Sunday, July 27, 2008

Activities for this Week

Just over a week ago we lost our computer thru a short in a usb port that had broken. It was like loosing your right arm. We had lost our link to our children and others. We are happy to but up and running again. Judy has been having some real success with her piano lessons. One adult said she had lost her ability to use her left hand on the piano. This week she is very pleased with her progress. Judy wants her to be able to play for church before we leave. The other students are also doing well but need to practice more. She picked up another student this week.

We are enjoying visiting with members of the branch in their homes. Most have very little but they are very happy. Another opportunity to help has come up. One 11 year old boy is having trouble in school because of a lack of language skills and we think I can help him by having him read to me. I hope to do this while Judy is teaching piano.

Here is President Kinikini and his children, Tim, and Moni. Tim just turned 16 and was ordained a priest last week. Moni is 14 and they are both seminary students. Sister Paula Carpenter had us over for dinner last Monday. She is a widow of just over a year. She is very faithful and was just called to be Relief Society President and is our choir director.
Saturday we watched a Rugby game that some of our adult member participated in. They were on both teams. It is hard to follow some of these games as they have two different styles of Rugby which are very similar but have some very different procedures in moving the ball down the field. President Kinikini plays on the green team but today he was recovering from an injury.

We are just amazed at the sunsets here. We finished a piano lesson just after 5:00 pm and we noticed out side the sun was a full 10 minutes from setting and it was huge and beautiful. We can't show you all the pictures but here are a couple of this last weeks sunset.

The one below was taken after we left the beach on our way home. The sun had been down over 5 minutes when we found the sky on fire. The setting wasn't the best but we can also show you one of the stores we shop at downtown.
The boy shown here Taufa Kinikini, the youngest son of our branch president and was baptized Saturday by his newly ordained brother. I was privileged to stand in when he was confirmed. What a beautiful family. His aunt Eleni is behind him.
Maui has his arm around his little brother, Taufa, waiting for the luncheon to begin fallowing the baptism. Maui is 10 and quite a fine young man. They both play rugby and Maui is on an all star team.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Zone Conference in Blenheim

Last night we returned from a trip to Blenheim which is 4 hours from here to the northeast end of the island. We attended a zone conference Thursday morning with President and Sister Jolliffe and we were happy to see a couple, the Pearson's, we met at the mission office. He looks after all the mission cars and bicycles. We stayed at Bro. and Sister Hansen's flat. They are a New Zealand couple from North Shore City near Auckland. They are delightful and were complaining how expensive the south island is compared to the Auckland area. They claim that food is half the cost there. They heat with a wood stove, which is much cheaper than electric heaters. It cost the Pearson's $325.00 to heat their flat and they are not there at all during the day. They live outside Wellington.

We got our first bill from the mission office where all bills are paid, and our electric bill was 129.00 for 11 days. The flat was vacant for three weeks before we got here but the hot water heater was on. The good thing is that the divided the month equally and we only had to pay 11/30 of the bill.

We made a short stop and a Dairy (convenience store) where we bout 4 ice cream bars for $14.40. They were very good. Here are Elder's Finau, Hoagland and Wilson. We were not far from Blenheim here and soon came to miles and miles of vineyards. According to the Hansen's this area grows more grapes than France and California. Hard to believe.

We were just about ready for bed when we got a call from the elders who were too crowed at the flat the local elders have. Four of them came over and slept on the floor. They are really great young men. The white elder is from north of Chicago, the one in pink from Tonga, the one with packaged pancakes in his mouth is from the Tongan community in Auckland, and the one in the foreground is from Kiribati.
Oh yes, they had not eaten either so sister Hansen had to feed them. She had a lamp roast in the oven she was going to use for guests on Thursday evening. She used that and left overs from our dinner.
After our wonderful meeting the missionaries found three local boys using the basketball hoop in the parking lot. There became an instant game. President and Sister Jolliffe did a wonderful job for their first meeting. There were no plans for food so we ended up with pizza for lunch.

Our travel was rather fast. We only stopped twice on the way there and we did not stop going home as it was 3:30 when we left Blenheim. Driving at night on the NZ windy two lane roads is not fun. We took this mid morning shot from the car . We did not take many scenic photo's as a result. The last few miles into Blenheim was very different as on the north you see mountains like Western Oregon while on the south it looked like Eastern Oregon rolling hills. Blenheim gets more sun than any other area in the country (300 days a year). So it is a much dryer area.

Visit to Westport

On Sunday the 13th we took the young elders with us to Wesport and visited the little branch there. They have about 14 active members and others who only come on special occasions. It was once a much larger branch as evidenced by the nice building. We had a wonderful service where Sister Hoagland and I spoke. They meet on a two hour block so Sacrament meeting is only 40 minutes long. That gave us about 10 minutes each. The members are very strong but most are our age and older. They gave and contributed to the lessons as in any large ward back home.

The drive up was absolutely spectacular. The road winds its way along the shore line and the sun was coming up over the tree and shrub covered low mountains as we proceeded. There was fog in long patches stratigically place in the lower parts of the mountains that added so much to the beauty. There were also meadows going right up to the shore with NZ palm trees scattered around with sheep and cows grazing. Unfortunately for you we could not take pictures because we had a meeting to get to. It was this little trip that convinced me that New Zealand was not just another Oregon. That after noon I went to the computer and began reading some of my grandfathers diaries. Here is a quote. "Oh beautiful New Zealand, where I first learned to love the Lord." He went on to explain that he always loved the Lord but he so much more appreciated what the Lord had done for him being alone here in this beautiful land.

We stopped on the return trip and took some pictures. The sun and clouds made the landscape less photographic but Tasman sea was ready for shooting.

The sun was not quite right for my camera to get a great shot. We will be back. We speak once a month in Westport and in August they will have an open house they want us to help with. Their building will be 10 years old then. These are called pancake rocks. When the weather is right the blow holes here are supposed to be spectacular. You can see how high the water shoots up from the change of color on the rocks.

Busy Sister Hoagland

Judy has been very busy this week. Right now she has six piano students. In the previous blog you saw the first young lady who is doing very well. Her name is Mela. She taught the five pictured here in one afternoon at President Kinikini's home. They have an old piano that sat out on their front porch 2 months before we came. It isn't much but they can learn on it.

You can see that Sister Hoagland is not as acclimatized as the students are. She wears her scarf most of the day. They got a fire in the stove going and by the time we left you can see Sister Hoagland was warming up. When lessons were finished she could hardly talk. She was teaching rythm and constantly counting 1-2-3-4. The girl in red is Moni and 14, the young boy (Taufa) just turned 8 this this week and the boy in pink (Tim and/or Becky) just turned 16 last week. They are brothers and Sister. Their aunt is the lady (Ola) with her left hand over the keys. The other smiling girl is Anna who is 17. They are lovely kids who treat us with hugs every time we see them.

Ola is the primary president in the branch. The last week we attended the primary was in total chaos with the children running around and making lots of noise. Sister Hoagland and I thought maybe that was another opportunity for service as she is a very experienced primary music leader. We approached the branch president about helping out and then went to Ola's and before we could say anything she said she was overwhelmed. Judy is going to help get the songs for the primary program learned. It will not be without challenge as most of the none school children do not speak English. I guess you are wondering what I do to serve. I drive the car.

Remember, by clicking on any of the blog pictures you can enlarge them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Some people we worked with this week

Sister Hoagland's first piano student, MeleToli
Sister Royal with a view from her yard.
Here we are with Sister Boyte, a strong Sister in the Branch
Elder Hoagland doing his job of keeping the car clean . We are supposed to hand wash weekly.

Thursday, July 10, 2008
We visited two sisters today. One is a life long New Zealander and the other has Moari ancestry. They were both delightful. The first lady served in the temple here with her husband on a mission and then later after her husband passed away. she is a Relief Society counselor and very active. The other is not active and a convert. She had an aunt who was an in your face kind of member to her family. She said her aunt would always get on her father for the way he lived his live and it turned him off. She joined later but I do not know why she doesn't come to church. She used to love the church dances when a youth. I talked to her about Grandpa Hoagland serving here and she said she was always impressed at how the young missionaries would learn the Moari language. No one else bothered to do it.

We went shopping for some warm sox for me and tights for Sis. Hoagland You should see Sis. Hoagland in that store with a coat, scarf and ear covering while the natives were wearing, in a lot of cases, summer wear. I think I saw more bra straps today than ever before. This store is called the Warehouse, and is like a Wal Mart, with the come as you are look by most people. It was a clear sunny day and there were no electric lights on the the store. They have natural light through Ceiling length lenses in the ceiling like a semi trailer has in its roof. I did not even notice it until we were waiting in line to check out. A very good system. They do have lights for darker days and after dark. We went to an Appliance store yesterday to get new hoses for the washing machine. They don't heat the stores much here either and it was quite cool in there. Banks and government offices seem to be the only ones that heat their places.

Friday July 11, 2008

This morning we had district meeting with the other Elders in town. It was pouring rain all night and all day. We had a visit with the clinic nurse who took all our information and we have another appointment with the doctor on Aug. 1, so we can get our prescriptions filled here. At 2:30 we met with the primary president who said she was overwhelmed. Judy loves primary music and offered to help teach the children the songs for the Sacrament program. The younger children do not know English so that should be interesting.

This evening we had a visit from the Assistants to the president. We fed them and then they showed us pictures of their currant trip. It looks like they had a good time on their way here. They took a movie in Nelson of one of the missionaries doing a native dance. He is from Kitibus, a small island on the equator where our friends, the Ottley’s, served their mission. I tried to check on the internet how to spell Kitibus, and found someone else in the same situation. I could not find it on Google earth either. The church has a school there. He claims that within 15 years they will have to abandon the island because the ocean is rising and its highest point is only 12 feet. The government is now trying to find countries to take their people.

This is my first time trying to upload a video. It does take a long time and I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A trip up the Grey River

Here are some pictures we took today. They are out of order as we of course took the Sunset pictures last but that is how they showed up when I up loaded them. Maybe we will get better as the months go by. We had two recommendations from two different people to visit a Bro. Doug Thoms. First from our Branch President and then from our friends in Idaho Falls who also served in Greymouth some five years ago. We had a delightful visit and we found him still strong in the faith. He receive the Ensign magazine each month and commented on the world wide training suppliment that came with this months issue.

We started out with clear skies today but with below freezing temperatures and a slight breeze. This is on a hill within walking distance of our flat. There is an observation deck there overlooking the city so I took several pictures from there and then walk up the street a little farther and found this shot. I don't think I have ever taken a better sunset. Maybe never will.

Here we are at Bro. Thoms home infront of his monkey tree. This is our girls first look at mother with her hair much sorter than she wanted it.
This is Brother Thoms with his 5 year old grandson.
This shot was taken late this afternoon from the same place as the last posting took place. The foliage has grown since that picture was taken. Next time I will use a ladder.
It has been a great day. I'm sure the Rasmussen's will enjoy seeing Brother Thoms. We gave him a copy of their picture we took in their home in Idaho Falls. He was very happy to receive it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Photo of Greymouth, New Zealand

I found the following picture on the internet. It shows Greymouth from our end of town. The picture is shooting north and our flat is one block north of the rugby field and just to the right of the field. We have had several of these kind of days since arriving and to day was one of them. It was a very clear and beautiful day but as cold as it gets here. Just above freezing.
Church was great today. We started out with few but ended with over 35 people at sacrament meeting. It looks like we can be helpful in the primary. Sister Hoagland can help with their music as there doesn't seem to be any. We will talk with the President. We are taking credit for our first success today as a sister who's family attends every week, but she finds an excuse not to come, came today. We talked to her last Sunday on the phone and offered to teach their daughter and wouldn't you know but she showed up this week. Sister Hoagland begins lessons this Wednesday.

We were blessed by all four of our students today who stood and bore their testimonies and each one thanked us for teaching them in seminary. We are blessed.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Zone Conference

As you can see we didn't think to take pictures until we were on the other side of the pass. That was ok because that was where the best pictures were anyway.
Thought you would lke to see the farming areas in the mountain valleys. New Zealand has a very successful dairy industry. It provides them with there largest export. That doesn't help for low dairy prices but it makes for very successful farmers. The milk taste different here because the the cows eat fresh grass all year long and that it pretty much all they eat.
From this picture you can see the tree farms on the far hill and some closer up. They farm pine trees very successfully as they mature within 20 years. Of coarse the tree is not native to NZ. They are bringing in many Tongans to service this industry just like those from south of the border in the US. They are beginning to feel some of the same problems we have been feeling but they are now limiting the time people can stay in country. They have also stopped recognizing babies born here as citizens.

The above pictures were taken on the return trip from the city Nelson. It is located on the north end of the south Island. We went for a special Zone Conference to meet our new mission president and his wife. We thought their name was Jolly but it is Jolliffe. They are from England and it sounds like he is a very result oriented man. He was a successful business man whom the church recruited heavily to manage their agricultural farms in England. He told them that all he new about farming was the difference between a sheep and a cow. Anyway, every year he managed them they made a profit. He was also a very successful stake president who's stake reactivated over 91 people in a very short time. They also had success with the member missionary program. Both Pres. & Sister Jolliffe teach by the spirit with the scriptures. Very impressive. There 16 year old son is with them also. They have two older children at home. One just returned from his mission and their daughter is married.

We drove up with the Elders who showed us the way. Turns out it was the long way, but we got there. We passed a gas station who's price list included for regular "Arm," and for premium "Leg." We were going to take a picture on the way back but since that was the long way, we were not able to get that shot.
We were able to meet the other missionary couple who are from New Zealand. They tell us that hearty people live on the West coast of the south Island. They said we may not see summer this year and it rains nearly 300 days a year here. Not encouraging. We also met the other Elders who are over 50% Tongan. One Tongan was born and raised in Auckland and we are told that a very large part of Auckland is Togan. Also the north east part of the South Iland has vinyards where a good number have come to work there.

We stayed in a motel but found out after we got there the members had arranged accomodations with them. That is good to know for next time as it will have cost us over $200.00 for gas and motel. Over night it snowed in the mountains, and since you can't go most places without going through mountains in the south island we were concerned about our return trip. It turns out we had reason for the concern. It had snowed about for inchs at the top so they closed our only way home until about 2:30 pm. They had to remove all the snow and then put a layer of "grit" over the entire road before they would allow anyone through. Hope you Enjoyed the pictures of our snow storm.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


It has been an interesting week which will end this weekend at a zone conference where we will meet our new mission president, President Jolly and his wife. Here are some notes from my diary.

Saturday June 28,
I have not felt well the past few days but today I am finally better. This is the first good weather we have had since the first 3 days we were here. We have to watch the weather like a hawk so we can hang out our laundry. That is what we did this morning. We also went shopping. Judy broke her glasses so we went looking for an optometrist but they are closed on Saturday. We bought a map book of the whole South Island and an adaptor for the computer so we can both listen when we talk on the phone to our children. This afternoon we watched some of our boys play rugby. It is a much faster game but doesn't have the blocking and strategy of our football. I think I have a good number of the rules down now so I can understand the game better. The NZ people are crazy about the game. The Tongans love it too. The branch Pres. plays in an adult league.
We were invited to dinner at the Branch Presidents home. They just go all out. We had some kind of steak which they never have for themselves. We had squash, potatoes, and mixed vegetables as well as a noodle soup with lamb in it. Judy doesn't eat much anyway but she did pretty well. We brought ice cream and a favorite New Zealand cookie. They made short order of that.
Tuesday July 2, 2008
This afternoon we visited a family in the ward. He is a checker at the super market a couple of blocks from their flat. It was very cold that morning. 0 degrees centigrade or 32 f. There was no heat in the house. She had a 2 1/2 year old baby. We were so sorry for them but they seemed very happy. He is in the branch presidency and a New Zealander. She is Gospel doctrine teacher and from the Phillipines.
The branch here does not have a piano player so they are pleased to have us here. We asked if we could start a choir and it was an enthusiastic yes. We started Sunday and we had over 20 people show up even though it had only been announced in Sacrament meeting. Most were men. The branch is made up of mostly Tongans, who love to sing. In priesthood meeting I was the only white man there. The teacher taught in English first and then in Tongan. Most of the brethren can speak English if not all but they prefer to speak Tongan. They all work together in the forest industry where they farm pine trees. They both prune and plant trees all day. It is a similar situation as Mexican labor at home. They make very little but are still better off financially than at home.

We have also arranged to teach piano lessons to three children in the ward. We will start that next week. We were also informed that a couple in the past taught English. That is a little scarry but hopefully we can do it too.

Thursday, July 03, 2008
We teach 4 wonderful young Tongan youth. They are typical teenagers but are truly faithful and want to learn. They didn't have school on Wednesday and came anyway. We didn't know there was no school. We told them we could have had class later in the day but they said they wanted to come early.
Today Judy and I both got our hair cut. Judy really got scalped but is happy that she will be able to prepare her hair much easier. After spending some time studying this morning I took my driver’s test and got my license. Judy will try on Monday. Tonight we are packing to go to a zone conference where we will meet our new mission president, Pres. Jolly. We are looking forward to that.
Yesterday I studied and read the last half of 1 Kings. Only thing is, I only needed to read Chapters 12-16. I am enjoying reading the old testament, at least the books we have read from Joshua thru 1 Kings. We don’t teach for another two weeks as it is winter break While reading we had a very large, 1 ½ hour, thunder storm with some heavy rain. It got so dark there wasn’t enough light coming through the window to read. I was also studying the driving rules in NZ. The person who cut our hair had not seen such a storm here.