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