Monday, March 22, 2010

A New Challenge, But What a Surprise!

Every week has its challenges and surprises and this one was no different!

Thursday was Transfer Day. So we arose early and drove to Greymouth so that we could take Elder Beckwith to the airport in Hokitika. He was excited to move on to a new area in our mission. He went to Wellington. We will sure miss his enthusiasm. This is a picture of him as he is leaving for the plane. He wouldn't turn around so we could see his smile but perhaps he had tear in his eye as I did. I will miss him but all the elders get transferred from time to time, it is part of their growing. It will be exciting to hear how he is doing throughout his mission. He will be out just past us.
Elder Beckwith left at 9:00 a.m. and so we spent the day with Elder Kaufusi. We went to Lake Mahinapua. It is a large coastal lake. We drove on a one way track through jungle to get to the lake. It was an overcast day, but it was so peaceful here. There were campers and school children were on the lake learning to sail. Above you can see Elder Kaufusi and Elder Archibald trying out the new camcorder--he forgot to push the record button. We wore jackets which were just right to keep us warm.
The lake used to be a traveling place where people from the coal and gold mining met and left from. Above, you can see Elder Kaufusi waving to his mom and behind there is some old equipment that was used for mining. We were just killing time and touring around. After we saw the lake we traveled on down the road to Ross. It was a small gold-mining town. We saw trucks the day we were there coming down the mountain and unloading their material. It was a small quiet town. Further down the road are the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers--about 4 hours return or more from Hokitika. We didn't figure we had the time. Elder Beckwith said that when he transferred in the people meeting him had done that trip and he waited outside the airport for a few minutes not quite sure what to do. After our short tour we drove back to Hokitika and watched the waves for a while. That is a real novelty for us and the waves at the beach are wild. I also walked along and collected interesting little rocks and the odd shell.
You can really see the waves here. The water is getting quite chilly now. We are going into Autumn. It has rained a lot lately but we do get nice parts in almost every day.
Above you can see our new Greymouth elder, Elder Sacco, from Price, Utah arriving at the airport at 5:10. That was about 12 hours since we had gotten up. He is a nice young man. And we are working at getting him a drivers license as soon as possible. Right now the elders in Greymouth are on foot or bicycle. That is good for them.

I love butterflies and above you can see a monarch on a dahlia. 2 of my favorite things. This picture is taken in a garden of one of our less actives. We had been to visit her but her gate was locked so she must be away visiting her sons. When we got back to our flat that afternoon, we were just relaxing and planning our next moves. At about 5 p.m. we got the surprise of our lives. President Kohu of the Nelson District knocked and we invited him in. He asked Merle if he would be willing to serve as the Branch President. Humbly Merle accepted, and on Sunday in Branch Conference he was sustained. I know he will do the best job he can. He will have lots of help. He has two great counselors and I will always support him. Today we were saying goodbye to some friends who had stopped to visit when the phone rang. I came in to answer it and they wanted to know if this was where President Archibald lived. I said "Who?" and then I realized who they wanted and said yes he lived here. They wanted to know our physical address and so I gave it to them. They were from the Hamilton Distribution Centre. Just when life is getting comfortable we are thrown a new challenge. But we are up for it. We are blessed heaps.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We're A Traveling Pair

On Monday we took a day for preparation and went to Greymouth to meet with the Elders so they could take us to some of the beautiful places near Greymouth. We took them to the library so they could do their emails for the week and we went looking for camcorders. We were done before they were and so did some visiting with people on the street. When they were done we hopped in the car and traveled down to Hokitika.We had lunch together then journeyed out to the Hokitika Gorge. What a beautiful place, even if the sandflies have huge teeth, at least it feels like it. Above you can see the Gorge through the trees. Isn't the water pretty--almost like the water off of a glacier.
Above you can see our tour group. There is Elder Beckwith in the back with Tomi Kinikini who lives in Greymouth but had never been to the Gorge, just 75 km. away from his home. Seated you can see Elder Archibald, and in front of him is Elder Kaufusi, who is from Tonga, and myself. We had a couple from Australia take this picture. It's P Day so most do not have the white shirts on but we all have our badges on.
This is the swing bridge we had to cross to get to the pretty areas of the gorge. It swings wildly when you jump or run on it. It was so fun. I was laughing at the Elders trying to get the bridge to swing. After the bridge you had to tramp around through the bush to get to where we took the other pictures. It was about 1/4 of a mile walk.
On Tuesday we drove to Nelson so that we could do Flat Inspections before the transfers. This is Elder Barker, from South Jordan, in the doorway of his flat. 2 sets of Elders live in this flat. Elder Barker and Elder Tamale are the Zone Leaders and they are companions to Elder Mactavish and Elder Haynes, who are greenies for 2 more days. When I first saw Elder Tamale's name I thought he was Mexican but he is Tongan and is from Auckland. They are all great Elders.
After we inspected the flats in Nelson we traveled to Blenheim. Above you can see Elder Tuipulotu, Elder Archibald, and Elder Hudson. Elder Tuipulotu is from Sydney and Elder Hudson is from Scotland. This trio sang Happy Birthday to me on my birthday. It was fun to think about being in the birthplace of my Grandmother on my birthday.

On Monday the sisters of our Branch gathered together to celebrate the Relief Society's birthday. We had a light lunch and then made Kiddie Care Bags. Here are the sisters; Bonnie Stack, Lyn Maugham, Thea Williams, Joy Anderson, and Bev Vandem Bosch. We were able to make 10 bags for the shelter. Below you can see the bags which we made.

Above you can see Elder Kaufusi and Tomi Kinikini as they prepare the Umu. It is a Tongan way of cooking. Elder Kaufusi prepared the packets. They had taro leaves, silver beet, and then meat added to the top. They put onions on the top then soaked it in coconut cream and bundled the tin foil up. It was kind of like the Hobo Dinners we had at camp as youth. Then we went to a baptism and came back and ate. As it was getting late we brought our packets home. We also had some Tongan Bread that was yummy. When we got home we ate the fish packet which was delicious. We tried the lamb packet today and that was not so good but we made a pork chop packet and a beef packet. They were great. We have had a busy week and done lots of visiting with inactives and new friends. We have also experienced a lot of culture.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A New Week

I am late updating this Blog as we have been travelling, but I will report on that next week. This week was also busy but peaceful. We spent a lot of time visiting with non-active members. They are always so welcoming and I wonder why they don't choose to associate with the members because they are so kind to us and willing to visit and love us to leave a thought, lesson, or prayer in their homes. If you look closely at the above picture you can see a beautiful Monarch Butterfly almost in the center of the picture. It represents the peace we have felt this week in our work. One day we cooked a meal for the Elders as they journeyed through to Nelson for interviews with the President. We missed the association with the group but had been told we didn't need to come to Nelson, so we stayed home and worked with the members.
When the Elders got back from Nelson they phoned us and told us we would have District Meeting with them in Greymouth. We were glad as it gives us the lift we need for the week. They told us they might be having a baptism on the 16th of March. A young girl whom they had been working with really wanted to be baptized and only needed her mother's permission. She wrote a beautiful letter to her mom and told her how much she loved her mom and how much she really loved Heavenly Father and how much she wanted to be baptized. She took the letter to her mother on the weekend and her mother gave her permission to be baptized. The elders are so excited. When we came back from Greymouth we stopped at the Punakaiki Rocks (Pancake Rocks) and they were really exciting. The blowholes were blowing water and it was so grand. It was exciting to see.

On Friday we journeyed to Karamea. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful drive. An interesting side note. One of the dear sisters who lives up here was having a problem and prayed about who could help her. Our names came up several times and she kept saying to herself they can't come because they were just here for a visit. Finally, she called us and was so thrilled when she knew that we were coming up to visit another lady. Heavenly Father sure works in miraculous ways if we will just listen, as this lady did. So we were able to help this sister and then able to go on to visit Zelda. Zelda is an interesting Maori lady. We had a great visit with her. She is busy with her home care business, she weaves crystals, and does deep tissue massages. She is famous for her massages, she has customers coming from Perth, Australia. Above you can see an interesting tree that was in her back yard that the children have made a swing for. We asked her if she ever swung on the swing and said laughed heartily and said no she didn't know who would give her a massage when she was done. We all had a good laugh over that one. I don't know if she will ever come to Church. She said she has been a member all her life but right now she is a "naughty girl" but she also said "I like you. Please come back again."
Above you can see a bridge, the only one left, we've been told; that is used for both trains and cars. It is also a one-way bridge and everyone "Gives Way" to the train. They have narrow gauge trains here in New Zealand. This bridge is just out of Greymouth on the way to Hokitika.
Above you can see the clock tower in the middle of Hokitika. We journeyed down after District Meeting. What an interesting town. It is touristy but very beautiful. They have a lot of Jade Carving places here. We hope to come down again and see some of the other things here. The trip was quite quick as the road was wider than usual and not a winding.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Saturday--District Picnic

This week we were a bundle of emotions. We had a beautiful day in Karamea on Monday and then on Tuesday we were told by one of the less active members that she was not interested in our message. We just wanted to shake her and then give her a hug and let her know she was loved by us and Heavenly Father. Kind of like you do to your children when they choose wrongly. We visited with others through the week but didn't have the enthusiasm we usually do.

The sea above kind of describes our emotions. The sea above is the Tasman Sea at Punakaiki. We saw this on Thursday after we had District Meeting with the Elders. After our Meeting with the Elders we stopped over to inspect their flat, which they had done very well except for the oven, which we helped them fix. Then we went over to the Kinikinis. What a beautiful family they are! They just hugged us so hard and tried to convince us to move down to Greymouth. We can't do that, but we can go down to Greymouth to visit on some Sundays. Elder Archibald thinks that the 2nd Sunday of each month would be a good time to do that as Westport Branch has one or the other of us speaking the 2nd Sunday. I had my turn in February.

The picture above is at Punakaiki. They call it Pancake Rocks. Can you see why? It looks like you should be able to pour yummy syrup over them and have a huge Pancake Breakfast. Last Thursday when we were coming home from Greymouth, it wasn't raining yet and the sea was wild. So we decided to stop and take some pictures. As you walk from the road to the rocks there is a jungle of New Zealand Flax. You can hear the roar of the sea but can't see it. These are weird formations but very interesting. It wasn't high tide so we were unable to see the blowholes. It is supposed to be really awesome when the weather is stormy and the tide is high. We will get raincoats and do it again sometime.
Above you can see one of the tidal pools where the water comes in. I was fascinated watching the water. There is something hypnotizing about watching the motion of sea water. You can kind of see the flax in the foreground of the picture. As we got back close to the car the rain started. Seriously, it has rained all but one of the days when we have gone down to Greymouth. I guess they call this the "Wet Coast" for a reason.
On Saturday there was a District Picnic held in Murchison. It was a great day. They had all kinds of fun, old-fashioned activities. It was such a beautiful day. Murchison is about 1 1/2 hours away from Westport. Nelson, Blenheim, and Greymouth had about 2 hours to drive. Above you can see the children participating in a 3-legged race. It had been years since I have seen this race. You can see the mist just lifting from the valley. We left Westport in sunshine but up the Gorge it became misty, kind of like in Brigadoon.
Above you can see the Elders as they participated in the Sack Races. They were the funniest to watch as they were so competitive. Some of them jumped out of their sacks. I think they look like kangaroos here. It was a great race. I am sure many of them were sore the next day.
Another activity was water balloon volleyball. I had seen an activity similar to this when we went down to Andrea and Gene's just before they left on their mission and the kids and grandkids did this. Here though, they had a net which the Elders held and the 2 teams on each side tried to launch the water balloon to the other side without getting wet. It got really complicated when they put 2 or more balloons in the blankets. They had a mens division and a womens division. It was great fun and the cool water felt good.
Another activity that they had was the tug-of-war. This is a picture of some of the children. They also told the elders they needed a female on their team so they came and got me. Well, I couldn't refuse because I am a missionary. We had 9 elders and myself on one team and I am not sure how many on the other team--lots. We only won 1 out of 3. The Tongan women are strong and good sports. I felt muscles the next day that I didn't know I had--at least for a few years. But It was good fun.
Above is a picture of some of the beautiful people from the Greymouth Branch. The little girl is LouAnn Kinikini. In the back is her cousin, Ana and her sister Moni. This is in the shade. There were benches along the side of the beautiful recreation center. At lunch time they brought out tables, then loaded them with sandwiches, and fruit, and slices(cakes or other bars). They cooked sausages at the barbeque on the one end of the building. After lunch there was rugby, soccer outside; and basketball in the building. This was a successful District Activity.
During the day I met a Sister West from Nelson. She knew Grandma and Grandpa McMurray when they were here in the early 50s. I was also able to visit some more with President MacDonald who knew Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma taught his father when she taught at the school near Blenheim.
It was a great week, but full of ups and downs.