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Sunday, September 17, 2017


September is drawing to a close and spring is coming.  I still haven't wrapped my mind around the fact that September does not mean fall is coming! But the pink blossoms have given way to red leaves on the bushes near the temple. The magnolias have almost finished blooming and I never got a picture - next year! I finally took a few moments on Friday with my camera on our campus and captured a few beautiful things. I had missed taking nature pictures. It is always peaceful. 

The trees across from our flat that lost their leaves 'just a few weeks ago' now have small green buds and will soon be filled with green leaves again. It is just amazing to me that there is always something green and always something blooming here. It is beautiful and I love it!  

The leaves are beginning to bud out.
 The nature that we experience here every day is just awesome. I keep being afraid that we will come to take it for granted. 

The campus is so well cared for and always lovely. Already the plans are progressing for the Christmas lighting of the campus and temple grounds. As Senior Missionaries we will all have a chance to supervise the younger missionaries as they conduct tours over the Christmas season. I think the lights will be up for over a month.
It is so interesting to see the trees shed their bark.

Still lots of meetings going on and lots of driving to various locations and meeting with  lots of people. 

Last Sunday we had a crazy busy schedule. We began with a Stake Self-Reliance Committee meeting at 10:30 AM in Normanhurst. We had to leave early at 11:50 to drive the 45 minutes or so to Manly Ward where we had a speaking assignment at 1 PM.  We enjoyed our time there but could not stay for the other meetings because we had to drive back to our flat for a quick bite to eat and then another 40 minutes drive to Claremont Meadows to meet with the bishop about self-reliance. And then our drive home again. A good day's work but a crazy scheduIe!
We live on Young Road, so you can follow our trek from Young Road to Normanhurst
to Manly on Harbour Road back to Young Road, out to Claremont Meadows on Archbold Road
and then back to Young Road.
It is always  nice to meet with these great people. We  love that the people in Australia are so open and honest about their testimonies and their love of the Gospel. It is very refreshing. 

We have been here long enough now that as we travel from congregation to congregation we always see the faces of people we have grown to love whether working with self-reliance or just seeing them in the temple.  We always are happy to see them, and they seem to be happy to see us as well.
Isn't this beautiful?

And what a great feeling to also be greeted warmly by many of the young missionaries we have taught in past English classes who have now been transferred to a different area of labour. They are all amazing young men and women who work so hard to serve the Lord. I don't think I would have had enough courage to be a missionary when I was younger.

Last night we attended the evening session of the Penrith Stake Conference. It was a great meeting with wonderful talks focusing on the theme of the 13 Articles of Faith. Here is a link to help you know more about the Articles of Faith if you do not know what they are.

The speakers each spoke on one of the articles. Some thoughts I pulled out were: in the 4th article of faith - "if we delay the repentance process we may suffer the consequences"; 13th article of faith - " make Jesus Christ our role model"; 1st article of faith - "God is the Supreme ruler of the universe and the Father of Mankind. We can come to know Him through prayer and scripture study; 9th article of faith - "the Heavens are not closed. Live our lives so we can receive inspiration and revelation for our stewardship, our minds and our  hearts need to be in tune,  and don't put off obeying promptings." "pray and ask what should I do today? and then follow the promptings when they come."

Giant Koalas for only $299.00
A new Costco opened near one of the places we teach English so it is handy for us to go there. This time we saw these huge koala bears and we could not resist a picture for perspective.

Each time we go anywhere Elder Jenkins does his best to give a 'pass along' card to the people we meet. The cards have the link to on one side and a question about life, "Does God have a  purpose for my life?", "Can our marriage continue after we die?" etc. We never know if the recipients will follow up and go to the website to find the answers to their questions, but we know we have done our best to give them the option. 

One day we met a young man who was so hungry to talk of things of God. He was from another country and is trying to make his way in Australia. We have met with him several times now and have given him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He was grateful to get it but a couple of days later I felt that he should have it in his own language. Thankfully the office had one available. When we gave it to him he was overcome and just could not believe we could find one in his language. He was so happy. It is hard to describe his reaction as he held it to his heart in gratitude. So, we will see where things will go.

Occasionally we are invited to speak in a Sunday meeting or at an evening meeting and present materials about the Self-Reliance Initiative. We enjoy moving the work forward and are always glad when we see understanding come into the eyes of those who are listening. Today we have been asked to speak in the South Harbour Ward.

Every now and then the Senior Missionaries get together for an activity. Yesterday we took the Rivercat ferry to Circular Quay and then another ferry to Watson's Bay. While we waited for our second ferry we spoke with an Aboriginal man who was busking. We spoke with him for a few moments and Elder Jenkins gave him a pass along card. He told us a sweet experience he had one day when he was about to take his own life but was detoured by a woman who sent him into a chapel to await his turn in the showers. He had never been in a chapel and somehow as he was there he cried his heart out and then felt an overwhelming feeling of being loved. He said that was when he knew there was a God. Especially when he tried to find the woman who had directed him and learned from the people who worked there that there was no such woman. Heavenly Father really does know each of us and is mindful of our sorrows.

He also explained the meanings of the painted symbols on his body, etc. I wish we would have had more time to visit with him but we needed to catch our 2nd ferry. He did say he would have his mates help him get on the website.

I love to ride on the ferries and see things from a different perspective. After arriving in Watson's Bay we ate fish and chips before walking along the path to view the ocean. A beautiful little town with lots of beautiful things to see. The sun and the sea breeze along with the walking pretty much wore us out but it was a great day. 
There was not time for him to do his "clamming" [hip exercises]  before we left the flat.
 So, he improvised while we were waiting for the others to arrive at our  gathering place.

This man was playing his didgeridoo  and tapping with his boomerang.
Don't be dismayed at the coins because a smallish gold colored coin in worth $2.
Can you see that he is holding the pass along card? We also contributed some coin.

Heading out.

Sydney Opera House is always beautiful what ever side we see.
I hope we can attend a performance of some kind while we are here, 
or at least do the tour.

Where we got our fish and chips at Watson's Bay.

A nice pathway to view the ocean.

There is just something about the water that feeds my soul.

Looking across the ocean towards New Zealand, land of the Kiwis.

Love the way the wind burrows out holes in the rock.

Red berries along the path.

Looking across the bay to Sydney.

Along the trail.

A busy bay between Sydney and Watson's Bay.

Along our walk through town.

Detail on top of a fence.

Lovely wisteria.

One of the lovely homes in town.

a tea tree fence in town

a Lorakeet?

A beautiful park or reserve. There are so many here.
They just do them right and keep them clean and lovely!

The beach at Watson's Bay 

leaving Watson's Bay
This was our sunset tonight. The earth has tilted so we can see the sun sets
to the left of the two trees. For awhile it was in-between and then to the right.
 Interesting how much difference it makes.

Late afternoon yesterday but not a sunset yet.

I can never get enough of the beautiful scenery. We saw the 'heads' which is where the land opens up to become the Sydney Harbour. The sounds of the ocean are always soothing to my soul and I love it! The pathways and the parks [reserves] here are lovely. They really know how to make them user friendly and delightful.

My phone was having issues with the speakers so one day we found the Apple store at a nearby mall and I was able to have it reset. The speaker is fine now and the battery is doing better too. We discovered that they teach classes on macs, iPads, and iPhones for free. So, we decided we would take advantage of the classes since we live so close and they seem to have frequent openings. We actually have now attended the basic and intermediate classes on mac. I think we need a couple of other intermediate classes to really grasp it all but it is kind of cool to have this opportunity right at our finger tips. So we will squeeze in classes whenever we can.

Life is good but we could certainly do with a bit more energy😉 but then I guess we are not spring chickens anymore either. And that is a whole other subject which I will not discuss right now.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Morning is coming. It seems the sky is always just a little pink as the sun comes up. Our balcony faces west so I see the sky change as the sun makes its presence known. At home I would think "red sky in the morning, sailor take warning" and expect a stormy day. But here the pink sky most often gives way to a clear and sunny day. The weather has been a little cooler even though spring is coming.

We visited Minchinbury Ward last Sunday morning and enjoyed our time here. It was Father's Day down under and it was sweet to hear the young Primary Children sing about their fathers and then to hear so many sweet remarks from the children about their fathers. I was particularly impacted by our Sunday School lesson which was entitled "Faith in Every Footstep". Although the lesson referred to the pioneers of the Church who crossed the plains of the United States in the 1800's enduring many hardships, our teacher led our discussion in a  way that helped us relate our struggles to their struggles.

This was particularly relevant to me, as I have had days that have been tough, missing our family and wondering if we are doing any good in our time here.  We discussed that our Father in Heaven knows each of us personally and gives us the trails and challenges we need to grow. We each have our own journey in life which is fraught with trials and struggles which we need to address and overcome. The question is: Do we have enough faith to deal with our challenges without quitting, which is not an option, when things get rough? Are we spiritually self-reliant enough to keep an Eternal Perspective? To realize that our experiences help us 'become' who we need to be?

That is a large part of what the Self-Reliance Initiative is all about - helping people recognize the need to be spiritually and emotionally self-reliant to get past the hard times. True self-reliance is when we recognize our dependence on our Savior, Jesus Christ,  through whom we can do all things.

I have experienced great sadness as I hear about the effects of the storms and flooding in the Texas area and other parts of the world. It is just sad for me to learn of the trials and hardships the people there are facing. We keep them all in our prayers and hope that they will have enough strength to survive this tough time.

Our week has been full of meetings and meetings and more meetings.  And it was testing week. There were 6 missionaries who wanted tests. They came from Mongolia, the Philippines, China, Samoa, Brazil, and Laos and are now completing their missions, all seeking to put themselves in a position where they can improve their circumstances in life after they return home. They are remarkable young adults who have put their lives on hold to serve the Lord. Some of them are into their 20's and have left good jobs to come serve because they love the Lord. Many had little to no English when they arrived and now, due to hard work and the Lord's  blessings, have learned a great deal of English which will help them in the future. It is our great privilege to work with them.

One day we had a meeting in Newcastle which is a couple of hours north so we left early enough to do a little sight seeing along our way. We found Terragil beach which is very beautiful. I could enjoy spending a few days there just walking along the beach. While there we took the path up to a high lookout where we found a young woman who was sitting looking zoned out and so sad. Her whole demeanor was one of  despair. It was interesting that at the top of the look out and along the path there were signs with a phone number for a suicide hotline.  I am not saying she was suicidal but I believe it was important that we talked with her because we could tell her demeanor changed after we spoke.  As we were walking down she passed us and spoke to us with a smile on her face. I wonder how often a smile or encouraging word affects others for good?

Boardwalk at Terragil Beach

An enclosed area for safe bathing.

From a large rock.

on the rock at Terragil Beach

Along the Boardwalk at Terragil Beach

Near the top of the lookout.

I love the trees!

love the waves!

Another amazing sunset!

Friday, August 25, 2017


Is it redundant to say that time passes too fast? But redundant or not it is true! It seems like we barely blink and another week has passed. In a few days we will have been in Australia for 6 months! 

We still love it here, we still love the wonderful people we get to associate with, we love the Self-Reliance Initiative and it's potential to bless lives, and we are especially thrilled when we hear of lives being changed and blessed as Self-Reliance courses are held.We keep very, very busy with many meetings and are often exhausted but love what we are doing!

Every day brings new experiences. Our English classes are fun as we try to teach some of these amazing young missionaries more about English. We have the greatest respect for them. Some speak a variety of languages already just not English. Many are true students and work hard to learn; others are not so serious but add a great deal to our class process.

Of course we get attached to them and it is sad when they are transferred to a new area. And when they return home - wow! We just wish them all the best.

Our testing process has been streamlined so we test only the 4th Monday of each month here at the mission office. It makes our lives so much smoother. But if there is someone who is serving a couple of hours away we will drive up there since it is too hard for them to come in.

That is what we did last week when someone up near Newcastle needed both the Michigan and OPIC tests. After the tests we took the long way home and did some sight seeing. We drove through an area that was full of both white and black trunked trees. We had seen them on one of our other trips but did not have time to stop. 

We took a few minutes to examine the trees. I could see that there had been a fire at one point and was surprised to see some large trees with white trunks while others looked burned. And I could feel the charcoal on the trunks of the black ones. Then I realized that they were probably all burned and that  some of the trees had shed their bark. I suppose at some point all the trunks will be white. It is amazing to me that there could be a fire and not destroy the trees.

definitely burned bark on the black trunk!
I have no idea why these trees were lined up in a row.
Larger trees had shed their bark, leaving only the smaller ones with burned bark.

Our next stop was a beach in Swansea called Caves Beach. It has a beautiful park with public change rooms, picnic areas, pathways, etc. And the beach itself is lovely. The sun is still setting pretty early but even about 4 PM we still could enjoy the beach.
I am always a sucker for waves against rocks!

During low tide it is possible to go inside and explore the caves.
But the tide was going in and we were not dressed for spelunking!
Nor did we have the inclination to do so.

There were some other beaches we had hoped to check out but since the sun was setting and our energy was pretty much used up we just headed home. 

I am sure we will be that way again and discover more beautiful places.

August is a month full of birthdays in our family which gave us the opportunity to try to reach the birthday boys and girls to serenade them with our rendition of "Happy Birthday". Pretty much it just sounds like two old folks trying to sing on key 😄 But the best part is when we can see and/or speak with our family.

We miss them of course and it is always does my heart good to hear their voices.

Technology is so amazing! Not too many years ago we could not have communicated as we now do.

Spring is coming! How strange it seems that spring begins near the end of August. But the other day as we left the office it smelled like spring!  I even repotted a plant on our deck today.

A TALL tree!
We went with several other senior missionaries for a 'bush walk' at the Cumberland State Park last week. It is a lovely park only 20 minutes from our flat. A true 'refuge' as they call parks  over here. The trails through the trees were delightful and it was nice to see the small signs that indicated what kind of trees we were walking past.
A nice walk!

A tree shedding its bark to reveal
a beautiful white trunk

What a delight to find a nursery on site that was selling lots of beautiful flowers for spring planting. There are so many unusual and beautiful flowers in Australia and we are lucky to see so many.
A grass tree which was retailing for about $400!!

A Kangaroo Claw! Yes, that is it's name!

A lovely Grevillea

Another Grevillea

Beautiful closed!

But AMAZING when open!

Another beauty!

How many of you have seen the old Star Wars movies when there were huts in the trees? This park has a 'walk in the trees' experience that reminded me of the movie. It is just cool!! When our grandchildren come in a few months we will bring them there for sure!
I thought this was so cool! Yes, that is Elder Jenkins
in the foreground with his Australian hat!

The platforms on the trees went for a LONG way!
It is necessary to put on the provided  harnesses
and head gear but what  grand adventure!

Whoever thought of this activity has a wonderful imagination!!!

We had an enjoyable day. At lunch time we brought out our packed lunches and prepared to sit at a couple of picnic tables. At one end a lady was trying to take pictures of a bowl of food.

Turned out she as the owner of the CAFE on site and was developing a new dish for Father's Day, - By the way Australian Father's Day is September 3rd. 

She had a bowl of 'porridge' with all sorts of goodies on top. Her husband was drizzling honey as she took the picture. 

Elder Jenkins spoke with her and gave her a pass along card so she could learn more about the Church. Then he said something which causes her to say she would bring us out a sample of the dish. A few minutes later we all had sample spoons and this lovely bowl of "porridge" to sample. It was free to us but she had yet to determine the price she would charge when she put if on the menu.
Very Yummy Porridge with a sliced banana, chia seeds, nuts, almonds, granola decorating the top.

And so goes our life from one adventure to another. Last night we went with other senior missionaries to the temple. It is such a blessing to live literally  5 minutes away from the temple. We usually go every week. We all went over to the food court for dinner afterwards. It is a good place to go because there is a great variety of food from which to choose. All of us do not have the same taste in food so this is a way we can all eat what we want and still be together to enjoy each other's company.

Last night was especially nice for us because we were able to deliver a Book of Mormon to a young man at one of the food places. We had met him earlier in the week and spoken about religion. He is so open and hungry to speak about God. We told him we would bring him a book the next time we were in. He is a foreigner in Australia and may not have had the opportunity to learn of the Gospel in his own land. He was so happy to get the  book and to have missionaries come and speak to him about the Gospel. We will likely be patronizing his place of business for some time to come so we can visit.

Today is our Saturday and we have been busy cleaning our flat - vacuuming, dusting, doing laundry, replacing a light bulb, sweeping the balcony, washing floors and will clean the bathroom before we go to a Stake Conference meeting tonight. It is nice to have a day when we  can actually clean!!!! I like a clean place to live. 

Life is good and we are blessed to be here and to know about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.