Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 17, 2016

The Auckland Mission Sisters were treated to a special Sister's meeting last week. The theme was "We need women who. . .", with a call for women to deepen their discipleship. The oyster and a pearl were used to talk about how we can become more perfect "pearls". Just as the oyster covers the grain of sand sand with layers and layers of calcium and silica that creates a pearl, we need to add layers of gospel knowledge, testimony and service to perfect ourselves. 

The Oyster

There once was an oyster
Whose story I tell,
Who found that some sand 
Had got into his shell.
It was only a grain,
But it gave him great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they’re so plain.

Now, did he berate
The harsh working of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?
Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?

No – he sad to himself
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.
Now the years have rolled around,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
Destiny – stew.

And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.
Now the tale has a moral;
For isn’t it grand
What an oyster can do 
With a morsel of sand?

What couldn’t we do
If we’d only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.

 Author: Unknown
Elder and Sister Balli are in the middle surrounded by all the mission "pearls"! Can you find me?

Last week for FHE all the Senior Couples met with the Area Presidency as they talked to us about their experiences at General Conference meeting with the Apostles. Just one thing of many great teachings President Kevin Pearson told us was

"There is no more room for casual teaching of the gospel in our homes.

The tools of deception & distraction are becoming pervasive throughout the world."

We must teach The Plan of Salvation and the true purpose of life in our homes if we are going to have any hope of preparing for the 2nd coming. The instruction at church is not enough.

"We are living in troubled times. We need to pray mightily to understand what we can do to teach our children and grandchildren, to help them find deep, personal testimony of the Saviour.

The greatest problem our grandkids have may be their parents. We are not done teaching.  We need to look for ways to continue to bring righteous teachings to our family in the days to come.


Hope is always smiling before us.   We need not fear."

These two are here for a visit! Connie (Craig's sister) and Ken Taylor! We have had a fun few days with them before they leave to see New Zealand's South Island. We have taken them to the beautiful beaches, waterfalls and countryside around the Auckland area. A lot of places we've been to more than once, but love to see again. 
Everywhere we travel there are fields like this with of lots of sheep. Connie commented that it looks like a storybook land with the bright green hills dotted with sheep.

We went to the market in Matakana, which has become a favorite stopping place for us on some Saturdays. Lots of items and different foods to buy attract heaps of people to this tiny town. I love the booth where I can buy beautiful and unusual shells so reasonably. 

We went to the Parry Kauri Park to see the almost decimated Kauri trees. It is a park with a walkway through unspoiled jungle, or bush, as they call it. These are the tops of the tree ferns that we are looking down on from a platform. The trunks below them are about 20 feet tall, all growing toward the sunlight. They look like giant umbrellas! 

You can see the tall tree fern over the heads of Craig, Connie and Ken, and lots of dense bush!

This is a grove of young Kauri trees that might only be about 1-2 hundred years old. The oldest and largest tree in this park is 800 years old (the oldest Kauri tree in the country is 2000 years). 

Here's my happy companion. He is a great driver, taking us safely to all these beautiful places! 

This beautiful waterfall is only 35 min. from our home and was a perfect Sunday afternoon drive. Too bad it was raining, but that didn't hinder the beauty of the falls.  

Our grandson, Kendall, wrote this at school. It says "If I can go anywhere, I would go to New Zealand and eat other kinds of candy!" So cute. They like the "weird candy" we've sent in the mail. 

Friday night we had a farewell party for a couple heading home after almost two years here. This is their third mission, but their first MLS assignment. They have loved their mission and hate to go home! They've served the people well and made lifelong friends. We will be the same as them at the end of our time. Leaving will be tough!

Another thing President Pearson said is that the church hopes "for a surge in Senior Missionaries that will rival what we have seen recently in young missionaries". Leaving home for a mission is a great way for couples to not only serve others, but to serve each other! It is teaching us to appreciate one another as we grow closer together. 

At church today I asked an member how he was. He said it didn't matter how he was, but that he was there. What a reminder of commitment and truth in that statement. Showing up for church is essential! 

We are thankful for all our many blessings, for good health and strength, a supportive family and loving friends. Thank you for your prayers for us. We always need extra blessings to keep us safe while driving on the wrong side of the road. It is still a challenge at times!

Love you, 
Elder and Sister Martin

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