Happy 4th of July everyone! We hope you have a safe and wonderful weekend celebrating the birth of our nation. Pray every night for our country to be be able to keep our freedoms, so valiantly fought for by brave men and women through the centuries. We talk to a lot of people in NZ who are watching and praying for our country to survive. As leaders of the free world, if we go under, they go under too!
I thought this was pretty clever and a good reminder for Independence Day!
We love Sister Coe, who served 8 years and was just released as Relief Society President. She saved us when we first came on our mission, by helping us know who and where to visit! She was the heart and soul of the Waterlea Park Ward, as most Relief Society Presidents are!
We are at the local Marae, which is a Maori meeting house, sacred to its members. In most communities throughout the whole country there is a Marae. The Te Puea Marae in Mangare Bridge, where we serve, recently opened its doors for short term relief to the homeless. Many of whom were sleeping in their cars or under bridges. A multi-Stake effort was put in place last week and next to help out at the Marae, cooking meals and helping with general cleanup. We were proud to wear our Helping Hands vests and represent the church in this effort.
Last week was very rainy and we were thankful for a good car to keep us dry. We went to an appointment and were surprised to find the sisters there. They had changed into lava lavas, and were drying out their skirts and shoes. They were soaked by the torrential rain and had to wade through puddles of water as they walked to each appointment.
At the end of the day we took the Sisters to dinner and we all had soup to warm us up. We have discovered how good and filling Laksa soup is! It's yummy because it's made with coconut milk, noodles, and we added extra vegetables!
We love meeting with families 6 evenings a week and sharing gospel messages. We spend one night a week with the Galu family of 7 children, and they love the games best! We taught them Spoons last week and get such a kick from seeing them so competitative and having so much fun! We've also enjoyed sharing favorite cookie and brownie recipes. A favorite is our simple Texas Sheet Cake!
We don't like to talk about it, but our time to leave beautiful New Zealand is getting close. We plan to travel to the South Island, to Brisbane, Australia, and to Sydney, after our mission so we made those travel plans last week. We are excited to go to the South Island for two weeks, since we've heard how beautiful it is. It can't be more gorgeous than the North Island where we've been, but we are told it is.
Our return flight to the U.S. Is October 27! That is hard to believe!
We were so happy to celebrate Lana's birthday! She could be our daughter, but we treasure her as a friend and sister in the gospel! We love her beautiful family and all the wonderful times we've share with them! We've also played a lot of games together!
Our 4th of July celebration was with the other seniors, including President and Sister Balli. We had traditional BBQ food that we all miss - hot dogs and burgers, potato salad, baked beans, and apple crisp. We played a game where we had to guess who did what from a previously prepared list of experiences. These are pretty amazing people and here are some of their experiences:
"As a teenager, I spent 4 days lost and wandered in the mountains."
"I helped catch a bank robber."
"I was a ten cow wife."
"I was an amateur horse trainer and barrel racer."
"I won the gold medal in trap shooting at the Summer Olympic Games."
"I have fished for and eaten piranha."
We went to the movies after our party and saw "The Legend of Tarzan". Some may not like it, but it was a different twist to the usual story, and we liked it! I like how the movie starts with Tarzan in England a few years after he and Jane married. I don't know how he kept so fit, having adapted to civilized life and resumed his title of Lord. It's a classic story though.
These are a good handful of the handsome and dedicated young men from our ward! They attend a pre-mission class every Sunday at 6:30am. Most all also attend early morning seminary during the week! They are the future leaders of the church here in New Zealand!
We love the Pacific Islands and living so close to its beautiful beaches! Mostly, we love the Pacific Island people and Kiwi's here in New Zealand! What a blessing they are to us. It's a challenge every day finding and serving, and "doing all the good we can do"! Of all the messages we leave with each home, the most important is helping members be strengthened in the first principles of the gospel,
which is faith and repentance. We encourage church attendance and coming to partake of the Sacrament each week! Nothing new or different from what we all need to be consistently reminded of!
We hope your summer is going well, as you enjoy family vacations and opportunities to travel! We pray for your safety and good health and feel your prayers for us!
We love and miss you,
Elder and Sister Martin