Dear Family and Friends,
Yesterday evening we sat in the Hyde Park Chapel listening, live, to the Saturday morning session of General Conference. It was available on the internet but we worked yesterday in the FH Centre so we stayed at church to watch. Most of the people in our stake watched from their home computers but the young missionaries, young adults and a few families came to Hyde Park to watch. I looked around as the choir sang and had the most overwhelming sense of joy and thankfulness for being able to serve on this mission in this place. I remembered the times we had been in London in the past and had come to church in this building and felt the special spirit that is here. In the foyer there is a beautiful mural showing the Plan of Salvation, that was painted quite a few years ago.
I remembered it from the first time we came to this building. That was in 2003. We were on our way to Glasgow to visit Andrew and Amy and their family and decided to stop in London for a few days before we traveled up to Scotland. We had just arrived in London that Sunday morning and wanted to attend church. Our good friends Que and Lucille Steele had served a mission in London several years ago and had told us a lot about the Hyde Park Ward. We wanted to attend so came straight from the airport even though we were pretty tired and wrinkled. We decided to sit down in the back because we weren’t looking our best. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and we turned around to see our next door neighbors, Joel and Annette Nielsen.
Our next visit to London was a couple of years later with Molly and Mark. We planned our trip so we could be in London over Sunday and again be able to attend church. The last time was when we were traveling with Megan and Steve. As we were singing the opening hymn during sacrament meeting, we looked across the aisle and saw Lavell Edwards and his wife. Something interesting always seemed to happen to us in London.
We have come to appreciate this building and feel so blessed to be able to serve our mission here.
I had an interesting experience with a English gentleman who called the Centre last week. He said he was not a member of our church but was giving a lecture to a group of people on the LDS and their contributions to family history work. He asked if I had some kind of short quote by one of our church leaders explaining why we do this family history work. There’s a quote by President Hinckley on the wall where you enter our Centre so I read that to him over the phone. It says, “One of the distinguishing features of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a belief in the divine nature of the family as an institution ordained of God. Here centers the most sacred of all human relationships. Life is eternal. Love is eternal. And God our Eternal Father designed and has made it possible that our families may be eternal”. The English gentleman said perfect and asked me to email it to him. I did and in his answer thanking me, he told me that years ago he had discovered that there was a member of his family who had joined the church and immigrated to Utah. He had been one of the pioneers and church leaders in the settlement of Cedar City. He said that a couple of years ago he traveled to America and went to Cedar City where a distant cousin had arranged for him to speak to a group of 80 descendants of the pioneer. The English gentleman spoke on the history of their family in England. It is not uncommon for our patrons to say that they had a family members who joined the Mormon Church and immigrated to Utah. So many of the early members of our Church were converted in in Great Britain and immigrated to the US.
It’s always gratifying to be able to help people when they don’t understand how to search for ancestors. Ken helped a couple of men from Australia who came into the building because they saw our large Family History Centre sign. They only had a few minutes to spend but were curious about what they could find. They knew that had Scottish ancestors. Ken directed them to a data base and within a few minutes they found had some of their family. One of the men took out his camera, snapped some pictures of the records and then they were on their way. It isn’t always that easy!
Sunday afternoon we took a stroll through the Old Brompton Cemetery which is only a block from our flat. The cemetery was opened as part of an initiative in the mid-19th century to provide seven large, modern cemeteries, called the Magnificent Seven,in a ring around the edge of London. The inner city cemeteries, mostly the graveyards attached to individual churches, had long been unable to cope with the number of burials and were seen as a hazard to health and an undignified way to treat the dead. There are over 35,000 monuments. Beatrix Potter, who lived nearby, took the names of many of her animal characters from tombstones in the cemetery. Names on headstones included Mr. Nutkins, Mr. McGregor, Jeremiah Fisher, Tommy Brock - and even a Peter Rabbett.
Spring has really arrived in London. The trees and daffodils are beautiful.
These trees are along our street and the flowers are in St. James’s Park. We even have things blooming in our back garden, shown on the lower right.
Two sweet messages that we unwrapped from our wicker basket this past week:
From Carter- “I wuv you Grandpa”
From Abby- “You are so lucky!”
We know we are, Abby!
Our best to all of you.
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)