Monday, October 6, 2014

What a Weekend!

I just finished a blog on Thursday but wanted to record our fabulous weekend with some fun pictures.

Baptisms of Our Precious Chillie and Maggie

Friday night was the baptism of Chillie, our brilliant, beautiful Chinese student at Imperial College. She was lucky enough to have her original missionary, Elder Tautfest, baptize her. He had gone back to the states at the conclusion of his mission and was over here visiting in London with his parents. It was a beautiful baptism and she was able to bear a sweet, hard-fought testimony at the conclusion of her baptism. We love Chillie. She matches her name. She's spicy, out-spoken, asks the hard questions and is so fun. What a great addition to our ward!
This is Chillie and Alex who was baptized the previous week.

On Saturday we did something that we've never done before. Our Relief Society President, Hollie MeKee, came up with a brilliant idea of having a walking tour of London for all the new kids in the ward to get to know London. It originally was going to be for just the girls and then it was decided to open it up to the guys, as well. IT WAS SO GREAT!! What a marvelous way for the new members to get to know the ward and the ward to get to know the new kids. Hollie and Leah did such a marvelous, creative way of giving accurate (and not so accurate) history of the sites of London. What started out as a 2 hour walk ended up taking 4 1/2 hours. Our Hollie was the star of the show. She was so ON!!! Her wit and humor made it a blast. Dad and I were able to get to really know several of our newest members in a casual fun way. We've decided it needs to be an annual event. Oh how we love these kids of ours!
As we gathered to begin the trip at Buckingham Palace, we pose with three of our dearest friends, all converts in this last year. From left to right; Emily, Ling Ling and Helen. All brilliant amazing girls with great futures ahead. Chinese pioneers!

Our mighty leader and dear friend Hollie with Big Ben and the London Eye (HUGE ferriswheel) in the background 
We ended up with about 40 kids all together. This was just part of our group along the walk. Our new Bishop's wife and dear friend Jennie is on the front row, last on the left.
Hollie told us this phone booth was where Prince Philip stole his first kiss from Queen Elizabeth.  We had to share a kiss there. We shared this very fun information with several tourists and only later Hollie confessed it was one of her not so accurate true facts. Silly Hollie!!
Part of the Royal Guard. I haven't shared with you that most mornings we have about 14-20 horses ride by our flat on their way to the Royal stables. It's so fun to hear the clip clop going down the street in the early morning.
We just happened on a fun rowboat flotilla on the River Thames as we crossed Westminster Bridge. How fun is this picture!!!!

The Walking Tour worked perfect for the baptism yesterday at 4:00. Everyone just came over after the tour to the church and attended Maggie's baptism and then a gathering afterwards. Let me tell you about Maggie. She has been coming to church for over a year but because of some legal issues has not been able to be baptized. I didn't realize she wasn't a member for months. She was the perfect example of a dry Mormon. Through all those months she has lived the gospel completely. She radiates. At the gathering after her baptism she expressed how this experience had taught her so much about waiting on the Lord. She said how her worst trait was impatience. Through this year she had to learn to trust in God's timing for her. And she testified, "His timing has been perfect!" On Facebook she wrote this last night:
Maggie's baptism day! What a day. After a long journey to wait for this opportunity. And I finally got home. Thanks everyone helped me to prepare this journey, to be a part of my life, to help me to learn from the challenges and trials, and most importantly, our savior Jesus Christ and our heavenly father, my light in the dark, I'm here this life is for witness your grace and return back to you. Only knowing your name and your atonement , it's a blessing. Only knowing and reading the Book of Mormon , is a privilege . I testify this church is true, and the Book of Mormon is true. I share those things in the name or Jesus Christ. Amen

How precious is that testimony!!! That's our Maggie!
Today Elder Phillips had the great privilege of confirming and giving both these girls the gift of the Holy Ghost. There was such a powerful spirit there. These are converted young women.

A Miracle for Ling Ling 

After church we had a going away party for our beloved Ling Ling. She leaves for China on Tuesday. I cried all day yesterday. Oh how we will miss our precious Ling. She did everything in her power to stay and nothing worked out. I've had such a strong impression that she needs to go home, that she has work to do in China as a Mormon pioneer to that country.
An amazing thing happened yesterday as we were preparing to come home. I had gone in to listen to General Woman's Conference when Jim saw a man he'd never seen before in our Visitor's Center Lobby. Elder Phillips felt impressed to go talk to him. He went and introduced himself to the man and found out he was a High Priest from Hollywood Calif. and had just finished being the executive engineer on a project for Disney at a new theme park in Shanghai. Now you need to understand that is where Ling is moving to, but has yet to find a job. She has applied for a job at Disney already two times and it is her dream job. She just happened to walk out into the lobby as Jim was talking to the man so Jim was able to introduce her to him. Then Jim went to work doing his magic and by the close of the conversation had a card with the name of main man that hires for the Disney project in Shanghai. They are desperate for interpreters which is what Ling just got her Masters in!!! We meet with Ling today for a goodbye lunch and a strategy on how she should precede. Elder Phillips is truly AMAZING! Only Jim!!!!

They're BACK!!!!!!

Well it is now Monday, one week since I started this post. Let's just say so much for a low-key summer. It's definitely a thing of the past. Things are hopping. It started last week and hasn't stopped! I feel like I need to catch my breath!! I actually stayed home tonight from FHE so I could get this blog done. There's been not one second to even think about it before now.

Elder Giles Passing 

This past Tuesday we had a very very sad, unexpected event happen in our mission. Elder Giles, part of our new office couple that has been here for only 2 1/2 months, passed away. He and Sister Giles had just come in from an early morning walk before they were to come to the office. He was making breakfast while Sister Giles went and took a shower. When she came out she found him collapsed on the floor. She tried to revive him but realized she wasn't having any luck. The great blessing was there were two other senior couples across the hall from her flat that hadn't left for church yet. She was able to go get them to help. They immediately came, did resuscitation (Elder Baxter worked on him for over 30 minutes until paramedics got there), and were able to be with her through the whole ordeal. One of  senior missionaries told me how blown away the paramedics were. They kept saying how lucky she was to be surrounded by "family". When they were told the other couples were only friends the paramedics expressed amazement about how calm everyone was. They said that usually these kind of calls were the worst with people hysterical and distraught. They said what a contrast this was, how peaceful and calm it was. What they didn't recognize was that they were feeling the spirit. They were blown away.

That night we had our last Tuesday night dinner (So fun with Hollie, Ionut, new convert Alex and Dixon) so I was no help. But on Wednesday we were able to go to Costco and get food for a luncheon after the Memorial on Thursday and also order a bouquet for the funeral that was given by the mission.

On Thursday Pres. Jordan presided over a lovely memorial service. Sister Giles two sons came from the states to the mission to bring her home. They spoke at the memorial and some of our young Sisters and Elders provided music. It was tender and so sweet. After we had a luncheon at the Jordan's flat where we were able to say goodbye to Sister Giles. I can't imagine coming out with your sweetheart and going back home alone. My heart broke for her!

When I first heard Elder Giles had died I turned to Jim and told him if he ever did that to me I'd kill him! Then the second thought was, "What a way to go. In the saddle to the end." This was the Giles' fourth mission. He had served a two year mission at 19, then as Mission President in Haiti, had served in Toronto, Canada and finished with this mission to London. He was 74 years old. We know where he is and what he's doing. No doubt about it!!!!

Paul Cardall Concert and Sanje

The night of Elder Giles' Memorial we had a special concert with Paul Cardall. I'm sure you have heard of him. He's become quite famous as a new-age pianist and recording artist, especially in the church. We used this event to get our YSA there for the concert and then sign up for Institute after.We had sent out letters to every YSA in our stake to come.

Jim had been trying to get with Sanje who had just returned for school and moved back that very day. Luckily Thursday was the only day he could meet so it worked out great that he could join us for the concert.

Elder Phillips didn't say it to me but Jim knew immediately by the spirit, that when Sanje arrived he had come that night to make up his mind if he was going to continue with the discussions or call it quits. Sanje had taken a beating all summer long from his Hindu family and friends about the church and had a girlfriend who has absolutely no interested in Christianity, much less Mormonism. It would have been a relief for Sanje to be done with it all. The only problem was Sanje had had experiences with the spirit that had testified of Christ.

Paul did a beautiful job combining his music and video with his very powerful, bold testimony of Christ. It was deeply moving. Sanje never said a word, but you could tell he was touched.

When the concert was over Elder Phillips turned to Sanje and made the statement, "You came tonight knowing you were going to decide if it was a Go/ No Go." Sanje was shocked that Jim would know his intentions but confirmed that was exactly where he was at. Then Jim asked him how he was feeling now that the concert was done. Sanje answered, "He just won't let me go. The Savior, he just won't let me go." He then opened up about his girlfriend. He's know her since high school. He said that she's a Hindu but is actually indifferent to all religion, which makes it so hard for Sanje. Jim asked him to look out 10 years. How would he feel about this girl being the mother to their children and having no faith or belief to anchor their children to. That stunned Sanje and gave him something to think about. We meet with him on Wednesday to work through these issues.

Pray for him  He is such a precious, good young man. I'm watching beautiful heartbreak. These kids are required to give up so much. They really are the pioneers of today with very real tribulation and paying a heavy price to be part of the Lord's kingdom. I have such respect and admiration for their courage and commitment. Their courage humbles me.

This Past Weekend

Friday we had our first Multi-Stake dance of the year. I have to say this is the one job of our mission I wish we could pass on. It's loud! It's messy and it's very late. I guess we don't get to choose to do just the things we want to do.

Saturday we stayed at the flat to watch Conference so I could cook for Sunday and recouped because I knew what was coming Sunday.

Sunday Priesthood session is shown at 10:00 am. at our chapel. Then Saturday night session is Utah is shown at 1:00 pm Sunday here. Utah Sunday morning session is shown here at 5:00 pm. The last session of conference we have to find on our computer because we run out of weekend.

Like last Conference I used having all the kids and missionaries at the chapel to my advantage. Our YSA have been asked to sing again at Stake Conference in 3 weeks so we had a rehearsal after the 1-3 pm session followed by supper I prepared. Then we all attended the 5:00 session. We had probably 60 kids singing.  A little bit of a full day to say the least. Last night I came home so exhausted I felt sick. But the day was successful. We had a great turnout for choir and the meal was delish!

Tomorrow we begin our Institute class here once again so today has been spent putting together a lesson. I have mixed emotions about it.  It's wonderful but so time consuming, especially doing this course, "Teachings of the Living Prophets". The lessons have to be put together from scratch, which always takes way more time. I'm just so grateful for the extraordinary conference we just had!!! So many amazing talks addressing such pressing needs. It will be a joy to get to study and teach them.

I"M DONE! It's always a relief to get this recorded. I pray it matters because it really does require lots of time. I'm trying to do it cheerfully (most the time) and consider it my contribution to our Family History.

Know we are loving the work, loving our kids, loving each other, and loving the Lord. We miss each one of you but continue to be grateful to be part of the Lord's army. We wouldn't trade it!!!


  1. Love you, Aunt Starla!! Thanks for writing these blog posts! XOXO

  2. It is so great to have pictures on this blog! Keep up your cheerful heart about your blog because it really does matter! You are writing a legacy and setting a standard for your posterity to live up to. Love you!

  3. Continue to write! Do it for your posterity! Plus, you will love reading these things after you come home. so much is forgotten over time.

  4. I am so proud of you inserting pictures that make you words live. It is so wonderful to see the faces of the YSAs that you love. The pictures and your words strengthen testimonies. God bless both of you!