Friday, June 26, 2009

Zone Conference

It was a beautiful day today with plenty of sunshine and NO WIND. I helped President Kinikini pick up and deliver a load of coal to a branch family. Sister Hoagland and I went to support our primary boys in their rugby matches this afternoon.

President Kinikini asked me to speak this Sunday on anything I thought the branch might need. Having just been called as the branch clerk and seeing how out of balance our fast offering income and outgo is, I thought that would be a good subject. While we were together I took the opportunity to give him a taste of what I had in mind. He is a very good man and supports what I am going to say.

We were in Nelson this week for zone conference and stayed with the Venables. Rob is in the district presidency and in country about three years from England. He said that he has tried to change the way fast offering funds are used but has had very little success. It seems to be treated as a slush fund for people who run a little short with no accountability on the part of recipients.

We had a good zone conference this week with good counsel and training. Sister Hoagland and I had to role play in front of the group. Sister Jolliffe played the part of a 14 year old. Our role was to commit her to study and pray to gain faith in Jesus Christ. I think we did all right, but it does take you out of your comfort zone. We were told that we would be giving a work shop next conference. The Nelson branch provides lunch for our meetings and it was great.
Here are two of our students arriving for seminary. You can see that it was pretty cold that morning. We had had a week of 32 degree weather. Poni is wearing one of the girls shawls and her flower in his hair. They have no issues with their masculinity. All the students used our scale after class and all were at least 20 pounds heavier than me. These are big people. They have been pretty lax on their attendance lately. We are concerned but considering there is little support at home, we are grateful that they come at all.
This is the road into downtown Nelson. The tide was out but still we had a beautiful view. Sun is very low in the sky here a good deal of the day making driving challenging at times.

Elder Gibbons is from England and President Jolliffe was his stake president. President Jolliffe set him apart for his mission and has been his mission president for almost a year now. He returns home in October. It should be noted that our mission is sending home nearly one missionary per transfer for not following mission rules. They are not fooling around anymore. One was sent home with the option to continue his mission later for not telling the mission president what his companion was up to.
Sister Vea and Sister Lynch are wonderful. We inspected their flat this week while in Nelson. Sister Vea, who is Tongan, keeps asking me to help her get transferred to Greymouth. I think she could do a great work here. Sister Lynch is from Australia and been out 6 months.
Friday night we had a branch activity but we didn't have many there. Sister Araia did a great job organizing games and we all had fun. We had way too many refreshments and for some reason the Tongan families, other than the presidents, did not show up. I think we had more non members there than members.
Activity over and kids playing around.
Our Moni cleaning up.
Mafi went to district conference and we introduced her to President and Sister Jolliffe. She learned that she could be called on a mini mission if there was a need. She was so excited at the prospect that she has borrowed one of our "Preach My Gospel" manuals and is studying very hard. She came to church dressed like a missionary and even borrowed Sister Hoagland's name tag. She is so fun.
Here are our girls after church. We are always happy when Ofa comes to church. The branch is making a concerted effort to get members to the temple this year. Ofa has expressed a desire to go as well, but not being a member she can't do baptism's like the others. We hope that is an incentive to work on her father who will not allow the children to join.

We are loving the work and the Lord has blessed us richly. This week we have been here for 1 year. We have had some great success with the "Lost Sheep" program by finding many who are still here in the branch and obtaining addresses for those who have moved. We have cleared 32 of the 53 names given to us to find.

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