Friday, February 27, 2009

Another great week.

Sunday evening we attended the Kinikini's family home evening. We have an open invitation and enjoy being with them. They discussed family goals and I was asked to print up the chart with their goals and the rules to attain them. They will hang it on their lounge (Living room) wall.

Monday we had a good lesson in Seminary. Only Pone and Tim came. Sione is not coming because he says he is not old enough. Monie is out of town and the Tau's father was in an accident this morning before seminary. We had a good walk and I then made up the goal chart for the Kinikini's. Worked out well. We went to the hospital to see Fatui Tau but he wasn't there. That was good. We did our community service at the library shelving books for a little over an hour. After the library we visited Fatui at home. He had a foam collar on his neck and a sling for his sore shoulder. A large truck had hit his van from the side and flipped it. He was very lucky. We taught Nuku a reading lesson. Tonight the Elders came over and we watched "God's Army" together. It is a true story about missionary work in California. Very funny and especially watching it with missionaries.

Tuesday Sister Leone Young, less active Sister requested that we bless her home. Her husband had died and she was struggling with the loss. We came over and met her and her family. She has a son and daughter (who has two wonderful little boys) who live with her and look like they have some mental retardation. There was another daughter there from Australia who looked to be normal. She had suggested the blessing. We had a nice visit with them and then I offered a blessing on the home which they much appreciated. The mother and daughter both were very emotional following the blessing. We hope to go back soon and offer Sister Young a personal blessing and hopefully teach the plan of salvation. Their records had indicated "No Visits".

We had five for seminary Wednesday. Our lesson was on the transfiguration. These students have never been taught the bible stories that you would hear as a child. Not that this would have been one of them, but everything is so new to them and are amazed by them. It is beautiful to see them react to what we are teaching. We wish they would read their assignments before they come some we would have more time to teach principles.

Mele's mother just came back from Australia and we had a piano lesson with her Friday afternoon. She would be so good if she put more practice time. Hopefully we will have time for her to do some real good.

In the evening we had a branch activity, a car rally. It was fun and we rode with Sister Scott. Prior to leaving I was fooling around in the back of the church with our seminary students playing touch rugby. I went for a steal and crash landed on my stomach. It will be sore for awhile as I might have bruised a rib. Its tough to stay upright when you are a little top heavy.

Here are a couple of more pictures from Christchurch.

A Saturday morning garage sale at sister Carpenters house. She a a lot of stuff that she doesn't need now that she is a widow and will soon be moving back to the Hamilton area where she has lots of friends. Her son husband and son both died within the last two years and she has nothing keeping her here.
The clouds wrap around the hills to to east like this quite often.
This picture were taken a block from our flat just before 9:00 am.
Here is the last of our continuing look at the progress of the Kinikini tomatoes. They are starting to get a harvest.
We have had way to much of this kind of weather this week. this is pretty much the extent of our yard.
The elders have been teaching Doug Thoms grandson, Scott Thomas. His baptism was today. Elder Tamale did the baptizing. Our contribution was the music and Sister Hoagland also gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. I made up the program, was a witness, and offered the benediction. I was happy to see Doug at the church. He offered the opening prayer and was a witness.
Here is the family with Elder Bair. The mother is excommunicated and the father is not a member. We hope they will continue to come to church. This was not a convert baptism.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

South Island Zone Conference

Sunday Sister Hoagland and I spoke in sacrament meeting for the third time in the last 5 weeks. This time we didn't know the district wasn't providing a speaker so we were elected. I was asked to speak on the word of wisdom, as some of our brethren have a problem with cava. It is allowed for traditional Tongan functions but it is being abused here. My main point was that all cultures have their traditions, tea, coffee, etc., but Latter Day Saints do not follow them.

After seminary, our walk, and study time, we had the Elders for lunch and then we drove to Christchurch for our south island zone conference. All the zones joined together to be taught by our area president, Elder David S. Baxter. We came early as it was P Day so we could look around the area. We took the Elders to the stake center by 7:00 pm so their hosts could pick them up. We stayed again with the Thompson's.

Tuesday morning we got up around 7:00 and had breakfast with Helen Thompson. A beautiful morning with the sun shining. We arrived at the stake center at 9:15 thinking the meeting was at 10:00 am but it started at 8:00 am. All of our other meetings started then and we had asked many times when it started and no one could give us an answer. Our Elders didn't find out until they got to their lodging and were told by their host that he needed to get them to the church by 7:30 am. Fortunately senior couples are readily forgiven. The meeting was from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, so we were not too heart broken for missing the first hour and fifteen minutes. The benches had short backs and Sister Hoagland's sciatica was bothering her by the time we finished.

We got in for 45 minutes of President Jolliffes teaching and all of President Baxter's. President Jolliffe has a great ability to teach from the scriptures on any subject. I am always impressed. Elder Baxter was a Stake President in an adjoining stake from Pres. Jolliffe. Now we know how he was called to be president here. It was very good teaching by both men. Lunch was soup, fruit and a bread roll. On the way home after 3:00 pm we stopped and got a subway sandwich for later. It was great.

Wednesday is our busiest day. We taught seminary at 7:30 and at 10:30 we had district meeting with the Elders in our flat. Before the meeting we walked for 35 minutes, and had breakfast. Elder Hoagland fixed lunch for the Elders after the meeting, and then studied for Thursdays seminary. Sister Hoagland had two piano lessons, and one reading lesson late in the afternoon. While Sister Hoagland helped with music for the Young Woman's new beginnings program, Brother Hoagland stayed home and did some branch business for the President. I wrote a letter to all members of the branch, inviting them to branch conference and the activities leading up to it. I also wrote out a script for his second counselor to use when he conducts Sacrament meeting. He doesn't speak English very well and needs that help.

Here is what our entry looks like during seminary.
Some flowers on one of our walks.
In Christchurch we visited the botanical gardens. There wasn't much in bloom that day but it was green. The weather was cool and overcast.
This was one of the beds still in bloom, the one at the entrance was just ready to be planted with new flowers for fall.
Elder Tamale, is here looking at the classic studebaker in the garden parking lot.
In downtown Christchurch is a beautiful cathedral. Here Sister Hoagland and the Elders are enjoying the square outside the cathedral. That blue sky is a mirage, it was still cool and that was about all the blue we saw.
I only got a couple of pictures inside before my battery went dead.

We then drove over to the beach, where we walked on a wonderful fishing pier. Below us there were surfers and others enjoying the cold weather and water.
This pier was built in the late 90's after the original had been torn down in 1964.
I could not see who were in the canoe, but it could be Moari's. It was a very calm surf.
Some young fishermen had only caught a couple of baby shark. Here Elder Tamale is enjoying one. I was dressed with a white shirt and tie, so the fishermen thought I was some official so not Knowing if they should have them, they had tossed them in the "rubbish" bin.
More flowers from our walks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We started out the week traveling to Westport for our monthly speaking assignment. They are really struggling with health issues there. Most of the branch is in the senior citizen category. The president is legally blind and was hard of hearing until he finally got hearing aids this month. His wife has heart problems. His counselor had a heart attach last month and the wife was diagnosed with lymphoma this month. She does not look good and it is the second time. The other counselor and wife are way over weight and have diabetes, etc.

We went to the Cobden school yesterday to see if we could be of use helping the Tongan students with English and reading. The principle was off so we will have to wait until next week. We hope to find out in the mean time if we are going to be here or not. President Jolliffe is thinking of moving us to Westport. We have zone conference this week and I hope we can get some answers then.

The tomato's are progressing but summer is almost over here. Word is that we have not had a normal summer and it has been cooler.
These pictures were taken on our way home from Westport where we spoke in Sacrament meeting.

Sunday was one of our nicer days this week. It has turned nasty toward the end.This is the 2009 Greymouth branch seminary. Those two big guys in the back are 16 and are the best kids you would want to meet. Back Row: Tim and Heamoni (Moni) Kinikini, Pone Langi.
Second row Sione Langi, Tupo Tau, and Samu Tau. Moni is 15, Sione 14, Tupo 13, and Samu is 14. Tupo and Samu are not members (yet).

On Wednesday we took a walk to another area we hadn't been. This neighborhood is southwest of us just past the hospital. It is closer to the ocean and there are some nice homes in there. This one and the names of the occupants which is rare. I took this picture because my fathers name was Laurie. This is the first time I have ever seen another male of that name. My dad hated the name and went by L L Hoagland, and was called Hoagie by his friends. Always Bro. Hoagland and church.
This was just a pretty yard.
Down by the ocean we found a motor home and camping site. This is part of their play area. They had a traditional trampoline but this was a big air filled blatter surrounded by sand. Very nice place. People rent a very large number of small campers to go on vacation.

You can tell people must feed these ducks. As we approached they came toward us as fast as they could. This pond is between the hospital and the runway for the airfield. This was a much longer walk than we were used to and by the time we got home we were dragging.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Swimming party

Here are a couple of pictures from our walk on Tuesday the 3rd. Sister Hoagland loves lilies, especially their scent. This did need to be weeded but the lilies were so pretty.
Here are dahlias. They grow these everywhere here. They grow into big bushes. Ours didn't do this. The blue are the agapantha.
On Thursday we had to drive up to Nelson for interviews with President Jolliffe. We are having another all south island zone conference on the 17th with the area president, President Baxter, so we came up for just interviews this time. Every time I speak with him he has another idea to send us out of Greymouth. This time he was thinking of making me branch president in Westport. The youngest priesthood up there is at least sixty and only one is healthy. The branch president is in his seventies and is leagally blind and can't hear very well.
We had to leave for Nelson by 6:15 am to arrive at our appointed time so here is some early morning fog.
On our return we visited the Clough's who live 45 minutes from Greymouth. This is the first time we were there during milking time. While dairy has become a big export for NZ, farming is not very scientific here. The cows are quite small to US standards and some are down right tiny. They keep no records of individual production and the volume goes up and down with the availability of grass. Prices have dropped here lately which has hit some farmers hard who just switched from sheep to cows. They have spent millions on refitting their farms.
Sister Hoagland and Elder Bair looking over the milking shed. The Clough's 23 month old fell from the railing where Elder Bair is standing a few minutes after this picture was taken. Elder Bair picked him up and got a really bloody shirt for his trouble. Litttle guy is doing fine with a cut at the hair line. They milk one side and release and refill the cows on the other side.
They have about 400 cows here, and they bring them all into this area at the back of the shed.
Sorry we have not been to anything new. We have covered most of the area in the 7 months we have been here. Yesterday was a Maori holiday and we missed the festivities because we do not have access to local media. It was free food, ouch!!! You can be sure the Tongans didn't miss it. On our early morning walk we went down by the airport and on the way we walked on the flood wall in front of the runway. Here is a picture of down town and the gorge the grey river runs through. In the forground is what we would call a slough.
Some of the wild life in the slough.

I turned around and took this picture of the runway, which is not used very much. The hospital on the left uses it to transport patients to Christchurch and other locations for specialist care. This is a general hospital with only care for emergencies and minor surgery and care. Heart patients go to Christchurch and other hospitals specialize in nurology, etc. You don't want to get really sick here. Nationally, medical care is rationed. There are only six beds in the country for eating disorders. Auckland sends it's patients to Australia. Not very good for parental support.
It was not far from the beach from the airport and as you can see the Tasman was very calm today.
Walking back from the beach we saw this helicopter land. Lots of helicopter activity from this area. This one just landed to refuil and continued on north.
On Saturday the 31 of Jan. our branch had a swimming party at the memorial baths. Here is a game of touch water rugby. For those who know them, Sister Iraia is in the forground and Sister Scott is on the far right. I do not know why the men wear t-shirts.
This is George. He has been in country about three months and works in the forest. He is still trying to get a work visa so he can stay more permanently and bring his family. We are hopeful as we want him to be the Elders President and teach institute. Behind him is our seminary student Tim (peki) Kinikini, who had just pushed George in the water. That water is much colder than the Tongan surf George is used to.
This is Lisa, an 18 year old new arrival. We hope she will be here long enough to be part of institute. She is home sick for Tonga.
This is Tim, who is 16 and about 14 lbs heaver than I am. He is our second biggest 16 year old.
This is one of Sister Hoagland's favorite primary students, Maui Kinikini, who is 10. He is another big boy.
This afternoon I went to the church and with other priesthood members, we cleaned up the chapel. I washed the door windows that I don't think had been touched since we got here. There is also a glass door and partition that gives access to the chapel from the hall. It was also in great need of cleaning. Looks good now.