Thursday, August 28, 2008

August is ending?

The rhododendrons are really coming on now. We have found that they have a variety here that grows like a tree. This one is small by comparison to some we see, but gives you an idea of how big they grow. They also have the small shrub type, and most of them will be blooming soon. The daffodils are in full bloom. The weather this week has been so nice. We will hate to see the rain come back next week.

Seminary has been great incentive to study Isaiah, and really, for the first time in our lives. There is a video from CES that helped us use the scripture helps in the LDS edition of the King James version of the bible. The chapter headings provide information on who Isaiah is talking about, the time period, and a short description of the chapter. Also it showed the value of some of the foot notes that can give different interpretations, definitions, and other references. The lesson manuals that are very helpful in understanding the book of Isaiah. One exercise listed all the messianic prophecies made by Isaiah. We selected a few for the students to look up and explain. It is much more difficult for them as English is not their primary language. We have to explain many terms that English speaking students would know without difficulty. We have gained a wonderful testimony of Isaiah because of the prophecies he made that were about and fulfilled prior to the saviors birth and during the His reign on earth. We have a testimony of what the Savior declared in the Book of Mormon, “Great are the words Isaiah.”

Just over three weeks ago a new district leader, (Elder Palanite) moved in the area. He is a Tongan from the Auckland, NZ area. He is from a family of twelve. Before his mission he was training to become a police officer. We just love him. He has brought a new spirit and desire to do the work of the Lord. Above he is with his companion, Elder Wilson, who is as happy as we are to have Elder Palanite here. On Wednesday we had a great district meeting and are planning a missionary fireside in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Greymouth Branch

This picture is out of order, but I remembered it too late. This is Owen Clough, after a morning of mischief during SS & RS. He is from a Moari family who live about 60 to 70 kilometers from town. They have a dairy farm.
This week we have received some wonderful pictures from home that I thought worthy of sharing. Above Jeff and Fawn's boys playing with their new soccer equipment. The look on Elliot's face is priceless as he scores against his big brother Quint. Below, Julies family enjoys a Tom Petty concert in the gorge. Their boys, Eric, and Colin, are growing too fast.
The Allen family had a picnic and walk this past week and sent this picture of Zach and Chase as they are ending the walk.
This is right after their picnic and they are about to take their walk. The children are looking at cows. We were told they were saying here cowie cow. Chase is wearing his new helmet and knee pads he just received and won't take off. The twins flanking the picture are Jesse and Taylor.
Here is the back yard of the chapel. It is a quite pleasant area, giving room for growth.
Last Sunday we had district leaders here and it is the branch tradition to feed them before they have to drive 4 1/2 hours back home (we are isolated here). Here are some of our members finishing up their meal. Sister Clough and Sister Iraia and sister Iraia's granddaughter, Hanna. Hanna loves to help Sister Hoagland in primary.

This is Brother Kitchin, first counselor to President Kinikini with his daughter Coriana.

Sister Hoagland visiting with Sister Kitchin, who is Phillipino. Before moving to NZ she worked in the area office when Elder Dalin Oaks was president there. She is our Gospel Doctrine Teacher.

Here is our little meeting house. Right now it is bursting at the seams with our primary expanding, etc. We just learned that a family that lives quite aways away are planing to move into town. We hope so as they have two seminary age children who want to attend seminary. Their father at this time has limited their activity.
One of our 9 year old primary girls, Hola, is also taking piano lessons from Sister Hoagland. The girl at the black board Lisa, is fresh from Tonga and the mother is the only member. We are so pleased that the whole family, including the father is attending. It is a fairly large family and that is part of the primary growing pains.
We learned while reading in Proverbs that a "hoary head" is an experienced and wise person with a head of white hair . Here we have three examples. Sister Wilkenson from Nelson, Sister Hoagland and Sister Boyte from the branch. The fourth was behind the camera.
Here is the feast all set and ready to go. Last month we had one of these and some of the Tongan sisters stayed home to cook rather than attend meetings. That same day a new RS president was sustained and she told the sisters they were to be at meetings and to keep the meal simple. We were thinking the same thing and were glad we didn't have to say anything. It was still quite a big meal. Tongans eat until it is all gone. President Kinikini is on the left in the suit. He is one of the slimmer Tongans.

Sister Hoagland is still making great progress with the primary. We now have a counselor who is attending and wants to take over the nursery which is badly needed. We have little ones running all over the place. She is also helping the president get better organized and helping her with having more help called.

I have been called as the branch executive secretary. They have all the priesthood callings filled except that one so I suggested it to the president. It has taken quite some time to get accomplished. Other than seminary, I thought I was just Sister Hoaglands driver with her lessons, and primary work. We also enjoy visiting some of the less active families outside of town.

Happy Birthday Julie

We tried to upload a video yesterday of the students singing one of the scripture mastery songs. The ces sent us a cd this week with all scripture mastery verses set to music. The one they were working on was to the tune of jingle bells. Unfortunately it was too big a file to upload. We figured that out after 5 tries. Here are the students singing happy birthday to Julie, who celebrates her birthday August 26. They are Ana, Moni, Poney, Peki. Those are their short names. Ana is 17, the boys are 16, and Moni is 14. dispite the looks on the boys, they were all eager to sing. Maybe we can get a shorter scripture song for them to sing in the future. They are great kids.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Another busy week

Sister Kinikini had a favorite hymn she wanted Sister Hoagland to play. They love the hymns of the Gospel. I am sure there are people who would not be caught dead playing a piano like this one, but they are grateful to have it. It sat on the front porch for about three weeks before we got there and suggested that that was not a good place for it.
Elder Hoagland celebrating his 44th wedding anniversary with his sweetheart. We had to wait until Saturday to eat at this place because their buffet is only on Saturday and it is much less expensive. Thursday was our NZ anniversary and Friday our US. We celebrated each night as well, first with fish and chips (they were ok), then with pizza on Friday. They use no tomato sauce and less cheese and very much more topping. It was very good.

Here are a couple of students working on their scripture mastery. We have not done a lot with the memorization so now we are catching up. They are doing very well and we promised them a big feed when they reach the half way mark. They have 25 in all to learn this year.

Saturday we drove up to Westport for their open house celebrating their 10th anniversary for the building. It was very well done with this as only one example of their preparation. With as few people as they have, there is a lot of faith and talent. We were pleased to see many less active come to see the open house, including the brother who avoided us last week. We had a very nice chat about his trip to the US.
Here is the counselor to the branch president. His wife is the Relief Society President.
Sister Hoagland has been attempting to help the primary president in her calling. Here they are going over some information available from the church to help in sharing time. We understand they had 54 people at church last Sunday while we were in Westport.
Another shot of the Tasman sea. It was not like this when we came back Saturday for the open house. We have been having some very bad weather this week. There is snow in the mountains and the west coast is completely cut off right now. We were told the stores were out of milk and bread this weekend and that diesel was being rationed. The Sister who runs the family history library was stuck in Christchurch and was not able to be there for the open house. Our Elders had a meeting in Nelson tomorrow so we took them to the bus station this morning. They were hoping that the pass was still closed because they did not want to take the 6 1/2 hour bus ride there and back. Sorry, the pass was open this morning.
Sister Hoagland and her student, Moni, playing a duet. Moni is working very hard and has learned to play the easy version of "Sweet is the Work". Her proud mother is watching. she has also passed off 4 of her scripture mastery verses.
Here is dad, president Kinikini, trying to get Sister Hoagland warm. That has to be the most inefficient stove I have ever seen. It can roar with fire and puts out very little heat. They are supposed to get a new one from the landlord, but who knows when. They said it was a fire hazard.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Last Few Days

Sister Hoagland turned 6? on Saturday and we found a wonderful place for dinner. It was at the Kings Gate Hotel where on Saturday's they have a buffet. The food was as good as I have found anywhere and the price was reasonable. Really, everything was first class from the linen to the prime rib. The only thing I noticed was that there was not as much choice within each category, with the exception of meats. New Zealanders are definitely meat eaters. One person said that NZ eaters consider a vegetarian diet meat with extra vegetables. Not only do they use beef and pork, but lamb of course and domestic elk and deer.
We take walks for exercise and today we took this picture of some nice homes not far from the flat. It was a beautiful day as you can see but on the cool side. I washed the car as well.
Spring is not far away as evidenced by this early blooming Rhododendron.
Sunday was the week that we travel north to Westport to speak in sacrament meeting. They have a very small branch with some faithful members. We will participate with them in an open house for their building as it is now 10 years old. Below is a sister who is from Colorado. Her children are all grown and active in the church.. Her first husband died. She and her husband met on an LDS centered dating site. They are Bonnie and Peter Stack. Unfortunately, Peter "lost his testimony" about 18 months ago while he was still branch president and no longer attends. He even avoided meeting us when we came to visit. He is Maori and unfortunately right now it isn't "cool" to attend church in New Zealand. Sister Stack is wonderful and serves as the primary when children come to meetings. There are two grandchildren from one of the Brothers and two other girls who come once a month as they live 1 1/2 hours away. They have not been baptized yet because their father objected. He was not living with them (divorced) and just passed away this week. It sounds a little funny but the girls were there Sunday and are excited that they can now be baptized.
We had a wonderful drive back to Greymouth and took our time around all the curves in the road. This is the scene at one of those curves. The river below is only 1/2 mile from the ocean.
We had an interesting seminary lesson this morning. The lesson was on Psalms, with our emphasis today on what a Psalm is and how it relates to our current hymn books. We also played some music for them with different emotional themes, such as a march, sacred, sad, happy, etc. We taught how we need to select the music we listen to so that it is always uplifting and not degrading. Then we tuned into BYUTV and played a portion the July 27 broadcast with the Osmond family. They had never heard of the Osmond's and were very impressed with them and of course the choir. They asked what that big thing behind the choir was. We explained that it was the organ. We then went back to let them listen to the organist play. They could not believe the console with its 5 ranks of keys. Then we told them about the foot peddles and they were blown away. These children have only been out of Tonga for 3 years and here in Greymouth there is nothing like the organs at temple square. The Togans are humble and have so very little but the families are so strong and love one another. Their whole lives are rugby and other sport and food. There is one thing they know how to do, and that is eat. They have showed up the last two days with potato chips. Their meals are not the most nutritious and they may eat only once a day, but when they do eat they eat big. We haven't told her yet, but one of the girls as broken two of our chairs. See gets so enthused about things that she jumps in her seat and separated all the legs in the dining chair and when we replaced it with a folding chair she bent the seat frame so it points toward the floor. I have one more chair that I think might handle her. If that doesn't work I am going to have to speak to her. She is such a sweet girl and I think she would be mortified if she new what she had done. She called us Sunday morning at 8:00 am before we left for Westport to tell us she was praying for a safe trip.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


On Wednesday we saw Elder Finau off to the mission office in Wellington, as he has finished his mission. A fine young man who is the only member in his family. His parents are on a mission in the US for another church. They disowned him when he joined the church six years ago. He then moved to Tonga from Samoa where he was away from what he called a troubled past and found friends in the church. Greymouth feels more like home to him than anywhere as the Tongan's loved him. He was here way too long, (9 months) and became very close to the members.

Elder Wilson stayed with us for the next 24 hours as his new companion arrived by train at noon on Thursday. We took the opportunity to have him teach the seminary lesson in the morning. His new companion is a New Zealand Tongan from Auckland. His name is Elder Palinite. We sent the above photo to Elder Wilson's parents who replied with excitement. They had not seen a picture of him since he arrived 9 months ago.

Here are some pictures of our flat. Our laundry line is behind the fence. We need to have the land lord trim the shrubs by the front door. The shot is facing north.

Here is the garage. It rolls up
Our flat is behind the house on the left and this is the drive to it.

For our friends in Twin Falls, these are the new houses on the lot just to the north of the flat. There are a total of three of these little houses on the lot. They are very nice with double garages.


We had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting on Sunday morning. We had over 45 people in attendance and one testimony after another. We were pleased to see Sister Powell there, the Sister we visited last week, with her two children. She is in the primary and they really need her. After our visit she said she felt guilty. We told her we didn't want her to feel that way, but at least it indicates that she does care. Judy said that primary was wonderful, with more children and now three adults. They sang very well. They are encouraged that they will have a wonderful program for sacrament meeting in the spring. The primary president said “Sister Hoagland made my job so easy.” We hope to get them to do it on their own so when we leave there will not be a big whole. At least they will see how the music is supposed to work in primary.

The other primary counselor has not been attending although her husband and children are there faithfully. It turns out she had been offended by Sister Kinikini who didn't know about it. She learned about it this week and she called her and we are told she may be back this Sunday. She doesn't speak English, but that should not be a problem in this branch. Judy is having fun training the primary president. She is not the most reliable person but she has a good heart.

We are now trying to visit the more difficult members to get a hold of. Not much luck this week. Maybe it will be better next week. I am told that the district presidency will be extending me a calling in the next week or two. We visit Westport this Sunday and will be the speakers.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bad Weather Good Work

Last night we had a birthday party with our seminary students as the two boys had birthdays in the last couple of weeks and Elder Hoagland was on the 31st. We ordered three large pizzas and there was one piece left. They also had cake and ice cream and after all that they decided to have a pop drinking contest to see who could drink a glass the fastest. They were in pain after that. Fortunately the glasses we have are only 6oz.

Sister Hoagland baked the cake. As you can see there is one container empty and most of the vanilla and chocolate are gone in the Neapolitan container. We had fed them breakfast which we usually do on Friday, and they said they had not eaten all day. The party started at 8:30 pm. The way they consumed the food we could believe they were that hungry.
Here are the birthday boys. The two boys turned 16 and Elder Hoagland turned 6?
Earlier in the week we made a visit to Kumara, which is south and east about 20 K's. We visited Sister Linda Powell, who is called as a 2 nd counselor in the primary. She has not been attending since we arrived. She is very friendly and has two beautiful girls. As you can see they are middle class and her husband has a good job as a specialized lineman for the electric company. She has about 40 dance students and has to travel about 20-30 minutes each day to Hokitika. Her father lives there and takes care of the children while she teaches. He mother passed away about 15 months ago and used to be the branch pianist. We talked about primary and how she is so much needed. She knows all the children and their family's and we tried to encourage her by explaining that Judy was there helping with the music. We were thinking she might have been discouraged by the lack of discipline of some of the children.
This is on of two one way rail/car bridges left in NZ. This one is in the process of being replaced then there will only be one. We crossed that one just before we got to this one. One must wait before they cross until all others coming your way are gone. sister Hoagland was not happy to cross these bridges. I figured if a train can cross how bad could it be for a little car like ours.
We visited with Sister Scott who lives in Hokitika. She has a responsible job with the New Zealand Schools where she conducts training of teachers all over the South Island. She is faithful and teaches Sunday School to the youth. She is a Moari and we were talking about grandfather's missions. She was interested in what years he was here and also about his helping with the Book of Mormon translation. She looked in her Book of Mormon (Maori) and found grandfathers name listed in Moari as an editor along with Mathew Cowley. That was really exciting to see his name in Moari. Erata Ruihi Hokarana (Elder Lewis Hoagland). Her nephew no longer lives with her, but her sister who has special needs lives with her. She is very sweet but has to work a split night and morning shift cleaning a local grocery store (this was information for our friends the Rassmusen's who were on a mission here a few years ago). Here is the town clock with Sister Hoaglnd in front. We had some time before our appointment so we had a snack and looked over the town. It is kind of like some of our Oregon coast towns with a lot of tourist shops. It is the first sandy beach I have seen here as well.
The following are some pictures of damage in part of Greymouth. Two sections of town are more susceptable to wind and they really got it this week. Unlike the rest of New Zealand we only got wind during the storms and it was only one day. The north island has been dumped on for over a week now with flooding and land slides. The last few days the east side of this island have had heavy rain as well and the main road south has been blocked. We only had some trees and fences down and roofs damaged in two neighborhoods, Cobdon and blaketown.

The council has been busy picking up all the rubish. Later in the day I went to the dump with a member and they had a mountain of metal from the roofs and fencing. They had brought in a truck with a metal crusher on the back and were taking care of all of it right away. The wood from the trees will be used by the locals for fire next season. They only take the small brush to the dump. They closed the school which shares the yard these trees fell in.
Sister Royal had some damage to her garage roof. I picked up the Elders and they fixed the roof while I helped clean up her yard. She had some serious fence damage on the other side of her yard. She says she is covered by insurance. We couldn't help her with the fence as it made of cement posts and tin. We had no tools anyway.