Thursday, September 25, 2014

Visitors From Home and Amazing Missionary Stories

How can it be 16 day since my last blog? For the last several days I've been pressed to get to this and finally got up early this morning, a Thursday morning that is usually full of cooking for Institute but tonight one of our young men is making an Indian dinner India for all of us, which allows me to work on the blog. 

One of the problems of waiting so long in-between is there is so much to share. It's overwhelming! I'm just going to try and share the highlights.

Di and Charlene's Visit

We got our first visitors of our mission from home when Diane Lungo and her roommate Charlene arrived on Wednesday morning, Sept 10th for a week visit. It was such a fun taste of home to have Diane with us. She was able to fill us in about the Powell trip and what's happening at home. Luckily she came the last week of the summer doldrums and we were able to use P-days we hadn't taken to go do some touristy things with them. Here was our week:

Wednesday: They were exhausted from their trip. We talked all morning, then took a fun walk around Kensington and Hyde Park ending up at the Hyde Park Chapel where they got to meet some of our missionaries and new members. Typical of our mission, in the middle of our walk Elder Phillips got a call from Pres. Jordan asking him to come help him brain storm about some training for the next day for all his missionary leadership. Jim ended up doing some team building exercises for the leaders the next day at their conference.

Thursday: I had to do dinner for Institute so Diane and Charlene got passes on a Hop On Bus and took a bus tour of all of the main sights of London. It lasted several hours. Then that night, while we were at Institute they went and saw "Wicked". I love this show but poor Diane was so jet lagged that she feel asleep through part of it.

Friday: We took the train to Watford and then a bus to Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio. If you love Harry Potter this is a must! It contains all the sets and props used to make Harry Potter so magical. We were there almost 4 hours. It was amazing!!
Saturday: Jim stayed home, but the three of us took the train to Canterbury, my favorite town I've seen to so far. We happened to be there on the weekend of the Hops Festival (Hops is what makes beer beer!) They had minstrels in the streets and musical acts all along the cobbled city streets. When we went to see the Cathedral we found it was having a special service to celebrate the holiday, along with an Evensong (that's when the boys choir sings) at 3:15 instead of 6:00. We were able to go to the service and hear the heavenly choir sing in the most amazing Cathedral of them all. After the service the Bishop invited everyone to a high tea in his rectory back yard. SO WE WENT!!! I don't think they intended for american missionaries to join them, but it was amazing. The yard was beautiful, the scones were lovely and we made friends with the Deacon from the church at Plymouth. It was surreal and SO CHARMING!!
Canterbury Cathedral
There are so many stain glass windows you can't count them all.
This is one part of the ceiling of Canterbury Cathedral. It's overwhelming just standing in that great testament and prayer to God.
The Sacrament table
The pathway back to the garden and High Tea. Isn't this beautiful!!!

Sunday: Di and Charlene got to come to Britannia Ward. The Relief Society meeting was on Family History and both Di and Charlene were able to make some wonderfully wise comments that added much to our meeting.

Monday: We went for the first time to Buckingham Palace. It's the actual residence of the Queen. It was everything you would dream a palace to be. It's so over the top but very "royal". The grounds are spectacular. I can't imagine living there! That night we went to see "War Horse". You've all seen the movie but what was special about this show is all the animals are life size puppets, manned by 3-4 people. The horses are big enough that the actors actually ride them. The puppetry skills are amazing. You soon forget they aren't real because their movement are so life like. There was only one problem. About 30 minutes before the conclusion of the show, one of the horses broke down. We waited 30 minutes and they came back out and said they "thought" they might be able to fix it but it would take another 30-45 minutes. We decided we knew the ending and went home.

Tuesday: Jim and I looked ahead at the rest of the week and realized we HAD to make our Costco run on Tuesday instead of Wednesday to fit everything in so we left the girls here to do the local museums and took our 5 hour run to Costco. It was a break Di and Charlene needed because the next day they were leaving to go to Prague and they needed to pack and take it easy that day. They were able to go to the Natural History Museum. That night Jim and I went to Pres. and Sister Jordan's flat to say goodbye to our dear friends Elder and Sister Garner. They are the senior couple who were over the employment center who have become such dear friends. It was an extraordinary meeting. Pres. Jordan told two stories I will share later.
Wednesday morning Jim got up at 7:00 am to help take their bags and get them safely on the tube that goes directly from our stop to Heathrow and their flight to Prague. We were so grateful for our visit and the excuse to do some of the tourist things we hadn't done before.

They left just in time for us to get back to work; with our Institute dinner on Thursday, a temple trip ALL DAY on Friday with our Britannia Ward YSA and then a Breakfast and Stake YSA Training at our flat on Saturday morning. Saturday night we had a highly anticipated baptism that I just wrote up for our Sharon 5th Ward Newsletter that explains what happened and why it was so significant to us.

SHARON 5TH WARD NEWSLETTER ARTICLE                                                                                                                                                             
Oh how we miss our Sharon 5th Ward Family. You have played such an amazing part in the lives of our family for twenty two years. We are so grateful for your love and support.

The indication of what our mission would be came at the first Institute Class we taught. We had 8 students attend; eight students that spoke 8 different languages. As a Grandma from Orem Utah I was astounded. Since then we have realized that we sit at the crossroads of the world, watching as all nations come to or pass through London. What a marvelous vantage point to watch as the hand of the Lord is manifest throughout the world.

A few examples; last Saturday we had Alex and Marianna baptized by Marius, all from Romania. This coming weekend we have Chillie and Maggie being baptized. These girls are brilliant students attending Imperial College from mainland China. We have a Stake YSA Council that are made up of 1 American, 2 Brits and 8 YSA either born in African or of African descent. It’s marvelous to behold.

I would like to share an experience Elder Phillips had 3 weeks ago as he traveled to Heathrow Airport to meet with some previous business associates to look for jobs for some of our kids. As he returned on the tube he noticed a young man who looked like a deer in the headlights. He was trying to question a woman next to him what tube spot he needed to get off for central London. His English was poor and she wasn’t understanding him. Elder Phillips offered his help and told the boy to follow him because that’s where he was going. As they traveled Elder Phillips found out the young man was from Romania and had come looking for work. All he had was 30 pounds in his pocket and one backpack with all his possessions in it. When they arrived Elder Phillips took him directly to our chapel for our Thursday night dinner I cook for all the YSA. Because he had a hard time communicating Elder Phillips called our Romanian Marius to come over. Marius is preparing to serve a mission. He became a missionary to Alex. They were able to find him a place to stay and work. The very next day Alex begin the missionary discussions and he was baptized by Marius last Saturday with Elder Phillips confirming him on Sunday. When he bore his testimony at his baptism he confessed that as he stood at the airport deciding which tube he should take, he prayed, “Lord is it this one?” “No.” Three trains later he knew that was the one he was to take. And there was Elder Phillips waiting to bring him to the gospel. Alex closed his testimony with these words, “It is for this gospel I was to come to London.”
Two weeks ago at a European Woman’s Conference four Family History Senior Sister Missionaries sat in front of me. When they found out I was serving the Britannia YSA Ward they smiled and said, “Oh you’re on a cooking mission.” I replied, “Oh I cook for the kids but I wasn’t called to be a cooking missionary! We have been called to gather.” This mission is a mission of holding on to those in front of us. This mission is rescuing those that have slipped away and bringing them back. This mission is finding those young adults who are seeking the truth and bringing them into the fold of God! This mission is about gathering God’s children and bringing them safely home. In humility we feel honored and privileged to be a part of this great work of the Lord that is beginning to cover the whole earth.

We pray we can represent you well.

Extraordinary Conversion Stories Shared by President Jordan

At the farewell for Elder and Sister Garner we were able to share our experience with Alex to all the senior missionaries that had gathered to say goodbye to them. Then President shared two stories from our mission that have just recently happened that were amazing enough for me to want to share with you. This first story was recorded in his weekly letter on Sept.16 from Pres. Jordan:

Tram and Her Father

Here is Sister Lee’s account of the miracle of the Lord preparing the heart of Tram, a 27 year old young woman from Vietnam, who is being taught by her and Sister Stoja in Northampton:

Tram's father and his two sisters heard about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a friend during the war in Vietnam when they were young. They all had the desire to learn more and follow the gospel; however, the communists soon took over the whole country, and they were not allowed to have religious freedom. Being under this situation, they had very limited information about the Church. The two sisters of Tram's father eventually got to moved out of Vietnam, and one of them found the Church in the States while the other one joined the Church in Australia. According to Tram, her aunts have been members of the Church for almost 30 years. Throughout these years, they have been trying to share the gospel with Tram's family in Vietnam.

Fifteen years ago, Tram's father passed away, and in his will to Tram, he expressed that his wish was for Tram to find the Mormon church and join them if she gets to leave the country one day. Tram continued to keep in contact with her aunt in the States and learned about the Church little by little via email. Her aunt's testimony and her experience of how the gospel has helped her come closer to God and be happier really touched Tram's heart and she really desired to follow the wish of her father. She had always been praying in her heart that she would find the Mormons in the future. 

When she was sure that she was coming to England to study, which was her first time being abroad, she got the email of the mission president in Birmingham mission somehow and wrote to him to find out more about the Mormon church in Northampton where her university is. The mission president gave her the phone number of the sister missionaries in Northampton. Tram wrote to her aunt and asked her what she should do, and her aunt replied to her that she should contact the missionaries and they would tell her everything she needs to know to become a member. Therefore, she called the missionaries in Northampton with great excitement to inform them that she would be coming to England soon and she would like to come to Church on her first Sunday in England. She accepted a baptismal date for 11th October 2014 right away in her first meeting with the sister missionaries. Even though she does not have a clear idea who God is, her desire of coming closer to her Heavenly Father and her faith are remarkable. She told the missionaries, "God has guided me here, and He has sent you to me.

Elder Zhou and His Parents
The second story he told was about an Elder serving in our area; Elder Zhou. Elder Zhou's parents are from main-land China. Twenty years ago when they were newly married they were sent to New York to do advanced studies there. They met and were converted by friends while at University and were ultimately baptized, knowing that on return to China they would have to keep it a secret because they both were going to be professors at state-run Universities. If it was ever found out that they were Mormons they would lose their jobs and even their freedom. While in the states Elder Zhou was born and later a younger sister was born. Growing up in China neither one of them ever knew anything about their parents' membership in the church. But their parents never forgot or lost their testimonies. Carefully they crafted a way to introduce the church to their children.

The parents applied and received permission for both their children to do student exchange programs in America. And where do you think they applied? Utah, of course! Elder Zhou ended up at Lone Peak High School where he quickly made many Mormon friends and lived with an active Mormon family. It wasn't long before both he and his sister were converted to the church. In fear and trepidation they skyped their parents in China to ask permission to be baptized. Can you even imagine the joy they must have felt to hear from their parents' lips that they, too, were members of the church? Elder Zhou and his sister were both baptized and one year later the family was sealed together forever in the Hong Kong Temple. That son now serves in the London Mission and his sister is currently serving in the New York Mission. I love these parents quietly, patiently, persevering for years. And now their JOY is full! It's so the pattern of mortality!

Well I guess that's it for today. I want you all to be so proud of me for adding at least some pictures. I guess now that Di has shown me how to do it we both need to start carrying our camera and taking pictures. That will be a first!!!!

We miss you all. We are truly being blessed for our efforts as we see progress being made by "OUR KIDS". What a blessing to be here engaged in this work. I pray our efforts will bless YOUR lives. It's the deal I've made with the Lord; we'll watch over His children here if He will watch over our children at home! Feel our love, our prayers and our thoughts for you. We love you all so much! Mom


  1. So proud of my best student. After our computer lesson today we walked, snacked, and listened to a free concert in a garden. We were out for 8 hours and loved every minute.

  2. I LOVE the pictures! Good job Tootie! What a story about that Elder's parents quietly waiting for the right time to teach their children. Amazing. Heavenly Father is truly amazing!

  3. So happy you are finally posting pictures! Love the missionary stories.