Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 26, 2015

Today is our 40th anniversary. Craig tells everyone he promised me on a trip to New Zealand for our 40th and he has delivered! We had a wonderful long weekend 4 hours north on the KariKari Peninsula (sanctioned by the mission president).

I downloaded pictures with some commentary. I spent 3 hours on this blog post and was almost finished, when it crashed and disappeared. I'm so bummed because I had been careful to save it as I wrote. So now you get a short travelog version. We did have a great week with many visits and happy successes. It was not a week of all us and our trip as it may seem from the pictures!

Ruakaka Beach is one of our favorites that we will go back to come Spring or Summer. No people, white sand and we found a lot of sand dollars. It's on our way north so we had to stop again.

Whangarei Falls is two hours north. These falls are right outside of Whangarei. Pretty impressive for being next to everyday life.


We arrived at our hotel in time for the sunset. We were the only guests that night so we got an upgrade to one of the Villas. It is a beautiful resort and perfect for our special anniversary. 

This is the view outside our window balcony. On Friday, Craig golfed and I beachcombed.

 I filled my backpack with amazing shells. Another deserted beach and I was in heaven. I walked about  10 miles that day and Craig rode a golf cart. We each did what we wanted and the weather was sunny and perfect. We enjoyed a nice evening walk and the jacuzzi while watching another beautiful sunset.

This is Maitai Bay, about 10 min. from the resort. There were a few campers there. We loved this peninsula because it is untouched by crowds and commercialism. There are no stores anywhere for about 25 miles. It is truly a paradise!

We left the peninsula and drove to the northern-most part of NZ, the tippy top where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. The views are breath-taking! It is well worth the 1 1/2 hour extra drive. There are a ton of walking trails, but we couldn't take the time. We had a long drive home.

The small light house at the look-out point.

Moari belief is that the Pacific is Male and the Tasman is female and they represent the coming together and the creation of life. 

It's a long way from here to Los Angeles (in nautical miles).

This is part of the 90 mile Beach. The beach is the road and if you are strolling down to the water, you'ld better watch out for cars. We didn't go too far because 4-Wheel drive is recommended and we didn't want to get stuck.  It's not a high traffic day! 

We were happy to make it home safely and be at church today to fulfill our responsibilities. We 
co-teach the Gospel Principles class and Craig is teaching the High Priest's lessons too. Craig also sang in a trio during Sacrament Meeting. We are making our presence known and trying to be helpful. We love our ward and feel great support from the members. The Gospel is wonderful and true.

I only wish my first blog entry hadn't crashed, but maybe it's better I have less written for once! 
Sending our love to you all, especially to our children, my mother and sisters.

Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 19,2015

This is an entirely new set of friends for us!  We volunteered for two weeks to teach English to these Chinese natives. Two other Senior couples teach every week on different days, and one set had to leave town, so we thought it would be fun to help out. We've never taught English, but the students have some English knowledge, and we play word games and they make sentences from the words. The hour goes by quickly. The Chinese language missionaries offer this class to people they meet all around downtown Auckland, and they come because it saves them money on English lessons. We meet at a chapel and open and end class with prayer. Some have taken the missionary lessons. 

 I love taking pictures of things I don't see at home. A grocery store we frequent has underground parking, so of course they need an escalator for the shopping carts. It's almost magical how the grooves in the ramp align instantly with the grooves in the cart wheels. It doesn't take much to impress me, but I also love not getting wet when I leave a store with a load of groceries. How many times was I drenched from a rainstorm while unloading food into my car after coming out of Walmart or wherever? Most times it wasn't raining when I went inside. 

  Here is something fun. Banana and Lime flavored milk, in giant containers even! I can't believe they sell that size or that many! I wonder if they taste like Laffy Taffy, but there is something about citrus and dairy that just doesn't mix with me. There are also strawberry, coffee and chocolate flavors. 

On Monday afternoon, we take the Sisters to do their shopping. I've started doing our shopping then too, while Craig catches up on reading in the car. I think he also sneaks over to Wendy's for a snack.

These are leftover defenses from WWI on a peninsula called Devonport, built to protect the Auckland Harbor. A member asks us every week, "Have you gone to Devonport yet", so we made a short trip there before our English class, since it was closeby.  A lot of people take the ferry there from downtown and walk around the shops and have tea. Not quite our cup of tea, but we did enjoy walking around the grassy hillside (once a volcano) loaded with all the ancient arsenal. The views were beautiful. 

This Is the view of downtown Auckland from the top of the volcano in Devonport. It was a cloudy day, so my photo isn't the best. 

We visit a lady every couple of weeks and I just happened to notice this beautiful orchid plant in her neighbor's yard. I don't know why I never saw it before. It is loaded with these pink small orchids. 

The kids have been out of school for two weeks on a winter break, so it was a perfect time for a service project tearing out all the plants at the church. I guess they were overgrown and needed to be replaced.With these big island men and boys, and with the help of women and children, the job was done and old plants in the rubbish bins in less than 3 hours. I opted to clean windows around the building instead. Craig even broke the nice shovel we bought!

After a service project, there is always a BBQ of sausages, and burger patties. They serve this with buttered, sliced bread, mustard and grilled onions, and a drink. After working hard, it hits the spot. We heard that a member showed up with a trunk full of taro and roasted pig after we had left. That was also welcomed and very generous! 

There is a new family in the ward we've gone to visit a couple of times, but the parents were never home, so we said we would be back. The third time, we were so happy when the mom answered the door.  We had a nice visit and invited them to church, and even set up a FHE appointment for a later time with the whole family. We were so happy to see the parents and two of their kids at church today! We heard she had really been dodging us, but was finally willing to talk, I guess, because we kept coming back. 

Each week on the ward bulletin is a list of everyone's birthdays for the week. We've decided to deliver birthday cards to all those on the list who are less active. For the adults, We give a pamphlet reminding them about the Plan of Happiness, and how we all "shouted for joy" when we found out that we could come to earth. The teens get a Twix candy bar, and the little kids get a cute balloon on a stick! It gives us a good reason to say hello and try to get things rolling. So far it's been good! 

It rained like crazy all P-day morning, but then we went for a drive and two hour walk around Shakespeare Park, about one hour north of us. It is a beautiful reserve (regional park) on a peninsula, with beaches, sea cliffs, grazing land, picnic tables and campgrounds. We have never seen an entry fee or parking fee at any beach or park so far in NZ.  Hiking trails are called "tracks" in NZ, and they are not always marked well. It's good to study the trail on a map first before venturing off. This track took us through several gates across fields of sheep and cattle (we had to watch our step to stay out of the hundreds of poop piles), cliffs,and along a beach. Colored, wooden posts along the way helped us stay on the right path. Craig is a good sport to let me drag him on some of these hikes. This track was very steep in places, and since we walk at different paces, I was sometimes way ahead of him and we met up at different spots. 

We loved watching the hundreds of lambs. Moms with singles and twins. They were parked on our trail, so we had to disturb them. Then they went off bleating to their moms. Some were so young, they still had dried placenta hanging from their bellies and their tails had not been clipped.

These cows have their winter coats on. They are very used to people and barely move when you walk close to them. 

Craig is proud he made it up the hill! 

The gates all have a name on them. This one is appropriate because beyond it is a steep trail leading down to our car. We were happy we didn't slip on the wet grass and roll down the hill like in the Princess Bride movie!

I found some nice shells on the beach. I'm starting to get a big collection of shells and sand dollars.

Once a month the Auckland Mission sponsors a Come and See Fireside at different buildings in the mission, and they are usually filled even up on the stage. We attend to help serve refreshments and bring the Sisters if they need a ride, but missionaries can only come if they bring an investigator. The program has many musical numbers and testimonials from recent converts. Then the host Stake President speaks. It is always really good and we like to attend. One woman who had joined the church told how her father wouldn't talk to her for a year after she got baptized. She also served a mission in the Philippines. The picture below struck me as funny, because the "Party Bus" is full of missionaries leaving the fireside. Party time!!!

Even though prices here are high, with the dollar so strong, Craig says we are saving a lot of money on our mission. That was one of his goals for coming on a mission.  I also know it's just one of the many blessings we receive every day. I don't think we work too hard, and we could work harder. Its my job to fill the calendar, so I keep at it daily. No two days are alike. 

President Balli said, "Life is about other people." I like that, and try to not let it be about ME. 
T ogether
E veryone 
A chieves
M iracles      Be a TEAM in your work, your church, and in your families!

We hope you're enjoying your summer. You will hate it when I post gorgeous pictures of our summer about the time you're up to your eyeballs in snow! We miss doing all the fun water sports and activities with our children and their families, but this is a good place for us to be right now. We love the work. We love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We love His Gospel and get way more than we give.

We love you,
Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 12, 2015

First, we want to wish our grandson, Dayne Martin, a happy 11th birthday today! We love and miss you!

We got an early morning phone call from our Zone leader this week, telling us the Mission President wanted to interview us at 10am. I didn't think anything of it because he was interviewing all the younger missionaries, but Craig was convinced it was unusual for Seniors to be interviewed. He was fretting about it all morning worrying that we might get a new assignment, be transferred or something. He was so worried about it that he asked me to please not embarrass him during the interview. I took exception to that comment, because I can't imagine ever doing that, but oh well!

The interview ended and nothing was changed and won't change, unless we ask for it. President Balli is a great leader and he wanted to know what HE could do for us! We had nothing but his praise and confidence. Besides, he has more to worry about with the younger kids, than us old folks. I asked him if we could take some time off soon to vacation in Tonga, Samoa, or the Cook Islands, but he wasn't keen on that. He did offer us tips of places to stay on our next drive up north. We have his blessing to take a few days for our 40th anniversary. 

Often members from other islands tell us how beautiful Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti and the Cook Islands are. They offer to go with us and stay in their family homes. Sounds so tempting, except it's not cheap to fly to these places. I keep reminding myself that tropical island-hopping is not the reason we came to New Zealand. 

                                              This game might look familiar. Settler's is one of our favorite games, but we didn't bring it with us (for a variety of reasons). We happened to see it on the game shelf of a family and asked if we could play sometime. The kids here are out of school for two weeks, so we invited ourselves last Friday evening. I brought popcorn, which Craig is dipping into. It was fun to play Settler's again, and there was no contention, except from me a little, when Craig cut me off (as usual). Neither of us won, but we may have to try again. 

This is our Zone, with President and Sister Balli, who attended our special Zone Devotional we had early Monday morning. The life of a Mission President and his wife is go go go, and talk talk talk. They are so busy and there is no time to prepare talks. Talks are in the moment, guided by the Holy Spirit. 

President Balli told us a year ago he had a random phone call from Elder L.Tom Perry asking him to come to Salt Lake City for an interview. They had planned a trip anyway, so they fit the interview in their plans. After the interview, he was told not to think anything of it, and that they might get another call. He got a call from President Uchtdorf later, and was asked to be the New Zealand Auckland Mission President!  Wow!

We had a wonderful lunch with a woman we love to visit. She told us the story of how she quit smoking. She had smoked for 20 years and had no luck quitting. The Elders said to help her quit smoking they would fast for her. After the first day of fasting they asked her if she smoked, and she said she did. After the second day of fasting, they asked her and she said she did, but it didn't taste good at all. After the third day of fasting, they asked if she had smoked, and she said no because she didn't feel like it. They broke their fast and she never smoked again. Her sister called it a miracle and wanted to get baptized. Since they couldn't find the baptism records of this woman, they re-baptized her and her sister and they are both still very active in the church. 

We had heavy rainstorms this week, with some thunder and lighting, which I don't think happens much, not like in the USA. Craig and I weren't too smart because when we took our shoes off to go into a house, we left them on the porch where the rain poured into them. It took days for them to dry. 
Custom here is to take shoes off before entering a house. It's a good practice we should adopt at home. I only wish I had brought more slip-on shoes. I have 2 pair, but mostly ones with buckles I have to undo at each house, which is a pain. 

The poor Sister Missionaries have little ballet flats they walk around in and they get wet feet fast. Our brand new Sister didn't bring a coat, but got one from a member, because it has been as low as 37 degrees this week. Every morning there is frost on the grass! We still see adults and children walking barefoot though. 

Saturday was not spent sight-seeing, but helping a woman load her truck for a permanent move south of Auckland. Also, we had lessons to prepare for Sunday and a farewell party Saturday night for a couple at the end of their mission who are leaving Monday. Have you ever had golden kiwi, or red kiwi? Not surprisingly, kiwi fruit is pretty cheap here. I can buy a bag of about 15 for $2.00 U.S.), so I used them for a fruit platter for our party. I added pineapple, which are nothing to shout about, and mangos that are pretty expensive. There are no strawberries, since it's winter, but mandarin oranges (Cuties), and apples are plentiful. I'm anxious to see what the quantity and quality fruit is like here in the summer. 

The picture above and below are from a new walking trail I found at a park a mile south of our apartment. I was amazed at how rural it is with a working farm, lots of cows, rolling grassy hills, beautiful trees, and a dense forest, so close to the city. There is a popular mountain biking trail and a nice hilly walking trail. I try to get an hour walk each day, if we don't have an early meeting. I melted my good walking shoes in the dryer last week. I was so sad to have to replace them, but thanks to a good sports store and the strength of the U.S. dollar, I got a nice new pair for a good price. 


Our bishop of only four months, was called to be the Stake President of our newly-formed Penrose Stake. It took 2 months to call our new bishop today! He is a great man, so humble and kind. The people will love him as bishop and he has a wonderful family. I'm sure he is so overwhelmed today, but he will rise to his calling. 
We should all ask ourselves, "Is the Lord pleased or displeased with me, and how would I know it? 
The Lord knows we will make mistakes. 
He is displeased if we have no desire to progress." 
2 Nephi 28:30 "I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept. ."

There is no stagnation in the Gospel. We progress forward, or we fall backward. Our desires must move us forward and we must desire to do better every day. That is our prayer for our children and grandchildren and all of you. We love you dearly.

Elder and Sister Martin



Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 5, 2015

Heather told me that I need to write about our missionary work first, before writing about our fun P-days, because if people only read a little bit of this blog they will think we are on an extended vacation instead of a mission. That is good advice from our lovely daughter. I do like to start this blog with a photo, for any of you that are more visual, like I am. 

Happy 4th of July from the Senior couples in the Auckland NZ Mission. They are serving in so many different capacities, I can't name them. But they work hard and love their work! We will soon be getting 3 more couples and need more! I would say we are a pretty young looking group of Seniors!

            We had a fun 4th of July celebration with grilled burgers, and root beer floats. You don't know how dear A&W rootbeer is here (about $2.00 a can), so that was a real treat. We played "Minute to Win It" and had a patriotic message and song. Sadly, we could not set off any fireworks. This group gets together twice a month at the Auckland Area Office for FHE, and we all take turns providing the dinner and activity. 

One of the sad things about this week was losing our sweet Sister Gila, from the island of Vanuatu, who was transferred to another area, after only being in Mangare for one transfer. We hope to see her again at mission events, but will miss her warm smile, cute giggles, and tender, heartfelt testimony!

On a happy note, we gained Sister Nakabae, from a tiny island north of Fiji, called Tuvalu. Look it up and you will be amazed. They are a small cluster of islands and are so tiny.  She is a newbie and Sister Palu will be her awesome trainer. 

Elder Martin and I are so lucky when we get to drive missionaries to Transfers. That is where all the Elders and Sisters meet who are being moved to a different area. There is so much energy and anticipation as new companionships come together, luggage and bikes are ready for transport in rented trailers, and we get to attend an awesome, inspired meeting. It is also when the new missionaries, fresh from the MTC, are welcomed and meet their first companions! We love being a part of this excitement. 

Here are a few quotes from the transfer meeting:
"My mission is not something I had envisioned, it has become something better"
"Missionary work is uncomfortable. There is no comfort in a growing zone, 
      and there is no growing in a comfort zone."
"The secret to missionary work is WORK"
"A righteous person is one who is repenting".  Elder Bruce R. McConkie
One of the highlights of last week was joining with this family for FHE and to celebrate Sister Lana's birthday! What a fun and sweet family and we get to be with them once a week! They truly love each other and share their love freely with us!

We had another FHE with a family and after a lesson about keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, we taught them the game, Farkle. Talk about excitement, introducing a new game for them to play as a family!  
(I think they normally do karaoke for family time.) Spiritual times, and fun times is what we love to be a part of with these families! 

One visit, the mother forgot we were coming and her father and brother, who are not members were in the living room. We could tell she was uncomfortable inviting us inside, and found out later that they usually insite contentious conversations with missionaries. We had a delightful time with them though, talking about various topics, and even about the church. We had a prayer and left. Walking us outside, she seemed relieved and amazed that how good our visit was. She didn't know how kind and gracious Elder Martin could be and how people always love his stories. 

We taught Dollie, the very polite and feisty Chinese friend of a member, and she told us we could continue to visit her, which we are happy about. We also have a few older single members who enjoy a visit every week, and we are always happy to come with a message and show them a short church video. Where does the week go? It seems to fly by.

What a cool looking bus! It is a transport for an Auckland aquarium, which I heard, should be on our list of places to go. 

This is Kete #3, which was so easy and so much fun to make. And it only took a few hours instead of all day! Of course, the flax was already prepared and dyed. In case you're wondering why I'm making Kete's when I could be doing real missionary work, this is missionary work! I am fellowshipping, and strengthening relationships while weaving, sort of like quilting bees, because there are other sisters participating. 

I just had to add this picture of darling Kinley on her first 4th of July. Emily sent it to us and we had an "Ahhh!" moment missing all of our grandchildren and the fun activities they were having with their parents on this holiday. One of the sacrifices of coming on a mission is being HERE instead of THERE at times like this. There are plenty of other times too, but we feel so blessed to be HERE, at this time, in this place! Today in Sacrament Meeting, some loving testimonies were given by people we've been seeing. Our names were mentioned more times than I was comfortable with, but all I thought of was how thankful I am for Jesus Christ and his love for each of us! Craig and I pray for guidance each day, to be God's instruments and perform simple tasks, and maybe they are bringing about great results!

We love you all and thank you for your prayers for us!
Linda and Craig