This spot is a newly built beach and walking trail right in the area we serve. It's in the Manukau Harbor, so theres no waves and the water laps up like a lake. It's a nice place to pop over to eat our lunch and take a quick walk after, before we get back to work.
We downloaded this new video and have been going to member and even non-member homes to show it to whoever is home. We leave a plate of Christmas treats and this card with the web site, so they can share the video with others. We call it our "video Christmas card" and want to just spread the good word about what Christmas is all about.
Heather turned 24 last week. She is our baby and even wth my "old eggs and worn out genes", she turned out pretty smart, accomplished, and darn cute! She brings joy to our family.
Gaelene had a tree-trimming party! Several friends, the two Sisters and us came to decorate, sing Christmas songs and eat good food! It was a fun evening. We aren't putting up a tree this year, and we have no space for a tree anyway.
After quizzing lots of people, we have found that everyone celebrates Christmas different. Trees and gifts are not mandatory. Santa isn't a big deal like at home, and gifts come from the parents, not Santa. We have only seen outdoor lights on two houses. Indoor decorations are very simple or even non-existent. One thing everyone does, is get together with family and have lots of their favorite food. They might play games, take a nap, go to the beach, it's all about what you're used to doing. At church, we enjoy Christmas songs, and are even having a Caroling Party soon. We are looking forward to enjoying Christmas with wonderful people in our ward.
We heard about this great market an hour away in a cool little town called Matakana, and got there early on our P-day, but still had trouble finding a parking spot! We went with another couple, and the men promptly left us to shop (with cash even) and they and found a local golf course to play nine holes. We all had a great time and so did they! Elder Martin is hooked on that golf course now!
One of the popular things to do at this market is EAT! Everyone is eating something from all the different vendors. Sister Bath and I decided on crepes, and they were delish! Of course we got the chocolate banana with custard and cream! This is a natural, organic, gluten free, range free chicken, fresh, whatever, market, so it must all be healthy. No diet Cokes in sight!
I saw some cute oriental ladies trying to eat something for lunch with a fork and spoon.
They must only be used to chopsticks, because surprisingly, they didn't have a clue how to use those utensils. They were holding them together like chopsticks to maneuver their food to their mouth, instead of scooping or stabbing like we would do. Funny!
I wouldn't normally find a toilet sign interesting, but since these kind of signs in the U.S. usually say "Restrooms", it is a little interesting, but moreso when you see how cool these public toilets are, in the photo below.
These are probably the most photographed public toilets in NZ! We saw so many people taking pictures, myself included. Another interesting thing about NZ public toilets is that they are most often clean and well -stocked with toilet paper. I don't cringe at the thought of using them, like I do at home, especially beach bathrooms! Also, the stall doors are attached with good locks, and there's a place to wash up, with soap even!
After golf, shopping and lunch, we went to Omaha Beach, which was nearby. We visited this beach last month and loved it! A little nap on our beach towels, a walk along the water to find cool shells, and some time to relax and visit, made for a perfect ending to our day!
Along the beach up in the dunes area, are several of these statues, all different. Maybe they are protecting the homes behind them, or just cool beach decoration, I don't know.
One thing I am realizing as the Christmas season unfolds, is that I am not stressed about time, I don't have a big list of things to do, places to go, or things to buy. I did some baking, got a few things mailed home last month, and we put together a little 12 Days of Christmas for the Sisters, but I've never had so few things on my mind during December. Each day we are concentrating on bringing a Christmas treat and message to different people, giving our Family Home Evening lessons, Gospel Principles lessons, doing some service, and just enjoying the message of Jesus Christ and the wonderful Gift that He is!!! Why is that so hard to do when I am not a missionary?
The Sisters asked me if we always do 12 Days of Christmas gifts for someone, and I said NO! I've wanted to, but never had the time, or taken the time! So I want to say to all of you reading this blog, to stop doing what you've been doing that makes you too busy to serve others and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Frantically decorating outside and inside EVERY room of your house, buying, and wrapping tons of gifts, buying and preparing tons of food, and falling into bed exhausted every night is nuts. Try to simplify and do less of the stuff, and spend more time enjoying your family, giving simple service to your neighbors, laughing, singing, praying and pondering the miracle and magnificence of Christ's love for us and the wonder of the events that lead to His birth, life and death.
I am in awe daily of His love for me and our family.
Enjoy your week, and merry joyful, happy and wonderful Christmas!
Elder and Sister Martin