But there are highlights. Our last trip for awhile was to Armidale so we could again present a MyPath devotional and introduce some of the wonderful courses available. There is a relatively new course called Personal Finances which teaches how to create and live within a budget among other financial principles including the blessings of paying a full tithe. Each of the courses includes discussions on the 12 foundational principles of self-reliance which if followed will bring people closer to Jesus Christ and increase their self-reliance as they learn to lean on the Savior. It is always lovely to participate in the process of helping people assess themselves to discover how they need to improve their lives.
|One of many signs denoting the city of Cardiff.|
This time we chose our route to visit Cardiff NSW on our way. I think it is so interesting that we have been to Cardiff Wales visiting the archive to do family history research and here in Australia there is another Cardiff. It is a nice, small town and it was fun to find some photo ops. It appeared to be a hub of some agriculture and had a few large car dealerships.
|a kind person took our picture. We are dwarfed by the guitar!|
From there our route again took us through Tamworth where we had the opportunity to stop by the Golden Guitar and learn a little about the country music festival held there in January. On the visitors center is a wall of donated celebrity guitars including one from Dolly Parton.
The gentleman who was in charge of the centre was originally from England. He told us a lot about the roads and routes we could consider.
|These were all donated by country music celebrities. The black one |
2nd to the left of the large frame belonged to Dolly Parton.
|Wide open spaces between Tamworth and Armidale|
|We drove over 1000 km again but the route was different.|
|I loved all the hills and fields!|
|A random traffic stop for a breathalyzer test. He asked if I had been drinking and of course I had not. But I still had the test. I just had to count to 10 while I breathed in to his machine. Of course I passed and we were on our way to Armidale.|
|I love this!!! It was posted on a bill board by one of the Tamworth Churches.|
|Looking out of our motel window. Beautiful!|
I love old buildings but we chose the art work, of course, and back tracked to the small town of Uralla where a kind soul gave us directions to Yarrowyck Reserve. The signing was terrible and had we not known to look for it we would have missed it entirely. We drove north out of town and about 15 minutes later we found the reserve with a few parking places.
|It said 3 km Return but I could swear it was MUCH further!|
|Loved this combination!|
|Can't help but wonder how these huge boulders got here!|
|love this tree!|
|The way the bark peels from the trees is so interesting.|
|Hard to really capture the raw beauty here!|
|This is the art site. I do not know how anyone every found it |
because it was a long way from the road and the art is actually quite small and unobtrusive.
|There was a welcome bench on which to rest.|
|Close up of left side|
|Close up of right side.|
We finally arrived at the huge boulder which had a slight over hang under which we found the artwork. The art work itself was not spectacular but the fact that it was there was pretty amazing. It is faded but pretty well preserved and there is even kind of drip line installed to wick away the moisture for further protection.
|at the end of our hike.|
|Dusk outlining the trees on the hill.|
It was totally worth the hike to me. Elder Jenkins is still struggling with his hip so it was harder work for him.It was dusk as we drove home. I chanced to look out the window to the west and in the distance saw half a dozen kangaroos hoping to the trees. The light was perfect But I could not stop to take a picture.
Sunday morning we enjoyed our time in the Armidale Branch. There are only 5 couples and a few older sisters who live there. Many of them live an hour away from each other. It takes a special kind of faith to gather each week to learn of the Lord. I was asked to play the piano for the hymns because there was no one there who could play. They have a nice little building and the Spirit is of course, always the same. I love that the Gospel it true! It makes even tough situations doable.
|These were the adults in the Branch after the My Path devotional|
We chose to drive home by way of Thunderbolts Way which cuts through much interesting terrain. Armidale advertises itself as the highest city in Australia with the caveat that there are towns that are higher 😉 But I had not realized just how high it was because the route coming up through Tamworth was rather gradual.
First we drove though beautiful wide valleys filled with cattle and thousands of sheep. Then there was a slight descent through majestic evergreen trees and then a further descent at a rather steep and curvy pace. We even saw a logging truck with a trailer both filled with logs that was tipped over in the ditch Amazingly the logs had managed to stay in place when the truck went down. The drivers were in no mood for us to stop and take a picture so we continued on. Then we came upon trees with an undergrowth of ferns and then went further down until we were almost back to sea level. It was a lovely drive.
|look at that Sky!|
|I was very surprised to see so many sheep.|
|along our way|
|and the landscape changes|
|Yes, we were high.|
|Can't remember the name on the monument but a wife had done it for her husband.|
|Look at the vines!|
|Then we stopped at a lovely park in Gloucester. |
It is mid winter but something is always blooming! I love it!
We hit the deck running when we got home. There was a Multi-Stake Self-Reliance Training meeting on Tuesday evening for the North Mission and on Wednesday evening for the South Mission. That training was preceded but Returned Missionary Advisor training. Our manager Elder Leota, who is also an Area Seventy, gave wonderful counsel to those in attendance. We even had some listening remotely because the distances are too great of them to come and attend. Along with the South Mission couple we were responsible to provide the refreshments for those attending.
Saturday we sponsored a Returned Missionary Seminar and invited all the returned missionaries from both South and North Missions. These are the young people who have completed their missions and returned to their homes in our missions. It is a time for them to connect with others and to be inspired to move forward in their lives. Again we had refreshments to organize. We each also spoke to the returned missionaries. Then we accompanied many of them to the Temple.
That evening we attended a Pathway Connect Graduation. There were 32 graduates from all walks of life. It is a big deal to these folks who have had no other way to step into university training. They all had caps and gowns. Some of the gowns of the Maori students were covered with feather cloaks that were so beautiful. And after the ceremony we were treated to a Hakka by the family and friends of those students. It was awesome!
And somewhere in there I turned 70 years old. Wow! It is as my sister-in-law says, an imaginary number! I don't know if I ever really thought about getting old. But the alternative is not very interesting to me right now. But 70! Wow! I realize that I am staring at my own mortality. I definitely have less years left than I have lived. But with this birthday it just seems closer to my time. Yet there are so many things I still want to accomplish in my life. I am so grateful for the health and strength the Lord has seen fit to give me to this point of my life and I hope for many more years to work on my many projects.
As I pondered my birthday to my mind came the words of the hymn:
Have I Done Any Good? [ page 223, LDS Hymn Book]
1. Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today because I was willing to share? Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way? When they needed my help was I there?
chorus: Then wake up and do something more Than dream of your mansion above. Doing good is a pleasure , a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love.
2. There are chances for work all around just now, opportunities right in our way. Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll try," but go and do something today.
'Tis noble of man to work and to give; love's labor has merit alone. Only he who does something helps others to live. To God each good work will be known.
Chorus: Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above. Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty and love.
text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909, alt
I hope that somehow I am able to do the things the Lord wants me to do. That is really why we are serving this mission, even though there are many days that are hard and we are often exhausted. I know that when the time comes that we are released from this assignment we will be glad to see our families again but we will be devastated that we will no longer associate with the great people we are meeting and coming to love here in Australia.
Because we have been blessed to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our lives have been immeasurably enriched. To know that there really is a Plan that our Father in Heaven has provided for us to come back to His presence with our families is so wonderful. We have this time on earth to grow and 'become' as much like our Savior as we can become. To learn to be obedient. Then when we have done all we can do, because of our Savior's infinite atonement we can be made whole and return to our Father. That's what it is all about. Our Father in Heaven loves us and has always loved us so He prepared this Plan for us.
A couple of weeks ago when we were in Grafton we drove by an old cabin which caught my eye. I love old buildings and this one happened to also have 4 palm trees in front of it. And I love palm trees.
We stopped to take a picture. After I had taken the picture I realized the sun was almost ready to give its golden glow that comes just before dusk. So, I waited a few moments for that glow and then took a second picture.
After I saw what I had taken I realized that there was an object lesson in the contrasting pictures.
The first one, although I like it a lot, is in contrast to the second photo which is bathed in light. I realize that our lives are like that. We can live our lives doing things "our own way" or we can live our lives doing as the Savior has asked and be bathed in His light.
It is my hope and prayer that any of you reading this will desire to know the way to return to our Father in Heaven with your families. I just cannot imagine Eternity without my family!
|A beautiful cabin on its own.|
|The same beautiful cabin bathed in Light.|