Dear family and friends,
It has been a wonderful week for us!! We have done some really fun things this week which make us appreciate British life very much!
We were able to attend an outdoor rendition of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. It is good I took a warm blanket, but the play was one of the best I’ve seen of this production. All of the characters were either double or triple cast which was hilarious! We went with our YSA’s, about 31 of us!!! What a blast to be with our dear friends. We told them to bring snacks or treats if they wanted. One of them brought a layered chocolate cake!!! It even got consumed in a quick hurry!
On Friday, we had an experience of a lifetime! We were invited by one of our YSA’s, Sam Dearden, to attend his graduation from Queen’s College as a Master of Philosophy. He had two extra tickets and we were so honored that he would invite us with his mom to attend! All the attendees had to be in their seats 45 minutes before the graduation ceremony. There was no pomp and circumstance music, or applause, or picture taking in the Senate Building. We all entered quietly and were ushered to our seats by men in tails and top hats (some of them). The seats were a plank of wood with no backs which lined the big room. The graduates paraded down the street in front of King College. (But because we had to be seated we were not able to see them parade down the street!) They entered the building and stood in line during the whole ceremony. (That’s one way to shorten a graduation!!!) It lasted about 50 minutes. The important people entered and some carried in a silver candle-stick like torch about 5 feet tall. The most important person, either a master of mistress of the college entered with a red and white fur robe and bowed to all the people with the torches. It was very somber, sophisticated and regal! One of the men gave some instructions on etiquette during the ceremony. Then he started reading in Latin! As the graduates proceeded toward the mistress who was seated in a throne-like chair, they were announced in Latin, their names were read and they went forward, and kneeled before her and she clasped their hands and said something in Latin to each. Sam told us later that she basically said she proclaimed them graduates. The graduates had the choice to have her proclaim it in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. After the proclamation, the graduates stood up and bowed to the mistress. There probably were 80 graduates and it really went quite quickly. However, when they got toward the end, one of the graduates almost went down. She must have been locking her knees and so they had her sit down and then one of the distinquished gentlemen ushers helped her to the mistress and escorted her out. It was really tender. So after the graduates were all escorted out of the building after they were presented, all the important people bowed to all the other important people and left the building. We then were escorted out and met up with the graduates outside. It was really a cool experience. We were so proud of Sam. What an accomplishment for this outstanding young man!
After the graduation, we were walking down the street in front of King’s College, when a woman called out, Elder and Sister! We turned around and were met by Clayton and Christine Christensen. He is a professor at Harvard University, has written books on business as well as missionary work. They were in Cambridge to participate in a wedding of a former student of his at Harvard. We have never met these wonderful people, but in the short time we spent with them, we feel like they are life-long friends. We were able to take them to church with us. What a tender mercy for us because before we left them at their hotel, Brother Christensen asked Brad if there is anything he could do for us. We have some dear friends, the Budds! Their son, David, has graduated from Oxford and has gotten a master’s degree from a London University, and is looking to get a PHD possibly at Harvard, but needs some work/intern experience first. So David has come to us asking if there is any suggestions Brad could give him. What a miracle to suddenly meet an incredible Harvard professor who would do anything to help a young man succeed! I can’t tell you how touched we both were to just happen to meet this wonderful couple in the middle of a very busy city center street in Cambridge, UK!
Saturday, Brad and I spent an incredible day with some other dear friends, the Haskins! They wanted to show us some real UK country villages. We were blown away! We headed to a village called Lavenham, where the city center was a row of crooked houses. You know the poem: There was a crooked man, And he walked a crooked mile, He found a crooked sixpence, upon a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, who caught a crooked mouse and they all lived together in a crooked little house!!! Well we stopped in this little crooked house and it was set up for tea!!!! Our friends had their coffee, Brad had a mineral water, and I had elderflower juice! (this is incredible, by the way!!!!) We went into some of the little shops—a lot of beam and plaster ceilings, crooked and slanted floors, short entryways! I felt as if we had gone back into time to about the 1400’s! (actually, most of these buildings were built then!!!). We then passed through other little villages Kersey, Hadleigh, and ended up in Flatford, a gorgeous country where the artist John Constable painted his English countryside pictures. The day was warm and clear and absolutely beautiful. People were having picnics on the grassy slopes of the River Stour, rowing up and down the river, and walking on footpaths which meandered through the countryside. I WILL be going back to do some meandering of my own!!!! We had some lovely lunch, and wandered around a beautiful church before heading home. The best way I can describe the day is mesmerizing! I was so overwhelmed with the calm, the beauty, and the peacefulness of this magnificent country!
Needless to say, we have had a wonderful week! We appreciate our study time everyday and our exercise time each day to walk around this lovely place. We have met some wonderful new friends this week, and each day feel more and more connected to the people here! We were able to talk with our friend Ank this week. She is the Vicar of the Anglican Church down the street. We have become good friends. We asked her about her vicarage and how many people they have. She said, 15,000 in this area. How many would you say attend Sunday services each week. She said, maybe 30 to 50 people! It made me feel so sad! How empty life would be without God in our lives. I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is what fulfills and completes us! Perhaps this is what I have felt most of all from this mission—how much I have grown in appreciation for a loving Heavenly Father, and His Beloved Son, and the gift of the Holy Ghost in our lives. We are truly blessed!!!
We love you all!!! Happy Birthday to our big 4 year old Tucker Royal Jackman on July 19th. How we love you Tucker! You are so precious to us!! Have a wonderful day! Also, Happy Anniversary on July 18th to Scott and Sherri on 2 wonderful years of marriage!!!! We are so grateful that you two discovered each other! What a blessing you both are to our family! Also Happy Anniversary to Dad and Mom Glauser on July 23rd. If I do my math right this is #64! Wow! That is fantastic! What a miracle your lives together have been! We are sooo grateful you two got married, and what a posterity! We love you both dearly!
With all our love,Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Brad and Vicki
(I'll send pictures later!)