|These lovely pink blossoms are on a small tree version of the red ones posted last time. |
They are so pretty but so temporary. You can see some of the empty pods.
Fleeting but lovely while they last.
Today, March 4th is the anniversary of our arrival in Sydney. We were so excited to finally arrive -especially after our l-o-n-g flight. And what a happy moment to see the Mackays waiting for us at the airport. And what a journey it has been! It is a strange out of world feeling. In some respects it feels like we have always been here and in others it seems impossible that we have been here a year already. But we are glad we are here!
We have had many rich and wonderful experiences and love the wonderful people we are privileged to meet. I love their openness. It is a privilege to work with them. And we love the beauty we find here -the birds, the trees, the flowers. Most of them we have never seen before so it is always a treat. We keep very busy although some weeks are busier than others.
These past few weeks have been beyond intense so I thought I would give you an overview of what our days have been like. The following is copied and pasted from the letter I wrote to our family.
Picking up about Feb 8th I finally got the newsletter done and sent off for approval
Feb 12th - did an OPIc test for a returning missionary , emailed Michigan test results, sent out other emails, made caramel popcorn with the whey our daughter managed to get to us and went to senior movie night where we saw Lion. This is an exceptional movie about a young man from India who got lost from his family, was adopted by a Tasmanian couple and eventually found his family in India with the help of google earth. I loved it.
Feb 13th - had our regular Skype meeting, did various tasks in the office, processed some GEHA papers [health insurance] and then drove to Prairiewood Stake Center an hour south with several other sisters to hear Sister Sharon Eubanks from Utah, a counsellor in the General Relief Society Presidency. She asked that all of the sister missionaries come into a room so she could greet each of us and shake our hands - a delightful woman. I also met President and Sister Bingham who would be our new Mission President beginning July 1.
Feb 14 - English was cancelled due to Zone conference so we resubmitted some lost insurance claims and generally took care of "stuff" around our flat.
Feb 15 - had a Skype meeting with couples from the Pacific Area. Did a flat check in a flat which was very hard to FIND. Called Dr. Marks for an updated RX scrip, went to see the physio. I always feel kind of yucky after a session with her so pretty much did nothing the rest of the evening.
Feb 16 - Did 3 more flat checks. Done now with those. I really hate to do them because I feel like I am invading their privacy but it did give us a chance to talk to the missionaries about some English tests and things to do to improve their English skills. Picked up the scrips from Dr. Marks' office and took them to the Chemist. Went to Costco to fill up with gas and to get food supplies for upcoming events. Learned that President Bingham from the South Mission had crashed during his morning bike ride on Wednesday and broken his neck, was paralyzed and on a breathing machine. Even though I felt pretty lousy after my treatment I did not feel I could complain after hearing about President Bingham.
Feb 17 - Missed the senior outing to the Reptile Park. We were just too tired. Cut Dad's hair, did the laundry, called and spoke to some new Returned Missionary Advisors, cleaned the fridge, and worked on our taxes!
Feb 18 - Attended Quakers Hill ward, wrote a bit of family letter, replaced a light bulb and were just tired.
Feb 19 - Called dentist for an appointment because Dad had lost a crown while eating his dinner. Took the train to Sydney for an appointment with Dr Clements.[that meant we drove to Epping station area to find a parking place and then walked to the station and took an hour ride to town] Dad's eye pressures were stable and things looked OK. I had been worried because his left eye was all bloody. It turns out a blood vessel had burst likely due to weakened vessels because of steroid drop use. Got water in the fridge at the service center in prep for our Tuesday meeting. Went to Woolies to get rest of food supplies for our meeting Tuesday.
Feb 20 - 8:30 OPIc test for a Sister who was returning home. Tried to talk to physio about not feeling well but she was too booked to talk. 10:30 Skype session which had some technical difficulties. Visited with Elder Leota. Set up tables for our training meeting. Prepared veggie tray - I am getting pretty efficient at getting a capsicum filled with humus dip, sliced capsicum, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes. etc on a platter. Cooked rice for meal, washed apples for object lesson, put an apple and water bottle on each place. 7:00 PM was the Quarterly Multi Stake Self-Reliance Committee training. We had meatballs and rice, veggie and fruit platters for about 30 people. Our object lesson posed the question "how many seeds in an apple?" Then I cut an apple and counted how many seeds. Then the question " How many apples in a seed?" Brief discussion of how changing the life of one person can change the lives of generations that follow. Dad read a few statements about the importance of teaching "the one". Then Elder Leota presented the training which was good as always. And then we had cleanup.
Feb 21- English at 9:30 and then 12:30 which gave us enough time for a quick stop at Costco for more meatballs for Sister Bott. Came home and prepped food for another meeting. Left about 5 PM to drive an hour south for a duplicate Quarterly Multi Stake Self-Reliance Committee training for the South mission. Set up tables, set out food, gave same object lesson, Elder Bott had to do more of the training because Elder Leota was involved with meetings because of President Bingham's condition.
Feb 22 - Drove to Epping station to park car in neighborhood street at 7:45.[It is always a challenge to find a parking spot close to the station!] Took train to Central and changed to Museum which is right across the street from the building where the Hyde Park ward meets. Met Elders about 9:30 to discuss upcoming interview with media. We were to be the chaperones. The Sisters arrived and we all talked about what was going to happen. Then Siobhan [Shivan] Hegerty arrived. She is a lovely young woman with a very Irish name. She is the religion and ethics editor for ABC News here in Australia. At first we thought there would be a TV crew but it was just her with her tape recorder and camera. She also has a radio program which is why she used the tape recorder. She interviewed the missionaries asking their ages, if their families were members -the Elders both were from the US with LDS families, one of the Sisters was Tongan but from the US with a member family. She had fallen away from the church in her youth and then come back with a desire to serve a mission; the other sister was from Taiwan, had been a Buddhist but had many unanswered questions when she spoke with the monks. She met missionaries from our Church who were street tracking who could answer her important questions. She joined the church 2 years ago and immediately wanted to serve a mission.
Then we sat in on a discussion with the Elders and a Chinese gentleman who was trying to find out how he could know if God existed. Part way through Siobvan excused herself, and we went with her, to go meet the sisters. For over an hour we followed along as the sisters did 'finding' along Liverpool Street and into China town. Siobvan would take pictures, tape some of the conversations with the street contacts and then ask the sisters more questions. The whole process lasted until about 12:30 when Siobhan went back to her office. The missionaries will get a copy of the article for the online news as well as the radio interview. Then we asked the Sisters if we could buy them lunch. They were excited. We told them to choose the place and they chose a Korean BBQ place which was actually pretty good. We had a grill in the middle of our table.
By the time we got back on the train, into our car and drove home we were EXHAUSTED! But I had to bake 4 dozen breakfast muffins for our meeting Saturday.
Feb 23 - called Carl's Mower in Washington to pay for the lawnmower service and then went for a haircut. My hairdresser was on her last day before changing jobs. She is soon getting married and wanted a job with better hours so now she will work in HR. I gave her a Book of Mormon and talked a little to her about forever families. Talked for a long while with our grandson about our connection to Harald Bluetooth for his school report [fun times], sent out My Foundations booklets to a Sister in Maitland who needed some for a group they were beginning, went to Woolies for some basics and juice for our breakfast meeting Saturday, printed out an endowment card, went to the temple and came home tired.
Feb 24 - Got up early to prep food, made a birthday call to our brother-in-law, left early to drive a hour south to Villawood for a Training meeting for the new "mission prep" course that is being piloted in this mission. Set up tables, put out food, afterward cleaned up and went on home. By then we had learned that Elder Leota will be President Leota as interim mission president until July 1 when a new mission president will begin his duties as president of the combined Sydney mission. So, we will report to Elder Leota's boss, Paul Reid for those few months. Talked with our grandson in Utah again to give him more info, did laundry.
[President Bingham is making good progress from being totally paralyzed and on a breathing machine to having increased movement in his limbs and being able to spend time off the breathing machine. His spinal cord was NOT severed but severely bruised and swollen. As soon as he is stable enough to make the trip he will be transported back to the US.]
Feb 25 - Attended Normanhurst ward for Sacrament meeting and then came home to prep for a 2 PM meeting with Paul Reid and the 4 PM missionary training meeting to follow. Good meeting with Paul. Good mission prep meeting. We served meatballs/rice, veggie and fruit trays again. It is just an easier friendlier environment when we serve food.
Feb 26- met Botts at office to help them print out some booklets before we went to the other building to give 7 Michigan tests. That testing was a disaster because some of the missionaries did not turn up for their 10AM until 10:20 and 10:30 - bus connection issues. I did not have some info I needed for 3 of them who were repeating the test so I had to send Dad over to our office to get my files while I got the others started. Finally all 7 were taking the test! Then I gave the OPIc test to a sister and then we could breathe!
Feb 27 - we left at 7:30 AM to go to an hour south for a Missionary Leadership Training. President Leota had asked us to take 2 hours and give the 30 district leaders a presentation on becoming group facilitators. It fell to me to do the presentation which I actually enjoyed. What a lovely group of young men. I had a great time with them. This is a new aspect of training for them. They are now expected to return and train their districts on the self reliance booklet My Foundations which will help them and also help them work better with their investigators. We grabbed a quick lunch that the senior missionaries had prepared and then drove home in time to get changed for my appointment with the physio. She sent me to the doctor for a consult. Felt pretty yucky after the treatment so called and cancelled English on Wednesday.
Feb 28 - stayed home but did a lot of busy work that needed doing. Took Dad to the dentist to get his tooth checked. He opted to save us $5000 and not have a new crown. Instead the dentist put a protective cover over the affected tooth. Dentistry is very expensive in Australia. Went by the office to send out the Michigan tests from Monday and all the testing materials that need to be exchanged every year. Set my eye doctor appointment for May. did other 'stuff'.
So, that is probably more info than you even care to know but that has been our life for a little while. It is not always that busy but we always have "stuff" that needs to be done - emails, phone calls, reports, etc besides the meetings. We try to get to the temple every Friday evening and have been doing the work for a lot of people.
That gives you a slight idea of how our lives have been. The doctor wrote an order for me to have an MRI which I had on Thursday morning. After reviewing the MRI the dr told me I had a pinched nerve which has been the culprit causing me such grief in my left leg. He wrote me a "doctor's excuse" to take it easy for a week and he smiled as he wrote it. Good thing we had nothing going Thursday, Friday or Saturday [although we did miss an evening session of a Stake conference for one of our Stakes.] We will attend services in Dural Ward this afternoon and then try to be slow paced the next few days until my week is up. But we have a part of the meal to prepare for our seniors family home evening tomorrow and then there will be my next phsyio appointment on Tuesday. But hopefully she will be able to figure out how to help 'unpinch' my nerve. I really do not have down time as there is another newsletter to write and more training meetings coming up next week.
I guess at our ages, yes we have reached those crazy 70's numbers, we have to expect our bodies to show some wear. But we are so grateful for the health that we do have and all that we are able to do. It was always our dream to serve the Lord on a mission and we are here trying to do just that. And we have a lot of plans for after our mission as well - more about that another time. We are so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for the Plan of Salvation that allows us to be with our families forever. I can't even imagine living my life without that knowledge and reassurance. We know that our Father in Heaven loves us and each of His children and wants us all home with Him again.
|A visitor to our balcony. The cockatoos |
are so busy being noisy every morning.
|This "postie" was willing to have his picture taken. |
I get a kick out of these hardy souls who deliver the mail.
Note his neon sun block!
|Saw this at the train station. Brolly is umbrella of course|
and they are preparing fro the rainy season.
|The entrance to China Town in Downtown sydney.|
|Thought these giant cats were pretty cool.|
|Our lovely sisters at the Korean BBQ |
following their interview with ABC news
|The sky never ceases to amaze me.|
|Another lovely blossom.|