Friday, April 23, 2010

On The Road Again!

During the past 2 weeks we have been on the road constantly. On Tuesday, April 13 we helped the Elders out. We travelled to Greymouth to pick up Elder Kaufusi, and Elder Tamale to go to Nelson for interviews with President Jolliffe. Neither of these elders drive. We usually don't go to interviews but we needed a Temple Recommend Interview so that when our Branch goes to the temple in September we can go with them. Because Elder Archibald is the Branch President we have been able to get special permission to go to Temple View with the District. Our recommends ran out in May. It was nice to associate with the young elders and visit with President and Sister Jolliffe. We got to view the area books and chat with Sister Jolliffe while she mended pants for the elders. I have done my share of mending for the elders down our way. Below you can see the Elders in our Zone as I had made some Puffed Wheat Squares for a little treat for them. This is the last time this group will all be together. Elder Barker returns home with honor on the 30th of April. Elder Kaufusi returns with honor on May 18. We learned at interviews that we will have 4 new elders in our Zone after transfers next week. New ones to get to know and love. You can see Elder Hudson, Elder Haynes behind and bending over, Elder Mautupo(I think of spelling), Elder Tamale, Elder Kaufusi (squattin), Elder Sacco, Elder Tuipulotu, and Elder Barker. Elder Archibald is behind the trunk. This is an awesome Zone.

When we got home to Westport with the Elders we took them out to an inactive lady's home. We were lucky and a lot of her children were there. We had a great visit and the Elders from Greymouth had a great interaction with the two teenage boys--Norton and Rory. We were excited that we got such a welcome reception and an appointment for next week.

This week was flat inspection week, just before transfers. We went to Blenheim first and it was such a beautiful day. We left Westport in clouds and threatening rain. As we got around some mountains the sun came out and it was spectacular. Last time I wrote about not seeing autumn colors but in Blenheim and Nelson it looks pretty like falls can. In Blenheim the grapes are ready for harvest and the leaves have turned. They also have trees that have turned colors. It hasn't been frosty yet so it is the days getting shorter. The above picture is taken in Nelson. We spent most of the day in Blenheim with the Elders. It was their P day and we did inspection and then took their car to the Toyota dealers to get warranty work done and a bumper fixed. During the car inspection one tire was bad so they also got a new back tire. Then we went to the grocery store and then home to the flat. The Elders had been given heaps of groceries--sausages, potatoes, pumpkins, cabbages, cauliflower. Elder Archibald showed them how to cooked fried potatoes and onions. He also did his carrots where he adds brown sugar to them as they cook. The elders have all loved his carrots. They didn't have a pancake turner so he ended up using a saucer to turn the potatoes. It was an adventure. The elders--Elder Haynes and Elder Hudson had done a great job with the flat and it was very clean. Then we were off to Nelson before dark. When we arrived at the flat in Nelson it was a disaster--they had slept in the living room where the heater was because they had been cold the night before. When they saw us they said--"You weren't coming until tomorrow." We assured them we would be back in the morning to inspect and things had better be ship shape.
We went on the computer on Tuesday morning to look for new flats for the Nelson Elders so they can keep warm in the coming winter. We couldn't get any appointments. The real estate people think that the elders are transient--which they are but there are always elders in the area. If only the people who own the flat they are in would fix the shower and install a heat pump all would be good. Anyway, when we arrived at the flat on Tuesday morning it was wonderful. The beds were made, the floor vacuumed, the fridge and freezer clean, stove and oven clean, and cupboards wiped clean and dishes put away. I could not believe it was the same place. They had all worked hard. Above you can see the Zone Leaders: Elder Tamale, and Elder Barker with Elder Archibald in the middle. Elder Archibald has trouble wearing his tie--it chokes him.
After flat and vehicle inspection in Nelson we were ready to head home. We had no new flats to look at and it was early so we stopped along the way to see some of the sights along the road. We stopped at some look outs coming over the pass. But my favorite stop was at Lake Rotoroa. It is just before Murchison and is part of the Nelson Lakes. The only drawback--SANDFLIES. At home they would be dead by now because of frosts but no frosts here. Next time we will remember the bug spray. But the lake was so beautiful. I remember Grandma McMurray talking about Lake Rotoroa. It is not that far from Blenheim. Below, you can see a black swan and 2 of her babies. She would constantly dive to bring up food for her little ones. I have it on camcorder.

We had a great drive back. Then it was back to real missionary work when we returned. We have been able to visit with lots and each Sunday we wait to see who will come back. This month we have been able to have 1 or 2 inactives return and it is quite exciting. We just need to keep nourishing them. We love our work here and really love the people. We are also thankful that our health is good. We are blessed to be able to serve in this great area.

This picture begins and ends this post. It is at the Spooners Range Lookout. It is about 45 minutes out of Nelson. We drove up the side road to see what was here. The birds were singing so musically. We really did enjoy this drive back to our home here in New Zealand.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's April--It's Autumn

Well, it is April, and they say that it is Autumn. The leaves where we are don't really change colors and fall off the trees, they just fall off the trees. I am waiting for the Autumn colors we experience at home but we only see the odd colored leaves on trees. But we have noticed that as we drive down the coast road there are many trees without leaves now--but no color change. We have been told that if we drive the Lewis Pass to Christchurch we should be able to see the autumn colors. I am still having trouble wrapping my brain around Autumn in April. We were happy to have summer in December and January but now we have to adjust the other seasons. The other day we were out visiting inactives. We have passed this by this monument many times and I thought it was penguins. It is out at Ngakawau. It turns out that it is dolphins. A special kind of dolphin named the Hector dolphin and apparently they breed in the Tasman Sea around here. Their dorsel fin is rounded rather than pointed like the other dolphins. Also, they are white and black like the Orca. A week ago we saw a news clip from a whale watching tour where the orca flipped a dolphin high in the air. The other dolphins in the pod soon scooted speedily away. It was a predator, prey situation. It was very interesting and the marine biologists were extremely interested in the video. That was one on the ball tourist.
That same day we went out to the other side of Westport to visit another non-active. It was so interesting because right on her doorstep were these beautiful peacocks. As they say here "There were heaps of them." about 6 or 7. The cat just watched and the dog stayed away. I was nervous because, as you know, I am frightened of birds but I stayed in the car and watched. They had free run of the yard. The man of the house said they were messy but interesting. He said, "It's a good thing they are beautiful or they would be out of here." It is so interesting where ever we go!

Last Wednesday we had our monthly Branch Family Home Evening. We had a beautiful Easter lesson and then the boys, Levi and Kahn were in charge of the activity. It was a Talent Show of sorts. We were divided into groups and had to make up a poem, song, or dance about New Zealand, nature, or the Church. We were given time to create and then were to perform our number. Luckily, Levi and I were the judges and we all had such a great time. Below, you can see Sister Thea Williams being a fantail. That is a bird. Her group had made up a poem about the fantail that comes into her home to visit and sing and her dog, Dougal, who barks at it. Brian was Dougal. Thea has made a fan for her tail. It was roll on the floor hilarious. Elder Archibald couldn't hear the poem and thought she was being a pig as she has pigs out at the farm. It was so enjoyable. A side note on the fantail. The other day we were visiting at Thea's and Elder and Thea looked up at something. My heart started pounding as I knew they were looking at a bird right in her home. It flew into her bedroom and lighted on something and sang, then past my head to a line in the doorway and tweeted another song. She said another day the fantail brought in a mate to sing too. The mate was unfamiliar with the surroundings and had trouble navigating out but, this one comes lots and is familiar with the home. It is interesting that Thea's patriarchal blessing says that her door will always be open to welcome guests. That is definitely true--it's only shut and locked when she goes away. Thea is a lovely lady.
Last Thursday we had district meeting here in Westport. The Zone Leaders were doing exchanges with the Greymouth Elders and we were a good meeting place. Also, we feed them. We had a wonderful meeting with the Elders and at the end shared the most spiritual experience of the week. That was awesome. We were even able to take a group picture--we all set our cameras on timer and ran back to our places. It didn't turn out too badly. Left to right--Elder Barker from South Salt Lake City, Utah and going home on the 29th; us and that is Elder Archibald's hand on my shoulder; Elder Sacco from Price, Utah; Elder Tamale from Auckland now but originally from Tonga; and Elder Kaufusi, from Tonga going home mid-May. We keep teasing him that we are just going to keep him here. We really have grown to love him and his humble spirit. He is a great missionary--they all are. This week we will go down to Greymouth to get the Elders for interviews in Nelson and the will get their own companions back. We have the Greymouth Elder's car in our driveway so when we come back we don't have to go down to Greymouth. Not that we mind the drive but it really adds on driving after a long day.
When we drove the Elders back to Greymouth we stopped at President Kinikini's home to visit and collect our cake pan that I had left in Greymouth. Below you can see our little dolly--Lou Ann. She is so adorable. She had on her shades and was ready to come home with us to Westport.
We have had a great week. This past weekend we were able to watch Conference via DVDs from the District. What timely messages were there! As Elder Neil L. Anderson said in the last session the messages were indeed a spiritual symphony divinely orchestrated. One thing that really hit home to me because we are missionaries is from President Uchdorf's talk. When he talked of the statue of Jesus that was mostly destroyed in WWII and rebuilt all but for the hands, and the sign that was placed with the statue, "You are my hands!" I truly feel like we are His hands and we need to do as He would do. I pray each day that we are up to the task.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Better Late Than Never!

It seems as time goes by we are getting busier and busier and as I think "I need to do the Blog!" we need to also visit a less active or needy member and out the door we go. We love what we are able to do and we love the people here. We have had many exciting things to do this past week and a half. Over a week ago we went to Nelson for our Zone Conference. Above you can see a picture of our Nelson Zone. We are the smallest zone in numbers but the largest area. President Jolliffe has challenged us to keep our funnel full so we always have people to work with. Elder Archibald has taken this challenge to heart and we do have a full funnel right now. I will name the Elders in the above picture: Elder Kaufusi, Elder Hudson, Elder Mataupu, Elder Tuipulotu, President and Sister Jolliffe, Elder Barker, Elder Haynes, Elder Tamale, The Archibalds, and Elder Sacco. Elder Sacco is new in Greymouth and Elder Mataupu, from Samoa, is new in Nelson. We had a great Zone Conference. We played a great charade game with the scriptures from Preach My Gospel. We had to guess the concept and the scripture. It was fun to watch the acting of all the Elders.

Above you can see the Elders playing a thank you song for the lovely sisters that cooked our meal. Sister Jolliffe had had pipe chimes made. We are playing He Sent His Son. It was absolutely delightful. The first time it was played was a little rough but after the while it was beautiful. It brought goose bumps to my arms. I love music and the feelings it brings. I want to get the pattern and have Elder Archibald build me a set when we get home.
The above picture is not particularly beautiful but I want you to look at how the bush is on the right side of the picture. As we have driven this and other roads I have marveled at how the trees grow so uniformly. Then I thought that perhaps the big trucks going by had something to do with it and then one day we were driving and came up to 3 trimmers going along the road and each was trimming part of the bush: so that is how they are trimmed so evenly. And I thought it was just how they grew. Silly me.

The above picture was taken at night with the flash. One day Elder Archibald noticed a snail on about half way up on the front of our house. It stayed there all day long. That evening when we came home we could see it moving down the side of the house. During the day all you could see was the shell, but in the evening you could see its head and part of its body as it slid down the house. I found it very interesting and watched it in the dark after I took it's picture. Nature is wonderful.
A week ago it was Mormon Helping Hands in the South Pacific. In Greymouth they did service at 2 schools in the area. It was also their Branch Conference that weekend and on Saturday night they had a celebration with the guests from Nelson. Above you can see the 2 pigs which had been cooked on spits during the day. President Kinikini and his delightful wife were in charge and Elder Kaufusi and Elder Sacco had helped cook the meat. It was delicious. We ate only one pig on Saturday night. I think they used the other the next day after meetings.
Above you can see the tables laden with heaps of food. To me it was amazing. The members each brought a bowl for the tea. There was all types of food and everything I tried was delicious. I am not a very adventurous eater but Elder Archibald tried lots too, and it was all delicious. There were salads of all kinds and other meat dishes and different kinds of potato dishes. They also made a yummy drink with watermelon, pineapple, coconut. Oh my, that was a treat.
Merle has taught the many children how to play the finger game where they cross their hands and double them up. Then you point to a finger, don't touch, and have them move that finger. Because you hands are crossed it gets a bit confusing to move the right finger without practice. The children practice and when Elder Archibald appears they come running up and have their hands crossed and want to play the game. It is a universally accepted game and we have played it wherever we go. Above is Mele ready to play the game. Isn't she delightful? We truly love the people we have been able to meet here.
Probably the highlight of the evening was a display of Tongan dancing. I was busy videoing it and Merle was supposed to be taken still photos. Above is one of the pictures taken. It was such a fun evening with our Tongan friends in Greymouth.
Another thing we have been doing over the past few weeks is delivering DVDs--The Lamb of God. There are media spots on the television and a 0800 number to call. So when someone calls from our area the elders in the office call us with a referral to deliver the DVD. We have delivered about 10 and have call backs on all but one. One had requested the DVD but when we called to deliver it he said he changed his mind. Above you can see the backyard from one of our friends, who had requested a DVD. We had a wonderful visit with him. We even left him with a Book of Mormon and will be going back to teach. This gentleman's backyard goes straight up. He said he had tried to climb the hill in the back yard but only got about 2/3s of the way up. The bush is just too dense.

One of the other fun things we have done is attend Care and Craft. It is an activity for Seniors, all ladies. This past Monday they had an Easter Bonnet Parade. Here are the ladies who brought bonnets. The lady on the front row on the right in the blue dress is Jean who is 104. She has taken quite a shine to Elder Archibald. The week before this event we were the entertainers for an hour. We did a sing song--on the cd player and the keyboard. Music is one thing that is universal and even when you get old music makes you feel alive. The lady in the back row with the gray jacket even yodeled for us last week. That was so entertaining.
We are sure enjoying our adventure and seem to be getting busier and busier. Tonight we have to remember to turn our clocks back--daylight savings time is ending until the spring. This is my favorite night of the year--an extra hour of sleep.