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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

1 comment:

  1. How exciting to read about your wonderful adventures in Australia! This is Steve's Second Cousine Myke Weber. I just got back to the motel from attending Sacrament Meeting with Blaine Ward. I had hope to see and get better acquainted with you. Instead I met and got acquainted with Bishop Ford who informed me that you were in Australia on a Mission. He also told me you were posting to a blog, so here I am! I visited Blaine Ward Sixteen Years ago and met Steve then and since we were traveling and back in this beautiful part of the world, I thought I'd stop in and say hello! Have a wonderful mission. I'll be following along!