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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A LITTLE MORE TRAVEL.. AND A BIG BIRTHDAY!

It seems the days go by too quickly for me to be able to write this blog. Almost 2 weeks have passed it seems in a blur. If I did not have my journal and my daily to-do list and even our pictures to refer to I would not be able to remember all that has happened.

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.



Armidale is a lovely town as well. We stayed in a nice motel and were greeted by an amazing sunrise the next day. We had the chance to take a walking tour of the old buildings around town or to go find the aboriginal art work I had learned existed a short distance away. What would you have done?
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!
It was a lovely walk. I wish I had adequate words to describe it. Cool, sunny, a gentle walk, a random kangaroo hopped by on our left and then disappeared in front of us across the trial, a tree full of birds seemed startled at our presence and noisily let us know they were displeased.  The landscape was sprinkled with remarkably large boulders that were as interesting as they were beautiful and majestic. The trees also were interesting to see.
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.

the pathway.
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.



  1.   

Friday, July 28, 2017

SOME TRAVELING TO SHARE THE SELF-RELIANCE INITIATIVE...

This Saturday morning I am sitting in the Cedar Lodge Motel in Armidale, NSW with the sun streaming in the window as I write this blog. It is a chilly 1C [barely 32 F] but the skies are clear and it is a beautiful sunny day. Elder Jenkins says this is the coldest July he has ever experienced. But then it is winter here. 

This is the third weekend in a row that we have travelled into the Coffs Harbour District to visit branches to present a MyPath Devotional, which is an introduction to the self-reliance initiative and the various groups available.

In case you do not know what a "Branch" is, let me explain. There are members of the church living all over the world. When there are enough members in a geographic area to create a  ward [usually over 200 members], one  is organized to provide a structure for the members to meet together to worship. A ward will provide a Sacrament meeting [worship service] every Sunday as well as meetings for the children [Primary], Sunday School instruction for young and old, Mutual for the young men and young women,  Relief Society for the women and Priesthood meeting for the men.  However, when there are only a few members of the church, maybe only 30 or 40, who live in a large geographic area, often separated by hundreds of km it is not possible to have all of the programs. There may be only 2 or 3 children or just 1 or 2 teenagers so modifications are made to best serve their needs. This is when a branch is organized which always has the Sacrament service but does not always have all the classes available for the other meetings. Sometimes the branch members all meet together for Sunday School, etc.

I spent many  of my growing up years attending Branches in Alberta, Canada. We often did not have our own church buildings so would hold our meetings in a rented building. In Drayton Valley it was the scout hall. In Red Deer it was a I.O.O.F. hall until we grew large enough to build our own church building. There is a closeness that grows between the members of a branch and I have many fond memories of the people I grew to love. So I have enjoyed this opportunity to attend these branches and can relate to the conditions of trying to make things work with few members.

But the message of self-reliance is for everyone so we try to bring the information to these remote areas. This initiative will truly bless the lives of those who participate.

We have travelled on Fridays and Mondays so we would have enough energy since the trip is at least 6 hours each way and we just do not have enough energy to drive up and back with out a rest in between. I guess that is part of being a 'senior'.😉


This is a map of our trip to Grafton.
We travelled over 1400 km that weekend.
Our first trip was to Grafton; but we drove up by going through Tamworth which was 4 1/2 hours from home. We chose this route so we could see a little more of the country side. It became helpful to our mission president because one of the young missionaries who is assigned to Tamworth needed to a driving test to make sure he was able to drive one of the mission cars. [There is only one missionary assigned as driver at a time but some of the drivers have finished their missions and are returning home so replacement drivers are needed.] 

We loved our drive through the ever changing landscapes. This country is so big and has so much to see. We loved the trees, the many different kinds of trees. We loved the open meadows with sheep and cattle. We loved the little towns and their quaint old buildings. We made it a point to take time to stop and see a few of the sites. Not as many as we would have liked but some.

First we stopped at Morisset to see kangaroos. That was an interesting experience.The kangaroos there are used to people and are quite happy to accept our offerings of carrots. But they are not exactly tame. At one point a couple of the kangaroos got annoyed with each other and started hissing at each other. Then the one nearest  to Elder Jenkins turned and punched him in the stomach. It was a hard punch which caused Elder Jenkins to step back a step or two. That kind of dampened his enthusiasm for spending more time with the kangaroos.

It was fascinating to see the little joeys in their mother's pouches. I look forward to bringing our grandchildren there when they visit. 

These joeys are amazing. I was surprised
at how large they actually were
in relation to their mothers

They are so interesting to watch as they lope
around the field.

Nursing joey. this one nuzzled his mother for some long
moments while she was prostrate on the ground before
she finally stood up so he could nurse.

They are so spoiled with so many people bringing them
carrots! They would just come up and take them right
from our hands.
This one did not even use her paws
but was quite happy to be fed.


















































Beautiful river near Morisset.


Lovely vista near Morisset.
On a large rock lookout north of Tamworth on a rainy Saturday.

Just love the trees!
Driving along the mountain road.


  

I love the open fields with cattle or sheep or just solitary trees.




How can I not love the trees?

 
Lots of interesting ferns along the mountain road.


By the river in Grafton just after sunset.

Grafton is a lovely and very clean town. I was so impressed with the cleanliness of the streets and the properties. Just lovely! We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the members of the Grafton Branch  and discussing self-reliance. 

The afternoon afforded us enough time to drive up to MacLean a few km north to see the amazing telephone poles that are painted in Scottish tartans. We saw sugar cane fields and palm trees and lovely scenery.
There are ALWAYS big trucks on the road!


A BIG truck - 34 wheels per my husband's count!

Loved the orange on tops of the trees.

Stewart Hunting Tartan

Royal Stewart Tartan - way back in the family tree
my husband has Stewart ties. So many of the telephone
 poles have tartans painted on them It is pretty cool!

River view in MacLean

Beautiful sunset from Ulmarra pier.





The next weekend we drove to Coffs Harbour, again enjoying the scenery along the way.
This trip was more up and back, but still
traveling Friday and Monday.
We drove over 1000 km this time.




We had the opportunity to spend one night at Opal Cove on the beach so we enjoyed the sound of the surf and walking along the beach during the sunrise.


Sunrise begins streaking light across the sky.

What can I say?

Loved the waves!

Elder Jenkins 

flocks of these beauties on this trip but I don't know their name.

The beach at Opal Cove.

Are these awesome trunks or what?!


It was also fascinating to visit the Big Banana and take a tour in a banana plantation to learn how bananas are grown and harvested. 
Definitely a tourist stop - but a great place to eat and learn.

Yes, the cheesy tourist shot.

We got a free banana at the end of the tour instruction.
They were very good but tasted a little different
than those we usually eat.
Australia does not import any bananas but grow their own.

These special bags are place over each bundle of bananas to protect against insects and wind. It also allows gases to develop which hasten the ripening process. Each 'tree' produces only one bunch and then is cut down leaving a little part to develop into a new  'tree'.

Walking along the path in the plantation.

Coffs Harbour from the overlook.

I loved the ridges made by these incoming waves.

Also from the overlook.

Banana fields

Monarch butterfly at a rest stop on the way home. There are many rest stops, or 'driver revivers'
along the way to help tired drivers. "Stop, revive, arrive alive."

Again, we enjoyed meeting with the wonderful people of Coffs Harbour Branch and speaking about self-reliance. There is an honesty and openness among the branch members which I enjoy so much. I always love being around people who are not ashamed of their testimonies and who evidence their love of the Lord in their behavior. We are so blessed to be here and to associate with so many wonderful people.

In between our trips we have been busy with meetings, teaching English to our missionaries, and taking care of lots of administrative 'stuff'. I would have never imagined how much busy office work is required to keep things up and running. Many of our missionaries were finished with their missions this transfer. We are grateful for their lives of service but will miss them and feel sad knowing that we will probably not see most of them again as they live in far away places.

One of our grandsons received his mission call last week and we were able to participate  via 'facetime' [such a great invention!] as he opened the envelope and read that he will serve in the Argentina Buenos Aires East Mission for 24 months. How exciting for us all! We also have another grandson currently serving in the Tahiti Papeete Mission. So come November there will be THREE Elder Jenkins serving on missions at the same time. We are so grateful that our grandsons have testimonies of Jesus Christ and are willing to sacrifice their time to bring others to Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly the 'good news' for the world.

Serving this mission is not at all what we expected. Of course I am not sure exactly what we did expect. We are being stretched in ways we did not know we could be stretched and hopefully that means we are growing. We are being touched by those with whom we work , other senior missionaries as well as the members of the various wards, branches, stakes and district. It gladdens my heart to know that Heavenly Father loves us all and provides so many blessings for us. We are so grateful to be here.