Friday, April 24, 2009

This Week

Last week I talked about Sister Scott. This week she was sustained as the new Relief Society president. Sister Carpenter is moving to Hamilton. We will miss her.

As you know we have taken a lot of pictures on our mission. This week we had two separate occasions where two Tongan sisters came by to get copies of our pictures of their families on DVD's. I had the little video's I had taken and others the Elders had taken. They were particularly interested in the pacifica day activity at the Cobden School, but while we were at it we gave them everything we had of their families. I'm sure this will not be the end of it as all the Langi families will want their copies too. there are 4 Langi families and also the Taus.

While this is not the best picture, it is the only one I have of our two institute students together. Muffi on the left and Ofa on the right. They are resting here during our Good Friday activity. Ola Langi, our primary president is in the middle. They were watching Ola's three boys play rugby.

We had a wonderful general conference Sunday. We had pretty good attendance for the morning session and pretty good for the afternoon session. We had the priesthood session also at 4:00 pm. I was impressed with the talks by the brethren. I particularly loved Elder Hollands talk on the Saviors sacrifice which he had to perform "utterly alone." I always love to hear Elder Oaks, as he is the only apostle I have ever taught in Sunday School. Those in the Jan Ree Ward may remember when he came to our ward on his honeymoon.
Between session we had a few sandwiches to consume. They were gone in no time. Mele is in pink with the pigtails. She sat attentive to both sessions and filled out our conference activity packet better than anyone else. She made comments on each speaker, identified enough topics in the "bingo portion" to make bingo. A very impressive young lady. The activity packets were a big hit, but there was quite a bit of paper rustling during the first session and in the second session I noticed the adults also doing word finds, etc. instead of listening to the speakers. The brother on the right was a visitor from Dunedin.

On Monday we were called by the mission office and asked if we would be responsible to inspect all the missionary flats in our zone. Fortunately there are only four flats but unfortunately 3 of them are 3 1/2 to 4 hours one way away from us. Thursday we drove to Blenheim, which is supposed to be the sunnyest area of the country. It was sunny all the way until we got there. We found the Elder's flat in good shape except the small patch of lawn. There used to be a mission couple living in town and they took care of the lawn. They have no tools so we will have to see about that.
This is some of the country side on our way to Blenheim.
There is a small river gorge on the way called the Buller Gorge. In the gorge is this slide area which was caused by an earthquake about 30 years ago. The Buller river was featured in movie the Lord of theRings.
Murchison us a small town half way to Blenheim. These pictures are from the park where they also have a public toilet we use most every time we go to Nelson or Blenheim.

We were within 45 minutes of home when we had a beautiful twilight for about 30 minutes.
Driving at twilight attracts a lot of bugs which you can see on the front of our car and the side mirrors.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Sunday we drove to Westport where we spoke in church. This was a first for us here in that there was some vandalism at the church. Someone threw a rock threw the chapel window and glass was everywhere. They decided to meet in the primary room for sacrament meeting and not use the chapel until the police took a look. We had 17 in attendance with some visitors from Christchurch. We spoke on the atonement and the resurrection. Sister Hoagland did a wonderful job.

We have a two week vacation from seminary and we really miss our kids. We are continuing with institute with Mufi and Ofa. We are teaching the Book of Mormon and loving it. We are continuing to look for more students.

This weekend is our "video conference." The district primary president e-mailed us a conference activity packet to be used during the conference. We have so many children for such a small branch. Sister Hoagland and I spent some time this afternoon making copies and customizing the packet for each families needs. We visited every member this week, inviting them to conference and giving them the branch conference schedule. We had very few at the conference today. Hope for better in the morning.

Wednesday evening we, with the Elders, drove 30 minutes south to Hokitika to have a family home evening with two of our great single sisters. Sister Kathleen Scott has been a member of the branch for years. She works for the ministry of education and visits class rooms and gives seminars for teachers throughout the south island. Kathleen served a mission in California and she now teaches our youth Sunday School class and attends the temple on a regular basis. A Moari by ancestry, she is a real support to the branch. She attends all branch activities, no matter what it is.
Here Kathleen is helping with the soda after our "helping hands" activity last month.

Astra Pagaddu is a 25 year old nurse from the Philippines. She works at a nursing home in Hokitika. Her mother and three siblings are the only members in her family. Her two brothers have served missions and her mother has worked hard to provide for their family. She worked two years in Dubi as a tutor for a German family to provide for her family. The children lived with their grandma. Astra is wonderful and serves as the senior primary teacher. She will only be here until the end of the year.

Astra is second from the left in this picture.

We are looking forward to the first visit of our mission president, President Jolliffe and Sister Jolliffe next weekend. We are working hard to clean up the flat so all is ready. I have cleaned the outside windows now three times, as we live close to the ocean and the salty air and rain cloud up our windows. The windows inside were not too bad with the exception of bug spots. They have not invented screens for widows and doors in this part of the world, and without good insulation we need to open doors and windows on sunny days.
I was able to wash the windows Monday just before we entered into 4 days of rain. Sister Hoagland has been doing her part as well, working hard on the kitchen.
On Thursday, we had to say goodbye to Elder Tamale, who flew off to the north island. He is the happiest Elder in the mission. You always knew when they were here because you could hear Elder Tamale laughing or singing. They are having real success having developed many investigators. We hope to have a baptism this week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good Friday

Please pretend this picture is further into the body post. This is what you may get at a Tongan pot luck. These fish were caught in the Grey River at Greymouth.

The miracle of the Internet has made the far away part of a senior mission almost a non issue. We spoke with our son and his family by free video phone after church Sunday, received video from our daughter, Jenni, via email as the children colored Easter eggs. We viewed a lot of conference including the news conference for Elder Anderson and knew before Jeff about our new apostle. We received a DVD from our daughter Julie Tuesday that showed our 10 year old grandson, Colin, in a school play as scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz." On top of that the Lord has blessed us beyond measure.

We have been working with this "dry" Mormon family (the Tau's) for quite some time. We teach two of their children in seminary, one in institute and even one is in the class we are helping at Cobden school. We also made some visits to Fatui, the father, when he was slightly hurt in a car accident. Up until last week, he had refused to have the Elders teach the family the missionary lessons. We were told Wednesday in district meeting that they were taught a lesson Tuesday evening. Our prayers would surely be answered if this family could finally be baptized. Especially the children. Samu and Tupou attend seminary and Samu has a keen interest in gospel art. We ordered the new book form of the gospel art kit for him. He likes to draw copies of the paintings.
Good Friday is a national holiday, so the branch organized an activity primarily for the children.
Above is the big guy, Sione, who is father to two of our seminary students and Muffy an institute student. He is also Nuku's father. They call him Apolo because he was born the day the Apolo astronauts left for the moon. His van shown here was imported from Japan as a used car and when it backs up it says something in Japanese.
Here we are all lined up waiting for the prayer so we can start the fun. It is about 10:30 am in the morning. There were 37 children there including 10 visitors. I was looking at a plane that had taken off from the airport that was pretty high up and still had its landing gear down.
This is part of the chicken and sausage provided by the members. It took two hours to cook it all as they only had one barbecue grill. We had buttered bread for the sausage. Some native New Zealander brought the only greens.
Early on we had a chocolate Easter egg toss as you see the children picking up their share. They were the small wrapped in foil kind that required some unexpected cleanup.
The men love ping pong and spent awhile with this activity.
The rugby players took a short break while the youngest children took a turn at cricket. For some inexplicable reason we did not get any pictures of rugby which went on from beginning to end. The above green was quite brown when the day was over.
There is some evidence here that these people are not sun worshipers. A short time after this picture the Sister in black had a large table umbrella beside her. They were not there for the sun, but for a view of the activities.
Here are Fatui Tau and Manase Toli cooking chicken. I do believe that is the rugby ball in the reflection of the window.
I spent a good deal of the first couple of hours helping Brother Iraia trim back the bush. He was concerned that it was taking too much of the church property. He also has views which he openly expresses in prayers, testimony meeting, and personally, about the way the members take care of the building and other things that I hope do not result in confrontation.
This is Inchbonnie. We drove out to Inchbonnie late Thursday afternoon to see Sharlene Thomas and family. Their son Scott was baptized last month. They have not been to church since. She reported that Doug Thoms her father has finally found a place in Christchurch. They are living in the back of a house that has been divided into two apartments. He was shocked to find that the branch president lives in the other half. Sharlene's husband works out here on dairy farm and his work load has been reduced so he is working on a fishing boat out of Greymouth. They can live rent free on the farm until things improve in the price of milk. They don't milk at all during June and July, so it will be until at least August before things improve for them. They hope to make it for Easter Sunday.
On the way to Inchbonnie.
This is Lake Brunner in Moana on the way to Inchbonnie. You see our first signs of fall as the tree on the right turns color and the first snow on the mountains to the east. We had very cold evenings Wednesday and Thursday. I had to bring in the propane heater as my hands were getting very cold as I was reading.
These Lilies bloom very early fall. It was a pleasant surprise to see them in various parts of town this past couple of weeks. Notice the angle of the satellite dish on the house. It is aimed at just above the horizon and Australia. Some are mounted on very tall poles to clear trees.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cobden School

As I mentioned last week, at the pacifica day activity we made arrangements with the principal to help out at the school. We are having a wonderful experience at the school. Judy works with room 2 and I have been working with room 3. I was in room three helping the children write diaries. One little girl asked me to help spell practically every word of her work. It is funny because I was unable to understand some of the words she wanted spelled because of the accent differences. Also, having me help spell is like having me teach piano. Spelling has been the curse of my life but so far so good. I had to have her use the unrecognizable words in a sentence before I understood her. Walk came out woo to me. I guess I couldn't hear the k at the end. It is pronounced "woook" here.

I prepared a talk on forgiveness last week and in the research I came across a quote. "If you don't like someone, the way they hold their spoon will make you angry. If you like someone, they can turn their plate on your lap and it is alright." I don't think that I dis like these people, but some of the folks at the gym do irritating things. One lady drags her feet on the treadmill and the high pitched sound is very unpleasant. Besides making it easier for me to get in and out of the car, I guess working out is to teach me tolerance and patience.

Last night we got a call from a couple at a motel in town. They were on a bus tour of the country and they are from Germany. She had fallen at one of the attractions, "Punakaiki", up the coast about 45 minutes. She didn't think she had broken anything but was very sore and wanted a blessing. Judy and I picked up Lyle Kitchen and we went over and gave the blessing. They had served a mission in Ireland and also lived in the stake presided over by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. The brother was proud that Pres. Uchtdorf had ordained him a high priest and called him to be responsible for all the buildings (pfr) in the stake. He was not as proficient in English as she. He said he had about 3,000 word vocabulary out of the 40 to 50 thousand available. On the phone you would never know she was from Germany.

At school on Friday the 3rd there was an assembly of 4 class rooms. Part of the activity was a readers theater, where four of the children from room 2 and Sister Hoagland participated. There was a king, prince, frog, princess and dragon. Sister Hoagland played the dragon. Very cute!
We arrive at the school just before 11:00 in the morning and spent an hour. This morning we got there a little early and went out to the playground. Our lds kids and those in our class just mobbed us, giving hugs, and greetings. I stood next to the wonderful playground equipment and I had so many children wanting me to watch them do something I needed 10 sets of eyes.

When we were at the school for the pacifica day activity one little boy, looking at my name tag and suit said, "I like your uniform." At my first entrance into room there a little boy I had leaned over to greet took my tie and yanked on it. On Monday Sister Hoagland was asked how old she was. Not giving a specific answer, the little boy said, "you look 100.
Jenni's family went to Disney World this past week. We were happy to see pictures on facebook posted after they got home. They look like they had a great time.

We went looking for a less active sister this week in an area called Houpiri. We had to pass Houpiri lake on the way there.
This is a Dairy farm we passed also.
We traveled 8k's passed the place we were looking for and came to this deer farm,
and this dairy farm. This area is about 35k's from the main highway to Greymouth. We located the area where Sister Fitzwater lived and found she had moved to Cobden recently. They did not have her address so we do have some more looking to do. Our friends, the Rasmussen's, had worked with her before she was re-baptized a few years ago.
Here are our boys doing a Tongan war dance at the pacifica day activity at the Cobden school. Manui Langi on the right put them all to shame. She was really into it.
Here is Manui's daughter, Hola doing a Tongan dance. She did a wonderful job, but was so shy, she forgot to smile.
Here are two of our youngest dancers from the branch. Lisa Tau and Mele Langi. They also did a great job.
At one point all the students at Cobden school participated through song. In my class the children wrote about their experience at Pacifica day. Most of them wrote about the food. One said "the food looked good but he brought his own lunch". A little girl wrote, "the pumpkin was very good but everything else was yuk." That last adjective was the most frequent used that day.
Moni and Tupou joined by two other high school girls danced for the children.