Thursday, February 2, 2017

Leaving Cambridge, England

Dear family and friends,

I am sitting in a beautiful home overlooking the stunning area in what is called The Lake District in the Northwest part of England.  This has been a time of reflection and quiet and heartfelt gratitude!

 We left our beloved Cambridge on Monday morning, January 30.  I must say we didn’t leave without shedding tears.  Our past three weeks have been packed full of reaching out to all those we have grown to love as our own kin.  This includes children, YSA’s, adults, members, and non-members alike!  I can’t believe how fast the time has flown!  And I can’t believe how incredibly blessed we have been.  We have felt the Lord’s Hand guiding us in miraculous ways.  People we felt we needed to see were put in our path when the time grew short.

The week prior to our leaving, we scheduled time to meet with our wonderful young single adults who are struggling.  How we love them.  We needed to spend one last time to express our love and let them know that Heavenly Father knows them and loves them!  We needed to say goodbye to our dear friends from the Methodist Church and St. Giles Church.  We needed to say goodbye to our friends we made at the shops and the grocery store.  We were asked to speak in Sacrament meeting on the 22nd of January and at that time shared our testimonies and love of the Gospel and of the people in the Cambridge Ward.  Then began our last week of cleaning the flat.  We wanted to have it spit-spot clean for our new friends, Dwayne and Nancy Westenskow who are the missionaries taking our place.  Brad was a great help.  While I cleaned out cupboards, he washed baseboards, vacuumed and dusted door frames.  Hey, maybe we could start a cleaning service in our old age!!!!  The place sparkled when we left!  We moved into the Arundel Hotel about a quarter of a mile away from our flat at the request of our mission president, so the Westenskows could move right into the flat that now is theirs.  We stayed there from Wednesday night to Monday morning.  The night before we left to pick up the Westenskows we were invited to join Ryan Blank, one of our YSA’s to attend a formal hall at his college to celebrate Burns Night with him.  What better way to leave!!!  This is an annual affair honoring Robert Burns, the Scottish poet.  We had bagpipes, ate haggis, and  listened to words Robbie Burns wrote and heard about his short, but colorful life.  At the end of the evening we all stood to sing Auld Lang Syne!  (I didn’t know he wrote that until then!) 

Thursday morning we had the missionaries take us to the train station and we headed to London to pick up our replacements and have our exit interview with President Stevens!  As soon as I walked into the office and saw the office couples and the AP’s and the Stevens, I burst into tears!  These are fellow travelers we have come to love with all our hearts.  They had prepared lunch, and we were able to share with President Stevens some of our experiences and testimonies of this glorious work!  How we love this amazing man.  We carried the Westenskows luggage onto the train and got a taxi back to the flat at the train station.  They were pretty hammered.  So to keep them awake for a few hours, we took them walking through town centre.  They were immediately smitten!  We went to the bank, showed them key stores they would want to know about, stopped for hot chocolate and then took them to King’s College for Evensong!  What a glorious experience to hear that beautiful music in that iconic chapel!  We walked them home.  I had made a pot of soup and we shared a fun meal!  It hit the spot because it was really cold the day they got here!  For the next two days we oriented them and took them to meet some people.  We fell instantly in love with the Westenskows.  The Lord has sent them here.  They are warm and will be such a strength to the missionary work in Cambridge.  We are leaving the work in great hands!  We are very grateful and relieved that the Lord sent such a stellar couple!!!

Sunday was a day we won’t soon forget!  We met with the Bishopric.  The Westenskows shared beautiful testimonies.  We enjoyed the meetings immensely.  In fact one of our friends, David Arnold came to church to say goodbye.  Brad told him we should have told him we were leaving every week so he would come to church.  He came only a few times, but because we would go to his workplace (He worked as the grocery manager in Bookers, a wholesale store), we developed a genuine friendship with him.  Following the block meetings, the ward had planned a munch and mingle to say good bye to us and to welcome the Westenskows.  Talk about an emotional experience!  The members were so kind.  We were just blown away by their kind words and their goodness toward us.  One of our dear friends we have gotten to know has chosen to be baptized!!!  Tina Nysembi!  We were soooo excited!  Unfortunately, she won’t be baptized until February!  After our YSA Sunday School class, the YSA’s sang the song “God Be With You Til We Meet Again”  Then they asked me to say the closing prayer!!!!! (Friday night we had our last Institute meeting and we had so many of our dear YSA’s come, even the inactive ones.  They presented us with a bound book with a caricature of us and individual letters they had written.  Again, we were so humbled by their kindness to us!)

So, Sunday night, after an emotional day, we both were almost speechless at the amazing thoughtfulness and kindness of all of our dearest friends over the past month.  They have showered us with kind words, lovely gifts, and priceless memories.  We will never forget this past year and an half.  We will forever hold these dear friends love in our hearts.  I can’t thank my Heavenly Father enough for allowing us to have this incredible experience in this part of His vineyard! 

God lives!  He knows us individually!  I feel my life will be forever better for having this choice opportunity!  Jesus is the Christ!  Joseph Smith is the Lord’s foreordained servant in these the latter-days!  Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s living prophet today!  The Savior will come again!  How glorious will be His return!

We love you all,  See you soon!  We are heading off to Scotland tomorrow to see our dear friends, the Tilbrooks, then to Preston to the temple to do some of Chloe’s temple names!!!!!!  Then we meet up with President and Sister Stevens  for dinner the night before we fly home  to Houston on Feb. 10, then fly into SLC on Monday, Feb. 13!!!!!!

Love forever,

Dad and Mom

Grandma and Papa

Elder and Sister Jackman

Monday, January 16, 2017

Coming to the End

Dear family and friends,

Good afternoon!  Sorry I missed last week.  We are on high speed to try and catch up with all members, non-members, friends we want to see and visit with before we leave.  So our diary is filled up with appointments!  We have loved it!

We have finished up with our homeless project assignments, and were able to say good-bye to many dear friends.  This past week we met another friend, Jill there.  We had such a delightful visit and we both felt badly that we didn’t meet each other earlier.

For Christmas, Dave and Julie and family sent us their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and challenged us to give away copies of the Book of Mormon with them.  I want you to know what a miraculous experience that has been.  Our dear friends, the Smiths whom we love so much, who are struggling with their faith, we felt are in such need for the spirit in their lives.  I felt really impressed that we needed to challenge Aimee to sincerely read the Book of Mormon again.  So we stopped by.  We gave her a copy of the General Conference Issue with a specific article marked for her to read, as well as a copy of the Book of Mormon with our testimony in it, Julie’s, testimony, and Lily’s!  The Smiths have a sweet little boy, Max who is coming up on 2 years old, and Aimee is expecting baby #2.  So when we gave her the Book of Mormon with Lily’s testimony in it, she was so excited!  I know I’m going to have a girl, she said, and we love the name Lily!!! (She found out 2 days later that they are going to have a girl!  What they are going to name her is yet to be seen!  I hope it is Lily!!!!)  She was very touched by your testimonies and promised to begin reading it again!

Then we went to visit our friend, Andy, who owns a bike shop in Cambridge.  We took him a Book of Mormon with Dave’s testimony in it.  He was very appreciative as well.  I’m saving Bailey’s and Maddie’s testimonies to give to our neighbors next door!  Thank you for the wonderful testimonies!  We are very grateful.

We’ve had some glorious culinary experiences.  Dear friends invited us to a fabulous pub in a little village about 40 minutes from Cambridge.  It was truly a Hobbit Pub, with short ceilings, a warm fire, window seats, and walls covered with silver, copper, and brass antiques.  Brad had to duck to go from room to room.  The plastered walls and exposed beams added to the charm.  The food was out of this world.  I had lamb kabobs and Brad had cod.  Then this week we were invited by our friends, the Cooks, to go to London to meet up with their daughter, Melissa (who is a chef herself!) to visit Burrough Market!  This is close to Tower Bridge, near The Shard, right next to the River Thames.  It is an open food market that sells every kind of food you can imagine.  We had to sample the pancakes, the Scottish eggs, Ricolette, cream filled donuts.  Yes, Becca, I am signing up for your exercise package when I get home!!!

We’ve met with so many of our YSA’s, many who are struggling and it gives us a chance to share again our testimonies and our love.  We’ve started up our FHE and Institute classes.  A highlight for us was to take Lucy Wedderburn, our new convert, to the London Temple, to do baptisms for the dead!  This was awesome.  The officiators were so kind to her and made her feel so welcome.  She really has a fear of going under the water and said she would only do 5 names.  But after 3 names, she told Brad she would be ok.  She was baptized for 20.  We were very proud of her.  These were names a dear woman brought to the temple that morning.

One last miracle I will share happened early Saturday morning.  We had planned to return to visit an inactive woman in the ward.  We had tried before Christmas, but she wasn’t in and we wanted to come back after the Christmas rush.  She owns and lives in a Restaurant/pub/hotel in a place called Horseheath.  It is very beautiful.  We have never met her and didn’t know how she would respond to our visit.  We went into the pub and she was standing behind the bar.  I said as I reached out my hand, oh, you must be Tracy.  Then we introduced ourselves.  She was absolutely lovely.  She invited us to sit down and talked with us for about a half an hour.  She was raised in a very active LDS home.  Her father was president of just about everything in the church she told us.  When she was about 18, she chose another way and her father has been trying to get her back into the church ever since.  She doesn’t appreciate his constant nagging at her, but she loves her dad and keeps taking the Book of Mormons he keeps giving her.  She told us how she loves the church and all the good it has done for her parents and sisters.  She couldn’t say enough good about the Church.  So we asked, was she offended or why did she leave.  She said, she just made other choices with her life.  We invited her to come back.  She lives with a partner that wouldn’t be sympathetic to the church, so she says she won’t come back.  We testified to her that Heavenly Father loves her and know her and asked if she wanted home or visiting teachers.  She didn’t want any contact from the church, but she wouldn’t have any trouble coming back to church, if she felt the time was right.   Our friend, had been sending her notes every month for over a year, just to let her know that she was cared about.  We explained that to her, but she gratefully declined any future notes.  The interesting thing is that no one we talked to in the ward, Bishop, our note writing friend, had ever met Tracy.  We don’t fault anyone.  There are over 400 names on the membership list, and so many of the names don’t even exist. The miraculous part of this experience was that Tracy made the observation that our visit that morning was not a coincidence.  Her partner was out of town and she didn’t have any pressing issues at that time that we came.  She was very appreciative of the visit. When we asked her if we could do anything for her, she requested that we pray for her sister who was going through a very difficult challenge.  We pray that hopefully something will touch her heart and she will come back!!!

There is so much still to do here in Cambridge!  It seems that we have barely touched the surface!  This mission has changed our lives however.  We have been able to see more than ever, the power that the gospel can have in one’s life, if we just embrace it with our whole heart, might, mind and strength.  We love our Heavenly Father and His Son!  This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  He is at the helm. 

We love you all!  Happy Birthday this month to our little Jordan Jackman on January 20! (Big 1st Birthday!) and our beautiful Amber on January 22!  Also great wishes to Justin and Amber on their wedding anniversary on Jan. 14th!


Love to you all!

Dad and Mom

Papa and Grandma

Elder and Sister Jackman

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year

Dear family and friends,

Happy 2017!!!  What a great number and what a great year!  2016 was such an incredible blessing in our lives, one I will be forever grateful for.  Now that January is here, it has become very real that we are actually going home!  We sat down yesterday to plan out our month to make sure we could schedule time for all the people we have come to know and love these past months.  Our month is very full!  We are really excited for that.

This past week has been a week of downtime pretty much for us.  All of our YSA’s are gone.  We visited so many of our friends last week.  The city of Cambridge is like a ghost town.  We have enjoyed our walks each day because there is very little traffic and it is very quiet and foggy and beautiful!

We did enjoy Boxing Day with our friends, the Haskins.  After Jim and Nita’s delicious meal, we watched the Carols From Kings (performed at King’s College Chapel) on TV.  This concert is well known throughout the country and is televised because it is so hard to get seats in the venue.  The first song the choir sang was Angels We Have Heard On High, the hymn arranged by Mack Wilberg.  Wow!  Were we proud!  Monday night we even splurged and went to see the new Star Wars Movie.  There were about 10 people in the theatre!!

We took the opportunity to go into London on Thursday to take a tour of Kensington Palace.  The day was cold, but beautiful and the palace was lovely.  I bought a couple of books to help me understand the history of the monarchs in this country.  After the tour, we took the tube to Harrods.  Brad is looking for a Wedgewood plate.  This store is beyond belief.  I think everyone in England was there when we got there.  It was a mass of bodies moving in this gazillion square foot store.  We finally found the dish floor.  No Wedgewood plates, but they did have a Wedgewood tea set for £5000.00.  Well, no thanks!  For fun I looked at a glass urn, about 2 ½ feet tall with gold trim.  The price tag was £89,000.00.  The table next to it was also glass and gold trim with a price tag of £189,000.00.  What kind of people would buy this kind of stuff?  We did walk through the children’s clothing section and I couldn’t see any price tags on the clothing.  I figured that people who buy kids clothes in Harrods are so wealthy, they don’t care what the price is.  We were anxious to get out of the store because it was so crowded.  We were both blown away by this place!  No, we didn't buy anything.  We just felt pretty posh, just to breathe the expensive air in this amazing place!

We were excited that we were able to connect on Friday with Hazel Price and her son David. (She was taught the gospel by my parents and is a dear friend.)  We had a lovely meal and visit.  We talked to David about the church and offered him a Book of Mormon, but he didn’t want one.  We also tried to see Pat Knight, but she wasn’t home.

We were able to clean the Methodist Church for the homeless project, which is always fun to work with our Anglican friends.  I was invited to attend the Nutcracker Ballet in Cambridge with Gosia Hutber, her mum and daughter, and we spent New Year’s Eve with the Hutbers, our dear friends.  We were also invited to dinner by some other dear friends in the ward, the Scammels and Lucy Wedderburn.  Like I said, we had quite a  holiday this week!  We have started organizing closets and cupboards to get the place ready for the Westenskows.  I wish we could paint it, but then it would lose some of its British charm!

We love you all!  Our time is short, so we hope we can get everything done we have planned!!!  Just to let you know, we will be leaving Cambridge on January 30.  We are spending a few days in the Lake District, and then heading to Scotland to see our dear friends, the Tilbrooks and stay in their hotel.  We will fly into Houston, Texas on February 10, and then arrive in SLC on Feb. 13.  We will be speaking in our ward in Orem on Sunday, 19 February at 1:00 p.m.  We would love to see you there!!!

The church is true!  We have had an incredible experience sharing our testimonies in a way I could never comprehend.  This has been a journey of incredible growth, joy, and increased love for our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, as well as our family and friends.

With all our love,

Dad and Mom

Papa and Grandma

Elder and Sister Jackman