Saturday, May 30, 2009

Winter is on it way

We talked with Jenni and Rob via skype video phone today. What a great service that is. The big news this time was Chase lost his first tooth and we could see very well the big hole left by it's loss. He also showed us his T-ball uniforms. They have a practice uniform and game uniform. "OH MY!" We had a nice chat with Rob as well.

As Sister Hoagland taught piano Thursday I helped little Mele with her letter recognition and read to her and her brother. They just cuddled up on the sofa. They didn't want me to go as I was warm and their house is so cold. We can be so thankful for our blessings. Only the Kinikini's seem to have a warm house and last year they had an old stove that no mater how big the fire, very little heat came from it. They got a new stove just as the winter was ending last year.

The church does not have a bishop's store house in this part of the world so they have to buy food from the grocery store here. We have a family in the branch with a father that has been unable to work for some time. Since I am available and can sign checks now as branch clerk, we were asked to assist the RS president shop for the family. Sister Hoagland and the RS President had a tough time deciding what to buy as Tongans have different tastes and cooking abilities. We tried to get a list from the family, but they just said they needed everything. We have a wonderful Moari RS president whom I think was able to help the family with cooking ideas.

We have friends who are serving their missions on tropical islands. Their sunset pictures have more picturesque settings than ours but ours are equally brilliant. The above two pictures were taken from our grocery store parking lot.
This picture of the sunrise was taken after seminary this week.
Thursday was transfer day for the Elders. We take them to Hokitika which is a half hour drive to the airport. We said good bye to Elder Heywood who is transferring to The Hutt, just north of Wellington. He will be a zone leader. Our new Elder is Elder Schipper from West Jordon, Utah. He is a fine young man but is not sure he likes the cool weather here in Greymouth. We took a diiferent route to the airport in the afternoon to pick up Elder Schipper. This picture is of the mountains directly east of Hokitika.

While we waited for the plane we did some work on the "lost sheep" program there. We were able to lacate the father of three members on our list, so we will be able to provide some addresses for them. Others we were able to determine were no longer at the address given. We will check the voter registration records to see if we can find them, but that is the only public records available except phone books which are becoming less and less helpful with so many people using cell phones only.
These pictures are on the way to Inchbonnie on Friday. We had an appointment out there but they never came after almost an hour of waiting. It was not a total loss as we found one of our "lost sheep" on the way out in Ruru.
If you enlarge these pictures you can see a waterfall at the bottom of the mountain.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

School Days

Working on the lost member list may prove to be a rewarding experience. It looks like we will find several of them, but most have never lived here and were legitimately sent out. I can see we have found a couple as they hung up as soon as they knew who I was.

We visited Sophie Clough this week. She asked us to meet her at her daughter's school. That was quite interesting and it looked like Halloween there. They were all dressed as their favorite book character. When we got there they were working on making bookmarks. These were all country children and it was quite a different atmosphere from our little inner city school we work with. Even though they were the same age as our students they were all anxiously engaged in their work. We never heard the teacher give any disciplinary direction. Sophie has not been to church in quite some time. She told us she had been in Wellington visiting her sister for a month.

Our volunteering at school has been fun and rewarding. Two of our Tongan primary children are in the class we have been assigned to help. Mele (above) just turned six and is the daughter of our Elder's Quorum President. I learned while working with her in writing that she did not know her letters. She can recite the abc's but cannot identify them individually. When the Toli's left for Australia they left their piano with Mele's family. We are now teaching Mele's sister, Hola, piano again and so while we are there I am teaching her to recognize her letters.
Above are Latai, Ha'angana, and Lisa Tau. Lisa is also in our class and we teach 2 of their siblings in seminary and the older Sister Ofa in institute. Their mother is just ready to deliver her 8th child. Lisa jumped the gun last Wednesday and announced to her school class that her mother had just had a baby girl and her name was Barbie. Having just taught her siblings, Samu and Topou in seminary we were quite surprised by the announcement. Particularly the name. Of course we went right to the hospital as soon as possible to see mother and baby, but they were not there. Did the Tongans get a laugh out of that.
On Fridays the school rugby players get to wear their A uniforms. Our boys, Poni and Tim are so handsome in theirs.
We went to watch the boys play at the rugby field just three blocks from our flat on Saturday. It is a little different here. The boys that are good will play on 3 or 4 different teams before the season is over. Here they are playing on a "West Coast" team in the red and white stripe uniforms. They were seriously out classed by the team from Christchurch. They also play two different forms of the game, one called league and the other union.
While they were playing this game, their siblings were in Hokitika playing. Sione, one of our 14 year old seminary students played two games today. One rugby league and one rugby union. This country is mad about sport. On the nightly news a full twenty minutes is given to sports. It will include up to ten different sports, from boxing, running, swimming, rowing, rugby, auto racing, golf, cricket, net ball, Yacht races, American basketball, and soccer. Soccer is not very popular here so they report on English and European soccer. They also report on games in Australia, Pakistan, and India. They do cover the major US sporting events as well. Nothing is left out.
Across the street from the rugby field is a retirement home where most of the Tongan women work. This is Mafi and Ola before they knew I was taking a picture.
This is what it looked like when they knew.
This is the time of year for beautiful sunsets. Here is what we can see from our flat. This is looking southeast.
This is looking west.
Wednesday the mutual had a barbecue at Brother & Sister Puta Langi's. The temperature outside was in the 30's F. and it was so cold in that house. The Tongan's are not doing very well this year and I don't think they have money for fuel. It is sad as they have 5 children from 3 to 12. Above our boys are keeping warm under a blanket.
This group was keeping warm by dancing to very loud music. They love having their picture taken.
This is a group picture. We had two boys from a family the elders are working with. The mother and the boy in the orange shirt came to church on Sunday. When we first called on them she would not let us in, saying she had tried to have her name removed. The Elders are optimistic that the boys will be baptized. The older sisters have some more difficult issues to overcome. Everyone thought sister Hoagland looked cold, but in reality she was warmer than most because she was warmly dress.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Assignment

Sunday morning we took our monthly trip to Westport to speak in sacrament meeting. We had a wonderful Mothers Day morning with our friends from Westport. Following the meeting block we had our usual lunch with the branch members.
Every time we go to Westport there is a different look to the country side. Early mornings are the most beautiful, but there is no time for picture taking. The sun coming over the coastal hills does wonders to the view. This trip we found this water fall that we have not seen before as it only runs right after a storm. It was not there when we came back at 2:30 pm. The hills also had a covering of snow on them that was not there when we came back in the afternoon.
This is the Buller River at Westport. Farther up stream it is narrow, fast and beautiful. I understand movie, Lord of the rings canoe scene was made about 40 miles up stream. From there it flows through miles of gorge.
We took these pictures on the way home, but were disappointed that the snow had receded back to the mountain tops. They were so beautiful in the morning with the sun just coming up.
The ocean was still stirred up as we drove home.

Sunday evening we were invited to dinner at the Kinikini's. Elder Heywood on the right was on an exchange with our Seminary student, Poni, in the sweater vest. He is a most concientious young man. From left to right Atu Kinikini, Manui Langi, Louan Kinikini on the floor. The four other children are Manui's, Lesili, salisi, Hola, and Mele. Their father was out with Elder Vialeti teaching a Tongan investigator. Tim (Peki) Kinikini is in the white t-shirt. We were not able to stay long as we were having our first YSA fireside at our flat.

Above are our YSA young women who came for the fireside. We played via our computer and Elder Davis A. Bednar's CES fireside from BYU Idaho. We did not have time to warm up the flat before they came so they are covered with our comforters. I hope the talk was not too far over their heads. Their English is conversational and not very sophisticated.
The flat behind us houses doctors for the local hospital on temporary assignment. The person using the flat when we first arrived had been using it for quite some time and had an old piano in the garage. When he stopped coming he did not want to take the piano with him so he offered it to anyone who wanted it. We finally had President Kinikini come and get it. The one at their house is in really bad shape. We will be happy to have a better piano to teach on. We are getting two more students this next week. I have no idea why my hand is on top of the piano.
Those big Tongan boys picked that thing up without any trouble. I got to stand by and watch.
Here is Taufa with his new Sister. That is going to be one spoiled little girl.

We had an interesting meeting Saturday evening for our branch PEC. The district president was here and gave training on a program from the Area Presidency. They have a big problem with locating lost members. They have developed a "Member Locator Kit" for each unit in New Zealand and Australia. During the next 3 months we are to make every effort outlined in the kit to find these people. After explaining the program via a video from the area presidency, we were given 20 minutes to come up with how and who was going to do the work. Guess who will be doing most of it. Elder and Sister Hoagland

They have this big problem because there are limited public ways to locate an individual. The phone book and voter registration. No census records, no dmv, nothing else. We have been given 53 names of people whose records were last in this branch. I guess we won't have to wonder how we are going to spend our time for the next three months. Since our branch covers nearly all the west part of the north island we have some that are quite a long distance away.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Last Saturday Elder Hoagland came down with a cold and was of little use over the weekend. He was well enough to travel to Nelson for zone conference on Monday morning. We left early so we could inspect the missionary flats. We inspected the Sister's flat first and they had made some sweet rolls for us. yum!!! We then went to the zone leader's flat and inspected there. Not too bad.
We finally went to lunch and Subway around 2:00 pm.

We were upset when we discovered that we had left the memory card for the camera in the computer at home. After shopping for piano lesson music we still had time to tour the Nelson Cathedral, which is quite beautiful inside but rather plain on the outside. It is the third church building on the sight, the first being built in the 1860's. The Cathedral was built in the 1920's and has had additions in the 1960's and a remodel in 1970's and 80's. A benefactor had provided a beautiful organ in the 1970's. Would loved to have heard it played.

We had been invited to dinner by our hosts, Rob and Sarah Venables. It had been quite some time since we had stayed with them. We love their children, who are very precocious. Sarah is from South Africa and fixed us a Moroccan dish with lamb and couscous. Sarah is very active and was not home when we stayed last time as she was on a 3 day hike. This evening she had a Pilate's class she teaches so we spent the evening with Rob and the children, reading in the scriptures (1Samuel) and then playing "Seek" and a Book of Mormon card game "Aye Nephi." Ashley is 10 and Joshua is 7. They both read very well and have a wonderful knowledge of the Gospel. Having the blessing of teaching seminary and institute we were very competitive.

Our zone conference on Tuesday was great and the Elders were excited because they finally got cell phones. That will make their planning and daily activities much easier. There had been so much phone abuse in the mission in the past that it had been resisted by past presidents. This president knows how to handle abuse. He just sends the bill to the parents or back to the Elder depending on their situation.

We finally got seminary back up and running. Now that the Kinikinis are all back they have transportation. We have made up some make up lesson for them to do. Not sure it will do them any good. Our institute girls keep forgetting to come so we tend to one week no show and double up the next week. We are going to have a single adult fireside for them Sunday night. A new 25 year old sister from Tonga just came to town and we hope she will come too. Not sure how long she will be here. Mafi told us of another Sister coming next week, so we could have a nice group. A few young men would be helpful too.
Friday we had a quick hail storm. This picture was taken through our sliding door window. That morning our friends (the Rasmussens) who are serving in Granada called us and rubbed it in by saying it was 92 degrees and they were just on there way for a swim in the ocean. We are not looking forward to winter. Our windows already are sweating every morning.

Here is Sister Hoagland with Luan (Lou Ann) Kinikini. She is a doll, although she is not too sure of white people yet.
When we arrived they were having a visit with a non member friend. It took a few tries to capture a smile from Luan.

Two of our seminary students play rugby for their high school. Tim (peki) Kinikini is the one facing the camera. This is their half time pep talk.
This is a rugby scrum and Napoe (Poni) Langi is the big guy on the right. He is a most consciencious student, in that he always wants to be here and wants everyone to behave. A very big and lovable kid.
Peki is a very good player and sacrifices his body for the cause. He really hits hard. You may see a hint of red in his hair. He is a very busy young man who goes to seminary, school, works, plays school and club rugby. He loves to tease the girls too.
While Thursday was beautiful, you do not see the 15 mph wind or the 45 degree temperature they are playing in. I had a sweater, coat, hat and scarf on. You can see that the referee has a bank logo on his shirt. All the boys have a small patch with a beer sponsor on their shirts.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Last of April

We had a pretty good number at Sacrament meeting Sunday, but Sunday school and priesthood meeting were pretty slim. Some were preparing food and Puta and his wife were moving. The primary president did not come to church or her family so Judy was left with a lot of children to care for on her own. Linda Powell came which did help. She comes very infrequently. Following church we had a meal to honor Sister Carpenter who is leaving the branch to live in Hamilton. We were also told by Manase Toli that he and the children were moving to Australia to be with his wife Kim, who has a good job over there. We will miss them so much. Mele is doing so well with her piano.

Sunday afternoon we went over to President Kinikini's where he told us that Elder Richard G. Scott, was in Tonga to take care of some issues with leadership there. President Kinikini's father hosted Elder Scott for dinner in his home and Atu (Presidents wife) was the translator. It was a special occasion to say the least for them and they felt blessed. Atu took a carrot cake all the way to Tonga for the occasion.

Atu was in Tonga to finish up the paperwork for their adoption. They have been working on the adoption before baby was born and we arrived. President was in Tonga for two weeks over a month ago and Atu was finally able to bring the baby home yesterday.
Here is our new member of the branch ...... She is with her sister Moni and father Taina Kinikini.

Monday evening I had the privileged to give Sister Iraia's granddaughter a name and a blessing. Wirini Sharyl Iraia. The babies parents had us over for a Maori dinner at Christmas time. They are also moving to greener pastures. President Kinikini picked me up and we drove there and back in a driving rain storm. It turns out that we had 7 inches in 4 hours time. At 9:00 pm I went to the Elder's flat to do a flat inspection. There was local flooding on the way and any higher and I would have been stuck.

It turns out that many areas flooded with people being evacuated and we saw street cleaning activity down town the next morning. I understand our bank had water in it. The wind and rain don't seem to effect the area where we live. We assist teachers at the Cobden school every morning from 11-12 and the teachers were having the children write about their experiences during the rain storm. We heard some very interesting things with water moving play structures around yards, etc. We also helped Sister Carpenter with last minute work before she left for Hamilton. We will miss her.

I took My son-in-laws advice right away when he suggested I buy pills with Glucosamine and Chondrotin to help with a stiffness in my right hip. It took a few weeks to really start working, as the clerk indicated, but it has really been effective.

We have to go to a doctor every three months to get our prescriptions refilled. Our doctor is a young energetic internist. Physicians here are not treated as royalty, and the term doctor is rarely used. Our appointment is with "Tim." We had an appointment last summer on one of the few days that was warm and he was dressed in shorts and sandals. He does all the examining so there isn't a nurse who takes blood pressure or weight, etc. We talked about what we both thought was an over reaction concerning the swine flu.

We have a family in the branch that the Elders are working with and I go with them because there is no responsible male in the home. Mother is a member but none of the children. The mother and father are divorced and she blames the church for not helping her with an abusive husband. I'm not sure why they let us come as they are a very profane and coarse bunch. I suppose it is because they like the Elders. The daughters are very pretty girls but have potty mouths. On Tuesday our attempt was to teach repentance. We came back the next day with one of the zone leaders who is a 28 year old German. He and I had a pretty good discussion with the mother and youngest daughter about morals, and the importance of the gospel. Elder Heywood was helping the oldest daughter with her chemistry homework. When sister Hoagland and I first visited there, she would not let us in, so maybe we are making some headway.
This is the Twilight display at the "warehouse store." Just so you know it is big here too. This store is a Walmart want to be. The only store in town for many house hold items and clothing. Everything else is specialty shops. We do have some chain electronics stores, but they are very small here.
Here are some primary children having their meal after church last Sunday. From left to right are Lopeti, Taufa, Etueni, Nuku and Maui. Sister Hoagland had about 15 children of all ages to teach by herself. She was very disappointed that she can't get more help. Because the president and his wife have been out of town so much we have not had leadership meetings as we should so nothing is getting done right now.