Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trip To The London Temple

We have been in London for 3 months today and we were able to go to the Temple. It took us about an hour driving through beautiful English country side on a bus to get there, and it was good to get out of the busy city. There were two buses with about 22 in each bus that were able to go and the day will be repeated next Tuesday for the rest of the missionaries who carried on with their regular duties.

We arrived back at the Hyde Park Chapel about 3:40pm for an evening of dinner, caroling, entertaining skits and of course another performance of the "BELLS" President Foulger spoke and gifts were given. It was a very special day.

This is a Christmas tradition of the England London Mission and a gift to the missionaries. It is great to spend time with the young elders and sisters.

The Angel Moroni was placed on the London Temple yesterday, December 15th. England has not allowed this until now. ...... Sister Watts

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fun - Full Week in London

We've enjoyed a busy week with many fun activities. December is typically a slow month in the Family History Center and we have had fewer patrons than usual, but we had a shipment of 800 new films to check, label, sort and find a place for. Our director, Sharon Hintze, who has been out of town for several weeks is back and she always finds extra interesting duties for us. We have several patrons who spend many hours at our center and they have been kind with gifts of flowers, cards and treats. They express their appreciation for all we do.

After many hours of practicing the Bells, we had our premier performance at Zone Conference on Thursday. I was nervous, but we played well and it was fun. On Friday evening after closing the Center at 6:00PM, we walked to a busy corner and played the 6 songs we know over and over for an hour while the young elders handed out pass-along cards and talked to anyone who would listen, about the church. We played again on Sunday night, after the broadcast of the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional, for a special musical program that the Hyde Park Institute Choir presented to the Stake. The place was packed and we played 4 numbers. It was a special evening. ......... Sister Watts

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rochester's Dickensian Christmas

We enjoyed a wondeful P-day at the Dickens Festival with our friends, Mike and Kella Scott. The streets of Rochester, that Charles Dickens explored as a child and in his later years, were filled with costumed characters, and sights and sounds of an era that inspired and troubled Dickens. The "Dickensian" events entertained us all day. We also loved the many quaint shops that lined the cobblestone streets.

The Rochester Castle is one of the best preserved Norman architecture in England and the Rochester Cathedral was founded in 604. We spent the day enjoying the Dickens Festival and decided to come back when the crowds are smaller to tour the castle and the cathedral.... and maybe when it's warmer. It was really cold..... they had snow-making machines to help with the ambiance.

The Dickens aura was all around with singers playing parts and then singing the query... Who the 'dickens' am I? for the crowd to guess the character. It was just plain fun to see and be there. One of Dicken's short stories is entitled, "The Seven Poor Travelers" and it involves a legacy for a 16th century man named Richard Watts, Esq. You can read about this and how it Dickens' story is reenacted each year at the Festival at http://www.thewatts.net/wattski/JWPage4.html.

The day was started by a really colorful Town Crier in front of the Cathedral who announced the proceedings. Then followed bell ringers, bands, singers, chimney sweeps, The Seven Poor Travellers' Procession (see link above) and the Grand Parade down High Street.

The Costumes were really well done and fun.

Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas Season!!

Elder & Sister Watts

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Thanksgiving was a work-day in London ... and we had the late shift in the FHC as well - open until 9pm. But thanks to the modern marvel of Skype and computers we were able to share a few moments of Thanksgiving with family... without the tastes, smells and hugs though.

We made up for it with a full-course Thanksgiving meal yesterday with our mission family -- all the other senior couples. It was a great meal and brought a touch of home to our week. We are thankful for wonderful friends and family without whose support this journey would not be quite as satisfying. We appreciate your emails, blog comments and most of all..... prayers.

We are grateful for blessings that continue to amaze. Most of all we are grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who makes it possible for us to have hope in spite of inadequacy and shortcomings. May you all feel of our love for you and our wishes that you have a wonderful holiday season.

Elder & Sister Watts

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

London Transport

We were talking this morning about how fertile the crop would be to yield a harvest of stories from our experiences riding the bus. Almost... well...no not almost... every day there's another experience to make a part of a tale. For example: Yesterday, as we were seated, near the front, I saw an elderly lady getting on and stood up to give her my seat. Then before I could blink, a rather heavy-set balding man with unruly shoulder-length grey hair slipped by the lady and sat down. I said, "Excuse me, but I was giving my seat to this lady," to which he muttered something I didn't catch. I repeated my plea, and he called me a "x@##" and to bug off that he himself was "75". As a representative of the Savior, I couldn't say or do what I felt like doing, but another seat opened and the lady sat down. As we proceeded along, she finally caught my eye and said, "Thanks for trying", and repeated the thanks as we got off.

Today, as we got on and sat down, there was a black lady in the seat across that was speaking in a bright, animated voice. I glanced her way to see to whom she was speaking... most likely a cell phone, but I soon realized that she was speaking to the 'air'. This went on until she got off two stops along the way.

The most prevalent type of experience relates not to global warming, but air pollution. Yesterday I believe it was garlic and onions for breakfast (not me mind you) and today it was .. oops somebody and I do mean some 'body' forgot to shower last month.

In the absence of TV, which I've come to think is a pretty good thing, I've been reading a book entitled "The Subterranean Railway: How the London Underground was built and how it changed the city forever." It's been very interesting to read about the world's first underground railway.

I'm just sorry that our chauffeur has yet to show up for us and we are left to travel as best we can... but then maybe that's a pretty good thing too. Just think of the stories we would otherwise miss. Proverbs 1:5

These are all God's children, and we have met some wonderful people as we travel to and from and serve in the Family History Centre.

Elder Watts

Sunday, November 16, 2008

P-Day at Hampstead Heath

Saturday was a clear, cool day in London and perfect to explore Hampstead and Hampstead Heath with our friends from the Family History Center. Seated: Elder Ross Richins, Sister Claudia Inskeep, Sister Judy Richins, Sister Barbara Watts. Top: Elder Don Inskeep and Elder Watts. We had a wonderful time.

Hampstead has fun antique shops, pubs and open spaces (Hampstead Heath) with ponds and beautiful views. Today's famous people (film & rock stars) live in the same houses as the famous of previous centuries. We visited Wentworth Place, where John Keats lived when he wrote some of his greatest works. Ian Fleming of 007 fame lived in Hampstead as did a man named Goldfinger, who built a home that Fleming thought was atrocious -- hence Goldfinger became a bad guy in his novel. We had a delightful lunch (squash soup and cremé brulé) on the patio of the Kenwood House, an early 17th century gentleman's country home, and is now a major art gallery with works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Turner. Some of the movie Notting Hill (Julia Roberts) was filmed here. I was in heaven!!

The Spaniards Inn, built in 1585 as a tollgate inn, still guards the road to a single lane -- which now is a traffic bottleneck-- at the top of the Heath. See the link for pictures.

Sister Watts.....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

London Life

#1 We thought we'd add a 'secular' note about some of the little things going on in our life here in London. We've come to 'crave' (maybe that's a little strong) Lemon YumYums! --at left. All we can say is that they are soo...good. We make a fairly regular late night run (walk actually) to Waitrose (upscale grocery store) to buy them. They regularly sell for 75p (75 pence or about $1.20) but are discounted just before closing to as low as 5p.

#2 We have a rather curious ... well no way to call a spade but a spade... toilet seat. See the London Life link at the right and judge for yourself.

#3 We have accumulated a fair amount of items that have been left by other senior missionaries and are now pretty comfortable in our flat. However, a couple left for home on Friday, and there were a few items they left behind that we decided we could use. These were a bucket (bright lime green) , some cleaning supplies and a very tall floor lamp (we'll call it VTFL). See the London Life link at right to see how tall. We decided to take these home on Monday. The VTFL was heavy -- and did I say 'tall' -- not very convenient to take on a bus, so we decided to walk (1.3 miles). Oh, and did I mention that it was raining. To protect the halogen globe and business end of the lamp, we put a plastic shopping bag (orange in color) over the top of the lamp and set out for home. So here's a mental picture: Sister Watts carrying a lime green bucket full of cleaning supplies in one hand, bag over her shoulder and umbrella in the other hand -- Elder Watts carrying the VTFL with a shopping bag on the end, attache bag over his shoulder and umbrella in the other hand. It was much easier to carry the VTFL, which was quite heavy on the bottom end, in a close to horizontal position, so it looked like a jousting pole with an orange bag on the end. If you've read this far, suffice it to say the trip was uneventful, but we must have been quite a funny sight.

Best wishes to all, E & S Watts

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lea Valley Ward

We had a marvelous time at church today. The people are so kind and genuine. Our Bishop, a 32 year old Harvard Law School grad, and his wife are expecting their first child today. As he concluded his testimony in Sacrament meeting -- while he was instructing us for the time available for testimony bearing -- four people were on their way up. He cautioned that we would truly need to stop the bearing of testimonies in a timely manner. It then was a non-stop stream of wonderful testimonies -- brothers and sisters, old and young, from Ghana, Sudan, Nigeria, and ?? and ... England. One black brother simply stood and said, "Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph Smith..... Thomas S. Monson --- all Prophets of God, all spokesmen for Jesus Christ, the same today as yesterday and forever." It was a very spiritual meeting.
We finished the day by being invited to the Mission Presidents flat for dinner with the other senior (bell ringer) couples. Six of us are practicing the Bells for Christmas (much like the Bell Choir on Temple Square.... well not much like, perhaps a very little like). It will be fun to share in helping to provide some Christmas Bell music.
Love Elder & Sister Watts

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy people on the Tube

Today we didn't ride the tube to Lea Valley Ward - we had Stake Conference at Hyde Park. The Chapel, Cultural Hall and Stage were packed with people. A new Stake President was sustained and it was a very special meeting. Two General Authorities of the Seventy were with us. Elder Lopez from Spain and Elder Kopischke from Germany. We loved their talks - they were inspiring. We sang in the choir, a beautiful song about the Savior.

Before the meeting started, a lady came up to us and said that she always looks for missionaries so she can shake their hands because 22 years ago two missionaries knocked on her door with a message about the Savior that changed her life. She told us that she loves the Gospel and doesn't know where she would be without it. These are beautiful people that surround us.

Where we spend our days.

It has been a busy and good week at the London Family History Centre. Monday morning a gentleman came up to me and said he was so excited because he had put a note on a file on one of his ancestors and he heard from a cousin that he had never met. He didn't care that I couldn't help with his search, but he sure loved that I would listen to his family story. He said, "this has made my week and it is only Monday." People that love family history, really love it and spend hours in their search.

Another patron learned from a microfilm of notes that her ancestor had been murdered in Ireland. Many interesting and very nice people come in every day.
We are going to the National Archives tomorrow. It is our p-day and our leader Sharon Hintze thought this would be a good way for us to enjoy it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Caitlin!!!

One of the hard things about being in London is missing important birthdays like Caitlin's 18th.

We love you, Caitlin.

This has been a good week at the FHC! Lots of patrons .... about 1,200+ per month and most are non-members. We have perhaps the 'best-there-is' set of Caribbean records (and Jamaica in particular) as well Irish records that people from Dublin come to see. We have 25 computers, 25 microfilm readers and 3 microfiche viewrs. Patrons are from all over. We've had visitors from the US, Australia, New Zealand, India, and... lots of course from England, which is our specialty. I'm still trying to learn something new every day.

One of our missionaries, Elder Snow had to go to the emergency room and is still in the hospital and may need surgery. We are all praying for his recovery. They are scheduled to go home in December and we hope he will be able to return to work for the last few weeks of their mission.

We spoke in church today and I think it went OK. We also were given church callings. I am going to teach Gospel Doctrine. I know - don't faint. I almost did. Jim will be working with the Young Men which is the job he loves. They combine all the YM because there are so few. We travel to church in one hour and 15 minutes on two different tube lines and 1 bus ride. At every tube stop the 'voice' says "mind the gap!" (see picture) Our ward is the Lea Valley Ward, and I know we will learn to love these people. They have been very warm in their welcome to us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

London - an amazing place

We are enjoying our work at the London Family History Center. The people we serve with are saints and we are learning to love them. They are our family away from home and the family we love and miss. We have family home evening together twice a month and we are planning some fun things for the holidays so we don't get too home sick. I don't think it will work entirely, but it will help.
Many of our patrons come every week and don't need help except for me to get them a film or scan them a copy. When someone asks me something I don't know (every day) I find someone to help them and try to learn.
We are exploring London every chance we get and finding some amazing places to enjoy. Yesterday, we went to the Guildhall, a fascinating and beautiful place which houses a library and an art museum. It was built over an old Roman coliseum and some of the old walls are preserved. We saw women dressed in Elizabethian dress of the 1570's, Walked the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, visited the financial district where 350,000 people work, and only 5,000 live. Places like Lloyds of London, bank of London etc. etc. View the link of pictures if you would like.
We went to our new ward today after traveling 1 hour and 15 minutes by bus, tube and walking. We will have to work hard to learn the names of these faithful saints from many parts of the world. There are very few white members and we are looking forward to getting to know and love them.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

London - Three weeks in

Hi to everyone! It took awhile to arrange for an internet connection, so we've been 'off the grid' in matrix speak. We are enjoying London! We live in a small flat that is about 1.5 mi. from the Family History Centre. We ride the busses (a lot) and also walk (a lot - average about 4-5 miles per day). We are both family-history-challenged , but the senior missionaries that we work with are truly Saints and helping us to contribute more each day. The London Family History Centre http://www.londonfhc.org/ is a very popular place and we meet new people [member and non-member] every day - both in the centre and travelling to and fro on the bus. London is truly a melting pot of cultures. I've met a lady at our bus stop (twice now) from India whose religion is Zoroastriansm. We've not had much time, as yet, to explore London, but the phone booth picture at the left was on a P-day, otherwise I'm dressed in one of my 'many' outfits - dark suit and a wide choice of ties. The weather has been beautiful - mostly sunny and cool. We finally had a day or two of rain when an umbrella became essential. This is a brief start for news from London. We'll add more later. Elder Watts

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Called to Serve

Today has been a good day and it ended with a great Devotional with President and Sister Uchtdorf speaking. She was very cute and funny. He smiles big when he listens to his wife and his smile is something to see. (he is handsome) We were on the 7th row because they save the front seats for the Seniors.

His talk was powerful and inspiring. Life at the MTC is life-changing. High light again was singing "Called to Serve" with 2,000 young and enthusiastic missionaries filled with the Spirit. It is awesome. Love to all - Mom

Monday, September 08, 2008

MTC - first week completed

We have concluded the first week at the MTC and it was great. What an amazing place!! There were a few difficult moments, but they were few in comparison to the special times that I will treasure always and would not trade. This week has been a blessing. Next week our training will be different because we will be at the Family History Center learning things I never thought I could do. I feel that I will be blessed and if I work hard I will be able to do the things that I need to do. Thanks to everyone who prays for missionaries. Our trip to the temple on Saturday was wonderful too. When the missionaries were prayed for I thought "Wow, I am one of those."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Well... here's Elder & Sister Watts at the MTC pointing at 'our' island. It may not be tropical and in the Pacific, but it is rainy with balmy breezes. We started our day with England-like rain and, tho you can't see it, my suit is soaked.

We also had one more send-off from the 'Going-away Gang'

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Whoa.... this train is going too fast!

No big deal. We're only leaving for 18 months, but...... worry, worry, worry. Children, house, cabin, bills, turn-off stuff, how much can you cram in two suitcases and still stay under the allowable limit, and then there's the unknowns. Ah well, ready or not, here we go.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ooops ... a little detour

Since the launch is in a holding pattern, my missionary companion is taking a detour to Beijing to share in the experience of watching a 'family' OLYMPIAN... Hooray for Jake... And good luck...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We're on the launch pad...

We're going to begin our 'BLOG' for our magnificent adventure. Keep watching for.... maybe.... some profundities! (you might want to look that one up).

Love, Dad