Sunday, June 26, 2016

June 26, 2016

Every week is different from the last. There is always someone new to visit or someone we are helping move forward. We finally met Rosa, a widow with a lot of children, mostly grown, who give her a lot of grief. She was very welcoming and wants us to come back to answer some of her questions. Elder Martin is helping an older man use the computers at the public library so he can access and listen to Conference talks. We take for granted our ability to use a "mouse" and navigate to websites. 
It is a struggle for him.  We are also helping an older man with his family history by taking him to the Family History Library during the day.  Another man, Alex, wanted to update his will, so we helped him as he met with his lawyer, just to make sure his wishes were carried out. 

This is a typical scene outside the front door of homes with lots of people/children. We go to this home every week for a wonderful FHE and deposit our shoes outside along with theirs before entering. They have seven children, and last week when we arrived, their shoes were all stacked up neatly on one side of the porch so we didn't have to trip over them. So cute and thoughtful of them. The children were ready and waiting quietly for us to come inside. They like the game and treats the best!

This picture is of the two Stake Presidents we have had here. President Sione Tuione (right) was Stake President of the Manukau Stake. Last June the Penrose Stake was created and our Bishop, President Young Yen, (middle) was called as Stake President. President Tuione is now serving as Mission President over the Tongan Mission with his beautiful wife (left). This picture was taken in Salt Lake the day they were set apart. Both are great men! 

The Sisters really enjoyed learning how to weave and made some colorful Kete's! 

It's always a great day when I get to weave with Gaelene, who taught me over a year ago. We both wove beautiful backpacks. She works hard during the week as a nurse and I am so appreciative of her preparing the flax and setting time aside to do this. It's great girl time.

What was Elder Martin doing during that time? Being the handiman that he is, he spent the day in service fixing things at different homes! What a great missionary!

Sister Gila is going home to Vanuatu! We are sad to say goodbye! We will miss her smile, her cute giggle, her humility and her sweet testimony! She is a great missionary and served the Auckland NZ Mission well! We hope she comes to the U.S. for a visit sometime so we can see her again! 

Sister Paegotau arranged these flowers for church last week. I love the camillas and poinsettias together, and they are all from home gardens!  A very cheerful sight in the chapel! 

I coaxed these handsome young men, Maui and Sione, into taking a picture with Elder Martin. The young men here all where suits and look so sharp and ready to perform their Priesthood duties. 

I'm just a little obsessed with these cute red mushrooms. They are hard to find and I'm always on the lookout for them. After consulting Google about them, I learned that they are common in Europe and North America and were introduced into NZ. They are also hallucinogenic and poisonous. I won't be eating any, but just love to looking at them.

Here is a cluster of some button-looking mushrooms under the trees in the park. Not as colorful, but still pretty cute!

We took an overnight trip 2 hours north over the weekend with the Bath's to Waipu and Ruakaka! This view of the golf course and ocean rivals Pebble Beach anytime! The guys golfed Friday and Saturday and loved it, while Sister Bath and I enjoyed the beaches and found lots of beautiful shells. Winter doesn't keep us away from the beautiful beaches and golf courses!

More of the golf course.

We were so excited to hike to Piroa waterfalls, since we had never seen or heard of it before, and had only seen the sign on the highway! It was just a short downhill hike from the carpark and we were not disappointed!  The falls splash not on several large boulders and cascade into several pools. It is stunning, along with the stream it flows into and the bush around it!
Some pictures of the beaches we enjoyed. This is Langs Beach, where we found tons of shells. A local woman was collecting some shells with her grandson and said she had never seen that many shells before. We also went to Waipu Cove and Ruakaka, all in the same area. 

That is Taranga Island in the distance. It is a small, Nature Reserve, so no one is allowed to land or inhabit it. It is said to have rare and endangered fauna and flora, as well as historic Maori features from the tribe that inhabited it long ago.

Nothing new about rainbows here, since it rains a little everyday and they are quite common! This rainbow was a huge arch crossing the sky.

We had a rare treat today at church and in a member's home. This group of very talented men and women traveled from Laie, Hawaii to sing in Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua at LDS churches, service projects and meetings for the next two weeks. They will be singing tomorrow too, at a homeless shelter our ward is serving at. They financed this trip themselves and left spouses and work to come here to sing! Beautiful voices and harmony!
This is a picture from our granddaughter, Makayla who is 6, and it melted our hearts! We sure miss our grandchildren, but are so glad they are all happy, healthy, and well!

We've had our share of perfect moments with our children and grandchildren, and feel so blessed as a family. We've had some pretty perfect moments here on our mission too, even when they didn't  seem perfect at the time. We will look back when we leave NZ in a few months and think our time here was all pretty magical! We encourage all our family and friends to go on Senior Missions, when the time is right, but don't wait too long!!!

I heard a good quote today at church, "Gospel learning is of no use, unless it is accompanied by Gospel Living!" Having a knowledge about the Atonement doesn't matter unless we repent and live the commandments so it will take effect in our lives. Knowledge about keeping the Sabbath day holy and its blessings means nothing, if we don't observe to keep it holy every week.

We love our Waterlea Park Ward so much and the members are wonderful! We hated to see Sister Coe and her counselors be released from their callings today, but welcome Sister Aspinall, and support her totally! We give total credit to Sister Coe for helping us get started in our mission work in the ward. She saved us and helped us so much! The missionary work moves forward, slowly but sure! 

We thank our Heavenly Father for the blessings of the Gospel, for the Atonement, and for our prophet, Thomas S. Monson! We appreciate the work of these young missionaries! They are the Lord's rock stars! They are truly God's army! It is a privilege to work along side them and they keep us young!

Thank you for your love your prayers and your support!
Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, June 12, 2016

June 12, 2016

It is not offensive or intrusive to ask a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member "What is most important in your life right now?" Use their answer to lead into a gospel discussion. Or ask, "What role has religion played in your life?" See where it leads you to teaching them about God's love for them, reciting Joseph Smith's vision, or the explaining the Plan of Happiness! You don't have to be a scholar of doctrine or have all the answers to enjoy a good conversation that starts with sincere questions. 

I have learned that we all need to ask more questions. Ask others, ask ourselves, and ask Heavenly Father. We don't know until we ask. We gain knowledge through questions. It's easy to just "go with the flow", but we learn more about others, ourselves, our world, and the eternities by asking questions.

Last Monday was Queen Elizabeth's birthday and a national holiday, so we celebrated with the Afoa family. We had a fun FHE, complete with a birthday cake and song. Alice blew out the queen's candles! Everyone enjoys the long holiday weekend, and who doesn't like an extra day off work?

Last week was our Stake Temple Week. Of course we couldn't spend a week in Hamilton attending the temple, but we were able to go Tuesday for one of our ward sessions.  We took two extra sisters with us, which was a treat! Sister Martino, from the Cook Islands, is here for a vacation and was so happy to attend the temple after being away from it for almost 15 years. We met her at church and offered to take her with us since we had room in our car. I was so touched watching her tear up as she participated in temple ordinances. Also, Craig was able to participate in Sister Leti's family baptisms! Such a great time we had at the temple! 

Little Neville turned two and we were happy to share in his little celebration with Kelly, and the other boys. He was clapping his hands so cute for his cupcakes! 

Norton, Thor, Tyler, Stanley and Rogue can be quite a challenge for their mother, Kelly, but they love the missionaries, especially Elder Martin and the Sisters! 

We had a wonderful Zone Conference on Friday. We broke into lots of groups, with a young missionary companionship with a Senior couple. They were to teach us a first lesson about the Restoration and the Seniors were to rate them. Our guys were amazing and I really felt like an investigator! If they had asked to set a date for baptism, I would've jumped at it!

Unfortunately, so many missionaries are sick right now with fevers and respiratory problems, and we are surprised to still be well. Poor President Balli is smiling in this picture, but he's really struggled all week with Zone Conferences and being so sick! We were all asked not to give hugs or shake hands, but only bump elbows to keep contact to a minimum.

Friday night we had a fun movie night with the Kata family! We watched the movie, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and laughed so much! It's great to share these times with them! 

Some days it just doesn't seem like winter, especially after a week of rain, wind and cold like we had. We also love it when the best day of the week is our P-day! We took a cruise to and around Kawau Island and had the best day! There was only a small group of passengers, so we traveled on this smaller catamaran.

Our group of 8 gathered for fresh air and a better view out on the back of the boat for the 1 1/2 hour trip to our destination.

We arrived at the island and toured in and out of different bays and peninsulas, dropping off passengers and collecting and distributing mail. Along the way we enjoyed seeing activity along the shoreline. These guys were taking full advantage of the nice weather sunbathing after a swim. I love the Cypress looking trees up on the hill. 

I would like a boat named "Popeye"! So many boats and most homes have their own docks! 

This was a picturesque backyard at one home. So green and inviting with the palm trees and playground. We wondered as we saw so many homes, "Who lives in these places?" Apparently there are about 350 residents on this island, but only 40 are full-time. The rest are weekenders. There are no roads on the island, so no cars. 

This is the Mansion House, once owned by the former governor of New Zealand, Governor Grey. He owned the whole island, along with several other families after him. Eventually, the island was sold into lots and this house became the property of the Government to maintain, so it is now a museum.

This is a huge Moreton Fig tree on the Mansion House property. There was once, kangaroo, zebras and monkeys on the island. We saw peacocks and Wekas (a bird similar to the Kiwi).

The mansion is beautiful and furnished with period furniture. How wonderful it must've been to sit on this veranda and enjoy the ocean view way back then! Governor Grey's niece lived in the home with him, with her husband and their 9 children. There were many servants and grounds keepers. Such a lovely place!

We've never seen palm trees with such huge trunks. They said the monkeys loved the nuts from these palms!

Heading back to the mainland from the island, we had views of more green hillsides. We never tire from seeing these bright green rolling hills found everywhere in NZ. 

This is one of those giant cypress looking trees found out at Scott's Landing. It is hard to see Craig, but he is standing inside the middle section and is so small by comparison. We topped off our wonderful day with pizza and salad at our favorite Rusty Pelican restaurant in Matakana! 

These Sisters are so lovely and we are happy to work with them on a daily basis! They don't have a car and are out and about in rain or shine! The life of a young missionary is tough, but they love the work because they love the Lord! Missionary life is full of great blessings and great trials. Last night we responded with the Mission nurse to an Elder who fell off his bike and had a deep cut and horrific scrape on the side of his face. Thank goodness he had a helmet on or he might have had more damage. The nurse sent him and the Zone Leaders to Emergency for stitches. Last week another Elder slipped and face-planted on a wooden deck cutting his lip and he also needed stitches. With the cold, the flea bites and scabies are down, and hopefully the chicken pox epidemic is over. Crazy!

The work moves forward and regardless of challenges. We know Jesus Christ is leading His church and we are instruments in His hands! We are thankful for the promptings we receive from the Holy Ghost that direct us where to go, who to see, and what to say. Mostly, to protect us on the road. 

At night we have been watching the church video series, The Joseph Smith Papers, and have learned so much about the prophet, Joseph Smith! We know this is the restored church of Jesus Christ and what a marvelous church it is! Everyone should watch these videos! 

We are thankful to be missionaries and encourage everyone to go on a Senior mission! Thank you for your prayers and we feel your support! We love and miss you all!

Elder and Sister Martin

Sunday, June 5, 2016

June 5, 2016

It's a little hard going into our second winter here, but I'm determined to be smarter than last year and wear warmer clothes. Layering and warm scarves might be the answer, and I found some tights that are fleece-lined and so comfy. I even carry socks in my purse for homes with cold floors! Elder Martin likes his sweaters and fares pretty well. I feel sorry for our Sisters walking in the cold and rain, but they always have a smile on their faces. 

Sister Gila is going home this month and we traveled to see her before she goes back to Vanuatu. We introduced her to her first Mexican food for lunch!  We will miss her so much! Her smile transfers the light in her soul to everyone around her.  She is a true daughter of God and a great missionary! We only had her for one transfer, but she stole our hearts! 

Sister Placido and Kilgrow wanted to weave scripture cases, so they cut the flax, stripped and scraped it and Gaelene dyed it. She was generous enough to offer her home and expertise in helping them
complete the task. It was a fun night and they enjoyed the challenge, and they were good students!

Sister Kilgrow turned her scripture case into a hat! Love the colors and fringe!

We had a nice Chinese lunch at Dollie's, who is a non-member friend of a member. She is so sweet to us but not too interested in the church. We still love to visit her and share in her good humor, and she seems to like us too! In her backyard she has a beautiful garden and I noticed her huge pointsettia tree with giant blooms! Last summer she had a hydrangea bush with blooms the size of large dinner plates! 
Stanley is in town for his 13th birthday, coming up from the South Island where he is living with his grandmother, and we took him for mini golf with his brothers. Such a fun and crazy time, and they really had fun. Norton, the youngest won and got an ice cream bar for his prize. I love Thor's toothy grin.

I heard all this noise outside and looking out my window, saw this graduation procession from the nearby Manukau Institute of Technology. They were enthusiastically marching down the street, lead by a man in a beautiful kilt playing the bagpipes! I wanted to run down to march with them! They circled the block back to the Insistute. 

We took Alex, a 90 year old member, to see his friend in the hospital a few days before she died. After seeing where she was staying, he was able to take public transport to go see her one more time, but she had passed an hour before he got there. It was hard on him to see her go, because there are very few of his friends/family left. 

We watched "Other Side of Heaven"with the Kata's and even though I've seen it a few times, I enjoyed it so much more this time. Sister Kata is from the Cook Islands where it was filmed and she knew several people in the film and all the locations. Also, it was supposed to be a Tongan mission, and Brother Kata is Tongan and could interpret some of the language. It was just more personal to us because we are down here and closer to the Island people! What a great movie though!

We were so happy for the baptism of Norton and his older brother, Thor. This was the second time for Thor because the record of his baptism couldn't be found. Norton turned 8 two months ago. The boys clean up really nicely!

 TK Kata also turned 8 and was baptized. The best part of this story is that His father got to baptize him! What a great blessing for the Kata family that Lee was able to put his life in order to get the Priesthood and then be able to baptize his son.  His example also encouraged Maui, his nephew, to participate in his priesthood responsibilities, and the whole family is blessed! 

This is one of 5 beautiful flower arrangements for our Sunday service last week, made by the bishop's talented wife. These are flowers and greenery from home gardens in the area. Sela knows all the homes for clipping, but always asks permission first! 

We had a very moving and spiritual missionary fireside last week, with the theme, "We are God's hands".  Our very favorite and talented George sang a prelude song for it, after only being asked to sing a few minutes before it started! I thanked him and he just said, "I would do anything for the Lord!" We had several other wonderful musical numbers, along with testimonies from 3 new converts, including a 10 year old girl. There was also two other great speakers, and yummy refreshments. This is our second successful missionary fireside, with the help of our great ward mission leader and the full-time sister missionaries. We had several nonmembers and less active members attend. 

This is our first Waterlea Park Self-Reliance graduating class after their 12 week course. They all loved it and gained so much from attending, even resulting in new jobs for some! Their biggest cheerleaders are President Young Yen and Elder and Sister Jarvis (on the front row). The Jarvis' are Senior Self-Reliance missionaries. 

We had two birthday feasts and celebrations in one day! The first was our Zone leader, Elder Seelos, who turned a big19! A wonderful sister in his ward made our whole Zone breakfast, consisting of ham, bacon, chicken, fish, sausage, chicken soup, spaghetti, baked beans, scones, scrambled eggs, corn fritters, and egg foo young. There might've been more that I forgot. This breakfast reflected her great love for the missionaries! 

The second celebration was for Sonny that night, turning 39!  Millie, his flat mate, spent the whole day preparing food for all of us. She had salad, stir fry, roasted chicken, lamb, potatoes, rolls, taro, eggs, cole slaw, and more, along with a banana cake and ice cream. No wonder we've put on 10 lbs! We can't escape all the food and wonderful, generous members! 

It was time for transfers last week and we figured Elder Dalton and Sister Placido would be leaving our District! 

Goodby Sister Placido! We loved your "go get them" and "get it done" attitude and and will miss you. 

Hello Sister Fisiihoi, who is right out of the MTC and waiting for her visa so she can go to her true mission in Houston, TX. Sister Kilgrow is nervous about being a trainer, but she will do great! 

This isn't rush hour yet, but is one of those round-abouts so common here that rattle anyone from the U.S., esp. Elder Martin! Several lanes of traffic entering the center from 5 different directions, lots of traffic, and all on the "wrong" side of the street! Our mission has a ton of accidents and fender benders and Craig considers it our greatest mission miracle if we make it home alive!

We took Stanley to lunch and for his first time visit to One Tree Hill. We've been to this lovely place many times, but never stopped at the visitors center! What a great place with lots of history and info about the Park. Where Stanley lives on the South Island, the closest church is over an hour drive, and with no transport, it's impossible for him to attend church. We've wanted to give him a little fun to remember the missionaries by, and hope he reads his scriptures and stays true to what he's been taught, till he returns to his mother next year. 

Loved spending a beautiful winter day at the beach with my beach buddies, Sister Jackson and Bath! The guys went golfing and had a perfect day also! Lots of people were walking on the beach and only jet-skiers in wet suits were out in the water. We didn't mind bundling up in jackets, just to be out on the beach again. We brought our tent to crawl into in case it got cold but didn't need it. 

After golfing, the guys joined us on the beach for a few pictures. We love to go to this restaurant near the beach in Matakana, called The Rusty Pelican. They have the best pizza, and lots of different kinds. Our favorite is the Mojo, which is kind like a Hawaiin, but with a sweet chili sauce. Also, they have a spicey Mexican, with the same sauce and avocado. Yum!

There are a few Wendy's here and we never go to them, but last night chili sounded good so we gave it a try. I love Wendy's chili and it was just like at home! On a cold night, I'm not cooking and we are going back for chili! 

I will admit that it's not just member's food that has contributed to our weight gain, but going out to eat too! When we get home, no pizza, French fries, curry, Chinese food, Cadbury chocolate, etc.!

Without the gospel in their homes, our grandchildren don't have a fighting chance of weathering the storms surrounding them, and they are quickly getting worse. When we were set apart as missionaries, we were promised that our families would be blessed for our service, and we can see so many great blessings! Everyone has been safe and healthy so far, the dog has been cared for, our homes are still intact and in good repair, and we even have two grandsons coming! We are so thankful for our good health and safety over here. We have been blessed to go out each day to get some work done. 

Craig mentioned tonight how happy he is we are on a mission and we got to come here. No regrets and we wouldn't change anything! We are especially thankful for the good changes in us! "Whom God calls, God qualifies".

We love you and appreciate all your prayers for us and missionaries all over the world!

Elder and Sister Martin