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!  

Big Eucalyptus trees, big blue skies walking to work
(I wrote this a month ago and forgot to enter it to the Blog.  Oooops.  A little late)

Well, summer is finally here.  How do I know this?  Because our A/C has been broken for the past 2 months.  Isn't that when air conditioning breaks, summer time?  Actually it wasn't working when we got here.  The Church Service Center  had repair people come out and service it in March with unseasonably warm temps. About April it went into fall and winter weather mode.  We didn't realize the A/C still wasn't working until it hit 108 degrees and no A/C early December.

Fortunately Elder Ellison observed that the Self Reliance building was getting all new ducting and A/C.  He noticed a portable unit sitting on the side that was going to be trashed.  He asked if we could use it until our A/C was fixed.  Elder Ellison is such a good engineer.  He was able to put it between our 2 sliding glass doors so the hose could drain outside the Flat.  He got some of that old wavy material people use to put around their pool fencing, drill the correct size hole for the tubing to fit through and get this broken unit working.  It was nice that he got that plastic material wedged between the sliders.  We were able to keep some of the heat out and most of the bugs stayed out as well.  This portable unit cooled about a 3 foot circle in our living room.  Over time I learned to pull our heavy drapes over our single pained windows, that are floor to ceiling windows, plus close all doors into bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.  This helped keep the little A/C we got out of the portable unit into critical rooms.  After 3 bids, vacation time off  for installers which is about 4 weeks long here in AU., we finally got the whole unit replaced.  Our Flat is now nice and cool and I can sleep once again.

Our 2 Elders that recently transferred into the ward are really enjoyable, just like the previous 2 Elders.  Elder A is from Utah, Elder B is from Australia.  They both spoke in Sacrament meeting a month ago.  It is amazing how such young men can bare such powerful and interesting testimony.  They were both so impressive.  I always take great pride in our missionaries when I see them doing or being great representatives of Jesus Christ.  I feel like a proud mother or should I say grandmother.

Last week as I was assisting missionaries going home I had the opportunity to interact with a Sister that I had previously had no contact with in the 10 months I have been here.  I was so disappointed she was going home because she was such an impressive young lady.  Unfortunately we don't get to know each missionary personally, I wish I did.  I sure know each one by name.  Doing the mail every day has helped me know all 160 missionaries names.  It is a good feeling recognizing them by name.  Especially when mail comes for people not in the mission, I know longer go searching for a name that is not in our mission.  I just recognize it is not one of ours.  "Return to Sender"  PLEASE!

Sydney Harbour
Last story.  The day after Christmas is a big holiday here in AU.  It is called "Boxing Day". (Google it for definition if you don't know what it is.  I didn't).  We went with 30 couples from the North and South Mission on a chartered Catamaran.  Along with 1000's of small boats and extreme yachts we got positioned on the harbor to  watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart race.  This is a big event and several hundred thousand people turn out to watch or participate in the 3 day race.  Our skipper manuvered us expertly around large and small boats to get in a good position to watch these beautiful sail boats take off.  Several times I thought we were going to crash into OR be crashed by another boat.  It was an amazing activity.  After 4 hours of small choppy waters I was starting to turn a little green.  Getting back on to the floating dock was another adventure.  The skipper stayed at the throttle moving us back and forward, with 2 of the Senior Elders giving us a hand and a push on to the deck.  It was lucky no one fell in and was crushed between the boat and the dock.  We all made it safely ashore albeit with very wobbly legs.  Sleeping that night was not comfortable as I felt I was still moving up, down and sideways on the boat.  I don't think I would do well in the Navy.

I check the Kaysville/Layton weather every morning when I get up.  It doesn't look like we have received much snow?  I also check weather in Iowa where our daughter and family live.  It is freezing in Iowa.  Literally below 0,  sometimes minus temperatures.  It makes me wonder how did those Pioneers trek across such freezing cold plains?  I am amazed at what Pioneers had to endure just to follow the Prophet and Heavenly Fathers plan for them.  They were and are amazing people.  We need to remember what our ancestors sacrificed for us to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Pioneer gave their all.  They ENDURED to the END.  Hope we can do the same.

Several of the Senior missionaries that welcomed us so warmly when we arrived have or are finishing their missions shortly.  I am sad to see them go.  By the time President and Sister Checketts leave in July we will be 1 of 2 couples left out of the group we joined in with.  Always a change to get use to in the mission field.  So grateful for this amazing Gospel of Jesus Christ.  How it blesses our lives and those of others.  Never take it for granted, Love it and Live it!

Sister Ellison

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas in Australia

Picture courtesy Sister Jenkins ASNM 2017

Who would ever have thought I would miss Snow?  In my mind, cold weather, snow and Christmas go hand in hand.  Even though I grew up in warm, sunny California, and love California in the summer months...I do love Utah and the warm coziness  of family times, warm fires, family outings and gatherings, hot soups and Hallmark Christmas movies in December.  This year is going to be very different.  Today it is 107 degrees.  I felt the hot sun on my arms, top of my head and neck walking home for something cool to eat for lunch.  I walked into our Flat to find it was 85+ degrees inside due to a non functioning air conditioner.  We made the calls to the grounds contractor.  He has put in the request for a repair, but?????  Lot's of people have A/C problems this time of year.  I see some sleepless nights ahead.  No one said it was going to be easy.  Maybe I will bring a pillow and blanket up to the mission office and sleep up here tonight?  Sounds like a good idea.

Last week we had our Christmas Zone Conference with all 7 Zones, 160 missionaries in one building.  These missionaries LOVE to visit with each other.  It is like long lost friends when they get together.  President and Sister Checketts had a wonderful day of activities planned.  While the President was teaching the missionaries, the seniors were working rapidly getting the tables, settings,  and decorations finished in the cultural hall.  Other senior missionaries were in the kitchen and Primary room prepping salads, watermelon, cooking pulled pork, sweet and sour meatballs and vegetables, and of course the Mission staple, rice and lots of RICE.  What a beehive of action we had going on.

After an hour or so we heard this wonderful, angelic sound coming from the Chapel.  It was all those amazing missionaries singing Christmas Carols.  We quickly finished what we were doing in other parts of the building and went into the Chapel looking for an empty seat here or there.  We joined in for the last 1-2 songs.  Now that is what you call enjoying the true meaning of Christmas.  Then President announced the rest of the day's activities.  We started with a few clippings the President edited from some LDS films.  Spirit of the Game, a great movie about missionaries in Australia 1950.  If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it. A simple story but inspiring.  Of course he had to put in some out takes from The Best Two Years.  Many of these missionaries had never seen this movie as they were just young kids when it came out.  I love this movie as well, but this day I loved watching these missionaries laughing hysterically as they watched for the first time and completely related to all the funny out takes.  Oh my, their reactions were priceless.  I was laughing so hard watching them laugh.

Beautiful Christmas decorations made by Senior Sisters

We then went and enjoyed a delicious meal that Sister Checketts planned.  There was an abundance of food.  Next on the agenda were  games.  Races stacking cups.  Getting Oreo cookies into your mouth from your forehead, and one other game?  We then did pictures by the different countries we were from.  (BTW Do you know where missionaries say missionaries from Utah are from??  The Factory! I thought was kind of funny)  The picture of missionaries from the States was 4-5 times bigger than any other country.  Mail was passed out which is always a big high light for missionaries.  Lastly the movie Moana was shown.  Fun movie and day of activities.

It was getting late and the President was anxious to get the Missionaries out the door and on their way home via cars or public transportation.  I was disappointed that the Mission song was not going to be sung.  Then I saw Sister Checketts talking to the President.  Guess what?  We sang the mission song and the President and his wife both recorded it.  I can not tell you how powerful this song is.  And when you add those beautiful Polynesian voices that harmonious so magically....well it brings one to tears!  It reminds me why we are serving and what our purpose is.  It makes all the difficult things that happen day in and day out  i.e. broken AC's worth the struggles.  Oh how I love these missionaries, these faithful Senior missionaries and this work.  This is time well spent.

Sydney Temple decorations 2017

Now for a story that I got permission from the President to relate.  President Checketts continually stresses and encourages each of us to have the spirit with us at all times.  He also sets an amazing example.  When new missionaries arrive to the mission he does not assign them to their areas until he has a chance to visit with them and feel directed by the spirit where to place them and with whom.  President Checketts knew we were getting a young man to the mission who has a heart problem and has a pacemaker.  This would cause any President concern because they never want anything bad to happen to one of their missionaries under their care.  I don't know how worried the President was, but  our mission nurse was quite concerned and doing background research so she would be up to speed on his condition.  President Checketts decided to put Elder Smith who has the heart condition with Elder Jones (names have been changed to protect the parties).  After visiting awhile with Elder Smith, who I can tell you is delightful, charming, and oh so faithful young man, President felt inspired to put him with a 2 month new missionary, Elder Jones.  When President Checketts told Elder Jones what the background was on Elder Smith, Elder Jones was not worried or put off in the least.  As an after thought Elder Jones mentioned to President Checketts that he had been a pre-med student before coming out on his mission and wants to someday be cardio thoracic surgeon.  Now this missionary wasn't going to perform any surgery, but he wasn't going to be afraid to help his new companion in any way he could.  Coincidence?  
I think not.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Say YES!

Our Ward has about 50-70 people on a good Sunday.  But they are amazing people, striving to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Good people that even though many are elderly they still contribute to the ward in whatever way they can.  An example is our ward chorister.  This 94 year old Sister just spent months in the hospital and home recovering from Spinal Meningitis.  But as soon as she could she was back leading us in our Sunday Hymns.   We are so impressed with these valiant members.

SAY  Y E S !
This past weekend we enjoyed Stake Conference.  Saturday evening is met in a small Chapel and we fill up about ¾ of the Chapel and overflow area.  It is always so surprising to me when we walk in and see so many of our young missionaries already there.  This Saturday evening I was particularly impressed with how many of the young missionaries participated in the evening program.  Sister Walker conducted the music.  At the last minute they needed someone to conduct.  Someone suggested Sister Walker.  She did not have experience doing this but she said “Yes”.  Then Sister Walker and Elder Monterio sang a duet.  You could tell Elder Monterio was nervous, as he never looked up or smiled.  But he had an amazing voice.  They both agreed to do this performance when asked a few weeks earlier, they said “Yes”.  Later when Sister Checketts was leading a discussion from the pupit she asked for class participation and our young Missionaries were popping up their hands.  Twice she asked missionaries to read something up on the screen above the pulpit.  When she called on Elder Ashton, he said he forgot his classes but he stood up, button his suit coat and walked to the front where he could see better and read with a strong and powerful voice the paragraph.  He said “Yes” in his actions.  I think some 18 year olds would have hesitated or read in a timid voice.  The missionaries throughout the world are being shaped and moulded into our future church leaders. So amazing to watch and see it happen in our missionaries lives here in Sydney.

            Later that evening I told Sister Checketts how proud of these young people I was and she said she feels that way all the time.  I am surprised at how I feel so close to these young missionaries.  I guess working in the office and daily speaking to a number of these young people causes you to grow fond and even love each of them.  Our wonderful Sister missionaries always rush up to me when they see me and give me great big hugs.  It feels good to feel this love from them, although some of the Polynesians don’t realize how strong they are and how old I am getting (sob) and they about crush every bone in my body.  But I love getting their hugs too much to ever shy away from receiving this sign of love.

            I am preparing to give a talk in our ward at the end of the November.  My assigned topic is Elder Bednar’s conference talk “Quick to Observe”.  I have been doing a lot of observing and praying for guidance on this topic.  Elder Bednar talks about different types of Spiritual Gifts that we may not observe as a gift.  Such as, listening, asking, hearing the still small voice, being able to weep, avoiding conflict and on and on.  So, with my desire to observe at a more heightened level, I noticed something special about Sister Checketts, our Presidents good wife. 
She has a real gift at pronouncing missionary’s names, especially NEW missionary’s names perfectly on her first attempt. This might not sound like anything special to someone not here, so let me give you an example of some of our more challenging names and this is just a few.  There are dozens of names that I still struggle with.  Okay for Polynesian names how would you say Faasootauloa, Leaaemanu Tuimaseve, Taerea, Tahere, Taurere (last 3 names all pronunciated the same).  Asian names Ng (hint keep your lips closed), Tseng (first 2 letters with your lips closed) no it is not Zing, and Saengkabkeo.  A couple of random names from Australia and New Zealand, Riquelme, Ngatuvai and last but not least Venetsanakos.  This is just a handful of names that have me tongue tied whenever I see these missionaries.  Not Sister Checketts, she can pronounce them all… and even put a Polynesian accent, Asian Accent, Greek or Hispanic accent on these names.  I commented to Sister Checketts how well she does with these names and she admitted that she has been blessed with the ability to not struggle with the names of the missionaries and speak their names clearly and recognizably.  What a gift.  I think I will have to use that example in my talk. 

The other day after reading some church history I started thinking about how difficult it must have been for Joseph Smith Jr. to organize, spiritually lead and teach the many new and challenging members coming into the church.  I thought about today and how we often need to do new and challenging things in our personal lives.  Or when church leaders need to organize a new program or reinvent a program.  As I was pondering how difficult life can be, I thought to myself, why can’t Heavenly Father just tell us what he wants, when he wants it and how he wants it done?  I mean we get a lot of direction from our leaders why don’t we have answers to all our problems and needs?  That seemed reasonable to me.
The next day when we were having our scripture reading this verse jumped out at me. D&C 58:26 “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant, wherefore he receiveth no reward.”  Well then, I had my question answered quite clearly.  Amazing how that works.

            As I have mentioned before, our offices sit across the parking lot of the Sydney Temple.  It is really exciting walking to work these days.  Watching the hustle and bustle of the many electricians, grounds people and workers getting the grounds ready for the Christmas Season.  They have trenched all over the oversized lawn, running new power lines to massive trees to be wired with Christmas lights.  It will be a small version of Temple Square here.  They say we will have 1000’s of visitors during the holidays.  The junior missionaries will give the tours and answer the questions.  The senior missionaries will be support and supervise all the action.  It will be long days and nights during the holidays, but what better way to spend Christ’s birthday?  Wouldn’t you agree?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Royal Botanical Gardens - November

Last Saturday was a rainy cooler day here in Sydney.  Monty and I decided to take a P-day and go to the Royal Botanical Gardens downtown Sydney.  It was wonderful.  No crowds.  We found street parking at $8 an hour.   A moderate rain.  We had umbrellas. It was just so pleasant to be out and seeing nature and all its beauty.  We stayed about an hour.  I am just coming off being sick for 3 weeks so my energy isn't all the way back to full speed.  We then drove downtown and went to a Malaysian restaurant that I had read good reports on AND it was a moderate price. The food was delicious and a little spicy, but we both enjoyed it.  I can't tell you how expensive things are here.  Houses start at a Million $$.  That is for dumps.  Nicer ones are 4-6 million.  Restaurants serve everything a la carte and usually around the $20-30 range.  One restaurant I was reading about was $40 appetizers and $60-70 for main course.  I find I like to eat home and save the money.  Of course there are food courts, but that gets old after awhile. 

It has been nice to get a weeks worth of rain as it is finally greening up the lawns and trees.  It does seem many places don't use sprinklers, they just take what mother nature gives them.  The lawns around here have been turning brown and not very pretty.  The Church Service Center has sent out electricians to run more power to the distant trees on the campus so they can light more trees this Christmas.  President Checketts was briefing us on the upcoming December schedule and our responsibilities hosting thousands of people to the Temple grounds during the holidays.  It sure is going to be different to have Christmas taking place during the heat of summer.

The trees in these pictures are the much beloved Jacaranda trees.  They are all over Sydney, and just beautiful.  I love having this color for a few weeks.  

I don't have much to report due to being under the weather.  However, I must say so many senior missionaries sure came to my rescue.  Missionaries picked up my work load while I was out of the office.  They were probably glad I stayed away so they didn't get sick.  However the Junior missionaries have this Flu passing from one to another throughout the mission.  Sister Bott brought me the best tasting vegetarian soup twice.  Monty took really good care of me, making multiple trips to the store for items I needed.  Sister Merrill recognized I was depleted on electrolights and bought me some replacements.  Boy did they help.  I was worried Monty would get sick as well, but he didn't.  I will be really happy if I never have the flu again.  That was miserable. Another challenge that I made it through.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

We have had the opportunity to attend and help at our 3 different Special Training Conferences.  Elder Ellison and I gave driving tests and consulted on Flat Inspections.  I enjoyed the driving tests as most of the young Elders I tested were very competent.  There was one Elder from Texas that kept hugging the left side of the road.  I pointed out 5-6 times he was too close to the left side.  He would politely say "Yes Ma'am", momentarily center the car then be on the left gutter again.  He also drove with one hand and faster than I thought necessary in a neighborhood.  But he wasn't listening.  Sure enough I could see what was coming.  As he sped along zipping up on a round-about he hit the left curb and gave the car a big jolt.  I looked at him and once again told him to keep his eye on the white line out his right window and to stay closer to it than he had been doing.  This is a very unnatural feeling for us American drivers, but I found it to be helpful in my driving in Australia.  Maybe I will have a new career when I get home as a driving instructor?  "NOT".

October 5, 6 2017
President Checketts comments:
The Gospel has a plan, it is called “The Plan of Salvation”.  Learn it.  Gain a testimony of it if you don’t have one already.
We can learn how to live life by following Jesus Christ.
The Holy Ghost can comfort you, he can tell you what to do.
Your Mission is your MTC for LIFE.
The Church is not a Sunday “thing”.  The Church is what we are every Day.  Live the Example.
Forever is comprised of “NOWS”.  The Past is just that…the past.  The Future never comes.  It is just “NOW”.

LDS Charities:  Elder McSweeney
The McSweeneys are a Senior couple on a Family History mission in ASNM. For the past 6 years Elder McSweeney goes on 3 week Missions, several times a year, with his single daughter who is Nurse Practitioner at an Ob/Gyn practice in Provo Utah.  Elder McSweeney makes contact with the different governments in selected countries and arranges for LDS Charities to go in and educate the medical Professionals.  So far 60 locations have been identified as countries that need assistance.  46 of these countries have been cleared to move forward.  32 have been completed.  They need to have at least 100 people in attendance in order to make it cost efficient.
The LDS Charities helps countries with Neonatal problems.  Such as helping babies that aren’t breathing when they are first born.  They teach resuscitation to nurses and doctors that don’t have current information.  When a mother and child have problems during or after delivery the policy is to help the mother first.  They will lay the baby on the floor, because there aren’t little beds for newborns. Elder McSweeney showed pictures of 5-6 babies sharing 1 bed in the hospital.   The policy is that it is more important to save the mother who typically has little children at home that need care.  The government can’t help orphans so they try and save the mother first, thereby loosing babies unnecessarily. 
When a baby is born and having trouble breathing, quite often it is because their airway is blocked.  With a simple device called the “Penguin” they can clear the airway, get the debris out of the air passage and the baby immediately starts breathing again.  This simple fact and device are not had in most 3rd world countries.  Many babies are lost due to a problem that is so easy to resolve.
Physicians with language skills are desperately needed.  All the Portuguese medical literature has been translated by Elder and Sister McSweeney’s daughter who served a mission in Portugal.  Angola Africa is a large country where they speak Portuguese.   
On one of the trips Elder McSweeney went on with his daughter, before serving a full time mission with his wife, was to Mozambique Africa.  It was NOT well attended or accepted that they needed help with their medical care.  Elder McSweeney felt that they would not be able to return because they had only about 30 people attending.  Just as they were getting ready to leave, a late arriving nurse walked in and saw Sister McSweeney (daughter).  This nurse had been trained earlier by Sister McSweeney in another country.  The nurse was so excited to see her, ran up and gave her a big hug, then asked if the LDS Team could come to her village/city where she had 120+ medical professionals that would willingly take the training.  This same scenario repeated again with another nurse only she said her village would have 150+ people to take the training.   They have gone back to Mozambique for the past 3 years
The point being made:  The Lord has his hand in our lives but especially in HIS work.  

We are commanded to “Clothe the naked, relieve the sick, feed the hungry”.  We can ALL do our part.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Australian Flag and Moroni

Sydney Temple and Australian Flag
Sydney Temple and Australian Flag.

When I glance out my office window this is my view.  How lucky am I?  For a second I think something is off because I am not seeing the American Flag.  Then I remember I am in Australia.  Every time I look at Moroni at the top of the steeple I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what he and other men of the scriptures did for each of us.  Keeping valuable records so that each of us would be able to read and learn from history.  To learn from the past and hopefully not make similar mistakes.  Sometimes I feel as a society we are not remembering what is important and how to live life so we can return to our Heavenly Father.

I don't know why it is so challenging to make Blog entries.  Sometimes I think I don't have anything important to record.  Sister Jenkins keeps a small notebook and jots down things that happen on a daily bases.  Then at the end of the week she makes her entries.  I need to start doing this.  Here is my excuse.  I am constantly tired.  I go home between 5-6, which is an improvement from a couple of months ago.  When I get home I make dinner, maybe do a load of wash and fall into bed between 8-9.  Then I repeat this every day.

Spring is here.  Flowers are blooming every where.  Once again it is hard to wrap my brain around spring/summer about to start when, my head tells me we should be moving into fall.  But flowers don't lie.  I think I am going to attempt growing some azaleas when I get home they are so pretty here.  It is getting very warm, actually hot.  Today was 90 degrees.  Tomorrow is scheduled to be in the 60's.  Go figure.  I am really nervous about the heat here.  I hope I can survive it!

We had several sad things happen in our mission last month.  We had 2 missionaries go home early.  Many tried to work with these 2 sisters but it just didn't work out.  Another Sister had a tragedy happen to her family.  Her Mother and Father were killed in a small air plane crash outside of the Ogden Airport.  It was really hard on everyone to see this valiant sister go through such an unimaginable ordeal.  This missionary was the oldest sibling of 4 and she needed to go home and take care of family matters.  She was an excellent missionary, and had served for a little over a year.  She was honorably released.  She had a younger brother just starting a mission in Florida, he too came home, but returned shortly after the funeral.  A really important lesson learned;  Do not take life for granted.  Treat everyone like it might be your last day with them.
Be kind, be a good example, serve others.

We had a wonderful time with Nathan, Sharlyn and children.  It was something I had been looking forward too since I arrived in Australia.  Once again Nathan did a great job researching activities that we could all participate in and enjoy.  The hard part was saying goodbye.  I have always known how important family is.  However, saying goodbye to them made me realize how much I want to be with ALL my family in the Eternities.  So grateful for the Gospel and it's teachings.