Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Primary week

A couple of weeks ago we visited a family that lives a considerable distance from Greymouth and discovered they were in some serious need of assistance. Because Elder Hoagland is the branch clerk, we went with the Relief Society President to buy food for the family. There is no bishop's store house on the south island. All our members, with the exception of the Relief Society president are poor with little in reserve. We have been trying to encourage President Kinikini to teach the principles of self reliance. Some are using the church for their rainy day fund. They will splurge on something and then come and ask for help with rent or utilities, etc. This latest situation was not similar, in that they had used up absolutely everything in the cupboards.

We had seven visitors at church on Sunday. Two were from Auckland, two from the Mohave Desert in California, and three young surfer boys from So. Cal. We were particularly impressed with these young men. One had been in country 8 months earning some money, but mostly surfing. His brother and a friend joined him recently and they have been traveling in a van around the country surfing. The impressive thing was, they came to church with white shirts and ties, participated in priesthood meeting, and took this occasion to pay tithing on their meager earnings . They have stayed in town for a few days and yesterday we learned that they were out door knocking with our Elders. We are using them as an example in seminary of how we should live when no one is watching.
Sister Hoagland had a little surgery today to remove a sebaceous cyst. It has been growing on her arm for about three months. It became very sore and annoying. She now has 9 stitches on her wrist. The dark spot in the middle was where one doctor a couple of weeks ago lanced it, but that was very painful and useless.
We joined a gym about 10 months ago, which has been very beneficial. We do know that it takes more than exercise to loose weight. Elder Hoagland has developed a very hard but still large stomach on this machine.
The gym has a collection of home made and branded machines.
First repetition I don't look to bad but by the tenth I am gritting my teeth. There is no heat in the building and in the dead of winter the metal handles are like ice.
A little gym humor.
Sunday was our primary program. The children did great. On the left is Astra Pagaddue, a single sister from the Philippines, Primary 2nd counselor, and Cora Kitchin, also from the philippines, President. Sister Kitchin is married to the presidents counselor. Her little girl, Corianna, is in pink on the front row. Some of the boys are going to be very big men. Iraia, white shirt in the middle is three. The boy on the right in green and yellow (Richard) is seven. We printed a copy of this picture for all the parents to have.
Monday was a holiday here, and we had a pizza party for the primary children. 15 children showed up and four mothers and one dad. Needless to say, we had to go and get more pizza. They went through 8 pizzas and 4 liters of ice cream.
Here is Ha'angana Tau and his mother Noila. Noila is also the mother of our institute student, Ofa, and seminary students, Tupau and Sam. We hope some day their father will allow them to join the church.
Hola Langi and her mother Manui. Hola is one of Sister Hoagland's piano students.
Manui (76) had all 5 of her children there. Ola on the left had her three boys there and is pregnant with their forth. Osika on the far right is in the school class we help. He is is need of help with his abc's so we hope to work with him and some others during the last portion of our mission.

Our area president, Elder Baxter, was released as area president due to ill health. He had to return to church headquarters for surgery. We ask for your prayers in his behalf. Elder Tad Callister has been called to replace him. Elder Callister spoke in conference early this month and gave a powerful testimony of Joseph Smith and his teaching of the Godhead. We recommend it to all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zone conference

We had the pleasure of attending a program at the Regency Theater in town to raise money for thsumami relief in Tonga and Samoa. Our people performed their Pacific Island dances along with many other acts. It went on way too long as they did not want to turn anyone away who wanted to participate. It started at 7:00 pm and was still going when we left at 9:30. We had just returned from zone conference so we were a little tired anyway.

Last Friday we drove again to Blenheim to inspect the flat of the Elders there. For the first time we have two Tongan's working together in our zone. They are two great young men and their flat was well taken care of . One of them has just learned to drive in NZ and has picked up a limited use drivers license. They are doing a lot of walking.
We see the spring colors coming to the upper Buller river region as we drove home from Blenheim.
Sunday E Hoagland drove to Westport to speak in church. After meetings they all gather for a light meal to send us on our way home. Sister Thea Williams is the Sunday School teacher, President Van den Bosch is branch president. Sister Van den Bosch is to his right. She teaches Relief Society and plays the organ. Brian Anderson is counselor to Pres. V. There were three primary boys at church, one a visitor. Taking pictures while people are eating make for real bad photo's, sorry. Sister Hoagland stayed in Greymouth to see her student play for sacrament meeting for the first time. She also wanted to help with the primary program which is this Sunday.
Elder Hoagland took Tim Kinikini with him. He is sixteen and everyone thought he was a new missionary in our branch. Reg Barrell is the Elder's quorum president and branch clerk. The boys are his grandchildren and their mother is less active. Tim told me on the way up that he would like to go to the US and play American football. If anyone knows of a coach that needs a big, strong Rugby player for his HS team let us know. Tongan's are big, strong and fast and the most tender hearted souls.
This week was zone conference and we stay with Rob and Sarah Venables. Rob is in the district presidency. They are gracious hosts and Sarah fixed a shrimp and fish spaghetti dish on this occasion. They have a lovely new home and their children are delightful. Josh is 7 and Ashley is 11. While Rob and Josh were at cub scouts, Ashley killed us in a game of scrabble. She read all of the "Twilight" series when she was 9 & 10. They are just 4 years in country from the UK and Rob is an executive at the "Sealord" plant there in Nelson.
At zone conference Sister Jolliffe taught a class on presenting family home evenings. Here she is demonstrating on Elder Tukuafu some of the fun dress up activities. She was almost too short to place the lamb hat on Elder T's head.

We have been excited about the prospect of having another couple in our zone serving in Westport. Sadly we learned that they will delayed because of visa issues. New Zealand has been getting tough on immigration since the change in government here. It could be two to three months before they are able to come. We thought we had given our last talks in Westport but maybe not.

We are still enjoying the October conference. It was filled with so many wonderful talks. I loved Elder Oaks talk where he taught that God's love for us does not excuse us from following his commandments. Even though He loves us, we are still accountable for our actions. Likewise, even though we love our children, we cannot excuse them when they fail to live the standards of the gospel of Christ. "If you love me you would accept my bad behavior" does not wash. God does not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance and neither should we, loving them not withstanding.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This was our conference weekend. We went to the church to watch on DVD on Saturday and Sunday. Only the branch president and his family were there on Saturday morning, so President said they would just take the discs home and watch the afternoon session there. We have been watching via the internet so that was fine with us.

Sunday morning we had a good group of people. We watched the Sunday afternoon session then because we thought it was the best of the two and more people would be able to see it. It was a wonderful conference this year, with great instruction and testimonies. We watched Elder Hollands talk four times. We watched it first live, then showed it to the Elders, then to our institute Sisters, and again Sunday morning. It never got old. Loved it and learned more each time.

Monday morning we discussed the seminary students favorite talks. They are such great kids. Moni watched at least three sessions and liked Elder Bednars talk. The others expressed their favorites too but I can't recall what they were.

It was a marvelous week for seeing the country side this week. We made three trips out of town. First we went on an activity with our institutes young women. It was supposed to include the seminary kids as well, but they had other things to do. The boys were on a service project with our Elders. We first went to Hokitika Gorge with Ofa, Mafi, and Tupoa. It was a perfectly beautiful day and we all had a wonderful time.
This is the Hokitika valley, which is full of green pasture which is used pretty exclusively for Dairy farming. As you can see it is surrounded by snow- capped mountains.
Out in the middle we found this monument to war dead.
Mafi having fun near the cow paddock.
We were pleased to see that the New Zealand nature preserve people had made some improvements to the gorge experience. They built a new parking area and new trails. Before there was only a short but quite steep trail to the bridge. The new trail leads from the parking lot through an area high above the river looking down on the "swing bridge."
For the first time from the same view point you can see the river leave the gorge and enter the beautiful Hokitika valley.
The color of the water we are told comes from algae that grows in the glaciers that feed many of the west coast rivers.
Here are the girls at the new view point. They were just having a great time together. One of their cameras had 134 pictures of this little trip. They were climbing trees and rocks just like 9 year olds.
A view along the path to the bridge.
Mafi posing for us.
It was hard to get a good picture on the bridge because there is so much movement. It is called a swing bridge for a reason. Sister Hoagland has a hard time crossing it.
Elder Hoagland got in a picture too.
from the bridge.

They were pretty worn out by the time we left Hokitika. Tupau joined them moments later. We provided some snacks. Thinking we were going to have more of us we had provided a good amount of snacks. No worry, these three ate them all with a little help from E/S Hoagland. They consumed 2 boxes of crackers, 15 cheese slices, 18 trail bars, two, 1 liter bottles of pop.
They have been replacing a one way bridge on the coast highway and it was our luck to get behind a very wide load. This trailer had hydraulics that lifted the load at least 6 ft. so it would clear the bridge side rails. Interesting to watch, but we were in a hurray to get to our piano lessons.
Tuesday we traveled to see the Thomas's. We have not seen them for some time. The last time we went out they were not home after calling to get an appointment. Sharlene is the daughter of Doug Thoms, who a few years back was the branch president. Doug lost his home a few months ago and moved to Christchurch where he is living with his wife in much better quarters and happy as he can be.
Scott Thoms was baptized earlier this year. Here Sister Hoagland is petting one of their two pet goats. They have not been to church for a long time because they have lost jobs and have no money for petrol, just goats, dogs and cats.
Here are some of the calves at Inchbonnie.
We go through Moana on the shores of Lake Brunner to get to Inchbonnie. The covered boat in the Jenney ll.
The train station at Moana. The train from Christchurch comes through here. The rest of the traffic is mostly coal trains.
Thursday we drove to Westport to look for a flat for the new missionary couple who will be assigned there. We found them a relatively new flat that should meet their needs. On the way home we made a little deture to the seal colony just south of Westport. It was a fairly nasty day, so Sister Hoagland stayed in the car while Elder Hoagland walked the trail to the viewing platforms.

The seals are black and from where we had to stand to see them they looked like big slugs lying around. Most of them were babies.
This gives you an idea of the weather we were having.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Temple Week

This was temple week for our district. We had 10 members from the branch make the effort to attend the Temple in Hamilton New Zealand. Report is that they had a wonderful experience and spent many hours (6:45-6:00 pm) Tuesday through Thursday in doing the Lords work in the temple. We would have loved to have been able to join them but we are not allowed to leave our mission boundary. They all came back with strengthened testimonies which they bore Sunday.
Here are three of the Aaronic priesthood boys who did baptisms at the temple. Sione was the youngest and we are told the most effected by the experience. We took this as they were ready to leave for Christchurch where they flew to Auckland and then drove down to Hamilton. They were able to borrow cars from family members in the area to save money.

While we were waiting for the group to form before departing we saw a neighborhood goat that found its self some time of freedom.
Also down at the river, there were "white bait" fishermen at work. I was told that the white strips made it easier to see the fish who swim in schools, are very small, and have clear bodies. They love them in sandwiches. We have not yet tasted them.
In our walk through the neighborhood we found spring is coming on fast. As I write this the north island was having a winter storm with a lot of wet snow. The Hawks Bay area and the central plains got it bad, with people stranded because of the unexpected snow. Farmers are without electricity and are unable to milk their cows. Others have lost their little lambs. We, on the other hand were having a beautiful day. Greymouth recorded the highest temperature in the country, 60 degrees.

This week we said good bye to a very productive Elder. Elder Vaioleti had seven baptisms in the 6 months he was here. That equaled last years baptisms for the whole of the Nelson Zone. The zone has 17 baptisms already this year. With the departure of Elder Vaioleti, we welcomed back Elder Palaniti. He will finish his mission here in December. We love him and wish him success here. He had to return home for knee surgery and has been back for a while.

Jenni and Rob were offered a four night, four day, trip to an elite vacation at Three Forks Ranch in Wyoming. Rob's Sister in law was kind enough to take their four children while they were gone. They said they had a wonderful time, with their favorite activity being fishing. Here Jenni is trying her hand at skeet shooting. I understand she got three out of fifty, with the successes coming with her eyes closed.
One wonders how many times these fish have been caught over their life span. They are all released.
The fish were quite large and fun to catch. They had guides that did all the work and training. They also recorded their catches. Pretty fancy fishing accessories.
As Jenni is allergic to horses, she did not go on the horseback trails. She went fishing again and Rob, as you can see was not happy, nor did the horse look that excited. He later went fishing by himself and caught several more fish.