Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 17, 2016

I was so happy this week to find out that a package I sent to Utah almost two months ago, and had thought was lost, had finally arrived. Of course, I could've replaced all the items I thought were lost.  
I imagine how much more intently Heavenly Father feels about the "loss" of even one of His children, who cannot be replaced, and how more joyful He is when they are "found"! A great lesson for us as found in the Parable of the Lost Sheep, Lost Silver, and the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.

Our Sisters are a three-some now for a few weeks, until transfers. They are such a cute and awesome force for the Lord! Our new addition is Sister Placito from Manila, Philippines. These young missionaries are like spiritual machines, doing the Lord's work rain or shine, day in and day out. They are so kind and loving towards us, always asking how they can help. They inspire us to do more. Thank goodness they are little so all three fit in the back of our little car!

The summer weather is finally nice, so it was time to take Family Home Evening outside! We got together with a few families at Ambury Park for burgers, watermelon, potato salad and games. The Sisters wore the kids out till they said, "no more games!"

Who couldn't love these beautiful smiling faces! 

The rugby ball got stuck in the tree and Maui, who is a natural tree climber, climbed up to get it. 
What a beautiful night for a casual time together at the park!

At the temple last week in the Distribution Center, we were able to buy a video called "In God We Trust, a History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Zealand". It is a great video narrated by President Sid Goeng and his wife, and only sold locally. It especially highlights the Maori revelations given in the 1800's by several Maori chiefs about how the people would know the true church by the missionaries who would come from the East, learn their language, eat their food and sleep in their homes. We have spent the week showing this video to several families, and they've enjoyed learning about the history of the church here in their country.

The week went by very quickly, with lots of visits and even two commitments from less active men to come to church. Saturday, we planned an excursion with other Senior couples to this beautiful spot. 

We toured around the Goat Island Marine Preserve in the Glass Bottom Boat! This little beach is a popular scuba diving, kayaking, and snorkeling spot, and there were tons of people on the beach and in the water. The boat skipper had to be so careful not to run over any snorkelers, because they are swimming with their heads down and not paying attention to the boat. 

There was 18 of us altogether. We got an eyeful of snapper and red moki, and some sea urchins; nothing too exotic, but fun to see. I started to get a little sea sick from looking down, so I looked up and forward. We also saw several caves on the island. It was a beautiful day and afterwards we went out to eat.

After lunch a few of us drove out to Anchor Bay on the Tawharanui Reserve and found this popular beach for locals! The waves looked fun for surfing, boogy boards and swimming. We parked ourselves on the beach and settled in for the rest of the afternoon. 

The guys left Sister Bath and I, and drove back to their favorite golf course. When they came back to get us most of the crowds were gone. This other section of the beach was pretty much deserted and low tide made the waves break way out there. 

This is the first time I've been warm enough to wear my tankini top, and no, we are not breaking our "Senior mission rules". 

Sister Bath is a fun beach companion, and we are more than happy to send our husbands off to golf while we enjoy the beach! They are giddy with excitement that they get to golf. 

This is what some bays look like at low tide. The boats are left, and the ground is dry enough to walk on out to the water. It's hard to believe that just hours earlier, these boats were floating and the water was lapping at the edges of the shore. 

This is a very thoughtful quote! We've been teaching lessons from Gospel Principles about Judgment Day and Exaultation, and in it we learn that after the Millennium we will be judged and sent to live in the kingdom that we are most comfortable, the kingdom we wanted and deserved! We won't get what we didn't live. Just like this quote that we "cannot pray for something and act less"! 

Today, Sunday, we were so happy that our two men who committed to coming to church, did come, and it was a great meeting for them! We hope and pray it's a new start for them. 

Also tonight were wonderful testimonies and music at the Come and See Fireside. A man who was baptized 3 weeks ago gave his testimony. His wife is a member, but she quit coming to church. When he asked her why, she said, "How would you like going to church alone?" He then realized how selfish he had been for being in his own world and not attending church with her.  He took the lessons and got baptized and now they look forward to going to the temple next year. 

Another couple spoke who were recently baptized. The husband had smoked, drank, and gambled. He even spent many nights in jail. She was an angry wife and their marriage was crumbling. Somehow they're 7 year old son invited the Sisters to their home and that started the process of change and conversion! 

Two great stories of people who recognized the simple truths of the Gospel and were courageous enough to listen as the Spirit testified to them that it was time to change, and change they did. May we all be courageous today, and make the necessary changes in our lives that will bring us closer to God! 

We love and pray for you each day! We love this opportunity to serve. It is a great blessing that we cherish! Service, whereever it is done, is a great blessing! 

Elder and Sister Martin

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