Saturday, February 27, 2016

February 28, 2016

Happy Leap Day and Year!!! 

Last week was a good week with some great visits and opportunities for service.
We were able to connect with some people we haven't seen for a while and felt really welcomed. 

One Sister expressed her desire to return to church, has been praying and reading her scriptures, and even set up a night for us to be with her family. Every time we've been in her home we've felt the Spirit with this great family. 

Also, a recent widow, opened up about her pain and struggles of her children with their loss. We were able to leave with a message of peace along with a prayer. We hope she will come to church but that may be a ways off. 

A member called us who should've been at work, but a phone call from her neighbor brought her home early, to a watery mess in her basement/garage from a broken pipe. Because we couldn't get there right away, I called the High Priest Group Leader, who went right over. We got there at the tail end to help a little bit, and were thankful for the quick response of the Priesthood. This woman made lemonade out of lemons. The broken pipe was quickly fixed and she looked at the mess as an opportunity to clean out her basement/garage. 

Yes, they do have Dunkin Donut stores here, but we have never been to one. Since we were meeting the Sisters for Companion Study on Tuesday morning, we thought it might be fun to take them some American style donuts. We bought 5 for only $13 and got a 6th one free! That is why we have never bought any. Thank goodness there is no Krispy Creme here. 

We enjoyed helping the Sisters role play for their lesson that night. They are teaching a new family and they did great. In fact, this family will be getting baptized on March 12!!!  They are a lovely family of 7 children and are truly golden. The first Sunday, even before their first lesson, they apologized for not coming to church. The father said they have to go back to their own church to say goodbye. They have attended our ward ever since. 

This week was our grandson, Isaac's 5th birthday and his father's 40th!! Happy Birthday!!!

A Brother had some questions for Elder Martin about a certain New Testament parable. At his house, Elder Martin was able to explain to him the parable, and I got to hold their baby while his wife put children to bed and caught up on some laundry. It turns out that because this member learned and understood this parable, he expressed appreciation to his father in law for all he had done for them, which immediately broke down years of barriers between the two. Simple service goes along way. 

Zone training last week emphasized teaching repentance. There is a great article in the February Ensign this month about repentance. It says, 
"In our day we may fall into a self-satisfied routine of gospel living. We tell ourselves, “I go to church, I pay my tithing, I live the Word of Wisdom--I’m doing just fine. Without realizing it, we may fall into the trap of ignoring those sins that don’t show to the outside world." 
We all have need of daily/weekly repentance. 

For fun we met Sister Trull and her companion, Sister Lott, and took them out to lunch. It was special to be with her again. Elder Martin is the missionary's "Gospel question/answer-man" and Sister Trull always has great questions to ask him. 

When possible, we show the movies, Meet the Mormons, Ephraim's Rescue  and Cokeville Miracles to families in the ward. We brought these videos from the U.S. and all are true stories with great messages. Everyone should see them. 

We've had some beautiful days, but it was still hot in the sun. The Sisters are smart to carry these giant golf umbrellas to protect themselves from the burning rays. Elder Martin and I have AC and a car so we think it's perfect outside. 

Friday night, with a group of Senior couples, we went to a NZ production of Phantom of the Opera at the beautiful Civic Center Theater in downtown Auckland. We've seen this play twice, in LA and Kansas City, and we were glad to see it here because it was wonderful!!! Yes, Seniors are allowed to attend plays!

No beach experience for us on Saturday, but we enjoyed participating in a bi-stake "Helping Hands" service project. We didn't have yellow vests to wear, but that didn't keep us from filling up a large bag of rubbish as we walked around a huge park. Tin cans, shopping carts and furniture were also retrieved from the bush. This Sister from our ward was working very hard and we stopped to have a picture with her. It was a great turnout of members. 

In addition, members and missionaries went door to door passing out 3000+ crime prevention flyers. One American Elder told me he had good responses from the neighborhood to the flyers, and one bad response by a man who cussed him out in Samoan. Then this very blonde Samoan-speaking Elder answered the man back in Samoan, "Have a nice day", and the man's face dropped! Funny and unexpected!

This is part of the "Helping Hands" volunteers before we went home. Can you find me with my sunglasses on? 

Saturday night was the baptism of Brother Afoa's three adopted children, Rose, James and Solomoa. There was also three 8 year old member baptisms too! It was a great night. The YSA were on the program, but none came forward to sing, so Brother Lawrence called Brother Talea from the audience to sing! Without hesitation, he came forward and sang wonderfully. Never before have I seen someone do that. George is my hero! 

Afterwards, we went with the Sisters to Brother Lawrence's house for Maori fry bread. I brought ingredients for Indian tacos, using the fry bread, which everyone loved. Just spreading American cuisine around!

This is a baby hedgehog we saw drinking water on the side of a country road. We stopped the car to take a look and for photos, and it never stopped drinking or even looked at us. So cute!

I saw this photo on FB and thought it was funny, but corny and a must to share!

This was an ordinary week, but not without extraordinary learning and progression for many!  President Balli told us that the success of a mission is gauged by the growth of the missionary. If this is true, Elder Martin and I are truly successful missionaries! Everyday is a good day!

The Mission prints a "Miracle Book" once a year with miracle stories submitted by the missionaries. Before we go home, we hope to be able to add a story in next year's book about it being a miracle that we never got into a car accident here! We never leave our apartment without a prayer for safety, and we have been saved from disaster many times. Driving on the wrong side of the road is a challenge!

We are so thankful for this opportunity to serve and be missionaries, especially here in New Zealand! We love our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ!  We know this is His true church, restored again in these latter days. Our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, along with the twelve Apostles, lead and guide this church and it is a beacon of light in the world. The Book of Mormon is true scripture and another testament of Jesus Christ. We admonish all to read it and pray to know for yourselves that it is true! We pray for all of you and love you! 

Elder and Sister Martin

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