Sunday, July 19, 2015

I have a lot of catching up to do so be prepared for a long and newsy post.
We had our first excursion out of the city with 4 other missionary couples.  We went to a Scottish Festival in a shire about 4 hours from Sydney.  We were starting to feel a little "city bound" so it was so refreshing to see the "bush" with kangaroo mobs hopping about and watch the beautiful Australian countryside pass by.  It is so densely wooded in the area we drove through with deep valleys here and there.  We stayed in a cute little shire for the night and had a yummy meal together.

The next day was filled with bagpipe band performances, scottish dancers, strong man games, lots of fun food and great company.  Allan of course was in "Scottish Heaven" as we watched and listened to a taste of Scotland.

The Scottish strongman games were pretty amazing and I doubt if anyone would dare chide these guys for their "kilts".  Very entertaining to watch .

We got our new Mission President this month.  Pres. and Sis. Checketts come from BYUH where he was academic VP.  They are such fun and warm people. We feel so blessed to be serving here with these great people and know they will lead us in Sydney North Mission to accomplish the Lord's work. He is reallllllllllly a big man and Elder Tsu from Taiwan is the small of it.  Quite amusing.

We went to this beautiful old church in Sydney on our Pday.  St. Andrews church was built in the 1700's and has such unique things, ie. this pipe organ with painted pipes.  They also showcase an original bible from 1574 that Tyndall translated.  It is so fun to be able to see such historic and beautiful sights here in Sydney.

Sandy from China received her endownment.  She has submitted her mission papers and will soon go home to China to receive her call.  She is such a darling girl and we have been reading the Book of Mormon together.  She was so nervous and cute but very serious about the sacredness of the temple.  Us and Hendersons, Sarah Stubbs, some of the missionaries, two Chinese couples, and the Rowlands came for the session.   It was a beautiful time in the temple with a sweet spirit of peace.  Being there with someone for their first time really helped me to think of each covenant and promise and all that takes place during the endownment.  I am so very thankful for the blessings that are and will be mine from these sacred covenants and all made possible by the Atoning Sacrifice of my Savior Jesus Christ.  It is difficult to comprehend His , and the Father’s love and concern for all who have ever lived.  It motivates me to want to BE and DO better.
 We had a wonderful visit with Matt and Jana Halverstadt .  Matt is here with his son and Jana visiting his girlfriend.  It was so great to catch up on years gone by and good memories of our time together in Corcoran.  We are very impressed with the fine young man and good father that Matt is.  He will be back in Sept and we hope to meet again.

Last week 3 of our wonderful missionaries had birthdays so we cooked an early morning birthday breakfast with scrambled eggs and pancakes with ice cream and strawberries.  If not 1 strawberry left is an indication of success then I guess they loved the breakfast.

I have been called as the "enrichment leader" or whatever it's called these days.  We had our first meeting on Sat. with a class on nutrition, followed by T-shirt Bags and cooking banana nut bread.  We had soup and the bread for lunch and everyone seemed to have a great time.
We had a beautiful baptism Sat. eve of a woman who was introduced to the gospel by attending a lecture on religious freedom by Elder Cook when he spoke in Sydney at Nortre Dame University.  She was very impressed by his talks on two occasions and began being taught by the missionaries.  Two months later she was ready for baptism and is so excited about the gospel and has an absolute radiance about her.  I don't know when I have seen someone so happy and motivated to follow the Savior and be a member of His church.

I love to reflect on the events and experiences of each week and appreciate the beauty of this mission.
“To marvel at the wonders of the gospel is a sign of faith.  It is to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives and in everything around us.  Our amazement also produces spiritual strength.  It gives us the energy to remain anchored in our faith and to engage ourselves in the work.  But let us beware.  Our ability to marvel is fragile.  Over the long term, such things as casual commandment keeping, apathy, or even weariness may set in and make us insensitive to even the most remarkable signs and miracles of the gospel”. –Bishop Causse 
 As I read and pondered this beautiful counsel I have become more aware of the constant , sweet miracles we witness in our work here.  

Sunday, July 5, 2015

This is an interesting time for the Sydney North Mission as we say goodbye to Pres. and Sis Howes and welcome Pres. and Sis Checketts.  The Howes have been so devoted to the missionaries and such amazing teachers and leaders.  They sweet and humble Aussies and have passed on the mantle with grace.  We also have such a fun group of senior couples serving in this mission.

This month we had another great young man from Japan named Daiki baptized. Allan has been tutoring him in English.

We love our English students.  I have this darling Chinese gal who is married and about 35.  She is so cute, smart and loves to come.  She came by the free English signs the missionaries post around town.  She has begun taking the discussions so we shall see.  I also have 2 Indian women who I adore and several Asians .  All these are non members but I also teach another 6-8 who are members of this Ward and another.  Allan also has some interesting students from Brazil, Japan and other Asians.  

Last weekend we went with 4 other couples to a “shire” about 3 hrs drive to the Scottish Festival.  We drove out Fri. afternoon and saw some beautiful Australian countryside with many kangaroo grazing in the bush.  We stayed in the small shire and had a great dinner together and the next morning went to the festival for the day.  It was a large place with lots of booths selling handmade stuff and all kinds of local food.  The day began with a grand parade of about 20 pipe bands that entered the arena and played together  and separately .  Also throughout the day there were highland strongman games and lots of musical and dancing in various locations.  It was a beautiful sunny and cool day so it turned out to be a great getaway.  The couple in front are the Hendersons who serve with us and the others serve in the mission office and in the legal dept.

 This is one of the timed strongman games where they run down this row of barrels and stones and have to lift the stones on top.  The first stone is 100 lbs and they get progressively heavier.
This event is the sack toss where they toss the 25 lb sack over a bar similar to a high jump bar.  The winner tossed over 125ft.  The next game was the caber toss where they pick up this 165 lb poll and throw it end over end.  Needless to say, I don't think anyone thought these guys were sissys in their kilts!!

Of course Allan and E. Henderson wanted to sport their new hats.

It was certainly a fun filled day with good weather, great friends and lots of entertainment.