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Monday, April 24, 2017


Today is ANZAC Day, the official one. Everything is shut down including retail businesses until the afternoon. There were many sunrise services which seemed to begin somewhere between 4:15 AM ad 6:00 AM. Downtown Sydney has a "march" or a parade focused on veterans of the various wars. There is a great reverence and respect for the sacrifices of  the armed services here in Australia.  We considered riding the train down to see the march but decided to defer until next year when we are more comfortable getting around. Instead we slept until about 7 AM and will work here at the flat until going to the office in the afternoon. We even got our large frame hung where we can clip photos and cards, etc.

Every week bring us new adventures. This week we have experienced some car issues. It appears there is a transmission problem since it downshifted 3 times while driving home on the freeway the other night. Yesterday it went into the shop and for all their quick efficiency they did not have time to figure out the problem nor get it fixed. Thankfully there are a few extra fleet cars so we are not without transportation while we wait. But I hope it will be done before Friday.

very expensive!!!
Wednesday saw us once again driving to downtown Sydney. It is kind of scary when we don't know exactly where we are going but I do not think it is worse than driving in Seattle. We drove over the Sydney bridge which I look forward to walking across one day, and we actually found parking right beneath the office of the eye doctor we were going to see. Our appointment was 4 hours long so we paid $90.30 AUS by using our credit card. We will learn more about the train routes before the next visit so we will not have to pay so much!

The doctor was very good and immediately saw the problem and knew Elder Jenkins would need immediate surgery to halt the progression of his glaucoma. This Friday he will see the surgeon on the surgeon's first day back from vacation. He was already double booked but the staff was very kind and put us in anyway because the surgery is needed asap. So, we will see what news Friday brings.

Just across the street.

The cockatoos were particularly active one day. I was too slow with the camera to capture the flock of about 48 that noisily flew past our balcony. But I did capture a couple on the tree across from us and the couple that lighted on the balcony on the building next to us.

They are such noisy birds but really quite beautiful. I wish I was fast enough to get pictures of the green ones too so I could know exactly what kind they are. But they fly SO fast I can never get them. One day I was walking across campus and saw one of those fast green birds just sitting on a branch pruning itself. But of course I missed it!!!

It would have been fun if they had come too our balcony!

So, I have learned to take my camera with me when I walk across campus. Sadly I missed some great opportunities for good shots before I figure out that I needed to always have it with me.

on Campus

One day I looked out our window to see a dozen or so cockatoos feeding on the campus  lawn. We were headed over to the other office so I grabbed my camera. I was surprised that they stood so still. But here they are! 

looking west, north west.
                                                                                                  That same day the shadows were awesome.  We really do work on  a beautiful campus and it is such a pleasure to walk back and forth.

This tree is just next to our office.
Fallen beauties on the drive. It seems the blossoms drop very quickly.

We enjoyed our Zone Conference this week. There were 5 'zones' or groups of young missionaries plus the senior missionaries who attended. We enjoyed talks by the Church historian, Steven Snow, his wife and the assistant and his wife who gave us great glimpses of information and edified all  in attendance.  We were admonished to write in our journals the experiences we enjoy while on our mission because as life moves on we will not remember everything if it is not written down. So, I guess this blog is a part of my recording our experiences. 

Just before they left for other commitments the Mission Song was sung. WOW! It was so awesome. The melody comes from the Tongan hymnbook with beautiful words. I can't even describe my feelings as I listened to the great harmony as the song was sung by these beautiful young Sisters and Elders who are missionaries here in the Australian Sydney North Mission. It was electric and I of course was in tears and could not sing. I have learned that they also sang the song, Come Fill my Soul Today, at Christmas which was before our time and I found it on the mission Facebook page. So I have included the link if you would like to hear it. It is a great video but the song is really much better when you are present. But a  little peek at least. :)

We have enjoyed a few chats and calls with our family this week. Of course we are always hoping  to hear from our family and friends. By the way, if anyone wants to write to us here is our mailing address: 
for letters -  PO Box 2723, Carlingford, NSW, 2118, Australia 
or if you want to send us a package,
756 Pennant Hills Road, Carlingford, NSW 2118, Australia. Just saying we would love to hear from you!

On Sunday we were able to attend a wonderful Stake Conference in Penrith. We enjoyed the meeting very much and felt our souls were fed with good messages. 
Friday during our Zone conference one of the speakers related a conversation with someone who asked if we, meaning members of the church, would be asked to live the law of consecration again. [The law of consecration basically gives us the opportunity to consecrate ourselves, times, talents, energy, etc to serve the Lord instead of doing things just for ourselves.] The answer to the question was "that some people are already living the law of consecration." In my journal I recorded the following thoughts:

"I have been pondering that statement. Then today as we were early to Stake Conference and were sitting there listening to the choir practice, and thinking about all the people it takes to put a Stake Conference together, I realized that so many people there were participating in living the law of consecration. 
I thought of the choir members who came more than an hour early, many with their young families, to practice their music to bring the Spirit to our meeting. I thought of the Temple President and Matron and their counsellors who attend the Stake Conferences for all the Stakes in the temple district, and speak, not to mention their 3 year service in the temple which we have learned is a lot of hard work. I thought of  President and Sister Checketts who also attend every Stake Conference in all 6 Stakes and the District and also speak, all the while scanning the audience and checking up on their 260+ 'children' as they spot some of their missionaries in the congregations. I thought of those who prepared and installed the beautiful floral arrangements, the ushers, the greeters and all who drove a long way from the Blue Mountains to attend the conference. 
And then I realized that they and we all are participating in the law of consecration to extent that we offer our time, talents and resources to further the Lord's work on the earth. And why do we do this, often at personal sacrifice? Because we love the Lord. It is as simple as that. We love the Lord and want to build up the kingdom in any way we can. As we sang the hymns I felt truly blessed to be here at this time, to hear the sweet voices of so many who are trying so hard to do what they can to be obedient."

This week has also been filled with teaching English and giving both the OPIC test and the Michigan test to some of the missionaries. I have come to love these wonderful missionaries. They really are great and it is so nice to get to know them.

So, the work goes on. This coming week there are many things in the works. We are still enjoying the sunsets! I can never get enough of our beautiful views.

Another beautiful sunset

and another!

great clouds!
an interesting plant on our balcony
misty morning

no description needed

expansive sky

the day is done!

Monday, April 17, 2017


Easter has come and gone. Australia begins to celebrate with Good Friday and ends with Easter Monday. Some of the schools even had a week's break so there was a lot of traffic of people leaving town on Thursday. It was bumper to bumper on the road in front of campus. I am sure it was equally busy as they a returned home but we were not close by to notice. But the beauty and meaning of Easter is not over.

I am so grateful for our Savior and  His sacrifice for us. Many years ago Bruce R. McConkie, who was one of the twelve apostles, gave a moving talk about his feelings for the Savior. Fortunately it is available online and I am posting the link here in case you have not heard his testimony. He died shortly after giving this talk. I hope the link works and you will enjoy listening to him.

April 14
There is no other way to say it but I LOVE SUNSETS!!! It seems every evening we are treated to another beautiful sight. I have been taking pictures almost every evening, at least when we are home. Our world is such a beautiful place. My heart swells as I view so much beauty.

It is a huge blessing that we are on the 4th floor so we can see so far without obstruction. Every day I spend a  few minutes, morning and evening, on our balcony whether I am on the elliptical or just standing there soaking in the beauty. 

We actually went for a walk this week. Elder Jenkins' hip is doing much better and we had a nice walk around our neighborhood. As he gets stronger we will do more walking. We are close enough to walk to the office but we always seem to have so many bags to carry it is impractical. So we will try to walk in the evenings.
April 15

April 16
 We visited a doctor this week to establish ourselves as patients. He is a sharp doctor and we both appreciated his manner with us as he impressed us with his understanding and knowledge of our issues. He gave us some 'scrips' to  renew some of our meds which we will probably get filled later this week. It was an hour and a half 'surgery' visit that  afternoon. [Surgery is the term for medical office.]

We thought we were going to lose our car for a day or two so we went grocery shopping and stocked up. but the next day when we took our car in for service we were quickly done and did not lose our car at all.

On our walk April 13. The sky over the park or 'reserve'.
 We are enjoying our English classes with our missionaries. It is just fun to be with them and we hope they are learning what they need to learn. We were trained on giving another English proficiency test. This one is called the OPIC test.

The missionaries get signed in and then talk to an avatar on the computer to do the exam. The results come in a couple of days when a certificate indicating a level of proficiency it generates which we print and laminate.

This certificate will help those going back to their countries get a better position or job when they can show a certificate of English proficiency.

We had the opportunity to practice giving the test when the couple who has been training us invited us along when they went to their area to give 3 tests. It was fun to learn the glitches so we can know what to do when we give it on Wednesday.

April 13
 We had a great Skype meeting this past week as we learned from our Area Seventy about his meeting while he was in Salt Lake City for General Conference. He talked about how the Prophet, who attended their instructional meetings was frail but that his mind was sharp. He also explained some of the things that we need to emphasize as we work with self reliance. It really is amazing that with all that goes on in the Church that the Prophet gives direction which he gets from the Lord. 

We spend many hours in our office writing and answering emails about various meetings we need to attend, working on the newsletter, learning where places are in relation to where we need to go,  and learning more about the self reliance materials. This initiative is so amazing!
April 12
We understand that it will be rolled out in our home Stake in Washington state this spring and we are excited about the blessings that will be available to those who chose to participate.

We attend a different ward each week and really enjoyed our Easter Sunday when we went to Kellyville Ward and discovered several people there we already knew. That was such a nice surprise.

A great beauty of Australia is her people. We love the people! I can honestly say that in our time here I have only had occasion to be in contact with one rude person. That was a teenage boy on the train the other day who did not want to give up his seat, or rather his scooter's seat, to a young girl and her boy friend. It was sad because he ruined my streak of no rude people.

Look familiar?

On our way home from doing the OPIC tests we had a meal at Hungry Jacks. They had whoppers. I think the pictures will speak for themselves. But in case you do not figure it out. They are actually Burger King. It is just funny to me.


Don't know if you can make out the order display but we were with our friends and we all got the same thing as shown below. Two whopper juniors for $5.00 each. Two "Super Stunners" which consisted of a cheeseburger, fries, 3 chicken nuggets, a drink and an ice cream dessert for $5.99 each.
Our meal for four.

That was a pretty good price because four of us got plenty full for about $22 Australian. In US funds that is about $4 each.

However the whoppers were kind of expensive compared to the 'super stunner' deal.
Saturday our senior missionaries got together at 7:30 AM to take a train to downtown Sydney and then the light rail to Darling Harbour and the Sydney Exhibition Centre to see the Spirit of Anzac exhibit. It was really a wonderful experience. The exhibit itself was amazing in the way it was presented and we learned so much. I did not know that Anzac meant  Australian New Zealand Army Corps. The whole exhibit portrayed primarily  the Australian involvement in WWI. It was moving and brought me to tears as I thought about so many who lost their lives. I also  was brought to think about my own grandfather who fought in WWI. He was only 17 when he was drafted into the German army. He would have fought against the Australians but I do not know if they were in the same theaters. War is always sad.

Heading towards the exhibition

After getting off the light rail we walked along this beautiful view. Sydney has some truly beautiful buildings. And I love the palm trees!

Such an amazing building.

Only a few months old this amazing building has many rooms for exhibits which are laid out so nicely.

In the foyer waiting to be allowed into the exhibit.

Although the tickets to the exhibition were free we could not choose our time. We were a large group and were assigned to come at 9 AM when it opened. We sat as a group for our instruction after which each of us got our headphones and the controller that allowed us to click on different displays to have info sent to our email. If you are interested in reading any of the information the link is:

The letters were made up of many different red poppies
 created with fabric, paper, yarn,  etc

The population of Australia took a huge hit with so many casualties. It is hard to see on the picture but there were 155,000 wounded in WWI.

This Anzac Day display was at the end of the exhibit. 

View of Sydney from the Exhibition Centre

The Sydney skyline is beautiful and always a delight for me to see.

Leaving and walking along a wall of stock market numbers

Can you spot the boomerangs on his tie?
On our way home we stopped by Paddy's Market. Wow! that is retail overload! Definitely a place full of "stuff". There is a tie shop many of the missionaries like to frequent because it carries "Australian"  ties. And because so many missionaries come there the owner gives all the missionaries a special price of $8 per tie. [That would be about $6 US] He can identify us by our name tags and probably does a great business. We bought 4 ties with Australian motifs, and Elder Jenkins found a hat he liked.

While it appears we have been playing a lot we have also been working a lot. Later on Saturday we met with the chairman of the  Harbour Stake Self-Reliance committee to discuss , what else?, self-reliance. 

After that we were privileged to stay for a baptism. There were 3 young adults who were baptized. They were all Asian. Sydney has so many universities or 'unies' as they are called here, with many foreign students. Many students come from China and somehow find the church. They are attracted to the truth when they hear it and want to be baptized. On Saturday these 3, 2 young women and 1 young man each bore their testimonies of the Gospel. I was amazed at the maturity of their testimonies. 

I met one of the young women in the restroom just before we left. She began talking with me telling me how this would always be such an important day in her life. Her excitement about the Gospel was amazing. She told me that Heavenly Father had told her the Gospel was true and that the Book of Mormon was true. She was so happy and just kept hugging me. Her home was in China 'near the capital'. She was well educated and well spoken and so humble and so excited to have found the truth.

And yesterday Elder Jenkins got his haircut again. This was important because we found the  barber shop of the man who had cut his hair last month when they talked about the Book of Mormon. If you remember this Iranian man told him that his pastor had said the Book of Mormon was a bad book. The barber was surprised to realize that we also believed in Jesus Christ. Well this time he got his own Book of Mormon, actually 2 of them, one in English and one in Farsi. He indicated that he would have to show his pastor to which my husband replied "Great. Each person just needs to read it and then ask God for himself to know if it is true." It will be interesting to see how things go with his haircut next month. Either the barber will have read the Book of Mormon or his pastor will have convinced him it is an evil book.

We love being on this mission. It truly is wonderful to work with so many like minded people who have testimonies of the Restored Gospel. It is a safe place to be and we love it. Of course there are challenges, pretty much every day, as we try to learn and do what is necessary for our responsibilities. Often we fall into bed exhausted but always we are grateful to be here serving the Lord.

And it is a tender mercy that we live in such a nice place. Here is our flat. We are in the building to the right on the 4th floor. Our flat which is in the front side of the building has that lovely balcony which faces west. 

Thankfully we have elevators which carry us up and down. We have 3 parking spots. Two of them are together and we always park in the middle so we have lots of room. There is another one somewhere for our guests to park but we have not found it yet. Thankfully it has not been needed

The parking is about 4 levels which are accessed by this gated entry. We need our little remote to get in. I am always nervous that the gate will come shut before I get through even though there is a beam that would be broken by the car and stop the door 

We are in #60. There are 5 flats on our floor. The hallway is such a boring white but the flat itself is very nice. 
This is a blossom on one of the trees on the
property of  our flat.

Sunday, April 9, 2017


These past few weeks have been so jammed packed that it seems like we have packed 6 months activities into 1 month!!! It has been truly amazing and we are loving it!! We had no idea how hard we would work, how much we had to learn or how tired we would be. We had no idea how quickly time would fly! We have happy surprises everyday!

The temple faces east and greets the sun everyday!
We love where we live! We love that we are only moments from the temple. I finally had a chance to take some pictures of the temple. It truly is the jewell of our campus. 

It sits along side of Pennant Hills Road which is one of the busiest roads in the area. There is always a lot of traffic and I do my very best to NEVER make a right turn on or off of that road. I have actually gotten rather creative in making left hand turns to avoid crossing traffic. Kind of like I would always make right hand turns at home.

I love the beautiful lights at night!

Friday evening we spent some time in the temple which was a great experience. It was dark when we came out so I was able to take a few pictures. The stained glass windows are so beautiful I wanted to show them.

Hard to really see the beautiful details
of  the stained glass windows.

I will never tire of the beautiful skies!
We are so lucky to live on the 4th floor because we have an amazing view which is not blocked by trees or buildings. I love to go out on the balcony and just be there. We turned the elliptical around so it faces the west and I can look at the beautiful view as I exercise. 

Hard to see the bird but that is his chest!
Yesterday I saw a flock of about 3 dozen cockatoos flying past. There are so many beautiful birds but I do not know their names. A pair of gray birds with bright red chests flew by as well as many green ones with red, yellow and purple breasts. They fly so fast and are usually camouflaged in the leaves of the trees  on campus so it is hard to get a good picture. The one day I actually saw them up close and personal I was without my camera! I think I must make a point to never be without my camera! But there are some days when I do not have time to walk on campus.

So, I often take a few minutes on our balcony before we leave or after we get home to just spend time enjoying the view. It just makes me happy.

Street view looking south from the balcony

There is a lot of building going on in the Sydney area. Housing is very expensive and there is some encouragement to build more to increase the supply.

Street view looking north from the balcony

Looking north west from our balcony

This has been a very busy week. The newsletter was finally finished so I could sen it out to those who needed to get it.  Now I am beginning the next issue. We are scheduling a lot of meetings to help leaders as they implement the self-reliance initiative. We work with amazing people who are all trying to serve the Lord. We are so grateful for all  who help us in this great work.

This week we also began teaching English to about 20 young missionaries. Our Mission President feels that it is very important to teach these young people to be more proficient in English. They come from all over. There are Elders and Sisters here from Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, Tahiti, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Fiji, to name only a few. They do not have English as their first language so when they come here they have to learn English to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in English. They do an amazing job of learning the language of the Gospel very quickly. But the regular everyday English does not come as easily even though they study with their companions.

So we have been asked to work with them and help them become more proficient in English so they can be more self-reliant when they return home. We had so much fun last week! We will cover grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension as well as some writing skills. They are so awesome and so eager to learn and so humble. Our Wednesdays will be full as we go from the Hebersham Stake center for the first class to the Doonside chapel for the second class.

Last week we brought a variety of candy to give as treats and rewards for participation. That went well as we made them describe the candy and tell why they chose it before they could have it. Then they had to describe what it tasted like. And of course we ran low on candy because our first  group had 14 people who liked candy. 

great parking!
So before our next class we had to find a store to refill our candy supply. We stopped in Rooty Hill where we also got a quick sandwich. Rooty Hill has an old fashioned main street with lots of small stores. All of the cars were backed into the parking places. They seem to backup really well around here. That has NEVER been my strong suit!

Not sure about these guys!
An empty lot between two businesses had these walls of graffiti. I wonder if the town let someone come and be artistic. They always do such a  great job! I hope someone asked them. I think some of our grandchildren will be impressed.

It was a fun little detour on our way to the next English class.

Did I mention that we would be LOST without our Navman? It has saved us many times. But today was interesting. Doonside Chapel was our destination and we followed the directions exactly. And we saw the chapel and started looking for the drive way to get in. But...all we saw was a long iron rod fence with no entrance. Perplexed we continued on to the stop light and made a left turn since the chapel was on the left. We went to the next intersection and turned left again and cruised the street looking for a place to turn to find the chapel. Luckily we chose the correct street and down at the very end was a small gate that allowed us to get into the church yard.

We had a great time with our second group, and we had enough candy :)

One of the things we have noticed about the various church parking lots as we have travelled from building building  is that they all have a basketball court painted on the parking area. I think it is a cool use of space. This one even had a metal bar to drive under to access some of the parking.
I thought the property behind the church had such lovely trees. That is our trusty car in the parking lot.
I still love flowers. This was in the hedge in front of the Doonside Chapel.

A lovely view from the Doonside Chapel.

This was General Conference weekend in Australia. Last week was General Conference in Salt Lake City. General Conference is held every 6 months in Salt Lake City at the Conference Center. 20,000 people go there to watch it but of course it is not big enough to hold everyone. So, the conference sessions, there are 5 each time, are broadcast. Depending on where you live you can watch it live on TV or your computer. But when you live in Australia there is no reasonable way to watch it live. So, everything is postponed one week. That means it is broadcast in all of the church buildings here on Saturday and Sunday. People get pretty excited about conference, but I think most of them do what we did and cheat by going to and clicking on the tab for watching conference.

We started watching during the week and watched all of the Women's Broadcast from the Saturday before and all of the Saturday talks. It really was wonderful to hear the talks from our leaders. Even our Prophet, President Monson spoke. It really is wonderful to know we have a prophet who gives us inspired counsel in these crazy times in which we live.

Saturday evening the missionaries got together for the men to attend the Priesthood session at a church building. Some of the women got together and went to see Beauty and the Beast. Yes, senior missionaries are allowed to go see movies. It was a fun get away.

Today was Sunday and we decided to stay in our flat to watch the conference talks instead of going to a church building. We were able to access all of the talks but the music was not a part of it. So we went to Youtube and search for the Tabernacle Choir. We were able to listen to their sweet strains before we watched the talks.

Our Prophet spoke again admonishing us to be kind and charitable. He also announced that  5 new temples would be built. That is always a joyous announcement. The new ones will be in Brasília, Brazil; the greater Manila, Philippines, area; Nairobi, Kenya; Pocatello, Idaho; and Saratoga Springs, Utah. There are currently 155 temples operational around the world. We are so lucky to be within walking distance of the Sydney Temple.

Walking to the office. His hip is improving!

Baked cookies! That means I figured out how to use the oven
and how to bake here. I didn't even burn them ;)


We started the day with clear skies. Then we watched as small cirrus clouds crept their way across the sky becoming bigger and dark and finally blotting out the sun. 

Dark clouds covered us bringing tremendous lightning and thunder and pouring rain. And then the storm moved on. 

This shot was just as the dark clouds began to cover the sunlit sky. By the time I realized I had part of the balcony roof in the shot the moment was gone.

So, now it is almost Easter time when we can remember our Savior and His sacrifice for us. Without Him nothing would be possible.