Monday, June 6, 2016

Dearest family and friends,

This blog post will have to do for two weeks!  We had a glorious time this past week with our children. Scott and Sherri and their girls, Chloe, Carlee and Jaylee were here with us and it was magnificent.  They were able to stay in our home and then we spent a couple of days in London with them.  It is an adventure I won’t soon forget and I think they all had a memorable time as well.  I’ll share some highlights from our week!

They arrived on Thursday, 26 May, 2016 at Gatwick Airport near London. We had rented a 7 passenger van, so we could get around with everyone.  We picked them up at the airport and on the way home stopped by the London Temple for a tour around the gardens and some pictures.  They brought the nice sunny weather with them which we enjoyed for a few days!  We were planning on them meeting President Johnson, the temple president, but he was in meetings.  With traffic it took us a while to get to Cambridge!  We picked up some pizza and headed to Littleport, a  nearby village to visit the Tilbrooks.  They are moving to Scotland and we wanted to bring them dinner and host a family home evening for them.  We thought this would be a great missionary opportunity for the kids, and it was!!!  Though the Tilbrooks are in the middle of great chaos as is the case when one moves, they were so welcoming to have us come.  This being the Tilbrooks first FHE, it really was a tender experience.  We had an opening song and Chloe gave us lesson.  She shared with us her 13 year old life experiences of diabetes, dealing with divorce, a new family, and moving to a new home.  She shared that even with these challenges, she felt the peace of the gospel and Heavenly Father strengthen her to learn and grow from these challenges/opportunities.  We shared feelings of gratitude and love for each other.  Tears were freely shed as we said our good-byes to our dear eternal friends, the Tilbrooks.  We told Andrew, that he is to let us know when he gets baptized, and we want to be there!!!  Feelings of love are deep and Scott and Sherri felt a sweet love for this wonderful family in just the short time we were there. (Scott and Brad did go back on Saturday afternoon to help Andrew load up a truck for another trip to Scotland!)  We’ll get to see Andrew again next week as they have one more load to take and I can help with any last minute cleaning.  But we won’t see Gail again for a while.  They truly have penetrated our hearts with love forever!!!  Hey, if anyone is planning a trip to Scotland, we now know of a great place to stay, as they are buying a hotel near Lochness!!!

For two more days, we spent walking around our beloved Cambridge!  We enjoyed an afternoon tea in the Grandchester Orchards with scones and hot chocolate, walked down the college backs, through the country, and experienced the city centre.  We saw the shops, tasted the fudge, found Harry Potter memorabilia, met friends, ate a “proper burger”, and tried on hats!  We just enjoyed being together.  Sunday morning, Scott and Sherri headed to Paris for 2 days and the girls stayed with us.  We proudly introduced them in church, ate, played games, did more walking, grocery shopping, and took them punting!  (Our next door neighbor, Neil Steed, is an avid punter and took us on the river tour on Monday!!!)

Tuesday, in a torrent of rain, we headed for London on the train with the girls.  We met up at the train station with Scott and Sherri, who by the way had a fabulous time in France, fulfilling a lifelong dream for Sherri of getting a dipped kiss from her honey at the Eiffel Tower!  She’ll have to share her pictures!

With suitcases in tow, we boarded the tubes (the subway) and set out to find our flat we had rented for the time in London.  When we got there, we found out that the boiler was broken and we were not able to stay in that place while in London—a traveler’s nightmare!  So here we were, 7 of us, in downtown London with no place to stay.  We spent the rest of the day trying to sort out the problem.  Luckily, we found a lovely hotel a block down the street that had rooms for us to rent! Despite the worry and concern, we were blessed to find a place and enjoy the rest of our trip!   That night even though it was raining, the kids wanted to see some of London, so we headed to Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye.  Even in the rain, it was magnificent.  There is something to be said about seeing sights that you’ve only seen in pictures.  It was so fun to see how excited all the family was to see London! The next day we awoke early and going by tube, rail and bus, we arrived at the Warner Brother’s Studio where the Harry Potter films were created!  This was Chloe’s favorite place!  It was really a fun place to see!   We saw the small but complete Hogwarts School of Wizardry, thousands of props, all of the sets, the costumes, and learned the secrets of the film magic in producing Harry Potter. We got back in time to rest a little while and then headed to see the acclaimed Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre!  As tired as the girls were, they were mesmerized, as were we all!

Thursday, Brad and I headed back to Cambridge to prepare for institute and get back into our missionary routine.  All day long all I could think of was that my kids were an hour away from me and I wasn’t with them.  That was a hard day for me!  But I was excited that they could take the London bus tour, see Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, and the sights in between.  They even got their meal of fish and chips!  They then left back to America the next day and arrived home in the wee Saturday morning hours!

Will we be able to focus on missionary work now?  Yes, we have a new motivation—to work as hard as we can!  We’ve been gone 9 months now and seeing the family, although the girls look a little older and have gotten a bit taller, it was as if we haven’t even been away!  All the love, the interest, the chatting and listening hasn’t even changed at all.  We loved the late night chats on our bed with Scott and Sherri!  We loved the hugs, the games and the laughter, and the genuine caring with them all!  Family is eternal!

Thank you for coming Scott and Sherri, Chloe, Carlee and Jaylee.  Of course we missed little Greydon!  Our love only gets stronger with each passing day!

Happy Birthday to Justin and Keaton on May 29th!!!  We love you wonderful men in our lives!

Have a wonderful week!  My challenge for you this week is to read Elder M. Russell Ballard’s conference talk on family councils!  Here is a message from a prophet, seer, and revelator, on how to protect and preserve our families!  They are the most important things we have in this life!  You are our everything!!!!  We love you forever!

Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma

meeting our kids at Gatwick airport!!!  They looked BEAUTIFUL!!

stop off at London Temple

our beautiful girls

how many bodies can you fit in one British phone booth?

a street in downtown Cambridge

our afternoon tea in Grandchester Orchards

cemetery at Trumpington Church (where Brad got did one of his large brass rubbings)

man's search for happiness--we have found it!!!!

time with the girls is not complete without a game of telestrations

on Sherri's bucket list!!!!

nothing like punting down the Cam River--Jaylee is under the blanket--typical spring like weather in Cambridge, UK

the ladies are ready for Ascott!!!

Diagon Alley

The rain didn't stop us!!!

Hogwarts School of Wizardry

train to Hogwarts

more hats--the mother's of the brides wear them to weddings here!

trying to get on the Hogwarts express


riding the tube!  Mind the Gap!

sharing our FHE with the girls and our YSA's

waiting in the lobby of the place we were supposed to be staying!

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