Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Wow! It has been a month since we last wrote. We've been busy. Our missionary force in the Family History Library is diminishing as elders and sisters go home. Since we came, from the eleven full-time missionaries at the library, we've lost one couple and two single sisters. Two more couples and another sister will leave within the next month. Fortunately, a new couple joined us just today, but the next couples are not scheduled to arrive until mid July. We do have several volunteers and a few Church Service missionaries who each work several hours each week, so we think we'll be okay.

We continue to be involved in helping our director teach classes. We have a three-day intensive course with twelve classes each month. Max teaches two of them and Mary teaches when some of the regular teachers are not available. We started another session starting today at 8:00. Max also taught two of three classes on the family tree last Saturday.

When we are not teaching, or preparing to teach, or cataloging books, or making up schedules, or working on the monthly calendar, or helping with the finances, then we help patrons. Many are non-members, and regulars at the library. We also have regular visits from members, and a large number of them, especially on Saturdays, come to the library to get name cards for the temple. A brother came into the library last week, saying he wants to become active again in the Church and go back to the temple, and he wants to find family names. He had done some genealogy a few years ago, but didn't know anything about the new resources. We helped him learn some basics and helped him learn how to find sources and attach them to the Family Tree. We told him to go home to work on it and to find documents, and to talk to his mother. He works on this a lot, and comes in a couple of times a week for help and to talk through issues and puzzles he encounters. He is very intelligent, and learns quickly. But he is also gentle and kind. He was born in Chester, the city in England where Mary was born. His story is one of dozens we see each week. It is a blessing to serve in this calling.

We also go to the Temple at least once each week (except for the two weeks in March when the temple was closed for cleaning). We've gotten to know some of the temple workers who live full-time in our apartment building, as well as those who come and stay for a week once a month. Each of these groups have a pot-luck dinner and a program on Monday night. We've been invited to join with the first week and the third week groups. Last night, after dinner, our program was at the Visitors' Center, where two children, a boy age 12 and his sister age 9, gave a piano and violin recital. We remember when our son Joe played one of the pieces, Meditation from Thais by Massanet. These children are truly amazing child proteges who have already won many competitions.

Santa Barbara Mission facade
Now, to our extracurricular activities for the past few weeks. We changed our P-day to Friday. One week we drove to Santa Barbara to visit the mission; one of Father Serra's Catholic missions, not one of ours. It is lovely, probably the best kept of all the historic California missions. It is called the Queen of the Missions. There is an Indian woman buried there who was left alone on an island for 17 years and was finally discovered and brought to the mainland. This was the story of Scott O'Dell's "Island of the Blue Dolphins", a children's book which we got from the library and both enjoyed reading.

A Mission garden
Passage from Church to cemetery.
Note the carvings above the door.

Memorial to the Isle of the
Blue Dolphin Indian girl

We also went to the beach and walked through the surf. We took the Pacific Coast Highway, a beautiful road along the shore and beaches, and relatively free of traffic. On the way to Santa Barbara we saw the large strawberry fields in Ventura County, so we stopped at a stand and bought a case of berries, picked that very morning. They were very large and delicious. We made a trifle, sliced them on cereal, put them in our salads, and just ate them fresh. Then we froze the rest that we still get out and use in our treats. It was lovely day.
Mary and Max walking on the beach at Santa Barbara
Another day we went to the county arboretum in Arcadia, near Pasadena.It has a wonderful assortment of trees, flowers, and other plants in a large park. Another nice peaceful day.

Max at the arboretum

Peacock crossing the path
Waterfall at the arboretum

View of the Avalon and the harbor from the mountain
On Conference weekend, since the library was closed Saturday and we had Friday off, we decided to go to Santa Catalina Island to spend the night. We took the 9:30 AM boat to Avalon and checked in to our lovely, old, quaint hotel, in a room with a balcony view of the harbor, the ocean, and at the night, the mainland. We walked around the town (one square mile only, but hilly), shopped, ate, and just enjoyed the atmosphere. However, we did not do the five-stage zip line nor the parasailing.

The casino (not a gambling hall) across the harbor
Mary on Via Casino
Mary  near the casino. Beach in the background

Sailboat in the harbor

A cactus garden

We returned to the LA harbor at San Pedro at about 4:30, in time for Max to get back to watch the Priesthood session of Conference. We listened to the morning session on Sunday, at the Visitors' Center, then we had an assignment at the Library in the afternoon. We watched the other three sessions on our computer this week. They were truly inspiring. We noticed that many of the leaders spoke directly or indirectly about family history.

The ancestor we will focus on today is William Lewis Wheatley, Mary's 2nd great-grandfather who was born on 26 August 1807 in Bishopsgate, London, England, to James and Hannah Wheatley. He apprenticed as a haberdasher, a dealer in men's clothing. On a Court Day the 2nd of June 1829, he received papers for "Freedom of the City of London" and was made free of the Haberdashers Company and took the accustomed oath. That same year on the 7th of September, at the age of 21, he married 18-year-old Susannah Mills in the parish church at Saint Olave Hart Street, London, Middlesex. They both lived to be in their late 80s. William Lewis operated a warehouse on the Thames River for the St Katherines Dock Company where he received silks that arrived in boats from China. He and Susannah had 8 children: William Edmund and Mary lived to be just 1 year old and another William lived to be age 12. Their son James and daughter Catherine both married but didn't have any children. Their daughter Susannah married and lived nearby and had 6 children and their son Henry emigrated to Australia and married 4 times. William and Susannah's son Edmund loved the sea and sailed to China to be the harbour-master there. He married a minister's daughter, Sarah Louisa Hobson and they had 3 children while there. William Lewis retired to Worthing, Sussex and died there on 24 August 1895. His will refers to him as "gentleman".