Dear Family and Friends,
It has been cold in London this week! We are used to cold weather in winter but because we are outdoors so much it seems colder here. We had our first snow since we’ve been in London on Saturday night. Here are some pictures.
The street out in the front of our flat:
Our front entrance:
Leaving for church Sunday morning:
Thank goodness for scarves, hats and warm coats.
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.
Back to School
We were able to visit a school on Monday. A friend of ours in the North London Ward teaches science at a local school and invited us to visit.
In England the school system is organized into years which we call grades. Primary school begins at age 5 and has years 1-6. Secondary School begins at age 11 and has years 7-11. Next is a final, optional, 2 years of preparation called the sixth form. It is during this time that students prepare for their A-level exams. We often see student groups and their teachers who visit The National Archives. They are most often sixth form and unlike the primary and secondary students they don’t wear school uniforms.
State schools, which we in the US call public schools, are mostly funded and overseen by the government. They are free to all children ages 5-16. Approximately 93% of students attend these state schools. Public schools, which we call private in the US, are not funded by the government and have tuition fees.
The school we visited is a state secondary girl’s school. It is very diverse in ethnicity and 78% of the students speak a different language at home. The enrollment is about 900 students with class sizes of about 25. Our class sizes in Utah are larger.
The girls looked very nice in their school uniforms with gray pants or skirts and sweaters. We sat in on an integrated science class that our friend teaches for year 11. They were doing a review activity in preparation for an exam and the girls themselves were presenting information in power points. It was fun to observe because I taught many of the same things. The girls were very focused and we could tell that our friend is a great teacher. He is also the head of that year. We then visited the classroom of a teacher who was teaching Bengali to second and third generation Bangladeshi students. The school teaches several languages including Bengali, Italian, French, German and Turkish. Forty eight languages are spoken in the school. This reflects the diversity of London itself.
It felt good to be back in a school. I will always miss being a teacher- the students, faculty and just the educational environment- those were wonderful years!
Yet another exciting week of our mission passes by and again we love our mission and are still smiling.
Our best to all of you!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)