Monday, July 10, 2017

Compassion in Action

On our 2nd Senior outing about 2 months ago I observed something that showed great Charity and Love.

Early Saturday morning 10 Senior couples met at the office building for our monthly outing.  We drove over to the dock where we took a 1 hour Ferry ride to downtown Sydney.  We arrived at 9 a.m. excited to see the sights and  shop at the outdoor market and walked along the bay.  We could see the Opera house across from us, it was a little too far for us to walk too.  We all met up at noon at a nice restaurant where you could eat vegetarian or choose your own meat and BBQ over an open pit.  It felt really good to sit and drink cold water and relax as we had been going pretty strong for 4 hours and walking 4-5 miles (and we ARE getting older).

After a delicious meal we walked some more to the dock for our return ferry ride.  We were approximately 30 minutes early with many empty seats on the dock.  We enjoyed visiting with each other and showing each other what we had bought.  As I was listening to one of the Sisters talk I noticed the dock was filling up with people taking  ferry's to various destinations.  I noticed an older gentleman struggling to walk as he passed by our group.  He was limping, and had a pained look on his face.  He soon was out of sight as he walked all the way to the end of the dock.  Shortly I noticed him walking back toward our group.  I supposed he was looking for a seat.  Just then I noticed President Checketts get up quickly, walk over to the elderly man, point to his empty seat next to his wife, and gently usher him over to the seat.  The gentleman took the seat gratefully as we waited another 10-15 minutes for our ferry.

Now the interesting thing is President Checketts is a large man with bad knees and hips.  I know he has had one hip replacement and maybe some knee surgeries.  All the walking we did that day could not have felt good on his aching bones and muscles.  But President Checkettes noticed, maybe because he could relate to this older gentleman's difficulty in walking and  showed compassion towards this man and gave up his seat.

I don't know if anyone else in our group noticed what was taking place as there was so much laughing and talking place.  I don't know if anyone outside our group noticed the kind act.  But I noticed and I was so impressed by the gesture, I am writing about 2 months later.  What a good example President Checketts is, even when no one is paying attention.  I am sure this is something Christ would do.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Water Leak on the 27th Floor

I forgot I was going to write about a small water problem we had last month.

Driving home from doing Flat inspections up in the Central Coast Area we received a call about some Elders Flat on the 27th floor in downtown Sydney that had flooded.  Apparently one of the Elders had turned the kitchen sink on full force, then forgot about it, and left for the day to do proselyting.  When the Elders returned that evening they came in to carpet covered in water.  As I was listening to the Senior Companion explain what his Junior Companion had done, I started wondering why the drain hadn't drained out the water.  Then my mother's intuition  kicked in.  Ahhhh,  a sink full of dirty dishes would keep the sink from draining properly.  Now I don't know that is esactly what happened for a fact, but I am pretty sure something like that happened.

Without going into all the details about how NO other missionaries were available to help mop up excess water or get fans and heaters to help dry up the mess....let me just say that my GOOD HEARTED husband, after a long day of doing flat inspections drove downtown into a mass of people visiting the yearly event of "VIVID LIGHT SHOW" (see earlier June Entry) and drove into massive traffic to take equipment to expedite the clean up.  Getting home close to midnight.

I have not heard if there was leaking on lower floors, or what other damage was done to the Elders Flat.  But here is the lesson to be learned.  Don't leave dirty dishes in your sink and Definitely don't leave your faucet on all day while out doing other things.

This is just another adventure in the mission field. Yeah!

This is a picture of a church on the grounds of The Kings School.  A Private School just a couple miles up the road from us.  The campus is beautiful and I am not a very good photographer.  This building was built in the late 1800's

Monday, June 19, 2017

Gifford Nielson

20 June 2017    

At our weekly Devotional we had a special opportunity to hear from the Area Presidency in Auckland NZ.  It was a farewell to a member of the Area Presidency, Brother and Sister Gifford Nielson.  It was interesting to hear a little bit more about someone I was familiar with.  Gifford Nielson was a star quarterback for BYU when Monty and I were first married and living in Provo.  Before being called to the Quorum of the Seventy's Brother Nielson had been Mission President in the Melbourne AU mission.  Wonderful remarks were made about Brother and Sister Nielson and then they each took a few minutes to express things they had learned and grown from while serving in the Pacific Area.

Brother Nielson encouraged all of us to build our foundation upon the Rock of Christ.  This is done by doing the simple things. Reading our scriptures daily, saying personal and family prayers, and giving Service.

Brother Nielson told how when he and his wife flew to New Caledonia he asked the local Stake President if there might be a couple of families they could visit in the short time they had in the area.  The Stake President set up 2 appointments.  When the time came Brother  Nielson went into the designated home with the Stake President, introduced himself to the family and then said something like this.  "The Lord has sent me here to your home.  I do not know why I am here, but you do.  Brother______can you tell me why I am here?"  The father of the house would first say, "I don't know"?  Brother Nielson would look deep into his eyes, smile, and start nodding his head.  Shortly, the Brother would start to say something like "You are here because I need to do better.  I need to take my wife to the Temple and we need to become a forever family  We need to be reading our scriptures".  Brother Nielson would say "That is right."  Without saying anything the member would intuitively know what needed to be said and done.

Sister Nielson quoted Albert Einstein who said:  There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; or you can live as if everything is a miracle.   So with that comment I will tell you about a miracle, that happened Saturday.  

Monty and I had a very busy day.  We/I was gearing up for one of the busiest times of my job, MLC (Missionary Leadership Conference).  This is where all the Zones put their orders in for  supplies and Housing needs for all 150 missionaries.  I am feeling much more comfortable with this big responsibility than when I first arrived.  But this week coincided with our Senior FHE that Monty and I were in charge of Lesson and dessert.  Elder Ellison was also getting ready to take a rental truck up north to close out a Senior Flat and help the seniors move everything out as they were headed back home and no replacement was coming to take their spot. We needed to clean our flat as it gets NO attention during the week. We also had our YSA lesson to prepare for Sunday and a Stake YSA evening meeting.  We also had an Engagement Party to attend Saturday for the son of Glen Karaka who we have become very fond of down in the Service Center.  Saturday was a pack full day.  By 2:30 I was exhausted and needed a nap if I was going to make the Engagement Party.  I laid down thinking I needed to get up by 3:30 or 4 p.m. at the latest.  At 3:30 I sat up in bed and thought, "I can sleep for another 1/2 hour and it is so cold.  Lay back down and sleep just a little bit longer.".  But I couldn't go back to sleep for some reason.  I got up, put on my sweater and thought to myself, "I wonder what the weather is like outside?"  I went to the back door and opened it.  On the other side of our electronic gate was a tall Polynesian fellow.  He said "Is this the church Mission Home?"  I told him the office was down closer to the Temple, was there something I could help him with.  He told me his brother was serving a mission in this Australia Sydney North Mission and he had 2 packages he wanted to drop off to him.  I told him to bring them to me, as I am the person that actually gets the mail to the missionaries.  He and his wife brought 2 huge 
packages that weighed between 20-30 lbs.  I had him put them in the car so I could drive them down to the office later.

Now there is no reason I should have been awake.  I heard no noise or stirring outside my gate.  If I had not woke up this poor brother would have had no where to leave these large packages and he certainly would not have wanted to pay postage on those heavy boxes.  Now this is just a little miracle.  Well, maybe a big one for Elder Kaipuke who will be so excited to get these gifts from home.  I would say it was really a BIG Miracle for the Brother that had driven up from Melbourne to  deliver these package among other errands he had to do.  And it was faith promoting to me that Heavenly Father cares about the DETAILS of our lives, BIG or small.  He is interested in each of our lives.


Vivid Senior Activity June 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

FLAT Inspections

Monday Elder Ellison and I  drove up to the Central Coast Zone to do 3 flat inspections.  For those that may not know, a flat is NOT a flat tire.  Rather a flat is an apartment, condo or some type of housing.  Flat inspections have not been done for several months as Elder Ellison and I are just coming up to speed.  Elder Ellison has involved all the Senior Couples in helping inspect flats in different areas of the mission.  That way we don't have to do 60 inspections and drive extremely long distances.

We started with the Zone leaders flat.  It looked like a small older twin home.  We pulled up about 15 minutes later than we told them we would be there, due to the fact I had Elder Ellison go back to our flat so I could pick up some cleaning gloves (per Tyler's recommendation) and cleaning supplies, just in case we would have to get involved with showing missionaries how to actually clean.

The minute we walked into Elder Riquelme (pronounced Rikaleme)  and TangiPi flat I could sense it was VERY clean.  Things were definitely older, worn and seen better days BUT it was clean, organized and well taken care of.  I was so shocked at how nice it was, I wanted to give them a big hug, but that would be breaking Mission Rules.  The study area was so impressive with maps of their Zone, the missionaries under their charge, spiritual thoughts and quotes on the walls etc.  (I even flipped the picture of the Prophet to the back side to make sure their were no inappropriate pictures like in the movie "The Best 2 Years"). They had a few weights and bars for lifting so they could get their exercise in.  The fridge and stove were all very clean albeit the fridge was quite empty due to the fact that it was P-day and they had not been out shopping.  I was so proud of these 2 Elders I gave them an A+ for a job well done.  Now on to the Sisters.

Hmmm, well the Sisters are very sweet and kind, bubbly and full of energy but not quite as responsible as the Zone Leaders.  A couple of the Sisters I think really did want to have a cleaner flat but being in a 4 missionary flat made it more challenging.  I gave them a number of things to improve on.  As we walked out to our car Sister Walker and Lam walked out with us to get some light bulbs. They forgot to bring their flat key so Sister Lam stayed holding the locking gate open.  As Elder Ellison was rummaging through the car looking for the light bulbs Sister Walker asked if they got the award for "Most Improved Flat"?  We did not know what she was talking about.  She said she was brought in last transfer and asked to help the other Sisters do a better job of cleaning and organizing.  What a hard job she had.  She could not become the "Boss" or do all the cleaning on her own.  She had to encourage and lead by example.  That is a difficult job for one so young.  She was really doing the best with the situation she moved into.  Good Job Sister.

The last Flat was another set of Elders.  We had gradually fallen farther behind in out time schedule.  They were patiently waiting for us sitting on their deck reading scriptures.  Once again, when I walked in I could tell this was a clean flat.  Lucky for these Elders this flat was new, and pristine and they were doing an excellent job keeping it that way.  Their study room once again was organized and clean.  Motivating quotes in a couple of spots.  The only problem I found was they had a Fan, heater and vacuum in a closet that were not being used.  Elder Ellison didn't want to fill up the car with more junk, but I felt we needed to bring it back in to the warehouse so we would know where things were instead of sitting in closets and no one knowing where they were.  We tested all the items to make sure we were not hauling back nonworking items.  The vacuum was broken so we told them to just throw it in the trash/rubbish.  They were hesitant to do so.  No one around here wants to throw things away.  They think they can be fixed!  BY WHO?  Elder Ellison doesn't have the time and taking them into repair shops takes money and TIME.  By the time you do this the cost is almost as much as a new vacuum.  These Elders had their 2 beds in the living room as the 2 small bedrooms would not hold the two beds.  It was interesting to see no furniture but 2 beds (neatly made) in the living area.

I am happy to report that I did NOT need my cleaning gloves or have to demonstrate how to clean a toilet.  We have 8 more flats to inspect in the next 10 days.  I hope we find all of them in as good of condition as we did these 3 flats.  It is really enjoyable getting out and putting names with faces of the missionaries.  Such outstanding young people.

Driving the hour home from Central Coast we got a phone call from an Elder living in the City on the 27th floor of a building.  He called to report a flood they had in their flat.  Another story for another time.  Stay tuned.


Here is a question for you.  NO looking up on Google.  Who knows where they speak BISLAMA?
I have had missionaries guess Middle East, India, Philippines etc.  First the story.

A couple of weeks ago I had 2 Elders come in very excited and wanted to know if I had any Books of Mormon in the Bislama language.  I actually had ordered 2 Books of Mormon in that language a couple of weeks earlier so I had 1 extra Bislama Book of Mormon.  The Elders needed 15 Books of Mormon in Bislama.  Their Ward had 15 investigators from the Island of Vanuatu come visit their Ward on Sunday.  They have been hired as field workers for some farms in the area and they came with a friend that was either a member or very close to joining the Church.  It was contagious to see how excited these missionaries were about the potential investigators.

I quickly ordered the requested supplies and they came in lightening fast, very unusual actually.  We will see how this all turns out.

  Bislama also known under its earlier name in French Bichelamar  is a creole language, one of the official languages of Vanuatu.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Opposition and the Tree May 2017

I love the Stories President Checketts sends out once a week in his weekly letter to the Missionaries.  I hope you enjoy them as well.  This is a good reminder about the purpose of Opposition.

Opposition - The Tree
The tree that never has to fight for sun or sky or air or light
That stood out in the open plain and always got its share of rain
Never became a forest king but lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil to work    or plow his share of soil
Who always got what ere he asked and never worked a full day’s toil?
Never became a manly   man but lived and died as he began.
Good timber does not grow with ease.
The stronger wind the stronger trees.
The greater storm the greater strength
The higher sky the greater length.
Where   thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
Who hold their councils with the stars?
Whose battered branches show the scars?
Of much of storm and much of strife
This is the common law of life.

I’m grateful for the common bond that is built for those who believe in the Living Christ. It creates a friendship that encircles the world and crosses all bounds.
I know that part of this life is intended to help us grow in strength to prepare for the opportunities of eternity. To do so we need the strength that comes from challenges and the scars of growth.
May God bless us one and all to embrace the growth with all it scratches and sores and recognize his hand in forming us into the sons and daughters that he sees us to be. In so doing it is with love that he works for our return to him.
President Checketts

3 Small Miracles May 21 2017

A few things worth mention happened this week.

After a long, busy week, Monty and I decided to go out to a nice Italian dinner recommended to us by Elder and Sister Grant.  I made early reservations so we could be home at a reasonable time and get to bed early as we were both fighting colds and very tired.  We were the first ones in the restaurant.  It was very nice.  Food was only served Ala Cart and it was a bit pricey.  I was looking forward to my Lasagna.  We were waiting for Monty's Rocket Salad to come to the table when his phone rang.  Not a good sign for a quiet dinner.  He answered and went outside to take the call.  His salad came and I began to have a few bites.  After about 15 minutes he came back in and I turned his salad over to him with 3/4 of the salad still waiting for him.

The call was from two Elders from Central Coast Zone explaining they had been driving to a dinner appointment with a member family.  Traffic stopped suddenly, they managed to stop in time, but the car behind them rear ended their car and pushed their car into the car in front.  There by making their car an "accordion".   Fortunately neither Elder was hurt, nor the driver in front or behind was injured.  The Elders believe the car will be totalled.  Miracle #1

President and Sister Checketts left Wednesday for and Area meeting held in New Zealand.  Since their VISA was only good for 2 years, they had started the filing process 6 months earlier for an extended VISA.  Their fingerprints had been lost twice and other delays had occurred during the refiling process.  Before they left for New Zealand everything was in order with their VISA's.....or so we thought.  Monty and I were to pick them up at the airport when we received a call saying they had been detained and not allowed back into Australia due to problems with their VISA's.  Well you should have seen the office hustling , the Service Center  Travel Department got hopping, and the Consulate was contacted.  After an extra night in New Zealand and early morning departure they arrived home at noon on Saturday.  Miracle #2

Sunday, before starting our 1 hour drive to our Toukley Ward, we stopped in the office to grab mail for the missionaries that meet in our building.  A quick pop in and out and be on our way.  When we came around to the front of the Mission Office/Service Center there were about 12-15 cars parked out front.  I asked Monty what was going on.  He reminded me that they were having an Area Stake President's Meeting that Sunday.  We quietly crept up the back stairs and up to our offices.  As we were gathering the mail,  President Checketts popped his head into the mail room and said "Oh Good the Ellison's are here.  I have been looking in the supply room for a particular pamphlet for our meeting downstairs.  Can you help me find it"?  The Supply room is my territory and I knew right where to look.  I got the pamphlet for the President and we were all off to our meetings within minutes.  Miracle #3

Now you might think those were all cute little coincidences.  I beg to differ.  Help was given in each  incidence.  Missionaries were protected.  Paper work was approved  when it should have been held up due to Bureaucracy.  Elder Ellison and I just happened to be in the Mission Office on a Sunday when we normally are not there so we could assist the President with something he needed for an important meeting.  AMAZING how this all works out isn't it?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Learning to be a Missionary May 2017

  We are between crunch times and enjoying the lull before the storm.   The Assistants are able to go out into the general public and preach like the rest of the missionaries.  The Assistants were in the office getting more supplies, and I was helping them find what they needed.  I asked how they find people to teach.  They said they spend  all day at the train station or the bus stops.  I couldn't believe what I heard, "how long?" I asked.  6-8 hours a day they said.  I asked how they approached someone, Elder Bush demonstrated using the Restoration pamphlet.  I was suppose to be the stranger at the train station.  He stopped me and asked a very simple question and then launched into a very heart felt approach to the Restoration.  I couldn't believe how sincere, kind and informative his approach was.  I played a non believer and answered negatively to his questions about praying, and my knowledge of Jesus Christ.  He was so sincere that I really felt if I WAS the nonbeliever I would definitely want to know more.

I felt encouraged to give it a try the next time I was out in public.  Unfortunately my 2 attempts did not glean any interest from the 2 different people I was talking to but I felt a little more secure in my attempts.  These young missionaries are just so impressive.  They don't have to be super smart, or cool, they are just sincere and bringing knowledge to those looking for answers.  The first 3 pamphlets, The Restoration, The Plan of Salvation, and The Gospel of Jesus Christ are so informative and answer questions so simply that it makes teaching the lessons a little bit easier for the missionaries and the novice missionary.

I enjoy getting to know these missionaries and hearing their stories.  Maybe I'll have a new story the next time I make an entry.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fence or Ambulance 10 May 2017

G'day Family and Friends,

President and Sister Checketts do a wonderful job leading and guiding our mission and Missionaries.  Sister Checketts does a monthly newsletter and President Checketts sends out a weekly letter to all the missionaries.  I really liked the following story and wanted to share it with those that may be interested.  And Remember KEEP CALM and Read the BOOK OF MORMON.

by Joseph Malius
Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant.
But over its terrible edge there had slipped,
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done
But their projects did not all tally.
Some said, "Put a fence round the edge of the cliff,"
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city.
A fence may be useful or not, it is true
But each heart became brimful of pity,
For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds or gave pence, not to put up a fence
But an ambulance down in the valley.
"For the cliff is all right if you're careful," they said,
And if folks even slip or are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much,
As the shock down below when they're stopping.
So day after day, as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would their rescuers sally,
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff
With their ambulance down in the valley.
Then an old sage remarked, "It's a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause
When they'd much better aim at prevention.
"Let us stop at its source all the mischief," he cried
"Come neighbors and friends let us rally.
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley."
"Oh, he's a fanatic," the others rejoined,
"Dispense with the ambulance? Never.
He'd dispense with all charities too, if he could,
No, no we'll support them forever."
"Aren't we picking up folks just as fast as they fall
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence
While the ambulance works down in the valley?"
But a sensible few who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer.
They believe that prevention is better than cure,
And their party will still be the stronger.
Encourage them then with your purse, voice and pen,
And while other philanthropists daily
They will scorn all pretense and put up a fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.
Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling.
To rescue the fallen is good but 'tis best
To prevent other people from falling.
Better close up the source of temptation and crime,
Than deliver from dungeon and galley.
Better put a strong fence round the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.
Enjoy this transfer, build your fences and find the joy from being the Saviors helper as you save souls.

Monday, May 15, 2017


Someone is trying to tell me something.

Every 2 weeks we have a Seniors FHE.  Last night Elder & Sister Jenkins (we were in the same district at the MTC, they feel like family) gave the lesson.  The Jenkins have 10 children.  One family home evening they were counting the many miracles they had experienced in their marriage and family life.  Child number 9 & 10 did not know hardly any of these stories.  One of the daughters started writing each miracle on a sticky note. All the sticky notes covered the fridge.  After a year the sticky notes started falling off the fridge and Sister Jenkins thought that they need to write these miracles down in hard copy format.  Thus begun the journey of compiling a "Book of Miracles" that they now give to the grandchildren as they turn a certain age that can appreciate this family book of Miracles.  What a GREAT Idea.  They gave us 5 minutes last night to write a few thoughts of miracles that have happened to each of us while out in the mission field.  #1

My son asked how my Blog was coming.  (He thought he was being sly, but I knew what he was hinting at).  I told him I was lucky if I got 1 entry a month down.  He told me that was a weak excuse and I needed to do better.  #2

Elder Ellison and I are speaking in the Toukely Ward next Sunday.  My topic is from General Conference Oct 2016 Lest Thou Forget by Elder Rasband.  This is a great topic and I have enjoyed preparing for it. Toward the end of Elder Rasband's talk he states "Never forget, question, or ignore personal, sacred spiritual experiences.  The adversary's design is to distract us from spiritual witnesses, while the Lord's desire is to enlighten and engage us in His work.  #3

So now to my story.  Sister Barr is the Sydney Australia North and South Nurse.  Her husband passed away about 9 years ago.  Years before she attended Stake Conference and the Stake President talked about the importance of Seniors serving a mission when the time was right.  So this thought kept creeping back into her thoughts until finally she decided to go serve a mission.  I admire her for being strong enough to serve a mission by herself.  She is a strong woman.

Sister Barr works out of the Sydney North Mission office.  She arrived about 3 1/2 months before we arrived.  About 6 weeks ago she was out walking with another Senior couple when she took a spill.  She doesn't remember what or how it happened.  When she came too she knew something was seriously wrong with her shoulder.  After a few days of excruciating pain and no comfort in any position she went to the Doctors. X-rays, CT and MRI were all taken.  It was finally determined she had dislocated the shoulder, chipped pieces of bone off the socket, already had arthritis in the area and a few other details that I can't recall.  They determined not to do surgery and see if it would heal on its own.  She was in a sling for about 6 weeks.  The doctor says she needs to be careful as she will now have a tendency to dislocate the shoulder.  She is still on the mend.  You don't heal as quickly when you are in your 60's as you do in your teens and 20's . I have wondered if she is questioning why she came out on a mission.  The other day she had no intention of quitting, but finishing her mission.

Well, the other morning I was getting ready for my 5:45 a.m. walk.  I opened the front door and thought for a moment, "it is awfully dark.  There are 4 steps to go down, turn on the light."  NOPE didn't listen to the small voice in my head. Took a step, closed the door, took a step and fell down all 4 steps, grabbing at the plant to my right, cutting the palm of my hand, landing on my knees, then rolling to the side. OUCH! It took a few seconds to regain my calm, I wanted to scream, but would have woken neighbors.  Went back inside with leaves and debris in my hair, clothes and skin.  Darn. When will I learn to listen?  Fortunately, I didn't repeat Sister Barr's accident. I was bruised physically and mentally but well enough to go for the walk.  Later that day when the Assistants were in I told them what happened and Elder Lamb said "Never ignore the still small voice.  Not a good idea".  True true.

This was miracle number 4.  I need to go back and write about the others at a later time.  But I got my entry in for the day.  YEA Sister Ellison!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Amazing Army of Missionaries and beautiful trees

What an amazing experience we had Friday 21 Apr.  The Sydney North Mission had the opportunity to have the Church Historian Elder Snow and wife, along with Brother Reid Neilson and wife who is the Managing Director of Church History come speak to our mission.  We had 5 of our 7 Zones in attendance. In addition we had about 10 Senior Couples in attendance making our group a little over one hundred missionaries.  About 40% of our Missionaries are "Islanders".  From islands such as New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Cook Island,  Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, French Polynesia.  They come from so many different islands, and are so loving and kind.  Unfortunately the other 2 Zones in our mission were too far away to bring them in for our special Conference.

We arrived 20 minutes early to the Hebersham Stake Center and there was a real buzz in the area.  Missionaries, I have learned love getting together and seeing each other.  President Checketts did an amazing job keeping everyone in order and semi quiet.  When the Dignitaries arrived they asked to shake every missionary's hand.  So President had row by row go to the back of the Chapel where the dignitaries greeted each person.  As the rows filed back to the back of the chapel they had to pass all us Senior missionaries standing in the side pews. Not too many missionaries went by before the hair on my arms started to stand up as I realized what a force of power was in the room that day.  By the time we filed out to shake Elder Snow and Brother Neilson's hands I was starting to well up.  There was such an amazing feeling in the room.

Elder Ball, one of our two amazing Assistants conducted the meeting.  Such an impressive young man and he did such a good job leading the meeting.  I can see him in 10 year filling leadership positions wherever he is living.  Something I have learned about serving a mission as a young person are 2 things.  1. The young person comes to Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  2. Each and every missionary is being trained as a future leader in the church.  It is an amazing process to watch and be part of.

While we were waiting to hear from our leaders a young man  Elder Bartlett from Texas was playing the most beautiful prelude music.  I hope his mother knows that the hard work and many years of practicing was paying off big time.  I must say every time I hear a missionary playing the piano I think of all the mothers that worked so hard to get their sons and daughters to play.  It is impressive to see them play for meetings and accompany other missionaries sharing their beautiful voices.

Our program was filled with wonderful stories and explanations of Church History.  They left about 30 minutes for the missionaries to ask questions and have them answered by these two knowledgeable speakers.  I was surprised at how well thought out the missionaries were in asking their questions.  One Elder asked how to respond to people of other Faiths like Hindu or Muslim when they responded that their faith already had answers or was the correct church.  Brother Neilson had a great response when he quoted a prophet, I think it was President Hinckley.  He said he would respond to that type of question with something like this.  "You do have a wonderful start to your understanding, we now invite you to let us add on to your knowledge with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."  I thought that was a very tactful answer.

The meeting was just so inspiring, I thought I had been extremely well fed.  Then, just when I thought it couldn't get any better, we had our mission song start.  I had never heard this song before and I was timidly singing along.  The words come from hymn #295 O Love That Glorifies the Son, but the music, I am told comes from the Polynesian brown Hymnal and I don't know what song it is. But oh my goodness!  After singing two lines I had to stop singing and just listen.  The missionaries, especially the islanders with their beautiful way of harmonising  were so strong and dedicated to this song.  By the 2nd verse I looked up at our invited guests, they had stopped singing and had tears running down their faces as was I.  With each verse our missionaries grew in strength and power as they sang.  The chorus has a female part with the Elders coming in and responding.  By the last verse I thought the roof was going to come off the building. I couldn't see one dry eye around me.  What an amazing spirit was present and to be surrounded by this Army of Representatives of Jesus Christ.  How grateful I felt to be there serving along side these wonderful young people.
(You were right BP)

The Sisters left to get the last touches on the lunch while President Checketts instructed Missionaries.  Sister Checketts and Terry Cox did a wonderful job getting Taco Salad ready for so many hungry young people.  I had a fun job in helping deliver mail to anxious missionaries.  After about 45 minutes we broke up in to 3 groups of about 30 missionaries where the different groups were instructed by the Assistants for one group, President Checketts for 2nd group and Sister Checketts, Sister Barr (mission nurse) and Elder Ellison instructed the 3rd group.  It went very smoothly with us rotating every 20 minutes to a different group.  I stayed to support my husband instructing on Flat upkeep, Car upkeep and Bike upkeep.  Sister Barr addressed some health issues she called "Teeth to Toes"  Because she has a lot of missionaries with problems with their teeth and ingrown toenail.  OUCH!

Finally our last part of the day was wonderful instruction from our Mission President.  I felt he was really teaching these young people gospel insights
they needed to know, especially when they finished their missions.  Then Elder Ball announced the names of the Missionaries they would like to have bare their testimonies as they would soon be leaving the mission to return home.  Great!  More wonderful spiritual feeding.  Then SHOCK, Elder Ball said and we would like to hear from Sister and Elder Ellison.  Oh my, I was not prepared for this.  I looked over at the next row at Sister Checketts and mouthed to her "WHO"  she smiled and mouthed back "Welcome to the Mission Field".

It reminded me of the time my 11 year old son Tyler was asked to bear his testimony at Ward Conference.  It just kind of takes the wind out of you.  Fortunately there was enough time and I was able to pull some thoughts together and bare a short Testimony.  By the time we ended it was close to 6 p.m. It had been a long day and once again Monty and I were drop dead tired.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Australia vs US in size

Australia and continental US are about the same size.

Australia is 7.7 million sq. km. The continental US is 8.0 sq km.

If you add in Alaska and Hawaii the US jumps to 10 sq km.

Australia is the 6th largest country in the world. The US is number 4.

Australia is the smallest continent in the world, but is also the largest island.

I don't know if you can be a continent and island at the same time. That is what google said. Of course it is alway correct. :-).

Toukley Ward in Toukley, Central Coast, NSW

We were assigned the ward we are to attend. We are going to the Toukley Ward in Toukley, NSW. It is 1 hour 15 minute drive without traffic. It is along the coast.

We drove up for the first time today, Sunday, 16 April, 2017. Good drive, but I have a feeling it is going to get long after doing it every week.

The ward is small. There are plenty of Melchizedek Priesthood holders. It was strange that there are many High Priest, and very few Elders. Also, not many youth. I am a little concerned. We might be working hard to activate people. There are two sets of missionaries there. One set of Elders, and one set of Sisters. I knew the sisters as I gave Sister Goudy a driving test this past Monday. 

It was a good feeling to be assigned to a permanent ward. I think it will be a good ward. I liked it being small. I believe we will be a help, even if it is only to give the bishop two more bodies to fill callings with. Time will tell. 

More birds

Here are some pictures that Linda got of some of our birds. Some of them are very noise.

Don't know the breed.
Linda said this is a walking stick bug. FUNNY Linda.
Heron on top of building for self reliance mission

Large beak

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Numbers for our Mission

Here are some numbers for our mission.

184 total missionaries
     160 younger missionaries
     56 younger sisters
     104 younger elders
     11 senior couples (22 individuals)
     2 senior sisters

72 flats (apartments)
50 cars
51 bikes
4 office workers
7 zones
23 districts
86 areas

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Julie - potential investigator

On Saturday I was returning a pair of shoes at the K-Mart service center. There were no other customers. After doing the transaction the agent asked me if I was from the United States. She then asked how our church was different from other churches. I talked to her for a couple minutes about the church being restored and there being a prophet on the earth.

I asked her if she would like to have someone tell her more about the differences. She said yes. She gave me her name and phone number. I told her the sister missionaries would call her.

I talked with the sister missionaries. They are going to call her this week. Julie asked to wait till after Tuesday because of studies she has.

Linda and I are going to help teach her. I am very excited. Now, this feels like missionary work to me!

Birds & corn cob bush.

We finally were able to catch some pictures of the birds that are around our living area.
I do not know the kind of bird. It looks like a parrot. Very colorful. sorry the light isn't very good.
More parrots.
This bush looks like it has eaten corn cobs growing on it.
Like I said, looks like a bunch of corn cobs growing on the bush.


Linda - a life savor.

Busy, busy, and more busy.

I worked on the odometer report for all week, off and on. I have to get the end of month kilometers odometer reading for each car in the mission. Getting in the numbers was just the start. Putting together, and checking numbers was the tougher part.

I pick up 5 bikes from the bike shop and delivered 4 of them to elders and sisters.

I picked up a broken clothes washing machine and put in a working one for some sisters.

Plus several other repairs and request.

On Friday, 7 April 2017, I was determined to stay in the office and get caught up, at least part of it. This week I averaged 3 to 4 fires, figuratively, a day. I just kept getting further behind each day.

Linda came to my rescue. She did emails to landlords telling them work that needed to be done. By the end of a long day I was pretty much caught up with paper work. It felt good. Plenty to still do though.

Monday, April 3, 2017

2 weeks of posts

PICTURES AT BOTTOM. There is no order. The blog puts them in as it sees fit, which I haven't figured out yet. I also can't move them around.

Two weeks ago I caught up my posts for two weeks. I did multiple blogs. This time to catch up two weeks I am going to do it in one post. See how this works for you. I am going to make it shorter as well. Pictures are difficult to post in the blog in the right positions. I will probably write the blog and then add all of the pictures at the end. The pictures are the best. I will add comments under the  pictures.

19-25 March 2017:

One of the first things about Australia, besides driving on the left hand side, is that they list the date different than we do. So, I will be doing it day then month from now on.

I believe I mentioned before that Linda had bought a new phone. After struggling for a couple weeks I followed her example and bought one. They are Samsung Galaxy J1 mini phones. They are great compared to the antiquated phones that were provided us. I have entered in all of the mission areas in my contacts. That was a big job. Now it is much easier to make calls and send out texts. Text is the default way of communicating here. I break down every so often and call to have just a simple phone call. I need my grand children here to do my texting for me. I could keep them busy full time. Maybe not because they are so fast.

We had new arrivals this week. 6 missionaries. 4 sisters and 2 elders. Sister Ellison and I taught them about how we would help them. I did a handout that said: "If you have a problem with your flat, car, or bike, I AM YOUR MAN, call me. We each talked with them for only 15 minutes each. They were all very tired from traveling and in shell shock from their new experiences. Don't know how much they retained, if any, but hopefully my paper will be there when they need it.

On Friday I got a desperate call from Sister Cookson and Sister Young Yen. Sister Young Yen was one of the new arrivals. Sister Cookson was her trainer. They were taking over an area. They call it shot gunning when the previous missionaries leave and a new set take over. Almost in tears Sister Cookson said their flat was unhygienic. We talked for a few minutes. She said she felt they should be moved out to a better flat. There were cock roaches all over the place.

I felt I need to act immediately. Linda went with me and we went to checked it out. It was bad. The previous sisters had done a rotten job of keeping it clean. It looked like cock roach droppings were all over the place. The back door wouldn't even close! There was no door knob on the bathroom door. The shower had mould along the caulking. Plus other items. Linda probably would have been happy to douse it in gas and set a match to it.

I came back to mission headquarters and started a "lets get them out campaign". I talked with the President. He likes the location. A problem also is that the landlord is a member. I talked with the landlord's wife as we left. She said the previous sisters hadn't said anything. I had a hard time believing that. I guess it is possible. I suggested to the President that I go and do a full inspection and list what needed to be done. It was the next week before I could get back.

The flat is called a granny flat here. In the US we would call it a mother in law apartment. It is associated with a main home. A lot of Australias will do a granny flat.

When I got back in a couple days it was amazing what had changed. The landlord had put in a new bathroom sink. Redone the caulk in the shower. Fixed the back door. Fixed the bathroom door. The sisters had cleaned it up. It was amazing how much better it looked. The sisters now wanted to stay because the family need missionaries there. I still need to work with the landlord to get some items done, like fumigating. President Checketts recommended doing self bombing. He did it when he lived in Hawaii and said it did the job, versus getting a professional.

This was good news. The president had decided to change the sisters with some elders. So, he didn't have to do that.

26 March - 01 April 2017:

This week is MLC, Mission Leadership Conference. It happens every 6 weeks. Linda is responsible for putting the orders together that the zone leaders give her. It is a big, big job. I help her get the flat items together like dishes, vacuums, and fans. She had to also put all of the teaching materials together like B of M and pamphlets. Especially tough with the foreign languages. She did it, but with a lot of stress. I hope in the future after doing it once it will be easier for her.

Last Sunday we went to the Greenwich Ward. After church we drove down to the shore line of the inlet. I was surprised to end up at the place that all the missionaries get their picture taken at. What the mission has actually done is made a large picture that all new missionaries stand in front of and have their pictures taken at the mission home. We had our taken. That will be our picture for the missions organization board.

On Monday, 27th of March, I went to a flat were that landlord had complained that the sisters were not maintaining the grass in the back. I took them a weed whipper. All of these sisters were from the islands and had never cut grass before. We had the job done in no time. It was fun. They were so appreciative. See the pictures. While there I also put on a new hose faucet that was dripping and fixed a light fixture up stairs.

I learned a little about wiring here. Remember that it is 220 volt. The light fixture had 4 connections. There were three sets of wire coming to the fixture. Two of them had  a black, a red, and a green wire in the outer wrapping. The third group had only a black and a red. The part that held the bulb in had broken off. I took it apart and put it back together again, the same way. Oops, I didn't note which connection the sets of wires went into. I had them bundled together correctly, but not sure which connection to go in. So, when we turned on the power the light came on. But, when we turned the light switch off, the light stayed on. Dang it. So, after multiple attempts I finally got lucky and it worked correctly. Did I tell you I am not an electrician, and this 220 V wiring doesn't help! Ooh, I did learn something that is the same with 120 V. If you don't turn off the electricity you can get shocked, just like 120 V. Yes, I got shocked.

I wish I had more pictures of my projects. Maybe in the future.

Many fires this week. One the elders had been out of lights for 4 days. Another one A/C out for a month. Couple flat tires. Shower heads broken. And the list goes on.

MLC went well on Wednesday. I mentioned it earlier.

On Thursday we had Senior Missionary Conference. It was good and motivating to get together with all of the senior missionaries. We each had to do a 2 minute presentation on something we thought others would find interesting. I did it on the Appalachian Trail. Linda did a presentation on the Air Force Academy.

On Saturday we had a senior couples outing. It was so good to get away from the office. I needed the break from 10+ hour days. I still got in the office before and after our activity. We rode a ferry down the channel. It was about an hour ride. We got off near the Opera house. We shopped in the street market and walked around. It was a beautiful day. We then had lunch. There were about 6 couples, one senior sister, and the mission president and his wife. It is neat to associate with the mission president. As a young missionary they are on a high pedestal and you never got to know them personally. See the pictures below.

Well that is it for the last couple of weeks. Hope you enjoyed it. I know you will enjoy the pictures.

President Checketts on Senior's outing to downtown  Sydney.
Elder Cox and the Harbor bridge. Elder Cox is the other couple in the office. Great guy. He has been so much help.
Sydney Opera House
The missionaries. Our first time away from the office. It was a good get away.
Harbor Bridge.
My ware house / shed. It is as cluttered as it looks!
220 V wiring. 3 sets of wires. 8 total wires. 4 connection points to socket.
Broken socket.
Here is one of the great finds of my cleaning out returned calls. I think it is a real keeper. :-).
I had mentioned in a previous blog about all of the stuff I found when I cleaned out cars. Over $10, a camera, several umbrellas, several sun glasses, many pens. Most of it was trash, but some was good like this hat - not.
Sister Antenorcruz, Sister Williams, Sister Quitalib, Sister Vega. Helping get their back yard cut down. They are full of life and joy!
From the side entrance of our office looking at the temple.
This is a tree in front of our building. Linda calls it the tree of  life from Lehi's dream. 
Road to our flat.
Famous Harbor bridge built in 1965. Famous Sydney Opera house showing under bridge built in  1984
View at 5 am walking to work. Office in front. Temple, angel Moroni in back.
Fortunately, going to the office at 5 am is the exception.
Look who is driving. "You say what? Nothing to this driving on the left side of the road."
Bukling House. Our office is on the upper floor. My office is the furthest to the left. One of my windows is covered by the tree branches on the left of the picture.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Australian Fly Catcher

Good Evening,

After a long day, Monty and I are still at the office.  Monty/Elder Ellison is trying to figure out how to resolve a problem with a report to President Checketts.  I keep hearing moans and groans coming from his office.  My brain won't function any longer on technical matters so I thought I would make two consecutive entries to the Blog.

At the bottom you will see pictures of our lovely Mission home.  This use to be a Boys Orphanage that the church bought with the property the Sydney Temple sits on.  There are 6-7 buildings on what I call the "campus".  They are beautiful old brick buildings.  One of my favourite things is the old fashion wavy glass that is in all the window panes.  I love looking through the slight distortion.  My office has a view of the Angel Moroni, and it is a great reminder of what we are doing here.

The other day I was headed downstairs (50 stairs each time I come upstairs) when I looked into the office of one of the  "Service Centers" employees, he was holding a plastic lizard, or so I thought.  Monty and I stepped in and I was asked if I wanted to hold the thing.  I said "Well it's not real is it?"  As I was taking a closer look the critter stuck it's tongue out at me.  I was surprised, not scared, but then I realised a real lizard.

Chelsea who works downstairs in the mail room came back from her afternoon walk and saw this pretty thing just sitting contently under her coworkers chair.  Chelsea recognised it as the docile "Blue Tongue Lizard".  It was really calm considering how many people were petting it and holding it.  If you look close at the picture, you might notice the cute thing is smiling for the camera.  Very sweet.

After everyone had a turn petting and holding Chelsea was taking it outside and returning it to the wild.  She loves animals and likes to see them back in their natural habitat.  I am thinking the lizard will probably want to find it's way back into the warehouse where it is nice and warm and dry.  Maybe we will have another visit some day and it will be twice as big.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Very Tired Sister Ellison 30 Mar 2017

Well Hello from beautiful Australia.  We have been here 3 weeks and I am just now feeling like I have time to post to the blog.

It is hard to describe what this experience has been like.  I have loved every minute.  I have never been so tired.  I love working with these wonderful Elders and Sisters.  They are so grateful, kind, understanding, loving and patient.  I have felt very inadequate to fill this position.  So much has to be learned.  Sister Leister who we are replacing left a wonderful, helpful notebook with instructions and descriptions of how to do many of the big responsibilities.  But somethings are just trial and error learning.

 One of the Senior Sister Missionaries working here is Sister Ko from Hong Kong.  She is 84 years young, spry and wants to be helpful.  I was told that she tries hard but doesn't understand a lot.  Her English is much better than my Mandarin, but it is still challenging to understand some of the things she tries to convey.  Surprisingly, I love working with her.  I have found things that she can help me with.  For example she will read to me my texts from missionaries ordering supplies.  Much I don't understand and have to look at the text, but I just love having her help me.  I am learning some of her many talents.  Her love of the Gospel and how she was introduced to the church.  How she has 5 children and lost her husband almost 55 years ago to nose cancer due to heavy smoking.  One day I told her I like pickled ginger.  So the next day she brought me a good size jar of home made pickled ginger.  She works in our office 3 days a week, and the other 2 days she works at the Temple.  She walks to the bus at 6 a.m. so she can be to our office by 8 a.m.  Such dedication.  I love her!

As busy as I am Monty is twice as busy serving the young missionaries in our mission.  He gives driving tests, fixes problems with "flats" (apts), bikes and cars.  One day he had 5 cars to clean out, wash and get ready for new drivers.  Let me tell you I went through the buckets of garbage, junk, supplies and odds and ends found in those cars.  What an unbelievable amount of mess and waste.  Much of it ended back in my area of supplies.  Hmmm it was a very interesting experience.  I was happy to see Monty grab a couple of missionaries hanging around the office to help him with the washing of cars.  The Assistants also offered to help for the hour they had to spare (I LOVE the Assistants).  In 1 hour 5 people got TWO cars washed inside and out and ready for new drivers.  The other 3 cars Monty did by himself the next 2 days starting at 6 in the morning.  Fortunately the weather has been unseasonably warm and so it helps him stay cool.

Another thing that keeps Monty busy is the time he has been helping me with my many lists needing updated on Ecel.  You might think this is a pretty straight forward project but you would be wrong. Many of the problems have us both stumped.  But it has been enjoyable working together figuring out the problems as they come up.  Last night we were here until 8 p.m. a very long 12 hour day.  Some days the only thing I can think about for dinner is bread and butter and a glass of "shelf" milk.

Another great thing about being here is all the wonderful people we work with.  Everyone is of one mind and one heart.  Very enjoyable people in a beautiful area.  I am really enjoying this mission.

I am ready to put this day to bed.  Good night from a very, very tired Sister Ellison.