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Saturday, February 10, 2018

KEEPING ON KEEPING ON

If you look really close you can see the whole rainbow. It was very
dim but it was really there on that cloudy day.
 Blog writing time again. As I was pondering this blog the other day I wondered exactly what is the purpose of writing this blog, or any other blog for that matter? Why do I feel compelled to write about what is happening in our lives, about my thoughts, and does anyone really care?

Somebody is reading it and looking at the stats I can tell there are readers from  several parts of the world. Why do you read this? Does what I say actually make a difference in your life? It is just an interesting  thing to think about. I can only hope that something I send out into the blogosphere  will from time to time touch someone's heart in a positive way. For some reason I do feel compelled to write so...

These past few weeks have been somewhat challenging. But lots of good things interspersed with the various challenges. 

We are so grateful for our physio who has identified Elder Jenkins' hip issue and actually fixed it!!! After 3 years of intermittent pain and grief he is thankfully actually cured. She has given him exercises to rebuild the lost muscle strength and they are beginning to work. 

After watching her identify his issue and understand how to fix it I asked if she thought she could help my trigeminal neuralgia and my spinal stenosis. She felt she could and with great skill she is realigning my body from some injury decades ago. The progress is not without grief but it is coming along. I am just amazed at how she manages to find just the right spot to make a difference.

It gives me great hope that with her ministrations we will leave this country in better shape than we arrived. That bodes well for our future travels.

This has also been a time for great reflection of my many blessings. My life has been richly blessed and I guess I am old enough now to look back on the incredible experiences I have had and see the Lord's hand in  my life. 

Of course the blessing of having the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life is everything. Knowing that there is a Plan in place that will allow my family to be together FOREVER with our Father in Heaven is such an integral part of my life. I would be nothing without that knowledge.

Being blessed with Posterity is amazing. I love that we have 10 children with their different personalities who are each amazing in their own right. We love to see them overcome obstacles and find success in  their lives. We love their spouses and their families. They are all our favorites! We love to see them and spend time with them. 

Of course we miss spending time with them while we are so far from home but are very grateful for the miracle of technology that allows us frequent contact. And grandchildren!!! Wow! what a blessing they are. And some of them are even grown up enough to have their own children. It is still an amazing concept to think of having  great grandchildren. We are so blessed!
Elder and Sister Jenkins Australia Sydney North Mission - that's us!


Elder Jenkins Tahiti Pape'ete Mission
Right now we have 4  of us from our family serving missions. What an incredible feeling and blessing to know that 2 of our grandsons are concurrently serving their missions with  us. One is serving in Tahiti and currently on Bora Bora. He has learned French and Tahitian so he can work with the lovely people in the areas to which he is assigned. 

His cousin has recently begun his service in the Argentina Buenos Aires East Mission. He is speaking Spanish but the Castilian Spanish which is a little different than what he learned in high school. It makes me so happy to know that they both love the Lord and are willing to sacrifice their time to serve Him.



We love it when they take the time to write to us and share some of their experiences. And we try to write a little note to them each week as well.


Elder Jenkins Argentina Buenos Aires East Mission
   We have 2 more grandsons who will soon be submitting papers so they also can serve. Actually several of our grandchildren will soon be of that age. What joy! 

Despite our age related ailments and minor discouragements we have a great life and it never ceases to amaze me at how very blessed we are! We are so grateful for this missionary experience and feel that we are learning and growing through our experiences. We love to help people understand the Self-Reliance Initiative. It was fun to give a presentation to some International Students the other day about the merits of the  Finding a Better Job Course and to have 3 of the 5 students sign up to participate in the class. 

I finally was able to complete the "Monthly"Newsletter yesterday. That was a feat in and of itself. Our crazy schedule has prevented me from thinking clearly enough to get one out since September. I hope I can keep it up.

Our goal  on this mission is to work ourselves out of a job, to help the Stake Self-Reliance Committees to be self-reliant in assisting their units in providing classes to those over whom they have stewardship. I would absolutely LOVE to get in there and facilitate a course but I have  to "sit on my hands" so to speak and let  the committees grow together.

Still teaching weekly English classes to our great missionaries. What courage it takes to come to a country that speaks a different language and try to teach the people in that new language about the Gospel. But they go out and just do it. These young missionaries come from Tonga, Samoa, China, Taiwan, Mongolia, the Philippenes, and many other places.  All coming with faith that they will be able to do what the Lord has called them to do. And we just try to teach them a little more English so their lives can have more opportunity when their missionary service is complete and they go home. We give them tests to try to gain admission in to BYUH, and tests to certify their English ability for when they go home and look for work. The better their English the more opportunities they can explore.


A beautiful tree in front of our office!
Summer is drawing to a close. Every day we are out we see the varied hues of school uniforms indicating that once again classes are in session. The weather has been very nice for the most part. Not too hot and sadly not enough rain to make a difference. There is a beautiful tree in front of our office which has bloomed and is almost finished blooming. It was just finishing when we came last March. Because it has been so dry the blossoms seem to have come early and gone quickly. 

Many trees have dead leaves due to insufficient  moisture. And the grass is brown in many areas.So sad!

Random beautiful sunset.
Beautiful sky!
 But we never lack in beautiful skies! It is such a respite for our sometimes weary souls.                                                          
A 10 acre view

The ever changing sky!
Kookaburras in the evening.
What can I say? But another beautiful sunset!
I never tire of seeing them but  I do not ALWAYS take pictures of them!


Last week we were invited home for dinner with one of the members of a ward we visited.  

We had the chance to walk around their lovely property. it was beautiful out there at the base of the Blue Mountains and we got to hear the "bell birds" with their delightful tones which sounded just like bells. I love finding out new things about the nature here.

On our last Family Home Evening, after we bid a fond farewell to yet another of our Senior Missionary couples who will fly home this week, we walked outside to find several Kookaburras just sitting on the grass. Every now and then one would fly a foot or two find something of interest in the grass, eat it, and then sit some more.

There is a sadness as we bid farewell to missionaries who we have come to know and love. And several have left since we came almost a year ago. Never have we lived in a circumstance where we could  associate with so many like minded people who all love the Lord and are wiling to serve Him. It is truly a delight.

There are aspects of serving a mission which are difficult but the friendships developed as we all serve are very special. I look forward to mission reunions when we can catch up with each other.

But we are also grateful for all our friends near and far. It was a delight to have lunch and catch up with our friends from Lynden WA who came to Australia last week last week and took time out to spend with us.. And they were so kind to be couriers, bringing Lotemax drops which Elder Jenkins needs to keep a cornea rejection at bay but which we cannot purchase here in Australia due to government paper work because of the socialized medicine situation here.

So, now you have read my story for this time. Wishing you all the best in your own lives.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A GREAT VISIT, A NEW YEAR, A NEW PROPHET

January 1st is usually one of my favorite days of the year. I like to just sit and ponder my life and what will come next. But this year was a little different. We had just said "Farewell" to our dear family who had come to visit us. And all of  a sudden the visit  we had anticipated for so long had come and was over.      
Time to say 'goodbye'

We had almost 2 weeks of busy activities. There is just so much to see and do in this part of the world.  The sunsets are always lovely, the skies themselves are always fantastic, the weather got hot some of the time but not too hot most of the time. 


Sunset from our balcony

Still having a hard time transitioning to Centigrade so have reverted to Fahrenheit. This was actually the Sunday after the family left. Thankfully we have not had too many HOT days!

I always like the sky!

A lovely new tree to admire!

Since we teach English to missionaries on Wednesdays we brought our family along for the classes. We decided to have a "party" complete with 'crackers' [hence the hats] and treats. We began with our usual singing of a hymn and then dissected the verses to learn new or confusing words. Then the missionaries were allowed to ask our family any questions they wanted; and our family could then ask the missionaries any questions they wanted. A variety of discussions ensued which enriched the English vocabulary and a nice time was had by all. Some of the missionaries from New Zealand performed a Hakka for the family which we thoroughly enjoyed. We love our missionaries, so Wednesdays are always a joy! We were so glad to be able to share our English experience with our family  and I think the missionaries enjoyed meeting our family as well.


One day in Hyde Park we noticed the Police Patrol riding on 'Reindeer"

Our grandson discovered that there was a "magic" show at the Sydney Opera House so we all went to see  The Incredibles which was an entertaining variety show. A fun treat.

Atop Sydney bridge. If you are brave enough and rich enough you can climb up to the top and walk across. But it is HIGH and costs about $300 per person. We didn't do it.
We walked a LOT seeing many sites. We walked across the sidewalk on the Sydney bridge which took about 1 1/2 hours with many stops for photos. We walked along Circular Quay just down from the Opera House watching the various entertainers: aboriginals, vocalists, instrumentalists all hoping we would fill their coffers. I think we walked an average of 5 miles per day for about 3 days which wore us out. We visited Paddy's Market which is definitely the souvenir place to shop in Sydney, and we also went to The Rocks which has a lot of interesting shops. 

We lunched in a couple of places and one day decided to take our hamburgers and sit in the park along the water front. In short order the seagulls were on attack. One swooped in from behind Elder Jenkins and snatched a good portion of his meal out of his hand. He was NOT a happy camper. We moved to a bench down the line and as our son-in-law was shooing seagulls away with his feet another brazen bird came up from  behind and grabbed a portion of his hamburger out of his hand as well. [I wish we could have had a video of the whole event!] We will never eat our food in that area again!!!

An Aboriginal family entertaining us with music and selling their wares.


We visited Featherdale and saw many beautiful birds and interesting animals. The marmot, the Tasmanian Devil, kangaroos, koalas, etc.


A treetop climbing adventure was enjoyed by the family, and then a trip to Newcastle to go to the beach. It was beautiful for the 2 days we spent there, sunny and warm. Lots of seashells were collected, interesting birds and pelicans were seen and beach time enjoyed which unfortunately yielded sunburns and was especially hard for our granddaughter.

Lorikeets in the morning sun.

The shell seekers.

Pelicans and fishermen looking for fish!
 Our trip to the Blue Mountains was a lot of fun. We were able to watch an interesting Aboriginal show, have didgeridoo lessons and paint some boomerangs. I was only the photographer but it was fun to see and to hear. The family had such fun learning to play didgeridoos that we had to make a second trip to Paddy's Market so they could buy their own didgeridoos to bring home.

The performers and didgeridoo teachers with the family.

Standing in front of the Three Sisters rock formations and beautiful overview.
 This looks like a travelog and I have only included a few pictures. We also went to Morisset to see kangaroos in the wild. We tried to feed them carrots but  dozens of others had the same idea so they were not very hungry. 

We had a wonderful time with our family while they were here. They were able to attend the Sydney Temple and complete some ordnances for some of our ancestors. The Temple grounds were lit with many beautiful lights during that time period and we helped a little with the tour. Literally thousands of people came to walk on the temple grounds to see the beautiful lights, the nativity and the diorama of the time of the Savior's birth. I posted a lot of those pictures in the last blog so will not do so again. But it was a wonderful sight.

We all got worn out but it was wonderful to see them and hug them. And then they were gone and we have been trying to turn our minds back to our missionary responsibilities and focus and what needs to be done.

So, my January 1st day of reflection has been spread out over the past 3 weeks. It was such a shock to me that one day it was 2017 and then all of a sudden it was 2018 and 2019  was looming ahead. I know it was only a couple of weeks in the transition and yet it seems like such a giant change. We soon will have been on our mission for 11 months which is hard to fathom. 

Next January we will be released and as we have learned a year passes so quickly . We are beginning to consider 2019 and what it will bring. We plan to take a research trip to Wales and spend a few months in the UK trying to find the Jenkins ancestors. Then we will go to RĂ¼gen and Denmark to visit some of my family history sights and see people we have come to know and love. Much of that planning must be done while we are still on our mission.

President Thomas S Monson
1927-2018
Although most of the world did not take notice, our Prophet President Thomas Spencer Monson passed from this life on January 2, 2018 at 90 years of age. His was a life of service and dedication to the Lord and the children of the Lord. He was loved by people throughout the world and he will be missed. 

But it is a wonderful thing to know that the Lord has provided a way for us to have continuous revealed leadership. A press conference held on January 16, 2018 announced that Russell M Nelson is our new Prophet. He and his counsellors will continue to lead and guide us in this crazy world. What a great blessing it is to have a prophet to "guide us in these latter days". And what a wonderful plan that provides for continuous church leadership without any lobbying or posturing of who should be the next prophet. More information about the news conference can be found at mormonnewsroom.org if you are interested.

The new First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
President Russell M. Nelson with his counsellors, President Dallin H Oaks [L] and Henry B. Eyring [R]
I am grateful for President Russell M. Nelson. I sustain him. A few weeks prior to the passing of President Thomas S Monson I had a special experience that prepared my mind and heart for President Nelson. It was a sweet reminder to me that the Lord truly is directing His church. I am so grateful for the lives of selfless service  of the leaders of the church.

This is summer time in Australia and many people take vacation with their families so many of our obligations have slowed down. But school will soon begin again and our meetings and obligations will ramp up. In the meantime we are trying to get ourselves organized so we are ready to get back in the swing of things. This week we hope to get our flat cleaned and ordered so next week we can begin a regimen of walking to strengthen our bodies.

Some of you may remember that Elder Jenkins has had some issues with his hip in the past few years despite lots of medical attention. We have been so blessed that as a result of an ultrasound and a very capable physio the pain in his hip is gone. He is now doing specific exercises to strengthen that area of his body and increase stamina. I have also benefited from her help as she is treating my trigeminal neuralgia and my spinal stenosis with good results. We are encouraged to think that our issues have a solution which no one at home seemed to figure out. With treatment and an exercise regimen we should be "good to go" for some more years which is good since we have so many more things to accomplish in this life.

So, my January 1st day of reflection has stretched throughout the month. I have such gratitude for my many blessings. Our family brings us great joy. We miss them of course but we are always so happy when we have contact with them. The marvelous miracle of technology allows us to see and speak with our family all across the world. The grandchildren are growing up and it will be fun to see them again in a year. But we are so grateful for this chance to be here in Australia serving this mission. We are learning so much about the principle of self-reliance and how it is necessary for a happy and productive life. We see the Lord's hand in this initiative and know that in a few years we will all be able to look back to this time and recognize how it was rolled out here and throughout the world as a great blessing.

The people in Australia are wonderful. We love their genuine personalities and it is a great privilege for us to spend this time of our lives amongst them.

We recently spent a day visiting the Barracks in Sydney. We learned about the settling of this great country by so many convicts. There was much suffering and yet through all that suffering a great nation was born.




Detail of a building near the Barracks.


A hallway upstairs in the Barracks where the convicts lived.
A room for sleeping. No privacy here!

It would have been hard to live in this small space.


A great place for lunch with our friends on the Barracks grounds.

Chess in Hyde Park

Only once in a while do I see the moon over the sunset.
January also marks a special day for us as we celebrate  our wedding anniversary. This will be 51 years since Steve and I were married and sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple. We were so young and yet so ready for our life together. What an amazing journey we have had! It is impossible to even list all of our adventures. The Lord has blessed us with so  many of the important things. We are grateful for our posterity of 10 children, 38 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren with a 9th coming soon. Last year our children prepared a book for our 50th anniversary with pictures of everyone and it is still a delight to look at.

We are grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives and for the Plan of Salvation that allows us to return to our Father in Heaven with our families.

We celebrated our anniversary a few days early and went to the Sydney Opera House to see a matinee of The Merry Widow. It was such great production I would love to see it again!

In the Joan Sutherland Theatre before the performance.


It was breezy after the performance. Can you see how his tie is blown straight out?

A view from the opera house.

A view of the flags on the Sydney bridge from the opera house.

Our anniversary lunch at a lovely restaurant at Circular Quay. Such fun to sit and watch the throngs of people passing by us.

There was a large cruise ship when we arrived. Then we heard the loud blasts from its horn as it prepared to leave. It was amazing to watch it maneuver itself backward towards the Sydney bridge, change directions and then head out of the harbour to the sea.








Sunday, December 17, 2017

IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS!!

It really is hard to believe that today is December 17 and that Christmas is just around the corner! Time goes so fast we can hardly keep up with ourselves, our meetings and all of our responsibilities . Although it has been rainy for a couple of days the weather is definitely warm and on some days HOT. The sun can be very intense.

Since we are used to colder weather, snow, etc for Christmas it does not seem like Christmas to us. And yet the merriment exists and the decorations abound. It makes me happy to see that people are preparing for Christmas. I love the music and the trees. It is nice to see the Christmas banners and many decorations. 

We were in the city to see Elder Jenkins' eye doctor a few days back. This huge tree was the focal point of Martins Place. You can see just how huge it is as Elder Jenkins stands in front. We also helped a group of young school boys who wanted their picture in front of the tree.



                                                                                                            

Martins Place is a pedestrian street which is kind of cool. There are a lot of interesting buildings around that area and it seems like every time we are in town we find something new to see.

On the health front Elder Jenkins had a YAG laser procedure on his right eye this past week. Some time back he had cataract surgery but when he had the "water logged" cornea a few weeks ago a membrane grew over the new cataract lens. So the laser procedure has now removed the membrane and things are thankfully beginning go back to normal although his vision is not as good as he would like.

So grateful for good health insurance so we can just send in the receipts and have the medical expenses at least partially covered.

This interesting decoration inside the Queen Victoria
Mall which is a pretty high end mall.
Too pricey  for me but beautiful architecture.
If we had not been to Sydney on the train so many times we would have missed so many sights. But there is still SO MUCH we do not know about.

When we went back for a check up we found a great place for ice cream/sorbet. But we did not get it finished before getting back on the train so we walked to a bench in Hyde Park [I love this park!] to sit while we finished eating. 

The day was so great! Good weather, slightly cloudy and nice breeze. Perfect!! We happened to sit by a woman who was an Australian federal law enforcement officer enjoying her lunch time. We had a nice conversation and of course she wondered why we were in Australia, our accents immediately gave us away, and how long we would be here. That of course brought up our mission. She was a Catholic girl but was happy to talk to us. She was so dismayed that her 14 year old nephew had asked her "so, is Christmas when Jesus died?". She could not believe that somehow he had lived in a Catholic upbringing and missed the whole point of the Nativity, etc. We gave her a card that references the #Light the World initiative. Don't know if she will go to mormon.org. But there definitely are good references about Jesus Christ and His teachings.

I have been thinking a lot about Christmas. Since we are so far from home and so removed from our normal Christmas activities, I have been thinking more about what Christmas really means to me. Christmas is a time of nostalgic memories. Isn't it interesting how memories from so long ago come readily to mind? My mind is flooded with memories from my early childhood, from when our children were small and growing bigger, and from times when we began to enjoy grandchildren. Some memories are good some are sad, but overall they make me happy. 

Last week I listened as one of the Elders from our English class was practicing Silent Night for the Christmas Conference. He sang so beautifully it brought tears to my eyes. Perhaps that song means Christmas to me. I think that was the moment I really began to feel the 'Christmas Spirit'. How grateful I am for the Savior's birth. How grateful I am for the Savior and all He has done for me.

Life would have little meaning for me if I did not know of the Savior's love and the Plan of Salvation that allows families to be together forever. I am grateful for this time of year when we can all pause to remember Him and remember our Father in Heaven's Plan. All of the traditions and trappings are enjoyable - the music, the trees, the decorations, Santa Claus, etc. But what an incredible blessing it is to remember the true meaning of Christmas and the hope it brings into our lives!!!


Merry Christmas  to you all!!! We send our love and best wishes to each of you hoping that the true meaning of Christmas will fill your hearts and bring you JOY!

Looking out our office window towards
the temple.

We are looking forward to hugging some of our children and grandchildren in just two more days!!! They are coming to visit us for Christmas which will be such a special blessing and another great  memory! 

It has been interesting to observe the preparations for the Christmas lights around the temple and the campus. The displays changed this year necessitating  electrical lines being laid and relocation of various items from past years.

Many workers worked many hours over several weeks to put eveything in order. The lights  were lit 1 December and  tours have been happening several nights per week showing the diorama of the Savior's birth and the art work and a video. Literally thousands of people have come to enjoy the experience. 

Missionaries help with the tours and it will be our privilege to do so on December 24 and 30.


This photo of the Christus is right in front of the door
to the access to the art work and the video.

Elder Jenkins by the sidewalk that leads
 to the temple
                                                                                                                 
The entrance to Buckland House and the mission office.
The red and green lights are in a mesh that is draped over
the bushes.

These lights face the busy Pennant Hills Road. The trees with
the white lights are interesting because they are little tripods
draped with green mesh and lights. Very effective!

I love this display of the Wise Men.
They look so realistic and a fence is around them to try
to prevent children from mounting the camels for a ride.

This diorama begins with the angel visiting Mary and telling her
she will bear the Son of God, ending with the manger scene.
There is a recorded message that tells the story complete with
singing by the Tabernacle Choir. It really is very lovely.

We took the time to walk around one of the first nights
that the lights were lit. At least 200 other people were
enjoying them as well. And what a great experience it was
 to greet many of the wonderful people we have come to know and
love, exchanging handshakes and hugs with them

It is hard to see Elder Jenkins in front of the Christus but he is there. I love this statue! It has been our great privilege to see it in the Visitors Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City where it is displayed against the backdrop of the starry sky. But it has also been our great privilege to see the real thing in Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen situated at the end of a huge room surrounded by the statues of the 12 Apostles.  Remarkable as that was we probably enjoyed more the models of the same statues in the Thorvaldsen Museum also in Copenhagen. The museum had a special room dedicated to the statues. It was smaller and more intimate and we felt the reverence of the scene. Regardless of where we have seen it I am always moved as I consider the Savior and how my life is blessed because of Him.


Lot of lights with the temple in the background.

The simple white lights accent the beauty of the temple. What a great privilege it is for us to live  within a 5 minute walk of the temple so we can attend often.

These lights and this 'tree' are just outside of our office looking towards our window.

 

Our Senior Family Home Evening dinner was decorated extra nicely for Christmas.

Many of the senior missionaries helped set up these tables for the Christmas  Conference. All of the young missionaries from the whole mission gathered together and most of the senior missionaries also attended. Can you even imagine figuring out the food for almost 200 people including some very hungry young missionaries? Well our sweet Mission President's wife had it all under control. Pulled pork, meatballs, rice, salads, fruit and ice cream for dessert. They loved it. They also loved the chance to get together with past companions and renew friendships. There was training, special spiritual messages, pictures and even a movie to watch. The beautiful mission song was sung again which is so powerful with so many voices.

The senior missionaries and the sisters were served first.

Then came the Elders. Have you ever seen so many white shirts?
This is a picture of all the missionaries with a few senior missionaries missing. I copied this from the  Australia Sydney North Mission 2015-2018 Facebook page. There are other pictures on that page about the mission.

It is also the season of many concerts. We had the opportunity of attending the Hebersham Stake 'Carols by Candlelight' which was delightful. A stage was set up outside where we could view and enjoy the various musical selections from the different wards. This is one of the wards singing "Silent Night".

Many of the familiar Christmas Carols are also sung in Australia. Many of us  are familiar with the words  for Winter Wonderland. I thought those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere might enjoy seeing how the words to this favorite song have been adjusted to the Southern Hemisphere. Just jump in and sing along...


I think the changes are awesome!
Just a random photo of the flower shop at the entrance of our Carlingford Court Mall. It always makes my heart happy to see the flowers and is a nice way to "stop and smell the roses" from time to time.

Sometimes the skies are stormy.

And sometimes it rains - really HARD!

Random shot going up the escalator from the train.

Looking up is a good idea because there are some amazing architectural treats to see.

Fourth floor of the eye doctor's office is almost in line with the State Library.

I don't know what these are called but I loved the leaf texture and the blossoms.

More of the same bush with the Ibis birds which fascinate me.
Just a lovely day in Hyde Park
.

Beautiful morning sky as we walked around the playing field.

Beginning of a sunset.

A stunning Sunset!