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.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

First Baptism. Saturday, March 18, 2017

On Saturday, our prep day, we had a baptism to go to. I guess I should mention there is no real prep day. You just fit in doing what you have to get done.

We went to a baptism at the Chinese ward. They speak Mandarin. You are correct, we didn’t understand any of program. Elder Cox did the baptizing. He memorized the baptismal prayer in Mandarin. I was very impressed. I couldn’t even say the converts name. It was Shen Yun Rui. I learned in China you say the surname, last name, first. So, his surname is Shen. He is originally from Beijing, China. He is in sixties. He has a very strong testimony. I believe he will be an asset and will be going to the temple in a year. It was very special to be there. This is what being on a mission about. The junior missionaries treat us very well. It is easy to serve them.

Washed the car in the rain. Friday, March 24, 2017

On Friday I was scheduled to swap a car with a senior couple. I had one in surplus for them. When I went to check it out, it was very dirt. Bugs on the front, bird droppings from sitting, and many leaves. I found a hose and brush and went to work. I didn’t dry it though as it was raining! I did feel good that I gave them a cleaner car rather than a dirty one. Just part of the job.

I also helped set up a new lease for a flat. It was one that we were already using, but it had been sold to a new owner, thus a new lease was needed. 

Driver Status report. Thursday, March 23, 2017

One of the things I am responsible for are reports concerning the cars and flats. A big one the president uses in figuring transfers is the Driver Status report. It was behind because my predecessor had gone home 3 weeks before I arrived. I started Wednesday afternoon. I spent all day Thursday and finished at 9:30 pm. It was a tough job. Next time I am going to get it more automated to save me time.

One thing I have learned is that the mission office is full on interruptions. On Thursday as I was working hard on my report when two missionaries walked in and said they were there for a driving test. What, no one had told me. I just said, great, lets do it. It had been scheduled before I arrived and no one had told me.

When I got my report done I was happy to have the first Driver Status report behind me. I was very tired at 10 pm when I went to bed.

One week anniversary. Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday was our one week anniversary. Though overloaded and behind, it has been a wonderful experience so far. Linda and I both realize it will take several months to get on top of our jobs. Till then we just smile and keep working. Everyone here is happy we are here so they don’t have to do our job. We are glad to be here to do our job. 

First flat to take care of. In Dee Why, NSW.

On Tuesday Elder Cox and I were going to go unlock a flat for a professional carpet cleaner and then return the keys to the rental agency. The agent had a list of problems. It had been cleaned and we didn’t expect to have to do to much. Elder Cox’s schedule got changed and I was on my own. On the way there I made a wrong turn and ended up getting caught in terrible traffic. It took at least an extra 1/2 hour. I got there 10 minutes late. As I was looking for the unit the carpet cleaner came up to me and apologized for being late. I told him I was late to. We were both glad for the other person being late.

It was a small flat. The carpet cleaner was done in about 45 minutes. I ended up working on it for 4 hours. The agent was right. There were still some cleaning issues. I even had to do some painting to cover up some black marks on the wall. Afterwards I turned in the keys to the agency. I felt like I had just be initiated by fire. By the way, I did the cleaning and painting while I was in a white shirt and tie. First time I have done that.

I was glad to be headed back to the office and home.

First driver test. Monday, March 1, 2017

One of my jobs is to certify drivers so they can drive. 

The church has become very strict on who drives. Each car has a designated driver. Only that person drives that car. Even his companion can not drive it. The church carries insurance for only the designated driver.

On Friday I got a call from a sister saying the president said she need to get certified. Okay, as though I had any idea what to do. I set the appointment for Monday and started studying. I was actually excited to do it. Brought back memories of my flight instructing days. 

There is a lot of paper work. They have to have a license and driving record from their home. The china ones are tough as they are written in kanji. The applicant also fills out a drives record and commitment to drive form. After the paperwork is done they watch a DVD that takes two hours. Then it is my turn. I discuss their skill level, driver safety, and taking care of the car. We then take a driving test. It is funny to see them keep hitting the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal.

I gave my first test to a sister from the United States. She did a good job. She had a lot of experience, but not with driving on the left hand side of the road. The next test I gave was to an elder from New Zealand. He drove better than me because driving on the left had side was his norm.

First couple days & weekend. March 12, 2017

Wow. Very  busy. A typical day is 10 hours plus in the office and more time before we get there. We get there at 8 am and leave at 6 pm. We both hope that has we get a handle on our jobs we will have less stress, and some more time.

The first Saturday, our prep day, was spent most of the day shopping. We went to Costco, Ikea, a electronics store, and then regular grocery store. We were tired by the end of that day.

I had to drive on the left had side of the road. That was very stressful to begin with. When you go to signal for a turn you keep hitting the windshield wiper because it is on the left side of the steering wheel rather that the signal on the right side.

The mission gives us antiquated phones that have only a numerical key pad. Do any of you rememberer those? When you send a text message as an example to type a r you have to tap the 7 key three times. Linda bought a smart phone to save her time. I am also going to buy the same phone that she has. It will be easier and make us more efficient. 

I don’t remember much about the first couple days in the office, except they were long.

Our Flat, apartment. March 10, 2016

We are very happy with our flat, apartment. It is located in the same complex as the temple. The grounds are kept by the temple gardeners. They do a wonderful job.

Entrance from street. There is a walk way to our house. We usually use the back door.

Front Door.
Side of house with patio on other side of hedge.
Back of house. Back door is on other side of fence.
Living room. Sorry, the picture came out dark.

First day on the job. March 9, 2017.

March 9th was the first full day on the job. 

My job is handling the fleet, flats, & bikes. That means cars, apartments, and bicycles. We rent unfinished flats. That means we furnish them, including cook ware and all of the small stuff. Different than when I was a young missionary.

If there is any problem with a car, flat, or bike I get called. I help rent the flats, and then clean them up to move out. I handle accidents, whether it is a car, bike, or flat. I also handle traffic violations. The missionary pays for them. When every I tell anyone what my job is they shake their head and give me sympathetic comment. I have a large storage shed with all kind of stuff from beds, vacuums, cookware, bedding, and so on. I also have all kind of tools to go fix what ever. Like I had to go change some hoses on a washing machine because the older ones were leaking.

I will let Linda give her job description. We do work together a little bit, but not to much.

Linda and my office makes us look like big executives. I have never had such a big office, not even on my B777 aircraft. 

Here are some pictures.

Our Mission. 7 Zoins.
Here are some of my cars. The trailer is mine also. 

Linda's Office. Out of her window she is looking at the Angle Moroni on the Sydney Temple.
Monty's Office.

Flight to SYD - Sydney, Australia. March 6, 2017

Over all the flight went well. From SLC to LAX was pretty easy. We have done that length of flight many times. Nothing special happened.

We got some dinner at LAX. We found a good restaurant to eat at. It had good food. We then waited for about 4 hours before taking off.

To Sydney we had a middle and aisle seat. They were okay, but nothing great.

Fortunately the flight was at night. We were able to sleep. It wasn’t as bad a I thought it would be. I think Linda did okay. She will have to add her own comments. 

No matter how you state it, being on a plane for 15 hours in coach seats is bad, even terrible. We arrived in Sydney three days latter, thanks to the date line, at 10 am. 

We were picked up at the airport by Elder and Sister Cox. They are wonderful people. They have shepherded us this first week on our mission. They seem to have all of the answers for our many questions. I will be glad when I get to the point to have answers like he does. 

We stayed busy with shopping and unpacking. We went to bed about 7 pm. I slept well. I was ready for a big first day in my mission.

Travel to Sydney, Australia March 6, 2017.

Monday morning was easy. Plenty of time to finish up. I dropped of the Comcast equipment, shipped a package to granddaughters in Florida, and returned the pickup truck to Nathans. We got our four large bags balanced at 45 pounds each. No problem keeping them below the allowed 50 pounds. At the ticket counter they didn’t even weigh them. I guess the agent could tell they weren’t over weight.

Sharlyn gave us a ride to the airport. It was sad to give one last hug to her, Kali, and Claire. 

Here are some goodbye pictures.

A little nap for Claire on the way to the airport.
Good Bye. One last Selfie.

Last Dinner with family. March 31, 2017

We finished up the MTC on Thursday afternoon, March 2nd. It had been a great two weeks, but we are ready to get out to the field.

We got home in the afternoon. We stopped by the car wash on the way home to get the Murano cleaned for the new buyer. We sold it that evening. It was a real blessing of how and when it sold.

Thursday night I migrated Linda’s computer data and programs over to the MacBook pro. I was concerned that it wouldn’t work as advertised, or it would take a long time. Neither of those happened. It migrated over easily, and didn’t take very long. I was very happy about that.

On Friday I got my missionary hair cut. Mera Lee did a perfect job, as always. I really feel the part now. Thank you Mera Lee.

Saturday morning I finished up packing. There was balancing and adjusting between all of our bags Monday morning.

Saturday we had dinner with our family at Olive Garden. It was a special occasion. No one had tears. It was hard for me to think about saying goodby for one and half years. The grandchildren will change so much during that time. I am hoping communicating with them over video will not make us seem so gone.

Claire, our younger at 1 year old.

Seth, having fun with his niece Kali and nephew Aiden
Rya, Nathan's oldest. 9 years old

Office training at the MTC. March 2, 2017

Here is a picture of us in our office training at the MTC. All of these couples are going to serve at mission offices. We are learning IMOS, Internet Mission Office System, and CARS program.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


It is the end of day 8 in  beautiful Sydney Australia.  We have been assigned a lovely 1 bedroom, 1 bath, large living and dining area with a well equipped small kitchen home.  Our house attaches to President and Sister Checketts home.  The mission home sits  next to the Sydney Temple.  The campus once was a Boys Orphanage. It  has since been renovated.  It has beautiful mature trees that our filled with many different types of birds and wonderful smelling blossoms.  We see cockatoos all over the lawns pecking for worms.  They have an unusual squawk in the morning and evening. The grounds are very well manicured and is delightful to walk to work each morning.  It takes about 3 minutes to get from home to office.  We pass the Self Reliance Building/Office, and Family History Building/Office.

Our building/office has a complete Service Center downstairs that services all of Australia. (This use to be the Area Presidency Offices).  The first floor also includes the Church Attorney Brother and Sister Grant from Oregon and the Public Affairs Personnel Brother and Sister Merrill from Eagle Idaho.  You then climb approximately 28 steep stair to get to the Mission Office.  There are 2 Senior Couples and 2 Senior Sisters that work on this floor. One of my most favourite  things about this majestic building is all the old wavy glass panes that we get to look through.  My office has a wonderful view of the Angel Moroni that I get to view every time I get up and out of the office.

 The Mission President works from his home office as he has had 2 knee replacements and a hip replacement and it is difficult for him to go up and down the stairs. Of course he travels a lot for all the Zone Conferences etc.  We stop by his home to take mail for the missionaries whenever he is headed to a new meeting.

 Monty and I have only ventured out on Saturday to get some grocery and home supplies.  I am glad we work in such a beautiful area because we are not leaving the office very often.  At least I am not.  Monty is getting out a  little more since he is in charge of "Flats" aka apartments, houses and repairs.  He has so much office work to keep up on I don't know how he has time to meet these other responsibilities.  I pretty much stay at my office and desk with responsibilities of ordering supplies (it is massive amounts of missionary literature), recording baptisms, sorting mail, and updating files and missionary lists.  It doesn't sound like much but it is really keeping me on my toes and falling into bed exhausted at night.

Being in the mission office we get to see the Assistants frequently, they are 2 very impressive young men.  Elder Ball from Palo Alto, Ca. and Elder Lamb from Syracuse, Ut.  So amazingly impressive young men and they always ask if there is something they can do to help.  And other missionaries that come in for a driving tests, or dropping off baptism reports are equally impressive AND helpful.  Today while one Elder was taking a 3 hour driving test, the other one helped me pull supplies for a massive order for our downtown district.  I feel like Heavenly Father sent them specifically to me and for my benefit as I would have had major problems reading all the different languages, pamphlets, Books of Mormon etc.  We put together 5 big boxes that I could not lift if Elder Muh from Hawaii hadn't helped me.  Very grateful.

With that said I need to head home it is 6:45. Time to make dinner, clean up and happily fall into bed.

Love to ALL of our Family and Friends.

Friday, March 3, 2017

MTC Done

We finished our training at the MTC.  It was intense, challenging and a growing experience.

The last week was office training on "Word", "Excel",  "Outlook" and "IMOS".  Once again Amazing instructors, and oh so young.  I especially enjoyed an instructor named Brother Hewlett.  He was about 24 years old, recently married, an accounting major, from North Carolina.  He had a really keen sense of humor.

One day we were being instructed in "Mail Merge".  We were pushing hard through a lot of different points.  When we were talking about mail, I asked  "does this apply to just email or snail mail as well?"  He looked at me funny.  "Snail Mail? What do you mean, Snail Mail?"  Someone finally said "You know post mail."  He did not know"  He thought I was so cleaver for thinking up that expression.  He kept referring to "snail mail" with a chuckle whenever the class and he had a generation gap in understanding.  "You mean like snail mail?" he would ask.

A few weeks earlier he had a Sister that did not know what the "trash" icon looked like.  When it was finally pointed out to her she said "It looks like a crockpot."  So now Brother Hewlett refers to the trash icon as the "crockpot".  "Put your deleted items in the crockpot."  It was fun educational week.

It is over.  We will miss all the wonderful people we started with 2 weeks ago.  Great, devoted, love of God people. I will miss them.  We are home backing like crazy.  The house looks like a bomb went off.  Got to run.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wave of excitement about missionary work from 45 years ago!

On the second day at the MTC we were divided into districts. See an earlier post of our district. 

When we were in our first meeting as a district in a smaller room after about an hour I got a wave of excitement come over me. I remembered back of my excitement 45 years ago when I was a 19 year old missionary. I turned to Linda and said, "Isn't this exciting, learning how to share the gospel." She said no, it is scary and nervous to think about teaching people. I did remember how scary it was the first time I went on a mission.

It was a great feeling being back and focusing on sharing the message and gospel of Jesus Christ.

The MTC - A very special place.

The MTC is a very special place. It is an environment of peace, kindness, and yet hard work. During this week we learned and grewn in our knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ.

Two videos that were made at the last two Easters by the church were shared with us. They are very moving spiritually. I was unable to add them on this blog, but included the links. I hope you will view them. They are less than 3 minutes each. I am sure you will feel a spiritual awaking as you view them.


Because of Him:

He Lives - Celebrate Easter Because Jesus Christ Lives:

Have a question? Please ask. Contact info.

Do you have a Question about what we are doing, what different missionaries do, about our church, or about Jesus Christ our Savior.  If you do, please ask it. Here is our contact info.

EMAILS:  We will have these during our mission. (Monty) (Linda)

PHONE #:  We will have this number during our mission.
     801 698-1784.

We will discontinue Linda's phone number 801 856-7014, and our home phone number 801 544-4467.


Australia Sydney North Mission
756 Pennant Hills Road
P.O. Box 2723
Carlingford Court, NSW 2118