Friday, 5 December 2014

Rememberance Day

I can remember when I was a little girl and went shopping with my mom in the month of November, she would her give me a quarter to put in a bucket and I would receive a little red flower in return.  I didn't understand at the time what it was all about, but I remember liking the flower.  Then when I got older, I didn't remember seeing those buckets or the flowers any more.  But here in England, they still remember and every year sell "poppies" to earn money to help the people who have fought in the different wars that their country was involved in.  It is a big deal here, and I love it!  Our ward helped in the poppy collections and a wreath laying.  At every war monument (and there are a lot of them), wreaths are placed by different companies, organizations or individuals.  It is wonderful to see them all over town. 


The small paper poppies were given for any amount the people would like to donate.
We also sold lapel pins, wooden crosses, and wrist bands for set amounts.

Carol Facciano was one of the ladies that laid the wreath at the
war memorial monument for our ward.

As part of the 100 year celebration of Britain entering the first world war, ceramic poppies were placed (a few each day) in the moat at the Tower of London.  Each flower represented a soldier who lost his life in that war.  There were over 880,000 poppies in the moat by the time they finished.  We made our way over after it was mostly filled, but before the craziness of the final days.  It was incredibly sobering, especially to know that each flower represented a human life.  War is such a horrible thing!
The moat of the Tower of London, filled with over 880,000 ceramic poppies. 
 Each poppy representing a person who lost his life during that first world war.


Friday, 18 July 2014

Random traffic thoughts

1. Because we were at the mission office helping with the missionaries going home first part of this week, we didn't do our grocery shopping until today.  On our way to the store we saw lots of traffic and police cars, then we saw a couple of police trying to push the motorcycle out of the road.  It wasn't moving very well because of how mangled it was.  Thankfully I didn't see anyone covered with the dreaded blue cloth.  Hopefully they were already on their way to the hospital and will be fine, but it is hard for me to hope against the odds.  I cringe every time I see these motorcyclist weaving in and out of traffic and always at fast speeds.  They are time bombs waiting to go off.  I remember one Sunday, our bus  had to take a detour because of the motorcyclist who didn't make it.  I looked at the blue tarp and thought to myself, some mother and/or wife is going to receive horrible news in a little while.  I also wondered if the thought ever crossed the young mans mind as he got ready for the day, that this one would be his last.  I don't want to be all morbid, but death is a very real part of life.  Sometimes it is just our time to go, sometimes we are the casualties of someone else's decisions and sometimes we are our own worse enemies.  Someone tied flowers to the pole that the motorcyclist hit that Sunday. They are still hanging there; dried and faded.  I hope they will be a reminder to others when they see them, but I worry that our memories, like the flowers also fade.  I am so thankful that I know that there is a life after this one, and while I am not in any hurry to see the other side of that veil right now, I am glad that I know that when I do, I can return to my Father in Heaven and Jesus and loved ones who have already passed.  Help me to do my best, and then take advantage of the Grace Jesus offers.  And God bless that motorcyclist and his family.  I imagine there are hard days ahead. 

2. As I sit here I hear the sirens in the back ground. Pretty much 24/7 you hear sirens.  Police, ambulance and an occasional fire.  The police here do not handle traffic citations.  All that is done with cameras.  If you are driving too fast, turning incorrectly or in a bus lane, you will receive a letter in the mail with a picture of you proving your guilt with a hefty fine attached that will be reduced by 1/3 if you pay within two weeks.  The police here handle crime and traffic accidents. They still wear those cute bobby hats and they do not carry guns.  They also don't use whistles I noticed today when the policeman directing traffic had to yell to get the attention of the driver who was looking at the motorcycle instead of watching for his turn to move.  First time I realized how effective the whistle is in those situations 

3. The roads here are so narrow.  The other day, a motorcyclist was trying to pass our bus on the right, scraped the side of the bus and kept going.  No one but Terry and I even seemed to notice or care.  Not the motorcyclist or the bus driver.  All cars here have mirrors that fold in so when you are parked on the street you have a better chance of still having them (the mirrors) there when you get back into your car.  Pretty much all cars have scratches down the sides.  Several have dents and some are tied together with wire and duct tape.

4. On another semi related but much 'lighter' note, the traffic lights here go from green to yellow to red to yellow then green again.  I like it.  Traffic, begins rolling when the light turns yellow before the green.  You never see anyone blasting through the red lights here, let alone three cars (you Utah drivers take note).  When you see the light turn yellow you either stop or start going.  Clever.
Now let's everybody be safe out there!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

A Sweet Sabbath

AHHHH!  I just found this "draft" tucked in the bowels of my other posts.  I have no idea why it didn't get published  back when I wrote it, but I am glad that I at least saw it now.  (P.S.  I have since had jellaf rice, and when made not to spicy, it's very good).  Enjoy

I realize that I have not been very good at keeping up on my blog, and even worse in my journal, so I just wanted to share a few thoughts.  We enjoyed a testimony meeting at church today, and I realized that I love these people!  As the members stood to bear their testimonies, I felt an incredible amount of love for each one.  I know I shouldn't be surprised at that, and I'm not. I think I was just surprised at how much I love them, and maybe at how quickly.  We have been in this ward for one month now and because our numbers are few, I believe that I have had interactions with every member.  Each one loves the Lord and is striving to live as He would want them to.  We all have that in common. In our Stake here in the Wandsworth area of London, there are 62 languages spoken by the people.  For the most part, they all speak English, but it is still with a heavy accent from their native country.  Many dress differently, and eat different foods than I am used to.  But regardless of where you are from, we are all children of our Father in Heaven and He loves us all. I am so grateful to be here, to feel the love and support of my family and friends back home and also of my new family and friends here.  This is an amazing experience!

Speaking of different foods, I have an embarrassing yet pretty funny story to share.  Our first few days here in London, we attended a pot luck dinner for the missionary couple whose flat we took over.  They were returning home after serving here for 18 months and the members wanted to have a going away party.  There was so much food! Lots of rice dishes, things with fish heads in it, and an assortment of other unidentified foods.  Because there was so much food, I was able to fill my plate with relatively safe looking foods.  As I was going down the line, a sister said to me in her heavy Jamaican accent, "you did not take some of my Jellaf rice", but here is what I heard, "you did not take some of my Jell-O rice".  Of course I was very confused and asking for clarification, I asked "Jell-O rice?"  She laughed and laughed, thinking that it was so funny that I would think she said Jell-O instead of Jellaf.  Now remember, here in England they have a tenancy to drop off the last part of a word.  It didn't make sense to me that she would have put Jell-O in rice, but the fish heads didn't make much sense to me either, so who am I to question.  Either way, at that point I had to go back and take some.  Apparently Jellaf rice is an African dish and I am here to tell you that while it looks harmless, it is very spicy!  After the dinner, I went up to her and said, "you did not warn me that your rice was so hot".  Again she laughed and laughed.  She told all of her friends what I had said and insisted on having her picture taken with me.  That dumb American who thought Jellaf rice was Jell-O rice.  When I saw her at Stake Conference several weeks later, she gave me a big hug and told all her friends about me again.  I'm glad that I could make her day, but I have to admit, I hope I never have to eat Jellaf rice again!

Margaret got Baptized!

Margaret David got baptized on May 10th.  I can't believe I haven't posted it on here yet! She is so much fun and has such a great laugh.  She is originally from Nicaragua.  AND, she is definitely afraid of  water.  It actually took me some time to assure her that it was going to be ok, that she would only be under the water for a moment, and that Elder Wright would have a hold of her the whole time.  I also had to stress to Elder Wright to get it right the first time because I wasn't sure she would/could do it again.  This was Elder Wright's first baptism and he was nervous.  But it the end, it all went off without a hitch and she did great!  She is a great addition to our ward!

Margaret David, nervous about her baptism.

Elder Wright, nervous about her baptism.

Monday, 28 April 2014

New Assignment

Well, I suppose it's not really a new assignment, but more of an additional assignment.  We are still working in the Crystal Palace Ward, but we have also been asked help the office missionaries on the two days before missionaries are returning home, after completing their missions.  We took the train down to the mission office on a Monday morning and pretty much hit the ground running once we got there.  Meals needed to be prepared for that and the following day.  Sister Adams has done this for awhile now and knew what she was doing so we were pretty much laborers and gofers.  We put on a lovely meal on Monday night and after we got everything cleaned up, we started working on breakfast and the other meals for the next day.  We were able to slip into the testimony meeting and were so touched by the testimonies of these missionaries.  I cannot tell you how impressed I am with these young men and women, and I feel confident that the church will be in good hands knowing they will be heading back to their home wards and stakes to be the future leaders. The next day after breakfast, we attended the temple with them.  It too was a choice experience.  Then there was lunch and getting another dinner ready.  We loved seeing these missionaries, many of whom we had worked with.  I felt like a mom to them and I was sad to see them go. They were a little sad as well.  Not about leaving us, but about leaving their missions. They had grown to love the people and the work that they did here.  We finally left the mission office around ten o'clock on Tuesday night, exhausted, but with full hearts.
The Missionaries that were going home at the April transfers

We worked directly with these missionaries.  From left to right:
Elder Cangas, (in our district);  Elder Bailey (our "trainer" in Crystal Palace Ward);
 Elder Fowler (my companion); Elder Mafubelu  (our zone leader);
 Elder Pond (missionary in Crystal Palace Ward) Front row:
Sister Ylisaari (missionary at the visitors center) and
Sister Santos (in our district). 
 We love these missionaries!!!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Pam Gets Baptized!

Every missionary’s goal is to help others gain a testimony of the restored gospel and enter the waters of baptism.  Really, there is nothing like it!  And what makes this one even more special is that Pam Clarke is not just an investigator, she is my friend.  After 7 months of investigating the church, three sets of missionaries and a lot of prayers on her behalf, Pam got baptized on Saturday March 22, 2014.  She asked Terry to baptize her and me to give a talk on the Holy Ghost, which made it even more special for us.  She also invited SO MANY friends and family members.  There were about 40 people there and I would say about half were those that she invited.  The Spirit was strong and I hope that some of those people will want to know more too, but that would just be icing on the cake.  For now, my friend Pam is a member of the church!

It's hard to capture a picture of Pam smiling.
 I had to tickle her to get this to get this beautiful smile.

Right before Terry baptized Pam

With Elder Pond (left) and Elder Wright (on right)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Spring is in the air!

It was a cold, wet, windy winter.  Many people have said that it was windier than usual, but that the temperatures were more mild than usual.  Really?  I thought it was plenty cold, but it's true that we didn't get any snow.  Some areas had extreme rain and flooding, we weren't that bad here I guess, but still, it wasn't fun.  But it was probably because we were out it in a lot.  At home, when I wanted to go somewhere, I would walk out of my house into the garage, get in my car and drive to where I wanted to go.  Find a parking spot close to the door and run inside.  Coming home, same thing in reverse.  But here, I walk to the bus stop, wait, sometimes a long time, ride the bus for a bit, get off and walk to where I want to go.  The bus and train system is great here in London and usually they can get you with in 10-15 minutes of where you want to be.  But not always.  For us to get to the train station, it is a 20-25 minute walk.  We ride the train and then walk to where we want to go.  So what I am trying to say, I notice the weather a lot more because I am in it a lot more. 

BUT, I am seeing signs of hope!  Spring is in the air!  We have had some beautiful days with sunshine and as we walk around, I have noticed more and more flowers.  It is beautiful and does so much for my psyche.  Terry keeps trying to warn me that winter isn't really over yet, but I will enjoy this for as long as I can!  Spring is a beautiful time of year!

Not sure what kind of tree it is, but I think I am allergic to it.
It's ok though, it's beautiful all in bloom!

Daffodils are always a personal favorite.

Such a well manicured yard.
 Don't see many like this, but I was sure glad that I got see it!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Someone posted recently something that made me laugh.  It was a list of things, that I mostly don't even remember now, but the one that I DO remember was: "When I drive my car, I hate pedestrians, when I am a pedestrian, I hate cars, but when I am a driver OR a pedestrian I hate bicyclists".  Now I don't really hate anyone, but this kind of rang true to me.  They scare me to death!  The cyclists zip in and out of traffic, (which is why they like riding bikes, I know, I know), and don't follow traffic rules like they should. 

 From our flat, we can hear the sirens of police cars and ambulances go by all the time.  Every time I hear a siren, I say to Terry, "another Cyclist just got hit".  He used to laughed at me until we heard that last December, 6 (SIX!) people died from bicycle accidents.  I have taken up grading every cyclist that I see.  If they are wearing a helmet and have good lights on their bikes and are wearing reflective clothing, I will give them an A or B.  Unfortunately, too many get F's.  Remember when I said that everyone wears dark clothing, for some reason it seems they also like dark colored bikes.  At night time it is so hard to see these people, especially if it is raining. Even when they have lights, they are usually too small and too dim.  Terry tells me I should be like a meter maid and give tickets to people who are not safe and give out little awards to those people who take bicycle safety seriously. I would if I thought it would help!

Tonight as we walked home from the train station, we saw a bus pulled over and an ambulance behind it.  Then we saw a bicycle on the sidewalk. No one seemed in too big of a panic so I am telling myself that they weren't hurt too badly, because I really don't want to think that they were already dead.

Lets just be safe out there, OK people!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Temple & Visitors' Centre Trip

Last Saturday, our ward rented a coach to take everyone to the temple.  While the London Temple is only about 20 miles away, it takes over an hour, usually an hour and a half to get there because of traffic.  Many members have trouble getting there because there are no trains or buses that run anywhere close, and only a few people have cars.  The Bishop felt it would be a worthwhile  activity and so a list was made of all who wanted to go and the coach was rented.  As the time got closer however, the list got longer and the bus got bigger.  We ended up with 35 on the bus and a total of 42 people meeting at the temple.  Seventeen members did a session in the temple and the rest of us spent time in the Visitors' Centre (where we worked when we first got to London) and around the beautiful grounds.  We had 4 investigators, a few less actives, and 1 who was starting to come back into activity again, as well as a handful who were recently baptized. It was so awesome for us to be there with our investigators, especially Pam and Millie.  We have been working with these ladies for awhile now and have grown to love them SO MUCH!  They were both so excited to go to the temple and made great sacrifices to be able to be there.  They loved everything about it.  It was so exciting for me to see their excitement and their thirsting and hungering for more.  We went into distribution and they were buying things that they didn't even know what they were.  They just wanted everything they could get their hands on.  I remember being that way as a new member also and it makes me sad that I have lost some of that enthusiasm.  But I am renewed by theirs and the members, whom I also noticed were so honored to be able to go to the temple even if they were not going inside.  They knew it was a sacred place and they felt it a privilege to be there.  They all teach and humble me.  It was the best day ever!

The beautiful London Temple.  It was a perfect day!

Millie next to me and Pam next to Elder Fowler
in front of the Christus inside the Visitors Centre.
  We love these ladies!

Walking (and playing) around the beautiful grounds.
Jason (behind Millie) is an awesome guy coming back into activity.

Heading back to the coach.  We didn't want to leave.

On the bus ride back home.  Tired, but well fed!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Fashion in London

I am not sure if London is a fashion mecca or not, but I don't think so. I've heard they do have some high-end stores in central London, but certainly not around here. When we first got here I noticed that everybody wore black or dark clothing.  At first I thought maybe it was the new fall color, but then it didn't take long to realize why.  It is a matter of survival. While the air is much cleaner than it was in the 1800's with all the factories and coal burning, there is still a (many) layers of grime everywhere.  If things started as white or tan, they are now black or dark in color. I am pretty sure it is this way in any large city, especially in one as old as London.

I might have fancied myself as a semi-fashionable person many years ago--many, many years ago.  But now, I only dress for comfort and warmth. Today we had an appointment to teach an investigator, I had to laugh as I watched Terry and myself get ready.  You see, it's all about layers.  Multiple layers.  It is easier for Terry, his regular suit and tie, a sweater, long wool over coat, scarf, gloves and ear muffs, umbrella in hand.  He looks handsome no matter what, dapper even.  But it is much more of an ordeal for me.  Remember those fleece tights I talked about earlier?  Let me tell you, they are delicious!  They are so warm and cozy.  Today, however, was a "two pair of tights" day. Coat, scarf, gloves, ear muffs and of course umbrella. There is a system to it all, and everything has to go on in its perfect order or it doesn't work.  It was only sprinkling when we got off the first bus and waited for the second bus, but by the time we got off the second bus and began the 1/2 mile walk to her flat it was pouring.  The heavens just opened and emptied buckets of rain.  The umbrella's helped, but because the wind was blowing the rain in sideways, we were drenched by the time we got there. The appointment was good and we were mostly dry by the time we left, so all is well.

I thought about taking a picture of ourselves all bundled up, but then I thought, I really don't want to be reminded about how ridiculous I looked.  Terry says I looked like one of our grandchildren getting ready to go outside to play in the snow but are so bundled up that they can hardly move.  Sigh.

Staying with the fashion theme, I wanted to share a funny story that happened.  At an appointment one day, the lady we were teaching asked me what she should wear when she came to church with us the following Sunday.  I told her that most women wear a dress or skirt, but if she were more comfortable, she could wear pants.  The young missionary, who is from Yorkshire, England practically jumped out of his seat yelling, "trousers, she means trousers!"   Apparently I have not mastered the language yet.  What we call pants, they call trousers.  What they call pants, we call underwear.  Oops!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Our first Christmas in England

If it wasn't for my calendar, I might not have even known it was Christmas.  First off, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, so there was no "Black Friday".  Then there wasn't the displays and sales in the stores that I am used to.  No Christmas music playing or people arguing about when they should actually start playing it on the radio.  Very few Christmas lights, in fact, I would guess that you might have only seen lights in the windows of every one per 1000 flats.  Eventually, (and not until two-three weeks before Christmas) I did start noticing some tree lots or small artificial trees in the stores.  Terry knows how I love Christmas decorations and was a good sport to make sure we got a tree.  It was a sad little tree compared to what I am used to, but I loved it!  We decided to go with a flocked tree and colored lights hoping we wouldn't have to have decorations on it.  I made a star for the top and all in all, it made me very happy.
But then the Christmas activities began and it was starting to feel more like Christmas to me.  We had a nice ward Christmas party.  A great turn out and good food.  We all had a fun time.

Our Bishop and other ward members at the Christmas party. 
We meet at a Catholic school that is for primary age kids, so the tables are very small.

The Mission brought in all the missionaries to go to the London Temple and put on a nice Christmas dinner.  There are so many of us that they had to do it on four different days.  It was wonderful to be able to get back to the temple.  It was our first time to attend the London Temple since we got here.
Some of the missionaries that were at the Christmas party the Mission gave. 
There is real strength in being with all these young missionaries.  We love it!

We were able to provide a breakfast for the missionaries of our zone a few days before Christmas.  Elder and Sister Hom (another senior missionary couple) and us made French toast, scrambled eggs, "streaky" bacon, hash browns and fruit for all the young missionaries.  They were so excited and so appreciative.  We played games, sang Christmas carols and just enjoyed being with each other.

Sister Hom and I in the kitchen.

All missionaries love to eat,and they were thrilled with this breakfast.

Our District.  We love these missionaries!

Our Zone.  Awesome missionaries, every one of them and a great
example of dedication and Christ like love.

So Christmas wasn't what I was used to, but I realized that the things that took so much of my time and energy are not what Christmas is really about.  It is about a baby.  It's about love.  It's about the greatest gift that only our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ could give.  It is about the chance to be with our families forever.  It is about the great Plan of Happiness and the chance to return and live with our Father in Heaven again.  It is about all the things we are trying to share while we are out on our mission.  I'm grateful that I was able to spend Christmas in England, and to be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.