"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
(Sheila write in black and Rick writes in blue.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Today we used as our Prep day, cleaning, shopping for groceries and discussing how we can best serve the branch.  We have had numerous phone calls and questions from an investigator and discussed how to best deal with that.  Sister Bernadette, a retired nun living in our complex has arranged an afternoon tea for us to meet everyone this Thursday which will be lovely I am sure.  I have really enjoyed the interactions so far with her and Father Bernie, a retired priest who also lives here.

At the end of the day, we walked down to a park and watched some guys playing Cricket and then for dinner, we decided to try a local fish and chips place and walked home with the food presented to us in paper.  Once revealed, we found tons of french fries and 4 pieces of fish.  I don't think either of us care to sample this again, anyway not from this establishment.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Today we planned to take our branch address list, start with the beginning of the alphabet and try to find everyone.  We visited with many lovely but inactive people.  Some were baptized in the 1970s and stopped coming to church years ago.  One cute lady told me when she was baptized there were only 4 members.  At one time she was Relief Society president.  We visited her grandson and then went to her daughter's house, also inactive, and met with her.  She said she would try to get the entire family together the next time we scheduled a visit. It seemed to me that many of these people still had the spark of the truth in their hearts. The Spirit still seemed strong with some of them. As we continue to visit, we hope that we can help them to return to activity.

We met one young man on the stairs of his flat on his way to work at the Pub.  He was very friendly and gracious, saying it was fine for us to come again any day before noon.  We visited his mother on the porch who wasn't feeling well and she said we could come another time.  She too has been inactive for many years.  This day has really re-emphasized to me how important fellowship is in the church, to make friends with new members and include them in order to help their activity.

I tried a casserole from home with the beef mince and their cream of mushroom soup.  It was okay but something was lacking, I think the soup was missing something.  It filled us up though and was definitely better than the fish of yesterday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Today was my day to go to the chapel and help the ward chorister with her leading of the music.  We talked to her for quite a while and enjoyed getting to know her.  She is the only member of the Church in her family and up until the previous senior missionary showing her how to lead music, had never done anything with music before.

We put together a birthday list for the members and hope to take something to them on their birthday emphasizing the Savior, the gospel and the joy of being members along with a plate of cookies.

We listened to the sister missionaries teaching an investigator at the chapel, showing him the baptismal font and then spent a couple of hours working on our talks for Sunday and our lessons.  It is hard to find card-stock here and when you do it is quite expensive so for handouts, I copied them on copy paper, pasted them to a poster board and then cut them out.  It rained heavily in the early evening which was nice as it cooled things off a bit. We also got a reply to our e-mail to the previous senior couple assigned here. It was full of encouragement, suggestions and information to help us in the work. We were grateful for it and we hope that we will continue to correspond.

Some young men at the city sports field playing Cricket.

Thuirsday, December 14, 2016

When we were asked to give talks on Sunday, we were "formally" invited with an invitation, very different but special.

Today we copied handouts for lessons, put classroom visual aids together and tracked down another inactive to meet.  Each flat in our complex has a little plot of ground to care for.  The previous senior couple planted lots of large plants.  I did a bit of trimming and need to stake the Dahlias and trim the bigger bushes.  I enjoy having a bit of garden. I enjoy using my new bottle of Round-Up on any plant that is not where I want it to be. I have also been killing ants with my new bottle of "Ant, Spider & Cockroach" Killer. Hunters Hunt! enough said.

We attended the complex "Tea" held in our honor.  It was very nice.  They had coffee, tea, juice and water along with many delicious treats. The inevitable Word of Wisdom questions came up to which they all agreed that none of them smoked and they thought it very healthy of us to avoid alcohol. One 93 year old lady said she drinks coffee with a double dose of caffeine and has done her entire life. The Holts are a couple who lived for 45 years in Africa.  They lived there when there was no internet, TV or phone connection.  They are from Scotland and it was fun to listen to their accent.  He went completely blind from a hemorrhage in his eyes five months ago.  They are 88 years old. He has invited me to sit with him on his porch some morning and he will tell me the stories of Africa in the 1950s and 60s. He was sent there originally to grow Virginia tobacco although he has never smoked.

All of them were helpful in telling us things they thought we should know and making us feel very welcome.  One other man lives here, Father Bernie, the retired priest.

Elder Berger attended his branch presidency meeting at 6:30 and I worked on my Relief Society lesson.  He came home excited about the tasks assigned to us.  President Sully wants us to teach early morning Seminary to the 2-3 eligible teenagers in our branch.  We called the mission office to find out who to talk to about materials.  Seminary is to be taught 5 days a week at 7:00 AM at the Branch. They tell me that it is so easy that even I can do it. Since the former Senior Sister Missionary taught it, I think that it would be a fine assignment for Sister Berger. I'm sure that deep down, (really deep), she is in agreement. They put me in charge of the Sunday School. Since I am the only Sunday School Teacher, I guess it will not be much trouble. We have been asked to visit a couple who live a long way away from us. I understand that he is dying of cancer. He was the Champion Australian Pistol Champ for 3 years running some years ago. We will make the trip on Tuesday and I am looking forward to hearing his story. We live in an out of the way place but they live about 175 miles further out. I'm sure that it will be an interesting trip. We will visit other members on the way back.

Formal invitation to give a talk at Sacrament meeting

Our little bit of jungle after some weeding out but still in need of some work

Beautiful table and the Holts, Father Bernie, And Sister Bernadette.

Another Table Picture, our juice glasses are at the bottom of the picture. 

More Neighbors

On the left, Jan, Mrs. Holt in the blue and Mr. Holt to the right

Mr. Holt & Father Bernie

More Neighbors

Me and Sister Bernadette, the lovely lady who organized the Tea

Friday, January 15, 2016

What an interesting climate here in Armidale - it started raining with wind and was approximately 62 degrees and this is their July temperature. It is really their January. Sister Berger struggles with the whole northern hemisphere southern hemisphere tilted axis thing. It is summer here and the seasons are opposite the ones in the northern hemisphere.  Elder Berger spent quite some time today talking to an investigator on the phone.  We were asked to purchase birthday cards for everyone in the branch so we put together a birthday list on our laptop and purchased enough cards to get us through January.  The branch presidency plans on signing them at their meeting.

This evening we went to tea at the Clarksons.  She is 75 and a sweet lady, he is about ten years younger, second marriage.  They have been married for 35 years.  It was fun to observe the differences as Australians eat with both hands, the fork in the left.  She made roasted chicken with roasted potatoes, yams and pumpkin.  She is gluten free and made a delicious blueberry crumble dessert with fresh whipped cream without sugar added.  The whipped cream comes already thick out of the container as it has gelatin in it.  The Clarksons have been in Armidale for quite a while.  Brother Clarkson said one Fast Sunday he went to church and there was only him and the branch president there.  They had the Sacrament, each bore their testimonies and then they watched a church movie.

As you may know, I cannot eat spicy food. The good news is that we have not encountered any. There are some restaurants that we avoid, but even places like KFC serve food that is milder than at home. I am loving it! We just tasted our first watermelon. It was really good and sweet and it cost $1 Australian per Kilo or about 35 cents a pound US.

It may be hard to see but this is really red and it was very sweet.

Saturday, 16 January,2016

Today we started with cleaning the chapel. It is not such a big job, but for two people it takes a couple of hours. It is nice to see the difference when we are finished. I think that the Branch members feel the difference even if they do not know why. Many of the sisters notice the difference. 

We spoke on the phone to a married couple whom we seldom see at church as she is on dialysis and he works lots of Sundays.  They kindly invited us to dinner next week.  It has rained on and off today with a temperature high of 70 degrees F.  I am really trying on the Celsius conversions here but it hasn't become easy yet.  Elder Berger is able to figure the conversions in his head.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Today at church was the Rick and Sheila show.  When I played the last prelude song for Sacrament meeting there were only six people in the audience but by the time the closing prayer was over, it had filled up quite nicely. I spoke on my assigned topic, "Celestial marriage" and then played the rest hymn and then Elder Berger spoke on his assigned topic, "Jesus' Perfect Example". After that Elder Berger taught Gospel Doctrine and then I played the songs for Relief Society and taught the lesson. Now you can see why I said the Rick and Sheila Show.  We were not picked up for a second week, next week I don't even have to teach as there will be a special presentation on Self Reliance by the District Presidency. 

We had three investigators attend today.  One is an artist of sorts and stopped being active a few years after his baptism 30 some years ago.  One is searching to know if there is a God and says his life is so miserable he cannot imagine there is a God and one seems to go back and forth between his childhood religion and ours.  I think their attending Elder Berger's Gospel Doctrine lesson on the Tree of Life was good for them. It was a good lesson focusing on the symbolism that Joseph Smith would not have known and therefore would have not been able to create himself giving us just one more piece of evidence of the Book of Mormon's truthfulness, A little advanced for investigators, but the members seemed to be fascinated with the comparisons to Isaiah's writings.

I cooked our first Beef stew in the crock-pot for dinner which tasted pretty close to home.

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