Joyful Welcome Home


Our family waiting for us to arrive.




My dear Mom!



Meeting our dear grand-daughters Claire and Capri, so sweet!


Together again!

Then we were off to the Cracker Barrel restaurant, not too far from the airport, to be together and eat and share our joy!


Scott drove us home with our luggage. The rest of the family planned to meet us later at seven for our release with our stake president. We were amazed, on the rainy way home, at all the new buildings and changes.


Our crabapple tree greeted us in full bloom!




Our grandson Jackson’s welcome home sign for us!

As we walked into the kitchen, we looked beyond to our dining room and it was different! There was a set of doors where a window had been. Rachel’s surprise sign gave us a clue!



We opened the door and there, huddled under the umbrella in the pouring rain, was our dear family, yelling out, “Surprise!”



They all stood on the brand new deck they had built together as a surprise to us!



What an overwhelming feeling of love and amazement at this awesome gift!


Basking in all that love prepared us for the sweet interview with our stake president, President Ouderkirk. Many of our family, all dressed up, met us at the stake center. Four of them had been released in that same office from their missions. We were invited to share our testimonies and we heard great counsel and there was an amazing feeling of the spirit and gratitude for the sweet privilege of serving. Jackson was there too and we could imagine him being our next missionary! ‘Can’t help but add a few photos from the next few glorious days together!


Time to share and talk at Matt and Julianne’s home.


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Some honorary English chaps!



Our five darling grandchildren!



Sweet time at our new Provo City Center Temple.




What an awesome mission, 18 amazing months, with all the wonderful people of England that we love! How right to be home again with our family, who have welcomed us with so much love! Pretty overwhelming blessings! Cheerio!


Last Hours in England (for now)

After so many sweet good-byes with our Stroud ward friends, our community choir friends, our dear cousins Roy and Libby, our stake friends, including the Haws and Retallicks, the missionaries in our ward, district and zone, (all too painful and sweet to photograph) we finished our packing and left Stroud on Wednesday afternoon. We had the wonderful privilege of meeting Elder and Sister Walk, who are the new missionary couple serving in Stroud–kinda like passing the baton! They are wonderful, experienced, awesome people! We are excited for Stroud and for them!

The new traditional mission first photo in England is the cornerstone shot pictured below. It is reminiscent of Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball and other members of the Twelve who gathered at Far West at the cornerstones of the temple before leaving on their mission to England on April 18, 1839.


Elder and Sister Walk, our new Stroud missionaries!


Stroud missionaries, going and coming.


President and Sister Leppard, England Birmingham Mission President and amazing wife.


Elder and Sister Burt, our mission office couple, who serve with dedication and talent!


President Leppard gave us our departing interview, full of counsel, wisdom, appreciation and kindness and then he and his wife took us out to a yummy, delicious relaxed dinner. We had such a fun time talking and sharing! That was so kind of them to take so much time with us! President Leppard helped us weigh and load up our luggage and then he drove us to our hotel by the airport–kind service by a busy man! We are so grateful for our time to learn from and be led by our inspired mission president and his wife. They are wonderful faithful leaders!

We had about 5 hours of sleep and then woke up early to check in at 4 am for our 6 am flight to Amsterdam, then a direct flight to Salt Lake City. So amazing to feel everything happening so quickly! Homecoming on the next post! Cheerio!

Stroud Ward Talent Night

On Friday we enjoyed our Stroud Ward Talent Night. ‘So fun to see young and old share their talents and time and have such a fun evening!


Anabella M.


Elder L and Elijah R with their yo-yo demonstration.


Our Bishop’s wife Ceriss.


My piano student, Sarah H.



Stroud Community Choir (without those away  with the spring holiday) led by Joe P.


Paul, from our community choir, impromptu poetry .



Our going-away cake, so thoughtfully made!


Jacqui, Mike and our Bishop and lots of yummy treats!


David M. “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”


Artwork and hand carved and painted wooden birds by Ian C.


Paintings by Brenda S.


Our friend Evelyn H’s shepherd painting.



Katie H’s artwork.

What a wonderful evening sharing talents and food and fun! It was such a treat to have friends from our Community Choir and our ward friends mix and enjoy each other. As one shared that night, “We have so much in common!” It was a celebration of talent and friendship!


Easter Oratorio

From January to Easter, our stake choir was busy preparing for the world premiere of the Easter Oratorio, “Jesus, the Christ”, composed by our Stroud Ward’s talented David Markham. What a great opportunity to think more about the Savior’s last days, and especially about His atonement, sacrifice and resurrection.


The rehearsal we sat back and away, so we wouldn’t give everyone our colds.


There was alot of opposition leading up to the performance, mostly sickness including one that really hit the voice box. Two days before, I woke up and had no voice–the first time in my life–which I’m sure was a trial to Gene. 🙂


Here is Joe P. warming us up for the performance that night.






Then the next week, we had a recording session, a fun opportunity to sing with our stake and ward friends, without our colds. 🙂


Awesome experience! Cheerio!


Moorend Cross

Bernard and Val, our friends from Malvern, just a few miles from Roy and Libby, invited us to lunch at the Singing Kettle restaurant in the Malvern Hills, overlooking Herefordshire. We had some time to take one last jaunt through the countryside and make a stop at the Mathon church where my ancestor Thomas Jenkins was christened.DSCF0025.JPGDSCF0026.JPGDSCF0027.JPG


Amazing to stand by a tree that Thomas passed by many times! It is at least 700 years old–proof  next photo! 🙂




Thomas Jenkin’s christening spot, 1780.



Gene especially enjoyed this reference to Melchizedek. ‘Fun to think of young Thomas looking at this window through the years, and then later holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, restored to the earth with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.



F. Pryce, who probably christened Thomas.

We drove a short distance to the hamlet of Moorend Cross in the Mathon parish, where Thomas and his family lived. There are only about ten homes in this hamlet. Wilford Woodruff wrote about the many times he visited, taught and stayed at the home of Thomas Jenkins at Moorend Cross. At one point Wilford Woodruff and Brigham Young stayed there for almost a week, both with colds. At first we thought this home might be a possibility of Thomas’ home.



The cross part of Moorend Cross is two roads intersecting at this point.

Bernard, Val and Gene were so patient with me getting out and exploring a little. A lady from the home across the intersection saw me snooping around and asked if we were lost. I explained what we were looking for and she said there had been two cottages where her present 1900-built home is. She mentioned that she had a drawing of it and went inside to bring it out to show us.


One clue might be the thatched roof. Thomas was a thatcher.


Bernard pulled up into their driveway and we all had a pleasant conversation with the lady and her husband and visiting niece and nephew. The man mentioned that there was a pile of stone in a spot closer to the road that he thinks might have been part of one of those cottages. Everyone might have thought I was a bit daft, but I got a photo of it anyway!


We enjoyed visiting with these kind people! We talked about Thomas Jenkins moving from here to America in 1840 and we mentioned that we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Leaning on the gate, the man asked, “What would have taken them from here so far away to America?” I blurted out, “The awesome church!” Bernard added that 1800 people from around this area joined the church and left for America at that time. In one village, 25% left their homes and joined the Mormons. (Bernard is writing a book about Wilford Woodruff and his travels in 1840, and about the converts.) There was a nice feeling as we shared for those few minutes. Kind people to take time with us!


I have some work to do to see if this is the spot where Thomas lived and hosted the apostles and left for America. If not here, it was very close! ‘Lovely way to spend our last moments in Herefordshire (until we return for a visit in 2018!).  We appreciate so much the kind friendship of Bernard and Val. Dear friends! Cheerio!

St. Leonard’s Church

We had such a lovely day last week visiting with Roy and Libby, our English cousins. They shared with us a wonderful tour of the church where they were married 29 years ago, St. Leonard’s, of the Church of England. It’s just a short distance from their home in Newland in the Malvern area of Worcestershire. What a beautiful place!DSCF0011.JPG


What an amazing breathtaking surprise we had when we went inside! Beautiful frescoes by Clayton & Bell covered every surface in the chapel with color and ornate touches! We met our archivist tour guide, Colin B. and learned so much about the history. It was so fascinating to see! For preservation purposes, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, but here are some from the website,  ( )


Lovely depictions of the Beatitudes, parables, miracles, healing, works of mercy, and stories from the Savior’s life.


Latin: Beati qui esuriunt et sitiunt iustitiam = Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice


Speaking of Bible stories, at one point in the tour, our guide Colin asked about our work as missionaries. When we mentioned the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, he was so excited to tell us how much he enjoys the Bible Videos produced by our church, what great quality, yet simplicity and trueness to the King James Bible and no pontificating. He even commented on the accents being good, except for a few minor actors that had a touch of our American twang. 🙂 He told us to tell our church that his Anglican Church uses the Bible Videos often. Recently, they were used every week at the Lent groups preceding Easter Sunday.


The photo below shows how at one point in the chapel’s history one of the vicars had the bottom area painted over in a dark green-blue paint. This area is now in the process of being restored by a painter that walked in as we stood there. It was fun to hear about the process.


Our guide took us to some other areas, including the library. Gene itched to donate a Book of Mormon to complete his library! 🙂


Connected to the church is a whole complex of almshouses, with the purpose of helping the poor and elderly, housing 48 residents.


‘Such a fascinating tour! We went back to Roy and Libby’s and watched a video of their wedding there at the church 29 years ago, had a delicious lunch and wonderful conversation, as always. It was hard to leave them–we’ve had so many happy, sweet memories this last year knowing them! They are dear family to us! We will miss them! Our best comfort was knowing that they will be visiting us this fall, and we will be keeping in touch, in true cousin fashion!



Grandpa George’s Castle

When I was a young girl I loved reading about our fascinating ancestors. When I read the following lines about my great great grandpa George Craner (1829-1904) my curiosity was piqued:

“As a child, George worked very hard on a farm… Most of the cultivation and planting of crops was done by hand. The plowing was done with a one-way plow; one horse and man to guide the plow. George’s parents did not think it was necessary for their children to receive an education through the schools, but believed in hard work and experience. They secured a job for him following a plow, filling a position known as a “Clod-Hopper.” However, there was a lady living in the same community where George was who took a special liking to him, and she paid for him to have a three-year course under a private tutor. That was the only formal schooling he received. When George finished this education, he worked at a castle in England at what was called “Gentlemen’s Service.” It was his duty to see that the tables were in the best of order at any time during the day when his master wanted to eat. He had to shine the silver and glassware. At this job he earned and saved enough money to bring him to the United States.”

Ever since reading this so many years ago, I have dreamed of finding that castle and visiting it! That dream came true on Tuesday, when we went to the Maxstoke Castle owned by Mr. Fetherston-Dilke, who was so kind to let us come, as we had missed the one day a year that it is open to the public. It took a little work to find a possible time, but it was worth it! A few months ago we found out that our good friend Tony T. also has family roots in Maxstoke, so he joined us us for this adventure!  The castle dates back to the 1400’s, still has a moat surrounding the castle and has lots of history in addition to being the workplace of George!


George Craner


Here are some engravings of the castle closer to the time of Grandpa George:

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And this is the view of the castle as we drove from the road this last Tuesday.



We drove through the gatehouse into this courtyard, pulled the bell cord–see the Staffordshire knot to the left, and Mr. Fetherston-Dilke greeted us! (We took this photo at the end of our tour.)DSCF0011.JPG


We went inside this tunnel to a door that opened to some really steep spiral sandstone stairs up to the top, where we could see views all around the castle property.



Looking down to the courtyard from the tower.


Then he took us on a tour of part of the inside. We went through a long hall to a comfortable gathering spot and went up the stairs to the Banqueting Hall. I was itching to take pictures, but remembered that in the pamphlet it has specified that there was no photography allowed inside. I asked him about it and he said that was true, so I’ve included some photos from the pamphlet. In this room, the Banqueting Hall, there were many of portraits of family through the centuries, armour, swords and items from the 1600s. To the right is a 22 foot long oak Elizabethan shuffleboard made from 2 single lengths of oak. Above the fireplace is inscribed the family motto based on Proverbs 26:20 (valuing peace over strife). I loved the thought that George walked these halls and worked in these rooms and laid the tables in silver and glassware that he polished, that by his hard work here he earned his passage to America.

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We then walked through the whispering door…….

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….into the Oak Drawing Room, with its amazing carved wooden fireplace…

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Gene and Mr. Fetherston-Dilke were so engrossed in conversation we didn’t want to interrupt them for these photos!


What a lovely experience!  Then we stopped at some more sites in Maxstoke:


The Castle Farm House, where Tony’s Arnold relatives lived, next to the castle.


Lane named after Tony’s family.


Maxstoke Farmhouse where more of Tony’s Arnolds lived.


Skye Cottage, where Brigham Young stayed when he preached here in the early 1840s.



Darling, petite, Sylvia Hartop, owner of Skye cottage, who greeted us so warmly….


……and wanted us to sign her guest book!

When we mentioned to Sylvia that we had just toured the Maxstoke Castle, she said that was interesting because the Dilke family were the ones who asked Brigham Young to leave the village because his success was causing problems for the local church. Ironic and lovely that a Dilke descendant was so kind to welcome LDS missionaries a century and a half later. It also made me feel added admiration for George who joined the church as a 16 year old on New Year’s Day, 1846, which perhaps took courage with the opposition about. It would be fun to know how those next 5 years went, working at the castle, as a new convert, until he sailed for America  at the age of 21.


Kindred spirits!

Lovely day with the kind gentry and sweet lady of Maxstoke, our dear friend Tony and my sweet companion Gene!   Cheerio!





Provo City Center Temple

Though we are 4700 miles away, we have been very much connected and aware of THE event of the century in our home town and valley–the new Provo City Center Temple open house these last few months, the cultural celebration yesterday and the sacred dedication today!

My Mom sent this “virtual tour of the temple” which we’ve watched and shared many times. It tells the unique story of how our beloved Tabernacle, so much a part of our lives for the last 37 years, caught fire, and then was rebuilt into a beautiful temple. We love how it has so much detail about the temple, its unique features, symbolism, craftsmanship….


Our stake president sent a link so we could watch Saturday’s Cultural Celebration live in the BYU Marriott Center. It was so worth staying up to watch it from 1 to 2:30 am! Here are some photos from it. ‘So fun to see the mix of film (about the history, heritage and personal connections) and thousands of youth participating in dance and song. The theme was so moving, from Isaiah 61:3, a prophecy that the Savior Jesus Christ will “give unto them beauty for ashes,” fulfilled with our temple and in our personal lives as we turn to Him.




Youth representing the pioneer heritage of Provo.



I loved this part in the finale, with all those beautiful wholesome young women dressed in temple white!

Finally, here are some photos of the temple, inside and outside, to represent for me our connection to this holy temple on this wonderful dedication day!






Gadfield Elm Twice Blessed

How could we be so lucky to get to be at Gadfield Elm twice this week, first with our district of missionaries at a preparation day tour and barbecue, and second yesterday with the Senior missionaries throughout our mission and our Mission Presidency and spouses!DSCF0009.JPGDSCF0013.JPGDSCF0014.JPGDSCF0017.JPGDSCF0018.JPGDSCF0019.JPGDSCF0023.JPGDSCF0026.JPGDSCF0027.JPG

What a sweet, rare opportunity to be with our fellow senior missionary couples for a few hours yesterday. Several drove over two hours to come! We met first at Gadfield Elm and enjoyed a conference together, Bernard and Val’s presentation, President Gardiner’s talk, President and Sister Leppard’s counsel. DSCF0001.JPGDSCF0003.JPGDSCF0004.JPGDSCF0005.JPGDSCF0006.JPG

Off to lunch at a nearby restaurant!


A short drive to the Hill Farm, with Benbow’s Pond where Wilford Woodruff baptized many, including my ancestor Thomas Jenkins.DSCF0014.JPGDSCF0015.JPGDSCF0017.JPGDSCF0018.JPG

Last stop to Castle Frome Church to warm up inside and have a short presentation about Thomas Jenkins to a sweet attentive encouraging group!


What wonderful historic places! So fun to share the spirit of them with these two great groups of missionaries, young and a little less-young!              Cheerio!


Zone Conference, Local Culture, Cousins

Such a busy time, with a variety of experiences! We loved our Zone Conference, where we were taught and inspired! We love our leaders and fellow missionaries!DSCF0002.JPGDSCF0001.JPG

Our good friend Mike K. has talked about a local play he helped write, produce and add his technological talents. After we showed interest in going to it, he let us come to see it. It was performed in a church hall of a small village near here. We had fun visiting with the people at our table, and sharing a bit of village culture!DSCF0022.JPG



Mike, our friend we first met in the car park for our flats, and over the months we’ve shared many great conversations coming and going. Really amazing sense of humor!


Not your typical Utah refreshments–we brought out our water bottles a little later. 🙂


To our surprise, one of the characters looked familiar to us……a fellow alto Erika in our community choir–a very talented miss (without her older lady wig)!!



Co-writers and producers!

Lastly, we had a lovely visit with our cousins at Roy and Libby’s home in Malvern. We had a lovely lunch together and shared memories of ancestors, homes, memories…… ‘So fun to be related to such wonderful people!


Roy and Libby, our dear cousins and host and hostess to our lovely day!


Janet, a bit “distanter” cousin, but not at all distant! ‘So warm and kind and fun!


Janet and her brother Geoffrey, from our Philpotts side of the family.


Geoffrey and his wife Julie

I’ve thought often that regular tourists might see many more tourist sights–there are so many places of history, culture, antiquity, and nature, that it would take a lifetime to see here– but we are having a unique experience of sharing with real-live “locals,” so to speak– fascinating, lovely people who have given us this rare treat to know them more, to share stories, join their village culture, be in their homes, laugh together, and  feel a special kinship! We love it!   Cheerio!