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.
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.
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!
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