian, she wanted us to go to Rules, the oldest operating restaurant in London (opened in 1798).  It was a delight and a wonderful dinner.  Then she took us to the Hungarian Cultural Center for a concert.  Three sensational violinists performed.  The program was introduced by the violin professor from the Royal College of Music.

One of the wards that we are working with has started a Workgroup teaching English to Portuguese speakers.  Last week the missionaries needed help with their class because the actual teacher was unable to get there.  Afton and I came up with a version of charades that we had learned from Neil and Brittney (thanks kids, you saved the class).  Drawing from a bowl of English words, Team One, all Portuguese students, speaking only in English, had to describe as many words as possible without using the original word.  They had one minute.  Then Team Two had the same opportunity.  Next round, using the same words, the teams had to draw a word from the bowl and with only one word, try and get their team to say the word.  The final round each team alternated drawing words and doing strictly charades – no words.  The students thought it was great fun.  We love helping the missionaries whenever we can.  By the way, of the 25 students, 8 are non-members and the missionaries have had 3 baptisms out of the group so far.

Banqueting House
Banqueting House Throne
From time to time, we get a bit of culture and historical training.  We returned to The Banqueting House which was built by Henry the 8th.  It was part of the fabulous Whitehall Palace, the largest working palace in Europe for its time covering some 30 acres.  However, in the1790’s there was a huge fire and the whole place burned to the ground except for this beautiful Banqueting House.  The main hall was used for receptions and for events called masques – story telling theatre in and amongst the visitors.  The ceiling has the largest and most beautiful of Reuben’s
King Charles on Throne
original paintings.  One evening it was opened up late for a celebration and reenactment of the great debate of King Charles and Cromwell.  Early in the evening, King Charles was visiting among the crowd and just before the debate, a moderator asked the King many questions about life in the court and in his home.  The actor expertly answered and responded.  They then opened the questions up to the audience with some very historical and specific questions being asked.  The King handled the questions with ease and grace.  A most enjoyable evening.
Reuben's Ceilings 

Play Billboard - it is right side up
Not everything in London is historic and straight-laced.  Afton and I went to see The Play That Went Wrong.  My goodness, what a romp.  It was a murder mystery and the corpse could not stay dead, the props would not cooperate and stay in their places, wrong props showed up where they were not supposed to be and it just got crazy fun.  One of the actresses was injured (as scripted) so because the show must go on, a stage hand was commandeered to take her place.  The whole stage ended up collapsing by the final curtain.  It was hilarious and very well done.  Charisse, you would have loved the show.
Tom Who wasn't there?

As we have worked with our stakes around London, we have seen a lot of growth this month. The new inspired initiative with the MY PATH devotionals and personal assessments helps each member of the Church find out where they stand with Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance.  We have seen wards take the My Path Devotionals to over 480 people in November.  It has taken many months to get rolling, but some of the slowest stakes are now catching on.  We still have 3 out of nine that are not yet on board with this inspired instruction and direction.    With the Lord’s help, it will come.   We hope you see this soon in your areas.

One of the key principles of Self-Reliance is Perseverance.  Getting up, acting, and carrying on until the goals are achieved, until service is complete.  View the video, “Only A Stonecutter” and let us know of your feelings toward perseverance and of the dedication of John Rowe Moyle.  Here is the link to the full video.    For help in using this video in your Family Home Evening, see My Foundations: Principles, Skills, and Habits,  Principle #9 .  This can be found on SRS.LDS.ORG

Where has the year gone?  The Christmas Season is here and may we all share in the message of the grandest of events, the birth of our beloved Saviour.

As part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ worldwide initiative titled "A Savior is Born,"  a live nativity is located outside the Hyde Park Chapel on Exhibition Road across from the Science Museum near the South Kensington Underground Station in London, England.  This is one of the most popular areas in London where annually more than 10 to 11 million people walk on this street.  Each evening from 5-7pm, live actors will portray Joseph and Mary.

London - Hyde Park Chapel - Live Nativity
The actors will be members of the Hyde Park Stake and the England London Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Alan Phillips, president of the Hyde Park Stake said, "At a time of so much conflict, fear and uncertainty, we look forward to sharing the joy of our Saviour's birth and the peace that such knowledge brings."
"The purpose of this live nativity," according to Elder Duane Cardall, Director of the Hyde Park Visitors' Centre, "is to remind us that Jesus Christ came into the world.  He was born; He lived; He died; and was resurrected.  And because of Him all humankind will have the blessing of eternal life.  It is our mission to proclaim the divinity of Jesus Christ.  This is one way we have chosen to do that."
The Spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul.  To catch the real meaning of the Spirit of Christmas, we only need drop the last syllable and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.  
              President Thomas S. Monson

What a glorious gift it is to be celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ while serving as a missionary!  It is a perfect time to share with conviction our witness of Christ's birth, His life, and His mission.  We share our witness that Jesus Christ lives.  He stands at the head of this Church and is involved in the very details of our lives  We can only do His work with His help.  So trust in Him.

It is a MUST! Visit and view A Savior Is Born.  This is the current Church Christmas initiative. Following that viewing, there are two additional short videos teaching us why we need a Saviour.