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