We have had a busy time lately. Last Friday the young elders stayed at our flat so that we could take them up to district conference on the weekend. We took them to help us do missionary work. We went out to a couple in Granity. She is a member who has not been active for many years and her husband is not a member but they have been very receptive to our visits. We had the elders teach them the first lesson, The Restoration. It was well received. We left a Book of Mormon with the husband as she has her father's in Samoan. We had a great visit. When we got home, we got new material and went over to Bob's place. He wants to learn right from the start. We taught him the first 2 lessons. He was really receptive, as was his son. We had a successful evening of teaching. Bob has had lots of experiences, we just need him to get on the right track and endure to the end. We came home and had a bowl of hot soup and buns. We had an early night as we were getting up good time to leave for Nelson on Saturday morning.
When we got to Nelson, the Relief Society sisters had prepared a light lunch for those who had traveled a fair distance. Blenheim had traveled an hour and a half, we had traveled two and a half hours and Greymouth had traveled three and a half or four hours. The lunch was lovely--hot soup and Maori bread and a savory roll. The missionaries visited and fellow-shipped the young and the priesthood leadership from the district had a meeting. Everyone loves the young missionaries. After the men had their meeting there was a great Relief Society Meeting on Visiting Teaching, which is a lot like missionary work. Then at 4:00 p.m. there was a general meeting for all the members. Our district filled only the chapel. The first speaker was a Tongan. He spoke only in Tongan, which many understood but we did not. But you could feel the spirit of his talk. He was dressed in traditional Tongan. He is working in Nelson at the present time. It was a great meeting. After the meeting there was tea for all the district members. It was a feast, as we have witnessed at all the gatherings we have been at. Robyn had organized it and it was very good. Then we went home with Sarah Venable. Her husband had gone with the youth for an activity. They were going go-carting. I spoke with some of the Greymouth youth the next day and they had a fabulous time.
Above, you can see Ashley Venable, Sarah Venable, and Joshua Venable. They were our hosts for the evening. What a lovely family! They live in a modern home with insulation, double glazed windows and central heating. We had a great visit and enjoyed getting to know this charming family. Ashley is 11 and Joshua is 8. Ashley is so excited to be going into Young Women's in August. That means that when our district goes to the temple in September she can do baptisms. They are going to drive up as a family. We are probably going to fly as it is a 2 or 3 day trip, depending on the hours you drive. That includes a 3 hour ferry ride.
Ashley and Joshua are very bright and polite children. It was a delight to get to know them. The husband, Rob, is the Branch President, in Nelson. He had early meetings. When we were visiting, he asked if we knew Darren Cahoon from Cardston. They had been missionary companions years ago and to my delight I had contacts where I could get the email of Darren and reconnect the two of them.
On Sunday all of New Zealand had conference via satellite from Salt Lake City. Above you can see some of the Tongan men dressed in their traditional dress for Sunday meetings. Elder David S. Baxter conducted the meeting and spoke first. He spoke about the need for unity among the saints. He said we need to be tolerant of diversity. We need our hearts knit together in love. He spoke of 4 qualification:
- We need to remember whose church this is. It is the Lord's church and we need to come into conformity with the Lord's will.
- We need to strive to be one. He talked about the Saviors heartfelt desire for all of His disciples to be one.
- We need to avoid cultural traps. We should be equally yoked, avoid pride, and become like Him. Ask ourselves "What would Jesus have me do and DO IT!
- We need to be defined by discipleship.
After conference, there was another lovely luncheon. This time it was provided by the members of the Nelson branch. It was like pot luck. Here they call it bring a plate. When I first heard that I thought that you were to bring a plate to eat, but now I know you have to have something on the plate. Above you can see some of the people after the meal. They hang around as if they don't want to return home as it will be a while before we see each other again.
These boys are mainly from Greymouth. They love their pictures taken. I started with one and soon had a group. It was a great occasion.
On Monday we looked for flats for the Nelson Elders. Their flat as no heat, except the small electric heater, and a very poor shower. It only does cool water. If you turn it to hot it just drips out. Above you can see them having a picnic on the living room floor. From left to right you can see Elder Booth, Elder Mataupu, Elder Fullmer, Elder Berryman, Elder Sacco, and Elder Tamale. They are eating mussels, boiled chicken, boiled lamb, fried steak, fish, and chips. They also had apples supplied by the members. We shared some of their food also.
This flat also has limited lighting. We discovered the next day that one breaker was shot and replaced the breaker and the whole flat now had light after we replaced 10 light bulbs.
The next morning the elders had interviews and we stayed at the flat to meet the property manager. She was impressed with how nice the elders kept their flat; but appalled at the conditions they were living in. As we were replacing light bulbs the one in the toilet blew the main breaker so the flat had almost no power. We were able to get that fixed after visiting with the property manager.
It was a drizzly day as we returned home to Westport. The mist in the air is kind of pretty as you can see from the above picture. We had beautiful sunny weather on Wednesday. We made lots of visits that day. I love sunny days. On Thursday is rained and blew all day. We aren't getting flooded here on the West Coast like it is on the east coast but the wind is cold. The residents told us that there would probably be snow on the mountains that we can see from our flat. And sure enough, when the clouds cleared there was snow on the tops of the mountains. I guess winter is coming whether I like it or not. We just have to wear lots of layers and stay warm and enjoy the journey.