Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25, 2016



It's was hard to believe that our wonderful mission in Auckland was coming to an end. We had so many great moments serving, laughing, crying, learning, loving, and so much more with the beautiful members of the Waterlea Park Ward in the mighty Penrose Stake! Also with the other senior missionary couples, our neighbors and our lovely Sister missionaries!

Below are photos of events from our last two weeks and some of the "good-byes! There were many more visits than I could post, with yummy meals, and good laughs! 

We were determined not to wait until the last day to pack our bags and clean, so two weeks before our leave date, we started sorting items, packing boxes to mail home (we mailed 7 boxes), and giving items away. We wanted to save our last week for lessons, FHE's and visits with all the people we've grown to love. 

Sister Coe, our past Relief Society President was leaving for the USA, so we had a fun lunch with her. 
She was so much help when we first came on our mission, and we hope to see her in Utah next year!

Our last trip to the Hamilton Temple with Leti and Alice. We've had so much fun on those trips with them to the temple! We had a lot of giggles about so many things! 

Our last Zone Training. We've loved all the instruction from President and Sister Balli, and our Zone and District Leaders! These missionaries are so hardworking, committed and loving. We will miss hanging out with them!

Such beautiful, kind and fun neighbors, Veejal and RV! We've enjoyed quick hellos in the hallway and sharing food. We are so glad we finally took some time to visit over a meal! We are determined to stay in touch.

A night for Thanksgiving, but also to celebrate Gaelene's birthday! What a wonderful time it was with friends and a real Thanksgiving dinner, complete with yummy roast turkey and even cranberry sauce (Elder Martin's favorite)! Our dear Gaelene, we love so much, who gives and gives, with no thought for herself. She, and so many other sisters, have extended hands of true friendship to us and we love them!

After many months of trying, we were able to enjoy a lesson with all these sisters, along with a beautiful meal "Aunty Alice" made for us! 

Sister Nakibae is so dear to us, serving with her from her first day as a missionary with Sister Palu! It was fun keeping in contact through lunches, at Come and See events, and trainings. We hope to see her again someplace, sometime! 

Sister Trull is from the U.S. so our farewell was full of promises to reunite in Utah at General Conference next year! She, also met us on her first day out of the MTC, and we loved serving with her. 

What an amazing, fun, yummy, crazy, heartfelt and loving party the ward had for us. They tried to keep it a secret, but that was hard to do. We had so much fun dancing, singing, eating, and loving everyone who came and made it a wonderful night we will never forget! Thank you to the Talonoa's for making our beautiful matching outfits! 

The Waterlea Park Young Men and Young Women and their leaders are incredible! We are so proud of you and all you do for each other. We loved the dances and Haka you performed at the party. It was hard to hold back the tears and emotions as we watched this honor bestowed upon us!

Bishop Ahokovi, his wife, Sela, and his counselors are great examples of kindness and love. We appreciate their leadership and sacrifices for the ward, and how welcoming they've always been to us!

We love the Galu family, and it was so great to be here for the baptism of their lovely twin daughters!

It was sad to say goodbye to Domingo and Emi. We loved sharing videos and the Book of Mormon with them on their journey towards baptism. They are a sweet couple and it will happen one day!

Sister Placido leaves the mission for the Philippines the day before us. She and Sister Kilgrow have a special bond from being companions twice. We love them both. 


There are many families we visited often that we grew to love so much. Their open doors and hearts towards us made our mission a delight. So many wonderful families and beautiful children are inbedded in our hearts forever! The Deys, Kata, Clarke, Aloua, Amituanai, Keung, Williams, Ormsby, Millie, Leti, Alice, John, Alex, and so many others. We love and will miss the lessons and games!

Sisters Selwa and Kilgrow are beautiful and hard-working. They made me feel like a young missionary, although they work way harder than us!

George is a ray of sunshine and told us once he would do anything for the Lord. We believe it!!!
He and Elder Martin have a special bond!

Justin and Olova are expecting their first child soon and we are so happy for them. They are so sweet and sometimes texted us to just say hello!

We had some fun lessons and game nights with the Talonoa family. There are so many great families in the ward, with happy children and strong commitments to keeping the commandments! 

Tony has been a Wednesday night regular for us almost our whole mission and we loved that time spent with him.  He has a genuine testimony and knowledge of the Gospel and will be a great leader one day when he becomes fully active! His mother is an angel!

We love Ver and regret we had such a short time to know him. He has a strong testimony and is so kind. We know he loves the church and has a testimony that it is true. He is progressing valiantly!

Who doesn't love Ella and Busby Lawrence! Busby is a great Ward Mission Leader, and we have loved serving with him. We all love his happy laugh, his commitment, and love of God. He's a great cook and makes a mean Maori bread and fry bread, that we loved! Ella works weekly at the Family History Center and their whole family has been so kind to us. 

I will forvever love this picture of Alice! She opened her door always with a happy smile and a Tahitian welcome.  She invited us to share her yummy food, and after, give a Gospel lesson? We are reuniting in Utah next year and she will get the red carpet treatment!

We love the Jackson's who work so hard in the Mission Office and were with us for many P-day activities. Thankfully, they live very close to us in Utah and we will see them next year!

We can't say enough about President and Sister Balli! They are great leaders to all the young missionaries, and as Seniors, we just tried to not add to their workload. They love the missionaries, they love the people of New Zealand and they are a wonderful couple sacrificing much to be here for three years!

We hated to leave the Bath's behind, because we have so much fun together, but they don't live far from us in Utah either, so our goodbye is another "see ya later"! We love all the senior couples and have shared many great experiences together. 

What a great life changing experience our mission has been. Elder Martin gets even more blubbery than me when he talks about it! We have so much to be thankful for and realize that our mission has never been a sacrifice, but a total blessing to us and our family!

Our last day was Friday, September 23rd. We finished cleaning our flat, made a few more good-bye visits, picked up our rental car and drove south towards Taupo for the start of our 5-week trip before going home. We are so excited to be touring the South Island and Australia and it will be a great ending to our mission. My last two blogs will be about that trip! 

Leaving our mission is so bittersweet. We cannot express in words the love we have for the people we met in New Zealand! We find it hard to relate the great blessings and change that has come over us because we've served so happily! We get choked up when we think about our family and how joyful it will be when we unite with them. It's such an emotional fruit salad! 

Thank you for your love and prayers and support these 18 months. Thank you for reading this blog and encouraging us with your comments! Every bit helped us to serve a little better. For your information, we are giving homecoming talks in Saratoga Springs on October 30, and in Scottsdale on November 27. 

We love you all!
Love, 
Elder and Sister Martin







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