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Friday, June 30, 2017


It seems a lifetime ago since I last wrote on this blog. So much has been going on in the nearly 3 weeks since I wrote it is hard to connect the dots. I have tried to keep a journal every day about our comings and goings. But some days that has only been bullet points. For the past hour or so I have been reading my journal to remember what has happened since the last blog.
working hard with our computers in our office.
 I'm probably working on the newsletter
our white board with our 3 month calendar, maps  our
stakes and some of our leaders. We post  pictures
of the committee members from our 6 Stake and the
district so we can learn their names.

Lots of administration work has been happening - emails, follow up, material preparation, phone calls. It never occurred to me that there would be so much administrative stuff to do. 

We go into the office pretty much every morning and spend many days just working on the phones and the computers. I am pretty sure I did not work so hard when I was at home. 

Not to mention that I am dressed in skirt everyday. Some days it feels like we are in a week of Sundays. Because I rarely wore a dress at home unless it was Sunday. 😉 And Elder Jenkins is always in a white shirt and tie. We also spend time working on our computers at home. Who knew there would be so much to do?

And there is always the newsletter which comes around every month. Lots of hard work gathering the information for the articles and getting the pictures. But the good news is I am learning a LOT about desk top publishing. And most of the time I can get them out without tearing my hair out.😊

Lots of English classes for our young missionaries. Every Wednesday we meet with them at 2 different locations. We teach 14 in one place and then 8 in another. We love them and are always energized when we are done. And they seem to love us as well. They're always doing little things to be helpful like carrying our bags, and one day one of the sisters even made a Banofi pie for us to try. She had been describing it in class one day and I mentioned that it sounded 'decadent'. Well 'decadent' then became one of our new vocabulary words since no one really knew what it meant. Elder Jenkins also became the proud owner of a  dress Stewart tartan tie when one of our Scottish sisters learned that his family roots run into the Stewart line in his Scottish heritage. She also has Stewart heritage. So that was fun.

We also give a lot  Michigan Tests and OPIC tests to those who want them. But in an effort of self-preservation we have decided that we will only give tests on Mondays at the Mission office here in Carlingford unless the missionaries live too far away to come by bus or train  This next Monday we will be traveling to Newcastle to give a Michigan test to a young Elder and to counsel with a Sister about her future plans. Newcastle is about 2 1/2 hours north and it is too hard for them to get to the mission office.

There is becoming a greater emphasis on teaching our young missionaries English when they come from countries where English is not their first language. It is a strong effort by the Church to help these young people have greater opportunities and  become more self-reliant when they return home.

Flat checks of young missionaries' flats is not my favorite thing to do. We had 3 flats to inspect. I don't like going into their living space and making a judgement as to whether they are keeping things clean or not. The first one was pretty awful with mold in the showers and even on the wall where the AC unit was leaking. It was a flat for 4 elders. Three had transferred out with one transferring in. But there were a lot of things that needed care - like new light bulbs, light coverings, new chairs, etc. We had a discussion of how to take care of the mold and why that was important. A lot of people deal with mold here. We have had to spray our bathroom as well. I guess it is just the kind of humidity and lack of proper venting. The other 2 flats were in good shape and when we returned to recheck the first one it was much better.

Some health issues for both of us have kept us humble. Elder Jenkins is still having issues with his hip and some pain in his wrists. He has had a couple of good therapeutic massages which seem to have helped. After a playful hug which resulted in a "pop" in my ribs followed by some pain I ended up at the doctor's office. He checked me over and suggested I have an x-ray to see if there was a broken rib. Although there was nothing to be done for a broken rib he wanted to know if I was osteopenal and needing medication. He also did some blood work to check my heart. Both results were normal which is awesome. But I was still hurting so now I am scheduled for a CT scan and an ultrasound, both this next week. So, we will see. Sad thing is I guess our bodies are to some extent wearing down which of course slows us down. But all in all we are doing fine in the health department.

There are lots of meetings in the evenings, usually 2-3 per week which involve driving a pretty good distance. We have driven 5100 km in four months. That is about 3164 miles so about 790 miles per month. Most of that driving has been in shortish city driving trips. We are so grateful for the Navman which guides us to where we need to go. Next month will have many extra miles because we will be traveling up north into the District for 3 weekends in a row. But the good news is we can now make it to several places without the Navman and still do not have any traffic tickets.

We are learning so much about the Self-Reliance Initiative.  We were in a meeting last week where the question was asked "Why self-reliance now?" We realized as with other directions from our Church leaders  things are given to us to help us prepare for things to come. 

We remember when the Proclamation to the World   was presented by President Hinckley in the Women's Conference in 1995. At the time I think most of us heard it and were not blown away because what he read about the importance of marriage and the family was what we already knew and understood. Yet, now more than 20 years later, as we witness the craziness of the world we understand how important that proclamation is and how prophetic it was and how necessary it is for a foundation.

It makes me wonder just what will be happening in the world in  future years that will make it necessary for us to be both temporally and spiritually self-reliant to be able to survive. The emphasis on Self-Reliance now is the prophetic way of preparing us for the problems and trials which are sure to come.

Providing in the Lord's Way

"The prophetic promises and blessings of Church welfare, of providing in the Lord's way, are some of the most magnificent and sublime the Lord has pronounced upon His children. ...Whether we are rich or poor, regardless where we live on this globe, we all need each other, for it is in sacrificing our time, talents, and resources that our spirits mature and become refined. This work of providing in the Lord's way ... cannot be neglected or set aside. It is central to our doctrine; it is the essence of our religion" (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Providing in the Lord's Way," Oct. 2011 general conference).

And there have been trips to IKEA to get items for our flat,  putting together shelving units, exchanging couches since our was too short to work very well for relaxing or just collapsing at the end of a busy day. Just stuff. Doesn't sound very exciting but that is what has been happening. I never realized how much behind the scenes work we would be doing. There is no way to detail all of the minutia other than to say it all needs to happen to make things flow.

We love being here and it is sad whenever someone returns home because I realize that sooner than we wish it will also be our turn to leave our mission. But we still have 19 months left and we plan to make the most of them!!!

It is a great privilege to serve the Lord in this part of the world. We love the people! We are surrounded by people of many ethnicities and they are all wonderful. I am an observer of people and I love to see the innate kindness I witness in so many.

The Winter Solstice has come and gone so our days are beginning to lengthen again. We can see the slight change in the tilt of the earth as the sun begins to set in a slightly difference place again. I guess it is winter but the coolest temperature has been this morning, I think, which was 4 C [38 F]. Some of the trees have lost all of their leaves but most are still green and many are still blooming. I have been told that something is blooming all of the time.  It may get cooler as July and August come. For now I am grateful for a warm coat on the chilly days and for a heater in our flat that we now turn on a little while each day. But looking out our window at 10:30 AM this Saturday morning I see a beautiful sunny day and lots of green leaves on many trees. The cockatoos and lorikeets still fly by along with many other kinds of birds.

Life is good  and we are grateful for our many blessings. We love the Lord, we love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we love our family and our friends.


We have missed a lot of the sunsets when they began to be earlier in the day like 4:30 PM. But every now and then we see a great one! They are never the same. All are uniquely beautiful. The photos never do them justice because the sky is just so wide and breathtaking. 

 The sunrises are equally stupendous!! This one was amazing! The funny thing is that at home when the sky was red in the morning it usually meant bad weather "Red sky in the morning- sailor take warning." Not so here. The skies usually have a rosy pink tinge in the morning  and occasionally  some great cloud colors but the skies are almost always sunny which I love!

I finally caught a cockatoo with his crown ruffled. These were on campus as I walked over to the other office. They did not seem to care that I was there at all.

Monday, June 12, 2017


one of the many ferries decorated for VIVID
What a busy week!!!  There never was any time to slow down and just breath! Maybe going to VIVID the day after returning from a busy weekend driving up to Port Macquarie is what did us in.

But I realized that we have been "running faster than we can walk"  and that we need to find a better pace or we will wear ourselves out. But then I guess wearing ourselves out doing the Lord's work is a 
good way go.

That being said it was a good week and much was accomplished. We gave Michigan and OPIC tests on 3 different days training the new missionary couple in the process. At one of our locations we had a terrible time getting the internet to function properly. It took an hour to get it going and we only succeeded by using an ethernet cable instead of wifi. We won't give the OPIC test at that location again! 

The rain was intense this week. On Wednesday evening we drove through a torrential downpour on our way to a meeting in Summerhill. The road was running with water and often the visibility was poor because of the rain. But the meeting was fantastic and the rain had quit by the time we left for home. Thankfully!
It was a rainy, rainy day! Everyone, including us, has an
umbrella, or in Australian a 'brelly'. A lot of water
 was dumped in just one day.

We have discovered the downside of living on the 4th floor. When the rain is so intense that the lowest [-2 level] parking floor becomes flooded the elevators are shut off. Not much fun walking up 4 flights of stairs carrying our groceries!!!. Just walking up is exercise enough. But then maybe if we did walk up every day we would be in better shape. Something to think about. It took 2 days for the situation to be remedied. We are all very grateful for the elevator to be working again!
waiting for the water show to begin.

Before the rain, on Monday evening, we went to see VIVID with our Senior Missionary group. We began with a train ride into town where the downtown missionaries served us all a lovely supper. 

I had not known about VIVID. It is an amazing light display throughout downtown Sydney which lasts about 3 weeks of every year. The ferries are lit up, the buildings are lit up, the Opera house has an  amazing display of moving lights that changes to different scenes, as does the art museum. 

There is a fantastic water show featuring an amazing array of lights and figures projected onto water as it is sprayed into the air. The Botanical garden is full of interesting lighted displays. There are many other displays which we did not even see, like the zoo, but there was not enough time or energy to see it all in one night.

For 3 hours we walked, sat for 15 minutes to watch the water show, rode on the ferry, and strolled through the gardens marveling at the sights. It was dark, of course, so not all of the pictures turned out but I still managed to capture some good images.  I took so many  pictures.

If you have watched Sabrina you will understand when I say: "More is not always better. Sometimes it is just more."

But here are MORE, and MORE, pictures. I thought it was all fantastic! Such talent to put it all together.

By next year I hope to learn how to take videos with my camera which I mistakenly thought I was doing during the light show.

The rest of the VIVID pictures are at the end of the blog. I know there are too many but...

We also saw the Southern Cross constellation which was highlighted by a streak of light across the sky.

Elder Jenkins had a hard time with an ache in his hip so walking that long was not much fun for him. He often struggles with his hip if we do a lot of walking. We were both exhausted at the end of the day! But we hope to see it again next year.

Last week we brought Texas sheet cake  and bundt cake to English class. The missionaries seemed to like them although one of the missionaries wanted only an apple. This week I am only bringing apples. 

It is also transfer week so we will lose some of the missionaries in our English class as they will be sent to different areas. But we will also have new ones coming in. It is always sad for me when our missionaries are transferred  because we have come to love them all so much and we will miss them. But we also know that they are on the Lord's errand, and we are grateful that they have strong testimonies and are willing to work so hard to share the Gospel with others. There are some who are going home this week and it has been nice to hear from them to say 'good-by'.
The Gosford Stake office is nestled between a Subway, a real
 estate office and a tattoo parlor in a small strip mall around
the corner from the Gosford Stake building which is too small
to hold them.

We attended some outstanding meetings this week. It is always exciting for us when we see people grab hold of this self-reliance initiative and put it into practice. I am always grateful to go to the Stake Self-Reliance Committee meetings to hear the care and concern the members of the committee have for the church members under their stewardship.

This fellow must have a nest just above us. We are greeted many
mornings by a cheery "CHEEP, cheep, cheep, CHEEP".
Sunday morning moon setting. Can you see it?

We live in a place where beauty is unfolded to us every day. The beauties of nature always feed my soul.

Foggy view from our balcony this morning.

FOG wrapped us in a blanket this morning... We were totally socked in until about 9:30 and then the sun magically made the clouds disappear and the day became beautiful and sunny. It was about 19 degrees [or in the high 60's].

This morning already there have been calls from missionaries needing help with their admissions applications to BYUH. Some of them need to schedule a Michigan test and some just need help knowing how to fill out their applications. It is their P-day so they have time to work on them. We need to look at our calendar to see when we can schedule those who live far away. This week is already pretty booked so maybe next week.

Today is Monday and also Queen's day. Since it is an official holiday, government and church offices are closed; and we are taking an 'off' day [ha, ha] to get our flat cleaned and put our lives back in order. Well we did a lot of straightening but also went to IKEA to find some shelving for our flat. It is just nicer if we can be organized and have a place for everything. Now we just need time to put the shelves together.

We enjoyed a nice early birthday call for Elder Jenkins from one of our daughters and her family. Can you believe he will be 72 tomorrow?  Technology is GREAT!!! I love that we can see and hear our families - usually from their future so many thousands of miles across the world.

We are so glad we are here! We are learning and growing and being stretched and loving all the great people with whom we come in contact. We meet lovely people on the trains, in the stores, at church and in our self-reliance meetings. There is so much goodness in people and it is such a delight to witness their lives as they strive to do well and to be good. We are so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ which teaches us how to live and become like the Savio[u]r. 


The following pictures, as numerous as they are, show only a small portion of the amazing sights to be seen at VIVID in Sydney 2017.

I loved the way the light showed off the amazing brick work on
this old building we walked by on our way to the train to go home.
It was a great experience all in all.