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Friday, July 28, 2017


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.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Yes, we are still in Australia and yes we are doing fine but we have been so very busy. I am pretty sure I never worked so hard when we were home. Our days are filled with so much. We love it but I run out of energy to write the blog, among  other things.

beautiful Parramatta River

Because we have been working so hard and needed a break we decided that we were going to take last Saturday off to play. We invited a newer missionary couple to go with us to show them a place they had not seen yet. We planned to take the River Cat ferry to Circular Quay, which is where all of the ferries dock, and then walk over to the Rocks which is an old part of Sydney that has an impressive  street market every weekend. We left about 8:30 AM and following the GPS instructions which Elder Jenkins had entered into the unit. We drove to Ryddelmere wharf where we parked our car. We walked down the long wharf and waited for the ferry to arrive.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

a friend at the tourist stop

An Ibis joined us for lunch

Pigeons making quick work of leftovers
the Rocks Market

seen at the Rocks Market Place

lovely building at the Rocks 

I really enjoy riding the ferry.We had a delightful trip down the Parramatta river stopping frequently at the various wharfs for passengers to get on or off along the way. The weather was lovely! The sun was shining and the temperature was expected to be between 10 and 16 C [50-60 F] although I am pretty sure it got warmer. 

With our jackets we felt very comfortable as we walked around the Rocks for 2-3 hours. The men sat and visited since they were not really interested in the shops and we ladies 'shopped'. We didn't really buy a lot but it was fun to look at all the wares.  We bought yummy licorice from a man that probably sells 100 different flavors he has created himself. I also bought a silver pendant of the tree of life and a colorful glass pendant. I don't wear a lot of jewelry but I like necklaces and a necklace  is usually my purchase of choice when we travel. We bought lunch and ate in  a nice pavilion while we listened to some live music.  It was just a great day! We thought the weather was perfect even though one of the vendors asked me if I had been to the "doctor" lately when I told him the weather was great.  This is winter and many people think it is cold but it has not gone below freezing where we live. However my husband has jokingly said that this is the coldest July he has every experienced. Somehow I still cannot wrap my mind around the fact that July is supposed to be winter and business  as usual.

Anyway, we made our way back to the ferry to head back home. A lot of clouds had gathered and the wind had picked up so it was a bit choppy on  ride back. We got off at Ryddelmere and our car was not there! In fact the wharf did not look right at all!

We were nonplussed and just did not know what to do. We could not figure out what had happened but there we were off the ferry with no car in sight and no clue what to do next!

We thought maybe we had gotten off  too soon and started walking north without really knowing where to go. We stopped a family that was out for a bike ride  and a couple pushing their pram but neither could offer any help. We considered calling  a taxi but we had no idea where to tell the taxi to take us. All we knew to do was to walk back to the wharf and hope the next ferry would come along and we could get some help. As we walked along I prayed that we would know what to do. We just knew that where we left our car had 2 wharfs - a short one and a few yards away the long one that went out to meet the ferry.

By walking fast and taking a shortcut we barely made it back as the next ferry going back towards Sydney sailed up. I brazenly walked up to the ferry gate and explained our dilemma. The workers had some ideas and told us to get on the ferry, So the others who had stayed behind the place to pay tapped on with our Opal cards and we all got on. By then we had held up the ferry for a few minutes. They were really very kind to help us. We watched carefully as we sailed past first one, then another and finally on the third  we recognized the place with 2 wharfs so we got off and there was our car right where we had parked it!!!

We had parked  at Kissing Point Wharf and not known it. By walking across the parking lot instead of on the sidewalk we had missed the sign which indicated we were at Kissing Point. We have no idea why the Navman directed us to the wrong wharf and we have been too busy to drive back and figure it all out. But one of these days we will follow the directions again and see where it takes us.

I really like these 'pass along' cards.
On the back it simply says
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
and so anyone can learn more
about the church if they wish
So, there you have it! What an adventure. I am sure those young people working on the ferry wondered about these crazy old Americans who couldn't even remember how to find their car. But on the bright side,
Elder Jenkins  felt impressed to give each of them a 'pass along' card. So, who knows, maybe this was the way they will learn about the Gospel. We lost a couple of hours but we all made it home safe and sound.

Our days are filled with so many different activities. We still teach English every Wednesday in Mt. Druitt and Doonside. We love those  young missionaries and always enjoy Wednesdays. We give tests on Mondays at the mission office. Last Monday we were involved from 9 AM to 4 PM with 4 OPIC tests, 3 Michigan tests and counseling sessions with several young missionaries who are going home this month.

We can help them with their applications for university, or 'uni' as they call it here and just help them figure out which direction would be right for them. It is amazing to speak with these young people. In one moment they are silly and goofy and basically  being "kids" and in the next moment they are sober and serious and speak with great strength of testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They truly know and want to share their love of the Savior and His Plan for us.

We have monthly meetings with the self reliance committees in the various Stakes for which we have responsibility [think Diocese]. We encourage and train them as they try to implement the self-reliance initiative. 

There are so many good courses to help those who are willing to participate. My Job Search helps people learn how to be effective in looking for a good job. Education for a Better Job helps give understanding that a better education can lead to more than a minimum wage job. Starting and Growing My Own Business helps people understand the basics of owning their own business to see if it really is what they would like to do and how to begin if it is what they want. Personal Finance teaches how to make and live on a budget as well as to make wise choices about money.

There is a learning curve as everyone begins to understand the format of learning from each other as they follow the manuals rather than have a teacher. There is a Facilitator Manual to train the facilitators to keep the classes moving but it is in following the material and learning from each other that brings success. And the most important part is learning and applying the Foundational principles which include understanding that a knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ is necessary to help us reach our full potential as we learn. The first 20 minutes of each of the 12 week classes  is set aside to learn one of those principles - that it is a commandment to be self-reliant, that we need to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, that we need to manage our money, that we need to repent and be obedient, that we need to use our time wisely, that we need to work and take responsibility, that we need to learn how to solve problems, that we need to become 'one' and serve together, that we need to learn how to communicate by petitioning and listening, that we need to have integrity,  that we need to keep learning, that we need to pull it all together and go to the temple to receive blessings. As people are able to incorporate those principles into their lives things just work better and they become happier as they gain a mind set of self-reliance not only in  their temporal lives but in their spiritual/emotional lives. 

This is what our mission is all about. I am constantly reminded of how involved the Lord is in trying to bless HIs people. He can and will help us all as we learn to rely on Him.

There are 4 more manuals that have been created specifically for the Pacific Rim. Success in Schools Begins at Home which teaches parents how to create schedules and procedures that will help their children learn to be self-reliant. Study Buddy is a course that helps those who need tutoring be paired with those who can help them. Mum's Preschool is a great program with a curriculum for mother's to hold an effective pre-school in their own homes.[ It reminded me so much of something one of our sweet daughters in law had done with their children.] And English Study Group presents a format to help non-English speakers learn English to help them function better in an English speaking environment.

It is my understanding that the Success in Schools manual is being tweaked a little for North America and will soon be available there as well.

So, now you know a little more of what we are about. Besides meetings with committees, we try to attend some of the classes from time to time. There are firesides held to introduce the courses so we try to attend them as well. Our mission has 6 Stakes and 1 District. A district is a very large geographic area which only has a few church members so matters have to be adjusted to account for travel time as many people must travel over an hour each way just to attend church together. That makes having some of these courses tricky because it is not reasonable to drive back and forth for an evening group. In these cases technology is very helpful as they can "meet" via Skype or Facebook discussion. 

Our festive table settings for our 4th of July celebration.
Our FHE was July 3 and we had a very patriotic American evening!  We sang the Star Spangled Banner all the verses, and it was great! The food was  totally American - hamburgers with all the fixings, potato salad and chips, and   yummy  root beer floats. The lesson was about the constitution. We all learned a lot about what is actually written in the constitution and how it protects our freedoms.I am so grateful for our good country and for the God inspired constitution.

We attend church with a different congregation each week. There are 45 congregations in our area of responsibility so we have to be creative to get to them all. If there is more than one congregation meeting in a building we will try to attend more than one meeting when we go to that building. But for those some distance away we cannot do that. Sometimes we are invited to speak in the meetings.  We always enjoy meeting the wonderful people as we go from place to place. It really is delightful to meet so many great people and to feel of their strength as they try to live the Gospel in their lives. It brings  such a feeling of hope to my heart to know that so many people are trying so hard to live the right way. The world can be a crazy place but there are so many pockets of good.

Leura Chapel

Last week we travelled up to Leura and Lithgow which are in the Blue Mountains and we able to speak in both places about the doctrine of self-reliance. We had a wonderful time there and met more great people. We were able to bring up certificates for some people who had completed the Success in Schools Begins at Home course.
The Leura Chapel is unique among LDS chapels. It was designed by an Australian Architect who is not a member of our church. He asked what the main focus of the church was and understood it to be baptism. So he put the baptismal font in the front foyer. The design itself is striking yet not recognizable as an LDS chapel. However the Australians love it and there have been architectural awards given for its design.

baptismal font in foyer

This week we are traveling to Grafton which is about 7 hours north of us. We will travel by way of Tamworth which is about 4 1/2 hours northwest a little inland. We leave this morning and will take a little time as we drive up to check out some of the sights along the way. Tomorrow we will give a driving test to one of the young missionaries who is assigned to Tamworth  so he can be allowed to drive. There are a few things we all need to learn as we adjust to driving in Australia. And our  young missionaries need to be tested to make sure they will be safe as they drive.

Then we will drive the additional 4 hours to Grafton. Sunday we will present a My Path devotional during Branch Conference and then Monday we will drive  nearly 7 hours back home along the coast.

Swansea Centre, Swansea, New South Wales

We drove up to Newcastle a little over a week ago to give tests to a young missionary there. It is a 2 hour drive and too far for them to get down to the mission office. Driving along our way to Newcastle I noticed on the map that there is a Swansea NSW and a Cardiff NSW which somehow struck me funny since we have been to both Swansea, Wales since  ancestors lived there, and Cardiff, Wales to the archive. Anyway. I thought we needed to stop at Swansea because it was on the way. Another time we will go to Cardiff.

On our way home we had planed to go see some kangaroos but got side tracked by the ocean. We stopped to just enjoy it. It was a cool day but still there were surfers in their body suits, people walking on the beach and we even saw whales spouting. It was a wonderful respite.
View from the area which is currently being
developed for likely VERY expensive homes.

Just love the waves!

can't really see the whales just a back
and the water spouting.

Such a beautiful beach!

Our bodies tell us pretty much every day that we are no longer spring chickens. We seem to have a full complement of aches and pains and yet we are doing OK overall. It really is a miracle that the Lord can take so many of us who are well 'over the hill' and put us to work. It is nice to feel useful in the Lord's service and I know He blesses us every single day.

It is impossible to blog everything that happens. I do keep a daily journal to help me remember which is a good thing. There are miracles everyday. There are times when we just receive inspiration of things we need to do and as we do those things miracles happen.  My testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ continues to grow with my experiences here.

It is 7 AM as I write. As I look out the window I see the clouds once again tinged with pink and the moon still giving its light.  As I stepped outside on the balcony to take this picture I could hear the birds busily chirping their happy songs. What a beautiful place to live!
our beautiful morning

Always different


I wish I could share all of our experiences but there are too many. We love being here even though we are stretched almost beyond our ability on a regular basis. We are so grateful for the Gospel in our lives. We have missed many sunsets because we have been working in the office and the sun has been setting earlier because of winter but the days are gradually getting longer and we are seeing more of the sunsets. They always bring joy to my heart - the sky is just so beautiful.

Here are also some random pictures. We have a plant in a pot on our deck which rarely gets watered. I have no idea what it is and yet the other day I noticed it had bloomed. Fun for me!
Does anyone know what this is called?

I tried Passion fruit and found it pretty good. Looks weird but tastes kind of tart sweet.

Passion Fruit