Friday, November 18, 2016

Coming Home October 27, 2016 Salt Lake City, Utah

What a beautiful sight coming down the escalator to see Bryan, Heather, Kass, Bridget, Brian and Dayne after exiting our flight home! We were especially excited to meet our new grandson, TJ!

TJ was born late July and was now so big, but we got to enjoy his smiles right away!

TJ is showing off his cute Kiwi shirt!

We love the signs the kids and Heather made for our welcome home!

Another fun welcome sign made by Heather! A shout out to the neighborhood that the Martin's were home! We loved it!

TJ's special moment with grandma!

Besides our homecoming talks, we were privileged to be a part of TJ's blessing day!  Thank you Bryan and Heather for waiting for us!

Paul Behan was in town and came to see us! 

We can't believe we are home from our wonderful mission adventure in New Zealand! 

Our testimonies of the Gospel and missionary work grew as we served the wonderful people of Waterlea Park Ward and we love them so much! We were together as companions 24/7 and became the best of friends! Our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ grew more than ever as we felt Their love and care over us every day, along with the love and support of our dear family and friends at home. We made new friendships with so many other Senior couples, and we absolutely LOVE New Zealand! We will be back there sometime, we won't be able to stay away. Our hearts are forever linked with our brothers and sisters in Mangare.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25, 2016

It's was hard to believe that our wonderful mission in Auckland was coming to an end. We had so many great moments serving, laughing, crying, learning, loving, and so much more with the beautiful members of the Waterlea Park Ward in the mighty Penrose Stake! Also with the other senior missionary couples, our neighbors and our lovely Sister missionaries!

Below are photos of events from our last two weeks and some of the "good-byes! There were many more visits than I could post, with yummy meals, and good laughs! 

We were determined not to wait until the last day to pack our bags and clean, so two weeks before our leave date, we started sorting items, packing boxes to mail home (we mailed 7 boxes), and giving items away. We wanted to save our last week for lessons, FHE's and visits with all the people we've grown to love. 

Sister Coe, our past Relief Society President was leaving for the USA, so we had a fun lunch with her. 
She was so much help when we first came on our mission, and we hope to see her in Utah next year!

Our last trip to the Hamilton Temple with Leti and Alice. We've had so much fun on those trips with them to the temple! We had a lot of giggles about so many things! 

Our last Zone Training. We've loved all the instruction from President and Sister Balli, and our Zone and District Leaders! These missionaries are so hardworking, committed and loving. We will miss hanging out with them!

Such beautiful, kind and fun neighbors, Veejal and RV! We've enjoyed quick hellos in the hallway and sharing food. We are so glad we finally took some time to visit over a meal! We are determined to stay in touch.

A night for Thanksgiving, but also to celebrate Gaelene's birthday! What a wonderful time it was with friends and a real Thanksgiving dinner, complete with yummy roast turkey and even cranberry sauce (Elder Martin's favorite)! Our dear Gaelene, we love so much, who gives and gives, with no thought for herself. She, and so many other sisters, have extended hands of true friendship to us and we love them!

After many months of trying, we were able to enjoy a lesson with all these sisters, along with a beautiful meal "Aunty Alice" made for us! 

Sister Nakibae is so dear to us, serving with her from her first day as a missionary with Sister Palu! It was fun keeping in contact through lunches, at Come and See events, and trainings. We hope to see her again someplace, sometime! 

Sister Trull is from the U.S. so our farewell was full of promises to reunite in Utah at General Conference next year! She, also met us on her first day out of the MTC, and we loved serving with her. 

What an amazing, fun, yummy, crazy, heartfelt and loving party the ward had for us. They tried to keep it a secret, but that was hard to do. We had so much fun dancing, singing, eating, and loving everyone who came and made it a wonderful night we will never forget! Thank you to the Talonoa's for making our beautiful matching outfits! 

The Waterlea Park Young Men and Young Women and their leaders are incredible! We are so proud of you and all you do for each other. We loved the dances and Haka you performed at the party. It was hard to hold back the tears and emotions as we watched this honor bestowed upon us!

Bishop Ahokovi, his wife, Sela, and his counselors are great examples of kindness and love. We appreciate their leadership and sacrifices for the ward, and how welcoming they've always been to us!

We love the Galu family, and it was so great to be here for the baptism of their lovely twin daughters!

It was sad to say goodbye to Domingo and Emi. We loved sharing videos and the Book of Mormon with them on their journey towards baptism. They are a sweet couple and it will happen one day!

Sister Placido leaves the mission for the Philippines the day before us. She and Sister Kilgrow have a special bond from being companions twice. We love them both. 

There are many families we visited often that we grew to love so much. Their open doors and hearts towards us made our mission a delight. So many wonderful families and beautiful children are inbedded in our hearts forever! The Deys, Kata, Clarke, Aloua, Amituanai, Keung, Williams, Ormsby, Millie, Leti, Alice, John, Alex, and so many others. We love and will miss the lessons and games!

Sisters Selwa and Kilgrow are beautiful and hard-working. They made me feel like a young missionary, although they work way harder than us!

George is a ray of sunshine and told us once he would do anything for the Lord. We believe it!!!
He and Elder Martin have a special bond!

Justin and Olova are expecting their first child soon and we are so happy for them. They are so sweet and sometimes texted us to just say hello!

We had some fun lessons and game nights with the Talonoa family. There are so many great families in the ward, with happy children and strong commitments to keeping the commandments! 

Tony has been a Wednesday night regular for us almost our whole mission and we loved that time spent with him.  He has a genuine testimony and knowledge of the Gospel and will be a great leader one day when he becomes fully active! His mother is an angel!

We love Ver and regret we had such a short time to know him. He has a strong testimony and is so kind. We know he loves the church and has a testimony that it is true. He is progressing valiantly!

Who doesn't love Ella and Busby Lawrence! Busby is a great Ward Mission Leader, and we have loved serving with him. We all love his happy laugh, his commitment, and love of God. He's a great cook and makes a mean Maori bread and fry bread, that we loved! Ella works weekly at the Family History Center and their whole family has been so kind to us. 

I will forvever love this picture of Alice! She opened her door always with a happy smile and a Tahitian welcome.  She invited us to share her yummy food, and after, give a Gospel lesson? We are reuniting in Utah next year and she will get the red carpet treatment!

We love the Jackson's who work so hard in the Mission Office and were with us for many P-day activities. Thankfully, they live very close to us in Utah and we will see them next year!

We can't say enough about President and Sister Balli! They are great leaders to all the young missionaries, and as Seniors, we just tried to not add to their workload. They love the missionaries, they love the people of New Zealand and they are a wonderful couple sacrificing much to be here for three years!

We hated to leave the Bath's behind, because we have so much fun together, but they don't live far from us in Utah either, so our goodbye is another "see ya later"! We love all the senior couples and have shared many great experiences together. 

What a great life changing experience our mission has been. Elder Martin gets even more blubbery than me when he talks about it! We have so much to be thankful for and realize that our mission has never been a sacrifice, but a total blessing to us and our family!

Our last day was Friday, September 23rd. We finished cleaning our flat, made a few more good-bye visits, picked up our rental car and drove south towards Taupo for the start of our 5-week trip before going home. We are so excited to be touring the South Island and Australia and it will be a great ending to our mission. My last two blogs will be about that trip! 

Leaving our mission is so bittersweet. We cannot express in words the love we have for the people we met in New Zealand! We find it hard to relate the great blessings and change that has come over us because we've served so happily! We get choked up when we think about our family and how joyful it will be when we unite with them. It's such an emotional fruit salad! 

Thank you for your love and prayers and support these 18 months. Thank you for reading this blog and encouraging us with your comments! Every bit helped us to serve a little better. For your information, we are giving homecoming talks in Saratoga Springs on October 30, and in Scottsdale on November 27. 

We love you all!
Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September 4, 2016

We are so blessed to be serving a mission in New Zealand!

Sister Killgrow and Millie had birthdays this week and it was fun celebrating with balloons, presents, brownies and ice cream! We love visiting Millie because her smile, testimony, and enthusiasm for life makes us happy! 

We got to share a goodbye meal with Bob and Audrey Keung before they left for Australia. We love them and all their great family. They are the "rocks" of Mangare! Somehow we hope to see them again! 

Unless we get to the zoo in the next two weeks to see some live kiwi, this stuffed one is the closest we've been to one. It's on my list!

We were happy to take a few days last week to go north one more time before we leave NZ.  We went with the Bath's and were able to show them places we've seen before, and even went to some new places! North of Whangarei is this gem of a beach, and worth the extra drive off the main highway! 

This boat sailed out of a cove right into our view and we thought it was pretty cool to see. 

Next stop was Paihia in the Bay of (over150) Islands, which is everyone's favorite place to go. There was a cruise ship out in the harbor, and we met lots of "cruisers" in the shops. This picture is from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where we had a wonderful tour, learning about the making of Maori and English history together. 

We experienced a Maori traditional performance in the Marae, which included the Haka.

The performers kindly posed with us. Elder and Sister Bath are much more fierce than we are! 

We love Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri!

This is hard to read, but we loved Matauri Bay with a view of the Cavalli Islands! 

Our next destination was the Karikari Peninsula, where we stayed at the Peppers Carrington golf resort. Karikari Beach is a great place to find lots of sea shells, and Sister Bath and I enjoyed a solitary morning there while our husband's golfed. It was a Father's Day treat for them! 

Matai Bay is a picturesque and protected bay on the east side of the pinensula.

It was so fun showing off this beautiful beach to the Bath's! 

Have you ever seen a pig at the beach? We watched him digging the sand with his snout and eating tiny bugs.  Not sure how he tasted them from all the sand, but he was relentless in pursuit of those bugs! Not sure who he belonged to.

Three sea gulls waiting for something to happen.

Matai Bay is so calm and clear, and a beautiful place to relax.

A trip north isn't complete without the extra drive to the very tip top of NZ! The white caps in the water are where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean currents meet. 

It's always windy here, but worth being at the top of NZ seeing beautiful views of the ocean, white sands, and rocky cliffs. 

90 Mile Beach is fun to drive on, but there's always a worry of getting stuck in the sand and no one around to get us unstuck, so we never venture too far. Didn't see any other cars on the beach that day.

Back home again, and Sunday a great Fast day. Elder Martin was able to bless Kelly's little baby, Owen. He can't take his eyes off Elder Martin and is such a cutie! We've enjoyed FHE lessons with this  family of boys for the whole 18 months of our mission! They are so smart and sweet and we pray they will continue to keep the commandments and attend church! 

Happy birthday to Sister Bath! We love our friendship with her and Elder Bath, and they are hard working missionaries! She is the kindest, most caring and thorough nurse to all of the Auckland missionaries! Elder Bath is the expert and very needed bike repairman, as well as Sister Bath's driver! They are also Addiction Recovery missionaries! 

Happy Father's Day to the men in this part of the world! This photo is from last year's Father's Day Luau and dance with Brother Jenkins, Elder Martin, and Brother Campbell. It was wonderful today hearing so many youth honor their fathers and others as they gave heartfelt testimonies! We have great youth in the Waterlea Park Ward!

Jesus Christ is also the only path to salvation! We teach faith and repentance, which is simple and essential both before baptism and through the end of our lives! Beware of pride, repent, worthily partake of the Sacrament weekly, and serve, serve, serve! This is hope and our prayer!

Have a great week, and be healthy and safe!
Elder and Sister Martin