Sunday, January 3, 2016

January 3, 2016

It's not only Christmas vacation, but it's summer vacation too! Relatives are visiting, family stuff is going on, and people are at the beach, so missionary work is slow. 

Since they had never been, we thought this was a good time to take the Sisters out on their P-day to lunch and a drive to One Tree Hill. It was a glorious day and they loved the park. Everyone loves this park and it is a "must see" when you visit Auckland. 

The Strawberry Farm for an ice cream is a "must do" after! The crowd of people and line for ice cream is intimidating, but we persevered and had our reward. Elder Martin opted to wait in the car!

Monday evening for FHE we met with just the few Senior couples from the Manukau area and were treated to a wonderful video of a talk Elder Bednar gave at the MTC here in Hamilton a few years ago. In it he quoted Elder Neal Maxwell who said, "Without Jesus' sublime character, there would have been no sublime atonement!" He talks about the character of Christ, links the word "character" with "charity" and teaches that our natural tendency is to reach inward when we should reach outward. The Saviour always reached outward! There is a similar talk you can read online that Elder Bednar gave Jan. 25, 2003 at a BYU-I Symposium, entitled, "The Character of Christ". I would recommend looking this up and reading it. We were all stunned and enlightened by Elder Bednar's message and insights!

I couldn't pass up these Shasta Daisies without taking a picture! Tons and tons of them at one house!

And at another house was this beauty! 
This year, since we meet for church at 9 am Sundays, our ward is in charge of providing fresh flowers weekly for the chapel. I signed up to bring some flower arrangements on Jan. 30 because I wanted to participate. Now I am worried my contribution will be slim, unless I either spend a lot of money or scope out some yards with flowers like these and ask if they will donate some beautiful pickings for a good cause. Usually, there are 3-5 different arrangements donated made from flowers from member's gardens!

Wednesday, we left Auckland with another couple, the Bath's, and drove to The Bay of Islands, about 3 hours north. This bay has 144 islands, is a cruise destination and is very beautiful! Fortunately, another Senior couple live and work there, and we were able to stay in their home. Craig and I visited this place last June for one night and loved it. A return trip for New Years was very exciting. 

On New Year's Eve day, while the guys went golfing, Sister Bath and I did some browsing at the local arts fair.

With extra time on our hands, we took the ferry across the bay to the picturesque and historical town of Russell. Such a fun place to browse with shops and places to eat.

This hydrangea is just a sample of the thousands of hydrangeas growing plentifully all over NZ in blues, purples, pinks, whites, and even yellows. 

Sister Bath and I hoofed it to Long Beach, just over the hill from Russell, and spent the afternoon loving the views, and whatever sun would peek out from the clouds. The wind was blowing like crazy, and although we thought the temp. was too cold for wading in bathing suits, you can see it didn't stop other people from getting wet. We were hoping the owner of this red watercraft would come and launch it in the water. 

This and one other crab was the only "find" on the beach, and we were happy to leave them alone. We didn't realize crabs had only one large claw. This guy is really quite colorful too!

We talked the men into coming over to Russell on the car ferry to pick us up at the beach. Then we had a nice dinner on the waterfront at Sally's Cafe.

The guys had a great time golfing, and although I felt a little beat up by the wind, it was a nice day on the beach. Little did we know at this moment that our sailing trip around the islands the next day would be canceled because of rain. It didn't just rain a little. It rained hard all night, all day, and all night and day again! So much for fun in the sun at The Bay of Islands! 

After playing card games all afternoon, even with it raining, we decided to go for an hour drive to a place we heard was beautiful, called Oke Bay. We ended up on a gravel road most of the way and had to ford a small stream running across the road, but found our way and it was a beautiful spot. On a sunny day, the water would've been turquoise. I doubt we will ever make it back there, but it was a fun adventure.

Our last day, we drove to Haruru Falls and with the rain, tons of water was rushing over the falls! We then drove home along the west side of the country through the Kauri forest, and it rained all day, the whole way! We had some traffic jams along the way with other vacationers coming home.

All day we saw tons of these beautiful Lily of the Nile blooms growing wild along the roads. My parents had these in our yard in California and I loved seeing them bloom all summer. So beautiful!

We hope to get back up to The Bay of Islands again for a sunny day of sailing around the islands. It was a fun time, and we had to remind ourselves that we are missionaries and not tourists! Sister Bath is the mission nurse and was always reminded of her duties, because she had lots of phone calls from  missionaries needing help with everything from chicken pox to back pains, to flea bites! 

Our young Sisters love to let us know they are around and left this note for us on our car! 
It says, "The Sisters love ya'll! We hope you have an excellent day, full of happiness and sunshine, love Sister Trull and Selwa". We are so blessed to work with these sweet Sisters!

Happy New Year everyone! Thinking about goals for self-improvement this new year, I found this on FB about 16 possible New Years Resolutions from the prophets for 2016. Here is the list compiled by Utah Valley360, issue 12/29/2015, and taken from Oct. 2015 General Conference talks:

 1. Stop worrying.
 2. Keep the sabbath day holy.
 3. Avoid or get out of debt.
 4. Invite the Spirit into your life.
 5. Be temple worthy.
 6. See the best in others.
 7. Simplify
 8. Come unto Christ.
 9. Show greater love for others.
10. Read the Book of Mormon
11. Repent
12. Exercise self-control
13. Be an example.
14. Be a Leader.
15. Humbly accept correction
16. Study latter-day revelation.

Hopefully there are one or more items above that will make our "to do" list for 2016!
I know with the time we have left here in NZ, we are digging in to do as much service as we can, with maybe a few more trips here and there. We love our mission and we love the NZ people!

Our prayers are for you, as yours are for us! Thank you!
Elder and Sister Martin

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