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

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