The branch was blessed this week with the Lords protection of our branch president and his family. Sister Kinikini fell asleep while driving back from Christchurch on Friday. While their van did not survive, none of the family was seriously hurt. Their 10 year old son spent a night in hospital with a sore rib. We made a visit to the hospital and found all was well.
On Saturday we returned to the hospital after learning that a member's 2 year old had swallowed petrol. He too is doing well, but we have had some really scared members here who are thankful for the Lord's blessing.
Sunday we had a real spiritual feast at the Kinikini's family home evening. In attendance were the children of one family who does not hold their own fhe. Also two non member youth and the Elders. They all feel welcome and are there because they want to be. It is true that some children turn out strong in the gospel in spite of their parents. As President and Sister Kinikini expressed their gratitude to the Lord for their safety, they mentioned their 8 year old told them at the scene of the accident that they had forgotten to say their family prayer prior to leaving for Christchurch. Every one there bore testimony.
Monday was busy. It is our "P Day" and I scrubbed the shower and washed the car before 8:00 am. We arranged for our youth to go on a hike with us. We had two members and two non members with us along with an adult driver. We trekked to the view point at Elizabeth Point from the Arapahoe side which was a challenging 2 hour walk there and back. Sister Hoagland & I should be ok soon! Following this trek, we had our usual volunteer work at the city library where we shelved books for 1 1/2 hours. Following that we went to Nuku's for a reading lesson. In the evening we tried to visit so families, but no one home.
This is a shot from the trail.
I was a beautiful morning as you can see, with a calm sea.
A view of Arapahoe from the trail.
The river, the village, the surf, and the road north to Westport.
This is taken at the start of the trail and we could see where we would end up.
Sister Hoagland on the trail in the bush.
Here is the whole gang at the point. Samu is hiding for some reason. His Sister, Tupou is on the left, then Ana, Ola, and sitting is Pony. Ola is our primary president whom Sister Hoagland has worked very closely.
Ana was the slowest trekker, telling us she had never walked so far in her life. We hope to have an institute class for her when school begins in February. Tupou has a Sister, Ofa, the same age as Ana and we hope she will want to attend as well. Their father is friendly and attends church and other activities, but has a problem about membership. Ofa is close to her father and has many questions about the gospel message.
Pony in the back is a wonderful young man. He demonstrates responsibility and good character even though he looks tough sometimes.
Ola was sitting here waiting for us when we finally arrived at the short trail to the lookout. She is the mother of three very active young boys.
The following pictures of our two Christmas dinners. First we were invited by the Iriah's to their non member son's for a Maori dinner. The method of cooking is call umu, where rocks are heated over a fire and then placed on the ground, the wrapped food is placed on top then covered with a wet cloth, wet newspaper and then burlap bags. Here they are taking off the last covering.
The meat is wrapped in aluminum foil and the vegetables are put in cloth bags. The rocks are lava rocks from the north island and they also used some railroad rails.
This is the second time we have eaten in a garage on a special occasion. We were served Mutten, lamb, turkey, and pork. The vegetables were pumpkin, and kamara (sweet potato). They do not sweeten the sweet potato nor do they sweeten the puddings and other deserts. Glen Iraia was slicing the wonderfully cooked meat, while his mother opens her desert. The two girls are Sister Iraia's foster children. Her husband Davis was watching month old Rugby and came out to eat and then returned to the TV. We had a lovely time.
Here are two of Ola's three children playing with their new Christmas toys. These boys fight over their toys all the time so they got all of them the same toys, three of each. Richard is playing with the video games, while Apollo is playing with his remote controlled car. Just like home.
We had a funny thing happen at the Tongan Christmas dinner. Before we ate, we were all gathered into the kitchen/dining area. The hosts father was visiting from Australia, and stood up and began to speak Tongan in a very solemn manner. Sister Hoagland thought it was the prayer and had already closed her eyes. Ten minutes later (she never opens her eyes during a prayer) was wondering if the prayer was ever going to end. This in spite of the fact that their were at least two outbursts of laughter during the talk. Everyone noticed she had bowed head and closed her eyes. When it was over and the real prayer had been said, Elder Bair asked her if she thought that grandpa's talk was a prayer. With the answer being yes, the room erupted. Sister Hoagland was great, taking it with good humor and adding bits like, "I had heard long prayers but this one was getting ridiculous, and "I was thinking the laughter was a little disrespectful." Each comment brought more laughter. I just thought she was sleeping off the first meal. Here is the table laden with the Tongan feast.
Here on the men carving up the pig.
Here is the pine Christmas tree for the Tao home. They get these from the forests where they work. We are told that the balloons were full the day before. In the background are the men playing some touch rugby. I don't know how they can run after all that food.
Here is a little video of the Rugby action.