What a great way to open a new year by going with 15 other senior missionaries on an outing to the Australia Open. It was a once in a lifetime experience for me. We had perfect seats about 7 rows up and saw Djokovic vs Ramos-Vinolas. It was all so very exciting to watch that level of tennis played. Wish I could have played like that in my youth….only in my dreams!
A contingent of us waiting for the train to the AO
Thank you for all the Birthday wishes. I feel loved and blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. I try each day to pass that love and the love of the savior forward to these wonderful young missionaries I work with each day. We are all, really, one big family. My companion and I went for a birthday lunch and a hike in our Jurassic Park like forest. It was a good day. In addition, it was Australia Day, like our 4th of July. I pretended that all of Australia was celebrating my birthday. 🙂
Feb 1st is the deadline for all of our missionaries who are applying for the Spring/Fall 2018 semester at BYU so it is down to the wire with them writing essays and getting all their application materials submitted. We help with proof reading and connect with BYU on all outstanding issues on their behalf so that they can concentrate as much as possible on their missionary work. We love these sweet young missionaries and will miss them when they depart and return home to continue their education.
In meeting with these young missionaries, we start with a prayer, inviting the spirit and then I give a little spiritual thought, we talk about their plans for their futures, work on their applications or tutor them in english; then we say a closing prayer. I have found that this approach seems to help and many times I see a light go on and light up their countenances and their minds receive personal revelation about their lives. It helps me too as I try to get them thinking about all the options they have and paths they could take. We want them to be self reliant and come up with their own unique plan or voyage. BYU Hawaii calls it there Holokai – their academic voyage. Oh what a wonderful thing.
It is summer here now and we are actually getting some sporadic warm weather. It is 102 degrees today but next week it will be back in the 60s and low 70s. We have learned to just be prepared for anything.
I love you all. Hope all is well with all of you. Have a wonderful 2018. I have 6 more months and it seems to be going by really fast. I will miss Australia but mostly those I serve with and the young missionaries.
This Thanksgiving I find myself far, far away from my homeland but with sweet memories of friends and neighbors and most especially families gathered together to break bread, laugh, tell stories, play games; eat turkey, dressing and pie; watch football and feel the love and support of one to another. I am thankful for that memory, for family, for the opportunity I have to serve here in Australia; for the beauties around me and for all the things which we take for granted: clean water, electricity, food, clothes, shelter, beds, cars, the ocean, the mountains, the valleys and on and on.
I love to sing the Hymn with music by Johann Cruger and Text by Martin Rinkhart:
“Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this earth rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms,
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love
And still is ours today
Oh may our bounteous God
Through all our lives be near us
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us
And keep us in his love,
And guide us day and night,
And free us from all ills,
Protect us by his might.”
We had a Thanksgiving feast in the mission home for all the Senior Missionaries on Friday which was Thursday in the US so we were celebrating in concert with the actual Thanksgiving holiday. It was wonderful to visit with all the seniors and the food was exquisite. The feast that will long last in my memory, though, was in the city branch on Thursday for the Chinese Zone hosted by Elder and Sister Maughan. They had perfectly cooked a big turkey and we had salad, scalloped potatos and, of course, pumpkin pie. The most tender part of the evening was when Elder Maughan asked everyone in the room express what they were thankful for. Each missionary stood and bore sweet testimony of what was in their hearts; some of them in broken english. No matter country or language, there is Thanksgiving in hearts around the globe.
Here is a picture of me working with a sister missionary who decided to take a selfie of us:
We are preparing for Christmas and the Light the World Campaign. It is such a wonderful time of year. Love certainly does abound. I am excited about singing in the Stake Christmas choir and again with a few of the senior missionaries in a stake kickoff of the Light the world campaign.
I love you all. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. You are in my heart and in my prayers.
Well that’s the word on the street but I have yet to be convinced. The flowers are blooming, the little ducklings are waddling in a line behind mama duck, the birds are singing a bit more than usual, there are joeys in the kangaroo pouches and I actually saw a baby koala in the arms of it’s mother. It is generally thought, though, that with Spring, comes the warmer weather taking some of the chill out of the air that occupies the winter months. We have not yet, however, been able to shed and store away our winter coats. Cold rain comes frequently. We bundle up in weather that hovers around the 40s and upper 50s. It peaks into the 60s sometimes and there is an occasional warm day here and there. The forecast calls for 80 degree weather the week after next but the accuracy of forecasts does not have a very good track record. Stay tuned! 😉
This coming Tuesday is a public holiday here in Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup. It is kind of like the Kentucky Derby but, I think, with a lot more fanfare. It goes on for several days. There is a lady’s day and a family day and a show day and I don’t know what else “day”. We took the train into the city on our p-day this last Saturday and saw many couples dressed to the nines going to the races. It is amazing how many take the train to go to these events. We were enthralled with all the hats and were able to get several to let me take their picture.
Mama Koala with her baby: What a great hug!
I love my mission and all the opportunities for service. I can truly testify that service brings joy. My heart is filled with love and with love comes inner peace and understanding, greater faith, hope and patience. We serve the young Elders and Sisters, we help the office missionaries; we serve each other as companions and all the senior missionaries help each other whenever needed. It is such a wonderful thing!
I have joined the stake choir. We sang a beautiful rendition of “Master The Tempest is Raging”. I love that hymn. With all the whirlwinds and tragedies and unrest in the world around us, we know that “peace be still, peace be still” is the call of the Master as we know that he can calm our troubled hearts as we turn to him. I don’t have a trained voice but I love to sing and mine is one of those filler voices that every choir needs. I love the great spirit that I feel as I sing. Sometimes I feel like angels are singing along with us. We are going to start preparing for Christmas. Today we practiced with two missionaries. One of them plays the flute and the other is a concert level pianist. It will be beautiful and I believe that as I keep singing, I will be blessed with an increasingly better singing voice.
Sister King and I were given the assignment recently by the president to come up with an emergency response plan for the Australia Melbourne Mission. I think this is an emphasis in the Church in all the missions worldwide. Australia is not susceptible to earthquakes but can get Bush fires, flooding (there can be cyclones), forest fires in selected forested areas, flat fires and, of course, possible terrorist attacks. Missionaries need to be prepared and have a plan. It is a good project.
I sure love all of you. I am continually grateful for your support and your prayers. I have attached a few pictures.
P-day at Brighton Beach. Cute little bathing houses:
I am known for using the expression, “Oh what a wonderful thing”. It is wonderful to be having this experience here in Australia. I am grateful for opportunities to serve in the Australia Melbourne Mission. I am grateful that our assignments have been so varied and afford us opportunities to be mostly “on the go” meeting new people, working with new missionaries, teaching, learning, growing and seeing the wonders around us when we get the time.
The people we meet on the train, in our neighborhood and elsewhere in our travels are quite friendly. I think I mentioned in the past that Melbourne is a melting pot of a myriad of different cultures. The diversity makes our experience here all that much more interesting. It would appear that people in general are very accepting of each other and their cultural differences.
We are still working with the young missionaries who are preparing to further their education after their mission. We have approximately 200 missionaries at all different stages of their missionary service. Every six weeks there are some arriving and some leaving. For those who are applying to universities, it can be a fairly lengthy process particularly for international students so we try to work with them at least 6 months out. We guide, direct, provide information, and proctor required English proficiency exams but we also try to teach some self reliance principles along the way. Their primary focus and responsibility is their missionary work but they use part of their p-days to work on their own applications, schedule tests and so forth.
We recently had an international student from the city branch text us and said that she is working on her doctorate in ophthalmology at Melbourne University and needed some “elderly” people to be practice patients and asked if we would be willing to help out. Of course we laughed about the “elderly” part but were happy to get a free eye exam. It was quite interesting. I have always had a hard time reading because I would easily lose my place or not be able to see the words clearly even with glasses. I found that if I would cover or close one eye, I could read just fine but it was tedious and so reading has never been a source of relaxation for me as it is for others. They found that I have Binocular Vision Dysfunction which means that each one of my eyes can focus just fine but they are out of alignment when attempting to work in concert with each other. They said that it is typical for people to cover one eye with this condition or otherwise try to compensate. I think it is treatable even for the “elderly”.
The scripture I have pondered this week is found in Ecclesiastes 9:11:
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
President Monson in a talk given in a BYU devotional in 2009:
“Many of you here tonight are close to completing your formal education. (We’ll have a moment of cheer on that one.) Others of you have additional periods of academic preparation ahead. Each is in what could be called the race of life. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes wrote, “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong” (Ecclesiastes 9:11); it is to him who endures to the end. The race of life is so important, the prize so valued, that great emphasis must necessarily be placed on adequate and thorough preparation. When we contemplate the eternal nature of our choices, preparation is a vital factor in our lives. The day will come when we will look upon our period of preparation and be grateful that we properly applied ourselves.” Preparation is so important when time and chance happens to us. I can testify of that from my experiences in life. Some things I have been prepared for and others I have not. I am oh so grateful for life and the opportunities I have to learn and grow and continually prepare.
Attached are some pictures. Fun with the sister missionaries on their pday and another adventure with my companion to an amazing waterfall.
I love you all. Thank you for your friendship and love.