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!!!!!!
Dad and Mom
Grandma and Papa
Elder and Sister Jackman