Friday, November 25, 2016

Family and Friends,

         Just a note to tell you that we are doing well and are enjoying our adventure here.  We love the missionaries and members here!  Here is a one week rundown of Elder and Sister Baron in Watford England!

    Friday, November 18th.  We made our Costco run early today.  One of our Young Adults told us about a motorcycle shop so we stopped by the Royal Enfield dealer on the way.  Very cool motorcycles.  Truly British and retro! We shopped three grocery stores and found (drum roll) cranberries, Turkey gravy, and olives for our Thanksgiving Dinner and workshop.  In the afternoon, we drove to Wembley to meet with a “Letting Agent” to look at two apartments that will be used for the Elders who serve in the Wembley area.  One older apartment with a weird layout which was not our favorite.  The other was much newer, top floor one bedroom bigger unit that was being remodeled.   It is now cleaned up with new paint and hardwood floors.  It is in a good location, close to a tube station, and by a University campus.  We suggested the second one and it looks like the church will rent it and move two Elders in.

     Saturday was a sunny day so we walked to the Croxley Post Office to get a package.  If packages will not fit through your mail slot then the postal worker knocks on the door. If you are not home to receive it then they leave a note and take it back to the post office.  We cleaned our house, Joyce aka Sister Baron did some art sketching, and Elder Baron aka Clark worked on the computer for our next activity.  We then drove out to a health food store where one of our young women works.  We visited with her and purchased some things including a bottle of Macadamia peanut butter and avocado humus.  Wow!  We also looked at real Christmas trees for our little apartment.  Very neat!

    That evening we attended the Stake Road Show where we played a part in the Star Wars jazz band.  The crowd was really excited to see the Senior Missionaries in the show.  It was good to see all the members from all the wards.  Since we work with the Young Single Adults (YSA) for the stake, we had visited every ward to meet the people.  It was very fun and productive.  One southern ward is struggling and did not produce a show for the evening.  They have great hearts and are a happy willing people but they have trouble getting things done.  The contest for the best play has traditionally been between the two northern wards but this year the little southern ward of Enfield took first place!  You would have thought that they won an Oscar based on the celebration!  We love those good humble people!  The ward is mostly black and Asian families. They had a really cute play with some traditional African costumes and story line.  We had a great time!
    Sunday we attended church at Wembley.  They have a small cute building and a small humble multicultural ward.  We were able to talk to several of our YSA and encouraged them to attend our “Reach Higher” workshop this next Saturday.  The subject of the workshop is just what these people need.  We hope and pray that they will come and learn a lot!

    We noticed on a map that the largest and first Hindu Mandir temple in Europe is located in Wembley close to IKEA.  After church we drove over to take a look.  We found them to be very gracious and excited that two American Mormon Missionaries would come to see their temple.  An older gracious man took us through the huge facility.  Huge meeting room that will hold 3000 people.  They had a large youth conference going on.  We went through the traditional temple and it was beautiful!  Carved limestone pillars, statues, and designs.  Wonderful workmanship.  The interior was Limestone and Teak and Rosewood.  They had a visitor center with an exhibit on the history of Hinduism. It was very interesting.  We were impressed.  If they all lived their religion, the world would be a better place.
     We had a quiet evening at home preparing for Seminary, Institute, Family Home Evening, and the next week.

    Monday is Laundry Day!  We love our little washer and condenser dryer.  It makes life so much easier that hanging things out everywhere! We hit the gym and went for a walk in the sunshine!  Later we prepared the food, lesson and games for FHE.
    Two of our young Missionary Sisters came at 6:30 and taught an investigator named Ray.  We participated and tried to help when appropriate.  He is well versed in the Bible and had lots of questions.  At 7:30 we greeted the rest of the group.  We had four Missionaries, two investigators, six YSA, and both of us.  We talked about Gratitude and shared what we are thankful for with each other.  We then played some loud games and had fun.  One of the investigators is going to be baptized on Sunday and she is so excited.  She has some anxiety and some emotional challenges and has been working for years to reach some stability at this point in her life.  She has a hard time with noise and chaos.  She is a school aid who works with elementary age students and loves it!

    Tuesday was Joyce’s BIRTHDAY!  We had a very fun day! We Skyped with Family! President and Sister Stevens, our Mission President called to wish Joyce a happy birthday and to thank us for the work that we are doing with the YSA and missionaries.  We took the Tube to the South Bank in London where we found several small jewelry design shops.  We found a meat pie place and order one turkey and one chicken.  The chicken one was good, the turkey was okay. We saw a little Christmas market where we found some great hot chocolate. 71% Brazilian Dark Chocolate.  Yummy.   We then walked across the Thames, through Embankment, through Trafalgar Square, and up to Leicester Square to another small Christmas market.  We found a little silver ring for Joyce.

        We then walked up to Covent Garden and checked out the handmade shops.  Cute kids hats and Christmas decorations.  We then walked over to Piccadilly Circus where we caught the Tube home.  When we arrive (after a train delay) we quickly grabbed the car and drove to the Warner Brothers-Harry Potter Studios where one of our YSA had tickets waiting for us.  We toured the entire studio.  Three of our young ward members were working on the “Green Screen” exhibits.  We had our pictures taken in our wizard robes but skipped doing a movie riding on a broom. WOW. What a fun time!  We got home late and crashed in bed.

    Wednesday, We went shopping for treats for Institute and met Stephanie, one of our YSA who’s dad is Chinese and Mom is English.  She is going to Hong Kong this week for a trip with her family.  She served a mission in Hong Kong and speaks Cantonese fluently.  She just got a job using her language with a bank in London’s China Town.  She starts work as soon as she returns from China.  Neat Beautiful Young Lady!
    Later we worked on our lessons since we were teaching Institute that evening.  Elder Baron taught about the importance of scriptures.  Sister Baron taught a lesson on death, resurrection, and the life after death.  She was really good!  We had a smaller group than usual but we had three new YSA from Enfield attend.  We love being with them!  We felt a strong spirit in the meeting and was happy to be there.  Some of the YSA set up a ping pong table at the church and Elder Baron played for a bit.  Two big black members started to play and they were so very good!  It was fun to watch someone that big move that fast!  We had a fun time!   Two of our YSA are being seen together every day.  Maybe their status will change from being single.  They are both awesome young people!
     We appreciate an older couple from our ward who loves to provide transportation to the young adults. They drove several home after Institute.  They love them and love to serve.  We appreciate their wonderful service!  It was late when we cleaned up and locked the church to head home.  We were tired but happy!
     Thursday, we planned to meet Joyce’s artist friend from Park City in London for a day’s adventures.  We met her at her hotel and took the tube to Westminster Abbey.  We found lots of police and barricades up everywhere. We learned that the Queen was going to visit the Abbey that morning so we left and went to the British Museum to see the early English History section of the Museum.  Very interesting.  Much of what they have from the Roman times were found in a cache or trove.  People were afraid that the Roman army was going to lose the battle and leave the area. To keep things safe, they would take their prized possessions and bury them.  Their plan was to return later and dig them up but for one reason or another, they were not able to return.  Many treasures are found when farmers plowed the fields and dug up old silver platters but now many are found undamaged by amateurs using metal detectors.  One huge cache of over 15,000 Roman coins were found in our area in 2002. 
       When we finished at the museum, we made our way to Westminster Abbey for a tour.  When they saw our missionary name tags they ushered us inside and gave us Clergy Passes to see the Abbey. It is a very neat place with TONS of history since all the Kings and Queens are crowned in Westminster Abbey and many are buried there.  We even saw one door in the monks work area that was still being used.  It was installed in 1054.  That was 440 years before Columbus!  That wooden door is four times as old as the United States.  This place has HISTORY.
        It was very cold inside the building since they do not heat their old historic churches.  When we were inside, a woman ran up to us and was very excited.  She was a member of the church from Philadelphia and was excited to see Missionaries in London.  She said that she could tell we were missionaries and could feel our spirit.  She was very sweet.

     Next we went to Hyde Park to see the large Christmas Market there.  Well, it was really a carnival with rides, games, fun houses, and lots of fast food booths.  We were a bit disappointed. We grabbed a bite at the Muffin Man restaurant and walked to the Salvation Army Concert at Royal Albert Hall.  We had seats behind the choir (spelled Quire in the old churches).  The program was very good and we had a chance to sing several Christmas Carols using the words from the protestant hymnal.  Fun.  The Royal Albert hall is beautiful! What a wonderful building!  After the concert we walked back to the tube station with Joyce’s friend and rode the tube home.  We arrived at midnight.

    Friday, we were up at 5:45am so that we could be at the church by 6:30am for Early Morning Seminary.  Elder Baron taught about Luke 17 this morning.  We had 5 young people attend.  There are usually between five and eight each morning.
    We went for a walk and then went to Costco for the big things we need for tomorrow’s YSA workshop and Thanksgiving dinner.  Like 20 pounds of turkey breast, 40 pounds of potatoes, salad, fruit, etc. etc.   Sister Baron has been cooking turkey for about six hours today.  It is delicious!!  Tomorrow we will run four workshops on Self-reliance and Leadership and feed Thanksgiving Dinner to about 40 people!  Fun!

    Well, the missionaries need our help with an investigator at six pm so I better go.
      Love you all!  We miss our friends and family at this time of Thanksgiving but know that we are doing what we should be doing.  We love London.  We love the Missionaries.  We love the members.  We are having so much fun!
We LOVE and miss our Family and friends!!  Carry on and Pray for us!

     Elder and Sister Baron

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

   Another week has flown by and it is again past time for me to report to you!  Life is good here in the United Kingdom.  We LOVE working with the people here!

    Here is what our week looked like:
Thursday, November 3rd, we spent in London!  We scheduled a walking tour with Matt Gedge and “Fun London Tours” to see the “Changing of the Guard” at the Royal Palace.  What an adventure!!  The British LOVE pomp and ceremony!  We started at Piccadilly Circus and walked to St. James Place to watch all the action.  Matt, our tour guide has the routine timed to the minute so we had literally front row positions for all the bands, guards, and horse guards.  Perfect Timing!  We made five stops which were timed perfectly for us to arrive just as the Guards, Bands, or Horses would arrive. It was a fun event to watch and it was great to learn about the traditions surrounding the ceremony.  Because it is winter time, the crowds were smaller and that also made things easier. There were only about 1000 people or so watching the event! We will attach pictures. 

   After grabbing a sandwich at Pret-a-Manger we took the Tube to Temple Station where we again met Matt for a second tour.  This time we wandered through the alleys and backroads to see some of the “Hidden Treasures” of London.  Again, we enjoyed the tour and learned much more about historic London including “Roman” baths, Ghost Subway stations, Printing Press Row, dozens of churches, some showing evidence of WWII bombings, the Knights Templar Hall, and lastly the Cheshire Cheese Pub which was Rebuilt in 1667.  The pub still has the original floors and steps with not a straight corner or level floor in the place.

   Lastly we visited the Cass Abstract Art show.  They did not pick Mom’s entry to be exhibited so they made a poor choice!  The picked only 8 of 700 entries so we did not feel too bad.

   Friday was clean the house and do the laundry day.  It rained most of the day.  We did have a meeting scheduled in the Library with the missionary Sisters and an investigator but he cancelled at the last minute so we walked to the Mall.  We felt sorry for our poor missionaries!  They are so good and they work so very hard.    Later Mom worked on some art sketches and Dad worked on the computer.

   Saturday, we drove up to Milton Keynes to visit one of our YSA members.  She works in the family Chinese grocery store and restaurant.  We visited a museum early in the day.  Wonderful Museum with tons of antiques that have been restored so that they all worked.  Many old music boxes, player pianos, ancient record players with no amplification, Stereo Master viewers, water wheels, brick bread ovens, farm machinery, BSA motorcycles and many many other things!  They even had a Formula One race car next to the antique bikes. Wonderful exhibits! 

Milton Keynes was a rail depot exactly 50 miles from London and 50 miles from Birmingham.  The town as it now stands was “created” in 1967 and consolidated a number of small communities.
     We found the restaurant and our YSA.  She was so happy that we came to see her.  She is a wonderful young woman. Her YSA older brother runs the restaurant and her father runs the store.  Her father is serving as the Bishop of the Aylesbury Ward and many of his extended family work at the store and restaurant.  We found some great treasures in the store including a solar powered Lucky Cat from China!   We ate in the restaurant and the food was WONDERFUL! Large servings, great sauces, and fresh ingredients!  We drank mango and coconut juice and had sushi for an appetizer.  When we went to pay, they would not take any money for the meal and even gave us a cup of their special salad dressing that we loved.  Wonderful loving people. 

    We next visited the National Computing Museum at the secret Bletchley Park.  During WWII this was the center of the British code breaking spy center.  They had some brilliant scientists and mathematicians who were able to break the secret codes used by Germany and Italy during the war.  The challenge was that it took too long to decode the messages so they created several early computers to help with the work.  The computers used vacuum tubes and racks of paper tape readers to accomplish their tasks.  They were very successful and developed several of the earliest computers in the world but they did not reveal that information for many many years.  It is thought that their work in breaking the codes shortened the war by two to four years and saved many many lives.   Dad was totally in seventh heaven! He saw the WITCH, EDSAC, and Colossus computers actually work!  Amazing!  They also had good exhibits and examples of early working computers including the Altair, Commodore PET, Commodore 64, Apple, and Sinclair.  WOW!

   That evening we joined the YSA (and about 2 or 3 thousand others) at the large Cassiobury Park by our home to watch a celebration, huge bonfire and fireworks.  It was freezing cold!!

    Sunday we were off to church.  Mom drives with nice leather gloves because it is cold and her hands hurt.  We heard testimonies of wonderful happy people who have found peace through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are sincere, humble, and have great faith. We love these people.  A married woman from Chili had not seen or heard from her family and her mother in years.  Her Mother did not want to have any contact with her children. This woman has been praying to be reunited with her family.  She was able to contact her father this fall and her Mom called her this week and they spoke. Her mother from Chili cried and asked to be forgiven.  They now have plans to get the family back together.

    Monday was a beautiful day. We went to the Gym, rode our Bikes, and walked up to High Street in town. We did some of our laundry and prepared for Family Home Evening.   We never know how many, if any, will come.  When evening came, the Missionary Sisters came with two wonderful men who are investigating the church.  They are both black, one from the Caribbean and one from Africa.  They are sincerely reading, learning, and praying to know what path they should take.  Daniel (our YSA friend and scooter owner) came and brought Mike who met with the Missionaries some time ago but wanted more time to think and study.  Stephanie then arrived.  She is half Chinese and served a mission speaking Mandarin. We discovered that she was at the Provo MTC while we were serving there.  She was wonderful.
   The Missionary Sisters (Wright and Smiddy) gave a lesson on Faith which was very good.  The spirit was so very strong and everyone enjoyed the discussion.  We played UNO and ate the delicious Brownies that Mom made.  The missionaries left and the others stayed to talk and play games.  We loved it!

    Tuesday we drove to Hampton Court Palace.  The Palace and grounds are huge.  Henry VIII lived there as did a number of English Royalty.  We toured his chambers, kitchens, and courts.  It was very interesting.  They had fires in the fireplaces and the original wall hangings.  Castles and Palaces were NOT comfortable in England’s winters. Very Drafty and very cold. We participated in a reenactment of an event in Catherine Parr’s life.  She was Henry’s last wife.  The costumes were excellent.  Dad was Catherine’s Uncle who delivered a message from her sister that Cardinal Wolsey was coming with a warrant for her arrest for heresy.  Her crime was that she had been reading a book by Calvin. It was fun and informative!  We toured much of the palace and gardens.  We even found the world’s largest grapevine which was about 500 years old.  We ate meat pies just off of the royal kitchens.  In Henry’s time they cooked many meat pies but the crust was just there to keep the meat and sauces together so they usually did not eat the crust.

     Wednesday,  We picked up two Missionary Sisters who are finishing their missions next month.  Sister Johannas was in Watford when we first arrived. The other sister was a beautiful young girl from Rwanda Africa.  The two were together at the MTC when they arrived in the mission.  We drove with them to the London Temple so that they could go through the temple once before finishing their missionary service.  The temple is not located in our Mission so the missionaries only get to go once. We enjoyed being with them and visiting with them.  The temple session was wonderful and we had a chance to see some sealing rooms and the baptismal font!   We ate lunch at the temple cafeteria, toured the grounds and little visitor center and drove back to Watford.
     Wednesday evening was Institute.  We had a good lesson from Bishop Manning with treats and games afterward.  It was our biggest group yet for Institute.  We love working with these young people!   It was a good day!

     We that’s about it for this week!

We love and miss you all.  We appreciate hearing from each of you!  Let us know what is going on in your families!  We love you all so much!
Dad and Mum