We cleared our calendar on Wednesday and went to the temple, which is 90 min. south of Auckland. It's out of our mission, but Pres. Balli gave us his blessing. We hope to go every two months. It is a small temple, the first built in this part of the world and dedicated in 1958, with the same size and design as the Swiss Temple. In a year or so they will close it for a major two-year remodel. We had a great day, rain and all.
On of our favorite and successful things we do with the members, active and not, is come to their homes for Family Home Evening. They don't know what to expect from the "old" missionaries, but after the hour we are there, they realize that Craig and I are the "fun" missionaries! We do a spiritual message, a game and Craig wows them with his card tricks. We've been teaching lessons about the promises and blessings of observing the Sabbath Day and of attending church. The game we've been playing lately is charades, using Old Testiment prophets. The kids love it!
Another great family we had FHE with has lots of children, and we had a great time there even with a little chaos. The dad made us fry bread with jam and it was delish. Sometimes we make an appointment, and the husband forgets about it and doesn't tell his wife. Then there is a surprised look when they answer the door, but most times we are still invited inside and have a good time.
Meeting people in their homes helps us put faces to names, and children to parents. The children treat us very respectfully, and can also see that we teach the Gospel in a fun way! We are building relationships, showing an example, and they have great trust in us!
Sometimes in the afternoon, if Craig makes a wrong turn, we end up at The Strawberry farm and have to get an ice cream cone! I know I mentioned this before, but here is the picture! Vanilla ice cream blended with frozen strawberries. Yum! Craig always wants to share one, but I say no way, I want my own!
Sadly, the farm closes next week for the winter. We are going to miss this snack for the next three months til they open again. They also serve giant pancakes with ice cream and chocolate sauce on them, but we haven't tried that yet.
We are truly lucky to serve in this beautiful town, called Mangare. We found a wonderful 30 min. trail around a lagoon and it's a nice walk after our lunch anyday.
We are not wearing walking clothes or shoes, but the trail is kind to our feet. On Craig's right are flax plants and they grow everywhere. They were once a very useful and important plant to the native Moari people. They used them for multiple everyday items, like rope, medicine, and basket weaving. A sister in the ward agreed to teach me and others, how to make a Kete, which is a tote basket made from flax. She and I cut the flax, saying a prayer first, to give thanks for the flax. Then we split thin strips from each leaf. Those were then boiled and some were dyed purple. It was a lengthy process getting the flax ready to weave and Gaelene did most of the work.
This me and Sister Brunson, another Senior missionary, working on our baskets. It took all day and I still didn't finish, and I needed Gaelene's help most of the way. It was really fun, but hard on my weakling fingers. Unfortunately, my first project was a big beach bag size basket with a purple pattern, so it took longer than we thought. I still have a little bit left to do before it's finished. I will take a picture of it and show you next week.
This is wonderful Gaelene with tables crowding her living room and bits of fibers all over her carpet, and she did this out of love for us and love for the art of weaving. I want to make another basket in a few weeks, but it will be smaller and more manageable.
When I look back at our everyday experiences since coming in New Zealand, I get choked up seeing how precious our time is here, and how precious the people are! We've heard comments from ward members about "how thankful they are we are here, what a blessing we are to them, how nice it is to learn from mature missionaries who have wisdom and experience". I don't know about any of that, but I know we are gaining way more than we are giving. The scriptures come alive, service is fun, we love being Companions, I love how I'm always greeted with a hug and kiss on the cheek from the members, and we learn so much about humility, obedience and love from the younger missionaries!
I'm so thankful for communication from God to me, through personal revelation! How did I dare live one day without it, when I would neglect my prayers or scripture reading? Without that daily spiritual dose to keep me connected to God, I was like my dumb cell phone connected only to worldly messages and my own prideful ways. I'm still prideful, but I get humbled more easily.
Thank you for all your support and prayers for us and for missionaries all over the world! This is God's work and the Church grows and grows because it is The Church of Jesus Christ! We are thankful to be His representatives and wear name tags with His name on them. Be faithful, be bold in your testimonies, and be obedient to the Commandments! We love all our dear family and friends!
Elder and Sister Martin