"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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

We were given the name of the closest chapel for us to attend and Rick drove downs the left side of the road until we arrived at the Dural Ward in the Normanhurst chapel. I am getting used to the driving a little bit. I still sometimes try and stick the wrong finger up my nose. I haven't signaled with the windscreen wiper lever for a couple of days.
 It is entertaining for me to see the different ways of doing things here and many other places we have traveled.  At the beginning of Sacrament meeting, before anything was said, a young girl sang "Joy to the World" and then the bishop stood to welcome everyone.  What a treat to be told that Elder Elder Terence M. Vinson of the Seventy was home for the holiday.  This is his family's home ward.

His area of authority is the West African, Ghana area.  First Sister Vinson spoke.  She mentioned that it is common for the missionaries there to be approached and asked to be taught the gospel.  She said in lieu of gifts, most people give food and necessities to their family. After she spoke, a hymn was sung and it seemed like everyone was singing and then Elder Vinson spoke. He said until the country was declared Ebola free, missionaries had not been sent there. The work is rapidly going forth now.  He made the comment that one of the prophets told a new general authority that "in church callings you will be praised, listen, but never inhale".  I liked that.

We both enjoyed the wonderful Sacrament meeting and seeing missionaries we met the first couple of days we were here.  We spoke with wonderful people.  We attended Gospel Doctrine.  The teacher is a wonderful lady who is a linguist, speaks nine languages.  She is from Argentina and teaches at the University here.  She did a great job.  Relief Society also had a wonderful teacher and then the bishopric brought everyone Christmas cake to eat.  We had a wonderful time. In High Priests quorum, Elder Vinson spent some time talking about a Christ Centered Life. His understanding of Gospel principles is very deep and powerful but he is a humble man. The HP instructor was a wonderful fellow who was baptized some years ago by an Missionary Elder who lives in Parowan, Utah, The instructor has visited southern Utah and was familiar with Cedar City and the St. George area. He is a very independent person and a lover of freedom. After the block we spent about 20 minutes discussing gun control and the 2nd amendment in the U.S. and how agency and the Gospel relate to the subject. I wish that everyone had his understanding of the these ideas. He is extremely well educated and informed. I would call him erudite and he would know that it was a compliment. 

                                                               View of the church

Sunday at church in Dural Ward, Normanhurst, with left to right mission assistants Elder King, Elder Ostler, who have been so helpful to us, with Christmas goodies given to them by the members, and a new elder.

Monday, December 21, 2015

This morning we obtained our "working with children" permit required in Australia as a deterrent against harm coming to children.  Elder Williams, one of the missionaries in the office took us.  He has a great English accent and is lots of fun.  He and his wife do a wonderful job taking care of many 
many things.  His wife is Australian and it is a second marriage for both.

After, we picked up our bedding bag to take with us and searched for the flat keys we would need in Armidale.  We were trained on how to take charge of the Christmas Light event tonight and then went to the mall to eat before the program began at 7:30 p.m.  Rick had a fish and chips meal and I had a Honey nut chicken and fried rice meal.  At the Buckland House where the paintings showing the life of Christ are held, we worked with about 40 missionaries arriving from all over the mission to attend the Christmas zone conference tomorrow.  It started raining hard this morning and continued all day so the elders and sisters were very wet when they arrived after walking from train and bus stations.  Because of the rain, no doubt, we had few visitors attend the event. Last night 400 people came through.

Our busy day ended at 10:30 and we went to our flat and eagerly fell into bed.

The Chinese honey nut chicken and rice was very good

Rick's fish and chips

Other choices

At the Buckland House Christmas show: Sister Berger, Elder and Sister Pearce handing out apples and granola bars to the hungry arriving missionaries. Sister Pearce in many ways was a doppleganger for Marianne Jackson.

Elders in the rain in front of the Nativity Scene

The Christmas lights around the Buckland House and the Temple were lovely

On the right is Elder Evans and his companion working in the rain.  He is from Perth and when Rick asked him if he knew Elder Chandler Day he said absolutely, he had gone on splits with him and that he had not wanted to go on a mission but Elder Day had such a great influence on him, that he decided to go.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Christmas Zone Conference is being held today and tomorrow because of the many missionaries in the mission.  Because we leave tomorrow for Armidale, today was our day to attend.  We rode to the conference with the Williams's.  We both really enjoy Elder Williams.  Once there, all of us had a lite breakfast and then heard from President Checketts, played games, had a talent show, watched Church videos including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Sesame Street characters, had hamburgers for lunch with rootbeer or orange floats.  

The missionaries were so happy to see each other.  They had a hoop shooting contest and handed out gifts to each missionary.  One of the games was having 32 red solo cups that they had to stack and then put back together within one minute.  Another game, they had to suck m'ms with a straw and move to another container.  One they had to put a cookie on their nose and get it into their mouths without touching the cookie with their hands.  About 4:30 they were fed nachos and dessert and after receiving their Santa gift, everyone left. 

It was very successful.  That particular church has no heat and the continued rain made it cold all day. After the conference, Rick and I picked up his insulin that we had been storing at President Checkett's house and our possible remote for the Armidale garage and came home to prepare for our departure tomorrow.  The Temple Housing has strict cleaning requirements for those who use them so we will need to get up early to clean and get on our way.

Elders trying to beat each other in moving the most M & M's.

Elder and Sister Williams

One of the elders who succeeded with slipping the cookie into his mouth

Solo cup competition half-way to finish

I had to put this picture of Elder and Sister Willis, the Public Affairs missionaries, in as she is a real doppelganger for Jeanne Tuttle, who cuts my hair.

Sister Dennie on the left and her companion.  We travelled with her from Salt Lake all the way to Sydney.  She is a darling girl with so much sweetness and potential.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

We got up at 6:00 a.m. and packed and cleaned our motel room.  It has rained for three days but stopped at least until we got out of Sydney  Most of our drive to Armidale was on the New England Highway.  The area is so very green and lush with foliage and that is why the name.  It rained off and on all day but the ride was beautiful.  We saw sheep ranches, horse ranches and cattle ranches but NO KANGAROOS even though we warned to watch out for them as they are easy to hit in the area we would be traveling.  Everything looked so clean and well taken are of.  I imagine the constant green helped to give the impression of clean. We stopped and ate at a HUNGRY JACKS restaurant. It is the Australian Burger King. The Hamburger tastes a little different here. I'm not sure what it is but it just has an unfamiliar taste to it. Speculate among yourselves.

We arrived at our flat.  Real estate is so expensive here that our little flat probably costs a fortune.  There is one bedroom that holds a queen sized bed and nothing else.  There is a little bedroom that it looks like the previous occupant used to iron in.  There is one small bathroom with toilet, sink and shower and the dining/living room are the same room with a small, very small kitchen area.  The dining table and the sofa and chair are white.  It is clean and nice and in a very pretty complex with lots of flowers and shrubs but we have lots to do to make it home.   Where in the world are we going to put six suitcases???  There are many cathedrals in this house and a beautiful one, St. Mary's, with a private school attached is right across the street from us.

We went to the supermarket, Coles and got some groceries.  I'm sure we will need to go tomorrow as well after we do a checklist at the flat of what is needed.  I have learned a grocery cart here is a trolley, you do not pass cars, you overtake.  You do not yield, you give way.  When you order food to go it is take away.  It is fun to see the different ways of communicating.

The two sister missionaries serving here came over to see if we were okay.  I think we will invite them to eat with us on Christmas if they haven't been asked to go elsewhere.  As there are very few branch members in Armidale, I doubt they have anywhere else to eat.  The branch president lives one hour away, runs a sheep and cattle farm and is 70 years old.  He just happened to be in Armidale today and came over to talk to us.  It sounds like there are two families, three single sisters, 4 primary children, one young woman and one young man.  Wow!  He said they would need us everywhere and have to spread us thin. I have not been thin for 50 years, I may be due for a change in my BMI.

Friday, December 25, 2015 (Christmas)

We came to the church at 10:00 a.m.  Wi-Fi on this beautiful, sunny, Christmas morning. It has rained for the past four days. The branch president, who kind of lives in the outback on a sheep farm, asked us to Christmas lunch and we will have an hour drive to get there.  He promised there are lots of kangaroos on his property and I want a picture as so far no kangaroos anywhere we have been.  We invited the sister missionaries in Armidale, Sister Going and Sister Preston Turner, to come eat with us tonight at 6:30.  Strange, to try to cook.  I'm having rotisserie chicken, yams, rolls, mashed potatoes with cheese (scary, the cheese is different here) and green beans.  We will have cookies and ice cream for dessert.  

I would say Rick is especially feeling lost as everything is so different and at this point we are on our own. I am feeling very ineffective so far. All we have done is unpack and clean the apartment and do some shopping. We have talked to several people and wished them Merry Christmas. I guess we shouldn't expect too much from Christmas eve and today is Christmas. We are hoping to get some direction and assignments from President Sully and get busy at church on Sunday. We haven't been to the branch church yet and do not know what we should be doing for them. We do not have TV, radio or internet at the flat.  We hope to at least get internet.  Sunday will be nice to go to church and look at the numbers who attend.  We are thinking it will be less than 20.  This little church has many "old" library materials that tells me it was once thriving.  I guess many have moved to get better jobs.  We will need to be proselyting missionaries as well as everything else it appears and I feel VERY lacking in that ability so am counting on the prayers of church members who pray for the missionaries to help me!!

Christmas - Friday, December 25, 2015

Yesterday we were asked to come to President Sully’s sheep and cattle farm at noon for a Christmas lunch which was appreciated as we are experiencing a very different Christmas this year.  We invited the sister missionaries to come to our place at 6 pm for dinner.  When I got out of bed, I hung the Del Parson calendar pages showing different moments of the Savior’s life, on the walls.  I brought them with me all the way from home and am so glad I did as the walls of our flat are bare and the pictures
of the Savior warm things up a lot. Then we opened our pillow cases from the 4th ward and took a picture.  It is so fun to read the comments; it makes me vow to do a better job in the future making comments on missionary pillowcases when I get home. Sister Berger has done a wonderful job of decoration except she wouldn’t let me put up the Porter Rockwell picture.

We left here in the morning to go to the church and use their Wi-Fi to set up skype times with the kids on their Christmas day.  Utah time is 18 hours behind us. At noon on Christmas day here, it was 6 pm Christmas eve in Utah. It sounds like I could tell you what will happen tomorrow but it doesn’t work that way, I’m sorry to say.   Then we left for the farm which is an hour away.  It rained again most of the way but was beautiful.  Everything is so green and there were cattle grazing and then sheep and the repetition of that for most of the way to President Sully’s.  He has about a three-mile unpaved road leading up to his house.  The farm is gorgeous.  There are colorful parrots, beautiful horses, cattle and sheep and even kangaroos which we were hoping to see as thus far in Australia we have not seen them.

Sister Sully had prepared roasted potatoes, roasted chicken, yams and carrots served together, broccoli and peas served together with Christmas pudding for dessert served with custard and whip cream.  There was no sugar in the whipped cream and very little salt in the meal which seems to be the norm in Australia.  They do not have such a thing as non-dairy whipped topping like cool-whip.  I learned that candy here is called a lolly or a sweet.  President had invited a new move-in into the branch, Frank Benich and his wife to eat with us and Lupe, a Tongan woman who has a two-year-old girl and is in the middle of a nasty divorce.  Frank is gregarious and funny.  He is renting a sheep farm, looking for one to buy. We spent some time sitting on the patio, talking about things in general and getting to know one another. It turns out that President Sully and Frank both enjoy guns and hunting. I showed them a few pictures of one of my firearms and the picture of Tom Sellick (Mathew Quigley) that we took at the Las Vegas Antique Arms show a couple of years ago. They were fascinated and told me about their shooting adventures. President Sully then Self-identified as just a Redneck and Frank and I joined him as though we all were just 3 good ‘ol boys. I need to spend a little more time with them when I can. They both have remarkable strong testimonies and when Frank said a heartfelt prayer on the food he included his thankfulness for the gift to us of The Savior..  His wife came for the weekend from their home in Brisbane.  She hasn’t moved permanently to the farm as of yet.  Her name is Nurell and seemed very nice.

After dinner, the president and we two discussed branch needs.  He asked Rick to teach Gospel Doctrine and me to be the branch pianist which is no surprise as they don’t have anyone who plays the piano in the branch.  President Sully is a young 70 years old, an architect by profession who worked for the Church all over the world designing church buildings.  He intended to retire to his sheep farm in peace and was surprised when he was called to be the Armidale branch president.  He is concerned as many members have left the area to obtain better jobs and the shrinkage of members makes it difficult for the branch to function as it should.  Many members live long distances away from the chapel.  The President, himself, is an hour’s drive away which means of course another hour to get home. 

On our way home, we finally saw kangaroos and Rick took some pictures.  They are gray and for some reason I expected them to be brown.  Because the fields have lots of fallen branches that are gray colored, the kangaroos are camouflaged much of the time which might explain why we have had trouble seeing them before.  They are also only active in the early morning and at dusk. Today was the first time that we have driven this late in the day in a rural area where they live. I’m sure that if we had waited a while, we would have seen lots more of them and probably some wallabies as well.
Once home, we hurried to put our meal together for the sister missionaries.  Ironically enough, I had purchased rotisserie chickens from the grocery store and made yams so Rick and I were not too eager to eat the duplicate meal again. The sisters, Sister Going and Sister Preston Turner were sweet and after we ate we discussed what they knew about the branch.  Sister Going leaves for home in February. 

Armidale branch chapel dedicated March 25, 1984

Views of our flat on Jesse Street

St. Mary's Cadthedral

A view from the car on our way to President Sully's ranch.

Rick's selfie with the missionary sisters.

Christmas dinner with Sister Preston-Turner on the left and Sister Going on the right.  You can see some of the calendar pages behind us that I brought from St. George.

Sister Berger with Santa Clara 4th ward Christmas pillowcases opened Christmas morning. I don’t know whose name to sleep on first.  Will I dream of Santa Clara 4th when I sleep on my pillow with this case on it?

Australia has so many cool birds with cool songs they sing.  The kookaburra bird has a very intense sound.  We don’t know what species these long billed birds are but we saw these in our trip to President Sully ‘s Christmas lunch.

These beautiful parrots were a stone’s throw from President Sully’s patio.  President Sully said that they come and eat the birdseed that he puts out for them.

Sister Sully at the oven, Norell next to Sister Berger.

Graham and Marion bringing out the roasted potatoes from the oven, Norell looking at the feast.

“FINALLY” our first kangaroo sighting just leaving President Sully’s farm.

Kangaroos are fast and this one didn’t want to let us look at him any longer than necessary.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Knowing we had scheduled hours starting at 1:00 p.m. to skype with the kids, we walked downtown to the mall in the morning. The Mall has a Grocery Store named Woolworth's and a Variety store named Big W. They are somewhat different from what we are used to.  We also walked around the cathedral to determine a daily walking path for our regular daily exercise. It is Boxing Day and almost nothing was opened downtown but we enjoyed the charming, New England looking town and got some good exercise.  After, we ate leftovers from yesterday's meal and went to the church to clean.  It seemed that it had been quite some time since anyone had cleaned it and we were happy to be busy. 

We SO ENJOYED seeing the children and grandchildren and hearing about their Christmas as it was Christmas for them, the day after for us.  All of them have roof over their heads, food in their stomachs and each other for which I am grateful.  Some have serious challenges right now in their lives and we are proud of them for being equal to those challenges.

When we were finished with skype we went back to the flat and had something to eat and watched two of the church videos we happened to have in the left behind belongings of the previous senior couple, "The Lamb of God" and Gospel Questions.  It was a nice day.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Today we attended our first Church services at the Armidale Branch.  As it is holiday time, there were fewer numbers than usual, I counted eighteen.  There were only four priesthood holders and President Sully's visiting son. It is definitely a challenge having so few priesthood holders. 

I spoke to two women who are recently back to being active.  They are both single.  Lupe and her cute daughter, Amy Rose, came.  As President Sully had a combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting and showed the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and Amy Rose had to be taken out and I had already seen the devotional, I took Amy Rose to the nursery while her mother listened.  She is a darling two year old and as we played with play dough, I found myself saying, "Grandma is making a dog for you" and then caught myself.  I miss playing with my grandchildren.

We made macaroni and cheese and I ate leftovers, Rick was tired of them but enjoyed the homemade Mac & Cheese, and then back to the church to finish up the blog and print Rick's Gospel Doctrine handouts for next week.

It is interesting to me that we are still thinking that things should be the way we expect them to be. We think that things are best at home but we are still discovering new things. We very likely will find some things that we enjoy much more and will miss eventually when we leave and they are no longer available. We bought some Kraft Peanut Butter and it was excellent. I found some artisan bread that was delicious. Snicker bars are as yet untried because they are $2.00 each or about $1.50 U.S. I believe that they will not be as sweet as at home because they are made here and most things have been that way. One day, when they are on sale, I will find out and let you know.

 I have found that our Branch President is a wonderful, spiritual man who really cares about his little flock. He gave a great talk today in Sacrament and it could have been given in conference. I don't think that I could be more impressed with a priesthood leader. I'm sure that this blog will become more brief as we get busier. I hope that it will also become more accurate and objective. Right now, everything we write is filtered through our preconceived ideas and sometimes through our misconceived ideas. As we obtain a broader view we hope to pass along much more correct information.I guess you could say as did Paul, that we see through a glass darkly, but the view will soon become clear.


When we left Salt Lake on Monday for the airport, it was snowing and everything was beautifully covered in white. When checking in our baggage, one of my bags was too heavy so I removed two shoes and put them in another bag which allowed the correct weight.  I already left most of my winter wardrobe at Erica's house trying to get the bags to 50 lbs each. We arrived in San Francisco and met Sister Denney, from American Fork who was also on her way to Sydney.  She is a sweet, genuine person who was glad to have some traveling companions.  In her wandering she met Sister Kwansing who had been working in Iowa waiting for her visa to Australia.  She was flying on our plane too. She is from Figi. We had a five hour lay-over and were glad to finally board our flight to Australia. We stopped and ate at The Pier restaurant in the airport where we met a very kind person who helped me with a solution to keep some medication cold on the long flight down under. He saw our name badges and felt compassion on the humble, inexperienced travelers.

Flying less than first class (see topical guide for "Steerage") has become an uncomfortable experience.  We could barely pull our carry-on bags down the narrow aisles an we were packed into our row so that eating and moving were challenging.  Some slept a bit.  I think I dozed for about two hours during our twelve hour flight to Aukland, New Zealand.  I spent much of the time watching old ER episodes. After 5-6 hours I thought it might have been more comfortable to swim to Australia. I felt like a we were a pound of sardines packed into a 5 ounce can. My comfort was having Sheila beside me to remind me why we were doing this.  When we arrived in New Zealand we changed planes and picked up eight darling elders on their way to the Sydney North Mission.  They were excited and filled with the spirit.  One was from Cambodia, one from the Cook Islands, one from India, one from Figi, one from Chile and the rest from New Zealand.

Three hours later we arrived in Australia and made it through customs without a glitch which I definitely felt was a blessing from God.  The dog sniffer stopped at my baggage and the attendant asked if I had food to which I replied, "there are dried prunes in my pocket" and she said, "no problem, go on through".  We were met by the mission assistants, Elder King and Elder Ostler, who were so kind and helpful.  Once we had all elders and the two sisters who had joined us in San Francisco, the mission assistants had us divide into groups and practice GQing - which is asking the Golden Question.  I was paired with Elder Quon (pronounced Kahn), from Camodia.  He told me he had been on the mission before and went home but wanted to come back and President Checkett's agreed.  He said when he joined the church his parents threw him out of the house and did not have any relationship with him.  I felt so badly for him.  When President Checketts arrived, we boarded our transportation and headed out.  There was sooooooo much traffic that what should have been a 15 minute drive for the President had taken an hour.  As we left, he parking attendant did not charge President Checketts for parking.  He said that was amazing as everything is charged for in Australia. The weather was amazing, huge sky filled with dark clouds. It poured most of the way to the Temple. When we arrived, the rain stopped and the sun began to appear. The Temple is beautiful and there are several other buildings owned by the church on the property. The grounds are very well groomed making it a jewel in the area. 

We were taken to the mission president's house for lunch and then to the mission headquarters, which was a short walk.  We had training an learned about customs and laws in Australia.  Here in Sydney, traffic is crazy.  Because they have lots of foreigners, they have road signs reminding people that they drive on the left.  They also have a law that if there is a passenger in the car and they have a ticket or get in an accident, the driver is responsible for 70% of the cost and the passenger 30%.  They expect the passenger to help the driver avoid accidents.  Before we get our car, we have to take a test and go driving with one of the office people.  President Checketts said we would be going to a small branch of Armidale, near a rainforest and about a six hour drive. We are told that it is about 3000 ft elevation and quite a ways from the coast. There is a road there called Waterfall Way where there are reported to be several waterfalls. We will post pictures when we are able. We were also warned to watch out for kangaroos on the road, especially at dawn or at dusk. Apparently the missionaries cars are involved in collisions with the kangaroos far too often for anyone's comfort. We are told that big kangaroos are 7 feet tall and go some 300 pounds. Well, if they won't let me shoot one...  I decided I wanted to drive there but not in Sydney.  President Checketts said he was sure the new branch president would want to use us immediately but he wanted us to stay in Sydney for the mission Christmas party on Tuesday and then leave for Armidale on Wednesday.

We were kept very busy to try to keep us awake and help us to adjust to the time difference.  The Church has an apartment complex where people who travel to do temple work can stay overnight and that is where we will be staying until we leave for our area.  It is very clean and comfortable.  We fell into bed at 9:00 p.m. so happy to go to sleep We had actually been mostly asleep since early afternoon without the use of our higher functions, In other words, we were walking around in a zombie like state. When my head hit the pillow I slept like the dead.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Today was a busy day.  We were picked up at 8:20 to join the Ellis's and the Mackays in self-reliant training.  It is thought that there will be a need in the Armidale area to teach the churches new self-reliance program.  I discovered Elder Mackay knew my Uncle Vaughn.  He lived in Connell, Washington and was on the school board and had occasion to fight over issues with Uncle Vaughn. He said he was a colorful guy to which I agreed.  He also knew my cousin Terryl, Vaughn's son, who passed away way too young from early onset Alzheimers.  He and his wife are assigned self-reliance in the Sydney South Mission.  The four of us agreed we hope to see each other on occasion.  The Ellis's asked us to join them and the Mackays tomorrow in a tour of the city to which we eagerly agreed. It seems as though there is a great need for self reliance training in this part of the world. I guess I take for granted that people want to better themselves and their situations. Where we are from it seems to be the norm to want a better education and a good job. We are not satisfied to rely on others. We even strive for spiritual independence by strengthening our testimony and gospel knowledge.  

After training, we had a hurried lunch at the Carlingford Court across from the temple.  It is a huge mall with meat, fruit, bakery markets, grocery stores, pharmacies and many, many other stores. After lunch, we went to a temple session thinking that as we will be six hours from Sydney we should go before we leave.  We were both suffering from jet lag and had a bit of a challenge staying awake.  It was a small temple with no chapel.  The endowment room held approximately 50 people.  There were about 12 women and 7 men attending today. It seemed strange to picture the worker on the other side of the veil as Mick Dundee because of his accent. We went across the street to McDonalds (called Mackees here) and got some food. The menu is pretty much the same as here and I did not detect any flavor difference. We also tried KFC and the only difference seems to be that the original recipe is not as spicy which for me is a very good thing. 

When we finished at the temple, we joined Elder Williams, who has to pass the driver's off before they get a car, and he drove us around in the heavy traffic and then turned the driving over to Rick who did a good job.  It will take lots of concentration until driving on the left becomes instinct.  We also have to watch the speed limit very closely as cameras are everywhere and tickets for speeding are expensive. Because the turn signal stalk is on the right side of the steering column, I tried to do a lot of signaling with my wipers. Elder Williams thought that was funny, he laughed and laughed. Driving on the busiest street in Sydney today made me glad for the stringent gun laws here as the other drivers were not nearly as tickled as Elder Williams and they only had boomerangs to throw. If we were in Los Angeles you would have heard the guns cocking all around us. Elder Williams grew up in Northern England and moved to Australia in 1971. He was a big fan of the Beatles and the Stones when he was young and saw them perform live in England. I am sorry that I will not be able to spend more time with him before we leave Sydney for our assignment. He was jealous of me because I got to see the Beach Boys a couple of times at Lagoon but I would give almost anything to have seen The Beatles in person.

We finished the day at the mall once again, picking up a few things to eat tonight knowing we were both too tired to go out to eat and still not eager to drive in Sydney. We hit an ATM to get some Australian dollars and spent about 19 of them on groceries. We got 200 dollars Au for about $143.00 American.

Friday, December 19, 2015

Elder and Sister Elliss picked us up at 8:20 a.m. and we joined Elder and Sister Mackay at the pier where we boarded the River Cat ferry. We traveled for about one hour seeing the neighborhoods along the bank of the river and many sailboats in the harbor. The wind blew fiercely and my hair was beaten to pieces but we had an enjoyable time.

Once we disembarked, we boarded a tour bus and listened to a recording about Sydney as we traveled around Sydney. There were many interesting sites and stories. One of the funny things that stuck in my mind was the government statistics building that the narrator said was called The Hatch, Match and Dispatch building. We saw the beautiful opera house and Harbor bridge that is nicknamed the Iron Lung because during a downturn in their economy the bridge provided much needed jobs for the 17 years it took to complete it. We walked through a small part of the beautiful Botanical Gardens.

We went to the Bondi Beach for lunch and had delicious fish and chips that were as hot as our water in our motel room! We are told that fish & chips are a very traditional Australian dish. They came without tartar sauce and if you wanted it you had to pay extra. We rode on the top of the bus in order to see better and I was glad for sunscreen but Rick, without sunscreen, ended up quite sunburned. I did not get that burned and the blisters should be going away in about a week. The ride back from Bondi Beach gave us a beautiful view of the ocean and the expensive homes with ocean views. 
We stopped at Paddy's market, a huge indoor Asian market so that Sister Mackay and I could buy what we realized was a much needed addition to our wardrobe - large brimmed hats. Afterwards, we headed for the train station which was quite an impressive place, boarded a busy train to take us back to the River Cat and back to our cars. As Sydney has a population of 4 million, every form of transport seems busy. We were all exhausted but had a great day. When we got back to our temporary flat, we took a ride down to the market to get dinner and something for tomorrow. Most of the stores were closed and it was only 6:00 o'clock in the evening. We need to learn not to assume that things here are the same as they are at home. We did manage to score some KFC before they closed. Goody!

Four of our checked bags in Salt Lake, all beautifully decorated with turquoise ribbon to make them easier to see when they came off the airplane. 

Adam ready for school the wintry morning we left

Blogging in the midst of 270 lbs. of luggage in our lovely, temple patron apartment in Sydney. It would have been heavier but during our flight I was wearing 6 pairs of pants and 17 shirts in order to make room for some more of Sister Berger's shoes. Just Kidding, I was only wearing 4 pairs of pants.

Another view of the luggage

Sydney Temple Patron Accommodations

They have a microwave, fridge, laundry facility and are very clean and comfortable.
They have the hottest water I have ever felt coming from a tap. It has got to be very near the boiling point. It can be dangerous to shower so we will be careful.

Sydney temple from across the street The temple is actually straight, it looks like it is leaning because I had to hurry and snap the picture when there were no cars or trucks in the picture.

Front temple grounds with a beautiful flowerbed of Marigolds.

Sydney Temple front with Moroni

Rick passed his driving test - here is our Corolla and below our strange set- up with steering wheel on the right.

Everything is backwards!

The Sydney Opera House

And again
The Sydney Harbor Bridge, if you look very closely, you can see people who have paid a lot of money to climb to the top of the bridge by walking along the very top arc of the structure itself.

The Harbor Bridhe and the Opera House off in the distance.

Sheila and I posing in front of the bridge. I am the fat one in the shorty pants.

Sheila with the bridge in the background.

Selfie in the upper deck of the bus.

Other missionaries on the bus.

Our train ride back to the River Cat