Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 1, 2018

Tuggerah Lake at Sunset
In April a wonderful Toukley ward member invited us to stay at an AirB&B that she manages for the owner.  It was off season so the owner was gracious enough to let us spend a weekend.  Our friend said she felt bad for us as we always looked tired at church???  This weekend was a very nice, relaxing, and much enjoyed mini vacation.  As you will see from the pictures it was BEAUTIFUL.

Some of our ward members would say something like "Do you know where they are building the new Woolworth's"  or you know where such and such is?  I would always say, "We get off the freeway and drive to the church.  That is all we know about this area".  Since we now stayed the weekend in the Toukley area we know where a few more things are.

It was nice enough weather that we would open the windows at night and have a nice lake breeze cool off the house.  The neighbors were wearing heavy hoodies and long pants like it was cold.  Elder Ellison and I thought it was heavenly.

May is here and we are saying goodbye to Elder & Sister Cox.  They have served in the office for 2 years.  They have been wonderful to work with and will be greatly missed.  It seems like yesterday when Elder Ellison and I arrived in Sydney and the Cox's picked us up from the airport.  Now it is their turn for us to take them to the airport for their departure.  Bittersweet.  Elder and Sister Cox I had planned to do some touring of Australia and New Zealand before returning home but unfortunately Elder Cox ended up with a kidney stone and spent last night in the hospital.  Not sure how their extended travel plans will work out.  Their visas run out in 5 days so they will need to be heading to the States at that time.

Today is 21 May  and I am now getting back to the my blog for May.  Last night we had an AMAZING Conference with The Sydney North and South Missions, missionaries, Area Presidency, Elder Stevenson, and President Ballard.  They were in New South Wales for multiple assignments.  A Stake Conference, meeting with Ward and Stake Leaders in the Sydney area, special Mission Conference and and FHE via Facebook.  These were very busy men and wives.  So many impressive thoughts were taught at our conference. 

President Stevenson talked about how he had been called as a Mission President with the assignment to join together THREE Missions, Tokyo North, Tokyo South and another mission that I did not catch the name of.  Oh, my, what a job that would be.  Maybe our new President won't be too overwhelmed with just two missions????? 

President Ballard told when he was the Mission President of the Ontario Canada mission over 50 years ago, he had the following experience. 

A senior couple was coming to serve in his Mission.  He gave the Zone Leaders the assignment to go and purchase some food items and stock up the fridge for the senior couple as they would be getting in late and might need something to eat over the weekend.  This was before credit cards were readily used so the President informed the Elders to use their cash and he would reimburse them in the future. (maybe that was the problem)  President Ballard said these missionaries had been out way too long and didn't remember how to stock a fridge let alone for a senior couple.  The Elders stocked the fridge with the bare minimum, A loaf of bread, a jar of PB, a jar of jam and a carton of milk.  When President Ballard learned of this he was embarrassed, but such is missionary life. 

President Ballard interviewed the husband who had been a Patriarch and had also been a missionary as a young man.  When he interviewed the wife privately she admitted that she was "scared to death" and did not know the first thing about missionary work. (This was long before Preach My Gospel).  President Ballard assured her that all would be well and then practiced a couple of approaches with her.  For example if she saw a mother with children in tow she might say, "I see you have  beautiful children that you greatly enjoy and love.  Would you like to learn how you can be an Eternal Family?"  After their meeting she felt a little more comfortable. 

They drove to their assigned area in a small town, quite some distance from the Mission home, it was minus 20 degrees.  After finding the limited food, they made a quick stop at a little store nearby.  They rushed in picked up a few items, the husband paid for the groceries then hurried out to the car.  His wife was struggling to work up courage to approach the woman working behind the counter.  A few minutes passed by, then the Sister missionary walked up to the counter and said something like this.  "My husband and I have come all the way from SLC Ut.  to share a message with people we come in contact with.  Would you be willing to have us come share this message with you and your husband?"  The clerk was taken with the gentle and genuine approach of this missionary and agreed to have them to her home the next evening.  When the Sister got out to the car her husband said "where have you been?  I am about frozen to death?"  "I have been doing what we have been assigned to do and we have an appointment tomorrow night."   The husband was shocked.  They went the next night and gave the message with another appointment a couple of nights later.  When they arrived they found 2 more people the brother and sister in-law in were now in attendance.  They gave the next lesson, another appointment was set and they then had 4 more people listening to their message.  In the end 18 people were baptized.  Just from this one nervous but committed Sister and her Husband.  The way President Ballard told the story had everyone laughing and crying at the same time. 

President Ballard challenged the missionaries to each talk to 10 people every day.  For some of our missionaries that is challenging due to the areas they work in.  Other missionaries walk up and down one specific street in different parts of the downtown area.  They cross paths with many more pedestrians.  Last week Elder Ellison and I were driving down the street in one of these areas (on a furniture run for a new flat being opened).   I got to observe 2 of our missionaries at work. 

Sunsets & Clouds were Spectacular!
We were stopped at a red light when I saw the 2 missionaries say something to a lady walking toward them...she just kept walking past the Elders.  By this time our light had turned green and I quick turned my head to see what the Elders would do.  I was surprised to see they had big smiles on their faces even though they had been rejected.  I felt bad for them so I quick got on my phone and called them.  I said "Elders you are Amazing!"  Elder T said, Sister Ellison where are you?  I said "I just saw your approach and when you were turned down you were still smiling!  AMAZING Elders!"  They didn't know we would see them in action.  This was just a normal work day for them.  I still think of that smile I saw on Elder T's face.  He was definitely enjoying his work.  He was not taking rejection personally.  They kept at it and they got an appointment from someone later on that day.  Maybe you had to be there to understand, but I was sure impressed with the effort these missionaries put in day in and day out.

Time to end this blog, another busy day in the office, but it sure makes time fly by.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Busy and Great Week!

It is Sunday evening and I am feeling great. I gave the YSA Sunday School lesson today. I was happy with how it came out. So, I decided to take a little time and post a blog about this last week.

One of the best things for me about this job is how much work there is. Strange, right? 11 hours a day is the norm. The time flies by. And it is great to give service. Every night I try to read about 1/2 hour from a set of novels I am reading about the founding of Australia. I always go to bed and fall right to sleep.

This last week was one of the busiest week I have had.

On Monday Linda and drove to Charlestown which is 2 1/4 hours away. In Charlestown I loaded up a trailer with furniture from a flat we are closing. I will finish the job next Monday. Was late before I got to bed.

Got up at 5 am, which is our normal time. I left to be at the Zone Training at 7:30 am to give driver training. While the missionaries involved were watching a video I went back to the hotel to get Linda. We listened to part of the training which was about how to use smart phones. Our mission gets smart phones June 1st. To say the least, the missionaries are excited. The phones they have now are terrible. Both Linda and I went out and bought a phone instead of using the mission supplied phones. We helped with lunch. After lunch we interviewed missionaries who had done flat self inspections. They take pictures of their flats, fill out a checklist, and give themselves a grade. Guess what, they all gave themselves As, some with plusses. Okay, do you believe that? Let me just say I do not know a flat that my wife would be willing to live in without a major cleaning before moving in. :-).

After that we headed home and still worked in the office for a couple of hours.

On Wednesday and Thursday we had two more zone trainings that we did the flat self inspections interviews. Still mostly As. I know one of those flats we are having holes in the walls fixed that were put there by weight lifting equipment. Of course, it is alway the previous elders that do the damage. That is always there answer when asked who did the damage. I just smile.

After zone training Thursday at 5 pm I picked up a moving truck. I then went to 2 flat's garages that had senior couples furniture We loaded up furniture for a new seniors couple flat that we are opening in Armidale. I had missionaries meet me there to help. A very late night

Up on Friday at 3:30 am, 4 1/2 hours of sleep, for a long day of driving. I drove to Grafton. 7 hours drive. Loaded up some more furniture from another storage unit I have. I have 7 garages that have furniture in them. Then drove to Armidale which was another 2 1/2 hours. Missionaries met me there, and we unloaded the truck into the new flat. After that I took the missionaries out for pizza. It is fun to do. After pizza I followed a senior couple to their flat in Tamworth. Another 1 1/2 drive. Boy, I slept good that night. 11 hours of driving a moving truck with a very tight suspension. I bounced all over the cab.

Up and on my way at 6:16 am Saturday morning. I had to have the truck back by 3 pm. It was an easy drive. Only 5 hours. :-). After unloading some furniture and bikes that I brought back I dropped the truck off. We then went to diner to celebrate mothers day. After that I went to the office and prepared my Sunday School lesson. Another late night.

If was a great week with never stopping. How else would you want it if you are out serving, away from your family, and the fun activities you like to do?

I hope you are all enjoying your life as much as I am. Time is flying by fast.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Narrabri Trip - 29 April 2018

This last weekend we were assigned to speak in the Narrabri Branch. It is a 6 1/2 hour drive one way. On Friday we traveled to Tamworth, NSW (4 1/2 hour drive). On Saturday we attended a Narrabri Branch / Tamworth Ward activity. We went to a local zoo. It was a great place. Not very large, but plenty of picnick areas and different animals to see. It was very enjoyable.

After the activity we drove to Narrabri. On Sunday we spoke. There were about 15 people there. It reminded me of when I was a young missionary and served in a branch. Good memories. Branches are special places, but I think very difficult to live in one. After the meeting we drove home (6 1/2 hours) driving.

I took my talk from a BYU devotional talk. I would recommend it. It is by Brad Wilcox who was a professor at BYU. The title is "His Grace is Sufficient". It was easy to find on the internet. You can also watch in on Youtube. It gave me a better understanding of Grace and how much it really is there to help us. Hope you take the time to listen, or read it.


It is a beautiful bird. We have a lot of them at our temple compound area where we live.


Very pretty bird, but can be mean. They are very loud. Their beaks are very strong. They chop / cut off branches of trees. One tried to bight my camera. I kept it away. I am sure it would have broken my camera.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Job Description

After a year, I think it is time that I should add a post to the wonderful blog my missionary companion has been keeping up. 

I have actually started to get some extra time this last couple of weeks due to two senior service missionary couples that are helping me maintain flats. They take care of just under half of the flats, 26 flats. One couple handles the Penrith and Hebersham Stakes. The other handles the Gosford and part of the Newcastle Stakes. They are so helpful.

What do I do. Simple stated I do what you would do if you moved out of your house, put in 2 or 4 young adults, 18 to 22 years old, and then you maintain your house. Oh, and they also get to use your new car and bikes. Then multiple that by 60. That describes my job. One great thing though, is the young people treat you with great respect and love. Just like you are their grand parents. 

The job isn’t hard, but there is a lot of it. There is to much for one person to get done. I go to bed without the work being done, and get up being behind. With that said I am enjoying it. It has taken a while and some mental adjustment to get to that point, but I am there. I will miss it when I go home.

Next post I will share some details. The next post will be how I have become a cock roach expert! 😤.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Two Missions Conference with General Authority = AMAZING!

What a special day this was.  As I have mentioned the Australia Sydney North and South are combining July 1 2018.  Today we had a special Conference with several General Authorities, Elder and Sister Whitney Clayton, Elder and Sister Ian Ardern of the Area Presidency, President and Sister Checketts North Mission and President and Sister Leota South Mission.  Let me first tell you a little bit about the music.

When we were directed what our hymn would be they announced Elder Tseng serving ASNM from  Taiwan would conduct the music.  I had met Elder Tseng when we first arrived to the mission, he had been out about 6 months.  He was shy and very quiet.  Confidence was not visible and he didn't
Kookabura sitting on a fence post. BIG
interact much.  How things have changed in 1 year.  Elder Tseng walked confidently up to the stand.  He took out a bright orange pen and held it in his right hand, his left hand was raised ready to bring the congregation in on cue.  The music begun, and on beat Elder Tseng began leading the music, with just the right amount of enthusiasm for the music, a little emphasis on the down beat, occasionally lifting his left hand to indicate more volume or enthusiasm.   Of course having close to 400 missionaries singing is powerful on it's own, but with Elder Tseng leading he added extra strength to the voices.  Everyone was singing their hearts out.  You can guess what happened during the song?  Yes and on cue my tears began to well did others I might add.  It was, words can't describe, powerful.  We all felt the spirit.

We then heard from all of our guest speakers.  I will share a few of  the highlights.

Sister Ardern shared a story about her brother who lives in London.  He has been less active for many years.  He lives in the center of London and would invest in Real Estate when opportunities arose.  One day a unit 2 floors up from his became available.  It was the day of the open house, he went to check out the apartment.  No one was greeting clients, the door was open so he went in.  As he went from room to room he saw impressions of furniture in the carpet that had been removed with the passing of the last tenant.  He found himself wondering who had lived there in the past?  How many people had occupied this apartment?  He observed shadows left from hanging pictures or mirrors on the walls.  The rooms were all empty, no one was there viewing this property.  All of a sudden a door blew shut.  It was strange because no windows were open, no wind was blowing through the flat, but one of the bedroom doors had blown shut.  As he went to the bedroom and opened the door he looked on the backside of the door and found an old, yellowing piece of paper taped to the back of the door.  It was torn in places but it still hung to the door.  How long had that piece of paper been on that door.  Sister Ardern's brother started reading what was on the back of the door on the old piece of paper.  It said:

 "I am called of God.  My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  He is my Master and He has chosen me to represent Him.  To stand in His Place, to say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me:  My purpose is to evermore effectively invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restore gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."

This quote made a strong impression on Sister Arden's brother.  He took down the piece of paper and now has it hanging on his door in his apartment.

Elder Ardern said Heavenly Father knew your weaknesses before you were called, more importantly he knew your strengths. You are part of this great work.  The Restoration continues, it is not finished yet.  Elder Ardern announced  the new Mission President for the newly combined Australia Sydney Mission, it is Scott Ruina from Provo Utah. (Does anyone recognize this name?)  There is a big job awaiting the new President.

Elder Clayton had so many important messages.  These are just a few.  Because our missionaries are so excited to see each other when the rare occasion of getting together in one of these massive Conferences, their enthusiasm and excitement is at full volume level.  Twice before the meeting started the Chapel and Cultural Hall missionaries were asked to turn the volume down.  The first thing Elder Clayton said was; "Reverence invites Revelation".

Elder Clayton went on to relate the following story.  True story told by a Branch President in Belfast Ireland.  This Branch President was a convert.  When he was attending University in Ireland as a young student he decided he need to have religion in his life.  Therefore he needed to read the Bible, but he didn't own a Bible and no one he knew had a copy of the Bible.

One cold rainy day looking out his window he saw 2 Elders standing at a bus stop.  He knew they were missionaries for some unknown church.  He knew they would have a copy of the Bible that he could buy from them.  He hurried down and stood at the bus stop hoping that one of them would start talking to him.  In just a few minutes the bus the 2 Elders were waiting for came flying by and it did NOT stop because it was full of passengers.  The 3 of them continued to stand in silence at the bus stop, no one speaking to each other.  A 2nd bus came buy a little slower but it did NOT stop.  The Elders stared in disbelief.   This same situation played out 2 more times.  Finally when the 4th bus did NOT stop one of the Elders said out loud, "Now that is so strange!"  Elder Clayton said this was the best missionary opener he had ever heard.  Well, it was enough to open up dialogue between the 3 of them.  When asked if he could buy a Bible from them, he was told they would give him a free Book of Mormon.  The point to missionaries is "OPEN YOUR MOUTHS"  Speak to people do not be timid or shy, talk to everyone.

Sister Clayton referred to the mission experience as the sweetest of times.  We all are making great memories.  There are miracles in this work and WE are some of those miracles.

One of the General Authorities pointed out how obedient and willing President & Sister Leota are.  They were asked to lunch by a General Authority on February 19, on February 22 they were on their way to Australia Sydney South Mission to become the temporary Mission President until the new President arrives 1 July.  Only a 3 day notice.

Here is the rest of the story about Elder Tseng.  After the meeting I ran into Elder Tseng and complimented him on his great gift as a conductor.  I asked what his musical background was.  He said he didn't have any?????  I asked how he knew how to lead such a large congregation and do it with such confidence and enthusiasm?  He said "I watch General Conference".

I am telling you this young man has a natural gift for music and conducting.  But if watching General Conference can do this for someone  watching how to lead music, imagine what General Conference can do for your Spirit?!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tall grass, sunrise, clouds and beach 2-18
March 2018  Tall Grass at Beach 

G'day from Australia Sydney North Mission.......

We are moving closer to when Sydney North and South become 1 mission.  It will take place July 1 2018.  This won't be the first time Sydney has only had one mission.  It has split and combined a couple of times that I am aware of.  In July President and Sister Checketts will be departing and the new President will take over.  We are still waiting to hear who will be replacing President Bingham.  President Bingham from the South mission was to take over both missions but had a serious biking accident and was medevac home to the States last week.  We are praying for his recovery from his injuries.  He will be closer to family and loved ones for this long healing  process.  

We are slowly making some changes to the process of combining.  Our mission is taking our 7 Zones down to 4-5 Zones and the South mission will be doing the same.  We have a new senior couple moving up from South mission to replace Elder and Sister Cox the first of May.  Their last name is Adams from SLC.  We have not met them yet but look forward to working with them.

Elder Ellison is always busy with the Flats and getting broken or damaged items fixed.  It has been very interesting hearing from Elders and Sisters how holes in the walls happen.  For example,  Sister jumping up between two narrow walls trying to do the splits.  Diving for bunk bed and crashing into the wall putting shoulder and arm through wall.  Or big Polynesian boys wrestling and putting large holes in the wall.  Thank goodness he has 2 Senior Church Service Missionaries that are working with him to expedite the repairs.  And as usual there are always a number of cars that have been in fender benders or more that need taken to the "Smash" shop, that's Australian for auto repair shop.  Elder Ellison left at 6 a.m. today to go trade cars with some Sisters and take their car into the shop.  6 a.m. may sound early but if you know Elder Ellison you know he is up at that time anyway.  Another bonus with moving that early is you beat a lot of the heavy traffic that surrounds us 18 hours a day.  I can literally feel the traffic starting up while laying in bed about 4 a.m.  The vibration gives a slow heave to our property.  I dread hearing it every morning.

I just finished a very smooth running of our MLC that takes place every 6 weeks.  Like most things in life the longer you/I do the job, the more comfortable we get with the process.  Each time, I see things that I can tweak and make the next MLC run even smoother.  By the time I head home I should have the ordering, purchasing, organizing and dispersing of materials and home goods down to a well tuned process.  I am really enjoying this hectic schedule, now that I know what I am doing.

The picture above I took on our trip to Port MacQuarie last month on our 6 a.m. walk along the beach.  It was very beautiful.  Of course the picture only shows a glimmer of the beauty of the area.

Port MacQuarie coastal drive February 2018


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Combining North & South Mission

Early morning sunrise, so beautiful
It occurred to me that I had not made an entry for January.  So, I thought I better get February's done before the month was gone.  When I opened the blog, I found I had made an entry but forgot to Publish it.  Shoot.

The big news this month is the announcement that the Australia Sydney North and Sydney South mission will be combining in July.  President and Sister Checketts will have finished their 3 year assignment.  President and Sister Bingham from the South mission will have 1 year into their assignment.  The Bingham's will be moving up to the Mission home and taking over responsibility for the newly combined mission.  What a job that will be.  We will have 300+ missionaries.

President Checketts has been really good at keeping the Junior and Senior missionaries informed as to what will take place.  We will be intaking fewer missionaries.  The eventual goal will be to  bring the numbers down at first to 270.  Then over the next year or so down to 180.  Elder Ellison and I will only be involved with the transition for 6-8 weeks.  We are anxious to see how our current assignments will blend with the other Senior couples from the South mission.

Elder Ellison and I attended our northern Zones, "Zone Conference".  About 2 hours from Sydney.  I
love this opportunity to be taught by President and Sister Checketts.  They always have something to help young missionaries do a better job at their calling.  I always feel I learn so much from these Conferences.  President and Sister Checketts are Great teachers.  I love learning from them.

After Zone Conference on Friday Elder Ellison and I drove 3 more hours north to Port Macquarie.  It is along the coast at the northern end of NSW (New South Wales).  It is a BEAUTIFUL Beach community.  We had a comfortable hotel room.  Saturday we drove the coastal beach route that took several hours.  We stopped at a Rain Forrest museum and had a delicious breakfast.  We stopped at several beautiful beaches and a light house.  We drove through small, open spaces with  horses, cows, goats and small populations.  A nice change from the hustle and bustle of Sydney.  I especially like these types of vacations.  They are relaxing and enjoyable to see different scenery.  I know my husband likes to be active and doing physical activities, but he is kind enough to do the things that I like to do that aren't so physical.  It gives us opportunities to talk about life, plans for the future, hypothetical ideas, share our love of the gospel and just renew our relationship.  It is very rejuvenating.   

Sunday we drove back to Sydney making a couple of detours to see some sights of interest.  We enjoyed this time away from the fast pace, non stop work at our office assignment.  So much so Monty suggested we take time once every 2 months to get away and see some more sights
before our mission ends in August.  Sounds like a great idea to me.  We will see if it happens.  So much to do with our assignments at the mission office.

Finally, I am happy to report that we have now had a working A/C for 3 weeks.  I am sleeping better and life is good!