Sunday, October 4, 2015

October 4, 2015

Leaving our mission for two weeks helped us realize how precious the time was that we had left here in New Zealand! Our children didn't seem as sad when we left this time because it is now for only a year instead of 18 months. How quickly does a year go by?  Many ward members here expressed happiness that we had returned and said they missed "the white couple" on the second row! Also, we had such a compliment during Fast and Testimony meeting today when a young soon-to-be missionary told how touched his inactive dad had been after we had presented a Family Home Evening lesson and game of Charades in their home. He is excited to be leaving soon on his mission to Guam so he could "do what Elder and Sister Martin are doing, sharing the gospel and touching lives." 

We freely give of our time and means to be serving here, with no thought of reward or compensation! Our rewards and blessings are so great though. We serve in a wonderful ward and love the members. We appreciate so much being welcomed into their homes, even by the ones who don't really want to see us! Each day we leave our apartment with the ward list in one hand and our planner in the other, just visiting members. At night we have specific appointments teaching lessons and sharing Family Home Evenings. After being gone, we're playing catch-up with much to do to make up for lost time!

This past week a wonderful previous member of the ward passed away. She had lived a full life and spent her last years over in Australia with her daughter. The family brought her home to NZ for her services and burial. There were so many loving tributes to this dear woman from friends in the ward and her large, caring family. Wednesday night was a Ward Service in a home, for her family and just ward members to express their feelings. Thursday night was the Family Service for anyone to attend, where each of her children and their families spoke or sang and gave their own tributes. Then Friday morning was the funeral and burial. Of course we didn't know this lovely lady, but it was wonderful to see this outpouring of love for her. 

This sweet man is "the woodcutter" with his dear wife. You can't leave Auckland without visiting their shop and purchasing some of his carvings. They are Christian and from Palestine and he uses native wood for carving all kinds figures. He even has a "Mormon section" with ornaments of the NZ Temple the prophet, Moroni. Saturday, several of the Senior couples went to his shop and I bought a cute set of little carved kiwi birds, and some other things for Christmas gifts. 

Driving along the countryside, we see more beautiful green, green hills and fields. Our last destination on Saturday was a trip back to Muriwai Beach, because it was the time of year to see the Gannet colonies nesting after wintering in Australia. 

All of the white dots are the gannet birds sitting on their nests. The males are flying back and forth getting nesting material to fortify the nests, while the females sit. Maybe they take turns on the nest while each hunts for food. When we came here two months ago we just saw empty nests on these cliffs.

With all the birds back, there is a stench in the air from them, even with the tremendous wind blowing. Next month when the eggs hatch and there are more birds, plus warmer weather, it must stink really bad.  We were told there will also be no ground showing between the nests because of the volume of birds. Talk about overcrowding! You can see the angry looking waves of the Tasman Sea.

The wind was incredible out there. Up on the distant cliffs are homes even! Not sure if I could stand living there with the constant wind. 

On the north side of the gannet covered cliffs, down below is the black sands of Muriwai beach, with a nice golf course just up over the low bluffs. Not sure how good the golfing is with so much wind, but the parking lot looked full. It's impossible to see, but the water is filled with wind surfers. Of course, they love and need the wind. 

We ran into Elder and Sister Reeves, who are just finishing their two year mission as office support in the Mission office. They live on Kangaroo Island in Australia. We love it any time we get to be with them, and will miss them very much when they leave in two weeks! 

Here is sweet Mele, who turned 10 today, and we, along with the Sister missionaries, got to help her celebrate with her family. Mele's family are so happy for her today, but sad too because their mom is in the hospital for a few days. She was very much missed by all of us! 

I thought I would share this great advice from Elder Ballard, given last month at a Regional Conference we attended in Utah County, where he talked about simple, personal habits that keep us “rooted, grounded and connected” to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He said “I would be shrinking from my duty if I did not warn you of the challenges we face today. There are two powers in the universe. One invites us to choose the right and experience eternal joy and happiness. And the other invites us to choose the opposite, bringing sadness and regret.”

He spoke of a small grove of giant Sequoia trees planted on the BYU campus some 50 years ago. He said these trees can grow to between 164 and 279 feet high in the wild and live to be over a thousand years old. He said “that their unique and resilient bark protects the trees from forest fires and also repel bugs and fungi that can damage and kill a tree.” He then talked of one of these trees that died last year. The campus arborist wanted to know what killed the tree. He found that the construction of the nearby Life Sciences Building shifted the underground aquifer and the feeder roots no longer were able to obtain the water that was needed, therefore the tree died.

Elder Ballard said, “this is a perfect analogy to what happens when stalwart Church members, the very elect from all appearances, seek to stand tall and erect in faith, but die spiritually.” He counseled the Saints to always let their feeder roots obtain their nourishment from the well of living water, even from Jesus Christ.

We are trying our best to bring the message of Jesus Christ back into the lives of members who have lost their way for awhile. If we leave homes with a message of love and hope, having invited the Holy Spirit, a spark of remembrance begins. We never know what will happen, either now or later, but we can't give up. We don't want to give up!

We love you all and appreciate your love and prayers for us an all the missionaries around the world. There is so much good happening from all the service rendered. At a time when there seems to be so much evil, there is also much more good!

Have a great week, and we will too!
Elder and Sister Martin


  1. Love to see what you two are doing. Wonderful times, I am sure.

  2. I love this! Thank you so much for sharingđŸ˜‡