Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Thanks to the pandemic . . .

. . . we got to view, via the internet, the groundbreaking of the Nairobi Kenya Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And we also got to see the stake conference of the Taber Alberta Stake.  Both on the same weekend in September.  So thank you, pandemic!

First . . . a little history.

The Nairobi Temple was announced by President Monson on 2017 April 1 at General Conference.  We were living in Nairobi and were watching the conference via the internet.  We were absolutely stunned by the announcement.  We knew that former President Hinckley had prophesied that a temple would be built someday in Nairobi, but we honestly thought it would not be in our lifetime.

Elder Thomas was staying with us for a couple of days, and as soon as the announcement was made, Elder Torrie and Elder Thomas were on the phone to spread the news.  It was so exciting that we never finished watching the session of conference at that time.  First thing, Elder Torrie phoned our mission president, President Msane, whom we knew was traveling in other parts of the mission and may not have heard the news, since internet reception is spotty throughout Kenya.  He hadn't heard the news and wondered if Elder Torrie had heard right.  "No," Elder Torrie said, "this is NOT an April Fool's joke!"

Kenyans were absolutely jubilant at the announcement.  But they thought they would have a temple in a few months.  We had to burst their bubbles by telling them that temples are not built as quickly as homes in Kenya are.  Temples are built of the finest materials and are built to last for a millennia.  We told them that the Rome Italy Temple took 10 years to build from the time of its announcement, so not to expect a temple in Nairobi in just a few months.

Now, 4 1/2 years later, the groundbreaking of the Nairobi Kenya Temple has taken place on 2021 September 11.  September 11 is a day to remember for many reasons!  I remember clearly the morning of September 11, 2001 when I turned on my computer and the screen was absolutely blank.  The internet had crashed.  Then I learned from a phone call from our son, Eric, what had happened to the twin towers at the New York Trade Center.  What a shock!  Not just Americans, but even Canadians were shocked.  I was so shocked that I never went anywhere for two weeks.  At least, when I looked back at my cheque book, I found that I had written NO cheques for two weeks, so I must not have shopped for 2 weeks.  (Yes, we used cheques back then).  Now, 20 years on . . . the groundbreaking for the Nairobi Kenya Temple has taken place.  Enjoy the very short video below showing bits and pieces of the groundbreaking.

So excited that we can watch the temple groundbreaking in Nairobi from our home in Sweden.  It's a small world with the internet that I never knew existed until about 1999.  I mean it existed but I didn't understand it.  My brother Bruce explained it to me several times but it was such a new thing that it was almost incomprehensible.  When our two oldest sons, Michael and Craig, went on their missions in 1995 and 1997, we communicated by snail mail.  By the time Eric went on his mission in 2004, we were more internet-literate, and communicated with him by email.  By the way, we have used computers on our farm since 1981, when PC's first became available.  But the internet . . . that was another thing.

This young man is probably 10 or 11 and he gave an amazing talk at the temple groundbreaking.  It was all memorized and he even sang I Love to See the Temple during his talk.  He was like the little boys that LeRon and I taught in Primary in the Langata Branch when we were there in 2016 and 2017.

Elder Sitati of the Quorum of the Seventy presided and gave a talk and the lovely dedicatory prayer.  Elder Sitati was born in Kenya.

So nice to see young missionaries serving in Kenya.  They are waiting to hand the groundbreaking shovels to those who will break the ground.  You can see on the wall, that we have reminders of Kenya with us every day here in Sweden!

Elder Sitati and his wife, Sister Sitati, digging the first shovels full.

We knew well the couple on the left, Brother & Sister Luvai.  They were in charge of the groundbreaking ceremony and it was lovely.

The government representative gave a good talk about the need for religions to cooperate and to have love and tolerance.  He spoke of his own experiences of being imprisoned and tortured and of friends disappearing.  There is such a great need for the love of God to spread throughout the world.  We are all brothers and sisters of the same God and we need to treat each other with love and respect.

The closing prayer was given by our dear Nairobi West Stake president, President Munene.  Such a great man.  We loved and respected him a lot.
Artist's rendition of the Nairobi Kenya Temple.  Note the palm trees.  We loved the palm trees in Kenya, along with the acacia trees, jacaranda trees, Australian flame trees and other beautiful foliage.

And then on 2021 September 13, we were able to tune into the Taber Stake Conference.  Again, what a blessing the internet is and what a blessing (in many ways) the pandemic is.  We have been able to watch sacrament meetings, baptisms, and conferences that we would never have been able to watch had it not been for the pandemic.

Our son Craig is the stake organist and he plays beautiful music!  He's to the right of the picture behind the hymnbook that's sitting on the organ.  So proud of him!  President Baldry (standing in front) is our stake president.  He spoke about the importance of following the prophet who follows Jesus Christ who is the head of our church.  He quoted from the Primary children's song, Follow the Prophet:  Now we have a world where people are confused, If you don't believe it, go and watch the news, We can get direction all along our way, If we heed the prophets, Follow what they say. Follow the prophet.  Don't go astray.  Follow the prophet.  He knows the way.  I'm so grateful for the guidance of living prophets on the earth today!

And what a treat to hear from one of our Apostles, Elder Gong.  There are only 12 Apostles and there are almost 3500 stakes or districts (geographical areas containing several church units -- wards and branches, of which there are about 32,000) in the world, so a visit from an apostle is a very special thing.  We got to meet Elder Gong, before he was an apostle, (when he was a member of the Quorum of the Seventy), in Nairobi and I got my picture taken with him.  He is so personable and warm.  So it was very special to hear him speak in Taber on the same weekend as the Nairobi Temple groundbreaking.  And . . . he started his talk by talking about penguins (which are my favorite animals next to zebras), about how they jump into the water together for safety from predators.  Unity is so important and it's so needed in the world today. 
I went back to my Kenya blog (kenya.torriefamily.org) and found the picture of me and Elder Gong and found, surprisingly, that President Munene is in the picture too.  How appropriate, since President Munene gave the closing prayer at the Nairobi Temple groundbreaking, and Elder Gong spoke at the Taber Stake Conference.  I remember now telling Elder Gong that our sons and daughter (Michael, Craig, and Heather) all remember that he was their stake president in Provo when they were students at BYU.  What a small world!

We are always saying goodbye to missionaries and welcoming new ones.  Elder Thomas beside LeRon, and Elder Peterson beside me have finished their 2-year missions and are returning home.  The three in between are Swedes who came on 6-week missions and they had great experiences.  It was good for them, and good for us too.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

The Royal Way of Traveling . . . Royal Stables, Horses, and Carriages

We visit historical places as much as we can, and this past Saturday, we visited the Royal Stables.  They date back to 1535 when King Gustav Vasa had stables built for his 200 horses.  In 1894, it was moved to its present location, right in the middle of the city.  Buildings here are definitely made to last!

The Royal Stables is a huge complex of beautiful brick buildings.  The architects wanted the buildings to look like medieval castles . . . and they do.  This part of the stables is where people live who work here.  Originally, the top floor was one huge apartment for the equerry of the stables (i.e. the boss of the stables) and was large enough to host dignitaries and to be a "change room" for the royal family when they came to ride.  Now there are smaller apartments but the royal family still uses the change room.

The stable not only stables horses, but also cars.  We didn't get to see the stable of cars because, as our guide said, they are supposed to be incognito, and they are also unremarkable.  This Daimler from 1950 is the oldest car still in use for royal occasions.  It has electric windows and the front windshield can also be opened for a cooler ride.

It supposedly seats 8, including the driver, but it must be cozy!  It's still used on special occasions.
I had to laugh at this other "old" car from 1969.  I graduated from high school in 1969 so it didn't seem that old and actually looked familiar although our family never had anything as fancy as a Cadillac.  It has power windows, speed control, and power steering, along with air conditioning.  Wow!  This car, too, is used on occasion.

But more often, the horse-drawn carriages are used for state occasions and visits from foreign dignitaries.

This open carriage is preferred if the weather is good.  Apparently there will be a state visit from Germany on Tuesday and they are hoping the weather will cooperate so they can use this horse-drawn open carriage.

The interior of the Sjuglass carriage is gorgeous.

Those plush seats look super-comfy!  You would feel like royalty riding in this carriage!

The Sujglas state carriage from 1897 is used for state occasions when the weather forces a closed carriage, rather than open carriage.  The previous two photos show the interior.

Beautiful courtyard with ornate brick buildings on 4 sides.  This horse is enjoying the view.  Not sure why this horse is here because we were told that all the horses were the same bay color.  Hmn . . . what happened to this horse?

You can see the fancy brickwork on these buildings . . . as well as the beautiful horses.

Our brothers Wayne and Eugene, would have loved the huge tack room.  These ornate bridles have gold on them, so you know they are for driving kings. The leathery smell took LeRon back to the tack room that Grandpa Albert Torrie had back on the ranch in Grassy Lake.  

Silver bridles were used for other occasions, including when the Princess married in 2010.

Our guide pointed out that sometimes the coachman rides on the front of the coach and sometimes jockeys ride the left-hand horses while controlling the ride-hand horses with whips.  The whips are used, not to whip the horses, but to gently tap them.

Stables fit for . . . royal horses!  There are 20 horses stabled here.  

The horses are bay in color, tall at about 170 cm, and have calm temperaments.  At least so they say.  I watched these two horses, Favorit (on left and yes, it's spelled right), and Dandy (on right), nipping at each other for a very long time.  They looked like they would like to kill each other, but I'm sure they were just being playful.  Never thought to take a video until they were about finished their playing.

The horses come into the stables at about 5-7 years old and work here until they are 20.  They train for a couple of years before they actually pull royalty around.  They are taken every day for a 15-minute walk to the nearby forested area of Djursgarden, where they are trained to pull carriages and to be around people, dogs, and noise.

My first thought when I walked into the training arena was that it would be awfully dusty.  Then we noticed that it was actually sand mixed with some kind of fiber.  Felt very rubbery.

An upper level of carriages.  There are about 50 horse-drawn carriages or sleighs at the stables.  These carriages are blocked so that their wheels are not on the floor.  This protects the rubber tires from getting ruined from the weight as they sit.

Our brothers, Wayne, and Eugene (if he were still on earth), would have loved the display!

Imagine riding in the snowy landscape with bells a-jingling.  Our guide said that horse-driven carriages, and also people riding horses, were required to have bells simply to alert others that they were coming.

This coach was the prince's coach.  You can tell because the crown at the top is open, unlike the crowns below that have closed tops.  Those crowns are crowns of kings, I believe of Sweden and Norway. 

The funeral carriage looks . . . like a funeral carriage.  Somber.  Not particularly fancy.  I prefer the wagon that our brother, Eugene, was carried in to the cemetery.  Not royal but perfect for a cowboy who had lived a great life.

The "Union State Coach" is the oldest state coach at the Royal Stables but is no longer in use.  It has no brakes and has iron tires.  It was drawn by 4 or 6 horses for state ceremonies and formal occasions.

Elder & Syster Moleff had extra tickets to the Royal Stables and we're so glad they invited us along.  It was so interesting and we had a great afternoon with them.  If you think you're too old to serve a mission, you need to talk with Elder Moleff.  He turns 83 in a couple of months and this is their 3rd mission.  The first two missions were to Siberia and Thailand -- not places for the weak of heart!

That evening we had our Sunday sing-along Saturday instead of Sunday because we had a zoom devotional Sunday night.  We were so surprised to have former Syster Katia Locher from Switzerland drop by (the sister on the far right).  So fun to see her.  And former Elder Rantaniemi from Finland (taking the picture, front left), also dropped by with former Syster Stahlberg (sister next to Katia) from Sweden who served a mission in the Canada Calgary Mission until Covid hit and she returned to our mission.  So fun to have these three former missionaries with us.  Also, we had invited two sister missionaries, Syster Brighton (behind me) and Syster Skelton (on my right). With the Assistants (Elder Bair to my left and Elder Hancock front row far right), and the Social Media Office Elders (Elder Ronndahl to the right of Elder Torrie and Elder Gilbert to his right), it was a cozy group in our teeny apartment.  Had great fun singing together and then eating ice cream, chocolate sauce, and my banana bread and homemade cookies.  Fun times!

Love these 3 syster missionaries, Syster Davis, Syster Birrell, and Syster Lane, who went home in August after 18-months of missionary service at their own expense.

Young Syster Davis is the daughter of President and Syster Davis.  So unusual for parents to be mission president over their own daughter.  She was called to Sweden before her parents were assigned to be mission president and companion in Sweden.  President & Syster Davis both served missions in Sweden in their youth, and had brought the Swedish culture into their home all those years.  President Davis is my 3rd cousin, Syster Davis, Jr., my 3rd cousin once removed, and Syster Davis, Sr. is my 3rd cousin-in-law!  Had to get a picture with my cousins!

A walk in the forest.  Heather blooming everywhere!  So beautiful.

Since I never brought our Scrabble game to Sweden, LeRon broke down and bought a Scrabble game, Swedish style for us.  Alfapet.  A little different but we had fun playing it in an evening when we were too tired to do anything else.

LeRon is not a game player so it was really nice of him to play with me.  My growing-up family played a lot of Scrabble.  My mom and dad used to put two games together and have twice as many letters.  They made amazing words.  I enjoyed playing Scrabble with my kids too but LeRon usually preferred reading a book or watching a movie if he didn't have work to do.