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

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