Monday, June 30, 2008

Mostly for the family

We drove over to the beach and were hoping for a good sunset and quickly realized that the clouds were right down on the horizon. We turned to our left and there was the New Zealand Alps. That was the best shot I got or I should say the only good shot I got.

We took this picture of our first home. We had it built in 1969 for just under $25,000. We lived there when Jenni was born. I remember when the guy came around the neighborhood selling the lamp post you see by the driveway. It has lasted pretty well. I noticed also that they still have the same storm windows we put in. They were on the inside of the widows so we did not have any sill.
This was the house we lived in for about 18 months until we moved back to Oregon. We really enjoyed this ward because there was so much talent there. We had a wonderful choir and the church had a brand new pipe organ. Judy really got interested in playing the organ when we moved there. She got busy and learned to play the foot pedals.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Seminary Class and Greymouth sunsets.

Here are our four students. Anna is on the left, Becky, who is shy but a great Rugby player, Nepolie, and Moni. They are great kids and that puts even more pressure on us.

Here is the end of a sunset. We got there too late for the brilliant show on the cloud in the forground.
We thought the distant clouds were interesting. I haven't seen them like that before. That is the Tasman sea in the forground. We can hear the breakers from our flat but there isn't a road directly from here. It was a beautiful day today and we watched boys and girls play rugby. It was a way to meet some of the members who come to watch their children play. Next time we will bring our own chairs.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jack's Diary

Sunday, June 22, 2008
We Attended church for the first time in New Zealand. The branch is small but has faithful members, the majority being Tongan. It was interesting to see the Aaronic Priesthood boys wearing skirts and one brother wore the same with bare feet. Others were in flip/flops. Judy played and I led the music. I am not comfortable leading but I guess I did alright. I chose a hymn for priesthood that none of us really knew so that was interesting. We spoke just long enough to introduce ourselves, followed by a sweet Tongan girl who spoke English pretty well. Her parents also spoke but only in Tongan. Sunday school was taught by a bright young Philippine Sister who did an excellent job. It was nice to see someone stick to the lesson as provided by the church. She read the questions in the manual, we then read the scripture reference, and then answered and discussed the question. Great method I thought. We covered a lot of material that way. Those uncomfortable with speaking English read their verses in Tongan. We are told they all understand it. We followed in English. I am a slow reader and always finished my verse faster than the Tongans did in their language even though they appeared to be speaking very fast. I guess their language has more verbage than ours.
This afternoon was also very interesting. The CES couple came to help us get started with our teaching seminary. We are three weeks behind in the Old Testament lessons so we are going to have to catch up with the schedule. Not having been very interested in the Old Testament, I find it interesting that we start our teaching career with that book of scripture.
It has been raining all day and with metal roofs it sounds like a high powered fan running all the time. We have a dehumidifier in the place and the previous couple left us copious notes about the operation of the flat. They said they never figured out how to run it. We just turned it on, how much trouble is that. Two other things were accomplished today. We hooked up to an internet phone service that lets us talk to our family real cheep. I also got the printer running.
Last night we were told of a meeting with the new mission president to be held on July 4. He is from England and his name is President Jolly.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
It has been an interesting week. I have not been able to log into my bank in the us as I had to change emails and cancelled the old one. The bank is still using the old one and I keep trying to change my pass word and it sends it to the old email rendering me helpless. We solved it today by using Judy’s name and personal information. We started teaching seminary this morning. The children are wonderful and they are all Tongan. They can walk from her to School.
Last night we visited the home of Pres. And Sister Kinikini. I had made up a branch roster and wanted him to tell what each person’s calling was. They served us a wonderful cup of hot chocolate (Milo). They have some trouble with a leaky roof. Water is coming out the ceiling light fixture in the dining room. They have just one light each in the living room and dining room hanging from the ceiling. The house reminds me a little of the one I lived in when I was 2-8 years of age. It has a coal stove which to me did not put out that much heat even with a red hot fire inside. Maybe all the heat was at the ceiling as they were at least 10 ft. high.
We have done some shopping. Judy bought two flees e jackets to wear indoors and I bought a sweater. We also bought a headset to use with our skype phone service. Judy bought some cough syrup at a pharmacy down town and it cost $18.50. We hope we just bought at the wrong store. It had super service with people coming up to us asking if you needed help. Haven’t seen that in long time.
Teaching from the Old Testament has been great so far as I am reading new material to me. I of course have heard the stories and read about them as a youth in some books my parents bought when I was a child. I have also read portions in class, etc. I think a general authority did me a disservice years ago when he said; “I read the Old Testament once and have since repented of it.” That gave me an excuse not to read it either. We started in Joshua this morning after reading it yesterday. Catching up is making us read whole books at time. Today I read Judges and Ruth. That will be our lesson tomorrow. Judy will give the background for the book and I will relate some of the stories and hopefully what lessons are learned from them.
I have caught Judy’s cold and have been suffering with a runny nose all day. We spent most of the day in the flat reading our scriptures for tomorrow. I read all of 1st Samuel today. It is supposed to be a 7 day class but to catch up we will hopefully cover it tomorrow. I also studied the driving manual as it is important that I get it to avoid being sued if I have an accident. We can legally drive for a year on our US license but we are vulnerable to suits in accidents even if it was not our fault. In the morning I have to give a little lesson in our district meeting out of preach my gospel. We did take a walk for exercise and went to the store. It started to rain shortly after we left the flat and we were able to take refuge in a bus stop. Today it rained intermittently. Last night we had thunder and lightning with some heavy rain fall. It is funny to hear the weather people on TV here describe the weather. I will try to right some of it down. We are expected to have more falls (rain fall) tomorrow and then Saturday is supposed to be nice.
The first few days here we had a lot of moisture on our windows. Yesterday we used a squeegee to take off the moisture and then for the first time used our dehumidifier. It has collected over a gallon of water since then and the flat is more comfortable. We can also see out our windows. The church provides all the household goods and we pay the rent, electric, and phone. That will be close to $1,500.00 NZ or more. We also pay rent for the car and the fuel. Insurance and repairs are covered by the church. We have a 2007 Toyota Carrola. It has a backup beeper to warn when we get too close to objects. I have had better luck driving in that I stay mostly to the left now and I don’t use the wiper control for the turn signal as often. Just wait until Sister Hoagland starts driving. That’s another thing. We still haven’t got Elder and Sister down when we refer to each other.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More Mission Photos.

Here is Elder Hoagland wishing he were as young as the Elders on those bicycles at the MTC.
We got a chance to attend the temple in Provo. It was such a beautiful evening. We came out and there was Utah Lake in the distance surrounded by beautiful mountains. I try to find that shot for next time.
I wonder how many pictures have been taken in front of this world map. Thousands every year.
Here is our office and lovely kitchen. Right now the table is much less cluttered. The wast basket is full. We finally got the ancient printer running a couple of days ago. We had to go on line to get a driver.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Some Pictures

This isn't working like I wanted but I will work on the next format. The photo on the ferry is when we approached the south island. The one with the sheep is on the ferry showing how they transport them. Sis Hoagland's pictures is at a train stop just before we entered the beautiful NZ Alps. A beautiful sunset just before entering Christ Church. And our flat with cloths drying.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Arrival at Greymouth

June 20, 2008, Friday
It has been an exciting and interesting week since we left the MTC. We left Saturday evening at 5:00 pm and had wonderful flights from Salt Lake City to LA and then to Auckland, NZ. We had fitful sleep and our legs and feet swelled but we must have had enough sleep because we stayed awake until 9:30 pm.
We arrived a little late at Auckland and we missed our original flight to Wellington but were booked on the 8:00 am flight an hour later. The plane took off on time but just before we were to land we were informed that Wellington was fogged in. We flew around for 45 minutes and then returned to Auckland. We were able to get a standby ticket for 1:30 pm and we were successful in arriving in Wellington. Our Mission President, Pres. Finnegan met us and took us to the mission office. While in route he told us we were going to serve in the city of Graymouth on the west coast of the south island.
We spent some time at the mission office where we gave them information about us and they took us to the bank and got us set up there. We are having trouble right now with getting money transfers but we are making progress. In the evening we had a wonderful dinner at the mission home with Pres. & Sis. Finnegan, and the office couples, Bro. /Sis. Pearson, and Bro. /Sis. Wilkinson. It was followed by a very spiritual evening where all of us gave examples of how the Lord had blessed our families since we made the decision to come on our missions. What a great spirit was there and some of the blessings described were truly amazing. President & Sister Finnegan’s son (30 yrs old) had a serious alcohol problem and has it under control and has been married with a baby on the way. Another reported a chronic back pain problem that has now been controlled with new medication. Another couple reported that they were delayed in coming to NZ because of visa problems and were diverted to the family history library for one month. During his free time he worked on a line that they were having difficulty with and was not having success. He said at one moment he clicked on something and the names of two additional generations come on the screen. Later he told people what had happened and they asked him where he found the information and he hadn’t written it down. Neither he nor the professionals could find it again. There truly are Miracles in family history work. I am convinced those on the other side are working to help us find them so they can have the ordinances of salvation performed for them.
We stayed with the Wilkenson’s for two nights. The second day in country we spent at the office. We are learning how cold it can be in a flat. Living areas are the only ones heated by electric space heaters. No central heating. The windows are all single pane and most people still use draperies to keep out the cold. Not with much success I might add.
We were fortunate to have Sis. Wilkensen set up the travel to our field of labor. We had to take the ferry from Wellington to the south Island across the Cook Strait. It was such a beautiful day and the view of the harbor magnificent. The day before was so windy we would have been very sick but the sea was moderate today. What we didn’t have to do was take a tourist train through the wine country and along the east coast to Christchurch, where she had arranged overnight accommodations at a Church Education System (CES) couple, the Greens. They met us at the train and fed us a light supper, warmed our bed with electric blankets. They were full of information about our branch and told us we would be teaching early morning seminary to five wonderful high school children. We will feed them breakfast every Friday morning. It will be a great challenge for us. The last two couples in the town only spent three months each there, but the ones before them spent their entire mission in Greymouth.
The next morning we boarded another tourist train and traveled through the beautiful New Zealand Alps to our town. What a wonderful trip. We were not able to get very good pictures because the train windows were highly reflective. The alternative travel would have been a direct bus ride from the ferry to Greymouth with no alps. Thanks Sister Wilkenson.
Our first day was taken up with getting banking and internet problems solved, washing a week’s worth of close. We dry them on a rack on sunny days. Fortunately we have had some beautiful days the last three. Our flat is very nice and is spotless. We have two recliners and a sofa, a table with six chairs and more pots, pans, dishes, and other stuff than we know what to do with. We may take an inventory and give the excess to the members. Many are from Tonga and are dirt poor. Our branch president works on a tree farm where he trims limbs and plants seedlings, not unlike the Mexicans in the US, only for less money. Some one said he gets a dollar a tree. He has to work very hard. Sister Kinikini works nights as a nursing home. She met us at the train with the Elder’s. The Elder’s brought our car for us and we took them home. Sis. Kinikini gave us a beautiful fruit basket with apples, kiwi, bananas, grapes, and mandarin oranges. These wonderful people would give the shirt off their backs. We invited her to go to lunch with us. She wanted to pay. I told her in our culture when you are invited the person who invites pays. They have four children. She invited us to see their boys play rugby on Saturday, so we hope to be there. Other less active members are there too so we hope to meet them.
We got a call last night just before ten from the Elders in our town who said we were having district meeting at our place in the morning. It was great. The Zone leaders and the other two elders in Graymouth met together and had a spiritual meeting, reading from the scriptures and instruction from the Preach My Gospel manuel. Two of the Elders are from Tonga. One is from Samoa but prefers Tonga as that is where he joined the church. We all discussed how we came on our missions and what was the hardest to leave behind. These young Elders are so great. The other Tongan did not speak English well but he gave a beautiful spiritual thought. His favorite thing to do in the mission field is finding people to teach.