Monday, December 26, 2011

Senior Missionaries and Christmas in England


Dear Family and Friends,

 Christmas Greeting Cards

It’s pretty crazy that as I’m sitting in our flat  writing this blog on Boxing Day, I can hear the cheers coming from the Chelsea Football Stadium just a couple of blocks down the road. Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible that we are in England and have been here on our mission for almost a year.

The advent calendar is completed, the gifts have been opened and we are awaiting the new year. We have had a Christmas we will    always remember even though we spent it far from home.
After finishing work at The National Archives on Thursday, we met Devon and Judy Tufts for dinner at Haché, a French restaurant on Fulham Road.
Devon and I both retired from Timberline Middle School at the same time and ended up serving missions in England. The Tufts were here  for a few days from Birmingham where they are serving a CES mission. It was very good to see them, compare missions and  share news from home. 

On Christmas Eve Day Ken and I went to the Kings Road, my favorite place to shop, and picked up some last minute items.


On Christmas Eve we got together with President and Sister Patch and the other senior missionary couples for dinner. Besides the Robertsons, Sprouses and Empeys, we have 3 new senior missionary couples serving in the England London Mission. Elder Don and Sister Claudia Inskeep have joined us to work as Family History missionaries at The National Archives. The Inskeeps  served in the same capacity a couple of years ago. President Patch joked that they had had too much fun and wanted to come back. The Browns, a couple who arrived about a month ago are serving in Gravesend and the Grays, a Scottish couple who live in Australia, joined us for dinner. The Grays will be serving in Cambridge. Elder Richard and Sister Devie Mills are also senior missionaries in our mission but they did not make the journey into London for dinner. Elder Michael Wells and Sister Sylvia Edwards serve with the young adults so they were with them for Christmas Eve.

image                       The Empeys, Fugals and Sister Robertson

image    Sister Brown, Sister Patch, President Patch, the Browns and Inskeeps

After dinner we had tickets to the Royal Albert Hall to see a wonderful program called Carols by Candlelight. It was performed by the Mozart Festival Orchestra and Chorus wearing period costumes. The Christmas Sequence from Messiah, The Twelve Days of Christmas and many other wonderful carols were presented and we joined in for much of the singing.




On Christmas morning, because the tubes and buses didn’t run, we attended church at the Baden Powell building where the Hyde Park Ward is meeting during the building renovation. It was a nice meeting with some very good talks. A young woman sang Silent Night very beautifully.

When we arrived home I started our Christmas dinner and we unwrapped the gifts that were under our tiny red tree on the mantle.




We put together our annual puzzle- this year’s was a winter scene of the Royal Albert Hall.


And finished it


Roasted chestnuts


Ate goodies

We even had some See’s Chocolates that the Inskeeps brought us from home.


Displayed our Christmas cards


Best of all, we were able to talk to our family on Skype and see all the fun things Santa brought for Christmas.

It was a wonderful Christmas! Now we look forward to the new year and the remaining 6 months of our mission.

At home there is a very special birthday coming up. Spencer will be 12 years old on January 4th. We are so proud of you Spencer!



 Our love to all and a Happy New Year!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Family History and Christmas in England


Dear Family and Friends,

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.

A couple of weeks ago the senior family history missionaries working at The National Archives, began a project to help  prepare World War I Diaries for digitization. At times when all the missionaries are not needed on the floor, we go down to the basement of the Archives and carefully sort through archive boxes containing the diaries of British Military units. According to TNA information, “A war diary is a daily record of operations, intelligence reports and other events, kept for each battalion by an appointed junior officer”.  Below is an image I found on an internet site that shows a page from a diary .

The diaries are mostly hand written accounts of daily happenings, often listing the numbers of casualties. One box I was going through had several maps showing trenches and the English and German battle lines. On the back of the diary someone had written, “On His Majesty's Service”.

The maps are of particular interest to me as my Dad was a cartographer in the US 8th Infantry Division during World War II. He was in many of the same places in World War II that are shown on the maps we see as we work on the project.

                               One of my Dad’s maps

For our children and those interested, here’s a link to information about the 8th Infantry Division Division in WWII:


Christmas in England



I have a London Advent Calendar on my computer that uses sights and scenes of London to count down the days until Christmas. On the calendar Big Ben keeps the correct time, the sky changes to dark when the sun goes down and the phase of the moon is always correct. Tonight it’s in the last quarter. December has been flying by.

With several of the other senior missionary couples, we caught bus number 10 from Kensington High Street and rode on the top deck down Oxford Street to see the Christmas decorations.



Many of the department stores have amazing Christmas displays and lights decorate the crowded streets.



We are going with the other senior missionaries to the Royal Albert Hall on Christmas Eve for the program Carols by Candlelight.

Since Christmas Day is on Sunday this year and since the tubes and buses don’t run on Christmas, we will be walking to the Hyde Park Ward for their sacrament service instead of going to the North London Ward.

London has so many Christmas traditions it would be impossible to write about them all but here is one that I really like.

In the forest of Østmarka which is near Oslo, Norway, a 46 year Norwegian Spruce tree was selected as the 2011 Christmas tree for Trafalgar’s Square. For the past 65 years the city of Oslo has donated a Christmas tree to the city of London in appreciation of England’s assistance during World War II.

When it reaches Trafalgar Square, the tree is carefully decorated. A plaque at the foot of the tree reads:

       ‘This tree is given by the city of Oslo
       as a token of Norwegian gratitude to
       the people of London for their
       assistance during the years 1940-1945.
       A tree has been given annually since 1947’


We feel so blessed to be able to serve a mission in this beautiful country. We are thankful for the friends we have made here and for the wonderful missionaries we are privileged to serve along side. We are ever grateful for our friends and family at home.

We pray for God’s blessings on you all.

Merry Christmas!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas in England


Dear Family and Friends, 

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love to decorate the house, shop with my girls, make fudge and other goodies, listen to Christmas music and plan for Christmas Day. I love that we remember the baby Jesus and that people seem to have more goodwill for each other during this season. I remember the special times I had as a child with my family and the wonderful Christmases with Ken and our children. Now they have families of their own and this makes our Christmas even more exciting with all of our beautiful grandchildren.

This year we are away and it is difficult but Christmas is still magical. So I have decorated the flat, listen to Christmas music on my iPod on the way to The National Archives and shopped for gifts for my family. Kelly made my fudge and delivered it to our other children.

Last Christmas Ken and I spoke in our ward for the Christmas program and also because it was our missionary farewell. I told a story about Charles Dickens. Here is a part of my talk.

“In his December 1994, First Presidency message President Gordon B. Hinckley told a story about Charles Dickens. At Christmastime when we hear the name Charles Dickens we usually think of A Christmas Carol, but on this occasion, President Hinckley wasn’t talking about Christmas Carol.

Charles Dickens was the father of ten children and evidimage_thumb5ently loved to tell them stories. In 1849, while he was writing David Copperfield, Dickens took time to write The Life of Our Lord. This book was not for publication but only for his children. It was a simple testimony from him to them and it presented the Christmas story in Dickens’ own words. His children, when they grew, would not permit it to be published. For 85 years it remained in the Dickens family. Then, when the youngest son died in 1933, publication was permitted.

The book begins with these words:

“My dear children, I am very anxious that you should knowimage something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him. No one ever lived who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable... And as he is now in heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together, you will never think what a good place heaven is, without knowing who He was and what He did.”

And then he tells them the Christmas story.”


I took this photo in the Dickens's Museum which is in a house where Dickens once lived. They were decorating for Christmas during our visit.

We were able to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the London Arts Theatre with the Robertsons and Spruces. It was an interesting production- a one man show with British actor Simon Callow relating the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.


I love the preface to the book published December, 1843. Dickens wrote,

“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”

Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D.



We had a wonderful Family Home Evening with the other senior missionary couples to begin the Christmas season. Elder and Sister Sprouse hosted the party at our flat and we all finally got to have that turkey dinner we missed on Thanksgiving.


Sharon (our FHC director) the Robertsons, us, Sister Spouse, the Empeys and Elder Sprouse.


Especially for our children- notice the Santa picture that I have on the mirror.


After eating, we shared our favorite Christmas memories, had a gift exchange and Ken read the Christmas story from Luke. Then we pulled our Christmas crackers. Christmas crackers are part of the Christmas celebration in the UK.


The crackers, which are made of a cardboard tube wrapped in bright paper, are pulled making a snap. Each cracker contains a hat, joke and trinket.

Another English Christmas tradition is the celebration of Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Traditionally, an alms box was placed in the parish church and on the day after Christmas it was opened and gifts were given to the poor.


The Twelve Days of Christmas originated in 18th-century England, as a ‘memory-and-forfeit game”. British children had to remember all of the previous verses and then add a new verse. If they were unable to remember they had to pay a forfeit, candy or a kiss.

Christmas day is the first of the 12 days of Christmas.                     The Twelfth Night is the end of the Christmas season. In medieval England it was the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve (Halloween).

One of my favorite memories of teaching at Timberline Middle School is of our Christmas assembly where every year the choir sings The Twelve Days of Christmas. It always made me smile.

More on Christmas in the next blog…..

The North London Ward had their Primary Program today. It was delightful watching the children we have got to know in the past year, sing and give their talks and just look so cute. It was a sweet mixture of British and American accents. You could never find a group that sings Scripture Power with such gusto! It was a beautiful program.


Our love to all and a Merry Christmas!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Random Thoughts


Dear Family and Friends,image

Ken remarked that when he was a young missionary in Scotland back in the 1960’s, the older ladies frequently closed the door in the faces of the young Elders. Now, he said, older ladies are coming to us to have help with their family history. And it isn’t just older ladies, it’s men and women of all ages.

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 imagehe 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.

Ken helped a 93 year old lady to find the film of a nonconformist record from Spa Fields Chapel (Clerkenwell : Lady Huntingdon). We found out a little more about this nonconformist group. Selina, the Countess of Huntingdon was a part of the Methodist movement in the 1700’s. She founded a denomination called Countess of Huntingdon’s Connection.

Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, by Unknown artist, circa 1780 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Her portrait is found in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

She was responsible for founding 64 churches and one of those in London was next to her home at at Spa Fields, Clerkenwell.

In English history, after an act by Parliament in 1662, those who didn’t conform to the Church of England (Anglican Church) established by Henry VIII, were called non-conformists. Puritans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists and anyone not Anglican was considered a non-conformists. In our family history work we distinguish between parish records kept by the Anglican church and those of the non-conformists. These were times of great religious intolerance for these people, that often precipitated their migrations to America. The Pilgrims celebrated their new gained religious freedom while the British were probably celebrating the fact that the Pilgrims left as they did not want to conform to the established religion.

A security guard was walking through our area and one of our patrons mistook him for one of us as he was wearing a blazer the color of our blue shirts. The patron asked the guard for some help focusing one of the microfilm readers. The security guard, an Indian gentleman, good naturedly tried to help. I said to him later that we need to hire him. He smiled and said to me, “God bless you”.

A lady at TNA came up to me and complimented me on our blue shirts. She said that Americans always look so well groomed. I said that I really liked how the English school children look in their uniforms. She agreed and then told me about how her son and daughter had attended a public school (in the UK a public school is a private school) and their uniforms had bright pink blazers. She said when the boys played football (soccer) the other teams made fun of their pink jerseys and that toughened them up.

I do love the uniforms. Every morning at Earl’s Court Station there are boys getting on the trains to going to school on the Wimbledon train in their black blazers, grey slacksIMG_2466, sweaters and tartan ties. One morning some of the younger boys were hopping on and off the train and running to other cars. I think they were trying to see how many times they could change cars before the warning sounded that the doors were closing. Sometimes mothers bring their children to the train but more often than not, they are alone- even the younger ones. The children here learn very early how to use public transportation. I love how the children talk. They call their mothers “Mummy” which I think sounds so endearing.

One of the things I love about coming to TNA are the birds who live in the ponds surrounding the building itself. There are swans, Canadian geese, pigeons, gulls and even a heron. We’ve been watching the family of swans for the past 3 months. The parents, of course are white and their 4 offspring (cygnets) started out a buff color. Over the past months the young swans have gradually turned more and more white and last week the parents left them on their own.

image     image




Even thought we are only about a 15 minute bus ride from the Hyde Park Ward, we are assigned to attend meetings at the North London Ward. This trip takes us an hour and a half each way. Most of the senior missionary couple are assigned to wards other than Hyde Park. There we can assist in any way on Sundays. There are many BYU study abroad groups who are also assigned to outlying wards for the time they are here. We just said goodbye to a group of 4 girls we have gotten to know over the past few months. They have all been helping out in Primary and have each been able to speak in church. They are outstanding young women.

Not only do the BYU students have the amazing experience of studying in England but also are able to get to know the members of the church here. We have really enjoyed associating with them.




Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the UK, so for us it was a normal work day. In the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving to commemorate the first harvest of the Pilgrims who came from England and also to give to thanks for the blessings we receive. We spent our Thanksgiving in England working at TNA and instead of turkey for dinner we had pizza. We still gave thanks for our blessings. We are grateful to be able to serve on this family history mission- for the people we work with and those we are able to help. We are thankful for our beautiful family and the support and encouragement they give us.


Megan, Kelly’s baby Riley, Kelly, Molly and Molly’s baby Landon Troy Robins who was blessed today.

Our love to all!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)