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Friday, June 29, 2018

CHANGING HORSES MIDSTREAM AND THEN AGAIN! -in other words a change in our direction.

Vivid is so awesome! the harbour is bathed with light from so many sources!

June is almost over and fall is definitely here. And a lot of the time it feels like winter. It is much colder this year than we remember when we first came. Or maybe it is that we have acclimated enough to feel the weather. But I did buy a new puffy coat that  goes down to my thighs to keep me warmer. I love that I can feel warm on the chilly days! And I bought some fuzzy slippers to keep my toes warm which I wear at home now everyday! I don't remember cold toes last year.

Cockatoos resting in the almost leafless tree.

And then it rains!

A rainy sunset.

The moonset. It seems that the full moon comes around so quickly.
 I am amazed at how fast the time goes.

So much has been happening in our personal life that it is hard to keep up with everything. When we first prepared for our mission it was our plan to serve our 23 month mission, return home to Blaine to put our things in order with the idea of 'someday' taking a research trip to Wales and then possibly relocating.  That was the game plan.

Yet midway into our mission we realized that rather than spend a lot of time at home after our mission getting organized we needed to take our research trip to Wales soon after we returned from our mission. Some of Elder Jenkins' ancestors come from Wales and although we visited a few years ago and were successful in finding some information about his family in the archives there are still many unanswered questions. We asked his sister who had travelled with us before to begin the process of  preparing what we needed to learn and where we needed to go to find out more about his ancestors. And we began the process of making arrangements and finding accommodation for the trip.

But knowing that this would likely be the last time we would travel to Europe we also wanted to see the parts of Ireland and Scotland where he also has ancestral ties. And since it was so close we also wanted to visit dear family and friends in RĂ¼gen and Denmark where my ancestors lived. And so the proposed trip grew into several months and we planned to leave about 3 months after we returned from our mission.

We sandwiched our planning between our missionary assignments and plans were coming along nicely.

Imagine our surprise when we had the very strong impression that we needed to move to Pleasant Grove, Utah and that the time to sell our home in Blaine and make arrangements for a new home to be built was now. As has so often been the case in our lives, we make plans and Heavenly Father sends us in a different direction. Who could even have imagined a couple of years ago as we prepared for our mission that we would need to worry about buying or selling houses while we were gone?!  But we have also learned that when the Lord gives us instruction we follow. Things are just better that way.

Prior to our leaving we had packed up most of our belongings and put them in storage leaving only a few of the larger pieces of furniture in our house. And we packed a lot of things we had planned to go through after our return. But at least things were packed and ready to be moved.

With the assistance of our children and grandchildren we were able to have our belongings moved from our home and our storage unit in Washington and trucked to a new storage unit in Utah.  So grateful for strong willing helpers!

Our home in Washington was listed for sale last week and almost immediately was  under contract. It should be closed the end of July. We have made arrangements for a new home to be built in Pleasant Grove. Although it has been kind of tricky while we have been over here  technology is amazing and has allowed us to review house plans, make modifications, choose flooring, counters, etc! Our new home should be finished soon after we return home so we can move in and put everything in place before we leave for our research trip.  That will also give us adequate time to go through our records to be better prepared for our research. 

Not a typical missionary activity and yet for some reason there has been a sense of urgency. Everything has fallen into place so well. There is no doubt that the Lord has been in the middle of this process. I wonder if we will someday understand the need to take care of all these things now?

We are grateful for our wonderful children and grandchildren without whom none of this would have been possible. They stepped up to help us in many different ways in the midst of their already busy lives. Now as things in our personal life settle down we are refocusing on our mission responsibilities.

It has been exciting to see the progress of the self-reliance committees. Our job really is to 'work our selves out of a job' so that the committees will be self-relaint. The new emphasis on 'ministering' allows the self-reliance materials to be used as tools to help lift those who need lifting. As we watch committees 'get it' and move forward we are thrilled.

We enjoy our time with the wonderful people here in Australia. It is nice that where ever we attend church meetings we recognize and can greet those we have come to know and love. And being in the temple almost every Friday evening has been so great! We love our missionaries in our English classes and it is a delight to become 'friends' on facebook when they return home. 

Last week one of the Sister missionaries discovered it was Elder Jenkins' birthday and she orchestrated a small celebration for him. We always begin our English classes by singing a hymn and then discussing the vocabulary in the hymn. I love to hear them sing. Since his birthday fell on a Wednesday when we have English class one of  the sisters asked if they could have a closing song. As the missionaries  began to stand I realized something was up and I asked if I should be recording and they said 'maybe'.  All the  missionaries stood and sang "Happy Birthday" which brought tears to his eyes and left him speechless. Then he was presented with a card and some nice cookies. It really made his day! We love our missionaries!

A special birthday treat from our friends.

It was a nice birthday week as he was able to hear from our family across the miles. Technology really is wonderful to think the we can be thousands of miles away from our loved ones and be able to see them on the screen and talk with them! We miss our families and friends  so it is great when we can 'see' them and communicate with them via technology!

I was pleased to be able to give a Book of Mormon to a young man who has a love for the Savior. We often are able to give "pass along" cards to people with whom we speak to let them know where on the computer they can go to learn more about their purpose here on earth. It just seems like we are often led to conversations with those who have that extra spark. It would be nice to know the 'rest of the story' to know if they were able to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe someday. Although we love working in self-reliance there are days when I wish I could spend time actually teaching the Gospel. I love the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation! How wonderful it is to know that we have Father in Heaven who loves us and has a plan for us!

There will be a big change in our mission this week. The Sydney North and Sydney South missions will combine to become the Australia Sydney Mission. President and Sister Checketts who have served so well for 3 years will return home. President and Sister Leota, who stepped in when President Bingham returned home after he was injured in a bicycle accident, will also return to their home here in the area. Elder Leota is our Self-Reliance manager, we have missed his kind counsel. President and Sister Runia will come to lead the Australia Sydney Mission. What a huge responsibility.  We love the Checketts and the Leotas and value their service. And we will love the Runias as they come to serve.

This is an exit from the train. It takes 2 trains to reach the eye doctor's office.
So we had to change trains here.It takes about 45 minutes to get into Sydney by train.
 I am so amazed at the train system here.
It transports tens of thousands of people everyday seemingly without hitches.

We have come to know several of the doctors and physios fairly well as we  work on our various medical issues, some issues more annoying than others. But I guess as we age there are parts of our bodies that just get old and need attention. Our walking has had a few hiccups being interrupted by some necessary early morning overseas phone calls. But now that things have settled down in our personal life we intend to get back to our regular morning walks. Elder Jenkins is doing better if he will remember to do his exercises. That weakness in his hips has made it very difficult for him to walk for any length of time. We are hopeful he will continue to  improve. He will have a biopsy in a couple of weeks for a 'bone growth' on his rib near his sternum which has caused him considerable discomfort. We are so grateful for good health insurance that covers us even so far from home.

Here is the Angel Moroni at sunrise.
The soccer field we walk around is just behind the temple grounds.

As July draws near it is strange to me that it will be winter time. My seasonal clock still expects it to be spring or summer. Many of the trees still have their green leaves and every morning when we walk we have a cacophony of bird song. The Lorikeets seem to be the loudest. There  is always something in bloom deceiving us to think it cannot possibly be winter. But the cold weather reminds us!

Vivid happened again this year! It is such a lovely event. Along with 2 other couples we took the train to Circular Quay and walked around a bit to view the lights. We did not go around as much this year because it was too hard for everyone to walk so much. But I love the displays on the sails of the Opera House. I am not sure the camera did them justice.

Life is good. I am grateful for my many, many blessings. To know that our Father in Heaven is aware of "me" and blesses my life is so amazing. And I absolutely know that if He is aware of me He is equally aware of each and everyone  of His many children. He blesses us and gives us challenges that allow us to grow to become the people He knows we can become. He wants us to return to Him again.

The sunsets and skies continue to amaze us!  Almost every day we are treated to a marvelous show and sometimes I actually take some pictures! I hope you will enjoy a few of these samples.

It had rained all day and then the clouds began to leave so we could have a sunset.

Yes, a rainbow and then it was gone as quickly as it appeared.

May the clouds of your life disappear and leave sunshine in their place!!! Have a  great day!!!

Monday, May 7, 2018


It is time to catch up since almost a month has passed since I last blogged. We have been very busy and then not busy at all and then just trying to catch our breath. There have been quarterly training meetings for our Stake Self-Reliance Committees for which we have decided to provide food. By 'we' I mean us and our counterparts  in the South mission. We provide the same menu for back to back meetings on a Tuesday and a Wednesday. It is a little more work but when these good people come directly from their work it is nice for them to have something to eat. And we have also noticed that there is a better camaraderie and more visiting so it is a 'win-win' for us.

Lots of days we work from home without ever going into the office. We have regular Stake Self-Reliance meetings. Sometimes we have certificates to print and distribute. And always we try to love and encourage those with whom we work. Every week we try to attend a different ward to see lots of people. Our main job is to train and support the Stake Self Reliance committees. If we do our job well enough they should be just fine without us when we leave :) Not to mention the monthly reports which must be filed about self-reliance statistics, car 'mileage' and financial statements.

There are still English classes on Wednesday but we have cancelled a couple of classes recently when I was not feeling feel. We love working with our missionaries and getting their hugs and handshakes. And we hope we are helping them learn more English. Some of them already speak 2 other languages so they are pretty incredible and I believe English is a hard language to learn. However if they get it they will not only be more effective as they teach the Gospel they will gain skills that will help them the rest of their lives. 

Recently we have been going with our counterparts in the South mission to give a seminar for the departing missionaries to help them understand some of the things they will need to know about getting a job or applying for schooling after they get home. Since it is an all day affair we also provide food for them.

And of course we are still giving the Michigan and OPIc tests. A score of 75 is required to pass the Michigan test. It is heartbreaking for us when we have to tell a missionary that they only  got a 72 or 73 and did not pass. Sometimes it is too late for them to try again before they go home. For some that means their dream of attending BYUH is over. But some of them can go home and try another way of proving English proficiency.

And then the missionaries finish their missions and go home. We miss them! But I have recently been able to 'friend' some of them on Facebook. It is nice to see them continue to grow after they return home. And of course we hope that we can see them again some day. But the distance is so great it may never happen.

Many of our Senior Missionaries have also returned home and we miss our association with them. It is crazy to realize that we have been in Australia for 14 months now. We are set to be released in January which gets closer and closer. So, we are beginning to make long range plans for a family history research trip and relocating to be closer to our children. There are just so many details to be worked out.

As we have experienced a few health issues our goal is to become more fit. After all we can't be very productive if we are in poor health. I am very proud of us because for 4 weeks now we have been walking about 5 days a week around the soccer field close to our flat. There is a nice little "Great Outdoor Gym" at the edge of the field which we use to our advantage along with many others in the neighborhood. There is a group that does Tai Chi. there a couple of ladies who do an Oriental dance routine., There are runners, there are walkers, others are those who walk their dogs. Everyone seems to stagger their times so there is plenty of room for us all. Except on the weekend. We made the mistake of walking later on Saturday and discovered the field was full of soccer players so we walked about the neighborhood instead. We learned that we must be out there by 6:30 or 7 to do what we wish to do.
Kind of nice to have our personal gym. We don't use each of the 8 available stations
but enough to help us along.

And it is paying off along with visits to our physio. However we have also discovered the benefits of a short nap during the day time, especially when we have evening meetings.

Fall is here and the leaves are changing but the weather is lovely. Most of the time the skies are blue without rain.

Twice this month we took the Riverboat to the Quay. We went the first time with our friends the Botts  to the Rocks Market to try to find some things I wanted to buy to bring home. Sadly one of the items I wanted from the silver smith was not available but she said she would make me one later. It was a lovely day on Paramatta River. We enjoyed the Rocks and then had lunch. Elder Jenkins decided that was the day he would try a kangaroo burger. How could we be in Australia for almost 2 years and not try one?

It was a truly lovely day!

It takes about 1and 45 minutes to go to Sydney on the Rivercat. You can sit outside  and enjoy sun and water or you can sit inside and just look out windows. Here we are just approaching Sydney.


This is what the guys do while the girls  go shopping ;)

Well there you have it! the Roo Burger!

A good looking burger served with blueberry sauce to compliment the kangaroo. The meat was on the dry side and did not have a lot of flavor. I expected a wild taste which was not present.
Then we went with several Senior Missionaries on another day down the river to the Quay and caught another ferry to Neutral Bay where we walked to Nutcote. Nutcote is the home of author May Gibbs who is famous for her delightful children's books featuring 'Snugglepot and Cuddlepie' who along with their friends are drawn with inspiration of the Australian  foliage. It was an interesting tour and I could not  resist buying one of her books for our grandchildren to read. 

It was trying to be a stormy day but the sun won out!

Waiting for the ferry to Neutral Bay.

Taking a break walking to Nutcote.

The placard explaining the history of Nutcote.

A whimsical caterpillar at Nutcote.

As we toured the house my eye was caught with this interesting oven door.

Couldn't resist this photo. Not sure if I am supposed to Snugglepot or Cuddlepie.

This is a 'Dutchman's Pipe'. I had never seen one before. There were several hanging from the  lattice frame.

Two of May Gibbs' characters in her garden.

The very best chicken salad sandwich I have ever eaten, and probably the best thing I have eaten in Australia.
The skies continue to inspire me. I am not taking quite as many pictures but I still enjoy the sunsets almost every evening. Fall or not there are still beautiful flowers to see. We enjoy attending temple almost weekly.

A particularly lovely sunrise.
I believe this was the same day for the sunrise but this is taken a little later  from the soccer field facing east.
I think these are morning glory. They are actually such a vibrant almost florescent purple which the camera did not catch.

Sadly these morning glory are a 'weed' and take over if they re not controlled but I think they are beautiful!
Another sunset on another cloudy day!

We are grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. Our friend, Allen Jensen, recently passed which makes us again ponder our own mortality. What a comfort it is to know that through the Atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His Gospel that we can be together with our loved ones again. We are grateful for this opportunity to serve the Savior in Australia.  We love the wonderful people we meet and enjoy learning abut this great country. 

Last night for Senior Family Home Evening we were treated with songs about Australia and we could sing along since we had word sheets. And then we were each given a CD with the songs. One of the songs is: 'Don't Call me a Koala BEAR' since of course it is a marsupial not a bear. It was just fun.

So here we are in May. I hope you will enjoy the photos! Have great day!

This gentleman walked out onto the edge of the soccer field and played his violin to his hearts  content. Sadly we were too far away to hear his concert.

Loved this fence on our walk to Nutcote.

A View from Nutcote.

Fall is here and the leaves are beginning to turn.

Another view of the Sydney Bridge.

Another view of the Opera House.

Walking towards the Rocks. In season there is usually a cruise ship docked near by. And there are ALWAYS buskers on the sidewalks singing, doing magic, playing instruments, etc I love the vibe.

It was overcast all day and then a stream of light!

This is the moon setting as we are out walking about 6:30 AM. It was so beautiful but the camera could not capture the orangey golden color. 

The branch is blocking a full view but this lorikeet is one of many who come to feed on the eucalyptus trees every morning. I love their songs and they are so beautiful!

I think this is a magpie or a crow. They have the most beautiful warble that I love to hear.

I don't know the name of this interesting tree but this one is just outside of our flat. In this picture you can see four of it's stages. the small tender new one, the mature cone to the left, the old expired cone and then the dark dried out cone. The dark dried out cone became the wicked Banksia men of May Gibbs books.

A beautiful rose.

I see this lovely purple flowered tree all over. I do not know what it is called but it blooms almost all of the time.

Another rose.

This is one of the loveliest and best groomed yards in our neighborhood seen from a distance. I can't even imagine how any hours they must spend to keep it a beautiful as it is.