Sunday, May 22, 2016

May 22, 2016

Gabby and I were a little intimidated by these Maori performers at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds at the Bay of Islands, until one of them cracked a joke and I could see they were pretty nice! 

Beautiful sunrise outside our balcony. We aren't up with the sun like this most mornings but this day we were heading to the temple. 

We were happy to take Leti and Alice with us to the temple today. We had such a nice time visiting during the drive and Alice treated us all to lunch. Craig must have been a little sleepy from the drive because as the Witness Couple, I had to nudge him once to get out of his chair. That brought a little chuckle from everyone in the room. 

Stake Conference here is a weekend event! Festivities started Friday night at the Otahuhu Rec. Center. The stake rented it for the evening and there was lots of activities happening - swimming, basketball, volleyball, Zumba, ping pong, and even hip-hop dancing - and a great turnout! Craig was enjoying the ping pong, working up a sweat against alot of the men. He relaxed a little while playing Sister Kilgrow! 

Saturday and Sunday were Stake Conference meetings and these beautiful flowers were arranged for it by Sister Lawrence and Sister Ahokovi, our bishop's wife. Two talented ladies! 

Endless beautiful flowers!

Gardenia leis were presented to the presiding men and speakers at conference. A feast was also prepared for them, Tongan-style after the Saturday evening meeting, and a beautiful lunch after the Sunday meeting! Such amazing attention! 

There were many wonderful speakers with beautiful messages. We were so impressed with the humility and spirit presented from all of them! The visiting Area 70 member, Elder Aisake Tukuafu, is above (middle right) and he lives in Tonga. Also, the Favona and Primary choirs were inspiring! 

We were especially happy that Brother Kata and Brother Galu were presented and set apart as Elders today! What a wonderful blessing for their families! We love them so much and are so impressed with their diligence and commitment to the Gospel.

Gabby and Marty came at the right time, because now it has turned windy and rainy. We had a great week with them showing them some beautiful places in Auckland and north. We decided Puhoi is the best place for delicious ice cream! They make it here along with cheese and yogurt, and much more.

Gabby and I aren't riding these horses, but enjoyed watching them trot along Omaha Beach, one of our favorite places. We found a lot of sand dollars, or snapper biscuits (fish cookies), as they call them here. 

At Maraetai Beach instead of sand, we found all these shells! This photo would make a challenging  puzzle picture!

This is Ruakaka Beach and I love the reflection of the clouds on the watery sand. Craig and Marty were very patient while Gabby and I took long walks on all the beaches we visited. Gabby went home with quite a collection of shells!

We were able to take Marty and Gabby to the Bay of Islands and go on a boat tour for 4 hours. The water was too choppy to leave the protection of the little islands, so we toured around them. There are about 145 islands in the bay. We got rained on a little, but enjoyed the trip. Last time we were here, it was warmer and we took a sailboat trip, which as a very different way to see some of the islands. 

These are two small "islands". They have to have vegetation to be considered an island.

This is an embarrassing feast we enjoyed in Paihia at one of our favorite places, Jimmy Jack's Rib Shack. The best deal for 4! 

A nice view from our hotel. The temperatures were warm, although the sun hid behind the clouds most of the time. 

A dramatic and sacred welcome ceremony to the Marae at the Treaty Grounds. This is the place where in 1840, the treaty between the English and the Maori Chiefs was signed, giving power to the English to rule the island. 

This is a mushroom! There were about 5 of these along the road. It looks like a soccer ball!

The oldest stone house is in Kerikeri, and is now a gift shop. Lots of lovely things to see and buy.

We were able to show Marty and Gabby many different falls, Hanua Falls, Kitekite Falls, Haruru Falls, Rainbow Falls (above) and Bridal Veil Falls (below). They are all beautiful and different and we never get tired of seeing them. We missed the Whangarei Falls because we were in a hurry to get to the glow worm cave tour. 

After showing Marty and Gabby the temple in Hamilton, we found Mama's Donuts and had a real treat! Never again though! They were delish, but heavier than Krispy Creme at home. We loved Bridal Veil Falls, west of the temple. It was worth the extra drive, and was a short hike. 

We have seen a lot of beautiful places in our part of NZ, but we haven't seen everything. There are still many wonderful beaches, harbors, parks, etc. left to explore. We were happy to see Raglan Beach on the Tasman sea for the first time. 

Gabby and Sister Paegotau are best buddies now! Gabby and Marty got to attend church with us two Sunday's, enjoy a Mother's Day ward dinner, and a Senior Missionary Family Home Evening. This gave them the opportunity to mingle with the locals quite a bit, which they loved the most! They enjoyed a warm welcome, the testimonies, and felt the love that we feel all the time! We loved sharing that part of NZ with them! 

We were happy to get back to "work", and are so blessed for this great missionary opportunity in beautiful New Zealand! The clock is ticking and we don't want to miss any more days of sharing the message of the Gospel with our wonderful ward family! In conference today, Sister Reid told us "we should all have the courage to tell someone they would be an excellent member"! Elder Martin and I spend our time telling less active members how much the members need their service and help! Also, teaching how important the Plan of Salvation is, and keeping the Sabbath Day holy. 

A new member told us today that he left his old church for his family. They are all members of our church and he said, "I let go of what I liked to do, and joined my family." He is so happy! 

Let's all take our faith to a new level. Get out of our "Sunday routine" and do more! 

We love and appreciate all your love and prayers!
Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, May 8, 2016

May 8, 2013

The Happy Mother's Day!!!
This is my first Mother's Day without my dear, sweet mom! She is with Dad now and I am happy for her, and I know I will see her again. She is still cheering for me, and I always feel her love and support! 
With the Lord there is always a light at the end of the tunnel! We love working with the church members teaching them about the Light of Christ and how they can repent and find great hope and light through obedience and commitment to the commandments! 

We enjoyed some golf time with the missionaries in our District on their P-day. Elder Martin loves giving them some pointers and having a little competition. Not sure who won but they all had a great time!

Maui and TK had birthdays a day apart, so I made Texas Sheet Cake and we had a party!
I bought the candles and didn't realize they were the trick ones that reignite, so we had a lot of smoke and some laughs over that! We love these boys and the whole family! 

Only tech-savie Sisters know how to fit a crowd into a selfie! Such a talent! 

Craig took this picture while I was fussing about our flat. My phone battery died last week and luckily we had found a great place to fix Apple devices, so i was without it for only 3 days! I was afraid I would have to replace it, because even though Craig has an iPhone, we need mine too! I am the chief navigator, picture taker, texter, phone caller and appointment maker. iPhones make life easier! 

I started having issues with pain in my right knee, trying to slow me down, so I got an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon here. I only waited a few weeks for the appointment and he was happy to give me a cortisone shot. I hope it does the trick and I can do cartwheels again (kidding). I have to at least keep up with my companion on our walking trail!

We had a great time with the Kata family playing mini golf! Such a fun and cute course, we will have to go back! We love sharing some of what makes our family happy with this happy family!

We are happy to welcome Marty and Gabby to beautiful New Zealand! They are loving it here and we are being good missionaries with them! We have a week of places to go and see, and it's great to build strong family ties and memories together. 

We love and miss Sister Trull! She is just over the bridge in Onehunga and we are still keeping track of her! She loves her new area and companion, Sister Holt!  Two U.S.A. Sisters working hard! 

The most perfect day ever at Piha Beach! We started the day at One Tree Hill, hiked to Kitekite (kitykity) Falls, and ended at Piha! Even though we have been to these places numerous times, we always enjoy how beautiful they are! The company we are with make it the most special!

At low tide we are able to cross the beach to explore a new area, and love this cool cavity in the rock!
It makes us think of pirates and hidden treasure!

New Zealand wards know how to celebrate Mother's Day! All the women in our ward were honored with an amazing dinner, program and dance Saturday night. The men planned it all and served (although I know for sure that some great women helped too)! 

We were presented with a lei and there was even a nursery for the children! We love all of these lovely ladies and appreciate the help and support they give us! 

On Sunday, we were given a rose to wear, thanks to our wonderful Sister Ahokovi! 
A sweet man we visit gave me a box of candy and the Sisters gave me some warm socks they rolled into a cupcake liner so it looks like a cupcake, with a lollipop sticking out for the "cherry" (so cute)! 

Mother's Day evening in Devonport, enjoying the sunset and the beauty of the ocean! 

What a great Sabbath, feeling honored to be a mother, a wife and a missionary! 

We love you and thank you for your prayers!
Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May 1, 2016

This is such a lovely view of the area we serve from our mountain. We feel so blessed to be surrounded by the beautiful water of Manukau Harbor and Mangare Bridge. Last week was so great with a blend of sightseeing with Craig's sister, Connie and her husband, Ken, and missionary work. It is falltime here and while there is a little nip in the air, the temps are only in the mid to high 60's. 

We took a trip to south, starting with Hamilton and the Temple. I caught the temple's reflection in the window of the visitor's center with Christ's statue. The Hamilton Temple is always a "must" visit.

We dropped Connie and Ken off at Hobbiton, where Peter Jackson built the Hobbit hole village. This is a popular tourist stop and is busy all year round. 

We had already seen Hobbiton, but not Waiwere Waterfall, which was nearby, so that was our destination. We were surprised we could see it from the road as we drove to the parking lot. Little did we know what a tough 50 min. hike it was to the falls, but we made it, did it once, and will not do it again. We will be satisfied with this view from the road.

Waiwere Falls is the tallest waterfall on the North Island of New Zealand, plunging 153 meters in two steps (about 500 ft). There are so many beautiful waterfalls nearby and most are accessible within 5 min. of the parking lot. We find them pretty amazing and they are a full stream any time of the year!

The hike was a hard uphill rocky trail with steep steps in some places. If we had not hiked it, we would've missed this little gem of a mushroom. It is truly real! I saw one of these in our walking park last year and never thought I would see another one. We actually saw three of these and find them so magical. Almost something you would see Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz movies!

We were hiking through a rainforest with so much moss and green everywhere. The mist of the waterfall blankets this whole area. I couldn't get enough of gazing at this stream. 

Craig is looking at me and saying, "How did you get me to do this?" And this was the easy part of the trail.

I know I keep putting photos up of the grazing land with heaps of sheep, but we are always stunned by the beauty of the bright green grass.  We love to see the sheep and this is a good example of the narrow sheeptrails they make. 

After picking up Connie and Ken fron their Hobbiton tour, we drove over to Tauranga and Mount Manganui. This is a cruise ship stop and a beautiful beach city. I can imagine this beach full of people in the summertime. I've been wanting to see it so I'm glad we got to go, even for just a short walk on the beach. Connie couldn't get over all the sea shells washed up on the sand; too many for the picking. 

We found a nice place for dinner before the 3 hour drive home. Monday was ANZAM day, which is similar to our Memorial Day, so the only place we could fine open was a pub with a grill. 

Before their flight home late Tuesday night, we spent the afternoon driving to Manukau Heads and lighthouse. Last time we were here was with our good friends, the Watsabaughs, only when we got here the gate was closed and we couldn't get in. Now we know the gate closes at 5:00pm. It's and hour and a half drive here, so definitely important to know that it closes! 

There is such a nice view of the narrow opening of the Harbor. Not many ships come in though because it is also a shallow harbor.

This is a view of the light inside the lighthouse. 

While we were able to show Connie and Ken, some of the beautiful places around Auckland, we did also expose them to a few of our missionary activities. We were able to take them to our mission "Come and See" fireside for investigators and new members, and they came to one of our member Family Home Evenings. By attending church two weekends in a row, they were considered "regulars" and were asked to transfer their records (just kidding). Craig tried to get them to go tracking with us, except we never go tracking, so that didn't happen! 

Back in "missionary mode" we continued with our scheduled Family Home Evenings and weekly appointments. We had a great Zone Meeting on Thursday up on top of Mangare Mountain! 
I talk a lot about our lovely Sister missionaries, but we love our Elders too! Elder Bass and Seelos are our Zone Leaders (middle and right) with Elder Dalton.

I love seeing those white shirts and dark pants of the Elders contrasted on the green grass! Along with the view of the bridge, the city behind, and the Rangitoto Island peak beyond! We are so impressed with the dedication and love the Elders have. 

These are the Elders and Sisters of a different Zone following behind us, but I loved this picture of them in the distance. The missionaries have a lofty view of their goals and the work to be done. Their faith and dedication is higher than any mountain! 

Sister Selwa was transferred way north and we miss her, but are happy Sister Kilgrow, from California, is with us now. She and Sister Placido have been companions before, so they make a good team. 

BYU' Living Lengends dance group is touring the Pacific and we got to see them Friday night! What a treat to enjoy these talented men and women as they shared their culture in song and dance. The costumes were incredible, and this group is worth seeing wherever they perform! It was a sold out night!

Our youth in the ward are in full fundraising mode with brownie sales, donut sales and a car wash on Saturday. Craig took our car, which was pretty dirty after all the driving. We had to avoid the brownies and donuts! 

I got to be with my "girlfriends" at Omaha beach while the guys golfed. There are not too many beach P-days with good weather left before winter, so we took advantage of a good day. 
"Life's truest happiness is found in friendships we make along the way,"

We got a little cold at the beach around 5, so we drove over to meet the guys, but they were not done golfing yet. This is a view of the golf course (beyond the rough) along the bay. Such a beautiful course with the trees and water! I wanted a photo of the guys, but it was dark when they showed up. 

This is a photo of our son in law, Paul Johnson, with his arms around his daughters at a track meet. Christy put this on Facebook, and it's such a sweet father/daughter picture, I had to share too! 
We miss our kids very much!

Who didn't LOVE this talk from Elder Holland at General Conference and this quote is the best! This quote gives me (and all of us) reassurance that perfection is not required right now! 

Our lesson in Relief Society today was from President Monson's short talk that Sunday morning session, and wasn't that a powerhouse talk? Here are a few amazing quotes:
"The choices we make determine our destiny."
"The path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life!"
"May we ever choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong."
"If we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice."

We love President Monson! We love the Apostles and leaders of this wonderful church! What a great blessing it is to serve. I can hardly keep my tears from flowing when I think of the love they have for us as they serve! I am overwhelmed when I think of the love our Saviour has for us! 

We send our love and prayers for you!
Elder and Sister Martin