Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to Taylor and Jesse

Jenni's family sent us birthday greetings like this so we are returning the favor. We miss our grandchildren so much but we are fortunate to have this great way to communicate while we are apart.

Jenni, Please play this for them on their birthday on Saturday.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Greymouth Branch Social Dance

On Friday evening the branch had a "social dance" in the community hall at the local elementary school in Cobden, a section of town just north of downtown Greymouth. Sister Hoagland and I came with no idea what was going to take place. We came to find the place with decorations and so many refreshments prepared that I couldn't imagine even the Tongans consuming them all. As you can see from the early pictures there were just a few people there, just as I was expecting. We arrived about 7:45 pm and found some children, a few adults and one Tongan couple who had been invited from Nelson, about 3 1/2 hours away. As the evening progressed more people arrived. People I had never seen before. They were the children's Rugby coaches, elementary school teachers, and non member Tongan friends. There were also less active and part member families. Then at about 9:45 a large group of Tongans from Christchurch came with other local members. By the time refreshment time arrived at 10:00 pm there were over 150 people in the place. We were blown away.

There was no worry about baby sitters that night as the children from babies to teenagers were there all having a great time. The children were playing in amongst the dancers like there were two different worlds without one knowing the other existed. Our two 16 year old seminary boys were great. They asked all the older women to dance and made their day. Our Relief Society president is a widow in her early 50's. I asked her how the boys had treated her as we had taught them earlier in the week some dance etiquette such as not leaving the person you asked to dance on the floor after the dance was finished. She said they didn't take her back to her seat but she was just thrilled that they had asked her to dance.

President Kinikini dancing with his daughter Moni. To their left is the branch president of one of the Nelson branches.
Sister Hoagland with three single sisters and a part member family.

Some of the primary age children having fun together.

Moni Kinikini doing an island dance.

The Powells having a good time together. Sue Ellen is dancing with her daddy.

Members and guests from Christchurch and Nelson along with their children waiting for Moni's dance.

The other side of the room with members, coaches and teachers. There was another large group at this end of the room. The comments from the teachers and coaches were, "we have never danced with lights on before". "When is your next dance?" "We can't wait." We learned later that this is the first one they have ever had. We hope something good can come from this.

Thought you might have fun with the following videos. The one you will recognize the dance they are doing. The second is of a seven year old (his mother is a member) dancing with his school teacher. She is beautiful and is Tahitian Indian. Her sister and her husband were also there. Last but not least, for your viewing pleasure is, Sister Powell, Sister Scott, and our Relief Society President, Sister Carpenter doing the twist.

Friday, September 26, 2008

An Active Week

It has been an interesting and active week. Wednesday evening we were invited to mutual to participate in a panel discussion on dating etiquette. It was a lot of fun and afterword they had some refreshment. It was great because we had one less active yw, and two non members (the mother is a member) yw in attendance. In the middle left (bottom picture) is Puta Langi, an arronic priesthood advisor, and the Sister is red in Kim Toli, YW president. Sister Toli was raised in New Zealand, but her ancesters come from the Cook Islands. Brother Toli is the YM president but was not in this picture. He is Tongan and they met in Auckland. It is really hard for the Tongan children not to mug for the camera. I try to catch them unaware on occasion, but at least one will see me and pull a face or something.

We had our usual activities of teaching seminary, piano lessons, but only one English lesson with Lesili and none with his mother. She missed because she had to work and they canceled Friday's lesson because they were hosting visitors for our branch "social dance" held Friday evening. They needed to clean up the house for the visitors. We will try to fit a lesson in today. Lesisli has a difficult time learning, but is making some good progress. Here, Sister Hoagland is using our little flash cards we made last week. He is learning the meaning, spelling and how to use the word in a sentence. I'm glad its not me.
We teach five piano lessons at the Kiniki's place. When we arrived on Wednesday we saw this picture of President watching his wife weeding a spot for part of their garden. In all fairness, he had just started pruning the pine trees in the forest for the first time in a long time and he was worn out with sore muscles. Since this picture they have planted tomatoes in this spot and are really cleaning up the yard. They have extra funiture and that refrigerator in the garage. It comes from people who move out and can't take stuff with them. They give it to who ever needs it. I think I found a book case we can use in there.
Monday is our "P" day and we took the Elders on a little hike to the coal creek falls, about 10 kilometers from Greymouth. It was a beautiful day but there had been rain the day before so the small falls shown here had some water to fall. They are Elder's Wilson from Bountiful, and Palanite from Tonga via Auckland. He has lived in Auckland since he was 9.

This was our first look at Coal Creek Falls. It was a very good day for the falls as it can have very little water or it can cover all the rocks. Elder Wilson had been here a few times and said this was the best he had seen it.
Here is the full view of the falls. It was worth the one hour hike. It is mostly down hill to the falls and of course up hill on the way back. We were a little sore the next day but we have determined to do more exercise.

We usually take a walk on days that it is not raining. The owners of our flat came by Saturday to take care of the small lawn here and told us of a walk in the "bush" just down the road from the flat. Friday we thought we would try it as it said it was only a 25 minute walk. It turned out to be an hour walk up one side of a hill and down the other. The trail was almost impassable in some spots and Sister Hoagland was on all fours climbing up some places. It was really good exercise to say the least. We were fooled by the relatively easy going the first 100 yards. We spent this morning cleaning mud off of our shoes.

On Wednesdays we have a district meeting with the two Elders here in Greymouth. We had what I consider to be the most productive so far. We actually made some goals and plans to implement them. One of our piano students, Meli, is an unbaptized child of record and there are two children in the Westport Branch unbaptized. Meli's parents are active, with responsible callings, but for some reason this child has remained unbaptized. We were assigned to speak with the mother as we feel close enough now. The Elders were to change their scheduled visits to Westport to the first Sunday so they can be there when this family comes to church. They only come once a month because of the distance from church. Their father was a non member and divorced from their mother, and did not wish them baptized. He sadly past away about 6 weeks ago so there may be an opportunity to teach and baptize them now. We also have some goals to implement new finding techniques.

Jenni has collected and shipped over 70 books for our youth and children here. We are so grateful for her efforts and generosity in getting these books to us. We are speaking in the branch on Sunday and my topic will be on D&C 88:118 "Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. As in most wards we have a problem with people skipping SS. I will be working that in as well as the value of education. These books will be a great help in their reading skills and to these wonderful people. They will be full of words of wisdom.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Greymouth News

We were interested to see the kinds of sandwiches that were made by our Tongan children. We first noticed the banana sandwiches. Below is a wonderful creation, a mayonnaise and chicken flavored potato chip sandwich. It is interesting how they flavor foods here. At the super market we decided against the tomato basil tuna last week even though we love tomato basil soup. We can buy pre-cooked chicken stuffed with different flavored stuffing, such as apricot or cranberry.
We opted for the raisin stuffing. We get at least four meals out of those chickens and they are cooked to perfection.

Maui Kinikini is now being spoiled as he recovers from a broken angle after being tackled by 5 boys in his rugby game in Christchurch. It took one hour for the ambulance to arrive and three hours at the hospital. Taufa on the left played his game and his parents had to miss it. They are both important to their teams, but Maui's season is over. We won't blame it on their Sunday training sessions.

This is Silisi Langi, 7 years old. We are teaching his older brother and mother. He being so young is doing much better at English than they. The Tongan boys and men seem to be getting short haircuts for the spring.
Mele is 6 and just a little wonder. We parked our car at the curb and she held my hand all the way into their house. She can give you the names of all the presidents of the church and has learned many articles of faith. She is the best English speaker in the family.

We discovered last week that we can "live stream" our local news from KATU while having breakfast and lunch. We were also finding video clips about “Ike” to watch as we were very interested in how that turned out. We also listen to KBYU and Music and the Spoken Word. The problem is, we only have so much down load available (which we did not know) and the streaming used up all our available fast download capacity. We are now at dial up speed until next week. Sister Hoagland says we have been put in "Time Out."

While we are here in New Zealand there is another missionary couple taking care of our Air Force recruit Grandson Jeremy in Texas. They were there for him to take pictures, etc. when his parents were not able to be there. Jeff will be there the next day, Saturday, and they will spend some time together at Sea World and a football game. Doesn't he look like Jeff?

Sunday we attended church in Westport and gave our monthly talks. While they are small they have wonderful lesson in class and a good spirit. The branch president and his wife however do not like the U.S. In his opening prayer in priesthood Pres. Vandenbosc was thankful to live in a land that gets along with it's neighbors. I thought that pretty funny considering where NZ is located. According to Sister Hoagland his wife has a hard time keeping her mouth shut about America when she teaches R.S. She says "now don't let me get started on America".

We were talking to the members about the diversity in the church in this area and they mentioned that if you look at the leadership in NZ and Australia over half the names are Polynesian. In our little Nelson district we have as branch presidents one Tongan, one Dutchman, one Fijian Indian (from India), one Samoan, one Maori and one New Zealander.

Below is a picture of cape Foul wind. It is just south west of Westpost 10K. It was overcast but at least not raining.

This is a "weka hen" that runs wild all over. We were in Kumara visiting a Sister and one came into her yard. She immediately jumped up and ran to the door to shoo it away. She says they tear up the yard looking for food. It didn't scare away because she had no shoes on and it was very wet out. It is flightless and has a "thievish disposition" according to one account.

We contacted the missionary couple who served here for two years and left 9 months ago. They had taught some of the Tongan men English so they could get their NZ drivers license. They had taught English in their own academy for 26 years. On Saturday, the 14th at 7:08 am they called us and gave us some good ideas about teaching our young people and are going to send us a Tongan/English dictionary.

We had been praying about our little English class, feeling very inadequate, and their call was so exciting to us. In the afternoon a Moari sister (Sister Scott) stopped by on another matter and found us cutting up a picture dictionary we had found at a $2.00 store downtown. She is an educator here and travels the south island teaching teachers how to do their job. She was here for three hours giving us insight into the Tongan children and how they learn. While helping us cut up (she calls it chop up) the dictionary, she also gave us invaluable information about teaching. For example she said that if people are more literate in their first language it will be easier for them to read in the second language. Having them read the Book of Mormon in their native language first would help them to read the English. We really felt our prayers had been answered to a large degree.

We have been considering what to do when seminary ends this October. Our students are not real good readers, so we thought maybe we could read with them during the summer break. Sister Scott said that reading LDS youth novels would be a real good idea. Unfortunately, they are not readily available in this isolated part of NZ. We emailed our daughter Jenni, suggesting that maybe her ward would like to make it a project to provide us with some of those kinds of books. She got on to a local LDS dominated website that people can use to sell, find or give away used items. In the first day she had picked up 31 books. Tomorrow she is to pick up more and late this Wednesday afternoon she got an email from a primary teacher, (cub scouts) telling her that her pack was going to have a book drive mid October and didn't know who to donate to. Would she consider their donation. There will not only be books for our seminary students, but more for our primary age children. Hopefully the adults will enjoy them too. We are now looking for a large book case.

As you can imagine, we feel the Lord is blessing the work here in Greymouth.

Here is a picture of Sister Scott taken in July.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Report from Greymouth

Church Sunday was a little disappointing, as many families were gone because of rugby. I guess they had their awards presentation during church. Next Sunday some of the older primary boys have games in Christchurch. We will be in Westport, for our monthly speaking assignment. Sister Kinikini has taken the blame for her children's participation and says it won't happen again. Two weeks ago there was an article in the church news about two New Zealand Sister's who played on the New Zealand Olympic Team. They made it known that they did not play or train on the sabbath. In spite of that, the coach selected them to play on the team. Their last game of the Olympics was on a Sunday against the US. They did not play. They truly have a wonderful example in the two fine young women. We printed that article for our seminary students and gave a copy to the president.

After Wednesday's piano lessons, we drove the few blocks to the Jetty at the mouth of the Grey River. It was another beautiful day and we spotted this heron. Sister Hoagland took this picture through the open window of the car.

The picture below is of a Home Depot wanna be store called Mitre 10. We did not know what the display was for in the parking lot, but we do know that they are not back yard sheds. They do have good selection of tools, lighting, paint supplies, yard equipment, etc. Their merchandising skills do have a lot to be desired. They have close out tables in the front that makes it look like a flea market.

This rainbow was just up the river from Greymouth, on the east side of the small gorge the river runs through. The picture was taken on the Greymouth side of the Cobden bridge. You can see the bottom of the hills on both sides that make the gorge. It has the same effect on down town Greymouth as the Columbia gorge has on Troutdale and Portland. When the east wind blows it is very cold. Fortunately we live 2 kilometers south of this gorge where it does not effect us.

Friday was President and Sister Kinikini's 17th wedding anniversary. We provided them with cake and ice cream to celebrate. It turns out they have not celebrated their anniversary much in the past and they were grateful for us to remind them. Back in July when everyone was having birthdays they mentioned when their anniversary was and Sister Hoagland remembered. The little girl in presidents lap is a child they watch every once in a while. Taufa and Sis Kinikini are to their right. President Kinikini is very slim as you can see. He works very hard. He told me on Wednesday he had planted 1200 seedlings on the side of a mountain. He carries 120 seedlings with him. He starts at the top and plants straight down and then goes back and forth until he has twenty seedlings left, then he works his way back up for more seedlings. That is what all the Tongans do here. I think he is better at it than the others as recently he became self employed. Eventually he can have his own crew.

Now that winter is over, a new coal stove was installed in their home this week. I think they will have to get used to a warm house now. They had all the windows open when we got there. They said it was because they wanted to get rid of the new stove smell before we arrived. I guess the fumes also set off the smoke alarm. Sister Kinikini says she is now looking forward to next winter.
Here are Atu, Taufa, and Moni dishing up the cake and ice cream. As usual, all was consumed before we left. We brought two fudge brownie cakes and one marble cake and the tub of ice cream you see for the 7 of us. Their teen age son was at work. I think they left him some cake.

We do not yet have pictures of the Langi's family we are teaching English. First time we did not bring the camera and the second time we had left the photo card in the computer. We are having some difficulty with our teaching because there are so many children running around or want to get involved. We need to find some way to isolate our students. We are also very primitive in the materials we have to teach with. We are working on that and we sent an email to the Helquists who were the missionary couple here almost a year ago. They are lingquist and had helped the adults learn enough English to get their drivers lincenses. They called this morning and were helpful with ideas and also where some of the materials they used were kept. Sister Langi expresses so much appreciation for our help it just warms your heart. We just hope we can be successful enough that they she can be comfortable at church, etc.

Here is a little video of our trip to the jetty.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Travels Around Town

We had a pretty good week with new opportunities to serve every day.
First we had contacted Ana's mother about Ana attending BYUH.
She thought it a good idea but had very little helpful information.
When we talked to Ana Wednesday afternoon about school She
was quite taken back by the prospect. She was just planning to
get a job after school. Her first
question was, "will I have to take the plane all by my self." I
assured her there would be at least a another couple of hundred people
on the plane with her. Of course that is not what she meant. I am sure we can get her in contact with other students on the south Island who are going to attend. We are
now waiting to get her grade point average.

We also have some English students now. You remember Lesili from last week. When we first arrived he was quite apprehensive about having English lessons. When we left we had at least two more students. His little brother and his mother. The Langi's have the most beautiful
children, and they dress them like a million bucks for church, etc. The fact is they
live in a good size, but run down house, and have very little of material
things. We are excited with the prospect of teaching English to these people. We were given some miss information about about their desires.

Here are some pictures of our walk on Friday. This home was at the end of a dead end street.

This is what we found on the other side of the street.

It was a little cool on our walk, but maybe not quite as cool as Sister Hoagland's attire would warrant. She does have to keep her ears warms, as they have been sensitive all her life.

Today we walked to the church for the purpose of this picture. This is what we can see out the window of our chapel. Today the sea is calm with little surf action. When you enlarge the picture you may see some in the left corner. On the right is a nice cemetery.
This afternoon after piano lessons we drove down to the Jetty where you can drive right to the end on both sides. It gives you a wonderful view of the mouth of the river as well as a perspective of being in the ocean. I took a video here of a fishing boat returning but there were two problems. First I tend to hum a lot and I was doing a particularly bad job of it while videoing. Second, We can only upload to the blog about 20-25 seconds of video and it took much longer for the boat to enter the river.
These seagulls came diving down all of a sudden and within 10 seconds had consumed a pile of french fries some one had thrown out. They look just like our seagulls but are very much smaller. Here we are looking up river toward town.

It was a beautiful day with a very calm sea. Next time maybe we can see more action.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Primary Party

This is brother Bell from Christchurch. He is in charge of all CES activities on the South Island. He came to visit our little seminary class. Following the class we had a very nice visit with him. He brought up BYU Hawaii as a posibility for our oldest student, Ana. We made a visit to her mother yesterday to get the ball rolling. We have no idea how her grades are in school but she is a very smart young woman. That is one of our short term priorities to see if she is elligible to go. Bro. Bell said he could be of great assistance in getting her in. That would be so incredible if she could get into BYUH. There is nothing in this part of the Island to further her education.
We had a fun pizza party with the primary children 8 years and older. These young girls came late but it worked out because the table was full with the others. These girls are non members. The girl in blue is a foster child of one of our members and the others are just friends. They were so cute and fit in well with the other children. They started the games they played outside.
Here is the first shift at the table. From left to right, Taufa 8, Nuku 10, Maui 10, Meli 10, Hola 9, and Lesili 10. Taufa, Meli and Hola are Sister Hoagland's piano students. Lesili is having trouble in school because he does not know English. We have set up a time with his parents to help him read.
Lesili was so full he could not get up or even want an ice cream cone. We printed this picture and gave it to his dad, and you should have seen the smile came on his face. He does not speak very much English but we knew he loved that picture. Lesili is the oldest of five beautiful children.
Here are the other children enjoying their ice cream while Lesili suffers in the other chair. Hola in purple is Lesili's younger sister and she lives with Mele during the week so she can go to a better school and has just thrived living in an English speaking home. Mele's parents, the Toli's are very generous and have been very helpful to the Tongan members. They are both returned missionaries, he being Tongan and Sister Toli from New Zealand. Sister Toli is a nurse and Bro. Toli works for a private tech school as an "on line" instructor. He has a college degree. All these boys play rugby, which has interfered with their attendance at primary. They all make it to sacrament meeting.
This is the joy of being a child. Nuku came from the bath room with his fly open. The girls were laughing their heads off. Poor Nuku. The Tongans love to tease each other, which is not always helpful. The couple who were here some time back were skilled in teaching language but because the men would tease each other about how they spoke English some were discouraged from learning. We had a wonderful time with these great kids. It is so good to get to know them as they greet and smile at us at church.

We followed up on a visit we had last week with Sister Royal. Her brother was involved in a serious accident. She was not home so we went next door where we inquired of the neighbor, learning that her brother had passed away. I had reported the situation during our council meeting, but I think the branch missed an opportunity for compassionate service as I think we were her only contact during this time of sorrow.

Zone Conference

Zone conference has rolled around again and we drove with the Elders to Nelson for our meeting. Above is our accommodation provided by a wonderful couple in one of the Nelson branches. They had made a room in their garage that included a queen sized bed, a vanity and shower, a couple of chairs and a dresser. The toilet was out the door to the garage and one step to the right. We had a very good nights sleep.
Sister Jolliffe has to keep busy, so while her husband is in interviews, she was found here knitting a scarf for a grandchild. We just love her, she is such an animated person. She is so happy and excited about everything when in conversation with her and she brings a wonderful spirit when to teaches.
The photo was taken by the Jolliffes 16 year old son. What can I say about the goof balls in the back. We have a nice little zone with four teams of Elders and two couples. We have 1 Samoan and three Tongans. The pair sitting between Sister Hoagland are our zone leaders and the two next to them are the assistants to the President. The one on the right is from Sydney, Australia. The couple on the right are from the Auckland area. We stayed with them for our last Zone conference. Because we are so isolated we may never be able to host them.

President Jolliffe said in our interview with him that he was having difficulty replacing missionary couples and may want to move us sometime in the future. This branch has had a couple missionary for many years, and he may have to let them stand on their own. Everybody!! Put in those papers and join us. The work is so rewarding and we are in such good contact with our family we don't feel we are missing too much. The church is growing so fast and the need is so great in other areas of the world, that places like New Zealand are going to have to stand on their own feet.
President Jolliffe has encouraged innovation in our finding people to teach. This is an example of "Chalk Talk", where we can demonstrate a gospel doctrine on the street using chalk.
Here is another idea for attracting people in a public location. We had other workshops demonstrating other ways of finding. He wants the Elders to come up with their own ideas and try them after his approval. He says they can try an idea three times and if there is no success, not to do it again. The mission is finally going to try cell phones with the district leaders first, and then all missionaries if it works well. Right now the only contact from the office or mission president with missionaries is late night or early morning when they are in their flats.
Here are our hosts, the Wells, for Sunday evening. They are really wonderful people with grown children faithful in the gospel. Their Son-in-Law is the district president. Brother Wells is Moari and she is European. Sister Wells said her mother did not like Moari's and Mormons. She said she married one, and became the other. My dad said my grandpa was prejudiced against the Danes, and all three of his children married Danes. They provided us with dinner and breakfast. Their little garage room was made just for missionary couples to stay. Brother Wells retired from 30 years with the church college in Hamilton just 4 years ago. We spent the evening in great conversation.