"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, 1 May, 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue

I walk at 6:15 a.m. in the  morning.  When I walk the sun is just coming up and as I look over the busy Pennant Hills traffic I see a ball of fire in vivid orange and gold with a sprinkling of pink and blue sky behind.  It is an uplifting balm to my spirit as I gaze for a moment and then hurry on in my walk toward the Sydney temple.  This morning it was Pansy planting time on the temple grounds.  They are one of my favourite flowers.  Around and around I went until I had spent 40 minutes and then back to our flat to get ready to go to the office.  I am accompanied by the Kookaburra’s laugh, the blackbird’s sarcastic yack and the corella bird’s whistle.  What a glorious surrounding is mine.
I have included some pictures of the Plumeria tree and the Plumeria blossoms which have been falling for weeks.  They are lovely and greet me at the doorway to our office. 

As I was walking up the back, steep stairs in our office to our third floor wing, I had a moment of deja-vu that I had been here before.  This is the second time I have felt it on our mission; once when in the presence of our branch president, President Sully.  Sometimes I think the veil between past and present is rather thin.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I have rather decent hair, quite thick.  However, it does not thrive in humidity.  It gets ugly waves and frizz.  Sydney is very humid so every morning, after my walk among the dew covered grass and shrubbery, I return to the flat with unruly hair and I have to blow dry it which makes it very difficult to get to work on time.

Elder Berger is having less stomach distress which is good.  However, a better stomach with fewer pillows needed to prop him up, has resulted in tremendously loud snoring.  I'm talking the sound of a truck motor starting.  How he can sleep is beyond me.  Last night I gave up trying to sleep and reached over with my foot and poked him.  This was repeated about ten times during the night.  This morning, he suffered with a headache which he determined was because of my interfering with his sleep last night.  One of us will no doubt have to try the little bed in the extra bedroom.

I learned that President Checketts had shingles a few months ago.  What a terrible thing to happen to a man who is so very, very busy.  He is a loving man who cares deeply for these missionaries.  They are fortunate to have him in charge of this mission.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

While working on intake folders for the missionaries who will be coming, I noted one whose parents are both deceased and three whose parents are not members and do not want to be contacted.  My heart goes out to these wonderful young men and women who come here without any support.  I pray they will receive great spiritual support from the Holy Ghost to help them feel they are loved.

As we jaywalked across Pennant Hills for lunch we stopped to take pictures of the strange, interesting corncob bushes.

This plant is called a bottlebrush, I wonder why?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Today I received notification from the missionary department for 15 new missionaries arriving in July and October.  Now I get to see how well I remember the steps in what has to be done once I have waited a week to make sure they have received their call.

Friday, April 29, 2016

It was a very full day for both of us.  At the end of our work day, I handed over Elder Hsu's travel documents, weighted luggage and sent him to President Checkett's house to stay the night.  Elder Berger and Elder Leister will take him to the airport in the morning.  He is a darling elder from Taiwan who gave me a huge hug (allowed or not) before we parted.  His parents are not members and he goes home to little religious encouragement.  Elder Berger told him to keep doing what he is doing now:  get up at 6:30 in the morning, read the scriptures and pray and he will be okay.  After a very busy week, it was with pleasure that we joined two other senior couples and went to the Taste of Tuscany restaurant to eat. The food was very good and we all enjoyed having a good exchange of our feelings and experiences on our mission.

Left to right: Sister Leister, Sister Fillmore, Elder Fillmore, Yours Truly, Sister Berger, and Elder Leister.

Taste of Tuscany

Saturday, April 30, 2016

After Elder Berger returned from the airport, we joined Elder and Sister Black and took the train to down town Sydney where we walked the Sydney Harbour bridge, took pictures of the Opera House, walked around the shops at "The Rock" shopping area and had a lunch of skewered meat, rice and salad.  It was a lovely day.

We were so happy to receive baptism service pictures of our investigator JoAnn, from Armidale.  We were sorry to miss this but the twelve hour drive is just too much with our current assignments.

Left to right: Elder Peterson, Jo and Elder King


Jo received special permission to be baptized in the river as she said she felt directed to do so

Temple surveillance?

The path to the security gate that opens up the areas where senior couples reside.

Our missionary badge of honor ID and our security card with which we enter the Buckland House and our offices.

Part of the path on the way to work and the path where I walk in the mornings

Back door entrance to our office

The Plumeria tree at the back-door entrance.  These pretty flowers are falling everywhere

Plumeria blossoms

Sunday, May 5, 2016

Today we traveled with Elder and Sister Dinger to attend the ward they have been assigned to, the Leura Ward in the Blue Mountains which are a big tourist attraction along with the rock formations, The Three Sisters.  The church was built in 1983 by a non-mormon architect, Ken Woolley.  He did a little studying about the Mormon faith and decided to design the temple around the theme of light.  It is a one of a kind chapel.  It is white, white, white.  There are many windows letting in more light and allt he walls are painted white.  It was a lovely place to spend our Fast and Testimony Sunday.

I thought as I walked in how much I love this church.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ but I also love the organization of the church and how I can go almost anywhere in the world and find similar people believing, similar things.  They are not perfect people but they are good people, trying to be better. What a joy my membership and particularly, my testimony of the church is to me!

The Leura Chapel

This courtyard is accessible from the inside hallway.

One side of the chapel has these windows and the other side has skylight windows in the walls

April 24, 2016
April 18-24, 2016
I will be back when we get wi-fi sorted. I usually write at the odd times when I get inspired. It seems that I cannot discipline myself to write on a schedule.

Well, this week's posts are going to be consolidated into one as we have no internet in our current flat and have been so busy training for the financial job in the office of the Australia Sydney North mission.  We work from 8:00 in the morning until 5:00 at night but we have phones that the missionaries can use to call us at anytime and frequently, particularly Elder Berger, receives calls after we are back at our flat.  One, this week was from a new missionary, who arrived at the airport from the Philippines before the assistants to the president got there.  A stranger who could see his distress, called the contact number for the mission office which automatically forwards to us after hours.

I have learned about requesting travel for departing missionaries, checking to see when visas expire, how much luggage is allowed, sending trunky letters, compiling passports and information that goes home with the missionary and sending out certificates of commendation to bishops and stake presidents.  I have learned about arrivals and compiling plan of salvation packets, notebooks of how to survive as a missionary filled with exercises, recipes, Celsius conversions for recipes and stove/oven use, talks by general authorities about the missionary experience, how to use the public transit, etc.  I, who have no instinct to the difference between where north or south is, have been creating maps off the LDS maps website for the missionary proselyting areas and printing the designated boundary maps up, finding corresponding areas in our large Sydney map book, copying them and pasting them together to have it laminated for the wall of their flats.  I have been making pocket sized laminated copies for them to carry with them daily.  I am using an old program called Publisher to create a monthly newsletter, typing office agendas, ordering supplies.

I survived our first missionary transfer since training which is when we have arrivals of new missionaries and the departure of old.  These new elders and sisters are so sweet, so exhausted from a 20 hour flight for those coming from the U.S. but with joy in their eyes to be on their mission.  We teach them about their first days here and how they may feel homesick and how to handle that and we teach them about emergencies and who to talk to if they have health needs.  Elder Berger tells them about the financial side of their lives here.  Some come with family's having sent them off with balloons and joy and tears and they receive weekly packets which no doubt are costing parents triple in postage what the contents cost.  They know how proud their parents are of them.  Far more, at least here and this transfer, come with contact information saying, neither parent is a member and often DO NOT CONTACT THE PARENTS.  My heart breaks for them and I want to take them under my wing and send them care packages.  How strong their faith is in what missionaries taught them, to leave all behind and to have their parents break all ties with them because of their decision to join the church.  This time they came from Czech Republic, Laos, the Philippines, the United States, Samoa and Tahiti.

We are enjoying our little flat.  The  Australians call the type of dwelling we are in a "granny flat" because it is small and next to a larger home where the owner owns both.  This flat was decorated so has more personality than our bare little flat in Armidale whose only decoration on the walls are the Del Parson calendar pages of the Savior I carried with me all the way from Santa Clara, Utah. However, we are content with the look in Armidale.

 Outside views of our Sydnety granny flat

Living area with TV!!  We do not have a TV in Armidale

living area

Kitchen, and notice the lovely Ikea baskets decorating the top of the cupboards!

 Sunday, 17 April, 2016
Monday, April 11, 2016
Due to the fact that we have no Wi fi I have not commented. When we organize that, I'll be back.

Things I appreciate about Australia, I may have mentioned them before: Beautiful singing birds and crying birds and sarcastic birds accompanying me on my daily walks.  I am glad to have found a walking path to the side of our motel.  The water here is HOT within seconds so one must learn to start with the cold water but it is nice when I am cold and tired to know a bath tub will be as hot as anyone could want it to be rather quickly.  I love the beautiful skies, the green foliage and can't wait to return to the ocean that was so inspiring and beautiful during our District Conference in Coffs Harbor.

Jaywalking is legal here.  However, we are probably crazy as we jaywalk across the street that is known as the busiest street in Australia, to get lunch every day at the mall.  I don't feel my age as I run to get to the center barrier of the street.  We had fish and chips today.

My job at the office is serious stuff.  If I mess up the missionaries won't have what they need when they arrive and won't have what they need when they return to go home, i.e. tickets and luggage requirements or visa extensions when they expire before their mission release date.  I have to create and laminate maps which anyone who knows me well will be laughing over at the minute they read this but I figure if I have to, I know the elder down the hall who is good at directions and maps.

We attended our Senior Missionary Couples family home evening dinner tonight that was very special as it included a farewell to the Williams whose place we are attempting to take.  Thank goodness they will be here for another nine days. Elder Williams has an accent that is Australian, English and a touch of Irish.  It is fun to listen to and I think he can get away with  slightly blunt comments that come across quite funny.  We enjoyed a pork roast, mashed potatoes, salad and corn - an American meal!

Left to right Dale Fillmore and his wife.  It was such a surprise to me to find Dale Fillmore here on a mission.  He managed Stampin' Up! for years and I typed his name and billed to him for many, many years.  They are lovely people.

Left to right; Elder & Sisters Kinghorn, Dinger, Fillmore, Asplund, Willis, Berger, Williams, President & Sister Checketts, Leister, Ellis, Payne, and Mackey, with Sister Black in front.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

As we ran across the busy street to get lunch at the fish and chips place and returned to work, we stopped to look at this fun car and think about what a variety of blessings and gifts life presents.  This car was parked in the temple parking lot.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

We got up early and cleaned our motel room and moved into our temporary flat on the temple block which means we can walk to work, home for lunch, can walk to the temple and it is wonderful.  The flat is small but very cute, decorated nicely.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Wonderful of wonderful to awaken and use as my walking path, the sidewalks around the distribution center, our Buckland house office, and the temple grounds.  The sunrise was gorgeous and the bird song made my time very enjoyable.  I am so very thankful to my Heavenly Father for the health to walk and enjoy this marvelous experience. Being part of the mission office personnel is a wonderful and challenging experience as I am learning so any new things without the experience of the frame of reference that makes all of it make sense.  I imagine Elder Berger is finding similar feelings.  These people are wonderful.  No matter their age, in this work, you really do not think of age or the weaknesses of age, you just forge ahead doing what needs to be done and the Lord blesses us to be equal to the task.

Elder and Sister Leister invited us and the Williams to attend dinner at their house.  We enjoyed a delicious Chinese dish with pear cobbler for dessert.  We must have talked about just about every topic, lots on the church, the prophet, the mission, testimony and quite a bit about the music of the sixties.  It is so fun to hear the perspective of our Aussie couple, the Williams and their accent too.  They married, second marriages, seventeen years ago and are a great example of two soulmates who really enjoy each other.  They tease and joke and really have a good time and add so much to the lives of the missionaries.

Saturday, April l6, 2016

We joined seven other senior missionary couples and traveled by train to downtown Sydney to see Fiddler on the roof.  It was fun to go with the Blacks who know downtown Sydney much better than we do.  We ate lunch at a lovely cafe and stopped at a dark chocolate factory that is supposed to be known as the best and really enjoyed attending Fiddler on the Roof.  The main character, The main character, Tevia, was played by one of Australia's best the Williams told us and his voice was marvelous.  

Finally a kookaburra outside our new flat

Waiting for the train


World Square

We got our wings!

At the show.


Moon for the Fiddler on the roof

Actor who played Tevia

Sunday, April 17, 2017

Our beautiful granddaughter, Lyla, turned four today, and my heart has a hollowness that we are not with her.  These darling grandchildren grow so quickly it is hard to miss any of it.

Happy Birthday Lila!!!