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.