Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 29, 2015

Elder Martin is the golfing guru in our District! For P-day, the Sisters and Elders wanted to go to the driving range with us and it was really fun. Some of the Elders had golfed before, but wanted tips from Elder Martin. Some had never golfed and needed more instruction, but everyone liked using Elder Martin's clubs. This week, I think they want to try Lazer Tag, but we will bow out! 

Sister Nakibae said it was her most fun P-day yet, even though as a lefty, she had a limited choice of clubs. 

These girls borrow my phone to see my pictures and always take goofy, but cute selfies! 

We had a spiritual Family Home Evening using our "Testimony Glove" to teach about testimonies. The little girls in the family hugged us and were so happy to wear the glove and participate in the lesson. In fact they asked us at church today when we were coming back to have FHE with them again. 

As part of the lesson, I always get emotional when I tell the story about a young German girl who gained a testimony of modern-day prophets and the church, when through a series of miracles, she was able to attend a meeting and see President David O. McKay.  I told this family about the times we went to meetings where a Prophet was present, and the Holy Ghost testified to me that he was a Prophet of God. After the lesson, we played our silly Donkey Game, that always brings out the giggles, even from the adults, and they all love it!

Last week one of the Australian Elders broke out from head to toe with chicken pox. It was so bad, he went to the hospital for two days, and has been so miserable. Now other Elders are worried about getting it because they didn't have the shot or have it as a child. 

One of our very less active ward members died last week. He had started coming to church with his sweet wife and was earnestly trying to repair his life, knowing that the end was near. We enjoyed a few sweet times with them, and he was able to take the Sacrament the week before he died. At both the evening family services and the funeral services, the chapel was full halfway into the cultural hall. He was a good man, athletic, successful in work, and loved by so many. It is sad that he waited so long to return to church, when it was really too late to accomplish what he needed to do in this life. We hope to teach his wife so she can go to the temple, and even their adult children. His struggle to come back to church, is a lesson for all of us, because we never know when our time to repent will run out.

We teach another sweet family that are really trying to do all the right things. They have been praying, reading the scriptures and exercising everyday. The dad and mom are stepping it up to move their family forward towards the Temple. They see the blessings from obedience and are really trying. We love working with them, and they teach us so much in return. 

We are appreciating even more our countless blessings this week as Thanksgiving approaches!

Our Thanksgiving "feast" last Thursday with the Baths was a success and it was fun to entertain again!  We had a stuffed boneless turkey, mashed potatoes, salad, green bean casserole, rolls, fruit slush, and a strawberry tart for dessert. It was all yum!  It was so fun celebrating Thanksgiving in our little flat. It was also very challenging preparing food with no counter space, cooking space or refrigeration space! 

After dinner we played Wizard, and enjoyed hanging out together. 

Saturday was rainy and gloomy, but we had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with all the Senior couples up in Takapuna at the Area Office. There was about 54 of us and it was a "feast"! We all pitched in for 4 very expensive turkeys, and everyone signed up to bring part of the meal. 

A few of us were asked to provide table centerpieces for each table, and one of the Sisters made these cute turkeys made from sea shells for her table. 

These are beautiful fresh flowers for the serving table. They sell gorgeous, huge sunflowers here. 

It was wonderful to celebrate Thanksgiving as an Auckland missionary group. Not all Senior couples are American. We have some Australians and Canadians. I didn't even know that Canadians celebrate their own Thanksgiving in October! It was wonderful expressing our gratitude for being missionaries here, and for all the tremendous blessings we enjoy everyday. 

Later that evening, our ward Relief Society had a lovely end of the year Christmas activity, with a few classes, and a meal put together from from foods that are traditional in some way to each family.  I made rolls using my sister-in-law's recipe and my mother's signature knotted shape. Also, I brought our family's favorite fruit slush. Both were a hit with the sisters and I shared my recipes with them. Some said the slush was way better than their favorite Tongan Otai drink. That was a big compliment! 

Our Sunday evening ended up with no appointments, and the sun was shining, so we went looking for a place to walk off our dinner, and the whole weekend of feasting!  We found Murphy's Bush, which is a short and sweet trail through some landscape that is preserved as it would have been 200 years ago. 

 It was a beautiful very dense forest, with little light.

A little sunlight left, so we finished the evening with a walk on the beach. If you haven't noticed, I have to walk on a beach most every weekend, or I get a little sad. What will I do when we go home, I am so spoiled here by so many lovely beaches? It was low tide tonight, and a lot of the volcanic rock was exposed. The rocks are covered with rock oysters, and I saw a woman hitting the shells to crack them open and she ate the small raw oysters like they were candy! Sorry, no thanks! That is not for me! 

This will be our New Zealand vacation house! Such a lovely view and I love the landscaping!

Rangatoto Island is in the distance. You can take a ferry there and hike the trail to the top. 

Sunset, with downtown Auckland in the far distance. 

Please don't get upset with me when I post warm, sunny beach pictures, while some of you are struggling with freezing, snowy, icy, miserable weather! We already had our winter, and while we didn't have snow or ice, it was cold enough. We are so ready for summer! 

We missed out on all the post-Thanksgiving shopping fun, but that is ok. Our kids did some shopping and are pleased with their "deals"! We'll be home next year to join in that fun. 

Our shopping is done and mailed, so we plan to concentrate our time now on teaching the meaning of the season, about our Savior, Jesus Christ! We are excited to share with everyone the new Christmas video, "A Savior is Born", available Nov. 29 (by visiting It is a short video about the birth, life and mission of Jesus Christ. Be sure to check it out and share with all of your family and friends! Be a missionary and invite your non-member, less-active friends and family to watch the Christmas Devotional broadcast next Sunday evening as well! DON'T FORGET!!!

Elder Martin and I are also in charge of a ward caroling activity Dec. 20. Since that is my birthday, we are going to make it a special night with great refreshments!

We love you all and will miss your cards (too expensive to mail here), but feel free to email a picture of your card with a Christmas message to:,

If you have lots of money, you can send a card to us at:
17 Amersham Way #1108
Manukau 2104 Auckland
New Zealand

I'm always happy to get a few small packets of Crystal Lite.

Elder and Sister Martin

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November 22,1015

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!

Our week started with a Zone Devotional early Monday morning. Each companionship told something they loved about their companion. It is really touching to see these young men and women express heartfelt brotherly (and sisterly) love for each other, after only being companions a short time. We loved hearing their testimonies too. They are making lifelong friendships and this short devotional really strengthened a bond in our Penrose Zone. 

We had some wonderful FHE's last week talking about Jesus' parables. How many can you recite? 
I didn't realize there were so many, and can't say I have a favorite, because they all have important meanings for us to better understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ! You might consider focusing your scripture study just on the Parables for a while, and enjoy them! 

We are thankful for a good car to drive while we are here. We are renting a Nisson from the church and they give us a good deal on it. The Auckland mission has about 75 cars for missionary use. That is a lot to keep track and take care of. They just installed a tracking system on the young missionary's cars to record their car speed and location at all times. This keeps them in check and prevents accidents. They don't have to worry about us Seniors, though, because we don't speed and are not reckless, except when we occasionally drive on the wrong side of the rode. We have been very surprised about how unhurried and slow NZ drivers are. They do like to toot their horns if we don't use our turn signals properly, or are slow when turning at a light. They do love their horns. 

When we first got our car, an angry pedestrian kicked it and put a dent in it.  We were shocked to see the dent when got home. We saw him walking with a young child who started to cross the street in front of us while we were coming to the corner. He grabbed the boy to prevent him from crossing and getting hit by us. We stopped the car, and seeing the boy safe on the sidewalk, proceeded to on our way. That's when the man ran towards the car and kicked it! Crazy! 

We like to be helpful with our car by taking the Sisters to the store or doctor appointments, because they walk or their ride bikes. We also give members rides to church, the doctor, or wherever they need to go. We are not a taxi service, but we do what we can. 

We pay for gas (petrol) for our car and are responsible for it's maintenance; washing, vacuuming, and oil change. This week it was time for an oil change, and what we thought would take an hour, turned into 5 hours because they had a list of other things they were required to check. We appreciate the church picking up this tab. We are also very thankful for our very secure underground parking garage. 

We got to do some service again this week by putting a second coat of stain on a member's deck. It's fun to put grubbies on and get a little dirty at the end of the day. She is so pleased with her deck and it looks really great! We have a tiny balcony at our flat where we get a wonderful morning sun. Last week I had to buy a recliner to enjoy that sun and relax a little in the fresh air. When we leave our mission, I know just the deck that will need my recliner! 

For one of our weekly Family Home evenings, it was time to do something different. It was time to have some golfing fun!  Off to the driving range we went and everyone had a "ball"!!!  After some helpful instruction from Elder Martin, they had a little competition for longest ball. Then out on the putting green, another completion for the first in the hole. I would say, we have a family now hooked on golfing!

With nicer weather coming, Elder Martin may also renew his passion for golf, since he has found a few ward members to play with. The weather was rainy, but he got to play a round in the morning last Thursday. He was so pleased with his score, especially after not playing for so long. I've always told him that the less you play, the better your score will be. I don't think he believes that though. 

This is our colorful, newly decorated missionary board at church. Last week we were given the task of redoing it.  Our ward currently has 1 Sister and 2 Elders serving, so we will put new pictures of them on it. We will also include these two awesome Sisters, and Elder Martin and I with our contact numbers. 

This picture is not decorations for a wedding, but for the Stake Ball (adult dance) on Friday night. It was supposed to start at 6:30pm and when we came an hour late, only a few people were there. We had to leave, but found out that most people came about 9:30 and it lasted til midnight. They call that "Island Time".   There was tons of sandwiches and cakes for refreshments, supplied by a hardworking small group of women from our ward. There was a also DJ and good music. 

A very popular place to shop on Saturdays is the Otara Market, only 15 min. away. Since the weather was drizzly, a few of us lady Seniors went to shop there. We found fresh produce at great prices, along with beautiful cut flowers, jewelry, clothing, household items, and also fresh seafood. These are sea urchins you can buy to crack open and eat the jelly-like stuff inside. They call it Kina, and it is a delicacy. Not sure I'm willing to try it though. 

This guy is opening millions of mussels and scooping out the inside to sell in the little tubs. Mussels are a favorite and are served at family gatherings or ward dinners. You can also buy them in the grocery stores. Not sure about eating them either. 

We saw Santa is at the mall, with a long line of children waiting to talk to him. I noticed that none of the kids sat on his lap. I wonder if that is a no-no now and if so, how sad is that! Lovely Christmas decorations were up the first day of November at the mall, but I haven't seen them anywhere else yet. Waiting to see if city streets are decorated or lights are on the homes. 

We had enjoyable Stake Conference meetings Saturday night and Sunday morning. The emphasis was on education, and parents teaching the gospel in their homes. 

I really liked the words to the song, "Go My Son" that were given in a talk. I had never heard this.

"Go, my son, go and climb the ladder.
Go, my son, go and earn your feather.
Go, my son, make your people proud of you.
Work, my son, get an education.
Work, my son, learn a good vocation and
Climb, my son. Go and take a lofty view.
From on the ladder of an education,
You can see to help your Indian Nation,
And reach, my son. Lift your people up with you."

This is the emphasis of the leaders here for the youth. Not to waste their 13 years in school, and to continue on after high school. We must be self-reliant, and are to gain all the knowledge we can in this life to take with us in the next. 

One of the speakers was President Sid Goeng, President of the Hamilton Temple. He is a revered, famous rugby All-Blacks player. He talked about working as a team to fight opposition and how our opposition isn't one, but a third of the hosts of heaven! Also, how his wife likes to say "Kick him (Satan) into the touch!" "We have the organization in the church where we can kick the opposition." 
"We go to the temple to make covenants, and we leave the temple to live those covenants." 
I wrote so many great quotes from this conference I will share later. 
I love this quote I saw on Facebook. We miss our children and will even moreso over Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have pride and joy knowing they are genuinely good people and our grandchildren are too. Im not bragging, I'm just greatful!! I know you all are the same about your families. 

The Gospel is so true and so essential to our peace of mind and well-being. It is essential to peace in our homes and peace on this earth. Don't be afraid to share the Gospel with others by inviting them to add to what they already have. "We succeed when we invite, no matter the outcome," said President Uchtdorf. Your children will know you value the Savior and more when they see your example of inviting others to learn about the Gospel and being willing to share. 

We love you all and thank you for your prayers and support! 
Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November 15,2015

I've mentioned before that every other Monday is a Senior FHE at the Area Pacific Office, and each couple takes a turn preparing the meal and activity. Last Monday was our turn and for 45 people we fixed one of our family favorites, Hawaiian Haystacks. It turned out great and we had a lot of help from some of the other couples. They helped make rice and buy rolls and even came early to help set up and stayed for clean up. For some people it was their first time eating Hawaiian Haystacks, and for others it was a reminder of home. I'm mad that I didn't take pictures of the tables because they looked so nice with fresh flowers, Hawaiian leis, and sea shells for decoration. Elder Martin prepared a Pictionary game with scripture characters that was really fun. We also had a service project where everyone brought school supplies and we put kits together for missionaries to take to some of the remote islands that don't have anything for the kids. 

This picture is a little fuzzy, but it is our first District picture this transfer. We've found that the Elders and Sisters like to take District and Zone pictures at every meeting. They like picture-taking anytime. We love our cute new Sister Trull, and glad she and Sister Nakibae hit it off well! 

Sister Grow broke her ankle ice skating and cannot put any weight on her foot. She is working in the Mission Office for a short while till she can get a walking cast, and several couples were asked to keep her occupied in the evening till she can reunite with her companions at 9:00pm. We picked her up, fed her at our flat, and took her to a FHE. She is darling and getting along great! She did not want to go home to Utah, so everyone is pitching in to help her be productive while she heals. I love her pink cast!

This is a monument to the Moari people at one of our parks. Before the 1900's, it was thought that the Moari people and culture would be dead soon and a monument was needed to remember them. Happily, they did not die off as predicted, and seem to be thriving as a people and culture today.

I saw these fuchsia blooms and had to take a picture. They remind me of ballerinas and the blooms are the tutus.

There were two of these on both sides of the chapel today. Roses are blooming everywhere, and lilies are plentiful. Someone graced us with these beautiful arrangements today. 

This was Temple Week in our Stake, and from Tues. to Sat. people go to the Hamilton Temple. If they can't get off work, they might go one day, but many families go for the week. There is housing nearby they can reserve that is cheaper than hotels. There is a Temple Week twice a year that coincides with Stake Conference. Next weekend is Stake Conference, which is a whole weekend event, starting with a big dance Friday night, games and activities Saturday morning, leadership meetings in the afternoon, the adult session that evening, and the regular session Sunday morning. Should be amazing! 

There is a very less active family that we've had difficulty catching anyone home and sadly, the father just died after a lengthy illness. He was in his early 50's and being cared for by his parents at their home because his wife and kids busy with school. We hesitated going there, but were so well received and so glad we did. Many in the ward helped with food before leaving for the temple, and the services were held at the cemetery. Hopefully, now the family might be more receptive to coming to church???

We had a short "work" week because of a planned two day trip with 3 other couples to The Coromandel. This is a map of where we went, and the picture below shows where The Coromandel is located on the island. It's about a two hour drive from home and each beach we stopped at was beautiful. My photos do not do them justice. The Coromandel beaches are very popular vacation spots for Auckland city dwellers because they are relatively close and a way to get away from it all. The road going around the pinensula is two narrow lanes and very winding. People camp or rent "baches" to stay in. "Baches" are tiny or large homes by the beach. The beaches are all very primitive with no commercialization. They usually have nice public bathrooms though. 

Our first stop was Sailors Grave Historic Reserve. Here is the beach and .  .  .  .  

here is the gravesite. It is maintained by the Navy for a poor sailor who drowned just off shore about 150 years ago. We thought it was very nice of them them have this little grave for us to visit! 

We love the sign, but we will never see any Kiwi. I think they come out only at night. 

This is called Hot Water Beach and is listed as a "must do" for visitors, and one of the top 10 beaches in the world by Lonely Planet Travel Guide. Shovels are needed to dig a shallow pool at low tide where there are hot spots in the sand. We didn't bring shovels, so we walked in some of these pools dug by others. Most were warm, but one was super hot. The wind was cold, so we were not ready for bathing suits, and there were too many people anyway. It is interesting, but I would rather be in a jacuzzi!

This is Hahei Beach, with lots of little islands out in the distance. It was lovely, but we stayed only a short time because we wanted to go to Cathedral Cove.

Cathedral Cove is pictured to the left in this overlook picture, where a large rock is in front of the sand. It is only accessible by motor boat, kayaking, or hiking the 45 min. trail. A watercraft wasn't an option, so we took the trail. It was a very lovely walk, but up and down, and very steep at the end. We all said it was worth it though. 

The cathedral rock just off the sand. How do plants survive up on top?

We weren't the only ones on the beach this week in our clothes, because the wind was a little chilly. The water is so blue and clear and the many tiny islands offshore made it a beautiful setting. 

View through a gigantic arched cavern to the cathedral rock on the other side. This cavern separates the two secluded coves. 

This is the other beautiful small beach on the other side of the cavern.  See the kayaks on the beach?       I would not attempt kayaking in an ocean with waves. I would topple over for sure. 

Here is the "Bach" we rented for the night in Opito Bay! It was tiny, but had two queen beds in bedrooms, twin beds in the "garage" and a hide a bed in the living room. The water came from a cistern and rain water, so we were asked to conserve water by not flushing often and limiting showers. No showers for one night were no problem because the shower was in the kitchen with only a curtain that gave no privacy! 

We had a lovely pot luck breakfast on the deck.

Our view of this very secluded beach.  Except for a few houses, there was nothing, and the winding dirt road getting there lead to a dead end. 

We had heard that the New Chums Beach was also on a top 20 list of beaches in the world to see by a UK magazine, so we didn't let the obstacles of the trail stop us from getting there. It was a difficult 30 min walk across a fast moving stream, along a rocky shoreline (if any of us had slipped on these rocks, it was a concussion and/or broken bones and an airlift to Auckland), and a narrow, unmaintained traiil of thick protruding roots (easy to trip on if not careful). Sister Mickleson lost her balance on a rock and was going down, when friends and a stranger grabbed her just in time.

After the hike to this beach, we were all exhausted and needed a rest before we could enjoy the view! 

It is a beautiful secluded beach, but we all decided it did not deserve to be on a top 20 list. Also, there are equally beautiful beaches not far from a parking lot! 

Gorgeous view from a lookout point above Coromandel Town down below, where we had a nice lunch and did a little shopping before heading home. The winding road home along the coast was difficult but we had a good driver in Elder Sayer, who kept awake and alert, even while the rest of us were dozing. An outing is not complete without ice cream someplace and Pokeno is the best place to get it. 
A popular town to stop after a trip to the temple, Pokeno has two ice cream shops right next to each other and they are both jammed all the time. $3 for two giant scoops of ice cream draws a big crowd everyday! 

I must say we were pretty tired getting ready for our 1:00 pm church today! My calves are sore, and I'm very achy all over. Not sure why, since I walk everyday. Must be from a combination of sandy beach walking, up and down trails, and bruising from the seat belt from jerking sideways on those winding roads! It was a fun time though, with the Sayer's, Mickleson's, and Byrne's, and we saw some amazing country. We had the blessing of President Balli, even though we were completely out of the mission the whole time! We love President Balli!

We were invited to dinner after church today, which was nice. The food was Chinese -chicken, rice, vegetable dishes, prepared by a Chinese/Moari family and all very good. 

Afterwards was the monthly Come and See Fireside, planned by the Presidents Assistants. It is always a very spiritual hour-long meeting, with lots of musical numbers. The primary speaker was a recent convert who told about being in "the jaws of hell", in jail, and praying for relief. When he got out, he was miserable and on house arrest when the missionaries came by and asked if anyone in the home needed help. He asked them to help him and that started his road to baptism. He said the Elders came to see him everyday for 9 months and never missed, even with transfers. He was very humble and inspiring, with a very strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon! 

We know that our primary reason for being here is not sightseeing, or beach hopping. We take very seriously our calling as missionaries and make the most out of every day working with the members to come to Christ. The little trips are wonderful, but the most wonderful part is hugs from the children, teaching lessons, doing service, and feeling the Spirit as we help others feel the Spirit!  

Today in Gospel Principles class, the lesson was about temples and family history. One man told about when his parents were sealed in the temple with all 11 children. They were dairy farmers up north in the central part and it took 2 days to get to the temple in 1958 when the temple first opened, because the roads were so bad. When they got to Auckland to spent the night, they saw the ocean for the first time! He said it scared them to see so much water. The next day they traveled to the temple and he said how he would never forget coming into the Sealing Room and seeing his parents kneeling at the alter waiting for all 11 children dressed in white, and how they barely fit around it. We could only imagine that joyous scene and event! 

Another woman told about how she had been raised Catholic, and to please her husband, joined the LDS church (it is common here for women to join their husband's church). She went with him to the temple to have their family sealed, but said she didn't feel anything, since in her heart she was still Catholic. The night after her second time attending the temple she had a dream. In her dream a woman dressed in white came to her. She asked her what she wanted, and the woman said her name and wanted to thank her for doing her ordinance work in the temple that day. Immediately after the dream she woke her husband and told him about it. She said that night was the start of her conversion to the Church. 

What a blessing it is to be missionaries among the lovely people in the Waterlea Park Ward!  We have so much to learn from these wonderful, faithful people! We cherish the lifelong friendships we're making here and now! 

Sorry for this long blog this week! If you make through to the end, you are amazing! We love and appreciate your prayers and support. We love our Saviour and strive to keep His commandments! It's a crazy world out there and there are less and less places of safety! We need the Holy Ghost with us continually to be safe, spiritually and physically! We pray for you as you pray for us!

Elder and Sister Martin