Monday, August 29, 2016

Pictures from our adventures

 BBQ with the Missionaries.
 Cute Missionary
 Miniature horses
 Interesting home with Sister Baron
 Mowing the lawn at our home.
 The tunnels at the Cliffs of Dover
 King Henry II's castle at Dover
Beautiful White Cliffs of Dover

Hello Family and Friends!
    We have had a great week and are excited to be in England.  We so much enjoy working with the Missionaries and meeting the people of Watford.  We have met several neighbors who are very nice and helpful.  Our neighborhood is very cultural diverse and very interesting.  We have a very nice couple living next door!  They own the home and are making their yard the nicest in England!
     Mom is doing very well driving.  Parking is still a challenge with driving on the left side and having the parking places half the size of those in the US.  
There is what our week looked like.
     Monday, Sister Park (a Senior Missionary) told me how to put the SIM card from my church phone into our iPhone.  We did it just like she told us and it worked!  Excellent!!  Just England phone calls and text but that is nice.  We can still do data on WIFI.   We also cleaned our house that day.
    Tuesday, Yoga at 6:30am, walked to the park, and made Brownies for the missionaries.  We then attended District Meeting in Aylesbury with eight missionaries.  They loved the brownies!  The Elders provided lunch and it was very creative!  They had a portable BBQ and cooked pineapple and watermelon.  It was interesting to eat BBQ watermelon.. Not bad.  They also had pasta but we talked them out of putting that on the BBQ too.  The Elders and Sisters are fun and amazing!
   We next traveled to a large Manor in the area but it was closed so we will return another time.  We did find a great Windmill in Brill that was amazing.  At that point we were on the Western border of the Mission.  The countryside was beautiful.
   Wednesday, Yoga again and a walk.  We ran into one of our YSA kids as she just left her house on her way to work.  We explored the area and found a neat Methodist church who had a charity shop (like the Utah Deseret Industries only very small).  I am glad that they do what they can to help families in the area.
   Sister Jackson and Sister Wallace came to visit us.  They are Senior Sisters serving in Wembley.  They were very helpful and gave us some great insights into how the kids live in England. 
   We had an appointment with the bank to set up an account but they did not accept our documents.  They want a utility bill but we don't have one yet and when we do it will not be in our names.  Oh well. dad will work on it.
   We found a neat app called  It downloads maps to your phone or iPad and then shows where you are located without being connected to cell service.  Very nice like a mini GPS.
    It was a very sunny day so we did tons of laundry and hung them out to dry.  It started to rain so we brought in all in the house.  Everything takes so much time.
  Thursday, Yoga and a walk again early this morning.  We walked to the center of town, the mall, and shopping plaza.  We got some passport pictures taken to British standards with the hope of using them on a bus pass.  We checked with several people about the pass and everyone sent us to someone else who was located someplace else.  Finally we learned that our neighborhood is outside the London city limits so we do not qualify.  
      Sending a simple FAX turned out to be a major pain.  Nothing worked but everyone smiled.  Again, everything takes forever!
     Brad and Vicki Jackman came to visit from Cambridge.  It was so good to see them.  A little bit of home.  Their assignment is different than ours but their visit and insights were so helpful.  They are awesome.  We will go visit them mid-September.  We agreed to go to a London play once a month with them. 
   Friday,  We got up early and drove about two hours to Dover on the East coast of England. It was a long but pleasant drive on the expressways.  Dover has been an important spot for England for thousands of years.  France can be seen 22 miles away across the channel.
     The White cliffs of Dover were named after the tall chalk cliffs that cover the sea shore.  Dover is a great natural harbor so every army who wants to try to conquer England decides to start in Dover.
      The Romans build a beautiful stone lighthouse on the cliff in 34AD.  They burned wet wood in the daytime (for smoke) and dry wood at night (for light).  The people added a church to the lighthouse after the Romans left.  In about 1100 AD King Henry II decided this would be a great place for a castle so he built a beautiful castle with towers, drawbridges, and all the trimmings.  It was magnificent!
    The castle was used, updated, more walls added, and guns added continually until after World War II.  The early Romans build some tunnels in the chalk to travel hidden from one part to another.   In WWI, they added more tunnels and used them to store ammunition and men. 
    At the beginning of WWII, Germany pushed the French and Allied soldiers to the sea just across from Dover.  The British mobilized the locals as well as all their forces and ferried almost 400,000 troops to Dover in just 10 days while under heavy fire from the Germans.  The tunnels provided protection and hospital services since the long range guns could reach Dover from France.
    We took a long walk along the tops of the cliffs and enjoyed the views. 
     On the way back we enjoyed a great piece of carrot cake Gluten Free.  It was awesome!.  Our drive home was uneventful and we were very tired by the time we returned.
      Saturday,  We visited a local farm/zoo/fishing pond.  It was very interesting with many unusual animals.  It is only open to the public for 5 or 6 days a year.  School groups can schedule it and others but not the public.  It was very nice.  Lots of pheasants, parrots, quail, miniature horses and donkeys, deer, goats, raccoons, turtles, flamingos, etc. etc.  We ate fresh grilled cheeseburgers!.
     Tomorrow we will visit the Wembley ward and meet with their leaders.  We have an appointment for lunch with their Young Adults.

Things are Awesome!
    We send our Love, 
Clark and Joyce, Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma, Educator and Artist, Elder and Sister Baron

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Family and friends,
   Here is our report of our first full week in England!
Things are going well, we are happy, and we and learning about the area.
We are thankful for some things that we take for granted like finding a Swiffer mop for the house.
They are nowhere to be found.
   We have used our American background experience to shop IKEA twice and Costco several times.
Our home is pretty well set up with just a mat or two left.  Our internet is working well which is amazing.
We checked the radiators for heating and everything seems to work correctly using the “boiler” for both heat and hot water for showers.

    Joyce is doing well driving on the left side of the road.  Clark is doing well interpreting what the Garmin GPS is telling him.
We have found something even more crazy than 30 mph roundabouts!  They link several roundabouts together when you have more than four choices of roads leaving an area.  One famous collection of roundabouts is in the area and looks like a bee hive with all these traffic circles everywhere.
    We discovered a “Lane” which is a walking path through the back yards of our housing area with sends us toward the London Metropolitan Subway Line and a couple of very large parks.  I want to go walking in the park later today.

    The weather has been good with just two days of rain.  Even those were rain for 10 minutes, sun for a few, and sprinkles later.  We took a trip into London on Friday to visit with our mission president, President Stevens.  We also met several missionary couples who work at the Hyde Park Chapel in Kensington across from the British Science Museum.  The church purchased the property years ago after the building at that address was bombed out during WWII.  It is now a large multi-story building with visitor center, chapel with great pipe organ, offices, apartments, etc . etc.
    We visited three museums after visiting the church.  We saw parts of the Victoria & Albert, Science, and Natural History museums.  All are free to the public and open to visitors.  We also discovered British Meat Pies (Suggested by Joyce’s Yoga teacher) at Covent Gardens.  Fun area!  The people that we meet are friendly and very nice.  We did run into someone at Covent Gardens wearing a BYU t-shirt.  They were from Provo Utah.

    Saturday, we drove on the famed M25 freeway that is the outer ring road of London.  We are located at the North side of the ring and the London LDS Temple is on the South side.  We left early before rush hour and arrived in about 80 or 90 minutes to get there with moderate traffic.
    The London LDS Temple is located quite a way south of London on a huge piece of property.  They have housing, a visitor center, a nice temple, and acres and acres of grass, ponds, and gardens.  We went through a temple session and saw most of the insides of the temple.  They had a nice cafeteria where we ate lunch.  It is a very nice site but is far from public transportation.  The grounds are the largest of any temple that we have seen.

     While in the South of London we visited the Hever Castle and Gardens.  The castle was small but wonderfully preserved!  It was complete with a double moat, drawbridge, and towers.  Very nice small castle!  The Gardens were complete with a boating pond and harbor, many ponds with Greek sculptures and lilies ponds.  We saw four very skilled horseman jousting with all their weapons from King Henry VIII’s time.  The country roads are very narrow just over one lane roads.  When you see another car coming, you slow down and squish to the side.  If two cars will not fit then one of them has to back up to a wider point in the road so that they can pass each other. 

    After we returned to our home, we traveled over to help the Sister Missionaries with an electrical problem in their apartment.  The lights in their bathroom would not turn off.   Interesting.

     Today, we attended church.  Dad taught the High Priests while Mom worked with the Young Single Adults in a special Relief Society.  We have several newly returned missionaries in the group.  Our assignment will cover the entire stake which is five wards and their young adults.  The Watford ward is a strong ward with solid members.  Some of the other wards in the stake are struggling smaller wards.  We plan to visit a different ward each week for the next month, speaking to the Bishops, getting to know the unique challenges of the wards and encouraging the young adults to stay strong in the gospel, follow Christ’s example, get an education, prepare to serve a mission or prepare for life.  We have much to learn but are excited to begin.

     We had the Sister Missionaries over for dinner tonight.  Your mother cooked an excellent dinner and we enjoyed visiting.  They left us with a message and biked away to their apartment.
    We then spoked to Elder and Sister Jackman (Brad and Vicki) who are serving with the YSA in Cambridge.  They have been so good, encouraging us and giving us ideas about our mission.  It was good to talk to them tonight.  They are coming over to visit with us this Thursday.  It will be good to see them!  They have been serving for one year in the mission.

   We still have things to do in our apartment as well as one desk from IKEA to put together before Thursday.    Monday is the missionaries preparation day where they do their laundry and write home.  Tuesday we plan to attend the District Missionary meeting.  Lots of good things coming!  I guess we really need an English Bank account and debit card so we will be working on that this week.

    We love you!  We love England! 

   Mom and Dad,   Clark and Joyce,   Elder and Sister Baron

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

    We arrived at the MTC on Monday August 1st, 2016.   It has been a crazy, fun day!

It actually started yesterday as we were winding down and getting ready to settle in Sunday evening.
We wanted to double check on when we were to arrive at the MTC. 
I have written 8:45am to 9:00am in my planner but we could not find the email confirming the time so we planned on 8:45am.
     We got up early, when for a bike ride, ate breakfast and got ready.  Camie and Lily were in the basement and planning to go home this morning.
     We said goodbye to Lily and Camie and rushed off to the MTC.  We arrived just after 9 am feeling good that we made it in pretty good time.
     When we walked into the front lobby we discovered that we were the only Senior couple who had arrived so far.
After asking around we discovered that check-in time was actually 9:45am to 10:00am.  Bummer. We could have used the extra hour!!
        We said hello to Rose Robison and her sister Caroline from our ward.  Rose is the MTC Executive Secretary and Caroline is in charge of BYU food and custodial services at the MTC.
We found that they were expecting 112 senior missionaries today and over 800 new young missionaries to arrive on Wednesday!
       We checked out the book store and wandered back to the check in desk.
        By now other Senior couples had started to arrive! So we went through the check-in process, getting our name badges, travel tickets, VISA, Passport, and ministerial certificate.  This certificate is the official document that shows people that we are legally recognized as ministers of religion.  After reviewing the documents, map of the MTC, and our schedule, we were released for lunch.
   Since we had lots of time, and lots to do, we ran home, grabbed a quick lunch of Dan’s mashed potatoes, Jill’s gravy, and Sister Baron’s (insert “Joyce”, “Mom”, “Helen” etc.) Pecan Pie.
We arranged our books and scriptures, and headed back to the MTC.
    The afternoon was spent in introductions and training.  We laughed because the Senior meeting room is the only one at the MTC that has soft chairs and foot rests. They even have a designated Nap room in one building! 
    Many Senior missionaries are going to serve in Salt Lake City at the Family History center. Others were Church Education System missionaries who teach Seminary or Institute around the world.  Several couples were called to work in mission offices around the world. One couple were called as Auditors. One other was Legal Counsel for Europe.  Several were going to San Diego to serve. One couple was going to  Scotland and one other to the UK.  Many missionaries were from around Mesa Arizona.
     We were told that we looked a lot different than the young missionaries who arrive on Wednesday.  We were relaxed and excited.  The young missionaries looked like deer in the headlights.  We were given the promise that our families would be blessed at home while we served.  We heard several missionary stories and were taught that our purpose was to invite and help others to come to Christ.  We should  serve, love, and help those we meet.  One man related that for senior couples, there are three kinds of sin; the sin of commission, the sin of omission, and finally the sin of No mission.
    We were divided into 14 districts with 8 missionaries in each.  We are in district 2 with a couple going to San Diego, the Attorney going to Germany, and a CPA and Teacher going to Samoa to teach education classes for BYU-Hawaii.  We enjoyed learning from other missionaries.
     Upon arriving home, we delivered my motorcycle to Darla Wenger and visited Darla and Karen for a bit.  I then met with Morgan Tagg who is renting our home.  They are storing some suit cases in our basement until they arrive.  We toured our house and talked about the sprinklers, winterizing the house and yard, how to run the built-in vacuum, etc. etc.  There is lots to learn.
   We report to the MTC tomorrow at 8am for more training and preparation.  We love the spirit of the MTC and the other missionaries! 
Well, it is time to quit!
Love Ya all lots.
Dad (N Mom)
Elder and Sister Baron