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

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