Sunday, November 1, 2015

November 1, 2015

Not too far from our stomping grounds is a historic place called Stone Fields. It is literally fields full of volcanic stones that blasted out of a nearby volcano long ago. Maoris used the stones for their "village" and remainders of this use are still seen in the fields.  

Today is the birthday of our beautiful first born child! Christy, we love and miss you and hope you have a wonderful day! You are our favorite child (family joke)!

Happy Halloween everyone, a day late! This house and the one next to it are the only houses we've seen with even one Halloween decoration! Halloween is celebrated here, but not at all like we do. We saw some groups of children in costumes going to homes, but without decorations or lights on, and since it is daylight here until 8pm, how do these kids know which houses to knock and which to avoid? I think it is only celebrated if the parents encourage it.  I have to say that as a young child and youth, Halloween was a huge holiday for me! We've been enjoying all the Halloween photos and comments sent from home, and miss all the fun. I mostly miss all the Almond Joys my grandkids would give me out of their candy stash!

This is Alex with us, celebrating his 90th birthday! We drove 40 min. to Devonport, one of his favorite places, to have lunch and a look-see! It also happened to be New Zealand's Labour Day holiday, and this little port town was busy. Alex joined the church a few years ago when he was befriended by the Missionaries, and he enjoys coming to church and any social event. He is happy being on the go! We visit him every week and help out when he needs something. He often tells us that he "hit the jackpot when we knocked on his door," I don't know about that, but he is a good man and we like to help out. 

Devonport main street in front of the pier where the ferry docks. People often take the ferry across the Auckland Harbour to visit Devenport. There is only one road in and out of Devonport, so it can be a traffic jam at peek hours. 

I'm standing at the end of the Devonport pier with downtown Auckland behind me. The Skytower behind me is a prominent structure, always showing us where downtown is from wherever we see it. 

Just a little beach close to the main street in Devonport with islands in the background and several boats sailing by. 
Monday evening was a Family Home Evening with the Senior couples who live only in South Auckland, and I made enchiladas. It was one of the few things I've made here that was good. I struggle with ingredients here sometimes. For the lesson, we all told about experiences we've had on our mission. Each comment was different, but heart-warming. For the two couples who are almost ready to go home, it was a struggle to talk and very emotional for them to think about going home. Finishing a mission is a love/ hate thing! 
A service project every week is just great! With the help of the Sisters on Tuesday, we were able to stain a sister's deck and railings in a few short hours. With the weather getting warmer, we should have many opportunities to help with outdoor projects. 

We took the Sisters the Stone Fields, since it is in their area, and it was a nice break on a warm afternoon. I think they enjoyed it! 

Getting a little silly after all the picture-taking.

I think we enjoyed our fresh strawberry ice cream cones from the Strawberry Farm afterward! Craig didn't have one because he was in the car too absorbed in his phone trying to get details of the first Royals win for the World Series! No one cares about USA sports here, but Craig is still hooked. 

After our "playtime", later that night, we had a wonderful FHE lesson with a family we visit often. The Spirit was so strong in this home as we talked about the importance of having a testimony that God is our Father and He loves us, that Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer, that Joseph Smith was a prophet who was called to restore the true Church of Jesus Christ, that the teachings of the church will lead us to the temple where we can be sealed to our families forever, and that President Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet who receives revelation from God and leads our church today! It was a lot to talk about, but the Holy Ghost was with us and we all know this is true! 

Sister Palu's last Zone meeting today, since she is finishing her 18 months next week! It must be that "love/hate" feeling for her. She loves her mission and hates to leave, but she has a twin sister who just finished her mission and she must be dying to get home to see her and share wonderful experiences!

We hate to see Sister Palu go, but love that she was here for Heta's baptism Friday night. What a spiritual experience that was for all who attended! The Sister Palu and Nakibae worked hard praying and teaching to help Heta set a baptism date, especially with all the conflict surrounding her family. Heta is a mature young woman, who loves the scriptures, and has a great understanding of Heavenly Father's plan for her. She has a testimony of all that I mentioned above and we love her! Times like this remind us of how wonderful it is to be a missionary!

Since we have a few new Senior couples, it was time to visit Piha Beach again to show them how beautiful it is. Some people were enjoying the water, but it's not quite warm enough for us. We were all wearing sweaters and jackets. 

We were brought here 7 months ago for our first P-day outing, and it seems like yesterday. 

We also hiked Kitekite Falls again like we did seven months ago, and they are as full and lovely now as then.  This whole area is like a rain forest and jungle. 

For some reason, the hike to the falls seemed easier this time, and we weren't too tired to finish the walk down to the pool at the bottom of the falls. 

One more excursion for the week was tonight after church and dinner, because we didn't have any appointments or commitments. We went for a short drive to a beach area I've been wanting to see and it was lovely! This home was one of many, but had the nicest landscaping. What a gorgeous view of the beach, the ocean, and the many islands beyond. Who lives in these places? 

It was almost sunset when we finished walking along Maraetai Beach, the end of a beautiful Sabbath Day! 

This is a long blog post with lots of pictures, but when I look back, I see what a magical week it was! 
Lifting and serving others, feeling the Spirit, seeing and experiencing the beauty of God's earth! We are so blessed to be here! I need this reminder every week, when I get a little discouraged, or I'm missing my kids. 

This scripture is my new favorite because it sums up our mission and what we do:
3 Nephi 18:32  "Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them." 

Thank you for all your prayers. We pray for you too!

Elder and Sister Martin

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful country! What a fabulous photographer!!! You take the most beautiful pics.