"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, April 3, 2016
Monday, March 28, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue.

For Preparation day, Elder Berger joined the elders and members of our branch to play his first games of Cricket.  He came home pretty sore but when we heard the elders complaining about how stiff and sore they were, realized Elder Berger was in pretty good shape.  At their age, he seldom had any stiffness or soreness from physical activity. We all did pretty well for our first experience. Cricket is a strange game that I don't understand but it is fun.

This is the #1 ranked Cricketer in Australia with our own Jeremy MacDonald. Jeremy was given a brand new autographed ball just for being a great kid.

With Dad Michael MacDonald.

Brother MacDonald showing off his bowling form.

Elder Peterson at the bat.

This week is kind of a blur as we are trying to put everything in place to leave for Sydney for 8-10 weeks.  We have moved a new member in, attended investigator lessons that the elders asked us to help with and taught seminary each morning.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Each morning when I walk around the cathedral, I am joyous at the beauty and the birds.  This morning's sky was particularly pretty.

Wednesday, March 30, 2916

Today we joined the elders in Central Park to teach an investigator from Taipei, Taiwan.  Her name is Kehlen (sounds like Helen).  She had so many questions.  We really enjoyed talking with her.  It is mind boggling to me, teaching someone who has no concept of God.

After, we traveled to Glen Innes to meet with Sister Hidden.  It has been many years since she attended church.  She is 88 years old and lives on her own.  We had an enjoyable talk.  She knows lots about guns and motorcycles, using both for many years along with her husband. There was a time in Australia when everyone had firearms and then the government confiscated most of them. Those that remember that time are usually very bitter about it. They don't feel as safe or as independent as they did before. I pray that our country is smarter, but I worry that it isn't. I am hearing that it is a little easier to obtain a firearms permit now in Australia. Perhaps common sense is creeping back in.

We left Sister Hidden and traveled to Elder Benesch's ranch where he and his wife fed us a grand dinner along with the elders who called after an appointment cancelled.  We gave a home teaching message.  It had been raining and we saw a beautiful, full, double rainbow. We ate apricot chicken with mushrooms and it was very tasty.

I am short which tells you how short Sister Hidden is. She may be small in stature but she is tough and very independent living on her own.

Big beautiful rainbow after a hard rain.

Looking out the living room window on the Benesh ranch

Thursday, March 31, 2016

After Seminary, I tried to help our 93 year old neighbor who is almost completely blind, get an appointment with the Podiatrist.  The medical customer care here is difficult for someone in her physical state.  She is very sweet, said she has a religion which is personal and within so doesn't have an interest in organized religion,  We took her to a doctor's appointment on Tuesday and have been trying to get this appointment since then so today, I spent a half hour on the phone making arrangements.

We decided to grab a hamburger and take a drive to the Dumaresque dam for lunch. We met the elders to teach the lesson on tithing to our investigator, Jo.  She said she would need to pray about everything which indeed she should.  This has been such a testimony to me as we have introduced what could be difficult doctrines to this lovely lady, of the spirit having prepared the heart and the elder's finding her at the right time.

I am teaching the Passover tomorrow in Seminary so made unleavened bread, put together bitter herbs and chicken as I don't know how to prepare lamb.

These are pictures from the Dumaresque Dam reservoir . There was a sign warning us to stay out of the water because of a health endangering algae and parasites that were in the water (Yecch). Probably not the best place for a baptism. The birds seemed OK with it however.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Sister Ali told me last week at our sacrament meeting in Inverell she was having same day surgery today in Armidale and would like us to come and see her. I clipped a few pink roses from our yard and we took those and a card to her.  We had a short visit with her before they took her into the operating theater (that's what they call it). We were not able to go back and see her after so we pray that the procedure went well. My only way of communicating with her is a message on Facebook so I hope to hear from her soon as to the surgery's outcome.

We stopped at a little restaurant and takeaway place next door to the hospital after visiting Sister Ali. Sister Berger is perusing the cuisine on the menu (see below). She hasn't moved a muscle for over an hour. I'm sure that a decision is pending. Remember to deduct 25% from the prices to calculate the actual cost in U.S. dollars.

We chose the Fish & Chips on the "Special". It was good but not exceptional.

We are getting ready to teach a lesson with Elders Kehler and Peterson to Aniak at her cousin's flat.
The two little boys in blue are her sons Wade and Dut (pronounced Wah-day and Doot).

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Today was spent dealing with organizing and packing for our departure on Monday to Sydney. While waiting for the barber to cut Elder Berger's hair, we saw this darling car with eyelashes and in our granddaughter's favorite color, and thought of how much they would love to have a car like this when they are old enough to drive.

What beautiful eyes you have, my dear.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

We had a beautiful Fast and Testimony meeting. A town nearby, Gyra has a hydroponic tomato factory that grows all kinds and varieties of tomatoes and uses labor from many areas of the world, especially Tonga. Men leave their families and come to Australia to work at the Tomato Factory for six months, go home because of government regulations, and often come back. They earn 2-3 times what they could at home in a similar amount of time.  Most have businesses or jobs at home as well.  The elders met some of them in Armidale and discovered they were members of the church, one had been a bishop at home.  They went to a barbecue with them and encouraged them to come to church which they did last Sunday.  During the week they ate with President Sully and sang a hymn in their language for he and Sister Sully and he asked them to sing in our Fast and Testimony meeting.

There were approximately eleven Tongans, most of whom speak very little English and they sang acapella in their native tongue with such beautiful harmony, a Tongan hymn and "Love at Home". There were few dry eyes in the congregation. Several ore their testimonies and shed tears as they did so.and even though we did not understand their words, we understood their hearts.

Our investigator, Jo, was there and obtained a fast offering slip and paid to the branch president.  In Gospel Doctrine as we talked about the difference between happiness and joy, she turned to me and said, "that makes sense."  I left her to go to Relief Society on her own as I had Sharing Time to do.  I was glad to see her sit by Sister Betts, and glad that they have somewhat of a connection from attending Seminary together.

The MacDonald family insisted we, along with the elders, eat with them as we would be away for weeks.  She made homemade pizza and self saucing chocolate pudding with ice cream.  The kids are so cute.  We presented Lucy with her baptism towel in Sacrament meeting which she loved.  She will be baptized this coming Saturday in Brisbane where most of her relatives on both sides of the family reside.

Some of the Tongans with our own Jeremy Hoffman and Lucy MacDonald.

The brother in the middle of the back row in a white shirt is William. He served as a Bishop in Tonga.

President Sully couldn't stop smiling.

Sorry, this picture is a little fuzzy. 

Tessa MacDonald, 3 and a half years old, posing for her picture.

Toby, 2 years old, rolling out pizza crust.

Lucy, Tessa, and Jeremy MacDonald enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Sister Berger holding Toby and thinking of our grandchildren.

Yours truly with Lucy, just turned 8. Lucy reminds me of my granddaughter Kate Berger.

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