A friend of ours, Guillermo Rodriquez, asked us some questions about our living conditions as well as the locals. Here is our reply to him.
We live in a rather isolated area from the major population centers of New Zealand. It is in many ways a very modern country, in that it has all the consumer products available in the US. It also has all the cars, trucks, vans made in japan and Korea with a much larger variety found in the US. Large semi trucks are made in Japan by Mitsubishi and others. Another popular line of cars is from Australia called the Holden. They are much like the US cars, without the full sized models. No very large SUV's.
In Greymouth the vast majority of people heat with coal and wood stoves. The upper middle class have central heating, mostly heat pumps. There is very little insulation in the ceiling and walls and only recently have they mandated double glazing. We have very wet windows in the morning and when the wind blows the heat is sucked right out of the house. When we came here the flat was being heated by two electric heaters. One on the wall and another portable. It was extremely expensive and did not heat the bedrooms or bathroom area. To keep the moisture down we have to use a dehumidifier which adds about 30.00 to $40.00 per month during the coldest weather. We had friends who had served in the very same flat several years ago and they told us they bought a propane heater and it was much better. We found it in the garage and have used it ever since. It only cost $60.00 a month vs. $150.00. You are talking about heating only a space smaller than the Relief Society room at church.
When we go to zone and district conferences we stay with a family with a brand new home with all the conveniences. It cost in the neighborhood of $500.00 US and is smaller than our home in Salem. They use a heat pump and have large gas cylinders at the side of their garage used for cooking fuel. There is no natural gas or piped gas lines in the country. It is delivered by truck as needed.
The Tongan's in the branch are some of the less affluent in country. In the coldest weather the family heats one room and they put mattresses on the floor in that room and live there watching tv for three months until it warms up. Their kitchens are very cold during that time. Inspite of this all their children have cell phones and texting is much more popular here because the cost of calling is very high.
We made our last trip to Nelson this week. We had district conference Saturday and Sunday. It was sad as we have made some wonderful friends there. Every time we go there, these wonderful people prepare us wonderful meals for zone conference, seminary activities, and conferences. You would think they were professional caterers. We also knew many of them when they would visit Greymouth in the capacity as district officers. Lovely people.
The Venable family are the ones we know the best as they opened their beautiful new home to us anytime we needed a bed. We always had a lovely dinner waiting for us when we arrived in town. Recently we have shared picnics and motor races with them. Above are Rob and the children, Joshua (8) and Ashley (11). They are our New Zealand grandchildren. They moved here 3 years ago from the UK. Rob is chief engineer at the Sea Lord food processing plant. He was released Sunday as a counselor in the district presidency as he was called recently to be Nelson branch president. We will miss them all greatly.
Elder Hoagland is sitting next to Sister Chadderton, whom we first met in Greymouth when she came as a member of the Young Woman president. On the right is Sister Venables. Sister Sarah Venables was born and raised in South Africa. When conditions were intolerable, her family returned to England. She received her university education there and is a physical therapist. She is also a marvelous homemaker and cook.
Ashley likes it a little warmer. This was before conference bagan and the weather warmed up. Ashley seemed the most effected by our leaving. She is such a sweet and intelligent young lady. Sister Hoagland borrowed her copy of "Breaking Dawn" shortly after we arrived here. Elder Hoagland is speaking to a visitor from SLC in the background. Sister Smith has two son-in-laws who are currently serving as mission presidents. One in the philippines, and we can't remember where the other is serving. Here husband also served as the MTC president in London a number of years ago.
We went to the motor races at a dirt track with brother Venables Saturday evening. In the picture is Rob V. Ashley V. and her friend. Behind them is Reg Barrow from West Port Branch.
Reg's grandson's came with him and we all stayed with the Venables. Here are the boys playing with Joshua's race car set in the garage.
Some of our Greymouth branch waiting for conference to begin. President & Sister Kinikini, Lou Anne K. and Hola Langi.
Our primary boys.
Aho and Manui Langi, parents of Hola.
Sister June Boyte, Moni Kinikini and Hola L.
Some pictures from the motor races. It was Elder Hoagland's first experience at a motor race. The cars would throw clay clods on us everytime the pasts to close. We had one spectacular crash on this corner before I remembered I had my camera with me.
They had one group of motorcycle racers with the side cart guy leaning to the ground. They had the most exciting finishes of the meet.
There is a couple of Sisters serving in Nelson. We have been assigned to inspect the missionary flats every six weeks. This is our last visit here. They are both from Tonga and wish the were sent to Greymouth. There are no Tongan's in Nelson, only Moari.
Here are our Elders sharing our Thanksgiving chicken. Elder Palanite and Elder Beckwith. This morning, Sister Hoagland found a Christmas turkey on sale for $80.00. It was about 12 pounds we think. They listed it as a #6 . Our chicken was a #3. As you can see it is strawberry season here.
2 days ago