"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, January 31, 2016
Sheila in Black Rick in blue

Monday, January 25, 2016

Today it rained buckets.  We took a birthday card to a ward member.  After, we went to the store and purchased more cards and a can of ajax cleanser that I have been wanting and not sure they had here as some of the Primary classrooms have crayon on the walls and I am hoping the Ajax will remove it. As is the case with many items in Australia, the price was much higher than in the States.

The new elders arrived and called us and we invited them over for dinner.  They are Elder Peterson from Bakersfield, California and Elder Kehler from Las Vegas, Nevada. I hadn't planned on guests so they got meatloaf.  I think they enjoyed it.  They are wonderful young men and we are excited to work with them. I love the Australian accent, but I also am glad that I can easily understand these young Elders. They are full of the spirit and up for the challenge. They will do well here. I think, that because of television and movies, the Aussies understand us better than we understand them. Almost no one here, except Sister Berger, ever asks me to repeat anything but I am always asking them to talk a little slower or please spell something that I did not get. Of course,another theory is that they don't understand me either but do not particularly care about what I have to say.

The infamous $3.50 Ajax Cleanser.

Sheila, Elder Kehler (rhymes with Taylor), and Elder Peterson

Making Plans.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 - Australia Day

Today we traveled to Kentucky to meet with Sister Josephine Pendragon.  She was gracious and asked us to pray before we left.  Her son, Shane and granddaughter, Lilly were both there. Lilly is as cute as can be. She introduced herself to me as Elsa (from Frozen). We talked about the movie and the scary snow monster, She makes me miss my granddaughters, she reminds me so much of them.   There is a sadness in me to see people with a variety of challenges of life not taking advantage of the peace and direction provided through living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

On our way back to the flat we thought we would try to catch another member we missed before.  We found Jennifer Cunningham and her husband, Alex home and just ready to start eating their dinner but they insisted we come in and visit.  They were fun people and insisted they would be coming to church or to a potluck if we held one,  He is not a member but a lovely person who has an accent very much like Paul Hogan's of Crocodile Dundee. We definitely want to spend some more time with these great people. They are bright, funny, and make you feel great when you are around them.

The MacDonald family had invited us to dinner along with the new elders to celebrate Australia Day with them.  Australia day is interesting as it celebrates the arrival of Captain Cook to Botany Bay with the prisoners that began the practice of using Australia as a huge penal colony.

We had such a lovely time at their home.  Brother MacDonald has begun medical school here and his wife just completed her Masters Degree with plans on being a teacher.  They have four darling children age 20 months to six years, some of whom make us miss our grandchildren heaps, as they say here.  We had what they call a "works" burger.  I decided to eat it just like them so it starts out with a bun about 1 1/2 times the ones in the States, fresh from the bakery, then the meat (I chose a chicken mince burger instead of the beef mince), then a fried egg, cheese, tomato, lettuce, beet root (that's pickled beets) and then pineapple.  I loved every bite.  She made us Pavlova for dessert which is very Australian.  It is like the meringue from a lemon meringue pie with fresh cream and lots of fruit.  It was really good too.  They are a wonderful, very active family who provide much needed stability and commitment to our branch.

I don't know what kind of trees that these tall ones are but they are all over this area. Here is a picture of an average sized one with Sheila standing next to it.  She is at the edge of the road. I would estimate this one at 85 feet. I put this picture in twice in case you did not believe it the first time that you looked at it. There are many of these trees that look to be well over 100 feet tall. This one was just a few meters away from the Pendragon home. I figured out that the reason that they are so tall is that they are on the bottom half of the world and are actually growing DOWN, whereas the trees that grow on the Northern Hemisphere have to grow up and that is much more difficult. You have to admire the California Redwoods. If they were here they would be 1000 feet tall if my theory holds.

Hey! I thought we were in Australia. This sign looks like we are just south of Indiana. Actually this is Kentucky, New South Wales. It is also of note that at the far north end of our area there is a town named Texas. You could win if you bet that Texas is north of Kentucky.

Left to right: Josephine Pendragon, granddaughter Lilly, son Shane, and me


Left to right:  Alex Cunningham, Jennifer Cunningham, and me

Yummy Pavlova dessert with its creator, Kate MacDonald and son, Toby

Lucy, to the left, who reminds us so much of our granddaughter, Kate. It is not so much the way that she looks, but her "I'm in charge" attitude. There is no shortage of self confidence in Granddaughter Kate or in Lucy MacDonald.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Today we drove to Kingstown to see if we could find an inactive family there.  So many of the roads we have traveled here are oiled, narrow roads with sheep or cattle farms on both sides.  Kingstown is by itself and the neighbors are far from each other.  Rick found directions on Google Earth.

When we arrived at the coordinates, we were greeted at first by a barking, growling dog and then its owner, Mr. Bateman, who turned out to be who we were looking for.  He was very gracious.  He joined the church years ago as a single dad with three little children and fell out of activity when changes occurred in his branch.  Those children are grown and he is now remarried with three little children.  They were so glad to obtain their current home, away from any city.

We really enjoyed our time with this cute family and when Elder Berger asked if we could return each month and if they would like us to leave a message each time we visited, they said yes, and yes.  We hope to involve the elders in our next visit. I really thing that the Gospel would be welcome in their home. We have since seen wife Alicia working in the grocery store "Woolworth's" and she was happy to see us. I think that she would be a great member. I also feel that Brother Bateman would like to be active. He seemed happy when he told us about the time when he was involved and active.

We returned home to work on calendaring for the next week and month and to compile materials for our early morning seminary next week.  

Alesha, Eli, Lauren, Brother Bateman and Nevaeh (Heaven spelled backward)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Not much to report today as it poured rain so we used it to plan.  We received pictures of the Jackman house from Sister Sully who I asked to take pictures when she visited them today  When we visited them a week ago, we forgot to take pictures.  This is the family with 1500 acres of property who have built their home themselves in stages.  

This backsplash Sister Jackson did herself

Ivy over the kitchen table (plastic)

Brother Jackman's tribute to the "Old West" along with some of his shooting trophies. 

The kitchen//living room with carpet covering the dirt floors

Friday, January 29, 2016

Elder Berger went with the elders to teach a lesson to an elderly man at one of the rest homes.  When he returned I did my weekly music practice with Sister Betts.

We traveled to Boorolong to look for two sisters on our branch list. We had a physical address but no phone numbers or e-mail addresses. It was about an hours drive northwest of Armidale, where we live.  It was raining lightly and the drive was beautiful.  The ranch was huge and we finally found someone who informed us the sisters had sold their property and moved to Armidale.  Hopefully, we can find them.  

A kind of spooky Halloween looking tree.

I love the tunnels created by the trees on each side of the road growing over the road 
and meeting in the middle

Saturday, January 30, 2016

We had some inactive members that said they were too busy to meet with us today so used it more as a planning/preparation day as I have to plan sharing time for tomorrow and Rick has his Gospel Doctrine class to work on.  Monday we start early morning seminary. It will be interesting to have my first High School Seminary experience to be as a teacher. I was a rebellious youth who refused to take Seminary in High School. I feel sorry for the students but I will do my best. Sister Berger will do her usual wonderful job when she teaches. I am afraid that my efforts will suffer by comparison. I sincerely hope that we can do some good in that situation.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

It rained heavily in the night but was a beautiful sunny day.  Once again, when Sacrament meeting began, we had few members (12) but some more came within a few minutes giving us a total present of twenty four.  That included children. It included everyone in the building. Our new elders commented on it being the smallest group they had been part of.  Neither one of them have ever been in a branch before.

Elder Berger's Gospel Doctrine class was on the great and abominable church and was very good with lots of discussion. It went way better than I thought that it would. I could feel the Spirit in the class and many of the members told me later that they felt it also. The class members shared insights that were spot on interpretations of the scriptures that we were reading. No one fell asleep in class today (somebody call Ripley). My sharing time was a learning experience when I had to lead singing, play the piano and try to control the kids who obviously have had a pretty unconventional primary experience thus far but they were darling.  

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