Tuesday, April 11, 2017

PARTING IS TRULY SUCH SWEET SORROW.  July 24 we took our last taxi ride to the Sydney airport only to find many dear friends waiting there.  Bishop and Sister Jeffrey were there with their happy faces along with Julia, Coco, Lily, Joanna and of course Lainey.  We were able to get checked in and have time to chat and have good laughs about many of our experiences together.  Each of these dear friends have a special place in our hearts.

It was a teary farewell knowing we would not see most of these wonderful souls again in this life.  How thankful we are for the friendships and experiences we had together.

We got situated into our "snug" seats for the 15 hr. flight to L.A., followed by another 3 hrs to SLC.  Of course the anticipation of seeing our family again kept us pretty pumped during that final leg.  And what a joyous reunion it was with everyone (especially me) crying, screaming, hugging and accepting the warm welcome home.  We marveled how the grandchildren had grown and changed and basked in the love of family once again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I feel like the slacker-blogger so this might be lengthy and dated.  Where to begin.....
The 13 senior couples in our mission helped with 2 mission conferences.  We were assigned different workshops to present and helped some with the food.  There were about 80 missionaries at each conference and it was so fun to see missionaries we have served with in the past.  Pre. & Sis. Checketts plan such great conferences , 9-4:00, with great teaching, fun activities and workshops.  Our workshop was on Good Grooming so we did some fun games, etc to emphasize the ideas.  The missionaries are all so fun.

I have been teaching English to a beautiful woman from India for almost a year.  She loves to come to the church and has attended quite a few activities with her husband and daughter.  They are Hindu and don't want to change but they are delightful.  They invited us to their flat for dinner and it was AMAZING Indian food.  Great memories.

We went whale watching with Lems, Willis and Dingers.  It was a very cold day so we “rugged up” with all the layers we could.  It was sunny and windy.  We left from Darling Harbour and out the head at Watson Bay.  There were many pods of whales migrating from the Antartic to the warmer waters in Queensland to birth.  We were able to see quite a few close up.  We took motion sickness meds before we left and no one got seasick. When we got back into the harbor the sun was setting and the wind picked up and we about froze .  We stopped in Darling Harbour for a bite to eat and then home to warm up.

Saturday 2 good guys were baptized – Fernando and White.  A lot of members and investigators came and it was a good service.   Again the walk back to the train station was quite chilly.  We stopped for burgers in World Square.

We sold our house and have to be out by Aug. 30.  It was pretty amazing and we know the Lord had a hand in this miracle.  The first people who looked , on the first day it was listed, gave an offer 2 weeks later.  We countered and they accepted so if all goes well it is a done deal.  Not sure where us homeless souls will go but it is a step in the right direction.
Our ward did a day of service on the Sydney temple grounds.  We prepared lunch for everyone and we ate there before we began.  About 28 YSA and leaders came and everyone had a grand time cleaning and trimming part of the gardens.

We were invited to the "leavers " dinner.  (Allan was glad it wasn't the quitters dinner).  There were 14 missionaries leaving and it was fun to spend the eve with them and Pres. & Sis. Checketts.  We are pointing at where we RETURN TO.  Cute idea.

We had a fun FHE with the senior couples last night and they "roasted" us.  But we told them we had already been "aged" so no need to roast.  But it was a really fun and memorable time with these great seniors.

Well we had our LAST Sunday on the mission and I must say it was way too emotional.  So many good byes, hugs and pictures.  There are so many of these beautiful young adults that we will carry in our hearts forever.  We have watched them struggle and rise above so many challenges.  Some stayed the course and others are floundering but they all have such good hearts.  We had lunch and dinner appointments every day last week.  A fun Chinese group, some 30 plus friends, lots of special friends like Giulia from Italy and Lainey , Tina and Joanna from China and many more.

Monday, June 20, 2016

We have enjoyed the past 3 weeks of festivities in Sydney VIVID.  Throughout the city and at the harbors and Botanical gardens there were amazing laser light shows.  The buildings, Opera House, Sydney Bridge and locations all over the city were awash with lights and designs for 3 weeks.  We went with our YSA group and the Elders and Sisters one night and with the 10 Senior couples and President & Sister Checketts another time and just quiet evenings by ourselves.  Every place was different but equally beautiful.

We had a good baptism last night.  Nicole from Hong Kong was baptized and another girl from Greenwich ward.  The spirit was very strong and lovely.  I was so moved with the thought that all these baptisms we have gone to in the past year have been such a blessing in my life.  We have probably witnessed 58 baptisms, more that I have seen in a lifetime.  Beautiful young adults from all over the world who have embraced the gospel in varying degrees and lengths of time.  What a blessing to be witness this miracle.  I will never again witness a convert baptism with the same eyes.

We have such fun markets to shop at here.  On Saturdays there outdoor markets at several beaches and other locations.  We were at Manly Beach market with the other couples and watched an amazing violinist.  We got one of his CDs and enjoyed his music almost as much as the fish and chips.  This was the last trip to this beach before winter "set in", which means 70* instead of 85*.

We have another fun market which is indoors but full of crazy Aussie souvenirs.  We have already sent home a suitcase full of "stuff" with Brittany for the grandkids.  We took our new comrades, the Lems and then stopped at Time For Thai and had fried ice cream.  Who would have thought.....  It is so good to have the Lems here living in the same building and having an office next door.
We try to keep in contact with some of our less active friends who have been baptized in the past year.  We took Joanna and Jasmine to Pancakes on the Rocks (modified version of our Dennys).  They are such cute girls.

I had a wonderful experience with Linda this week.    She is one of my English students from China.  I showed her a Mormon message about Tender Mercies and we had a great discussion and I was able to answer some of her questions and testify of God’s desire to lead us through prayer.  She agreed to having the sisters teach her this week and she said she would come to church.  With the terrible weather she texted that she couldn’t make it.  But I am excited to teach her this week.  It is so great to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to let us know when and what to share with those around us. 

This week we went to one of our members graduation from UNI.  Joanna joined the church 6 months ago and is such a solid amazing member and so smart.  She got a Masters in Electrical Engineering.  I have worked with her in English to help her pass a test for permanent residency and have grown to love her.

Our ward had a really fun activity last month, Grammy Night.  The hall was decorated to the nine and everyone came dressed in their finest.  We had a really nice dinner followed by musical performances---guitar, singing, lip-sincs, and live performances.  One of the best of course was the Bishopric who did "A White Sports Coat and a Pink Carnation" staring.....Elder Asplund.  What a kick.

We went to Canberra which is the capitol of Australia.  We stayed with some friends who used to be in our ward and we had a great 4 days together.  We toured the parliament house and national museum, the war memorials and presidential gardens.  It was also fun to hike through the "bush" and have some close encounters with the local kangaroos.

We attended church there and met an Elder serving there from China.  We recognized his name and asked who his father was, only to learn he was the son of a wonderful man we served with while in India.  He was the area director for CES and we trained with him in Hong Kong.  Small world!!