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Saturday, November 4, 2017

IT'S JACARANDA TIME!!! WITH LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL SKIES!

This time I will be posting many pictures of the beautiful jacaranda trees. I had been told they would be beautiful but oh my! they truly are amazing. We cannot drive a block without seeing delightful purple patches. What a delight! It seems like no matter where we are we see purple. There are also spots of red, orange and pink which we view from our balcony and our trips around the city. And the magnolias beginning to bloom.  

Sadly I am told, the jacarandas only last a couple of weeks. Tourists visit Australia during this time just to see the blossoms, kind of like the Hanami tradition with cherry blossoms in Japan which we were fortunate enough to experience in 2014 when we visited our family in Tokyo. The news reported that a 2 block area in Sydney is inundated with tourists, many Asian, taking selfies in front of the jacaranda tree  branches that  grow together across the street. The tourists are causing enough traffic jams to be featured on the news as they pose on the road.

We were lucky enough to spot a couple of streets full of jacaranda trees on our way to a meeting on Wednesday evening. Following our Thursday appointments we found that street again and parked so we could take pictures. Then Elder Jenkins decided he would just drive along with me as I walked the 2 - 3 blocks to take pictures   So, if you see a little white Holden constantly showing up in the street that is our car. We did not cause a traffic jam but it was interesting to see a photographer doing a photoshoot with the model in a bright blue wig, and a fringed dress with a bright blue skirt.

I hope you will enjoy the jacarandas!!! I just cannot get enough of them. Pretty obvious I suppose when you see all of these pictures. It just makes me sad that they soon will be gone.
But we will enjoy them while we can and then look forward to next year.



The Temple grounds are especially beautiful with the
half dozen blooming jacaranda trees.












They drop their blossoms,
so the ground is sometimes like a carpet of purple.




Elder Jenkins by our trusty Holden! We have
driven over 6,000 Kilometers in the 8 months we have been here.
























I love to see the Angel Moroni
silhouetted by the jacaranda blossoms.
                                                                                                                                                           We have been keeping busy. This past week we have had many meetings. Some of the meetings require refreshments and I have gotten pretty good at putting humus inside of a red capsicum [pepper] and surrounding it with a variety of fresh veggies. The carrots here are especially good. I think I will be spoiled for any other carrots. But we have been running pretty fast.

It is hard to believe that November is here. Eight months ago we were just beginning this journey.

We love our time in the temple. Almost every Friday evening finds us in the temple which is a huge blessing for us.

We are also enjoying the BIRDS!!! There are so many - white, green, grey and pink, black, brown, etc and they sing so beautifully beginning about 5 AM.


The skies never fail to surprise and delight us. The sunsets, the moon sets and the clouds! Wow! So, here are some of my favorite sky photos. All from our balcony. I am so grateful that we are on the 4th floor so we have such a great vista before us. I love to be out there in the morning to feel the morning as I am on the elliptical. Even when it is raining as it is today we can be outside and just enjoy it.






It is Saturday evening now, cloudy so no sunset today. We had a Returned Missionary Seminar this morning. I gave short talk along with a couple of the other self reliance missionaries. Then we had a Stake President speak. The messages discussed how these returned missionaries could structure their lives to continue to stay close to the Savior, Jesus  Christ. And also some counsel about choosing a spouse and just living a life choosing to serve the Lord.

Tomorrow we will attend church in another ward and help facilitate a My Foundations Class for some Young Adults. It is a wonderful course which teaches so much that is necessary for a successful life.

We are loving our time here on our mission. There are hard days, especially when we get very tired. But there are wonderful days as we witness the principles of self-reliance begin to take hold. And we love the wonderful people we meet. It is so nice when we are at the temple to see many of the people we work with from week to week. There are just some great people here who are trying hard to live their lives in a way pleasing to the Lord.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

BUSY BUT WE STILL HAD A CHANCE TO SEE KIAMA BLOWHOLE & NAN TIEN BUDDHIST TEMPLE

In the two weeks since I have written we have been busy with many meetings, reports, emails, birthday calls to some of our family members, finishing the newsletter, printing up certificates for course completions, helping at Zone conference for the young missionaries [by helping I mean working with them on their self-check apartment inspections, and preparing food], watching the rest of General Conference, making long range plans to visit Narrabri in November, buying groceries [we do love that we have a new and closer Costco], teaching English, preparing food/refreshments for a couple of functions, giving tests to missionaries, visiting the eye doctor and a lot of other activities that have kept us too busy to write this sooner. But busy as things have been we did have the chance to play this past Saturday.

The "water logged" cornea is doing better. At least he can now read the chart. When it first began he could not even see the "E" that is on the top row. Now he can read down a few rows but we are hoping for more improvement. The doctor put him on the steroid drop, Lotomax, which seemed to give some pretty quick results. But then because he had to use it 4x per day, he ran out of Lotomax and that is not available to us here in Australia. It has something to do with socialized medicine and only Australian citizens can have access. The doctor put him on a comparable but not as effective steroid drop until we can get a renewal prescription from the US which we hope will be here next week.

The doctor was surprised to see the improvement. He said some people do not get over a "water logged" cornea. So, we are grateful for the Priesthood Blessing which Elder Jenkins received through our friends here. We know that Priesthood blessings make a difference as the Lord blesses us.

The sunsets and moonsets are still beautiful here! But often we do not have the chance to see them because we are busy during that time of day. 

Sometimes there are actually pockets of time with nothing demanding my attention so I have begun to clean up and sync my family history data base, Ancestral Quest, with Family Search. It makes me happy because I miss working with my family history which has been a huge part of my life for over 30 years.

We are trying to eat better, less meat, more veggies, etc to see if we can improve our quality of life. And that can be a challenge when we are often so busy and too tired to fix anything when we get home. But we are trying and little changes will eventually have good results.

Saturday we had another Senior Missionary activity. We drove a couple of hours south to see the Kiama Blowhole which would not cooperate with my camera and give me a really big spout to photograph. But being near the ocean is always a treat for me! Then heading back north we drove to the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple. Apparently it is the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere and is not to be missed. 

It is very beautiful and a tranquil part of the world. The architecture and appointments are truly amazing. I took way too many pictures but that is the only way to explain what we saw. I did not see the sign forbidding pictures in front of one of the main buildings so I took a few while looking inside through the doorway of the 5 huge Buddhas, the beautiful ceiling tiles and the amazing wall features. Then I discovered the sign that said I could not take photos there.  So, out of respect I am not including those photos. But there are plenty of others.

I have thought a lot about the Buddhist people, at this temple and also when we were visiting some of the Buddhist temples in Tokyo. The Buddhist people from all I am able to ascertain are such good people who believe in living by lofty principles. I have friends and acquaintances who are Buddhist and find them to be people of high moral standards. Yet I am so sad that they do not know Christ. They do not know about the Plan of Salvation nor that their families can be together forever because of Jesus Christ. They do not know He is their Savior. It just makes me so sad and I wonder if they would not want to be together with their families if they only knew it was possible.

I am so grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ who has taken upon Himself our sins, imperfections and burdens and has provided the way for us to return to our Father in Heaven by paying the price for us.  I just wish there was a better way to help all people come to know these truths. Knowing Jesus Christ and understanding what He has done for us and then following Him is the only way to have true happiness. 

Always when we are out and about Elder Jenkins and I come across people who we have never met and  somehow the Spirit lets us know that this particular person, or this particular family need to be given a "pass along" card that  will help them learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the blessings available to them because of our Savior. It is a great privilege to have the  Spirit work with us and to lead us to share this important opportunity with those specific people.  We never give the cards to random people, only to those to whom we have been directed. 

There are so many pictures this time and I think I will just post the pictures and make comments as sort of a photo journal. Then you can better understand some of the beautiful things we come across. [Actually there are probably WAY too many photos. But...]
There is something amazingly beautiful in watching a full moon
setting in the early morning.

Lots of irises blooming on our campus right now.

Saw this at the back of a church parking lot. Are they papayas?

Seen on the way to Kiama. 

A very poor showing of the water spout at the
Kiama Blowhole. I think it waited to give a full show
until my back was turned!

Love the ocean and the surf!! At Kiama.

Elder Jenkins checking it all out.

Lighthouse at Kiama

A pretty view - Kiama

Love these trees!!

Some of these trees are just plain awesome!!

These next pictures are of the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple.

The Entrance Gate.

A happy Buddha near the entrance.
Golden Buddha.

Little Buddhas

More little Buddhas.

Roof line and lantern.

On the path to the temple.

Another roof line.

Stairs up to the temple. A lift is available
 but there is too much to miss, so we walked up.

Beautiful detail found on the white railings.

Roof detail - fascinating!

Seemed to be exercise time. Several were in gray uniforms seen in
 back. Others were in street clothes. Those in gray went off to classes.

More roof detail.

Beautiful detail!!!

Elder Jenkins checking out the cool bell.

Another roof view.

More...


Large drum. The under side had a small sign that said
"please do not touch" just at the spot where one would have touched it.


Used incense holder.

The mirror wall of the museum.

Courtyard on a cloudy day.

Beautiful red lilies?

So this Buddha is far too serene with snakes lurking about.
Thankfully we did not see any!!!!

The detail is amazing! Sadly,  not well shown in the photo.

A hillside of Buddhas.

The Golden Buddha viewed from the pagoda.

Beautiful Pagoda.

In front of the Pagoda


Loved these trees.

Such a beautiful arch.


This is a weird angle for this picture but it was so amazing to see this
right next to the sidewalk.

Beautiful graceful view.

Just like this peaking through the greenery.



This next bunch of photos are from our trip to see the eye doctor in Sydney. It was such beautiful day - partly cloudy with a gentle breeze and a great day to take photos.


Elder Jenkins as we waited for our lunch to be served.
The Parliament House if behind.

We decided to check out the Parliament House.
We have seen it before and have seen a couple of
demonstrations out in front of these gates.
 But this day we decided to actually see the building.

The lovely chamber with padded leather seats and amazing chairs.

We found this remarkable indoor fountain!! It is encased
in glass.Someone went inside to take pictures
The security guards got rather excited and made them
get out immediately.

This beautiful church is dwarfed by the
newer buildings.

Check out the architecture!

The entrance/exit door to the Parliament House.

A view of Macquarie Street.

Detail of Sydney Hospital. It is an old building, now being restored.

More detailing

A small building in front of the Sydney Hospital.

The Mint.

The flowers are beginning to fill in. I remember walking by
when the landscapers were just planting the boxes.

Sydney Tower

The beautiful weather brought throngs of people to the park

The fountain is always a hit!

Many tourists take picture here.

St Mary's is right across the street from Hyde Park.

More tourists taking more pictures.

And then there was the bride and groom on their way to the photo shoot.
We should have tagged along.

The Barracks Museum which we hope to check out when
our family comes.

Just another shot from the park

And looking back onto the park

Lots of transport bringing all the tourists.

Waiting for the light to change with an old tattooed man
riding his bike and a younger woman doing her running.



New buildings peeking out behind the old.

Still on Macquarie Street.


Australian Federal Police car. Very bright!

Apparently a parking lot for motorbikes and motorcycles.
A few minutes later we saw a woman who was at least in
her 70's riding off on her motorbike.

The police cars all seem to have the blue and white
checker board design. This kind is more common around here.

I love the plants up the wall. Imagine how beautiful
they will be in a few weeks!

And a Jacaranda Tree with its purple blooms.
There are some in front of the Temple
which I hope to photograph  when they
are in full bloom.


And if you made through all of these. Thank you!!!