Dear Family and Friends,
The Christmas before we left on our mission our children gave us a wicker box filled with messages written on small pieces of curled paper. These messages came with us to England. There were messages for me and for Ken, one for each day to carry us through our mission. Even our small grandchildren wrote. Some made us smile and some lifted our spirits. A funny one that we opened just a few weeks ago read, “Though slow and dangerous behind the wheel, senior citizens can still serve a purpose.”
We hope that’s what we have been doing the past 17 months we have served in the England London Mission.
We will complete our missionary work at the Archives on June 1, 2012. It has been an amazing experience. Not necessarily in chronological order, here are a few of the things we will always remember.
Realizing, after we arrived in London, how much we needed to learn.
One would think that in a country that speaks the same language, things would be pretty similar but not so. There are differences in electricity, the sizes of bedding, food, washing clothes, using an oven, the money, and the list goes on. The post boxes are even different! So it has been an adjustment learning to live here. We are experiencing a huge learning curve. It's very much like taking a new job and feeling very overwhelmed. We not only have had to learn how to run the center but also how to help patrons use the resources available in the center and websites for British research. Since the research here covers the entire British Empire we also are learning about records from other countries such as Jamaica and Australia.
5 February 2011We are are making progress on how to run the appliances, but had a minor setback when we blew up the electric hair clippers.
Saturday evening we stopped at the grocery and carried 2 bags with us onto bus 328 for the ride from Earl’s Court to our flat. I held Ken’s briefcase because he was holding the groceries. We got off the bus and walked the couple of blocks to our flat. Just as we got to our gate Ken said. “Where’s my briefcase?” I had left it on the bus. I felt awful but realized that we might be able to run and catch the bus at the stop before it turned up the King’s Road. Ken threw the groceries into our courtyard and we both took off running to see if we could catch the bus. There were some pretty important things in the briefcase, including all of the information for a presentation we were scheduled to give our ward on Sunday. We couldn’t catch the bus so we ran down to the King’s Road and tried to get another bus so we could catch up with the briefcase. Meanwhile we saw a 328 coming the other direction towards us so we ran across the street and got on. The driver was very sympathetic when we told him our story and he radioed the dispatcher. We rode the bus until the dispatcher called back. He said they has located the briefcase and were holding it for us at the end of the route. We got off the bus, ran back to the King’s Road and found a cab to take us to the end of the route. There stood 2 bus drivers with big smiles on their faces holding the briefcase. Everyone that helped us was wonderful. I love the 328 bus drivers!Standing in pouring rain waiting for a bus- repeated many times.
A man Cheryl was trying to help saying, “You are wasting my time.”We had an interesting journey home from church last Sunday. Actually church was interesting. The Sacrament Meeting was great. I love the English speakers- they sound so articulate and elegant. We always race out at 1:00 right after the meetings so we can catch the bus. If we miss the first bus we have to wait an additional half hour. So we rushed out and started waiting. We could see the black clouds rolling in and then it started to rain- HARD. We stood there for 40 minutes waiting for bus 234. My long black skirt was soaked through and I had pools of water in my shoes. Water was inside my umbrella dripping on my hair. I should have taken a picture of poor Ken huddled under his umbrella in his wet suit. We were so cold. Finally the bus came. It's a pretty long ride through the city to the East Finchley tube station and we were about half way there and the bus driver announced, “this bus terminates here". I don't like those words. So we had to get out and wait again. Finally another bus came, then we did 2 tube rides, another bus ride and finally got home about an hour and 15 minutes later than we normally do. I always say we we get home, “it's good to be home(kind of)”. I always say kind of because we're not really home.
Ken, when moving film, realized he had made a mistake and the film was out of sequence for the next 2 drawers.Once in awhile we do have a patron who is not so grateful. I was showing a man what we have available on FamilySearch and the other websites that we use in research. He was quite frustrated because he did not know too much about how to use the computer and didn’t seem very anxious to learn. He finally said, “You are wasting my time.” I so wanted to respond that I felt the same way, that he was wasting my time, but I bit my tongue. We don’t see people like that very often.
Two trips to the emergency room at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
5 February 2012
We didn’t realize when we set off for church this morning that when there’s snow in London things don’t function normally. Our first clue was when we had to wait a very long time for the bus. Our tubes were on time but the bus delay made it pretty certain that we would be late for church. When we got to East Finchley Station we took off running to see if we could get the bus. It had just gone past our stop and as we ran down the sidewalk to try to get the driver to stop, Ken slipped. When he grabbed a metal sign to stop his fall he made a pretty deep cut into one of his fingers. We stood there for a minute, not knowing quite what to do. We looked up and saw one of our ward members. Her family had been driving by, saw us miss our bus and stopped to give us a ride the rest of the way to church. The attendance was small, less than 30, and since traveling home was going to be a challenge, the Bishop announced that we would just have Sacrament Meeting. That worked for us as we knew Ken was going to need stitches. The same family who picked us up gave us a ride back to the tube station and on the way home Ken stopped at a hospital near our flat to get 3 stitches- the first he has ever had. The nurse at the hospital commented that he was very calm throughout. I guess the British saying really is becoming our mission motto.
Missing the births of 2 grand-babies, 4 baptisms, many birthdays and family times.
The loss of some dear friends in Indiana and Utah.
The High Points:
The wonderful experiences we had at the MTC.
All that we have learned about family history research from Sharon Hintze and those with whom we worked.
The times we had to push ourselves to learn how to do new things: talks, power points, Excel, etc.
Working and socializing with the other missionary couples in the England London Mission.
Associating with the young missionaries.
Our patrons at Hyde Park and The National Archives.
I had a sweet experience at the Centre this past week. I was helping an older, very dignified gentleman who has been in before and has done quite a bit of research. He was looking through the microfilms of parish records from the 1500’s to find the birth and other information about his 12th great grandfather. He found the information and I talked with him as I was making scans (photocopies) of the records. He said, “You know, you people have a remarkable and invaluable collection of records here.” He kindly helped me read the record which was partially in Latin. It makes us feel so good when people are grateful for the service we are able to give.
One of our regular patrons, an English gentleman in his 80’s, shared with us the gravestone epitaph of his great grandfather’s brother and sister-in-law. It reads:
To the memory of Joseph and Maria Hales, who in the 22nd year of their age and in the first year of their marriage were both killed at Tibberton while sleeping in their bed at 3 o’clock in the morning Saturday December 20th 1862 by the sudden falling of the tall chimney belonging to the Paper Mill during a long continued gale of wind. “Watch therefore for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
Quite a run-on sentence but some good advice at the end. You never know what you will find when you do family history.
29 May 2012One of the patrons at The National Archives we have enjoyed, handed us a going away card. In it he had written, “Have a safe trip back to your home in the colony that you pinched from us Loyal Brits.” We have had quite a few interesting discussions with him about American history and politics.
With the help of Barbara Robertson, finding the marriage record for my great grandparents.
One thing I am learning about family history- you never give up and sometimes things happen in ways you don’t expect. I guess I had to come all the way to London to find the marriage certificate for my great grandparents who were married in Brooklyn, New York.
Sheila Clappison, Sharon Tomlin and the other volunteers we worked with at the Centre.
The time Cheryl was able to help a young man find the death of his mother.
The other day I had the sweetest experience helping a man who came to our Family History Centre at The National Archives.The man had not seen his mother since he was a boy. Apparently his mother and father divorced when he was very young and he had lived with his father. When he was in his teens, in the early 1970’s, his uncle told him that his mother had died. That was all he knew. He came to Kew to see if he could find exactly when and where she had died. He thought she might have remarried. We tried many things-searching for her death and for a possible second marriage. We couldn’t find anything. Then we tried searching for a second marriage under her maiden name and found it! From that we learned the name of her second husband and were eventually able to find a record of her death. The man was so overcome with emotion that he was shaking. He was so grateful that he grabbed my hand and shook it. He said he had been searching for years. Now he will order the death certificate that will tell where she had been living and how she died. He hopes to be able to find her grave. I told him that he needed to come back and tell us what he found.
The visits of family and good friends.
Being able to work at the Hyde Park Chapel and The National Archives.
The opportunity, when asked, to explain why our church does this work.
Living in London and being able to call it home for 18 months.
Helping members of the North London Ward with their family history.
The support and encouragement we have had from our wonderful family, including their messages from home:
Jeff- Mind the gap.It’s been amazing experience to serve as family history missionaries in the England London Mission. We can’t imagine a better way to have spent the last year and a half. After finishing up our work at the Archives we will be doing some traveling before we return home to Utah on June 22. Our missionary homecoming is scheduled for July 8.
Michelle- Sending you sunshine.
Kayleigh- Be strong and of good courage.
Steve- Thanks for serving.
Megan- “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us.” President Ezra Taft Benson
Josh- Have you ridden the Knight Bus yet?
Nick- I miss you a ton! I can’t wait till you get back.
Abby- I hiked to the “Y”. I remember doing it with you guys. It was fun.
Drew- I missed you today.
Andrew- Thanks for being a great Father.
Amy- Your service is a great example.
Bryan- I love you like old people love chicken.
Matthew- Why did the fish cross the sea? To get to the other tide.
Emily- Grandpa, I love you.
Lizzy- Grandma, you are brave.
Mark- “What ere though art, act well thy part.” Scottish mission theme.
Molly- Dad, I know you always prayed for us and sometimes your help came at just the right time. Thank you
Joseph- Grandpa thanks for teaching me to use the slingshot.
Spencer- Finally, a girl going on a mission!
April- 你好爺爺 Hi Grandpa
Curtis- A smile is a curved line that sets a lot of things straight.
Kelly- I remember a snowstorm we had in Indiana. We were outside sledding down our street and you were inside making fudge. I thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Avery- I say my prayers day and night because it helps me to choose the right.
Carter- I’m thinking about you grandma.
Our best to all of you from London!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)