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Sunday, April 8, 2018

SUNSETS, FLOODS, A SPECIAL CONFERENCE ...

I have been pondering sunsets for awhile. We are so lucky to live on the 4th level of our apartment complex and facing west because we are treated to magnificent sunsets almost every day. However, it was interesting that a few days ago we had a day without any clouds resulting in a sunset that was very bland, so I did not think to take a photo. It got me to thinking about how the clouds make all the difference in designing the sunset. The clouds are the accents and sometimes the focus which make the sunsets so beautiful.  

Going philosophical I understood that the clouds in our lives help us realize the beauty of our lives.  Jacob was told by his father, Lehi, that although he had "suffered afflictions and much sorrow," God would "consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain." [see 2 Nephi 2:1-2]. Like Jacob we will suffer afflictions and sorrow over the course of our lives. That is part of the plan. But when we are able to look back on our lives we will see that those hard things worked together, with the Savior's help, to make our lives beautiful. I am grateful for the Savior who makes it all possible.


And then there are sunrises full of hope, possibility and  encouragement. Since we face west we don't always catch the sunrises but sometimes they are gorgeous on the west side too. See the difference the clouds make? The morning is heralded by a cacophony of bird song. I love to sit with the doors open and listen. This morning was particularly beautiful and when the clouds shifted just a little we could see the full moon caught up in the display. Can you see it?






The past few weeks have been interesting to say the least. We have been recovering from being sick and trying to regain our energy. Crazy how being sick for a few days can knock you down.

Then a week ago on Saturday, after I had baked all day long to prepare muffins. raisin bars and brownies for our Departing Missionary seminar in the South mission, I went back into the kitchen and discovered the floor was covered with water. At first I thought it was a fridge issue but the water kept coming at a rapid pace from under the fridge. Going out into the hall we could hear water gushing from the flat next door. It took about an hour to reach the owner and for her to get home. As her door was opened her friend immediately shut off her water by the washing machine. But the damage had been done. Her whole floor was covered in water and most of our carpet - even into our bedroom -  was wet.

It was just a LOT of water!
Our dear friend, Elder Ellison, came over with fans. President Checketts brought over 2 young missionaries and Elder Bott came up to help. Despite our efforts with our  towels and blankets, the water had ruined the carpet. 

Thankfully we had help to pull it up and put it out on the deck. Our neighbor had friends pulling up her carpet and padding. After the missionaries left about 11:00 PM another neighbor came home, saw the problem, changed his clothes and came to pull out the padding. It was about 1:30 AM when rugs and padding were pulled out and we had pulled the remaining carpet over the couch to dry.  


More water
We were so exhausted and  so grateful for the help since Steve's wrist is still giving him trouble and he cannot use it much. The sad news was that our sweet neighbor did not have insurance so she was liable for our damage.
It took a few of hours of hard labor to pull out all the wet padding and carpet and mop up the water!
Wet carpet is VERY heavy!

It was the weekend of General Conference and we had considered waking up at 2 AM so we could watch the first session of conference live. But we were already awake. Then we realized that daylight savings time was falling back so we went to bed for 45 minutes before waking up to watch conference. 

It was wonderful to watch the Solemn Assembly and be able raise our arms to sustain the First Presidency for the first time since President Nelson had become the new prophet and president. But we were too tired to stay up very long so went back to bed. We have watched the other sessions on  https://www.lds.org/?lang=eng  over the course of the week. I am so grateful for technology [love my computer!] that allows us to watch in real time or even in delayed time, the  broadcasts from across the world.
With everything piled up in strange places and the wet carpet draped over the furniture to hopefully dry, we connected to lds.org and watched the first part of the first session of conference 


Sunday was a strange day as we were exhausted from the night before but thankfully were still able to watch conference before taking a nap.

Monday we drove to Mortdale to hold the seminar for 10 departing missionaries. We discussed getting job, getting an education, basic life decisions, etc for about 7 hours. And we had enough muffins, brownies, raisin bars with fruit and croissant sandwiches for lunch.


Sunset over the deck full of wet carpet and padding.


We limped through the week "camping" in our flat. The rest of carpet started to smell bad because it just did not dry and could not be saved. So, again Elder Ellison and Elder Bott came to the rescue to cut and pull out the remaining wet carpet. 

Then Friday morning they came again to help move out our furniture so new carpet could be laid. Our sweet neighbor had asked if we could have the missionaries move the furniture and save her the cost of paying for that service so of course we tried to help.  She has delayed replacing her carpet to take care of us first.

The carpet was laid and the missionaries came  to put the furniture back. After working all day Saturday we have most of our flat back in order. Still a few bits and pieces to find and return to their spots.




We now have brand new carpet throughout. It is much lighter than what we had before which was not my choice but it looks nice. I am nervous about keeping it clean. We have the large area rug which we had before and we will get a few little ones to put in high traffic areas. But now we almost have our life back.

It is so strange to realize that we have been here in Australia over a year! It is kind of sad to see different flowers, bloom and then leave, knowing that we will not see them again next year. We have been here for a full cycle. It is April and fall but my northern hemisphere head still thinks of April as spring. Of course it has been warm so far and does not seem like fall at all.
This is just in front of the mailroom and distribution centre. I think these Birds of Paradise flowers are so lovely.


This specimen was new and fresh with no dried leaves so I  thought it was worth seeing.


We have just had transfers which released some of the young missionaries we have come to love and sent them back to their homes. It has been fun to connect with some on Facebook and be able to keep in touch. And many of the Senior missionaries will also soon be finished their time here. We miss those who have already gone and will miss those who are soon to leave. It has been a great  experience to work with and make friends with people who understand and love the Gospel.

A few days ago we awoke to see a pile of furniture across the street. It looked like the person who had lived in the house must have  died and everything was just put out in the street. The people in the neighborhood and those who walk by take the opportunity to go through what is there and take what they want. It just kills me to see all of the "good stuff" that is discarded. We constantly are driving by piles of furniture just set out. I saw a beautiful white table the other day but of course we left it. After about a week this pile was just gone. They hire a truck to come and gobble it all up. It breaks my heart to see things destroyed that could be of value to someone. But I guess in a city there is no other way to get rid of things. If we lived here I would find a way to get things to people who could use them. I did pick up up a lovely painting which we have here in the flat now.


So much stuff!

It is getting late. I went to bed early but could not get to sleep. So I got up and a few hours later the blog is written. Hopefully I can get to sleep. Lots to do this coming week!

I will leave you with a few sunsets that have decorated our sky in the past couple of weeks. I hope you love them as much as I do! Good night!



















Wednesday, March 21, 2018

PRESSING ON IN THE WORK OF THE LORD... EVEN WHEN WE'RE SICK

I remember seeing this bush last year and wanting
to take a picture. But by the time I had the chance the
lovely blossoms were finished.
So, this year I caught them before they were gone.


Time is a strange thing. Right now I feel like I am in a time warp. It has been almost 3 weeks since I last wrote on this blog and it seems like so much has happened and yet I feel like time is not passing. Kind of hard to explain.

Actually I have been 'under the weather' the past 4 days so have not been very productive. I guess there is a lot of this 'stuff' going around so it is not surprising that I also fell victim to the coughing , sneezing, yucky symptoms. But I am on the mend. Our dear friends have supplied us with yummy chicken soup, lemsip [interesting therapeutic lemon  drink], etc. I am certain that my getting better has been happening more quickly because of their ministrations.

I was sitting in the car one day while my husband went into the
doctor's office to pick up my prescription. I was struck by
this tree so snapped a photo. Realized it isn't the best tree
photo but it does show the strip mall by the doctor's office,
 including the Post office. Just a little glimpse of stuff here.
I can not tell you how strange it is to realize that we are now in our second March of being here in Australia on this mission. It just does not seem real. time goes so quickly!

There is much going on with our mission right now. The decision has been made to combine the Australia Sydney North and Australia Sydney South Missions into the Australia Sydney Mission. This will occur on July 1, 2018 when Present and Sister Checketts will have finished  their 3 year assignment in the North Mission . President and Sister Bingham who were in the South Mission were slated to take over the whole mission at that time. However as you may remember reading in the last blog, President Brigham was involved in a bicycle accident which broke his neck which has changed his life and also plans for the mission. He has made progress and thankfully his spinal cord, although badly bruised and swollen, was not severed. He is making a slow recovery but is making progress. He and Sister Bingham have returned to the United States.

That of course left a void as far as someone to direct the affairs of the South Mission until July 1 when the missions will be combined. Elder Leota, our Self Reliance manager has been asked to step up and be the interim mission president. So, now President and Sister Leota are busy caring for the many missionaries and their concerns in the South Mission. Since his time is filled with mission responsibilities his manager Paul Reid has taken over the self-reliance management for the time being. It is always a good thing to be flexible.

Last Friday all the missionaries from both missions were invited to a special meeting where Elder Clayton the President of the Seventies and President Ardern of the Area Presidency and their wives addressed us along with President and Sister Checketts and President and Sister Leota. What an amazing meeting! and what a delight to be taught by these great brothers and sisters. I was grateful for their uplifting counsel. All of the missionaries were invited to come up in an orderly manner to shake their hands. That was no small feat when you realize there were over 300 young missionaries plus the senior missionaries. It took about 25 minutes and it was a good experience.

We were counseled "that our future rests on the decisions we make now", "that we need to fortify ourselves against the 'fiery darts' that will come our way", "that we are not exempt from the hard experiences in this life, that the purpose of this life is to experience things and grow", "to fill our bottle of life with jewels that matter, not with junk" "we become the sum of our decisions" "that 'hearken' as quoted in the scriptures, does not mean to only hear, it means to 'hear and do' " At the end of the meeting Elder Clayton asked each of us to make a list of things we can change in our lives to become better as a result of hearing the things we heard during the meeting, and then to act!.

There have been lots of meetings, tests for missionaries, English classes and the new EnglishConnect  curriculum to review, just lots of stuff. We also had the opportunity to be with the Botts to present a day long seminar to some departing missionaries using the Education for Better Work materials to help them consider things for their life after mission. It was a great experience to work with these 3 young people, to feel their spirits and to give them advice. President Leota has asked that we do the same thing for 9 more missionaries on April 2. 

Last Sunday we attended a Special Sacrament Meeting for Hebersham Stake at which the whole Stake [think diocese] was realigned geographically to better serve the members of the church who live in that area. It was a massive undertaking and handled very well. And then we learned that there had also been realignment in the Harbour Stake on that same day. It is such a comforting feeling to know that Heavenly Father is in charge and that the leaders are directed through inspiration to care for the members. 

General Conference is coming up March 31 & April 1. This is the world wide conference the church holds every 6 months when we get to hear the counsel of our prophet and the apostles and other leaders of the church. It is held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City but is also broadcast on television and over the internet. This will be a special conference this time because it will be the first time that President Nelson will be sustained as the Prophet in conference. You can find out more about conference and all the other doings of the church at  lds.org if you are interested.

As I review my 'to do' lists for the past few weeks I can see that we have been busy but it all seems so long ago. We have had our teeth cleaned! It has been over a year and we were due. I have seen the physio weekly for a while now and she is taking care of my pinched nerve which is fantastic! But rather than give you a complete run down again I will only say that our missionary responsibilities keep us busy. We also love it when we can connect with our family via phone or Skype or Facetime. Modern technology is a marvel. There are some arrangements which we have been making for our own 'after mission' life when we plan to do a family history research trip to Wales, etc.

Pretty much there is never a dull moment. This time there are only 3 photos. We just have not been  going to many new places  to take many pictures. So....


The sunsets never fail to amaze!
Each day is different and it's own kind of beautiful.
They make me smile and sometimes I actually get out my
camera in time to capture them.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

IT'S BEEN A YEAR !!! THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE CRAZY BUSY!!!



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.

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.