"Grand as it is, planet Earth is part of something even grander- that great plan of God. Simply summarized, the Earth was created that families might be." Elder Russell M. Nelson
Monday, June 12, 2017

Today is the Queen's birthday so no seminary.  It was nice to sleep in a little.  After skyping with our children I finished getting everything ready for my last Primary girl activity.  I made popcorn, purchased M&M peanuts and homemade sugar cookies.  We took our ocean rocks from Coffs Harbor, paint and sharpies for them to write words on their rocks and their treasure boxes to the chapel.  The activity started at 4:30.  I gave them treasures to put in their boxes: chocolate foil wrapped coins, pirate metal coins, laminated, small pictures of the Savior showing the things he has done for us, a plastic dove on a paper with the words, "On the wings of a snow white dove, he sends his pure, sweet, love; a sign from above on the wings of adove" from a song.  I then wrote on the paper, "the Holy Ghost appears as a sign of the dove"  He comforts, testifies of Christ and warns us.  I gave them each a postcard with the St. George temple on it.  Two of the girls have not been baptized.  The one has a father who is an athiest and won't let her be baptized until she is 18. The other has inactive parents who do not want her baptized until the father can do it.

It seemed to be a happy activity.  The girls love their boxes.  They enjoyed painting rocks as well.

Devica, Savannah, and Lucy with Sister Berger.

Tuesday, June13, 2017

I made blueberry muffins for Seminary.  We had our assessment review (kind of a test). Elder Berger has a bad virus which is making itself at home in his chest.  It has been raining.  After Seminarty we started organizing and boxing up what we can.  Tonight the new elder arrived with Elder Wang to meet us.  He is Elder Kumar.  He is an Indian from Fiji, a very likable missionary.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Elder Berger taught seminary and I gave Kristen a music/jewelry box we purchased for her from a used furniture store and an "Act Well Thy Part" coin.  Little by little we are getting all of the coins handed out. Then we travelled to Uralla as Sister Styles has been sick and asked us to give her a blessing.  They are a sweet couple with lots of challenges.

President Sully arranged for us to have a goodbye dinner at the White Bull with he and his wife, Brother Smith and Sally and Brother and Sister MacDonald.  Benesch's were invited but somehow missed the invite.  We had an enjoyable meal and visit.  I took a plunge of bravery and wrote a card with my testimony in it along with thanks to Sally for she and her family being so welcoming to us and telling her what a lovely family she has.  I gave her an Act Well Thy Part coin and a missionary card with the Salt Lake temple on one side and LDS.org info if further information is wanted.  I told her I hoped she would indulge me for a moment with the card as I couldn't leave  Australia without sharing my feelings with her.  She seemed okay after she read the card.  Sometimes, for me, it is hard to tell if I am doing the right thing where missionary work is concerned.

MacDonalds, Sullys, Bergers, and Smiths.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I taught about the Day of Pentecost.  I took a package of African herbal tea that the Paynes gave us when we were in Sydney, to Sister Betts as she likes tea.  We boxed more items and then took the elders to the Wonder Chinese Restaurant for lunch.

Elders Wang and Kumar with Sister Berger


We had our last Seminary class which was hard to face -no more teaching and meeting with these wonderfujl people.  We have been so blessed to have the Old Testament last year and the New Testament this year and to learn of the Savior and feel His spirit.  After Seminary, we began the organization and preparation for our move on Monday morning.  We cleaned out our pantry and refrigerator and assembled food boxes and took them to members of the branch.  We have our exact meals down to just a few and even packed the dishes and pans to go to Tamworth and be stored in the elders' garage there.  We ordered pizza tonight and tomorrow the branch is having a potluck and then we will have TV dinners tomorrow night.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What a fantastic Sacrament meeting and potluck social.  We had so many come today, all of the Inverell people included, and they have to travel for two hours to get here.  Elder Berger and I spoke, the Tongan brethren sang (so beautiful), the Checketts spoke and after Primary, we enjoyed a wonderful feast with many kinds of food.  Everyone expressed their love and appreciation to us and how much they would miss us.  We received lots of nice going away gifts.  What a special day.

Sister Benesch had the Primary children make goodbye cards for us that were so cute!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

We have worked for several days to pack and clean our flat and got up at 5:30 this morning to finish cleaning and boxing and were ready when the missionaries and President Checketts and Narelle and Frank Benesch arrived.  Narelle helped me wipe down surfaces.  Our little home is now barren, hard to leave.

             Elder Kumar and Elder Wang, saying goodbye after helping us load everything up

Wednesday, June20, 2017

We turned our car in.  We are staying with the Checketts so it is easy to walk where we need to go. Joanne Pearce arrived.  We are so excited to go through the temple with her tomorrow. I am privileged that she asked me to be her escort. We invited her to attend our senior couples dinner at Rashays Italian restaurant.  We had a good time.

                                                 Elder Dale and Sister Kathy Fillmore

                                                       Happy Jo and Elder Berger

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We had a wonderful time going through the temple with Joanne and spending time with the Fillmores and Checketts.  We ordered Chinese food and watched some of the Origin Rugby game before retiring to prepare for our early day tomorrow.

When Jo moved to the Salt Ash branch, the Fillmores took her under their wing.  They taught her the temple prep classes.

Our Wonderful Mission President.

President and Sister Checketts

       Four hour lay-over in Los Angeles Going through Customs took about an hour out of the four.

Bishop Robinson came to pick us and our luggage up and what a wonderful surprise to have friends Jann Green and Rhonda Ferguson come to greet us as well!

Packing, repacking, weighing to make sure we don't have luggage over the weight restrictions

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - USA

Our dear neighbor, Rhonda Ferguson has been looking out for our home.  She even planted a fantastic garden with huge tomatoes and canaloupe.

Well, we are finally home. After a few days, Australia seems so far away. The memories are still bright, but will fade somewhat over time. The feelings that we have inside us will not fade however. We truly found a great love for the wonderful people of Australia and the many Missionaries that we met there. We truly love and will miss terribly all of our friends in the Armidale Branch. Our love for our Father and our Savior has grown so much and our testimonies are stronger than ever. We loved our service in Australia and we will encourage anyone and everyone that we know to prepare and serve a mission when the time is right. It is one of the best things that we have ever done.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Seminary was good.  Sister Mueller has been called as the new teacher by President Sully so she attended to see how things are working now.

After skyping with the kids, we got busy preparing for our day tomorrow.  We just do not have time to take a 3-5 day vacation and see the sights, even though President Checketts said we could, so we are going to Coffs Harbor over night.  Elder Berger has started a bad head cold and it is going into his chest.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

We finished Seminary, packed our things, and headed for Coffs Harbor.  The Dorrigo Rain Forest is so beautiful.  I dozed part of the way so the time went quickly.  We stopped to look at possible souvenirs in Dorrigo but didn't find anything.  Arriving in Coffs, we found our room at the Opal Cove Beach resort. What a very nice place!  We took a walk on the gorgeous beach, collected enough and more of flat, smooth rocks to use in my last Primary Girl Activity next Monday and then looked for a place to eat. Australia shuts down about 4:00 pm, and unless you want fast food or a pub, it is hard to find a place to eat.  Luckily, Elder Berger remembered seeing what looked like a restaurant by the Hungry Jacks and we found the Barbecue Barn which turned out to be similar to our Texas Roadhouse restaurant at home.

Another Attempted selfie.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

We got up early to walk on the beach and see the sunrise.  What a beautiful place.  I would love to have a condo on the beach for vacations and winter visits.  After a nice walk and lots of picture taking, we ate breakfast in the resort cafe (a smorgasboard) which was very nice.
Sunrise was at 7:38 AM and we got to the water's edge about 7:25. We found a nice log to sit on and shiver while we waited for the magic of sunrise. If God is not involved, why is it so beautiful?

Early morning, no makeup, and she still looks great.

When it looks like this, the water is quite a bit warmer than the early morning air.

Just a hint of the sunrise.

This is minus 3 f-stops.

The Sun feels good.

The long shadows of Rick & Sheila.

A nice uniting through shadows

The path to the beach.

After Breakfast we went down to the beach one more time to do a little bit of wading in the waves. It was warmer and it was nice to feel the water on our feet. Here are some pictures.

Yes, That is Sheila.

After, we checked out of our room we went to the Big Banana (a local resort) and then the mall to purchase a few more souvenirs before our departure back to the states.  Then, back in the car and on our way back to Armidale.  We had a lovely time together.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Today we did the Seminary review for their test tomorrow, picked up the elders and headed for Sister Rosalie Jackman's farm - a 3 hour drive one way - to visit and do service.  She had us gather firewood kindling and remove some ghastly weeds called catseyes.  We had lunch with a lovely chocolate mint mousse dessert filled with chocolate mint maltballs (called Malteasers here).  It was a long day but worth the effort.

Elder Wong, Elder Childs, Sister Jackman, and Sister Berger.

Friday, June 9, 2017

After Seminary, I walked, washed my hair and FINALLY finished the treasure boxes I am giving the girls at the Primary activity Monday.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

We had a wonderful Tea at the MacDonalds.  Michael bought pizza and Kate fixed cheese broccoli, cauliflower, mashed potatoes, pumpkin, chicken, rolls and cinnamon hot cross buns for dessert. We took them food that we will not be here long enough to eat and an "What ere thou art, act well thou part" coin.  We have so enjoyed being a part of their lives while serving here.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Denleys, from the District presidency, spoke and were very interesting.  They have been married 54 years, served two missions, both converts in their teens.  Devika and her mother came which made me happy but the teacher was ill so I had to wing a lesson.  During the lesson Devika told me how much she wants to be baptized but her father said she has to wait until she is 18.  I told her I thought she would be able to convince him to let her be baptized sooner than that.  She is a sweet child with a pretty awful environment.