Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 30, 2015

I want to give my beautiful mother a Birthday Shout Out because today is her 91st birthday! Happy Birthday Mom!!! Mom, I love you so much and hope this is a happy weekend for you as you get calls and visits from your friends and loved ones! I want to express my love to my two Angel Sisters, who's constant care and devotion sustain Mother. My brothers are hard working providers for their families and also do as much as they can. There are seven of us and we owe everything to our wonderful parents! 

Every other Monday, we have a Family Home Evening at the Area Pacific Office with all the Senior Missionaries in the Auckland area. Probably, about 20+ couples attend and it's always a spiritual feast, as well as a dinner feast. I know I've really changed, because upon arriving, I started shaking hands and made my way around to all the couples, including the Area Presidency 1st and 2nd counselors and their wives, who were there that night. Normally, I would come into a room and sit down, nodding hello to people around me.  Someone commented to me that I was "working the room" and now it seems like a perfectly normal thing to do! 

We decided that it's time to have FHE with the single Sisters in the ward and not just families,  so we've organized a little group and try to meet every other week. At our first meeting, we ran out of time and didn't play a game, which really disappointed one Sister, so we know now to leave enough time for a game. Girls just wanna have fun! 

I bought an electric fabric shaver this week and love it! I shaved all my fuzz-balled skirts and sweaters, and they are like new! Craig's sweaters got the treatment too! Such a simple pleasure, and now I won't have to buy replacements! I found a clothing store though, that I really like and bought a few new tops. I promise not to go overboard, because I still like the clothes I originally brought. 

We are so excited to be working with a member who wants to continue her education and become more self-reliant and independent. She lacks confidence to start the process, so we're steering her in the right direction and will follow-up. There are tons of free programs available, including one from the church, to help citizens get on the path to a career. 

We gave a lesson about Family Unity to a couple this week, and it was a perfect message for them. The mom tearfully confided that she had been the “black sheep” of the family, had been married twice before, and was now close to full membership in the church again so they can be sealed in the temple together. Her husband just went back to the temple, and her parents and other family are all active. Prayers have been answered and soon a family's joy will be realized! This is a similar story happening all over the world as people become humble, repent, and come unto Christ. 

It's always sad to see our great missionaries leave for home after their time is up. Our Zone all wore blue and yellow for our meeting Thursday, to honor Elder Hall, who was going home to England. Apparently because the blue and yellow tie he is wearing is the only one left of his tie assortment. He was a diligent and hard-working Elder! I made cinnamon rolls to share and they were much appreciated. Elder Fitzsimmons, from, Utah, said they tasted like his moms, and I took that as a compliment.

Each week we love to visit this home for FHE and tonight was another birthday celebration! There are so many facial expressions happening here and I love all of them! Have you ever seen a happier father? And the little girl peeking over her yellow balloon is a delight! Next to her is a very serious brother and the sweetest mother! On the floor is a young man who is always smiling! The birthday boy with the pink balloon is just barely cracking a smile, but I know he is very happy! After a great lesson, balloon messages, I love you's, and pictures, we had a favorite, banana cake, for dessert. 

On our P-day, while Craig was doing this. . . 

I was taking a nice walk around this lagoon called the Esplanade and Outdoor Gallery. I had to make several loops to get a 3 mile walk done, but it was nice walking someplace new and seeing the different artistic sculptures decorating the landscape. 

This corrugated metal house was one of the sculptures. I wonder how many mice are occupying those neat little tunnels in this house!

We had Yum Cha today for lunch. It is definitely an unusual Chinese experience for us. We aren't sure what we ate, except for the coconut rolls, which were very good. Servers come around with carts of Chinese food in small covered dishes and you take what you want. It is meant for family style sharing, so we tried several items. Our friend, Alice, helped us choose. The only thing we couldn't eat was the gooey beef tendons cooked into a jelly substance. Alice loved it, but then she is the one you loves sucking fish heads too!  There was a menu sign on the wall that had the words "chicken guts" but we don't know what else it said. Not sure we will try Yum Cha again, but glad we went. 

After lunch, I talked Craig into going for a drive and we came to a road called "Pacific Coast Highway" which took us to Kawakawa Bay, about 35 min. east. It is a quaint little beach and since it was low tide, families were digging for Cockles. A little girl told me they come every weekend or so to collect and cook them for dinner. Below is what the shoreline looks like, no sand, just cockle shells. Only these are little ones, the family collects cockles 3-4 times bigger. 
I'm holding up a large shell I found, with smaller ones in my other hand. I cant resist plucking the good ones. Sadly, when I got home a crab crawled out of a shell and I had to dispose of it.  

Look at this handsome missionary! The tide comes in quickly! 

We went to a park nearby, which gave us a beautiful vista view of several islands out in the bay which faces the Pacific. We found another beach in this park, that I think will be our go-to summer beach. It's close to home, has beautiful views, some sand, some grassy area, picnic tables, walking trails, and great bathrooms! 

If the sun was out, this water would look torquoise. 

Here's our birthday boy who just turned 12, wearing his new birthday suit, and ready for church! 

I had to put these "rose" cupcakes in here because I think they are darling. We went to a mother/daughter baptism Saturday night and this tray was part of a huge spread of food waiting in the kitchen. I didn't get to taste them because we had to leave, but seeing them was good enough.

A new Senior couple came on Wednesday from Idaho and they are MLS missionaries too. They want us to share with them what we are doing because they are worried they won't have enough to do each day. We just laughed and assured them they will have plenty to do! Service with a smile! That's what we do! Neal Maxwell said, " Zion is where the pure in heart dwell and where there is joy of countenance. By contrast, in hell there are no smiles."

Abraham Lincoln said he had to "whistle down sadness" and that " I laugh, because I must not weep." 

A quote from Heber C. Kimball found in JD 4:222, "God is the happiest of men. I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured being. He is a jovial person and a beautiful man."

May we all remember to smile and be happy! No one wants to be around a grumpy person.

We love you all and thank you for your prayers. They are helping so very much! 

Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 23, 2015

Craig just reminded me that we have been on our mission 5 months now, but who's counting, besides our daughter, Heather.

Every week a family in our ward meets with their extended family for FHE. They are not all active, but still take turns preparing the lesson. They invited us to attend, and they taught a good lesson about Talents. For our part, we showed a segment of Meet The Mormons. They were all so kind and one of the boys told us to eat lots "because they fixed heaps of food” for us. This picture is of the grandchildren.  We would love to go back again sometime.

We tried a new fruit this week, called Lychee. They have a pinkish, bumpy rind that when peeled reveals a sweet, white fleshy fruit inside (with a big seed). I could eat ten of these at a time. Even Craig liked them. They come from China and Alice T. shared them with us. She gave us persimmons once and we liked them too. We are so sad that she will be leaving this week for her native Tahiti, and will be gone 3 months! She's in her 80's and is going there to fish. She loves fishing!

We've turned into Kiwi fruit eaters. They are about .20 each here instead of the $1.00 each at home. I buy a bag of them every week.

Wednesday night after standing up from the dinner table, Craig could hardly walk and thought he had pulled his hip out of socket. He made it to the bed to lay down. I thought, now what do we do? We had a FHE in 20 minutes with a family we really didn't want to cancel. At that same moment, I got a text from them canceling because of a netball practice (the mom and daughters are on a team). Craig was so happy. He rested for about an hour and then was fine. We left for our next appointment, and he's been fine since. 

We had the best FHE with our favorite little family. It was a great lesson given by the mom titled "I am a Child of God".  At one part we all laughed and laughed at the funniest comments made by the kids about the differences between a rock and an orange! Their wit, smarts and enthusiasm make us love them and look forward to being with them every week! 

Once in a while we just have to come home in the afternoon to Skype. With the 7, 6, or 5 hour time difference, and our kids' schedules, finding a good time is hard. We were happy to Skype with my Mom and have a nice visit with her. She looks great and was happy to see me too! We also Skyped Emily, Kenny and cute little Kinley.  Kinley has abandoned her army crawl, and it was fun seeing her crawling on all fours. Soon she'll be walking, and we can't wait to see that! Heather happened to be at our neighbors, the Chappels, when we Skyped her, so we saw them also! We are so thankful for modern technology, that helps us stay connected to our loved ones! It makes being at the bottom of the world not so far away from home! 

Craig and I had a nice, visit with a older sister who was recently widowed. Her husband died two weeks ago from complications from strokes. She told us her family was taught about the church 35 years ago. Her husband and 6 children were getting baptized, but she wasn't ready to join yet.  The day of the baptism, she had an answer to her prayers and a personal revelation that she should get baptized, so she surprised the Elders when she told them she was getting baptized too. The whole family was baptized, and she and her husband were sealed in the temple later. She is a happy woman "content to endure to the end" and so pleasant to visit. Her devoted daughter takes care of just her now. 

We had a little extra time, so it was Sister Nakibae's turn to see One Tree Hill. This is a favorite spot, and on a clear day, a perfect view of the whole city and the bays. The baby lambs were frolicking around and lots of sightseers were there. We'll be taking all the Sisters we work with to this place.

Friday night was a well-attended and successful Relief Society event. Another Senior couple, the Mickelson's, came to talk about the new Self Reliance program, which they are working hard to share with all the wards. It is a fabulous program from the church, designed to give people the "tools" they need so they can find themselves a job. Afterwards, we enjoyed a "4 Minute Cheesecake" for dessert made with yogurt and sweetened condensed milk, and cooked in the microwave for 4 minutes! Sister Kruger brought her camera and took some photos of the group.  
I have really grown to love all of these Sisters and we have been in all of their homes! 

P-day! Yeah! I went on a good walk, and did a little shopping, while Craig went to hit golf balls. Then we took a 45 min. drive with another couple to the Manukau Heads and lighthouse on the Awhitu Peninsula. Along the way we stopped at a small beach inside the bay at the Awhitu Reserve (park). As usual, we were the only people there. The deserted beach is made up of billions of broken shells. 

This is the cutest little island out from Awhitu beach pictured before.  We saw a few fishermen on the island but no boat anchored.  Then we found out that at low tide, you can just walk out to the island. 

This sign made us laugh, especially when we saw the square ice cream container nailed to the fence that says "Put money in here please".

This mamma cow and calf were being herded along the road by the farmers, probably to the milking shed. You can't tell from this photo, but she is so full of milk that as she walked, milk was squirting everywhere. I could feel her pain. 

It was a cloudy day but we didn't get rained on as we drove along rolling green fields where we saw with lots of grazing cattle. For some reason, there isn't any in this picture though. 

This is DH (Dear Hubby), and the lighthouse on the cliffs of the Manukau Heads. It has been rebuilt a few times because of erosion. Today, it is just historical, and not a working lighthouse, but it gives a great view of the Harbour from up top.

The Manukau Heads is the narrow entrance from the Tasman sea into the lake-like Manukau Harbour. Standing high above on an overlook gave us a beautiful view of the Harbour to the east and the rough waters of the Tasman to the west.

West and the Tasman Sea

East, and the Manukau Harbour. Look closely at the picture and you will see the Skytower of downtown Auckland! This lookout is across the bay from where we live. 

Craig found a cozy spot in the trunk of a dead Kauri tree. 

It was nice to get out of the city and see some more of this beautiful country. We are just so amazed at the beautiful green grazing land everywhere, once we leave the city of Auckland. 

Today, Sunday, we had a 7:00 am baptism and the chapel was packed. It was in another ward, but we wanted to support the missionaries, so we went. There were too many of us to fit inside the baptismal room, so we left for home. Brother Lawrence was out of town, so no MCM at 8, but we have Ward Council at 9, so off to our ward we went. We got there and no Ward Council. We must not be on the call list. Back home we go, and I took a 2 hour nap before church at 1:00 pm, which was wonderful! 

I made a pot roast dinner with a new crockpot I finally bought, and Craig was pretty happy! Then off to our appointment to show part of the "Meet the Mormons" video with a short lesson. They want us to come next week for more of the video.

After retiring, I can be honest and say that Craig and I neglected serving others, outside of our family. Coming on a mission has made us aware of so much more we can do at home, and should've been doing. President Monson calls it "finding ourselves in the thick of thin things"!  We needed to be reminded that "it's the service that counts", for a successful and joyful life! 
We need to ask ourselves everyday what did we do for someone today! Each act of service fills up our vessels with oil so we will be ready when the Bridegroom comes! 

Have a great week and thank you for your sweet prayers! 
We love you all,
Linda and Craig

Sunday, August 16, 2015

August 16, 2015

Elder Kevin W. Pearson is a member of the Seventy and is the Pacific Area President. After almost 5 months, we had not met him yet, but this week I was able to shake his hand at three different events. He and his darling wife attended our Senior couples FHE on Monday night, our Auckland Mission Conference on Thursday, and Time Out For Women on Saturday. Now I feel like he's a dear friend! He gave one of our favorite talks at the April 2015 General Conference called "Stand By the Tree".  If you haven't read that talk, read it! If you have read it, read it again. He is a humble, powerful man!  

Recently, two new Senior couples arrived in the Auckland Mission, and we're awaiting 3 more coming soon! It's so fun to get to know and welcome others to this wonderful mission! We also had two couples just leave because their 18 months were over. 

I love these blooming agaves, and I've seen quite a few of them around. Emily said they look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. They are just amazing to me and I saw this one on my favorite walk along the bay in Mangare, where we work. Sometimes if I don't get my walk in the morning, I will sneak one after lunch along the Kiwi Esplanade (don't you like that name?). I have to wear my missionary clothes and bring walking shoes, but it's so pretty and peaceful. 

I don't know what this is tree is called, but it's another favorite plant I see in lots of different places. I would like to take one home for our yard in Arizona! Surprisingly, we see cactus growing here. Even with all the rain in the winter, they seem to survive. 

My entusiasm for weaving has spread to Sister Palu and Sister Nakibae. Gaelene was so generous to invite the girls over to teach them to weave bracelets and a Kete (Maori basket). They were quick learners and now have a home-made souvenir from NZ! 

Wednesday we kept our calendar clear to go to the temple in Hamilton, about a 90 min. drive. We try to go every other month, and it's a beautiful way to spend the day. Since missionary transfers were on Thursday and we were losing some of our Elders, they organized a District dinner Wednesday night at a place called Burger Fuel. It was our first time eating there and Craig was very impressed with the burgers. Elder Staniscia, from Brazil, left for the Cook Islands, and Elder Hall, from England, was going home after serving a great mission!  Elder Bashara, from Sydney, was going further up north to Whangarei. Missionaries love making silly poses in pictures, but these are great guys and we love being with them. They are so accepting and sweet to us, and gave us a framed picture of our "King of Hearts District". 

What a spiritual feast it was Wednesday, with the temple, dinner with our District, and a FHE with one of our wonderful families. Their enthusiasm to learn gospel principles makes it fun to be in their home. Afterwards, at our appointment with a man we see each week, he told us we were sent from above to help him. In his prayer he thanked God for us, and asked for courage to lead his family to come back to church. The Spirit has really touched him and we see some real progress in his growth. It's time to invite him to come to church!

When two or three gather, there must be food! This photo is after the transfer meeting, where brand-new missionaries were welcomed, and others were sent off to their new areas. We also had a Missionary Conference that afternoon, with the presenters from Time Out For Women speaking to us! We love these dear Sisters. Sister Gila (on the left), serves an hour away in Henderson, and we are so happy to see her at mission events. Sister Nakibae and Sister Palu are with us almost everyday. We are so happy they didn't get transferred and will be in Mangare at least another 6 weeks! 

Way back in April, when we first arrived, these 3 Sisters and I (the woman on the far left is a guest) bought tickets for Time Out For Women, which was coming to Auckland. This was a whole day of music and inspiring presentations by very accomplished professionals, put together by Deseret Book. They hold them all over the U.S., and every year in Kansas City. I have never gone before and think it is funny that my first time going was here in NZ.  Instead of driving and paying for parking, we decided to take the train to downtown Auckland. You can see how empty the train is, and that is because it is 7am on a Saturday! 

TOFW was a crowded event, but we were lucky to get the center third row, which gave us a good view of David Archuleta, who was one of the musical presenters. All the Sister missionaries in our mission got to attend free if they brought someone investigating the church, who also got in free! They were so excited to get to see David Archuleta! All the presenters were wonderful and I recommend this event when it comes to your area! I will have to go again in 2017, once I get home.

One of the highlights of the week happened at church today when the cutest little girl from a family we visit, came to church with her family, and walked up to the front row to sit with us. We are so happy she stayed for Primary, even though her family had to leave! She is so sweet and loving, just like her brothers and parents! Also, as I was co-teaching the Gospel Principles class with Craig, I had an overwhelming feeling of love come over me, for the people in this ward and this country. I also felt sadness that we would have to leave someday, even though we miss our family so much. This time here will fly by. 

Brad Wilcox, one of the TOFW presenters, spoke about having humor in our life, and said 
"If we can laugh at it, we can live it!" We all have our ups and downs - daily, weekly or monthly - and that is how we learn and grow, and cope in our lives. 

We pray for you, and we feel the strength and blessing of your prayers! Thank you for your sweet comments each week. They make me feel like we aren't so far away! 

Loving you,
Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 9, 2015

Did you know that this month has 5 Sunday's, 5 Saturday's, 5 Monday's and 5 Friday's? This happens in August every 823 years and we're alive to live it! 

I'm disappointed I didn't take more photos this week, but we mostly did a lot of ordinary things so I didn't think of it. We visit an 80+ year old lady once a month who never comes to church and has no intention of ever coming to church. Last month we mentioned something about church and she got quite testy, so we decided we would just visit and leave her with a spiritual message. Last week she opened the door and seemed quite happy to see us. We showed her a video about Jesus healing the blind man and she told us how she was having a bad day and really needed our visit. That makes us happy to come!

Another woman stood us up for an appointment a few weeks ago. We went to visit again and saw her outside her home. She was so animated and pleasant to us and apologized for not being there before, and would we come back? So we set up another date. Sure enough, she wasn't there, again. We're not giving up and will try again soon. 

We do about 3 Family Home evenings a week and the children are just awesome, even the teenagers. They are smart and attentive and so happy to have us come. We always have a fun time, especially with the Kata family. I'm not sure our own children enjoyed FHE as much. Maybe way back if a fun couple from New Zealand had come to our home to do FHE with us, our children would've been more excited? 

The photo above is us with Elder Taylor, who is going home tomorrow, because his two year mission is over. He and Elder Rogers are our Zone Leaders and we are sad to see him leave. He is a cute Provo boy, so we may cross paths again. A PR Senior couple left last week and they said the saddest thing about leaving their mission was saying goodbye to the other Senior couples. BUT they took solace in knowing that we would ALL, at some time, be leaving the mission as well! 

Sadly, an older man in the ward died last week. We were happy we had visited the home the day before to give support to his wife. She told us she was at peace, because her husband had told her he loved her before he lost consciousness and they were sealed in the temple and would be together forever. She is a happy, sweet woman and has her children for support. The funeral was on Friday and they had a family service and dinner the night before. There seems to be very limited involvement from funeral homes here, compared to the U.S. The dead are watched over in the home until burial and the family and friends take care of food, flowers and funeral arrangements, with some help from the church. 

We volunteered to help clean the chapel to get ready for the funeral. Craig manned the "backpack vacuum" and I picked up trash and cleaned windows. The Sisters helped with more vacuuming and cleaned the bathrooms. It was a nice funeral service the next day, and well-attended. Unfortunately, we couldn't understand most of it because those who spoke used Nueyan instead of English. Also, there were no musical numbers, which was surprising. 

We got a CARE package this week from Emily and Kenny.  A few new ties for Craig, packets of Crystal Lite (non-existent here), great photos of family activities we had missed, cute notes from the grandkids, and a few of my favorite stockings! Thank you, thank you! Christy also sent us one a few weeks ago with notes in it from her children, along with other goodies, and we really appreciated that. 

There was a service project Saturday to plant new plants all around the church, so Craig participated in that while I went with a member to cut flax so we could do more weaving. I'm getting a little hooked on this and hope to teach some of the other Senior ladies how to weave as well. I took home a pile of flax to strip and scrape to get ready for dying. Once home, Craig and I found that the elevators didn't work. There is a big disadvantage to living on the 11th floor when the elevators are out of commission! Thankfully, we had to walk up 11 flights only one time. This is a blurry picture of Craig, but I had to capture the moment. 

Senior missionaries are allowed to go to the movies, so we went with another couple to see the new Mission Impossible! Yes, we loved it! Probably won't go again until the next Hunger Games comes out, because we really do have better things to do. It's just fun to go once in a while. 

I'm enjoying reading the August Ensign, which has some powerful articles in it. The one called "We Believe in Being Humble" spoke to me because I need help in that area. "Pride hinders our progress, hurts our relationships, and limits the service we give." President Benson taught that "humility responds to God’s will--to the fear of His judgments and to the needs of those around us. … Let us choose to be humble.” 

I cannot be prideful and be a missionary. It doesn't work. I have to be submissive, teachable and prayerful, everyday, all day! My husband can tell you, I fall short everyday, but I try again the next day. I remind myself always that "a righteous person is someone who is repenting".

We hope you have a great week. School has started or will be starting soon. You're all wondering how summer ended so quickly. I'm happy for this NZ winter to be over; so much rain. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We feel your support as we try to do as much good as we can.

Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2, 2015

Thank you all for your kind comments about our anniversary. We appreciate you taking the time to send best wishes!

Some of you may have seen this picture already and wonder why it's on my blog, but I wanted to show you the fun that some of our kids are having without us. Unfortunately, Taylor and Crystal, and Christy and Paul's family were not able to join with this group. They had their own kind of fun. We thoroughly enjoyed every photo and every video of their trips, and felt a little sad to not be there. We are also sad we will miss next summer's activities too. We know our children would rather have us serving this mission than be with them, and we are so privileged to be here in New Zealand! Besides, it's a small sacrifice to be here, while our whole family reaps the blessings! 

For two weeks Elder Martin and I got to substitute teach English to Chinese students. It was so fun and they are so excited to learn. These are adults who have been in NZ for a short time and have very limited English speaking abilities. The Chinese Elders meet and invite them to attend. The class meets twice a week at a church with two different sets of Senior couples. They asked us to come back to class next week, but we told them we had different duties as missionaries, and we lived 30 min. away. 

Since traffic gets so bad, we left home early for the English class and did some exploring at the beaches in the area. This is north Auckland, in an area called The North Shore. There are different bays along here with lots of houses and neighborhoods.  This is Brown's Bay or Brown's Beach at low tide. What looks like mud under my feet, is lava rock that flows way out to the water. High tide covers this with water and there is a sandy beach area.  One of the ladies we visit lives to talk about growing up at Brown's Beach and swimming everyday when the tide was up. I'm not exactly wearing beach attire, but it was fun to take a short walk to have a look. 

Every night last week we had Family Home Evenings with fun, lively families who never had one on their own, for not for a long time. We could really feel the Spirit with them all, and enjoyed sharing a message and a game. One family thanked us for seeking them, and they having been coming to church. Missionaries do the happy dance when their families come to church! We also had a dinner night with the older single sisters singing hymns and watching a church video. 

We visit a couple in their 80's once a month and the husband is very ill from strokes. We came one day and learned he was in the hospital. Then we returned two days later, and the family had brought him home to die. In their younger years, they were a big part of the ward, faithful and serving. We had a lovely visit with the wife and left with a prayer. She told us her husband told her he loved her before slipping into a coma, and she knew they would be together forever, and was at peace. Such a sweet woman! He died the next day with his children and wife beside him. Such a blessing! 

We have a list of people who never come to church and we try to visit one or two of them each day. If they aren't home, we go back another day. At one house a lady opened the door, saw us and said the man was dead since March and she wasn't interested. She had a phone to her ear with a fake conversation so we wouldn't talk to her before the door shut. We were sad he was dead, but glad to find out. 
Another house, the man is gone for 8 months, but we had a happy chat with his Catholic grandparents. They gave us a bag of limes from their tree and I'm loving fresh lime in my diet coke! So good! 

My good friend who loves to weave had me over for her day off and we made these gems! I cut, stripped and scraped the flax, and she boiled and dyed it. Wild colors make these baskets fun. Then we experimented with bracelets. I consider this activity part of fellowshipping members! 

We have a new Senior couple here from Texas and, to get to know them better, another couple hosted a pancake breakfast. We crammed 12 of us into their tiny apartment and enjoyed eating and visiting.

It was a beautiful day, so we all went to the Botanical Gardens 10 min. south and for a nice walk, and a look at lovely "winter" plants and blooms.  The Gardens are free, which made it even better. 
Above is an aloe plant like I've never seen. I love the spiral design it makes! 

We saw poppies in lots of different colors, but I love red ones!

We called these guys the "three stooges"; Brother Irvine, Brother Martin and Brother Sayer.  They found a bench to sit on every 5 min. and were having a good time together.

This is an Aloe Tree. 

They had several varieties of Protea flowers, which are native to South Africa.  The white ones above are giant and amazing! I love the pink and black one below. 

Lastly, this pink giant Protea. We want to go back in the spring and summer to see more beautiful plants. The rose garden was huge and will be gorgeous when it blooms! We love that the Gardens are so close and free! One negative is that it is located just out of our mission, but only by a little bit. 

To end the day, we went for Mexican food at a local restaurant. It's the only place we've found that comes close to Mexican, and the price is right, so we are happy! It's fun to be with other couples and everyone is very supporting and helpful. 

I say this a lot, but it just amazes me how fast each week flies by. Everyone leads busy lives and days are like a blur. What matters most in our lives is if we are praying and reading our scriptures everyday, having Family Home Evening once a week and attending the temple. Doing those four things will keep us and our families on track. We didn't do all of them all the time, but we worked at it continually. We pray each of you can fortify your homes with these activities. 

We love and appreciate your love and prayers for us!
Linda and Craig