Monday, December 28, 2009

Last Week of active mission

There hasn't been nearly as much missionary service the past couple of weeks. Cleaning and getting ready to close this flat has been interesting. Cleaning ovens, the shower, windows, etc. We have also been sorting things to keep and what to get rid of. We have also given away some of our personal items to the members. One of my seminary students got my suit. The sleeves are a little short and the legs are a little long. he still looks good in it. He wore it last Sunday.

We have been able to visit some of our outlying members to say good bye. It has been a blessing to associate with the wonderful members of the Greymouth Branch. This evening I got to practice a Samoan dance with the brothers in the branch. We will perform the dance on January 1 at the branch social dance. It will be our last activity here and our family members will be here. We leave tomorrow afternoon for Christchurch to pick up the family. We are sooo excited.
The Saturday before Christmas we joined some of the Tongan's for a barbecue. Here are the sisters with a couple of children. Ola, in front is pregnant and a little off her feed. We had chicken, and sausage. I don't remember a vegetable this time.
Elder Palanite was honorably released from his mission the Monday before Christmas. As his plane left Hoketika at 7:30 am we opted to stay home. He lives in Auckland and we hope to see him before we leave. Our new missionary is Elder Kaufusi. He is also Tongan. He is very quiet and a real contrast to Elder Beckwith, who is very outgoing. We have spent quite a lot of time with them this past week.

We traveled to Westport for the last time on the 20th and spoke in their sacrament meeting. It was a very small group this time as many are out of town for the holidays. They had some visitors, or there would have been only six members there.
The 21st was our last day of service at the district library. Above are three of the librarians. Two others were already on holiday.
This was taken during an early morning walk. We have had rain and overcast sky's way to much this summer. We are hoping for some good weather for our tour.
This is a vegetable garden spotted on the walk. Things are very late here. The Kinikini's tomatoes are not growing very well this year.
We had some interesting things happen this Christmas week. Wednesday I had to throw out the old washer and dryer as the washer quit working and the dryer had a sign on it saying it did not shut off on its own. We never used it. President Kinikini drove me to the dump and while there he found a washing machine tub that worked perfectly for an above ground umu (oven). His friend built the box with pallet lumber and roofing steel. They filled it with dirt, placing the tub in the center and covered the dirt with rocks. A wood fire was started with some rocks in side as well as steel plates to retain the heat. After the wood had burned down, they placed chicken and vegetables in the tub on top of the rocks and steel. They used a barrel lid and some blankets to cover everything and then put the box lid to close the umu. The chicken and vegetables we cooked in about 50 minutes without open flame. Oh so tender.
Meanwhile, we built another fire to cook a pig. We volunteered to pay for a Christmas pig. while the fire was burning down we went to the pig farm to find something to cook.

We were met by this wonderful rooster as we drove into the farm yard.
They had penned the potential dinner prior to our arrival. We are now picking just the right one.
I did not take pictures of the hammer hitting our pig on the head or the knife through the neck into the heart. It is a lot of work to prepare the pig for cooking. The hair and first layer of skin is burned and then scraped off. It is also gutted.
Here is the little pig ready to be cooked.
While the work is going on, others are having a good time. Here are Taufa and Lou Ann in the pool.
Sister Kinikini is preparing some cheap cuts of lamb.
Elder Hoagland got a brief turn at the rotisserie.
Elder Beckwith and Elder Kaufusi enjoying the smoke in their lungs and eyes.
While things were cooking we took the opportunity to visit other members who were doing the same thing. There were more Tongans at this house and they had 3 little picks a cooking.
Dinner is served.
The family got a basketball stand for Christmas and this is part of the after dinner activity. The elders showed up after eating at a couple of other places first.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mission Fireside, Last week of school

The New Zealand Wellington mission produced a Christmas fireside for the missionaries to present in their wards and branches. It included a video with music and church produced film and a narration and a couple of songs by the primary. Our Elders did a wonderful job of preparing for the fireside by inviting investigators, less active, decorating the Christmas tree and convincing the branch president to use his big screen TV. They asked Elder Hoagland to do the narration.
We had over 50 people in attendance, including 10 investigators. Here are some of the Tongans waiting for the refreshment following the fireside.
Little Osika got his share of the sandwiches.
Preparing the sandwiches following the fireside.
The three girls in the back sang a song, "Could I hold the baby" while the two children in front played Joseph and Mary. No one in the branch had a doll so we bought one and gave it to little Mele following the fireside. She was thrilled. She had already taken off her "Mary" head gear. We thought the evening a big success.

Other than doing some major cleaning, we have resisted packing in anticipation of leaving for home. As they are not replacing us in Greymouth, we had to give a 21 day notice on the flat. There have been missionaries in this flat for at least 8 years. Our landlord (Kevin) has been showing the flat the last couple of days and got a deposit last night and they are moving in December 31.

We had a conversation with Kevin last night. He has these three rentals on this one big lot that has helped put his children through their university studies. His daughter, 22, just graduated in "physiotherapy" last week after four years and an expenditure of $80,000.00 between her and her parents. Three weeks ago the government cut in half the amount of therapy it would pay for so now there are no jobs available in that field. He was most distraught over the situation. He is also afraid she may leave the country to find work.
This was the last week of school. During our normal hour we spend at the school they had an assembly of the four youngest classes where they exchanged Christmas cards with one person. They were told to talk to each other about what they wanted for Christmas or what they were going to do, etc. Here they are discussing Christmas with each other.
Here is the staff we work with. Mrs. Kitchin is the teacher in room two, Naomi is assigned to Jaese, the little autistic boy behind them. Jaese doesn't wear the school uniform and works alone with Naomi most of the time. There is another little boy with less severe autism that sucks his thumb and plays with trains during class, but is able to do his reading and other things. He is very attached to Sister Hoagland. Allison is an aid who works with several of the classes. They have become great friends to us.
After the card exchange, the children were treated to a mass distribution of chips (french fries) from the local fish and chips shop including tomato sauce if they wanted it. It was delivered in the traditional newspaper wrapping. That was our last day at school with our sweet little children.
Tuesday we went to Westport to find a flat for the new missionary couple. We first went to the local realty office and they had disappointly few to see. They were all three bed room houses which would have been way too big and hard to heat. Fortunately I had emailed the members up there and they had found one place that would meet our needs. There is a real shortage of rentals on the west coast as coal mining has really picked up here. The people that will live in our flat are from South Africa and he will work in the mines as well. Above is the Buller River that enters the Tasman sea at Westport.
Our sweet Sister Williams prepared lunch for us. Here is here festive table.
Our Elders have some responsiblity for Westport as well and they came up with us. Elder Beckwith is from Australia. Elder Palanite (Tongan) is eating his first pickle. He goes home the week before we are through with our mission. This is Elder Palanite's second tour in the Greymouth branch. We love him! He gave Elder Hoagland a beautiful "Maori" designed tie for Christmas at our last district meeting. He had to return home to Auckland (his family lives there now) because of knee problems and then returned to the mission field. That takes some great faith. He wants to join the police force, but he will need to have surgery on that knee to do the work.

This is our luncheon host, Thea Williams. She is an authentic Scott, with a wonderful Scottish accent. We have one more trip to Westport this Sunday.
On the way home we made a stop at the seal colony. It was a rare gorgeous day.

The attraction is to see the little baby seals with their mothers. You may have to look hard, but they are there. When the wind is just right the smell is pretty ripe.
A sign on the trail to the colony.
Sister Hoagland on the way back to the car in the distance.
Tuesday evening they had a program and awards night at Cobden School. All the children were dressed as pirates, complete with made up faces. Here Jaese had just completed his little part. Just three or four words but he did it. The children on the left are in our class.
Some of the pirate songs they sang. Following the program, they gave out awards for most improved student, most diligent student, and highest achieving student. There were also sports awards for the older children. They go through eighth grade. The drums are for the little band the older kids played in. They were very good. There was also a choir that meets after school that performed. Another great thing was that we all sang "Away in a manger" and then "Silent Night". Wish we could do that in school at home!

At the end of the awards ceremony we were surprised with a Christmas card and gift. The card read, "Elder and Sister Hoagland, thank you for your dedication and help with the room 2 children throughout the year." It was signed by the assistant principal and "from the Cobden school staff and Board of Trustees. The gift was a coffee table book of New Zealand. It was an emotional event for us. Our little students cheered as we passed them to go on stage.
Sister Hoagland promised the girls who sang at the Christmas fireside that we would take them to lunch if they did a good job. Here we are at our first visit to the McDonalds in Greymouth. Three happy meals, One hamburger, and one chicken fillet combo, and three chocolate sundaes, $38.00 (27.00 US).
MMM, ice cream sundaes.
I took this picture from the McDonalds as the Trans Scenic train went by. It runs once a day between Christchurch and Greymouth. We came here on that train 18 months ago. It is a beautiful trip through the mountains and the lush valleys of the westcoast region of the South Island.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Zone conference

Another very interesting week. The mission has prepared a Christmas Fireside for the missionaries to present in their wards and branches. It involves a dvd presentation along with narration, and singing by primary children. They were delayed in distributing the program to us and we have to present it this Sunday so we and the Elders have been doing some scrambling. Monday and Tuesday Sister Hoagland was rehearsing some primary children to sing a special number prepared for a small group of children. While she was doing that I was having fun watching the Aho Langi family put together their little pool. A very optomistic enterprise for this year as it has been stormy most of the time.
Here are Lesili, Meleane, Mele, and Silisi holding the pool canopy.
Aho had a little hand pump, but it did not work on this pool so he is having to use lung power. We all enjoyed watching. Manui Langi is going to make Sister Hoagland a Tongan skirt and me a matching shirt.
More fun
The Langi's have a piano in their entry hall. The Tauli's gave them their piano when they left for Australia months ago. Lisa Tau, Hola Langi, and her cousin Katalina Langi are practicing their song for the fireside. That should bring at least three families to the program.
We helped the children in room two make chain and santa decorations for their classroom. It is good to see that in some places in the world celebrating Christmas in schools is not illegal. While Elder Hoagland hung the chains, the children sang Christmas Carols.
This was our last Institute class, as Mafi (left) left for Tonga with her family. They will be there for Christmas and return just in time to say good bye to us. We are in our Greymouth Institute T Shirts. Our names are on the back. Quality control had left the building when they did the names, as ours came out HoaglUnd, and Ofa's came out OSA.
Wednesday afternoon we made the three hour drive to Christchurch for Christmas zone conference. On the way we drove through Inchbonnie to see a less active family. We had not been able to locate them by phone as it had been disconnected. We got there just in time as she is leaving her husband and moving with her children to Christchurch. We took this picture just before we arrived at their house.
Our trip over Aurthur's pass was a very wet one. The advantage to that is you can see waterfalls everywhere. The most spectacular we were not able to capture because there was no place to stop to take a picture.
The rain was coming down in sheets. It is a case of the mountains not letting the rain get over the top as it was overcast but not raining on the east side of the mountains.
If you are interested to see what this area looks like without the rain, check out last December's post when the skies were much clearer. Go to the Archives, click on the arrow for 2008, and then December.
The Elder's had some business in downtown Christchurch and we saw this man riding a bike with a Cockatoo on his shoulder's. In the evening we had dinner with President and Sister Jolliffe and the three other couples who serve on the South Island. President Jolliffe is not a fan of picture taking so we had no pictures of the occasion. While the menu was in English, we did need some interpretation. Sister Hoagland had mushroom and spinach wellington with potato rosti, pear and rocket salad. Elder Hoagland had ribeye with tongue "n" cheek pie, onion rings and herb butter. Shared side dishes included; fries, broccoli, brown butter and almonds, rocket avocado and bacon salad, asparagus, cucumber and feta, macaroni cheese gratin.

We arrived at the restaurant at 8:00 pm seated at 8:30, served at 9:30 and left at 10:30 pm. Our accommodations where with President and Sister Ormsby. President Ormsby is Pres. Jolliffe's second counselor in the mission presidency. The restaurant was on the east side of town and the Ormsby's live 15 minutes west of the city limits. We were a little anxious about finding the place and with good reason. The road he lived on was poorly labeled and his house had no number. It being in the country there were no street lights. After missing the turn to his road, we were fortunate to find some one at 11:00 o'clock to guide us back to Adam road. We thought they might be looking for us so when we saw this car pull away from the side of the road we thought is was them and followed them into their driveway. Hope we didn't scare these people too badly but they were able to confirm we were on the right road. A short ways later we did found President on the side of the road waiting for us.

President Ormsby is a young man who is a partner in a large law firm in Christchurch. They live on an 11 acre ranchette with their 2 1/2 year old daughter Sarah. They are expecting another child in a few months. Sister Ormsby is American and they met when her family came to live in Christchurch. They stayed for only one year but Sister Ormsby was at the University here and stayed to complete her work when she met Brother Ormsby. We had a wonderful bed and Sister Ormsby fixed a sumptuous breakfast we could not eat as we were still stuffed from the night before. Fortunately there were four other Elders there to take up the slack. We did have some of the water melon and strawberries.
We gathered at the stake center at 8:00 am for our trip to Hanmer Springs, where we were going to hike up the Jolliffe pass. There, President Jolliffe was rededicating the south island for the preaching of the gospel. As we approached the town we had to cross a bridge where they were preparing a group for bungy jumping.

Unfortunately for us older couples, they left us in their dust, as we couldn't keep up with the young folks. We also took the wrong turn so we missed the dedication prayer. Here are Elder and sister McIntire as we made our way back down the trail. The trail was not this good for very much to the trek.
After everyone was back down from Jolliffe Pass, we had a wonderful presentation by a Maori brother. He spoke of the early history of the church with regard to the Maori and also some of the customs, and in this case some chiefs apparel. It was very interesting because he spoke of much of what had gone on during the same period my grandfather Louis Hoagland was serving here. First in the early 1890's and then in 1918 when grandfather returned and proof read Elder Mathew Cowley's translation of the Book of Mormon. For that little effort his name was listed as one of the editors.

During the program, Sister Ormsby sang a beautiful hymn for us. They bought the cd player at her feet just for this occasion. I noticed the price tag on the box as $299.00. Little Sarah is in the pink rain coat on Sister McIntire's lap. Following the organized program all of us who were finishing our missions had the opportunity to bear our testimonies. A very special opportunity as it was like being in the sacred grove.
We all had to have a picture of the Jolliffe's in front of the Jolliffe saddle track sign.
Here are all the south island missionaries with our NZWM caps on our head. It could have been a better day (it never rained but a rather constant sprinkling) but we still had a great time. Pres. Jollife is on the far left and Sister Jolliffe is in the second row. Pres. Ormsby his holding his daughter who is without question a daddies girl. Sister Ormsby is on the far right. If there were a truer example of latter day saints, I do not know where you would find them.

It was just under a two hour drive. The coach was quiet and smooth and comfortable. We watched a dvd entitled "The best two years." We have seen these Elders and Sisters for the last time. It was fun to see some of the missionaries we have worked with in the past.