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Sunday, May 21, 2017


The days are crisper, the days are shorter and the leaves are turning. Fall is coming! My northern hemisphere mind still cannot wrap itself around the fact that May is fall. Our grandchildren at home are finishing out their school year and looking forward to their summer vacation. The children here are gearing up for winter and going on with school. 
Morning view from our balcony 

But it is beautiful! Some of the leaves are turning but some are staying green. And today when we left church our car was sprinkled with leaves that had fallen during our services.

I have been told that there are flowers of some kind blooming all year long. I look forward to that. It will be interesting to see. Already we have seen so many beautiful specimens.



Whenever I walk across campus or whenever we go anywhere I make sure to bring my trusty camera with me just in case there is something to shoot.


There is just too much beauty for me to capture it all despite how hard I try.

garbage collection despite our pile of stuff!

It is interesting to see how garbage is handled in our current neck of the woods. These garbage pickups are amazing. With great precision the driver manages to pick up each receptacle, empty it and carefully put it back right where it came from without a hitch.

The pile of discarded items keeps growing and then shrinking and then growing again. Every day some one comes and finds a "treasure" and carts it away. But every day someone else adds something to the already huge pile of stuff. The notice said May 15!!! But they must not have been as serious as the note sounded. At this point I will be glad to have it picked up and gone.
the Free Fruit Bin in Woolies

The other day when I was grocery shopping I noticed this little bin in the produce department. "Free fruit for kids". And I noticed that several young children were sitting in 'trolleys' eating a piece of fruit. What an awesome deal. I know some stores give out cookies but isn't it so much healthier to allow the children to learn to like fruit as a treat?

Our week has been busy. It began with a lot of great calls for Mother's Day. Of course that meant Monday morning to get the calls from the US on the correct day for them. So, we spent 4 hours chatting with our children and grandchildren on FaceTime. What a treat! We love them all so much! And of course I just wanted to be able to hug them all.

But we actually did some real work too. There are many reports and arrangements for training meeting that must be done behind the scenes of our actual work. And there is the monthly newsletter which is never ending because as soon as one month is completed it is time to start on the next. It is satisfying when I actually get some of the articles done early.

Elder Jenkins has been working on an excel spread sheet which has all of the congregations we will work with in the course of our efforts. He is organizing the sheets to show which congregations we have visited and what we have learned or what has transpired during out visit. There are a total of 45 congregations through out our Sydney North Mission that we will try to visit as often as possible to offer our help. Sometimes  we can manage to visit 2 congregations on a Sunday when more than one congregation shares the building. Today we visited the Dural ward from 9-noon and then stayed to visit Normanhurst from 1-2. We could have stayed until 4 but we were too tired. It was good to be in each ward because we were able to learn important things in regards to Self-Reliance.

We have been trying to come up with a good visual aid to help the people we train have a better understanding of how it all fits together. So, we thought of using a tool box with tools. Any handi-man knows that he will not use every tool in his toolbox to work on one issue.  And it is the same with the "storms" of life, or the problems of life. Each issue we deal with needs a particular tool or solution to do the most good.

The 12 principles of Self-Reliance are: 

Self-Reliance Toolbox
-Self Reliance is a 
Principle of Salvation

-Exercise Faith in 
Jesus Christ

-Manage Money

-Repent and Be Obedient

-Use Time Wisely

-Work: Take Responsibility 
and Persevere 

-Solve Problems

-Become One, Serve Together

-Communicate: Petition and Listen

-Show Integrity

-Seek Learning: Resolve Where 
You Are Going and How to Get There

-Temple Ordinances

The tools that are available through manuals which are: 

My Path - to figure out what is needed by each individual 
Leaders Guide - to help leaders know how to administer the initiative in the Lord's way
How to Facilitate a Group - to help facilitators do their job

Study Groups are available for:

My Job Search- to help someone be effective in finding work or better work
Starting and Growing my Business - to help someone with their own business
Education for Better Work - to help people know what kind of education they need  to obtain better employment.
Personal Finances - to help people learn to manage their finances by creating and living on a budget

The Pacific Rim has additional resources:

Success in School Begins at Home - to help parents help their children in school
Study Buddy - to help students who need help get help from peers
Mum's Pre-school - to provide a curriculum for mothers to use for their pre-school children
English Study - to help non-native speakers learn English
My Continuing Path - to help returning missionaries to get back into the real world.

Our job on this mission as self-reliance missionaries is to help the various congregations learn how to find out what is best for them and to help them utilize the best groups by training the Stake leaders to train the ward leaders. A ward is a congregation and a stake is a group of congregations in a general geographic area. It is our hope that we can help lift the people who are willing to participate.

We have been told that the self-reliance initiative will change the Church. And it will change the Church because it will change the hearts of the people. Teaching the foundational principles and helping people strengthen their testimony of Jesus Christ to know that these programs are His way to care for His people. 

So, that pretty much sums up what we are up to, besides teaching English to the non-native English speaking missionaries. Our mission president feels that the best way these missionaries can become self-reliant after they return home is if they have a command of the English language. And that makes sense because so much of the world's business is conducted in English.

And in between all of that we get to see gorgeous sunsets, beautiful trees, and many beautiful things. We occasionally get to play with other senior missionaries whom we enjoy.  We get to love the wonderful people we meet as we visit the various congregations. We are even learning about some other cultures.  And we will soon be able to travel to some outlying areas to do some training and see some more of this beautiful country as we travel.

We love to watch the sky from our balcony!

PS: It has been brought to my attention that comments left on the blog page are not getting through to me. So, if you want to contact me please use my email:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Surgery Postponed - Life is Crazy Busy - Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms!

It is 2 weeks since I have written but it seems much longer! So much is happening all of the time it is hard for me to keep up with us, let alone write about it.

Perhaps of most significance is that Elder Jenkins did not have his scheduled eye surgery. In a matter a couple of days thanks to our great "family" of eye doctors back home a lot of phone calls were made including the US surgeon calling the Australian surgeon which resulted in  a compromise being reached that put off the trabeculectomy in favor of waiting a few weeks to see if the new eye drop is controlling the pressure in his eye and if not then trying a less invasive laser procedure to try and reduce the pressure. We felt kind of like a pingpong ball for a couple of days not exactly knowing what was coming next. If those two other options cannot do a good enough job of reducing the pressure he will be left with the trabeculectomy but we will see how things go. 

In the Priesthood blessing he was given prior to the scheduled surgery,  Elder Jenkins was promised that the doctors would know what was best to do. And it appeared they did. A huge shout out to Drs. Amy and Brad Bearden, Phil Bastien and Aaron Kuzin. We appreciate their love and concern for us not only as their patients but their friends.
with the very yummy chicken lunch!

We have had many days of teaching English - did I mention we love our missionaries? They are a delight and our Mondays and Wednesdays are always fun. One of the missionaries from Cambodia cooked some very delicious chicken for us made with lemon grass and other yummy things. He gave it to us at English class. It was very sweet of him to do this for us.
Mother's Day 2017

Today has been Mother's Day in Australia. We visited Hassall Grove ward and enjoyed their meeting. We heard great tributes to mothers, heard songs by the primary children and the Priesthood brethren.  I actually recorded both the groups as they came into our women's meeting to sing for us. I received a lovely little floral corsage and lots of "Happy Mother's day" embraces from the sisters. Even some of our missionaries texted Mother's Day greetings to me which were much appreciated.
loved this one!

We have watched more magnificent skies and seen more beautiful birds. 



there was smoke in the west this evening 


birds on our campus lawn

We even spotted a kookaburra for the first time.

There have been lots of meetings, and trainings - the quarterly multi stake training and some training with the area self-reliance manager from Auckland, New Zealand.  I managed to finish the monthly newsletter and have already started on the next one. 

The couple who work in the Sydney South Mission and who took over many of our duties in the North Mission before we came have been so great to train us from our first arrival. They continue to teach us many things and we will miss them when they go home at the end of the month.

We visit a different congregation each week in an effort to support the self reliance efforts of each ward.  Last week we were at a building that allowed us to attend 2 separate meetings. In each meeting we listened to wonderful testimonies of the Gospel by the members and by 2 of our former English class missionaries. What amazing young men they are! The Book of Mormon has changed their lives. 

We helped with a Returned Missionary Seminar where young people who have recently returned from their missionary service were given pertinent  counsel and advice. The featured speaker, one of the Stake Presidents, encouraged us all to make room in our lives for the Savior.

On a sad note I discovered that I had been putting the wrong postage on the birthday cards I have been sending to our family. Apparently the clerk who sold me the first bunch of stamps did not understand that I wanted to send to the US, Canada and Europe so only sold me the $2.10 stamps which do not go to the US and Canada. Those stamps are $2.95. So, I am left not knowing if the cards got there on their own or if the recipients had to pay postage due. No one has told me! Postage is EXPENSIVE here.

Apparently living in Sydney is over the top expensive for buying houses, with the average house selling for about $1,000,000.

Our friends who were storing our belongings are relocating so all of our stuff was moved to a storage unit with the help of many great people in the process. There is nothing so constant as change 😉

We found a Mexican food store  called MaryDias where we found canned green chilis and pinto beans. The green chilis are not quite the same as those we are used to getting but I was still able to make some green chili sauce. It will be our turn to provide a dinner for the senior missionaries in a few weeks and I plan to serve some of our Mexican food favorites.

A magnificent clock fountain at Hornsby Mall where
we found the Apple Store.

We had an appointment with the Apple Store to get a small repair on Elder Jenkins's computer.
scary big trucks hemming us in.

The mall is only 12 KM away but we overlooked the  fact that traveling on Pennant Hills Road on Friday evening is NOT a good idea. By the time the repair was finished , and we had a bite to eat since we had missed lunch, it was about 5 PM. Oh boy!  We were in the car over 2 1/2 hours just traversing those 12 KM. My foot was almost numb from using the brake and the gas pedal. There were at dozens of huge trucks. Granted the truck drivers here are very skilled but it was very nerve wracking to be surrounded by HUGE trucks on these narrow roads.

Last week we took the train to town where I also had my eyes examined. Happy to report that all is well in that department. Since we were early we had a little time to kill so we went across the street and checked out the NSW State Library.
State Library NSW

It is so beautiful! We just sat and enjoyed a few moments of down time.

We look forward to returning and checking it out further.

what a sight

beautiful stained glass windows
lots of costumes for anti-abortion rally

lunch at Common Grounds Cafe

I think Hyde Park is my favorite place to go so far!

We saw lots of pageantry at an anti-abortion rally across from a nice outdoor cafe called Common Grounds where we stopped for lunch before walking through Hyde park and then on  to "Woolies" which is what Woolworth's is called where we found their digital prints kiosk. 

Only at the downtown Woolies do they print photos and they are only 9 cents each. Since we have been paying 49 cents each up at this end of town we will make sure to bring our photos with us every time we go to town.

Crumpets square or round very yummy!

Our Senior Missionary couples who are in charge of our activities invited us all over to their office for "tea and crumpets" one day. What a fun treat! I had never seen a crumpet let alone eaten one. They are quite tasty, especially toasted, buttered and topped with honey or jam or nutella and a dollop of cream. And our tea consisted of cold water or hot chocolate.
The crumpet bunch!
Saturday was our day to walk the Sydney Bridge. Note that I said 'walk' not 'climb'. For about $250 brave a person can be attached to cables and be allowed to climb up and walk across the top of the bridge - not for me! We chose the less scary and cheaper [free] activity of just walking across which took about an hour. It was a lovely day - sunny, not too hot nor too cold - and we enjoyed the walk. The sights are amazing! Then we walked to George Street and found  a food court in the big mall where we had our lunch. I also went with a couple of others to see a fabric shop which has lots of lovely aboriginal print fabric. But I bought only a panel of Australian Alphabet letters for a quiet book. It think it could be a great wall hanging. As we waited for everyone to gather we saw an artist preparing his 3D art. it was very interesting to see how it looked 3D from one direction but not from all directions.
starting our trek

on our way

getting there

love this view from the bridge!

Stopping along the way after he had given a bridge
maintenance crew member a 'pass along' card 
inviting him to go to to learn more 
about Jesus Christ. 

Busy Sydney Harbour

Circular Quay [pronounced 'key'] where all the ferries dock.

falling leaves - fall is here.

soon the leaves will be gone on these trees

The lunch bunch!

A street artist preparing his 3D art.

Now the sun has gone down and it is barely 6 PM. We had a notice yesterday that tomorrow morning was our "first entitled kerbside clean-up for the year" That means everyone can put out their unwanted items on our "nature strip" in front of our apartment building for pickup. I think I am a scavenger at heart but there is a lot of good stuff out there  that if we were home I would find a way to use. As it is people are driving by, stopping and taking what ever they want. Tomorrow it will all be taken or picked up by the garbage crew.

Look at all this 'trash'!

Checking it out but nothing we could use.

Life is good. We keep very busy and are usually very tired at the end of each day. We enjoy the people with whom we serve. And we appreciate this opportunity to serve the Lord. We feel like we are beginning to "get it" and are ready to move forward. We have purchased a toy tool box for a visual aid to help people understand the value of the various self-reliance opportunities which we are excited to put to use. We have been invited to Port Macquarie and Hassall Grove to train and speak in Sacrament Meeting in the next few weeks.

Monday, May 1, 2017


This was a cockatoo morning! Every morning around 7 AM a flock of about 4 dozen cockatoos make their way across the neighborhood and eventually fly as a flock to the north. Today they seemed to focus on our space. They were flying above us and must have been on the deck one floor up. And the trees across the street were full of them. Then they were gone as quickly as they came.
just across the street.

I am fascinated by them but apparently they can be kind of pesty because they like to chew on the branches of the trees they sit in until they chew through the branches. So there is always a trail of broken branches on the ground. And they sound like quarreling children or very noisy seagulls.

This whole area is just so beautiful, the trees, the birds, the skies! What a tender mercy for me that we have been assigned to serve in such a lovely place. It just feeds my soul when I see such beauty.
flying right off of our balcony

As usual we have had a busy week. We love teaching our missionaries and love them. Today is actually transfer day so many of them may be moving to another area. We will see who is there tomorrow and who will be new. We get so attached to these special young people and love our interaction with them. They come from many nations and all walks of life as they have set aside their personal goals for 2 years to serve the Lord at their own expense. It is really a miracle to see them at work as they learn and grow and encourage each other to be their best selves and to find those who are ready and willing to learn of Jesus Christ and His plan of Salvation.

Our car was having hiccup problems as we drove on the  freeway. It turned out to be a warrantee issue with something in one of the transmission lines. But all is well and we have our wheels back. It was nice to have the use of one of  the fleet cars  while we were waiting because our schedule did not slow at all.

When I got my haircut the other day I had the great experience of speaking with my hairdresser about the concept of Eternal marriage and how families could be together forever. It was a new concept for her and she was very interested. She also was interested in family history so I was able to drop by a little My Family Booklet which has space for her information and pictures. She was very happy to have it.

Friday we rode the train to Sydney and were met by a missionary couple at the station who helped us get on the next line and then to the doctor's office which really is only a 5 minute walk from he last stop. No $90 parking this time round!

We met the surgeon who examined Elder Jenkins' eye and indicated he needed to go ahead with the surgery. So, the date is set for 8 May in the afternoon. We feel comfortable with the surgeon and have been very impressed with the overall health care we have received here. We expect all will go well and our Senior Missionary friends will give him a Priesthood blessing on Sunday night prior to the surgery. The surgery is called a trabeculectomy which is intended to reduce the eye pressure which is the problem with glaucoma because it is destroying his sight in his left eye.

Hyde Park is right near the doctor so we walked through it on our way to meet up with our friends. I LOVE the park. I could spend hours there just enjoying the nature and ambience.

Saturday we were privileged to attend a graduation for 10 Pathways students. Pathways is a program which has been sponsored by BYUI and allows people to begin their path to a college degree in a unique way.  We heard from each of the 10 graduates at the ceremony. They recounted their struggles as they worked to complete the 4 required classes in the past year which qualify them to continue their studies online. They had each overcome serious challenges but managed to make it through as they supported each other. A single mother with 7 children who is trying to put herself in a better position to support her family was one of many amazing women.

Lots of administration work, meetings, an evening in the temple and then dinner with other senior missionaries and just lots of stuff and another week has passed. Running out of time this morning so most of the pictures are at the end.
fountain in Hyde Park
in Hyde Park

saw this guy while waiting for a meeting
at Greenwich one evening

incredible color

can't get enough of these skies!

we have a hot chocolate machine in the lobby of our office

One cockatoo had a treat which the others wanted - a scuffle ensued

Pathways graduates beginning their musical number
near Yellomundee overlook

beautiful homestead!

Yellomundee Regional Park

Us, visiting the overlook after our Sunday meeting in Richmond


We work with an amazing group of senior missionaries
and it was very good Chinese!

Beautiful Sydney buildings

Building on the left is 27 stories tall. The Church owns the 1st and 2nd floors and 9 parking spaces
in this building. The Chapel is on the 2nd floor where church services
are held for the Young Single Adults who live in the area. The other space is for classes, and a gathering place.
There are many universities or "unis" as they are called here which accounts for so many students.

flowers on top of 27th floor

more flowers on top of 27th floor

Here we are at the top of the 27th floor
with Sydney harbour behind us

Birds of Paradise - 27th floor

Wonderful Hyde Park!