Last week was Sister Hess's last week here. On Sunday we heard that Elder Ballard 'may' stop by London and meet with all the missionaries. We instructed our missionaries to wait for further instructions and not do their normal p-day activities. Sister Hess and I planned a trip with the temple missionaries, but decided we would go to London instead. This way, as soon as we heard about whether or not Elder Ballard would come, we would go to Hyde Park Chapel and meet with the others. There is so much to see and do in London. After being here 18 months, sister Hess still has not seen it all.
We went to St. Paul's cathedral in the morning. The picture below shows the outside of the cathedral:
The entrance fee is too much, but luckily as 'ministers of religion' we got in for free! We were not allowed to take pictures inside the cathedral but it was so beautiful inside. We saw people way up high in the dome, looking down at the church. It said we only had to climb about 200 steps to go up there, so we decided to do it..We were so tired when we got up there.
The view was nice from the top looking down at this magnificent church. You can see that in the below picture. You can see the rail where we climbed the first time and the view we saw from the top.
As I looked up, I saw another place, even higher up in the dome with some rail and saw some people up there (you can see the other rail in the picture over the windows). I saw a sign that said 119 steps to the top. Sister Hess said she was too tired, but said she would wait for me if I wanted to go. Well, after climbing 200 steps, 119 did not seem bad. So, I headed up. I thought I was going to die on the way. Finally, I saw the end...But, it was not inside the church, it was on the outside of the dome. It was surrounded by poles that you could not even see the view very well. Then I saw another sign '159 steps to the top of the dome'. So, I thought: "Did I come 119 steps for nothing? I want to go to the top to look down at the church from the inside, I should just do it!"
So, I went up...and by then I was really high up that I could hardly breathe. I really thought I would pass out...I stopped to rest and saw a sign 'defibrillator', no surprise they have it up there. I told the lady that was climbing with me: "they are trying to kill us!" She agreed.
Anyway, I finally made it to 'the end'....But, yet AGAIN, it was outside of the dome, not inside. It was a really nice view from the outside, really high over London. But, it was NOT worth me climbing almost 300 steps to see it! I didn't dare look for another sign that said....X steps to the top. I took a few pictures, then crawled down the stairs. Here are a couple of pictures I took from the top:
When I finally made it down, Sister Hess was sitting there resting; she smiled and said: "The guy told me you can't climb up to that place!" Ya, it only took me 278 steps to find that out! He could have told me BEFORE I went up.
After St. Paul's we went to the Tower of London and saw the old castle and the crown jewels. It was nice, but I was so tired that I did not enjoy it that much. Below is a picture from the castle of the bridge and the river:
We got a message that said Elder Ballard will come, so we headed to Hyde park. He was delayed in arriving and was meeting with the London Mission Missionaries when we got there. He finally decided we should all meet together. We were able to get 6 zones from our mission up there and the London mission had all their missionaries there. We had therefore over 350 missionaries in that chapel. It was remarkable. Elder Ballard spoke to us about the sacrifices the early members of the church had to go through. He reminded us how precious our message is and how we have to cut through the evils of the world and touch the hearts of the people. As the 350 missionaries sang 'Called to Serve' it was a tremendous spirit in that room. What an amazing feeling to have an apostle of God come to speak to you.
Sister Hess left on Friday. I am going to move into her apartment as it is a little bigger than mine. Yes, it requires moving, but it is next door so it should not be bad. My new companion, Sister Cates, is really nice. She has been trying to learn what is required of her. It has been overwhelming for her, but she will get the hang of it soon I think. (She's on my left in the below picture)
We went to the Thai restaurant in town with everyone as a farewell to sister Hess. The pineapple rice was interesting. I had to take a picture as it came in a pineapple shell:
And after that big Thai dinner, we had a farewell party with the visitors' center people. We had banana splits...
The below picture is in the mission office with sister Pilgrim and sister King: