"And Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 9:23
"And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:27
|Year 1641, black and white typical English style building|
|The Vicar wasn't in, but Elder Blain is on watch|
|This fine friendly fellow was met on the street as we looked for missionary flats|
|Cat in the window as we waited at a light|
|Growing pretty in an ugly alley as we traipsed about looking for flats|
|More beauty in unlikely places|
|It is fall at our flat!|
|The stairs to our flat|
|The worst bathroom I've found in a town centre isn't that bad|
|Looks like one of the roadside stop places in the U.S.A. There are plenty gang signs in various places here as well.|
|This wins the prize for the smallest sink thus far (it was in a letting agent's office)|
|This is the first Christmas tree we have seen. It is in a pub where we went to their carvery to eat.|
|Typical veggie choices at the carvery--parsnips, potatoes (boiled and roasted brown), cauliflower, carrots, peas . . .|
|Yorkshire pudding on the left (filled with gravy, of course) and meat choices are usually gammon (ham), turkey, and beef|
It has been miraculous how the places have been available with exactly what we needed within the price range. There have been agents having to reschedule that left room for looking at something else that just became available, nothing available until one happened to show up after we looked at everything in town, and opportunities to be there at the right time before the property got taken. In one case, we ended up getting a place in the same building the previous missionaries lived before they were moved from the area. In another area, the agent dropped the price 35 pounds a month on a luxury flat because he forgot his keys and was late--one more miracle on our behalf!
Finding these flats is difficult. First time home buyers are not being able to get loans for properties, so they are resorting to letting (renting) until they can qualify in the future. This market makes it extremely difficult to find places at a decent price. The mission president wants flats changed out, safer neighborhoods, better prices, and new areas opened so all is in order when he turns the mission over to a new president in the distant future.
Here are the strict guidelines for flats we need to find:
1. Good (not marginal) mobile phone reception with our carrier.
2. Safe nighttime walking route from the bus stop
3. Not more than five minutes walk from the bus stop
4. Acceptable access to church by bus or on foot on Sundays.
5. Relatively safe neighborhood.
6. An acceptable place to park a mission vehicle overnight (this is tough to find sometimes!)
7. No nearby pubs, bargain booze shops, clubs, etc.
8. Good bus access to the most likely proselyting areas (not always easy to find in some towns)
9. A place to store bicycles if bicycles might be used in the area
10. No utility pre-pay meters
11. No gardens or yards that need to be maintained
12. A working shower (this should be number one on the list, really--it is absolutely necessary as missionaries like showers, so we don't even look at a place without a shower)
13. One bedroom large large enough for two single beds and wardrobes (even if it has two bedrooms, they can only use one).
14. A washing machine is nice, especially if there is no laundromat in town
15. Preferably on one level
16. Second floor for sisters, if possible
17. Secure entries nice
18. A fridge is good
You can see the challenge here. It is discouraging when we find a perfect place and either find the phone reception is bad or a pub is close. There ARE lots of pubs in England, so that is a challenge! Some flats we've found are over shops and the entry is through an alley in the back. No alleys are acceptable either.
There are not any cheap flats to be found in the areas we have looked. 425 or 450 are the standard for something decent that matches what we need. That means this is around $640 to $675 or more in American money, depending on the exchange rate. Now, think about the almost 52,000 missionaries out there and all the flats. There is a huge investment into missionary work, isn't there? That is how strongly the Church (and members who donate tithes and offerings) is committed to taking the restored gospel message to the world. Then, when you look at all the rest of the expenses to redeem the dead (temples) and build meeting houses, you know this is Christ's work and His Church. Fantastic operation!