"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, March 27, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick writes in blue
 Monday, March 21, 2016

Mondays are great because after we teach seminary we get to skype with the kids and grand-kids.  We took a preparation day so not much to report.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sunday, if everything technological works, the women will be listening to the broadcast of the Women's meeting in SLC.  The men said they would handle Primary so today I am putting together treat bags for them (Actually, the treat bags are for the children, we will see how well the Priesthood follow through with their promise of taking care of the Primary before they get a treat bag).  After church,, we are taking sacrament to the members in Inverell and surrounding areas, a two hour drive from here.  President Sully and the elders want to go.  We will take treats and snacks to have after the Sacrament meeting and lesson.  There are two children there so I'll try to provide something of a Primary nature.  We will take a CD player and the hymns CD and Primary songs CD.  The Inverell members are really looking forward to the sacrament being brought to them.

I visited with a member who has been slipping into inactivity and told her how much she is needed in the branch.  She has two darling girls and they need the gospel and association with the branch members too. There is much apathy in regard to religion in this c and they will teach ountry. It is not that people oppose it, it is more that they see no need for it in their lives. The younger adults are particularly affected by this attitude. Most of these young adults will claim to be atheists. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Today I taught the lesson about Joseph of the coat of many colors fame.  What a marvelous person Joseph was.  After Seminary I started putting together treat bags and lesson materials for Sunday as well as determining what food to make and take to Inverell.  It is hard because we don't have a way to keep things cold or hot while we travel.  Elder Berger arranged for the elders to help one of the less actives who lives an hour away, with some heavy yard work. We were so happy when they reported back that the family has decided to take the missionary lessons from the elders as one of them is not a member and they committed to start attending church. They also have an 8 year old who is not baptized and they will teach her also.

It is cold here today (about 48 degrees Fahrenheit) and I really don't have warm clothing.  I hope to find some when we are in Sydney.  We turned on the heat during Seminary at the church.  Tomorrow we are going to be substitute grandparents for Lucy MacDonald at her school's grandparents' day.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Seminary, District training meeting and grandparent's day with the MacDonald children.  We were impressed that they still have school prayer in Australia and parents can decide whether their children are taught religion or not.  Jeremy, the five year-old, received an award for getting along well with others and decorated an Easter Hat for the Easter hat parade.  Lucy thinks she is too old for decorating a hat, she turned eight this month.

They sold sizzle sticks which is another definition of a sausage in a piece of bread which we did not partake of.  The kids seemed to enjoy them.

As I looked for candy for Primary Easter treats it seemed Easter candy is not anywhere near as big a deal as in the United States.  There was a small part of the aisle with some chocolate bunnies and eggs.  I asked Sister MacDonald about it and she said that I was correct, less sugar was encouraged here and other kinds of treats or gifts were preferred.

Smart TV is pretty cool

Crocodile skull one of the kindergarten kid's grandparents donated, Kate and Tessa with Jeremy.

Jeremy, the kindergartner's hat is the one with dinosaurs, back middle

This is the prayer that the children going to this school recite. It is posted above the stage in this auditorium where we are watching the Easter Bonnet competition.

 Jeremy in line to accept the award for getting along with others

Lucy, newly eight and missing several teeth, She looks like she plays in the NHL.

Substitute grandparents watching the hat parade with Tessa and Kate.

The interior of a local Chinese eatery. What is the deal with the fish tanks in these Chinese restaurants? They all have them. This place has 4 of them.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday and everything was closed in town. This is not an exaggeration,  the only places that were open were McDonalds and KFC. We took a walk after Seminary and most streets were empty.  The Clarksons invited us for dinner and we enjoyed a wonderful pork roast with homemade applesauce and a chocolate self-saucing pudding for dessert.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sister Mueller, a previous branch member moved back so Elder Berger and our two missionaries helped her move into her apartment while I worked on making a huge beef stew for Sunday dinner and chocolate cupcakes and vegetable tray for our Inverell Sacrament meeting meal.  As we are taking Sacrament meeting to Inverell after our block of meetings, we are having the Sullys and the elders come to our flat to eat lunch before we leave for Inverell.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

It was a lovely, full Easter Sunday.  It was amazing as we had nearly 50 attend Sacrament meeting.  The elders found 5 Tongans in Gyra who were members and they all attended.  Sister Betts invited her Hindu friends and they came.  Our investigator, Joanne, attended.  The investigators from the Sudan attended.  Brother Benesch brought two friends.  We hooked up to the live Women's Meeting broadcast from Salt Lake City and the men were "supposed" to be handling Primary but I ended up taking care of nursery (no candy treat bags for the men).  I will have to listen to the broadcast another time.  We had 5 children in the nursery and nearing the end of the hour we took them outside and had them run races and climb trees.  They were very happy.

The beef stew that I thought was huge was completely eaten along with all of the salad.  We had artisan bread and for dessert an ice cream bar which was the easiest dessert we could come up with.

The wonderful six members in Inverell plus two children and Sister Ali's husband, who is Muslim welcomed us sweetly to their home where President Sully spoke on the resurrection and Elder Berger used material from Elder Uchtdorf's talk "Be not Afraid, Only Believe" for a lesson.  We took the Sacrament, and sang hymns and tried to make it a good experience for all.

Lots of good food was provided by everyone.  Elder Peterson and Rishaad had a good time playing catch.  I think it was a success and all were interested in scheduling another meeting.  President Sully asked them to try hard to carpool and come to Armidale once a month to church and said we would take a Sacrament meeting to them once a month.

The Elders and I gave Sister Ali a blessing after most everyone left. She will be having surgery next week and needed some comfort from our Father in Heaven.  We left later than planned and kangaroos seem to come out in the dark.  We narrowly escaped hitting two of them.

 Una, daughter Angie, mother and grandmother, Lisa

A really nice evening in the front yard. My name tag is on my jacket.

Elder Kehler and Sister Sully

Quite the wind-up from Elder Peterson playing catch with Rishad

Sister Ali and her husband enjoying the meal.

Sister & President Sully

Sister Sully, Lisa Chambers, Eugene Tero, and President Sully.

Rishaad Ali

Eugene and Michelle Tero and their baby who has an anxiety disorder and screams constantly if around strangers. They were married ten years and told they would never have a baby when this   miracle baby was born so they patiently wait for him to outgrow his fear of others.  Michelle is unable to join and stays a distance away to try to calm him.


Sunday, March 20, 2016
Monday, March 15, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue.

March 1, 2016 we sent a card to our grandson, Adam, as a test for how long mail takes to get to Utah so that we would know for upcoming grandchildren birthdays.  Erica let us know it arrived today so it took two weeks.  Hopefully it doesn't always take two weeks. Just for Adam's entertainment we mailed the card from Wollomombi as it is fun to say.

We had a good day teaching seminary and were thrilled when our investigator, Jo, joined with us.  After, we enjoyed delivering birthday cards to branch members after our wonderful skype times with our children and grandchildren.

A Bottle Shop is a Liquor store, how embarrassing. 

Cute post office

I really like this quaint, little church in Wollomombi, painted in one of my favorite colors

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Once again, our investigator joined us in Seminary.  She seems to really enjoy it. Today we scheduled visits with two of our branch members and discovered that they were feuding and neither of them seemed to know who started it.  One of our visits found the sister sobbing as she had been offended by a church member.  We sat and listened and realized it was not productive to do anything but listen as any words of comfort and/or advice were met with disapproval.  Eventually we were able to see her reach a relatively calm state and we left her with a word of prayer. These types of visits are especially fun for me.

I am so thankful that years ago I realized that allowing myself to be offended only hurt me and after reading a quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell that stated when we are filled with feelings of being offended the Holy Ghost would leave until we worked through those feelings because he doesn't stay where there isn't peace, I decided it was just better to not let myself feel offense.  We hope these sisters will realize the same one day.

For dinner we decided to get Kentucky Fried Chicken and invite the elders to eat.  I made a salad and french bread with grilled cheese on top and baked french fries to go with the chicken.  We served ice cream for dessert. We had no leftovers.

The Corella birds decided to have a get-together in our yard

Corella close up.

What are you looking at, Mate?

Pretty Bird

A colorful parrot in our tree.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Today I practiced hymns with Sister Betts and then worked on the Sesame Street song, "I don't Want to Live on the Moon" which Sister MacDonald asked me to learn so that I could accompany her school choir as she is their chorister.  

We drove to Kentucky to visit with Sister Pendragon and her darling granddaughter, Lilly.  They are both sweet.  She stopped attending church when she moved away from the ward she was comfortable in and it has been years since she has been to a meeting.  We enjoyed our time with her. It would be good for Lilly to attend Primary. We told her grandmother as much. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

After Seminary we joined the elders for the discussion with our investigator, Jo.  The Word of Wisdom was introduced and she accepted it quite well.  She loves tea but said she would start cutting back.  It is apparent that Jo is feeling the spirit and is willing to follow it's promptings. We were very impressed.  As she attends seminary each morning,she appears engaged and answers questions. The elders had trade-offs with other elders so we had four elders attend seminary today.  One of them, Elder Childs, is from St. George.  Elder Finlinson is from Missouri.  I asked him if he knew any Finlinsons in Oak City and he said they did attend a family reunion there one year.  I spent some time working on my piano piece, "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon."

After our District Training meeting, Elder Berger joined the Elders' Quorum president and took him to meet the Batemans, who live an hour away. They live way out in the Bush, far to the west of Armidale. Our Elders' Quorum president is very friendly, likable and pins people down with exactly why they aren't coming to church and what they believe and what they struggle with.  They had a great discussion and asked him to think about having his eight year old daughter baptized.  

Our elders, Elder Kehler, Elder Peterson, Elder Finlinson and Elder Childs, serving in Tamworth, doing trade-offs. I remember Elder Child's family shopping at Harmon's.

Friday, March 18, 2016

After seminary we again joined the elders and Jo in a discussion.  They are doing two per week to try to achieve an April baptism should she feel ready.  

We went with the elders to meet with Aniak and her two sons, Wade (pronounced wah-day) and Dut (pronounced doot) and a baby that was sleeping.  Her boys are 3, 2 and 1 years of age. They are from the Sudan.  Her language is not a written language so the Book of Mormon in her language is not available. She has had to learn English and reading the Book of Mormon is a bit of a challenge for her.  She has not prayed before and is learning to do that too.  Her husband is a student at UNE (University of New England) and has worked out of town for months but has now joined her.  So far, the elders have not met him.  She has attended church twice.  I feel like it would really help her to have someone read the Book of Mormon with her.  Perhaps we can work that out.

Tomorrow we leave for Coff's Harbor for our District Conference.  We will enjoy seeing the ocean. We have meetings Saturday and Sunday. The members there provide meals for us.  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

This morning we headed for our District Conference in Coffs Harbor.  We traveled the beautiful Waterfall Highway which goes through the Dorrigo Rain Forest.  The trees are so close together it looks like a picture out of the old Tarzan movie with jungles where characters needed a machete to cut their way through. There are ferns growing up the sides of trees and many of the trees have pink blossoms, purple blossoms, or orange blossoms. As we got near Dorrigo we were inundated with a heavy fog that engulfed us for about 30 minutes. Much of the area was like California Highway 1 along the California coast, very curvy.  Only the fact it didn't last long kept me from losing my breakfast. Today I saw a scene we have seen several times, a huge tree with many cows underneath. If I ever get a chance to take a picture I will caption it Relief society enrichment as it just seems like the cows are enjoying socializing. 

Coffs Harbor appears very tropical.  We stayed at Holiday Park on Emerald Beach. I really liked this place and wish we had known of such a place or had it available to us when our children were young. You can rent a cabin which we did, or camp in your own tent and use the facilities including restrooms and kitchen areas.  

Our cabin was situated to feel like you were camping, with screened windows lending a lovely breeze and we could just barely hear the surf from the nearby ocean.  First thing we went for a quick hike to the beach and Brother MacDonald found us and took pictures of us.  He is about John's age and we really enjoy he and his family. They are staying here too camping in a tent. There is a huge trampoline type area which they call a jumping pillow,  a room full of games and balls like McDonald's enclosed playground, water splash pad areas and swimming pools. The best thing is it is a five minute walk to the beautiful ocean. We are sorry we don't have more time to stay here.

The MacDonalds invited us for lunch which made us happy as we had not made plans and did not know where to go. We enjoyed their darling family and a chicken wrap sandwich. After Elder Berger and Brother MacDonald headed off to their District Priesthood  meeting,  I rested and then joined the kids to pet the campground kangaroos and then Sister MacDonald, the kids and I traveled together to meet the men for the adult session of conference. 

Every speaker was excellent.  We learned so much about trust in the Lord, the light of Christ and how a change in church policy can be viewed so differently according to how strong a testimony is in the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the modern day prophet.  One speaker mentioned how changes did not affect him as his testimony was so strong in those things but one of his friends had to spend a great amount of time on his knees to have the Holy Ghost bear testimony as to the correctness of a change and others went to social media to discuss their concerns, relying on the arm of flesh rather than the personal revelation from Heavenly Father.  President Checketts, our Mission President, was presiding at the conference. He was inspiring in everything he told us. He loves the Lord and his church. He knows the gospel and how to share the message. What a Great Man!

Elder Berger taking a picture of a waterfall on in Dorrigo Rainforest

Waterfall pictures Elder Berger took

Isn't she lovely.

Street to our cabin

Our Cabin

Saturday afternoon picture 

Brother MacDonald and me

Windy hair day for me, not Elder Berger

We were not really dressed for the beach.

Jumping Pillow

Jumping Pillow

Splash Pad

Splash Pad

Lucy, Tessa, Kangaroo and Cousin

The kangaroo had enough petting and headed for the beach after one more nibble of spilled food

The patio of our cabin

Sunday, March 20, 2916

We love the ocean and as we have so little time here, we got up at 6:30 a.m. and walked the beach.  It was overcast but beautiful as the sun rose.  We were happy to find a mob of kangaroos on our walk above the beach. Elder Berger took some fantastic photos.  

While Elder Berger was showering and I was dressing I heard a knock at the door and it was Brother MacDonald with his brother-in-law and sick son needing some consecrated oil which I gladly supplied.  We are so fortunate to have the priesthood.

The conference speakers today were also very good.  The choir was made up of ten women and two men but did a nice job.  A light lunch was served for all as many of us had to leave for home and many had to travel long distances.  The speakers talked of adversity coming to the righteous as well as unrighteous, agency, again trust in the Lord  and doing a good turn daily, bringing joy to our lives.

On the way home through the rain forest, we stopped at a lookout to view the beauty.  On our way we listened to Itzhak Perlman playing Motzart.  It was beautiful.

There follows a plethora of photographs. Please look at them all. This place testifies of our Creator.

Pretty girl on the beach, early in the morning.

This is actually a pretty fair surf.

If you look closely, you will see a wiped out surfer in the upper right quadrant.

We met a mob of Kangaroos on our walk.

These males are "sparring".

Scratching an itch.

The Kangaroo whisperer.

Surfing the Eastern Australian coast.

This picture is my favorite. The one below is my other favorite.

Surf crashing the rocks.

Toby MacDonald, two year old.

Jeremy MacDonald, five years old.

5 minutes before we left for our area.

Overlook at Dorrigo.