Sunday, September 30, 2007

We are Treading Where the Saints have Trod

I feel Mormon; have all my life, as it turns out. I've gone to church, read (or tried to read, which I must be honest, has been a far more common occurance) my scriptures regularly, and even married in the Temple. Today, for the first time, perhaps, I feel truly like a saint, a Latter-day one that is.
Before coming to England, Avram and I dutifully obtained our new ward's information from the ward clerk, and had also looked up our church meeting times and location online, and had placed, via Google maps, what that obscure-to-us address meant. Church is in Oxford, but in the very southern tip of the city, and we are a good four miles north of the city; 8 miles in all. Also, church services began at 10:00 am. We meant to call the bishop, and I suppose ask for a ride, but then we put it off altogether. Now, before any of my dear readers think that this was foolish of us, really, we had good logic behind us. Namely, that how did we know where the bishop lived, and we didn't want to put undue stress on him on a Saturday night to find a poor pair of American needy-family schlubs a ride for the next morning.
So instead, we decided to walk, or if we woke up too late to do so, having somehow lost our traveling alarm clock on the journey here, and so being dependent on our own cognizant powers, which are noticeably lacking when one is asleep, we would then take the Centre's minibus, which would deliver us to central Oxford at 9:45 am, and then we would need to walk the remaining three miles, thus arriving at church very late.
We needn't have worried about waking up in time; at 6:30 Lydia popped her head up smiling, and there was no telling her that it hardly qualified as morning yet, and so up we rose as well. She enabled us by her automatic alarm clock to be ready by 7:30, when we left for our 8 mile morning jaunt, hoping that it would only take two and a half hours to complete the journey. Having heard the hymn this morning, as we walked I sang the lines from "Onward Christian Soldiers;" "Brothers we are treading, where the Saints have trod." I realized that this was true, in our case; that being in old historic England, we were very well treading where previous Saints had walked; just Medieval Saints and not the Mormon ones.
The first half of journey definitely felt the longest, perhaps because we were in the country, and so had no way to mark our progress. And then we took about a twenty minute detour when at one of the many roundabouts we lost our way and took the wrong road. As we were walking, and we passed (in order) a Baptist church, later a Quaker church, then a Catholic one, I would turn to Avram and say, "If we were Baptist, we'd be at church by now. If we were Quaker, we'd be at church by now." We decided based on that logic that really we ought to be Anglican, because of course by far and aways there were the most churches for that religion, including one that is about ten feet away from our cottage (over a wall); St. Bartholomew's Parish Church. And may I add that it's surrounded by a terribly old and charming graveyard, and apparently there is a chapel in there named the Spencer chapel, after Princess Diana's ancestors, who used to live here in the Yarnton Manor estate.
I digress.
Slowly and surely we made our way to church, and eventually arrived just 10 minutes late. As I walked from taking Lydia to the nursery, a sister stopped me in the hallway, asked if I was new, got my name and address (she's the VT coordinator), found out we had walked from Yarnton manor, and was trying to think of people in the ward who could give us a ride every week. Her and her husband had given the last BYU family to come to Yarnton manor a ride every week, but now they gave two others rides, and so couldn't give us one as well. By Sunday school she had asked two young adult sisters, and although she had to leave early, had them come talk to us after Sacrament Meeting (which was at the end). Also, she talked to someone else in the ward, who found us a "lift" home after church, because neither of our permanent rides had their cars with them that day.
Ahh, I love the gospel, and more specifically, I love the saints in the Gospel. Everyone welcomed us, was appropriately shocked that we walked all the way to church, and immediately began involving and helping us. This is made more surprising by the fact that this ward has a revolving student population at Oxford, and we're the fourth American Oxford family in the ward, and the third one to come this month.
After church our temporary ride was a Brother who, although he's British originally, has lived in Alberta ever since he served his mission in Canada 24 years ago, and so doesn't have a British accent, and joked with us as he drove us home about driving on the wrong side of the road, and how all the roads are so narrow here, and how great the wide open spaces in the west are. It felt like a small bit of home in an unexpected place.
There are many more stories to share, like our attempts to turn our radiators on so we wouldn't freeze to death which ended up in water gushing out of the side of our cottage to how we sleep on two twin beds like a couple in the forties, but those shall come another time.


  1. Yeah! Our funny Thora is back. Now if we can just persuade her that pictures really aren't that hard, we'll feel like we have arrived. Love so much to hear of your adventures.

  2. I talked to mom yesterday so she already had told me your ordeal.. but I still can not believe you thora! eight miles???? wow. You are so funny. I am glad that you got a ride home! So do you feel like england is quaint? i mean you did walk thorough 8 miules of it so I am sure you got a good look. The two twin beds crack me up. you should at least push them together. i wish I could cal you but I cant afford it and I know you cant either. so I hope you enjoy all my really really long posts on here in an atempt to "talk" to my dearest sister.

    Love you!!! cant wait to hear all about it. describe where you are living.. like how anne would so that I can picture it!

  3. Hurrah for the pioneering spirit! Eight miles is a L-O-N-G walk. I figure on no more than 3 miles per hour, max. And that's striding right along at top walking speed, unburdened by a child. And I used to walk for a living!

    I sometimes wonder how many great discoveries and valiant feats of courage were accomplished by folks who just didn't really have any idea what they were getting into.

    Now that you're living in Yarnton Manor, how about involving the name of your place in your blog title? Barbara likes "In a Manor of speaking," while I prefer "The Manor of the Adverb." Then, when one of your readers posts a curmudgeonly comment, you could accuse them of "unManorly activities." Etc. The possibilities are endless!

  4. Two twin beds. Heh. That sounds like a good number of the hotels in Austria and Germany Sarah and I slept in. Two twin mattresses put together into a double bed frame - then, with two separate twin sized feather Decke. Just about the only thing it was good for was that it kept one of us from hogging all the blankets.
    Also, where's the fellow from Alberta from, in Alberta, or, what is his name?
    Odds are I don't know him, as there are quite a number of British émigrés there (or were, in my memory) but, it doesn't hurt to ask.

    - Matt

  5. His name was Mike, but unfortunately I don't know his last name. I can find out at church. He lived in an Alberta town right on the border with America, and he shaves his head bald and has a goatee.