Sister Coe is our wonderful Relief Society President here in New Zealand, and she was in Utah visiting her daughter the same time we were back in Utah last month. I wrote in an earlier blog and posted a picture about when she came to visit us in Saratoga Springs, where our home is by Utah Lake. When she saw the lake, she was excited to finally see water in Utah. In New Zealand it is rare to go anywhere and not see water. Oceans, bays, harbors, rivers, lakes and waterfalls, and rain, make it so beautiful, so that's why I've posted a lot of water pictures.
We had a rare privilege last Monday night at our Senior FHE to hear from President Kevin W. Pearson, who is the Pacific Area President and his counselor, President Gifford Nielson. They both had just returned from Salt Lake City where they attended General Conference. They spoke about being trained by the Apostles who each took their turn talking about anything they were inspired to say.
Just a few they mentioned:
President Eyring said "Heavenly Father and Jesus are watching us and are pleased", but are asking "please, please, please let US help a little more"!
Elder Holland said "those who get the most out of the Sabbath have a broken heart. For the rest of us, we should be praying for the broken-hearted." We should "pray for others the way we pray for our own and our oblation to the Lord is to plead and suffer for those who need help."
Elder Bednar calls the other Apostles and Presidency "the 14 Captain Moroni's" and he said that "as good as you think they are, they are even better in private"!
A few other thoughts from their training:
*Sabbath day observance will help us keep all the other commandments.
*We live in a age of transparency-information. We need to live in a way we can rely on the Holy Ghost to navigate through facts about church history that are coming out that we had not heard before.
*Look up! This is a golden age of the gospel and we are in safe hands and have no need to fear!
Then Sister Pearson told of her encounter in Salt Lake City with Barbara Perry, widow of Elder L. Tom Perry. Sister Perry said that her husband was told his time was coming to an end so the Lord could call younger apostles to do the work. It was just a short time later that he was gone.
This young man has stolen our hearts and is leaving for awhile to stay with his grandmother on the South Island. He is sweet, kind, and loves Heavenly Father. We are sad to see him go and hope it is a good thing for him and that he will come back.
While Craig meets with a man he is teaching to read, I get to take a walk and love seeing this little beach that is totally unaccessible because of the bush around it.
More wisteria. I've been obsessed with all the wisteria blooming around town. I had to take a picture of this bunch on a tall fence with the mailbox in front.
This is a Pukeko bird that roams around the parks. I can't get a decent picture of them because they run or fly away, but I love them. They are so pretty with their red legs and beak, and blue and black body.
On P-day a group of us traveled south (even out of the mission) about 40 min. to the beautiful Hanui Falls! We hiked a few short trails to see different views of the falls, and then had a picnic. There was still enough time to drive to the beach for some sea shell scavenging, and then browsing in some shops.
A panoramic view of Hanui Falls. The small lake becomes a popular swimming spot in the summer. The three people up close are Elder and Sister Sayer and the Sister Byrne on their right.
This Pukeko picture came from the Internet, but it's legs have lost their red color.
This is a glass Pukeko full of toffee (a popular Christmas gift item) that I bought at the Warehouse. Which Pukeko do you like best? I would love to mail dozens home, but not sure if the glass would survive the trip.
I found a live starfish while walking on the foot bridge near this pretty park, and threw it back in the sea. It reminded me of the story about the person who saved starfish by throwing them back into the sea. Not all of them could be saved, and he was told that he wasn't making a difference. His reply was that by throwing even one back made a difference in that one starfish's life, and maybe all the generations born to it
Today after Ward Council, I was as a little discouraged after I made a list of all the less active members of our ward and saw that there was still a lot, and little had changed with most of them. I was doubting what good we were really doing. Then tonight at a missionary fireside one of the Elders said he wanted us to meet someone. It turned out to be a young man we had met several times in the park on our morning walk. We talked briefly a few times and found out he had joined the church in Samoa, and his family disowned him, and he was now alone in this country going to school. We encouraged him to find a church close to his home and start attending again. We haven't seen him in two months and somehow the missionaries found him and helped him go back to church. He saw us tonight and hugged us and thanked us for helping him get back to church.
We also heard a cute couple talk tonight who hree months ago ended up at the wrong church, the LDS church, and stayed for the whole time because they didn't have a car to leave. Those meetings changed them and they got baptized a month ago and are so happy!
Some people take two steps forward and one step back. Some keep taking steps forward and never go back! It's really not up to us. We are here to serve and do some good. It will all count towards something and to someone somehow. President Benson said, "There can be no failure in the work of the Lord when we do our best. These are His children we are working with. He will not permit us to fail if we do our part."
My momentary discouragement was also because time is flying by and I don't want to waste any of it. We need to step up our pace to the Lords pace and make the most of each day. I am thankful for all our blessings! This is the greatest experience ever for us, even being together 24/7.
Thank you for your prayers for us and all the missionaries. The work is moving forward!
Elder and Sisterr Martin