Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nature--It's Power and It's Beauty and Other Things!

Last Thursday, in the wee hours of the morning we were awakened with a loud bang. We leaped out of bed to see what was going on. A loud and ferocious wind had started. It had been blowing when we went to bed, but not like this. We looked out the window in the dark to make sure the car had not hit the fence. We were afraid that the roof of our flat was about to blow off. Then the fire alarm rang, and we found out later that someone's roof had blown off. There were sparks like lightening from trees hitting electric lines. I was afraid. Finally the wind calmed a bit and we were able to get back to sleep. Then at 8 a.m. or so another wind hit and more alarms rang. We found out later that spring tides had washed away some of a local park where campers and motor homes were. A woman was down at the tip watching the waves and saw this huge "King Wave" and she knew there would be trouble and she called "111". The waves came in and washed a good size motor home on its side and the next wave righted it again. The fire chief was there and saw the wave coming and thought "I'll hide behind this motor home for safety." The wave washed him into the flax bunches. It just shows you the power of Mother Nature. This was just spring tides. What would be a Tsunami be like? I am not sure why they call them spring tides as it is definitely Autumn here. On our trip to Greymouth this day the sea was wild and in some places the splashes from the waves were hitting the roads. Heaps of damage was done from the wind and the waves. One driveway out at Carter's Beach lost 20 Blue Gum trees and the paddocks had trees uprooted. Trampolines were on roof tops. It was just incredible.

On Saturday morning we went out of Westport a bit and came to a former Scout Lodge. Since there are no scouts in the area at the present time it has been donated to a group called "Island Creek" Association. They maintain the property and let it out for camper groups and do catering campstyle for various groups. The leader of the group is Frank O'Connell. He is the husband to one of our less active sisters. The first time we went to visit them he said "My wife belongs to your true church and I belong to the other true church." He is quite a character and we have visited lots with him He loves LDS DVDs. He has seen more than me. His favorite ones are "The Best Two Years" and "The Other Side of Heaven". He has a complete set of "The Work and The Glory" and has read the set several times. But we can't get him to read "The Book of Mormon". Now to why we were out at "Island Creek Camp Lodge". The group was splitting felled trees for firewood to sell to the community. We had quite a group here for a service. The weather was just lovely. You can see the pile of rounds they were splitting. They said that they did 5 cords of wood in about 3 hours. Elder Archibald worked outside with the log splitter and I worked in the lodge preparing lunch for the group with another branch member, Thea Williams. We did soup, sandwiches and savories. I made a type of sandwich that is quite popular here in New Zealand. They call it cream cheese and onions. You have grated cheese and to that you add a bit of boiling water to kind of melt the cheese. Stir it and add more water until it is just right. Then add a bit of chopped onion. Then you put this mixture on bread and they just gobble it right down. I have never made so many sandwiches in my life. 4 loaves of sandwich bread and 4 dozen buns. We also did egg, and ham, and luncheon(looked like bologna) and tomato and then some with all the mixtures on one sandwich. After the group had worked for about 2 and 1/2 hours it was time for a break and lunch and then it was back to work. It was nice to be of service in the community.
While we were still in our working clothes we journeyed out to Iain's place. He is an inactive member who has a small farm as well as working at Solid Energy on the hill. He lives in a bus with no power or running water. He seems quite happy. He has pigs, chooks, 1 sheep, 20 or so Beefies (beef cattle), and 2 dogs. Above you can see one of his beautiful roosters. We had a great visit and as we were leaving we asked if he would be at meetings on Sunday. He said, "That depends on whether I am invited." We extended an invitation and told him that he was always invited. The next day he was there much to his mother's delight. In fact she was surprised because when he came to town for his morning shower she said he was grouchy. It was so nice to have him there. We love him.
Above, you can see Elder Kaufusi packed and ready to go home. He left Hokitika on Monday morning. We drove him to the airport. President Kinikini came over to their flat to say goodbye, but he will see him again as he goes back to Tonga quite a bit and the villages are not far apart. They aren't really villages, rather small cities. We had been teasing him that we were keeping him here in New Zealand for a while longer so he could help us out. He had mixed emotions this day. He was so excited to see his family but he loved the members he worked with on his mission, especially in Greymouth. His bag was a bit heavy and he did some repacking at the airport. They are only allowed one bag that can be 20 kg. to fly to Tonga. His was 25 kg. He didn't seem worried because he has cousins that work at the airport in Auckland that they would get it on for him. He only had clothes in that huge bag. But there were lots of levis for his cousins in Tonga. I guess they are really expensive there. We never heard back so we are assuming he made it home okay. We told him to think of us during his eternal summer while we were going into winter. He assured us it was going to get colder as we are only in Autumn yet. So far we are warm with the heat pump and our one blanket. We discovered an electric mattress cover that works to take the chill off of the sheets when it is really cold. We will let you know "how cold does it get."
In the above picture you can see Elder Sacco, Elder Fullmer, and Elder Kaufusi. This is at the airport just before Elder Kaufusi was leaving. It turns out that we are distantly related to Elder Fullmer.
Here we are with Elder Kaufusi. We hope to be able to see him in Tonga on our way home. Depends on whether we can work out travel. We will probably never get back to this end of the world. As Elder Kaufusi boarded the plane the pilot shook his had and said "Well done." It was touching to me. We don't have a picture of it but we do have it on video.
After the airplane had gone we went into Hokitika for lunch and then took the Elders out to Hokitika Gorge. Neither had ever seen it and was pretty even on a cloudy day. We walked down the trail, across the swing bridge, and around the trail some more to get to the prettiest part. Here Elder Sacco is inspecting the water. Elder Fullmer did also, and they each got some great shots of them and the water. It was a great day for them and us. As we were driving out we could see snow in the tops of the Southern Alps. Winter is coming. But it is still so beautiful.
On Tuesday we went north, we think. We tried to see many less active on our day. At the end of the road was Oparara Basin. We did about a 1 km. hike into this large limestone arch. It is the hugest one in New Zealand. It is 200 m. in length, 49 m. in width, and 37 m. in height. It had bush growing all around. Merle hiked a bit more along the trail and it came out into daylight on the other side. The water flowing through was a rich brown color. There was gold in the river at one time and probably still is.
We hiked through this amazing rainforest to get to the arch. At times you had to cross foot bridges. You could see and hear babbling brooks. The rocks were covered with moss and there were fungi growing all around. According to a natural history photographer, autumn is the time for fungi and the West Coast has an abundant supply growing in the forests. We saw them and they were beautiful in color. We will have to pay more attention when we hike in the bush. I am not sure how much more hiking we will do as Merle's hip has been bothering him since this day. After we had seen this beautiful basin we were once again on the road and finally we found someone home. We had a great visit with her. This lady lives all alone, through a trail and on a mountain side. She says she is never alone though. She has only a radio and books and a phone. Her stove is broken right now and we worry about her keeping warm but she says "No problem." Coming back we tried to do a few more visits but no one was home.

Wednesday the elders were doing exchanges and so the District Meeting was here in Westport. After the meeting we fed them because they have long trips back to where their area is. In the picture you can see Elder Tamale, Elder Fullmer, Myself, Elder Archibald, Elder Sacco, and Elder Berryman. Elder Tamale is Tongan from Auckland, Elder Fullmer and Elder Sacco are both from Utah and Elder Berryman is Maori from at the present time Mesa, Arizona, but he has spent lots of his life here in New Zealand and is related to the McDonals. As you can see, it was a beautiful day this day also.
Here you can see Elder Tamale, Elder Fullmer, Elder Sacco, and Elder Berryman. Elder Tamale and Elder Berryman are the Zone Leaders for our Nelson Zone. I dispense ginger capsules frequently as many of the Elders get car sick on our winding roads. Ginger works really well and does not make you drowsy. We had a great District Meeting. You should hear the singing. It sends chills down your spine. We are healthy and happy and busy. We are always either doing missionary work or branch work. We look forward to this weekend going to District Conference in Nelson, about 2 1/2 hours away.


  1. Glad you were safe! Sounds like you're doing well.

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