"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, February 7, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

We started early morning Seminary at 7:30 a.m. this morning.  Getting up to an alarm at 6:00 is something I have not missed.  Our students, a brother 16 and a sister 14 are great kids that I admire as they are the only kids their age in town and perhaps in the district.  I really feel they deserve to have this experience as much as groups of 30 kids in the seminary program back home.

We talked today about how the Old Testament points to Christ.  We both hope that we can bring the spirit into the class as well as make it enjoyable for them to be there.  We invited the missionaries but today was their preparation day and we didn't see them.

As President Checketts asked us to get involved with the community to get the name of the Church out in the public, tonight we joined the Armidale Choir and for me at least, it was a very different experience.  The chorister is very well trained in music and we are singing Handel's "Alexander's Feast".  Everyone seems to have a great understanding of music.  There were 47 there but only two tenors so Elder Berger was very popular.  The majority of the members are over 60 in age I would say.  The soprano part went up to a high A which I cannot hit so I will have to try to learn the soprano second part.  The high notes for the tenors was a stretch for Elder Berger. Since I was one of only two men attempting to sing the tenor part I was almost the best one. I think that Handel wrote this piece for a boys choir. Even the bass line was kind of high, but we had a good time and met lots of people who are not now afraid of us. I think that it's a good start!

No this is not the choir, this is a picture of all of the Senior Couples in the mission (and a few others) with President and Sister Checketts. It was taken at Christmas but we just received it via e-mail. The Sisters are in front of their husbands. Elder and Sister Ellis from New Harmony are next to us on our left. There are 3 of the couples who are assigned to the Pacific Area, not just our mission. There is also one single Sister (pink jacket right side in the photo) who will serve in Papua- New Guinea.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Early morning seminary followed by practicing the Sunday music with Sister Betts was followed by cookie making day.  I doubled a batch of chocolate chip cookies and we delivered them around to the other tenants here.  Several suffer with dementia but Australia here in Armidale, has some wonderful programs with health care workers coming to the homes and doing brain tests and exercises to help control the dementia and to assist them with things they should not do like cook on the stove.  One lady openly discussed her situation and seems to be doing very well.  I am surprised with the service.  It no doubt helps many stay independent in their homes.

We enjoyed talking to Sister Bernadette, as always, when we delivered her cookies.  I asked her some questions about whether she had heard of Mormons.  She said of course, in the United States but not so much in Australia.  She asked us if we would  be willing to join with some people for lunch so they could ask us questions about our faith to which we happily agreed.  

Sister Berger & Sister Betts knocking out another hit song!

 Kristen, Elder Berger and Samuel in Seminary class.

Another selfie with my misshapen head.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Well, today is John's birthday here but tomorrow in the States.  Hard to imagine how quickly life passes.  If he were here, we'd have to have Pavlova instead of birthday cake I think.   Preparation is a big part of our day since we started teaching every day.  We had a district training meeting by phone and then met with our elders to plan strategy for the requested increase in reactivation in our Branch.  Elder Berger attended his Branch presidency meeting while I put together finishing touches on my seminary lesson for tomorrow.  We are so blessed in the church to have so many media aids on LDS.org to use in our teaching. This morning it was my turn to teach. The lesson was on studying the scriptures. We watched the Legacy Scriptures video and had some discussion of why it was important to read from the scriptures each day. I believe that the lesson went over very well and that we all learned something that we needed to know. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

The elders came to early morning Seminary today which was fun for everyone.  We enjoyed the lesson and the discussion.  This morning, Sam asked a great question about the Savior. I am really pleased that he is thinking about these things. Then we decided to clean the church today instead of  doing it on Saturday. When we got back to our flat we had a Zone training meeting by phone which was informative.  

In the evening we went home teaching and had dinner with the members which was very nice.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

We were glad to have a little extra time this morning to catch up a little on sleep.  It continues to rain every day or two and is quite chilly to my St. George blood.  I really wonder how I will deal with Armidale's winter.  We made phone contacts with members dealing with branch callings and Sunday responsibilities.  We also walked to the store and contacted one of our potential investigators who works there. She seemed happy to see us and we talked about a teaching appointment this week. She is married to a member who hasn't been to church for a while. It would really help their family if they would come to church.

I will be doing music in Primary on a pretty consistent basis so I worked on that and made cookies for the visit we have planned tomorrow afternoon.  Brother Smith invited us for dinner. He is a wonderful man and his three children very nice kids.  The two oldest are our seminary students.  We enjoyed a very tasty barbecued steak, salad, Cole slaw, corn on the cob and blueberry cheesecake for dessert.  His wife is a non-member but has allowed the children to be baptized and to attend church.  They are a wonderful family and we enjoyed our time with them.

Sunday, February 7 , 2017

What a wonderful Fast day.  The testimonies were wonderful and there was a lovely spirit in our meeting.  Elder Berger's lesson on Nephi (1 Ne:16-22) and the nasty brothers was very good with lots of discussion.  It was fun to experience the energy of various ideas and thoughts.  

Once again I had to do the sharing and music time in Primary.  It will take me a while to figure out the best dynamics for five Junior Primary age kids and one eleven year old who I would like to have experience a little more mature Primary experience.

We heard back from two of our members whom we seldom see due to their work schedules and arranged times to Home Teach next week.  They are so sweet and appreciative of whatever attention and help they receive. Sorry that there are no new pictures. That last one kind of ruined it, huh?

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