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.
In our Father's Hands
18 hours ago