Merry Christmas to everyone!
We have been busy (imagine that!) so this letter is delayed but here is a recap of the past two weeks!
On Monday, Dec 19th, we had a chance to meet the parents of one of our awesome released missionaries, Sister Amanda Kerr! We met for lunch at their favorite Pizza place. We had our current Sister Missionaries, the STL Sister Missionaries, Clement (a recent convert), Sister Kerr and her parents and us. It was very fun and rewarding! For FHE Mom made Butternut Squash soup. It was delicious!
Wednesday, we taught Institute at the church. Amy, our YSA President, brought ginger bread houses for everyone to decorate! It was very fun!
Thursday we visited London’s oldest Synagogue, Bevis Marks (1701). It was very interesting. We also toured the Foundling House Museum which took in abandoned babies and babies that could not be cared for by their mothers. The babies were placed in homes until they were about 5 years old then they returned to the orphanage to be raised and taught a domestic skill. It was a very institutionalized life but they were fed, clothed, and taught. The mother would leave a unique token with the baby so that she could hopefully return at a later date to recover her child. Very few babies were reunited with their mothers. It was a very touching! The house was active for over 200 years! We caught a performance of C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters”! Very well done and Interesting! Read the Book! Finally we attended a choir concert of one of our ward members which was held in St. Paul’s Chapel by Covent Garden. Very nice!
Friday was Multi Zone Conference at the Hyde Park Chapel. In the afternoon we played Christmas games with President and Sister Stevens and the Missionaries from about 1/3 of the mission. We had a ball! We wore our Christmas Sweaters (Jumpers) and exchanged gifts.
Saturday was our YSA activity in London. We met our kids on the South Bank and did some Christmas shopping and hot chocolate tasting. We then went on a river cruise on the Thames which was very enjoyable! Next, we all went on the London Eye. It was foggy and mysterious to be high above London in the fog! We enjoyed some fun food and the company of many of our YSA! It was a very successful activity. We ended the day by taking our YSA friend Daniel to the Tate Modern Museum to see Elton John’s personal photography collection. Daniel loved it! We ended the day at the ward Christmas party where we met and visited with our ward friends whom we love!
Sunday we drove to the Hayes ward and taught the YSA Sunday School class. We love visiting with them and getting to know more about them. Amy Johnson is a fun young lady in the ward who we are excited to meet. She went on the London Eye adventure with us. We are excited to have her help in the Hayes ward.
Monday we cleaned the church YSA and Single Adult closet with our friend, Neyde. She is a wonderful single adult in the ward! We filled the dumpster twice! Later we Read 3 Nephi 1, Luke 2 and Matthew 2 Christmas story at FHE. We had a returned missionary, Dani visit us. She was in Watford and taught Daniel when he was baptized. It was a fun and good evening!
Tuesday, we picked up Sister Wright and Sister Matuszka who is from Hungary and set out for the London Temple for their end-of-mission temple trip. It took us about 2.5 hours through heavy traffic to drive to the temple. We barely made the session! We did some sealings after the session, walked around the temple grounds, took pictures, and drove back towards home. We delivered Sister Matuszka to Hayes (through crazy town center traffic) picked up Sister Adams and headed for home in Watford. Good but busy day!
Today, we decided to explore the London Olympic park area. The arena is now used for football matches. The Orbit tower was a unique disappointment. We also visited the London Business center of the Docklands and rode the driverless shuttle trains. We found an interesting museum on the Docklands history. We caught a tour on the British role of African Slavery which was depressing but interesting. Later, we caught the Borroughs market for a treat on the way home.
Friday, we went into London to the Royal Academy to pick up a membership that our family had given to us for Christmas! They had an awesome show on Abstract Expressionism that Mom LOVED. We bought a book and book bag before leaving. We then checked out the markets including a polish sausage and Brazilian hot chocolate before visiting the Tate Modern. Mom found a necklace and some handmade jewelry that she liked. We tried to get into the St. Paul’s Cathedral Christmas Carol concert but it was full. We and about 500 others could not get in. We found some great fish and chips at the market by the Tate Modern.
Christmas Eve, we picked up a few packages at the post office before going into London and to the Hyde Park winter wonderland market. We had a great time. Mom found a white Alpaca scarf. At we met the other couple missionaries at President and Sister Stevens flat. It is a very nice large 5th floor apartment just two doors away from the Hyde Park Chapel! It was so fun to meet and visit with the other missionaries! We had a great visit with President and Sister Stevens. Mom gave Sister Stevens a pair of her glass earrings for Christmas. We then walked a short distance to the Royal Albert Hall for a wonderful Christmas Concert. We had great seats on the main floor in the center. After the concert we went with Brad and Vicki Jackman to a French crepe café’ where we ate and visited. It was go good to see the Jackmans!
Christmas Day!! We attended church at the Watford ward. It was so nice to sing carols and to be with people we love! There are some wonderful humble people in the ward who truly love the Lord and serve each other so well! We love them! The spirit just radiates from some of these wonderful people!
After church and visiting, we brought the Sisters home with us. They wanted to just relax, write letters and play games. Mom fixed a wonderful meal of Turkey breast, ham, Au gratin potatoes, salads, and three kinds of desserts! Wonderful meal. The Sisters changed into their red Christmas PJ’s that were given them and took a nap. We played Camie’s SpyFall game and opened presents.
Two of our neighbors came over and brought us little Christmas gifts. A cute Italian family with one daughter came over with some things. A beautiful Muslim women from two doors down came over with a card and gift. She said she loves Christmas and likes to join with her neighbors to share gifts during the season.
We were able to Skype with each of our children and their families! They looked so good! Skype is so neat! Our Grandkids all looked so very good! We were good and did not cry until after we hung up. Everyone looks great! We LOVE them all!
Later, the Elders arrived and we put the missionaries in four different rooms so they could all Skype with their families. We sat on the steps and counted our blessings. We enjoyed Berry pie, English Pudding Cake, cookies, and Lemon Ice Cream for Dessert. We played some more games with the missionaries before they returned to their apartments. Lastly, we were able to join the Skype from Elder Parker Cheshire! We had a four way Skype with Parker, Jill, Aaron, and us! It was awesome to see everyone and to hear a testimony from Elder Cheshire. He is having so much fun and loving his mission!
Boxing Day is the day after Christmas. Traditionally wealthy English families gave their servants the day off and gave them a box of gifts. They also gave boxes to the poor on this day. Now it is just a big shopping day with most people taking the day off.
We were invited to President Bettridge’s home for morning brunch where we had a wonderful huge breakfast with our four missionaries. We had fruits, eggs, including proper English poached eggs, waffles, sausages, bacon, and more and more food! It was really very nice! We played games with their family and they had gifts for us. We received some great Watford FC scarves, apron, and even tooth brushes! President Adrian Bettridge was a young missionary serving under Clarence Robison! It was so fun to hear about their adventures together!
We took the Sisters to the mall and went on a huge bike ride in the sunny weather. In the evening, we fed the Sisters leftovers from Christmas and gave them time to write their emails for preparation day. The Elders joined us for Family Home Evening but their friend called and cancelled. No YSA came so we just relaxed, played games, and ate desserts. We love working and serving with our missionaries!
We are excited to have Tyler come visit us next week! Mom has been busy planning adventures! We love our family and miss them.
Dad n Mum, Clark & Joyce, Grandpa and Grandma, Elder and Sister Baron