Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Splendid Spring Spectacles

We have had an splendid spring. Hence the title of this post. First, it is unusual and interesting for us to experience spring in September and October. As you know from an earlier post we went to the temple in Temple View, near Hamilton, New Zealand. Because our white corolla was getting over 90000 Km. we were asked to drive up and switch cars. So our adventure began. We left early one morning so we could make the Picton Ferry. Our first stop was in Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand. We spent a P day with the Jensens touring interesting things in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.
Merle loves to watch the news and we have seen the capital buildings many times and he wanted to see it in person. News people were gathered to welcome in the HMS Wellington, where the navy were marching from the harbour to the capital. We missed this parade which was good, we don't like crowds.
This building is called the Beehive and it is right next to the parliament building. It is an interesting office structure. As we were looking at the buildings it was kind of cloudy but warm.

We spent the day with this lovely couple--Elder and Sister Jensen, aka Don and Marilyn Jensen from Logan, Utah. They are the mission office couple and they do a great work. Merle and Don really get along great and we always have a wonderful time with them. We toured around the city and enjoyed that; as when we first landed in New Zealand we were a little jet-lagged and didn't really enjoy the city. Wellington is built on hills surrounding the harbour. It is called windy Wellington for a reason. It is even more windy that at home.

After going to a market and touring around the city we went to the Botanical Gardens. It was splendid and we saw many wonderful flowers. I especially enjoyed the thousands of orchids. There was also a beautiful plant called the "Skunk Plant". When it is in bloom it emits an odor that is quite distinct. Enjoy the picture.

After spending some time in the gardens the sun was beginning to come out and so we went to the tallest point in Wellington, Mount Victoria. It was a windy trip up but the view was spectacular.
As you can see the wind is blowing but you can see a bit of the harbour behind us and the small dot over Merle's shoulder is the ferry.

Here is a symbolic Maori carving. It has been made of cast something so people would not deface it or carve into it. This is looking out towards the hills. We had a magnificent view from atop this mountain. Afterwards we wound our way down the hill and around and decided to go to the beach to eat our lunch. We came to a bay where there were at least 50 wind surfers. Some even had kites behind them and would be lifted up when the wind was just right. It was a beautiful sight but photos didn't capture it as it was.
That evening Sister Jensen and I went to a baptism. We told the 4 elders there that we were doing splits. Elders Archibald and Jensen stayed at the flat and Sister Jensen and I went to the baptism. It was most interesting. The mom and dad were getting married. Then the dad got baptized, confirmed, ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and made a Priest. Then he baptized his wife. It was very touching. They made the focus of the evening their baptisms. After, the father sang a beautiful song that he had written. They are planning next year to go to the temple to be sealed as a family. They have 4 beautiful children. It was a great evening and nice to spend it with another couple.
We left good time the next morning to drive to Hamilton. It was about 8 hours of driving. As you know Merle does not stop a lot on the trip. I was driving most of the way as his feet were driving him crazy. We took this picture above because we are amazed at how they do not back slope by the roads and there are very few slips. Merle says at home if they just cut straight down through the hill, the hill would cave in on the road; but here clay, gravel, rock, etc. it just does not cave in easily even with all the rain they get.

By early evening we had arrived in Hamilton, in the above picture, on the banks of the Waikato. Hamilton is the largest inland city in New Zealand, with a population of about 200,000. As New Zealand's fastest growing and largest inland city, it sits on the banks of New Zealand's longest river, the Waikato River. Hamilton is the heart of New Zealand's largest export region. It is strong in agriculture, particularly dairy and thoroughbred horse breeding. Hamilton hosts the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere. The area is surrounded with beautiful rolling hills.
It was just coming into spring and above is one of the many spring flower beds we saw. I just love how green it all is.
In an earlier post I talked about our wonderful temple trip. I also mentioned Rangi Parker. We had an amazing experience with Rangi Parker and her family. She is a talented lady. When we first arrived in Temple View we asked at the Visitor's Centre how we could get in touch with her. The gave us her card and told us how to get to her place. We went right over and she was not home. We kept trying and finally one evening she came home. She had gone to Aussie to edit a book she was working on. The phones were too distracting at home so she left. She did come back for the Auckland MTC dedication and the Prophets visit. She was now home. We were invited to view her massive collection of missionary history and church history in New Zealand. When I walked into the rooms I was overcome with emotion. I could just feel something that touched my heart. Rangi has a passion for the history of the church in this small country. She has archived much of it. When she visits in the states she is often given photos that the missionaries took while they were serving here. I was glad to be able to share a little of what I had with her. Each time we went to visit her she was so gracious. She also shared her singing talent with us. She gave us a CD of her singing. One evening I put the music on the computer and she sang Merle to sleep. Too bad I am not smart enough to set up a listening gadget so you could hear some of the soothing sounds. She sings a lot in Maori- and does some of her own harmonizing and her daughters do some also. I wished that I understood the language. The above picture shows us with Rangi Parker, Vic Parker and a grandson.

When we left Hamiton we decided to take a few days coming home and see some of the North Island. Many people told us to go to Rotorua. So we did. The drive was amazing and Rotorua is a beautiful small city. We went to the Pohutu Cultural Theatre where we enjoyed a traditional program presented by descendants of the Te Arawa Tribe. We both enjoyed the music and activities and learned more about the culture. We also enjoyed traditional Maori delicacies, steam pit hangi, and delicious seafood buffet.

The next day we had many choices of things to do and see. We could have gone to the buried village but because we had seen Pompeii and Herculaneum we didn't go there. The only difference was this was a Maori Village. We could have gone to the Redwood forest but we had been to the Redwood forest in California. We had been told that Oarkei Korako was amazing so we drove to there. It is a geo-thermal area south of Rotorua, on the way to Taupo. We crossed the Waikato River on a ferry then walked around the area. This area has some of the largest silica terraces in the world. It is a lot like Yellowstone only more compact. Also, there are not the wild animals that Yellowstone has. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the "tramping". You can see the steam coming out of the hillside.

The above picture is of Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in Australasia and roughly the size of Singapore. It is known for its trout fishing. The area has 3 active volcanoes Mount Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro. They ski and snowboard on Mount Ruapehu. This is a very touristy area,and oh so beautiful.
We have heard of the desert road and often wondered how on earth there could be a desert in New Zealand. In the stormy times the desert road is often closed because it gets treacherous. We were driving along on this beautiful road when all of a sudden the green was left behind and you come to something that is sandy and reminds one of Wyoming with the sand and dried growth. It lasts for about 50 km. and the army uses the area for training. You can see the snow-covered volcanic mountain in the background. There were 3 volcanoes around here. What a difference from what we were used to seeing. As we crossed the desert and looked at the mountains there were long white clouds hanging over the mountains. The Maori word for New Zealand is Aotearoa meaning the land of the long white cloud.
We spent the next night in Palmerston North. We were so tired we just had to stop. The next morning we drove on to Porirua and went to Church with the Jensens. They belong to a ward on the Pah where everyone is related. The bishop is just a young man. We met Elder Metikingi's nana and auntie. We also met many other people who are related to many of our friends in the Nelson District. We couldn't get a ferry ride until Tuesday so spent Monday in Porirua. We became the helpers for the Jensen's. I hung out the laundry and let it enjoy the wind and bring it in before the dew fell. We enjoyed lunch with the Jensens and made tea for them when they arrived home in the evening. We could tell it meant a lot. They were almost in tears. We prepared for the next day when we would catch the early ferry to return to the south island. Below you can see the Kaitaki which is the largest Interislander Ferry. Kaitaki means challenger. It was a smooth sailing and this time the windows were clean and we could take pictures.

We were the first car on the ferry as we were when we crossed from South to North. It is interesting that you can see the South Island from the North Island. It was a smooth sail and we visited with many of the passengers.

Here you can see the Marlborough Sounds and if you look closely you can see Picton in the distance. On our trip we saw Mussel Farms and Salmon Farms. At the edges of some of these islands are cottages. Their mail is delivered by boat. Although there are roads most of the residents travel by small boat. It is very beautiful coming through the sounds. We spent a nice afternoon in Picton. We had lunch and enjoyed an ice cream. I even found a maple walnut for Merle. We called Phillip MacDonald, as he had invited us to stay with them. We spent a fun afternoon and evening with Chris and Phillip. Grandma had taught his father on Wairau Pah. That is where the MacDonalds live. We were shown where the school was and things have not changed a lot, except there are grapes where sheep used to graze. The sea is not far away. The school was close to the Wairau River. Across the river is a group of trees where the old hotel used to be. Spring Creek is nearby where Grandpa spent a lot of time proselyting. It was really cool to walk where they once walked.

The bushes are where the school used to stand. The river is just behind me. The beach is just less than a mile downstream. I loved being here.

Here are Chris and Phillip MacDonald, our hosts for the night. We really enjoyed our stay with them in there lovely home. The land around is land that his father owned many years ago. Phillip has worked hard to make it profitable. We hope to be around in their autumn to watch the grape harvest.
This is Lake Rotiti, just off the road at St. Arnaud. We have driven the road many times and never stopped here until now. It was windy. Imagine how pretty the lake will be on a calm day. This lake is part of the Nelson Lakes National Park. I have a picture of Grandma with relatives at this lake.

Here is Elder Hill on the Ab Circle Pro. It is an ab machine which we borrowed for a week. It really gives you a workout. He has borrowed it from a member until he is transferred out of Blenheim. Elder Hill is a real pro at this. He is a little fellow but his abs must be great because he can really move on this machine.

Elder Kavaefiafi, a Tongan elder from Australia, is really great on these pushup things. He doesn't like the Ab Circle Machine. He is really strong. He got transferred this transfer and we will miss him. We took these pictures at flat inspection time.

We journeyed on to Nelson for flat inspection there the next day. This flat was the cleanest it has ever been. It was just amazing. Elder Berryman and Elder Prebble are the Zone Leaders and there will be two more elders moving in here this transfer. We also were able to get LPG gas for their water heater. Then we took the long way home.

On this trip we came home by way of Motueka. This is one picture we took as we were journeying back to Westport. It was nice to see some more beautiful country.

We have seen enormous stumps around New Zealand. Here is one clever use of a huge stump. We saw this and backed up and took the picture.

On October 14th we saw this steam engine coming into Greymouth. The steam is made from diesel instead of coal as in the olden days but it was a fun sight. We were taking Elder Fullmer to the plane as he was going home with honor.

Elder Fullmer and Elder McLean as Elder Fullmer prepares to go home. We sure will miss him but hopefully we will see him in the future.

While we were waiting for the new elder we "hung out" in Hokitika. In the Gold Shop Merle was able to hold this gold nugget. That was cool.

Also, at the entrance to the shops, many owners had placed these clever mats. It was fascinating.
We have a great beginning to spring and we hope it continues. This coming weekend is Labour Weekend and the people here say it is the beginning of summer. Although the Solstice does not come until December.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

A short while ago the Greymouth held a fantastic Branch Activity. They had a kite building evening. Anyone who wanted to build a kite could and the parents got as involved as the young people. In the above picture you can see Elder Archibald helping the children. Their parents were involved making their own kites.
Here you can see Ola helping some of the children. Her husband Emili is working on his own kite. It is a secret.
Puta Langi is finished his kite. Tama'a and I are laughing at his enjoyment. It did fly though.
The Elders also got involved in making their own kites. No one lost fingers and their kites "almost" flew. Above you can see Elder Fullmer and Elder Berryman as well as some of the branch members.

Here you can see Elder Archibald holding Emili and Ola's little girl. She is a real darling. This was a moment of peace in a fun, wild evening.

ROYAL TONGA--built by EMILI LANGI. It flew no matter who tried to fly it.
After a cleanup we had a Sausage Sizzle. What a fantastic evening we had in Greymouth.

President Jolliffe Visits Westport

A while ago we invited President Jolliffe to come and visit Westport. He has been the President of the New Zealand Wellington Mission since June 2008 and the members here have longed for him to visit them on the West Coast. They have met him at District Conference but he has never been to their home area. So Elder Archibald and I issued him and his delightful wife an invitation to visit us. And he came. He was delayed a week. The weather was oh so stormy, but he flew into Nelson and rented a car. He drove to Greymouth via Reefton on the Saturday and did a fireside there. We drove down to the fireside. The seas were wild and there had even been high sea warnings out. I wish you could see how wild the seas really were but this picture will have to suffice.
At the fireside Sister Jolliffe spoke of the importance of Family Home Evening. During this time we are able to get closer with our families and teach them so they are strong and fortified against the trials that will come. Our families are blessed when we take time to spend with them each week. It becomes a tradition that children will remember. I remember all the years our family held family home evenings before it became a big push in the Church. It was one of the many things my father did to strengthen our family and bring us closer. President Jolliffe spoke about being a goal-setting people. It becomes a cycle we follow all of our lives. The things we do become the brush strokes in our canvas of life. After being fed spiritually we were fed by the members in Greymouth. All had brought a plate. We did Apple Salad which was a hit and pretzel jello salad, also a hit. An interesting side note--they always feed you well in Greymouth. Sister Kinikini had loaded a plate of desserts for President and Sister Jolliffe. President Jolliffe begged Elder Fullmer to help him out but Elder Fullmer declined saying, "I have been here six months and gotten fat. You can handle the dessert." We laughed and laughed. Elder Fullmer had not gotten fat but he had been well fed--he had to exercise lots to stay fit.

The next day our branch was blessed to have President and Sister Jolliffe visit Westport. This day Sister Jolliffe talked about the Savior being our Lighthouse. The human eye can discern a candle at 50 km. on a clear night. We need to be the candle that someone is watching. She also shared and experience of when their family got chooks. She told of how when they first got them they tried to bring them in to the coop before they were ready to come in for the night. They spent hours the first few times. Then one night they were away and a little late getting home. When they went out to gather the chooks in for the night the chooks were already in the coop, nested for the evening. When the chooks were willing to be gathered to a safe and secure place they knew where to go. She likened that to our less active members. They know where there is safety and security and if they are nourished with the light of the gospel they will be willing to be gathered when they are ready. We can't force them, just be there and be constant with our love. President Jolliffe talked about miracles. All at one time knew of the Plan of Happiness. Right now, as through the ages there is a tug of war between the Lord and the adversary. We need to make sure we stay on the side of the Lord. True Christianity is love in action.
Here are Levi and Kahn visiting with President Jolliffe. They loved having this opportunity to meet the mission president.
Here is Sister Jolliffe with Fuata. We had a lovely meal after meetings this day. Fuata is from Fiji and has twin sons that are 6.
In this picture you can see our twins, Rahul, Joshua, (they are Fuata's sons); Amelia, Lydia and Lyn. Lydia is Lyn's grand-daughter and Amelia is her sister.
It was a great time for our branch when the President and his wife visited.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Oh, That I Were an Angel"

For many years one of my favorite scriptures in in Alma 29:1. "O That I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!" We are here in New Zealand to do just that. As we visit with the wonderful people here we are able to remind them of the love Heavenly Father has for them and what he desires for them to do: repent and follow the example of our Savior and keep the commandments and prepare to return to live with our Father in Heaven. We love the people here in New Zealand, especially the wonderful people here on the West Coast. In May "President" Archibald was given the assignment of inviting all the endowed members of our branch to "Come to the temple with us!" Somehow, he was able to invite them all. Many heard his invitation and prepared financially and spiritually to attend the temple. It is a major undertaking here on the South Island. One has to fly from Christchurch and then rent a vehicle and drive to Hamilton or take the ferry to get to the North Island and then it is a good days drive to Hamilton. Either way it is quite an expense for the people. We had planned on flying and booked our tickets but in mid-September the mission asked us to drive up so that we could trade our car. "Good-bye Old Whitie" our beloved Corolla. What a blessing that was as we were able to see more country going and coming. It looks vastly different on the North Island. There are more rolling hills and not so much rock and it is amazingly beautiful.
This is just one of the many pictures taken from the car on our way up the island. I am driving and Merle is the photographer. But I must take a step back. In Wellington we met the Service Couple, Elder and Sister Ditchburn, from Wellington. Of course when you meet people you always ask where they are from. Sister Ditchburn was born and raised in Wellington but had been to Canada as a young girl of 18. She was sailing there in 1958. She had met a wonderful couple whom she said she would never forget--a Brother and Sister McMurray. They had been to the temple dedication and were sailing home. Tears came to my eyes as she was speaking of my grandparents. She loved them and so appreciated them for taking her under their wing and helping her as she sailed all alone across the ocean. While in Canada she stayed with my Aunt Mabel, whom she also fondly remembered. She knew that Aunt Mabel had 3 children, a boy and 2 girls and had lost her husband in a tragic train accident. Her name then was Lorraine Luft. What a memory! That was an awesome beginning of a wonderful time on the North Island.
This picture was taken as we drove through the gate and at the base of the temple. There was a Visitor's Center behind us. I cannot explain the feelings that overcame me as we parked here. It was like I was home so far away from home.
This is a picture of the temple from the back, our little motel unit was just right here. I loved being able to once again walk around the temple and feel the wonderful feelings I always feel near the temple. I thought of Grandma and Grandpa walking around here with the trees much smaller; I also thought of Uncle Jeddy and Aunt Loretta as they served here and probably lived in the missionary apartments at the base of the hill. It was nostalgic for me.
We had a marvelous week at the temple. We spent a lot of time inside the temple and a lot of time associating with the members of our Nelson District. It was just wonderful. One day we were able to attend the sealing of Lou Ann Kinikini to her parents. It was such a beautiful experience. We love the Kinikini family and we were grateful we were able to share the day with them. One evening Sister Kinikini cooked tea for us and her family. They were staying in the dorms and the cooking facilities were scary for her. We were glad that we were able to help them attend the temple. Below you can see the delightful Kinikini family. We love them so much. Back Row--Moni, Taina, Atu; Front row--Maui, Elder Archibald, Lou Ann, Sister Archibald, and Taufa. We love this family from Greymouth.

Some of the people from our district that we spent a lot of time with were the MacDonalds from the Blenheim Branch. When I first met President MacDonald he told me that Grandma had taught his father in school. I had a copy of the picture that Dave had given me with Grandma as a teacher. I had the picture and my computer at the temple and so one night we took both down to the MacDonalds. After looking for sometime Phillip MacDonald found his father in the picture. He was so excited that he called his sister who lived in Hamilton to come over and see the picture. His sister picked her father out very quickly.
Their father is the little boy just above the child in white. He is looking towards the side. The father was about 10 in the picture. At Wairau Pah is the area where the MacDonalds grew up with many cousins and close friends. This picture was a treasure for them to see and I was able to give them a copy. They are going to try and identify many of the people in the picture. It was a fun time and Phillip and his sister fondly remember Grandma and Grandpa. I also had a picture of them(Grandma and Grandpa) in the 50s.

On our way home we were able to spend time with the MacDonalds and were able to see the area where the school was and where Grandpa labored as a missionary in Spring Creek.

We were also able to have another great experience at the temple. Elder Jensen from the Mission Office was some more copies of the DVD on Matthew Cowley. We needed to find Rangi Parker. We went each day to her place and finally one day as we were leaving her place she pulled up in their car with her husband. Her son had just picked them up from the airport. They had been in Australia for 5 weeks and just returned. Rangi is the darling little lady in the above picture. Also, there is her husband Vic and her grandson. Rangi Parker is a Church History expert for New Zealand. She has a collection second to none of pictures and journals and artifacts of former missionaries serving in New Zealand. We were blessed to see her collection. She asked me if I had a copy of my grandfather's missionary journal. I had a scanned copy which I shared with her. She stayed up most of the night reading it and the next morning asked my permission to have it transcribed for easier reading. I said yes and will receive a copy when it is finished. She also remembered my grandparents when they visited and served here in New Zealand. We had other great experiences while we were away and I will post more later.
Our visit to the temple truly turned the "hearts of the children to their fathers". It was such a blessing for us to be able to have this experience.