Saturday, March 5, 2016

March 6, 2016

We don't try to coordinate colors in our clothing choices, but sometimes it just happens!
The Sisters always laugh when it happens. 

Elder Martin always has a smile on his face though, and that is why he is a great missionary. We wouldn't be welcome in homes or have much success teaching The Plan of Happiness, if we weren't happy people. I like that Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, "You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness." If we follow the commandments, we will still have challenges, but we will be happy. 

One thing that did bring a frown to Elder Martin's face last week was preparing his taxes. We took an afternoon off so he could figure it all out, and it wasn't pretty, but what can we do. We all pay high taxes. 

Elder Dunn, from Fiji and our Zone leader, is "dying" this week. Not literally, but that is the term the young missionaries use when someone is finished with their mission and going home. When a missionary leaves the MTC, their first area is where they are "born". When a Sister becomes a trainer, she is having a "baby". When an Elder is out one year, he burns a tie to celebrate. Hopefully, he burns it outside his flat. Senior couples don't have any status words or rituals. We miss out on that fun!

Here is our small District: Sister Selwa (Zambia) and Placido (Philipines) and Elders Dalton (U.S.A.) and Mahoney (Australia). We have transfers this week, so there will most likely be changes. We know it's good for the missionaries to move around, but we are sad for them to leave. 

Have you ever seen a black swan? They are common here. I love their red beaks. We came upon bunches of them at Lake Takapuna, in north Auckland. 

This is one side of Lake Takapuna with lots of black swans out getting their breakfast. The Mission home where President Balli and Sister Balli live is at this lake and we came here for a special Senior Missionary Conference. The Balli's have been here for 1 1/2 years and they are wonderful! We love their guidance and wisdom.

There 8 couples in the Auckland mission and all of us in attendance. We each told some things that make our mission a success, and also told how we best keep in touch with our children. Then we each bore our testimonies. We learned some great things from the other couples and really felt the Holy Spirit in the room as we each testified of our love and devotion for the Savior and our missionary callings. Many talked about the great blessings their families have received as a result of their missionary service: reactivations back to the church, healings, job opportunities, new babies, etc. All are wonderful! 

We enjoyed a yummy taco salad lunch with ice cream for dessert. Anything Mexican is always a treat!

From left to right is Sister Balli (President Balli was taking the picture), the Bath's, the Calderwood's, the Clement's, the Terry's, the Irvine's, us, the Garth's, and the Jackson's. All are great people we love to be with, and it was wonderful being together and sharing. 

The mission home is lovely with a lake view from the balcony and big windows. It is very roomy and open inside with 3 bedrooms, garage and laundry downstairs and then upstairs, a large formal lounge and dining room, a big kitchen, family lounge and the master bedroom. This home is worth several million, I'm sure. 

Since this is the first year of our new Penrose Stake, we got to celebrate Relief Society's 174th anniversary down in Hamilton at the beautiful, new church-owned camp. Over 200 women attended, and this is the view of the Temple at dusk from the main pavilion. 

We all had cabins to sleep in, except some brought tents. Friday night was a dinner, devotional and musical numbers from all the wards. This is Sister Pangatau and I with her sister-in-law. Everyone was in high spirits, happy to be near the temple and celebrating together. 

This is our ward and the Nueyan ward performing together. I wasn't able to attend the practices, so I stayed out of the way and enjoyed from the cheering section. Sister Scanlan and Sister Coe, our Relief Society President are in the front. 

Sister Ahakovi, our bishop's wife, and Sister Young-yen, our Stake President's wife are leading the way with great enthusiasm and zeal! The noise level reached a deafening sound from all the singing and laughing as the evening progressed. Then two gigantic sheet cakes were served, after singing Happy Birthday to the Relief Society and blowing out candles. 

I was on the top bunk in our cabin with 8 other ladies. The facilities were great and we were all very comfy. Morning came early though, getting up at 5am for breakfast, devotional, and off to the temple, which was a very busy place. We were served a nice BBQ for lunch, then a service project of lawn mowing, weeding, and other outside cleanup. After that, everyone was pretty hot, so there was water games planned with water balloons and water squirters to cool everyone off. Cleanup and then photos were the last items on the agenda. 

I was really happy to have the opportunity to attend this Relief Society camp. I drove down with Gaelene and Elder Martin stayed home (he had our taxes to finish). Gaelene and I had a great time, and I loved getting closer to many of the other sisters. One in particular is a non-member getting baptized in a few weeks, and camp was a great event for her to see how we "party" in a clean way, and meet lots of women.  Also, another sister coming back into activity, who gave extra service at the camp and met lots of new friends. Elder Martin and I love her family so much and are thrilled that she had such a good time. We have wonderful women in our wonderful stake. 

Gaelene and I took a side trip to Bridal Veil Falls, west of Hamilton. I had been wanting to go there, and even with the "twisty, curly" road (as Gelene described it), we were not disappointed and it was worth the trip. The long drop makes such a lovely waterfall. 

From the waterfall viewing platform, we could see the bush line, and above it, beautiful grazing land and farmland. The trip home wasn't complete without a stop in Pokeno for ice cream. There we met up with several members coming home from the camp. 

Elder Martin survived without me, barely! He finished as much as he could on our taxes, and then played a game of golf with some other Senior Elders. He was exhausted and sun burnt. The course was very hilly, and with the sun beating on them, it was a tough game. Electric carts are for the rich or the infirmed (with a medical note), so he is getting more used to a pull cart, but even they take a lot of effort on hilly courses. 

Actually, the Relief Society celebration continued after the camp til Sunday night, finishing with a wonderful fireside, where examples of great women were talked about. From the scriptures, the woman at the well and the widow from Zarephath, the pioneers in the U.S. and in NZ, and lessons from loving mothers and wise grandmothers. So much time, planning, and hard work went into this weekend celebration from the stake RS presidency and so many others. This weekend was a real highlight of our mission. 

I love this advice. There is always adversity around us, but if we don't let it inside, we will stay afloat. Our ships remain watertight from the love and kindness we show others, by keeping the commandments, prayer, reading scriptures, and keeping the Sabbath Day holy. All these we must do over and over again to maintain strong "ships".

Please maintain your ship and be strong against the adversary. Take time away from the world every day to feed your spirit. Clean off the barnacles, repair rotting wood, and put on a new coat of paint. Make your ship watertight. You are the skipper of your own happiness.

We love and appreciate all your support and prayers.  Pray for ALL the missionaries. They work so hard. 

Elder and Sister Martin

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful place!! The Relief Society Camp sounds wonderful as does your meeting with the other senior missionaries! I love your message about happiness and keeping our ships in good shape. You two are a great example of choosing happiness! Thank you!! Love your blog!!
    Linda Jones