Sunday, January 24, 2016

January 24, 2016

We aren't too good at selfies, but sometimes we just have to take them.
Summer weather has arrived. February is equivalent to our August and everyone is hot. It's still only in the low 80's, and we are enjoying some sun. Our daily walk in the park is starting earlier to beat the heat though. Vacations are winding down and schools are starting again next week.

Brother Ezekiala, a wonderful member of the ward from the Cook Islands, is moving back there and we are sad to see him go. He has a home there and that's where he wants to die. He is a healthy 80-something, hard-working man. We took him to lunch last week along with his daughter, who came here from Australia to help pack up his house. He and his deceased wife raised 12 faithful children and at one time he had 11 grandchildren serving missions at the same time. He is an example of faith, good works, and enduring to the end. 

I have to admit I was feeling a little down last week. I was thinking about the about some people we visit and their continued disinterest in church, others who's progress is so slow, and a few that I worry will lapse back to their old ways after we leave. Then after a lesson, a man said the closing prayer, and humbly thanked God for us, for bringing us from so far to his home to teach him. I was so touched and then I remembered that we are here on God's errand and He is in charge and He will take care of everything.  I just needed a reminder.

This is Elder Martin with Alex, another member of our ward. We visit him every week and thought an outing to his favorite place would be fun for him, and he treated us to a very nice lunch. We brought him here before Christmas as well. 

There is always a beautiful view of downtown Auckland from Devonport. 

This is the ferry that goes back and forth from Auckland to Devonport. I wanted to take the ferry, but was outvoted. 

These darling Sister missionaries from our ward look fresh and lovely. You wouldn't know that they walk everywhere in the warm sun, talking to everyone they meet, without complaint and are stil smiling! Who wouldn't want them in their home teaching the Gospel? They told us about a man working in his garage that they offered to help. He said no, that they wouldn't want to get their hands dirty, but they told him dirt washes off, so he gave them the job of stripping plastic off copper wires. Random, but a simple act of service.

We visited a older man named Heta who has not been active in the church for a lot of years, and is now living with his daughter. We could tell he enjoyed our visit and told him we would like to come again to show him a great video we have. We also offered to bring him to church if he wanted. He responded by saying, "I don't like making arrangements because I don't want to disappoint people, but I'm home all the time so please come." Not sure what he meant, but the Sister missionaries, who went there once told us we've got to see the tattoo on his arm. Can't wait! 

The Bath's are our P-day partners, and it was nice to meet up during the week for a picture when we had our actual missionary clothes on. We were with them and lots of missionaries for a world-wide Mission Devotional streamed live from Salt Lake City to chapels everywhere in the world.  Unfortunately, technology didn't work well at our designated chapel and with frustration, our Mission President ended the meeting. But first he left us with a short message about setting goals. He said, without goals we cannot gauge our progress, and just being busy isn't progress! Our mission experience will fly by so quickly and we can't waste it doing busy work! We must be setting goals and working our goals! Each day needs to count towards someone's progress in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! 

I had to laugh at this photo. We have a lot of missionary discussions with Senior missionaries while enjoying the beach!

It was off to the majestic Muriwai beach again for our P-day. The last time we were here there was a gale wind and these Gannet birds were just nesting. This time, there was just a little wind and we could see the young Gannets with their parents. 

The older babies have darker feathers, and the newer babies still have fuzzy fluff. These birds mate for life and seem to be co-partners in raising their young. One sits with the baby, while the other flys off for food or whatever. Then it comes back and the other parent leaves. Soon all the birds will take off for Australia, not to be seen again here until next November. 

This is a beautiful view of a small beach on south side of the Gannet colony. This is the Tasman Sea on the west side of New Zealand. 

This is our view on the north side of the Gannet Colony. The ladies spent the rest of the day down on the beach below, and the guys went off to the golf course, which you can see in the distance where it's green.

Sister Bath and now Sister Jackson are my P-day beach buddies. Thankfully, both their husbands love to golf with Elder Martin!  We all had the best day doing what we love.  This beach must be the dog beach because there were tons of people with their dogs, and we were missing our dogs we left behind at home! 

Another fun beach picture that is so true! I never dreamed though, that we would get to serve a mission and also go to some of the most beautiful beaches! How amazing is this! 

Today, the High Priests were in charge of the program at church and Craig had been practicing a musical number for it with 3 other men, and he thought they were singing in a quartet. When it was time for them to sing, Craig joined the 3 other men at the podium and then about 10 more men came up front to sing also, and none had been to any of the practices! It still sounded good, but Craig was completely baffled. 

Also today at church, the older man Craig has been teaching to read since last May, gave a short talk. I was stunned that he agreed to it because he never says more than one word in a conversation! He walked up and gave a short, heartfelt testimony. Afterwards, he told Craig that he was so nervous to speak, but decided to just say what was on his mind and then sit down. He said he was so proud of himself, that he's decided to go on a mission, and he wants Craig to talk to him about it this week! He will be sad when he learns there are no bachelors allowed in the mission field, but maybe that it will encourage him to finally marry?

I will end this blog post with one of many stories I heard this weekend from a wonderful, faithful woman in our ward. Miracles are common among the Island members here, but they are not taken for granted. 
She told me about her young daughter who, years ago, had a serious physical problem that needed attention. They lived on one of the islands at that time and her child needed to come to New Zealand for the surgery. They had no money and sadly, were rejected by the church welfare to transport and pay for her child's surgery. Her sister lived in Hawaii and told her to bring her child there. She took her daughter there and her sister took the child to a doctor. The doctor immediately put the child at the front of the line for surgery the next day. Her daughter was fixed up and when the sister went to pay the hospital, the bill was zero. She asked why that was so and the hospital told her that sometimes the bill is zero. This woman told me with tears in her eyes that when they had extra no money, they paid their tithing and fast offering and they had these blessings! 

I have to pinch myself that we are here serving a mission for the Lord and associating with these wonderful people. When they greet you, it's not with a handshake, but with a loving embrace and kiss on the cheek and I love this! Tonight at a member's home, I was introduced to a young man about 20 and he sweetly kissed my cheek and embraced me with reverence and respect! I had never seen him before. He also had given his uncle a hongi, which is Maori tradition of touching noses and foreheads in a greeting, and a tradition of sharing the breath of life. Another loving and kind gesture! 

Thank you for reading my blog posts. They are lengthy, but a way for me to tell a bit of our life here on this adventure in New Zealand. The Gospel is so true! We love the Book of Mormon and the opportunity to study, and teach, share and invite! We love you and miss you!

Elder and Sister Martin

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