Making Discoveries

Here’s an update to an earlier post.


After checking with the landlord, we learned that there is weekly pickup of green waste. We had overlooked these cute little bins outside, (which from the looks of them, had never been used before by previous tenants) meant for our food waste. We’ve cleaned the very little one up and tucked it under the sink for easy access.

Bought some clothesline and pins, established a clothesline in the backyard, and now it’s done nothing but rain….but we are ready for the next breezy/sunny day!

After preparing a few “Sunday roast”-type meals, I felt I needed to obtain a gravy boat. A ward member told me the little second-hand bric-a-brac shop next door to us actually had loads of dishes, tea cups, etc., so I walked over to have a look. The side building contained loads of stuff and after gingerly rummaging around (cups with dead bees in them and one with a live spider!) I found a perfect gravy boat for “only two quid”! The proprietor also had a lovely chocolate lab in the yard, which she (jokingly, I hope) said I could also have for two quid. I was sorely tempted.

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Glorious Reunion

I was reading the latest issue of the Ensign Magazine and this article by Susan L. and C. Terry Warner was so wonderfully full of synchronicities and Divine Rendezvous that I had to add it here. Enjoy!

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Settling in


So, now that we’ve been here for a month, here’s a little recap of adjusting to Life In England:

Federdecken: We arrived to a completely furnished home, but one thing that was lacking was our bedding of choice–federdecken. We tried for a week using the spreads that were here, but finally broke down and ordered new federdecken from Debenham’s in Bury St. Edmunds. Heavenly! It’s not really cold enough to use them at the moment, (but we still do) but I know they will be absolutely wonderful come winter.

Ventilation: We keep the windows open every day (and some at night) to help with ventilation. If not, we come home to a stuffy/musty house. Don’t know how long we can do this, as we have been warned that winter is bitter cold, and we also as a result battle flies, mosquitoes and wasps daily, but for the moment we prefer the fresh air flowing. Our predecessors  left us an ample supply (about 50…) fly-swatters, so we are all set.

Diffuser: Also to help with the air quality, one of my first purchases was a UK voltage diffuser for my essential oils. (The bag of oils constituted about 1/3 of the weight allowance of Rich’s checked bag…) We keep it in our bedroom at night, diffusing lovely lavender to help us sleep and Purify to clean the air.

Compost: that is, the lack thereof. I sadly deconstructed my wonderfully rich compost bin in Washington before I left, piling the compost, worms and all, around every bush and plant in my backyard. I’ve been a composter everywhere I’ve lived since 1993 and it physically pains me to have to throw food waste in the trash bin. I’m seriously thinking of asking the landlord if I can set up a compost pile here. Two years is plenty of time to get some nice rich loam from it.

Fentiman’s Ginger Beer Botanical Ginger Drink with Herbal Extracts: (see photo) We just found this at Sainsbury’s! It is the best Ginger Beer I’ve ever tasted–a rich, sharp ginger taste and not too sweet; no artificial stuff  and lots of good stuff. I thought of my son-in-law, Ben and know he’d love it.

Driving: I think we are finally getting the hang of this driving on the left side (I’ve actually stopped calling it the “wrong side.”) I saw an American car on base the other day, and seeing the steering wheel on the left side seemed very strange to me. Rich is so focused on the road, staying in his lane and avoiding hedgerows, curbs, bicyclists, pedestrians and oncoming cars, that his sense of direction overall has greatly diminished. I, on the other hand, being in the role of navigator, have a greater awareness of our location and the surrounding geography. We are an effective team….

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Serendipitous sight-seeing

The Manor at Hemingford Grey

We are planning a two-day trip to the Huntingdon area to visit some folks out of RAF Alconbury. I checked out local sites to see if there was anything noteworthy to visit while we were there and lo and behold! I found The Manor at Hemington Grey! I didn’t even know there was a real place to be able to visit, let alone that it was in our area.

Okay, for those not in the know (pun intended…) this is the home of Lucy Boston, and the setting for her Green Knowe series–my all-time favorite children’s book series. I read all the books to my children when they were young and we loved them. I am so excited to visit and tour the Manor where all those marvelous adventures took place!

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Just Do It!

I had a dream last night that I was planning a meeting and felt prompted to tell the story I heard while in the MTC. When I woke up I realized I hadn’t actually recorded that story in my journal, so I guess the dream was a prompting to write the story down so I’d remember it for future reference. It is a great illustration of the principle of following promptings, even if you are not sure whether it it a prompting from God, or just a “good thought” from your own mind. The incident is related by Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve and it was shown to us on a video during our Preach My Gospel training. Elder Bednar had learned “the rest of the story” from Elder Packer many years after the incident took place.

Here is the story in Elder Boyd K. Packer’s words:

We were assigned to go to Berlin to a stake conference. We needed to get from Berchtesgaden high in the Alps down to Munich to the airport.

We got to the airport in ample time for our plane, which as I recall left at about 10:00 in the morning, but it was fogged in. We sat there listening to the announcements for nearly 12 hours. They kept saying they thought the fog would clear. It did not clear.

That night near 10:00, two missionary elders came to the airport. We knew then that the planes would not fly. They told us there was a train leaving Munich for Berlin at midnight. They took us to the mission home. My wife rummaged through the kitchen, found some canned soup, and made us a quick supper. The elders took us to the train station, bought our tickets, and saw us aboard the train which would take from about midnight until about 10:00 the next morning to arrive in Berlin.

As the train was pulling out, one young elder said, “Do you have any German money?” I shook my head, no. He said, “You better have some,” and, running along side, pulled from his pocket a twenty-mark note. He handed that to me.

At that time the Iron Curtain was very “iron.” The train stopped at Hof on the border between West Germany and East Germany, and they changed crews. All of the West German crew members got off the train, and the East German Communist crew got on the train. Then it set out across East Germany toward Berlin.

They had just begun to issue five-year passports. I had a new passport–a five-year passport. We went to have my wife’s passport renewed. They sent it back saying that the three-year passports were honored as a five-year passport, that she still had more than two years left on her passport.

About two o’clock in the morning, a conductor, a military-type soldier, came and asked for our tickets, and then, noting that we were not German, he asked for our passports. I always hate to give up my passport. I do not like to give up my passport, especially in unfriendly places. But he took them. I almost never dislike anybody, but I made an exception for him! He was a surly, burly, ugly man.

We spoke no German. In the car, the compartment, there were six of us–my wife and a German sitting to the side of her and then almost knee to knee in a bench facing us were three other Germans. We had all been conversing a little. When he came in, all was silent.

The conversation took place, and I knew what he was saying. He was denying her passport. He said, “Drei Jahren!”

And I said, “Five Jarhen!”

He went away and came back two or three times. Finally, not knowing what to do, I had a bit of inspiration and produced that twenty-mark note. He looked at it, he took the note, and handed us our passports.

The next morning when we arrived in Berlin, a member of the Church, who was the head of the Central Intelligence Agency for the United States in Berlin, met us at the train. I rather lightly told him of our experience. He was very sober, very suddenly. I said, “What’s the matter?”

He said, “I don’t know how to explain your getting here. East Germany right now is the one country in the world that refuses to honor the three-year passport. To them, your wife’s passport was not valid.”

I said, “Well, what could they have done?”

He answered, “Put you off the train.”

I said, “They wouldn’t put us off the train, would they?”

He said, “Not us, her!”

I could see myself having someone try to put my wife off the train at about two o’clock in the morning somewhere in East Germany. I am not sure I would know what to do. I am glad that passed.

I did not learn until afterwards how dangerous it was and what the circumstances were, particularly for my wife. I care a good deal more about her than I do for me. That intelligence officer convinced us that we had been in very serious danger. Those whose passports they would not accept were arrested and detained.

All of this comes to this point: the elder who handed me the twenty-mark note was David A. Bednar, a young elder serving in the then-South German Mission, who sits here on the stand as president of BYU-Idaho.

So, why was it that this young elder from San Leandro, California, handed me the twenty-mark note? If you understand that and understand what life is about, you will understand really all you need to know about life as members of the Church. You will understand how our lives are really not our own. They are governed; if we live as we should live, then we will be taken care of.

I do not think Elder Bednar knew the consequences of what he was doing. That twenty-mark note was worth six dollars, and six dollars to an elder is quite a bit! But at any rate, it happened.

As you go through life, you will find that these things happen when you are living as you ought to live.

(You can read the entire story here:

My take-away is not to doubt when I feel “inspired” to do something, second-guessing if it is a prompting or not…JUST DO IT! and if I never learn why, that’s okay too. I will have done my part, all that I can do, and that is enough.

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Men are that they might have joy 

Sister missionaries at the MTC

In Church today one of the speakers (called up out of the audience of missionaries– they each are warned to have a talk prepared every Sunday, as they may be asked to speak) was a young sister from Poland, learning English to serve in the London Visitors’ Center. She is a convert who joined the church a few years ago. When she first was given a Book of Mormon, she didn’t want to read it. She thought it would contain strange things…but she did read it, and as soon as she began, she felt a spirit of happiness and joy overtake her. She knew it was the word of God. She read from the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 33:10) on page 116-117 Nephi’s testimony at the end of his writing:

And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye–for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words at the last day…

She added her testimony with Nephi’s that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and will bring a man (or woman) closer to God than any other book.

The second speaker was a young Vietnamese man on his way to serve the Vietnamese people in California, who told us about his uncle’s conversion to the gospel. The uncle lived a life of the world, indulging in all it had to offer, but wasn’t a happy person. Soon after he was diagnosed with cancer he accepted an invitation to come to church. He read the Book of Mormon and accepted the gospel. His last six months of life were his happiest, as he lost himself in service to others.

This reminded me of something I learned recently when I had occasion to meet up with the missionary who taught the gospel to me over 40 years ago. He took us to lunch and I asked him what he remembered from that time of my conversion. He remembered that I wanted to be baptized, but as I was a minor, I needed parental permission, which my mother was reluctant to give. The missionaries invited our family to a meeting with a visiting church leader and right after the meeting, my mother gave permission for me to join the church. Elder West asked her what the speaker had said to convince her to give permission. She replied that it wasn’t anything the speaker said. As she had looked around her, she saw how happy all the young people in the audience seemed. If being a part of this church made them so happy, and I could be that happy too, then she wanted that for me.

Mom was right: being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the best thing I ever did to ensure not only my happiness in this life, but eternal life with my Father in Heaven. It is a joy and privilege to serve Him full time now in England.


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Today we are learning about resiliency training and were directed to this video. You can see it via YouTube:

So…when you are buffeted by life’s turmoils, get up, shake yourself off and continue to follow your Leader.

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Pelicans, Puffins and Toucans…oh, my!

I had some free time the other day and decided to check out the Highway Code for UK 2015. We can drive on our USA license for a year, but after that will need to take the driving test and get a UK license for the second year in country. The Code is 164 pages long and extremely detailed. It will take us a year just to read through it. And even though the language is “similar” to ours, the vocabulary takes some getting used to. For instance, I can understand the concept of a Zebra Crossing (those white stripes on the black asphalt to indicate where one should cross) but in the UK there are Pelican, Puffin and Toucan crossings as well…

This is what you’ll see at a Pelican Crossing:

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 8.25.21 AM

Toucan Crossings are for cyclists and pedestrians, and look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 8.27.45 AM

Don’t get me started on the rules for equestrian crossings…and then there’s “Staggered Pelican and Puffin Crossings…”

Combine all this with driving on the “wrong” side of the road with a car that steers from the “wrong” side of the car…

Watch out, UK drivers, here we come!

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Making Connections

Since this blog was initially dedicated to the synchronicities or coincidences in my life (I call them “God-winks”), I’ll share a few we’ve experienced on our journey to England thus far.

We took the Shuttle from the Salt Lake City airport to the Mission Training Center in Provo, which was about an hour’s drive. We were the only passengers and our driver happened to be a British expat who, when he learned our mission assignment, spent the whole drive filling us in on what to say/not say to a Brit (don’t make comparisons to the U.S.A., ie., “Your refrigerators/stoves/cars/etc. are so much smaller than the ones we have in America…”); the best sweets to get in Britain (Thornton’s Toffee; anything by Mars or Cadbury); the way to find the best fish and chips (NOT at a pub! There is actually an annual contest to locate the best fish and chips shop by region. Here’s the list. Looks like we’ll be taking an excursion to Milton Keynes for a visit to Broughton’s Fish and Chips); and how to find the best curry (There’s actually an annual publication called the Good Curry Guide. Brits take their Tikki Masala very seriously).

Everywhere we go, we find people with some connection to us. Most know someone who was/is serving in England. Others wish they were going to England…Today we walked down to the BYU Creamery and were served our Coconut Joy and Bishop’s Bash scoops of ice cream by Julie A, from Olympia, WA. We compared notes and discovered people we knew in common. Mormondom is such a small world.

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Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Called to Serve

Five months ago I suggested to my honey that he call and see what service options may be available to us for a Military Relations mission in Europe (we were thinking Germany) for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were planning to be retired by the end of 2015 and were hoping to serve a mission at that time. The news was that no openings were available for that type of mission until Spring of 2016. We were disappointed, as we didn’t want to put it off that long, so he asked if there was anything available sooner overseas at all?

“Funny you should ask…just an hour ago the couple who were supposed to serve in the England London mission withdrew for health reasons….Could you be ready to go to the UK in June?”

Thus began an intense scramble of activity to get passports, visas, driver’s licenses renewed, medical tests and immunizations and a myriad of other requirements to be able to leave for two years. It all seemed overwhelming at first, but throughout the process the way was cleared and miracles occurred to make it all possible.

We enjoyed a couple weeks of fabulous family time with our loved ones whom we will sorely miss over the next two years; I bade farewell to my career as a Library Manager on July 2nd; and on our Nation’s birthday we were on our way to Provo, Utah to enter the Missionary Training Center.

I will be using this space to document our experience and hope you will stop by periodically to see what we are up to as we serve the Lord and his children in the UK over the next two years.

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