Monday, March 19, 2012

The first days in England

March 18, 2012

Let us tell you about our first day here in England. We left the MTC at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday and arrived in Manchester at about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. President Lindley met us at the airport. He then took us on a tour. First we went to the MTC at Preston, England; it sits right next to the Preston Temple. We walked around the garden and he took our picture there and in front of the temple as well. We couldn’t exactly go into the temple grounds because the gates were locked for the weekend. Then he took us to the River Ripple where Heber C. Kimball baptized many members of the church. 
We then when to Chatburn, an ancient little village where it still looks the way it may have looked a couple hundred years ago, after which we traveled through the countryside observing green pastures and hills divided by stone fences until we reached Leeds and the Mission Home. Sister Lindley fed us and then we were released to the APs. They drove us to Hull and our bed. We were so grateful that the Martins had arranged for everything and supplied the apartment with the essentials to get us through the night. We went to bed at about 8:30.

We want to let some of you know a little more about what it is like here. First of all, let us tell you about our home. The Martins arranged for us to live here in this very nice flat, because they thought it would be good to have us closer to the YSAs. We live next door to the University, which is where many young people are going to school, so they chose this flat because it could accommodate many people at the same time. They thought we could have family home evenings here, which would greatly increase the attendance. The young adults are currently driving or catching a ride to get to the church. So as a result, our flat is nicer than we ever imagined it would be. It is not typical for missionaries to be living in such a place, but the rent is cheaper because it is so close to the center of town. Having said that, we have been told by at least two people that we should be very careful living in such a very dangerous part of town. We have also been told that the park attracts all kinds of people, and as we have walked and driven around, we have noticed that we do live in a less attractive part of the city. But we feel safe living here. We have an iron gate that opens with a remote where we park our car. There are also several locks on the doors and think that there is an alarm system installed. We have been advised not to go into the park in the night, but we don’t do that anyway, as we are always sleeping in the night time, because we are so tired. We are on the Lord’s errand and feel that all will be well, if we are careful and obey the commandments.

The house was once owned by the very rich and is very very old and has, in the past years, been divided into three apartments. We are in the bottom front. (It’s the one on the left of the two front doors.) Because it is so old, the plumbing was added later, including the bathroom and kitchen, so the pipes for water and sewage are on the outside of the houses here. Also, you turn the light switches on and off when you use them. For example, when we want to use the toaster, we have to switch on the outlet in order for the toaster to work. 

The park in front of the house is beautiful and the leaves haven’t even come out yet. There is a lot of garbage lying around: including beer bottles and such, so we thought we would pick it up as we went for a walk. However, we have noticed that it reappears the next day. We think people throw down their garbage to give someone a job, as we have seen someone picking up the garbage besides us. The park has some statues, flowers, trees, lots of grass, a duck pond where people come and feed the birds, and an exercise area. Today we have seen tons of young people playing soccer, moms walking their children about, families, many people running – for exercise of course- and even couples sharing the beautiful afternoon.

The people here are nice to us as we are very obviously “different”. We do have a difficult time
understanding everything that is said. Mostly it’s because of the way the language is used, although some do have a stong cockney accent. It reminds us of My Fair Lady. The people who live closer to London speak more clearly than these up-northeners. Some of the young men wear very tight fitting levis or slacks a little low on their hips and the younger girls wear opaque tights with short shorts or a long blouse barely covering their behind. Today at church, I counted at least six girls/women wearing levis, slacks, or tights.

The ward had more people attending than does Mink Creek and they seem to be very knowledgable of the gospel. However, surprisingly, there seem to be a lot of ethnic groups in the ward and attending the university. We have met people from China, Iranian(?), Swaziland, Scotland, and who knows where. Sadly, there is most often a language barrier. President Lindley said that we may be teaching English. Students with rich parents come to England from other lands to learn English and sometimes find the church. There are many split marriages and broken families here too. The students go back home and sometimes have been baptized and hopefully teach their families. For example, you cannot preach the gospel in China, but they can tell their own family about the church. The church is present in China, but missionaries are not allowed there yet. It is an exciting work as we are to try and establish a Youth Center in the Hull Stake, like the church is doing all over Europe.

But we need 75 YSAs to do that and we are only averaging around 30-40. Tonight we went to a YSA broadcast from BYU Idaho and there were only eight there. Most YSAs need a ride – it’s a problem we are trying to work out.

The driving here is frightening for both of us, but especially for Elder Olson as he is doing the driving. The other night we drove home from Leeds, about 80 miles away. It was dark and we had to go through a very congested area of downtown through the university area and such. When we got back home we were so grateful that we had made it, but didn’t sleep well because of the nightmares we were having about hitting someone head-on. But again, the Lord was watching over us. Elder Olson has been studying the Driving Code book to help him understand the laws. The driving will be okay though once we are used to driving on the left side of the road.

We are installing the Internet here at the flat and are wondering if we should get a phone with texting so as to keep in touch with the YSAs. Isn’t that interesting?

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