Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday April 25, 2015

Some days I think we don't get much done, but then I remind myself it isn't the numbers we visit, but  time spent with those we visit that matters. It isn't that we are so entertaining, but for most, a friendly chat and heartfelt message that they are loved by the Saviour is encouraging and appreciated. We met an older man, Andrew, who told us getting baptized into the church a few years ago was a "philosophical experiment" and now he was an atheist. We left, after a great visit, with a prayer and promise to return at his request. Even if he never comes to church, I don't believe he is really an atheist!

Each day we visit people who haven't been out to church for a while and ask if there is anything we can do and we leave with a spiritual message and a prayer.  A sweet Tahitian lady needs help from Craig with her IPad. She also bought an Air Fryer, and will have us to dinner as soon as she practices with it.  Everyone asks us to return, so each week we see new people and return to see the others. It's been really good for us to visit the active members too, so they get to know and trust us. Most of them have a neighbor or family member they want us to see also. We work closely with the Relief Socirty President, since she is the heart and soul of the Ward, and also with the Sister missionaries.  

I've had requests to see our tiny appliances so here is a picture below of our stove (top of counter), oven, dishwasher (bottom) and refrigerator. Above the fridge is a microwave and our only "pantry shelf". We have a few cupboards and drawers for dishes, etc. It's ok because I don't buy much food, only what we need for the week. We don't want to spend for extra kitchen stuff since we can't take anything home. You will notice the Diet Coke can, a necessity!

This is our lumpy couch that I've been told will be thrown out after we move to our permanent apartment on the 11th floor, on Monday, hopefully.  I laughed when I first saw it and only Craig sits on it. We've been in a short-term apartment while we've waited for a long-term one to be available. The apartments all look alike, but we were told we are getting new furniture. We will see! By the way, our address is
17 Amersham Way, Manakau 2104, Auckland, New Zealand, if you want to Google Earth us.

We took a P-day last Monday and loved the walk we went on at a place called Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth, 1 1/2 hours north of us. The Kauri trees are native and 800+ years old and huge. Most were cut down in the 1800's for export and they are protected now. They remind me of our redwoods. 

I should be standing next to it to give some perspective, but couldn't get close. 

We drove further north to Ruakaka Beach, which was deserted (it's Fall time, cool weather, and not a weekend). Another beautiful beach though, with waves breaking way out. I found lots of nice sand dollars, and for the first time ever, found live ones under the sand. Wherever I saw a star shape on the sand, a live one was underneath. I left those alone, of course.  

On Saturday we took another P-day (our usual day) with the other Senior couples and we drove north again to The Hibiscus Coast Highway on the east coastline about an hour north of us. Our first stop was Waiwera to. A hot springs pool, but it was a little cold and the other couples didn't have swim suits so we just walked on the beach next to it. 

These homes are worth over a million or two, being right on the beach. Some are old and some are new and very modern designs. But they are small for the money! New Zealand is experiencing a housing bubble right now and house prices are outrageous! 
Below are pictures from Wenderholm Regional Park with these amazing spidery trees and a wonderful family getaway for picnics, swimming or camping and all free. Owning a boat or water device would be a must in this country!

To end the day, we drove to Puhoi, a small touristy dairy town, for double scoops of ice cream for $6 each, which was our dinner.  I had a new flavor, called Hokey-Pokey, which is caramel flavored with some candy chips in it. Good, but not as good as Bunny Tracks! It is good ice cream though and NZ's are proud of their ice cream! 

Hokey-pokey is in the far upper left corner. The mint was good too.

Sorry this blog is so long, but I wanted to add more pictures. I read a good scripture I really liked. It is short and just a little bit from Alma 60:24  "repent of that which ye have done, and begin to be up and doing,"  So we should be "UP and DOING" everyday and not procrastinate! 

We love and miss our dear ones and good friends, but loving the work! Flea bites and all! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19, 2015

Today at church the NZ ladies were having a discussion about how blessed the USA is with technology, education, economy, and other things, and I told them  that while my country is the Promised Land, New Zealand is Paradise! I said that in the USA, whenever someone mentions traveling to NZ for vacation, work, or to serve a mission like us, most people talk about how wonderful it is or how they've always wanted to go there. We feel very blessed to be here experiencing everyday life with the Islanders and, once a week, traveling around to see the sights.

Last Saturday we visited the downtown Auckland wharf and shopping area. Elder and Sister Sayer took us to a store to buy All Blacks logo wear. Craig bought a tie and we will have to go back for tee shirts for the kids before we come home. There are so many good things to eat here (like there is everywhere) but since food is so expensive, we aren't as tempted to indulge.

We visited a park/volcano called One Tree Hill, which at the top is a monument to the Moari people and to the man who donated the land for the park.  It was sooo windy at the top, we didn't want to stay even to read the words on the monument, which I think were in the Moari language anyway. There used to be a tree at the top but it got vandalized and it's there no more. The park has lots of grazing sheep and some cattle and areas for picnicking and walking. It is a landmark for Auckland and a popular place in good weather. 

This is a container ship at the wharf that looks to me like a building with squared off sides

A little look at downtown.

One Tree Hill memorial 

The largest oak tree I've ever seen with tons of acorns on the ground and no squirrels in sight.

A giant Moreton Bay Fig tree, which is just gorgeous. We called it the perfect "tree of life"!

Right now, till we get to know more people, our schedule is a little relaxed. We are using a list and visiting people in our Ward who haven't been to church for awhile, to chat and see if there is anything we can do for them. We have been welcomed at every home and have had success at seeing some back to church already. We struggle some with the Island word pronunciation and names because they say them quickly, but if they spell them for me, I get them better. 

Our typical day is to wake around 7, walk for an hour at the park, eat, dress, study/read our scriptures, do any shopping (our frig is so small, we have to shop more often), then do visits all afternoon.  Have dinner and visits in the evening until about 8.  We work with the Sister missionaries closely and they are amazingly hard workers! We love learning from them!

We have had so many spiritual experiences already with humble, loving families trying hard to be committed and obedient to the Gospel of Jesus Christ because they know that is the way for them to be happy and have peace in their homes. One young man happily welcomed us into his home and said he had not been to church in 2 1/2 years and was ready to come back. He struggles with smoking and has been so unhappy. He radiates, though, when we teach him what he's been missing. Another sweet family paid their tithing and bills and had just $20 left for food for the week. They had been obedient and every day someone came over with some food item for them and they didn't even have to spend the $20! 

The simple message is that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know who we are and are waiting to answer our prayers if we but ask with a sincere heart and with faith. 

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (8) For everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened."  (Matthew 7:7-8).  I know this to be true and I'm so thankful for prayer! 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April, 12, 2015

                                                    Picture from last week at Piha Beach

Hike to Kitekite (pronounced kitty kitty) Falls.  

More from Piha Beach, but we don't know those women in the picture. 

 Monday, the 6th we toured around the area some so Elder (Craig) Martin could get some practice driving on the left side of the road. It has been quite a challenge for him to adjust but he's coming along fine.  I am the navigator and reminder to him to stay to the left, watch his speed (there is no 5 miles over leeway here), use his turn signal, etc. He says it takes two of us to drive for now. We ended up at another beach called Eastern Beach (below) where the "sand" is made of crushed shells. You have to know that it is Fall time here so the weather is a little too cool for swimming, although some people are swimming.We also had to check out a couple of golf courses.There are lots of them.

Elder Martin would not turn around for me.

This is a view of Eastern Beach from the houses above.

It may seem like we are in a sight-seeing mode, but we spent the rest of the week visiting people
from church and getting aquainted.  We had Family Home Evening with a darling family and taught them how to play Spoons. We have been out visiting with the Sister missionaries and they have given us names of people to visit too!  Lots to do and people to get to know. We are the only Senior couple assigned to the Manakau Stake, and although we attend one ward, there are 6 others we can work in.  Our daily routine is to get up about 7:30am, go for an hour walk, eat breakfast, dress, study a lesson and scriptures, then go to appointments. We are out a lot in the evening til about 8 or 9. The people are wonderful and friendly. It is considered rude if we don't take our shoes off before entering homes, and the women enjoy greetings with kisses and rubbing cheeks. Men kind of bump chests. American fast food places are all over here, like Burger King, McDonalds, and Subway, but it's so expensive to eat out. My favorite thing to make so far is chicken and vegetable curry dishes with rice. I can buy all these great seasoning packets for it at the store. The Mexican choices are not great, esp. the salsa. 
We are truly loving it here and we know this is where the Lord wants us to be. I know our service is welcome but I'm sure most of the growth will happen within us. We are so blessed to know our Savior and be instruments to teach His Gospel to the lovely people here in The Manukau area. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

April 5, 2015

Life is good in New Zealand. We arrived on Wednesday, March 25 with no glitches and are set up in a tiny apartment, about 850 sq. ft., in a high rise building, in south Auckland. There are stores close by with everything we need, but EVERTHING is almost twice the price in the USA! We have cell phones, internet, and a car that we rent. Our apartment has a little refrigerator, a tiny oven, the smallest dishwasher ever, a washer/dryer in a big bathroom, a lumpy couch, but windows are all around and we are comfy.

Saturday, we did some exploring with the other senior couples and drove out to Piha Beach northwest of us and also hiked to the Kitekite Falls nearby. After being in the city, this area gave us an idea of how truly beautiful New Zealand really is!

We've met wonderful and friendly people out on the streets and at church. All the missionary couples live near and are very helpful. We visited with the young missionaries and are ready to get started. Easter services were wonderful with many talks and musical numbers about Jesus Christ, the Atonement and His Resurrection. We missed not being with our children, but had a good day.

Our address is : 17 Amersham Way, Manukau City 2104,  Auckland, New Zealand

I don't have photos this time because I'm trying to figure our how to post them from my Ipad. I will add some later. For now I wanted to post this so you knew we are doing great and are adjusting to life in a different country. We are just thankful they speak English here! Craig is nervously working on his driving!