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.