Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shanty Town

On Tuesday of last week we had a wonderful opportunity to join our school class to a small theme park just outside Greymouth. It is a private museum of west coast history with many original buildings of the early mining days of the area. After entering the park the children were led to the one-room school house. Here they were told some rules and then they were all dressed in period costume, including teachers, parents and us. The first thing we noticed was that this was going to be a Christmas theme activity. The park instructor immediately asked the children why we celebrated Christmas. When told it was to celebrate the birth of Jesus, she asked them why that was important. It got pretty specific, He was God's son, etc.

Most people in New Zealand do not attend church, many do not marry but have "Partners", and there are also Atheists a plenty. They do not have a constitution which they can missuse to eliminate all religion in the public domain. Their celebration of Christmas in the schools is not unlike what it was like when I was a child. I know that many of the Christmas carols I know today were learned first in school.

After they were dressed they returned to the class room and made some Christmas crafts. Paper chains, peace doves, greeting cards, etc. This was a little above these youngster's skill levels and we were very busy helping them.
These pictures are out of order. The last thing we did before changing back into our own clothes was to take their little train ride. It was a ride straight into the bush, past a gold panning, and saw mill exhibits and straight back on the same track. about 8 minutes round trip.

The bush from the train.
One of the photo ops in the park.
Elder and Sister Hoagland ready for the experience.

One of the games they taught the children.

This is our class. They are holding their Khristingles (sic) they made earlier.

Before lunch the teacher had the children march into the church on site for singing of carols and then they were taught the story of the nativity. Our little Osika Langi was Joseph.

Here are Mary and Joseph with the donkey looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem. The children were on the right and the mothers with cameras were on the left.
The children are being taught to make their Kristingles. The photographer on the right is from the local paper.
Teacher, Mrs. Kitchin getting things in order. We so much enjoy working with Mavis and her students.
Here is Osika and Veronica playing with the school ground toys.
Elder Hoagland watching the children eat their lunch.
Here are the girls after dressing in their costumes. There were two classes, rms. 1 & 2 here. Class one only as 3 girls out of 15.
Here the students have just arrived and are waiting to enter Shanty Town. One of the students is asking the S T teacher a question and everyone seems to be very interested in what is being asked except Osika, who has that problem more that Mrs. Kitchin would like.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Education week

Another action packed week. Sister Hoagland and I were able to visit with the Elder's investigators, in one case providing child care while the lesson was taught. We were also involved with speaking in church, teaching institute and primary and priesthood classes.

Two weeks ago we visited a less active family who invited us to come to the community play center on grandparents day. There are play centers in many communities funded by the education ministry. Parents come with their children and watch and help them play with many available activities. There is no structured play, things are just provided and the kids move from one thing to the next at their own pace and desire. They go two days a week for a couple of hours and everyone shows up with refreshments, etc.
This little girl was assisted by her mother to dress up like Snow White.
The large sand box is a favorite of the older children.
Play dough is prepared and the children come and go playing in the stuff
Sister Hoagland is helping at the crafts table. The colored glue came off easy. Sofie is behind the counter (center) fixing us "Milo," Her Sister-in-law was also there assisting her. She will be taking the lessons. That is her feeding Sofie's baby, who just turned one and is walking.
Lots of tools for the little carpenters. One of the grandpa's is helping out. We enjoyed having a long visit with Sophi and her two toddlers. They live 45 minutes from church and find it hard to make it there. They are a wonderful family and hope they will be able to attend more often. They want to baptize their soon to be 8 year old son in February.
It must be a characteristic of the islanders to stay pretty close to home. There is not much variety of scenery in Tonga so I assume travel and sightseeing is not what they do there on there rather small Island. Our youth have lived here for 5 years and we have taken them places close by that they have not been too. This week we took our institute girls to see "Punakaiki", just north of here on the way to Westport. This is the path leading to the attractions, pancake rocks, and blowholes. It is a very beautiful spot.
Here are the girls, Mafi and Ofa, who just have a wonderful time no matter where they are. They are celebrating their 19th birthdays. Last year we showed you the big party they were given by their parents.
We were fortunate to have fairly clear weather while there as we passed through a storm on the way and things got worse all day. Their are some very beautiful seascapes here.

Nesting birds on the pancake rocks.
We took this picture while the children were forming to sing a song to be videoed for their new school website. They sang a pirate song.
Here are the results of their hard work. Some of their written work, crafts and pictures are hung on the wall. Some children are pictured in the port holes and others "swabbing the deck." Included are the teacher, top left, two aids, and Elder & Sister Hoagland top right.
Friday we went to the technical school graduation where Sister Kinikini and Mafi graduated from their "care givers" class. It will provide them more money in their employment. President Kinikini was inspired after the exercises to possibly take some classes. Their boss is also the teacher at the school. We have tried to encourage our youth to get all the education they can. We hoped we could talk Mafi into going to BYU Hawaii, but she didn't want to leave home.

The Tsunami in Samoa has brought the Island community together here in Greymouth. It started with a large fund raising program at the local theater. Greymouth raised $15,000.00 with there 10,000 population. Christchurch, with over 60,000.00 people only raised $40,000.00. Since then each island group has had their own function where all the other pacific islanders were invited. Saturday was Tonga's activity where all pacific islanders came to support them. Above is our Tupoa and her sister Lisa dressed in island costume.
After a big feed, the Tongan's demonstrated their cova ceremony. Here Sister Kinikini is describing how the ceremony is conducted. Her daughter Moni is the woman who prepares the cova.
After the cova is prepared, young ladies serve the participants one at a time. The church has allowed cova to be consumed by members only during these ceremonies. They are given only a small portion here. Unfortunately, many find it a social activity and excuse it as cultural.
There are Fijian's, Samoan's and Tongan's in this circle. Topou is giving the first portion to the man designated for this demonstration as the chief. Baby Lou Ann Kinikini is an extra added attraction. President Kinikini is sitting in the corning nursing a sore back. He has been off work now for three weeks because he fell off his ladder trimming trees. I don't think he could sit that way on the floor right now.
The activity was held at one of the three rugby (football) clubs in town. This one in Blake town, just west of downtown Greymouth.
Sister Hoagland in her Tongan garb. We are hoping that the weather changes so we don't need coats.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Transfers and school days

This week we said good bye to Elder Schipper and said hello to Elder Beckwith. Elder Beckwith is from Adelaide, Australia, making this period the first we have not had an Elder from USA. He is a fine young man and are looking forward to working with him. We had six hours between the time we dropped off Elder Schipper until we picked up Elder Beckwith at the Hokitika airport. We decided to take a quick trip to the glaciers a couple of hours south of here. Because of un-anticipated delays we had to rush to see the glacier and get back in time to pick Elder Beckwith.

We also had an unexpected meal with our youth at the flat Sunday,
After our work at the library this afternoon, we found these two hungry Tongan's. We brought them home and they began to make themselves banana sandwiches.
Sunday was the day for speakers to come from the district. Because it is so far for them to come, we always prepare a meal for them and send them on their way well fed. We planned to provide that meal this time but the brother and sister declined the offer because they had his mother in law with them and she was having some difficulty. We were going to also have President and Sister Kinikini with us but their baby daughter was ill. We had no trouble finding a way to take care of the food prepared. Tongan youth.
While they were waiting we had Pony do a make-up for seminary. He was absent a few too many days. Here he and his sister are working on his assignment. Above, a couple of others joined them in the effort. Our Relief Society President was also there and we had a great discussion on gospel doctrine with the youth. They had a great time trying to answer gospel questions. Some of the answers were really funny and caused much enjoyment by all.
Sister Hoagland had her cyst removed a couple of weeks ago and had the bandages removed last week. We are glad that is over. It was tested and was not dangerous.
Thought you would like to see our growing garden.
We were surprised to see how different things were at the Fox Glacier. We had some very heavy rains early last winter and it caused many land slides. The area where we viewed the glacier in January was no long there so we did not have a high perch to view from. We were now on the canyon floor looking up at it. This shot shows some people climbing the face of the glacier, which must be done with a guide. Others hike up the left side onto the top. We could not see them from here, but they were there.
There are two other ways to see the glacier. You can take a helicopter to fly over and even to land on it near the top.
Elder Palanite took our picture here. They are paving the road from the main highway to near the parking lot. This caused some delays which made us rush our visit and made us 5 minutes late picking up Elder Beckwith.
Here is our good bye picture with Elder Schipper. He is off to Wellington area. He tells us his new area has even more food for him and he is worried about getting fat. He says his face really show the fat now.
The Monday after we returned from Nelson the Elders had to drive up for interviews with the mission president. Since it was "P" day the all got together for a hike up to the same place we went. The center of New Zealand. It is a small zone but with great missionaries.
While we were in class, outside the New Zealand police were teaching students how to ride safely. I think they went through the whole school that day.

All the school is having a section on pirates. These kind of pictures will go in their term book and sent home for family to enjoy along with their school papers and projects. This was my meanest pirate face.
Each Friday four classes join together in an assembly in one of the four rooms. This week was room 2's turn to host and they were preparing little skits to present to the other classes. The children were divided up into groups of three or four to come up with their pirate skit. The class, when we are there sometimes have as many as 5 adults there, one teacher, 2 aids (for two autistic children) and us. Each of us took a group and came up with a skit. Great fun!
This was Sister Hoagland's group.
Here is a faithful crew member trying to revive his poisoned captain with the evil mutineers in the background.
Talia and Veronica are pretty little Maori girls. Conner is the cute little blond polangi (white boy). We are here 3 or 4 times a week helping during their reading time. It is great to see their progress. Their methods are so different than how we think our schools do it. They rely on illustrated books which pretty much tell what the words are. Phonics is looked down upon. That is why they have some pretty strange ways of pronouncing words. Phonics would standardize how they emphasized syllables and pronounce words, but as it is, it is different in every part of the country.