Sunday, March 29, 2009

Being a Missionary

I've been invited to accompany the AP's on three occasions -- once this week -- to help with a new investigator discussion. These have all been very enjoyable. The discussion this week was with 'Audrey', a lady that the AP's met on the street. She says that she has been actively looking for a church and has gone to many. When she met the Elders, she was excited to hear their message. She seems very interested and excited for another teaching moment.

Friday, I helped a man, who had been in the FHC a few times, with some scans of microfiche records. We chatted a bit as we did the scans, he paid for them and left. I grabbed my lunch and went to the lunch room and found him there organizing his papers. As I ate, I began a conversation with him and he started asking me questions and commenting about the church. He noted that he had observed some missionaries and wondered if we had a training program to teach 'courtesy', 'manners' and 'good behavior.' He has a high regard for 'Mormons' and asked me if there were any Mormon 'convicts' and seemed surprised when I told him yes, there probably are. He was astonished when I told him we were here at our own expense. He knew that families are important and seemed to want to know 'more'. So, I told him about the restoration and modern day prophets. He was very receptive. I told him about conference and invited him to come see our prophet next week. He said he just might do that. I know that he will be back in the FHC if not to conference.

Great spirit as always in the Lea Valley ward today -- fast day. A new convert was confirmed and the testimonies were sweet as usual. One of our YM, a teacher, bore his testimony.

Best wishes to all,

Elder Watts

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Week....

Lots of activity in the FHC this week. It seems that almost every day there are those who go away smiling because they've found an ancestor for whom they've been looking for many years. It's fun to see the successes.

Yesterday, being our P-day, we went with the other three senior couples to Rochester to see the Rochester Castle (left) and the Rochester Cathedral. Rochester was the home of Charles Dickens for 14 years and there's lots of connections in Rochester to his writings. We went there for the annual Christmas Dickens Festival in December, but it was so crowded (and cold) that we didn't get to see the castle and cathedral. It was well worth a second visit. Check the links at right for pictures if you are interested - beautiful cathedral, amazing castle and interesting old buildings the most notable of which is Richard Watts' Six Poor Travelers Inn (several pictures of it). Watts, who died in 1579, is buried in the cathedral. Dickens story, Seven Poor Travelers (he is the other traveler along with the six) is a very good short story and can be found at The Seven Poor Travelers.

Great day at Lea Valley today. Today is England's "Mothering Sunday," -- British Mother's Day. Lot's of tributes to mothers. Great sacrament meeting, good lessons, great spirit. Sister Watts led a really good Gospel Doctrine class discussion about missionary work. She is a good teacher. Had a good time teaching the YM in priesthood meeting as well.

Best wishes to all for a good week!

Love, Elder & Sister Watts

Thursday, March 19, 2009

London Life - Winter Style

Aside from all the antiquities and architectural wonders of London, the people are facinating. The few pictures in the collage here don't even begin to scratch the surface of style and dress displayed. Clearly, the most common color is BLACK (coats, jackets, sweaters, dresses, socks, shoes) and the most common footwear (for younger women) is black boots with 3-4" heels. Everyone wears a scarf and, on rainy days, carries an umbrella (I guess that goes without saying). I feel a little like a paparazzi when taking uninvited pictures, but occasionally can't resist a discreet photo or two. Must make a comment about two of them. The red pom-pom in the upper left is really a coat. The man, center-bottom, lives as you see him on the street in front of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Now then -- babies! Babies in London, I think begin life as a caterpillar and live in a cocoon. They are wheeled around in buggies that have large rubber tires and plastic vinyl hoods to encapsulate their contents. The babies/children that ride in them are bundled to the point of no-movement-allowed coats and snow suits. Here are two examples.

Lastly here's an indispensible item that we could not live without, given the circumstance of not having a car and walking and/or riding busses to and from the grocery store. A TROLLEY! It folds flat for easy carrying to .... unfolds and holds lots of groceries for pulling from.
Love to all,
E & S Watts

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stories of Lea Valley Ward

The experience we are enjoying in our ward is unique. I feel that each person has a story to be told. It is too bad that we don't always have time to visit and hear those stories. Today I decided to talk to at least one person. Her name is Ismarelda from Albania, and she was raised a Muslim. She left her home town 7 years ago to study at a University. She saw the LDS missionaries and was curious about them so she talked to them and then studied the gospel for 5 years before getting baptized 2 years ago. Her family has not spoken to her since that day and she had to leave her country. She told me she will never be able to return.

A young man spoke in Church today and told of his conversion story. I was touched by his strong spirit and testimony. He was born in Turkey and their family was not religious. He felt something was missing in his life. In 2004 he prayed to know what was missing. He met a girl who belonged to the Church and she invited him to listen to the missionaries. After the first lesson he knew it was right. He was so happy that he literally skipped home. The ward he first attended met in a small room in a book shop. He enjoyed it so much that he didn't want to leave. He read the Book of Mormon and he said it took him 3 months to get the courage to pray about it. His answer came sure and strong and he was baptized. He recently returned from serving a mission in the England, Manchester mission.

These people strengthen me and help me to be more fully aware of the great blessing the gospel has been to me all of my life. It is a privilege to be among them.
Sister Watts

Sabbath Somnolence

Again... we felt a great spirit and warm friendship in the Lea Valley Ward. Neither of us were teaching today, and it was simply a day to soak in the words of others. I had assigned one of the Priests, Aaron Quashie, to lead the lesson discussion on the Holy Ghost. Having had experience with this sort of thing in the past, I prepared in case he 'forgot.' Aaron is the 1st Assitant in the Priest Quorum and came prepared and gave a great lesson. All 'six' (today) of the Aaronic Priesthood holders meet together. Here are the six -- with Elder Anderston from Cardston, Canada.

Aaron is the one in the back to the left of Elder Anderson.

It was a beautiful day with mostly sunshine and a high of 13 (that would be Celsius). The daffodils are everywhere and many trees and bushes are blooming.

We have been wanting to take a walk in a nearby very old cemetery, so today..... we did.

Quoth the raven "Nevermore"

The Cemetery was originally known as the West of London and Westminster Cemetery. Now it is known as the Brompton Cemetery. It is full of crypts and monuments. The link at the right leads to a few pictures. Among the dead are the living as well..... ravens, squirrels, pigeons and foxes (didn't see any of those) as well as ......Daffodils.

The chapel, modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome was used in GoldenEye (1995), Pierce Brosnan's first Bond movie. Below is a picture of the chapel as well as the colonnades above the catacombs. That's not a Bond girl; it's Sister Watts peering out.

Love to all...... Elder Watts

Sunday, March 08, 2009

P-Days in London

Lunch with Woon Choa
This sweet sister from our ward wanted to "feed the missionaries," but her flat is so small that she invited us to join her for lunch at a restaurant. Along with three young elders, we went to a Chinese Buffet in Walthamstow and had a nice visit with Sister Woon Choa. She is from Hong Kong and has been a member of the Church for several years. She and her sister are the only members of the church from a family of 10. She is the ward organist and plays the piano and the organ for Sacrament meeting and Relief Society. -- 7 March 2009

A week ago we went for a walk along the "Limehouse Cut", which is a waterway canal that is the gateway to over 2,000 miles of navigable canals. The picture at the left at the beginning of the canal is the Limehouse Basin, which is now a marina for yachts and is overlooked by banks of beautiful modern 'flat' buildings. We walked along the canal through rows of old factory buildings and warehouses that once used the canal to transport materials and finished product. A towpath, where we walked, lines the canal where horses used to pull the barges along the canal. The Limehouse Cut is the first navigable canal constructed in 1766. The name 'Limehouse' came from lime kilns built in the 14th century for lime used in plaster for building 'wattle and daub' walls in early London buildings.

We walked up the canal for about two miles past the "Bow Locks" where Bow Creek joins the Limehouse cut and runs past Three Mills Island. Here is a picture of the Three Mills.

The House Mill, at the far left, is the largest tidal mill in Britain. Next to it is the Millers House with the Clock Mill on the right. The house mill was built in 1776. If you want to see how it worked, click here These buildings are now home to Three Mills Films Studios, London's largest film studio.

If you want to see a few pictures of the canal -- a canal boat that people live in -- etc. click on the Limehouse link at the right.

It was a beautiful spring day with 'daffys' beginning to poke out everywhere. Lastly, here's a picture from a 'budding' bush near our flat, a sure sign of spring.

Love you all,
E & S Watts

Sunday, March 01, 2009

London Driving & More

Downtown London's roads are the 2009 version of the original cart and wagon paths of midieval London. The street names, like the towns, counties and parishes are classics like Cheapside, Regent, Oxford, Old Brompton and High Street Kensington. But dirt wagon paths do not a modern city street make, and the city fathers, determined to limit the number of modern automobiles on said paths, have a 'Congestion Zone' that requires a daily payment of £8 to drive therein. This, from all outward appearances, seems to be a small deterrent, because there is a lot of traffic. Cars, big and small, all have large licensce plates that are 'watched' by strategic cameras to make sure no one escapes this charge. It appears to be very effective. Those who miss payment by midnight the following day are subject to a penalty of £120!

How can they monitor such a vast armada of cars you say? Well here's just one bank of cameras with 'big brother' watching.

Here are a couple of other related London driving photos. First a picture of a Taxi driver coffee shop that is in the middle of the road and is for taxi drivers only.

Next is a bollard (a post to keep cars out), a fancy one from our neighborhood in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, RBKC for short. Then here's a picture of an RBKC garbage can, also rather fancy. There are street sweepers working seemingly around the clock with a broom and a push cart. RBKC keeps the street very clean.

And lastly a Bobby from the London Metropolitan Police Force.
Elder Watts....
PS.. On Thursday we went to see Hampton Court Palace.... see the pictures from link at right.