"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, May 29, 2016
Monday, May 23, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in Blue.

Today was full of catch-up.  Tomorrow is temple day for various zones so we purchased apples and granola bars as the missionaries always stop by to check for mail after their temple session.

Elder Berger and I need to schedule days at the temple as it is difficult to attend once we are 6 1/2 hours away in Armidale.

A missed picture from our day at Sydney Harbor two weeks ago.  We climbed the 200 step tower and Elder Black shot this from the top.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Today was senior couples conference here at the Buckland House.  Elder Black taught us about estate planning, long term care needs and tax issues with retirement money.  He did a good job and even though most of our estate work is done, we learned some good things.  After, we had a pot-luck lunch which was fabulous. President Checketts shared a statement from his mission president seminar last week:  In Alma 34:28 when the term hypocrite is used, if you "do" and do not "become" as in becoming better, that is a hypocrite.  Something to think about.  Elder Ellis has a plan to sample all foods Australian, particularly the fruit so today to his fruit tray he added passion fruit which was quite tasty.

Next week is our arrivals, departures and transfers so this week is very hectic for me preparing for everything that is needed. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Today we joined the Blacks once again for a ferry boat tour of Sydney Harbor.  It was a rainy, cold day, Elder Black said the coldest their winter gets, at 68 F but we had a great time.  We stopped at Watson's Bay to eat Fish and Chips and explore the ocean view and the two lighthouses.  Elder Berger was able to look at a shop with Akubra hats.  He needs to purchase a hat and it is important with the think ozone layer and high skin cancer rate in Australia. The sun is particularly effective at causing skin cancer in Australia. They tell me that you can get a sunburn through a tin shed in the higher elevations like Armidale. Sister Black took me to Zara's, which is a shop which copies designer clothes and sells the copies at an affordable price.  I was able to purchase a warmer top to go with my newest, warm skirt which pleased me.

The President finalized the transfer board for the moment and made transfer calls to all the missionaries tonight at 10:00 pm.  I printed up the changes to print new library letters Monday for their preparation day use.  They go to the libraries to email home.

Elder Tematefaaere on the day before he goes home. I just learned how to pronounce his name and now he is gone. I like to think that we both gained experience through this trial.

Sister Money with Sister Yu, who goes home tomorrow; they are Mandarin speaking missionaries

Standing in line at Zaras department store to purchase a much needed top for my warmer skirt. Amazingly, people were lined up to spend their money in this store. Did Sheila get a good deal? What does her expression tell you? I think that she "won" bigtime!

This is a shot upward to the Sydney tower. You will see it later in some of the skyline pictures.

This looks like the "Lost Sheep"

Sister Berger found the Lost Sheep. Now, if she could only remember where she left the ninety and nine.

Sister Black, having looked near and far for the lost sheep

Sitting in the Sydney railway station, waiting for the train to Circular Quay.

The train system is great here; however, this one, preserved in its original state, is kind of dark

About to board the Ferry to Watson's Bay

The Opera House. I never hear any singing coming from there. Curious

Bergers and Blacks on the Ferry

The following are pictures snapped along our adventure.

You can see the tower on the left side of this picture of Sydney's skyline.

Watson's Bay Lighthouse.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

We both had a great sleep after all of the climbing up and down stairs and walking in Sydney yesterday with the Blacks.  Today we visited the Oakhurst ward which was predominantly Samoan/Tongan membership.  The meetings were wonderful and the talks very interesting.  The elders there were welcoming and so cute.

Today we attended the Oakhurst Ward at the Hebersham chapel. Here we are with Elders Dalpin and Galarian.

Sunday, May 22, 2016
Monday, May 15, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue.

As we are leaving Thursday morning for Port Macquarie to attend a Member Leader Support conference, we are working hard to get everything done before we leave.  Today was busy with missionary referrals being phoned and texted to me to put into the church referral system, making four maps and working on the monthly mission newsletter.

Tonight was senior couples' family home evening.  We played a fun game based on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and had a nice dinner.  Everyone is lots of fun.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

We left early for our Member Leader Support Conference in Port Macquarie.  We are excited to once again have a chance to walk the beach and enjoy the ocean.  Leaving Sydney during rush hour is a slow, tense process. It took 45 minutes to go 15 kilometers.  This city continues to grow in population but has streets with no place for expansion. They are building an underground freeway to move people north and south that should alleviate the problem. We will be long gone by the time that it is finished. It's too bad that President Brigham Young didn't lay out the plans for Sydney.

On the way, as we listened to Elder Berger's ipod once again,  he sang harmony along with James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Ricky Nelson, the Eagles, Buddy Holly and others, my memory returned of our early dating when I lived in the avenues of Salt Lake City.  We met on a blind date (She'll leave me when her eyesight recovers, I'll bet.) and then spent lots of summer evenings with him singing on my porch steps with his guitar.  Some mornings, he was still strumming the strings and singing the notes at 2:00 a.m.  I have always loved to hear him sing.  Music has been very important to him and he has enjoyed singing in several choirs, one of them ward choir.  If he leaves this world before I do and isn't immediately at the Pearly Gates to greet me when I appear , I will look for him where there is music.  I will follow the music. Wishful thinking in many different ways. Indeed, she is always planning ahead.

We arrived at the Port Macquarie chapel for lunch at noon.  We left Sydney at 7.15 AM. The Fillmores and Swains provided lunch and it was delicious.  They brought most of the things I love: fruits, chips, almonds, candy, cookies and chicken salad sandwiches.The church bought five acres with an interesting, almost Spanish looking building turned into chapel and classrooms, two separate buildings.  The area is lovely.  Right now there are approximately 40 active members and the church is hoping this branch can become a ward.  We joined 14 other missionaries, (six couples and President and Sister Checketts) for training.  We discussed our successes and our challenges and received ideas and suggestions from our inspired mission president. I am always impressed by the dedication of these senior Missionaries. We could feel the Spirit testify of their goodness as they spoke about their experiences in their Branches with their members.

We ended at 4:30 and checked in at our motel, The El Paso Motor Inn.  President Checketts had reserved the rooms and they were very nice.  We joined one another for dinner and enjoyed steak and salmon and then the Fillmores treated us to Baskin Robbins ice cream. They actually had grain fed beef which was amazing. Most of the beef in Australia is grass fed. Grass fed beef may be more healthy but grain fed tastes sooooo much better.  It was a lovely day. We decided to stay an extra night so that we could see the ocean and drive to Armidale on Saturday so we paid for an extra night at the El Paso. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Once again the Swains and Fillmores had prepared our breakfast and then more training. The self-reliance people joined us to discuss that part of training we could provide to the branches.  Elder Berger and I decided to spend the night before traveling to Armidale.  We are speaking in Sacrament meeting there (oh boy) and then returning to Sydney until June 18th.  The Ellis's stayed and the Swains live here so we had dinner together and then went to the working lighthouse by the beach.  It was beautiful.

Inside of the Port Macquarie chapel

 Elder Berger coming out of the Port Macquarie chapel

One of the huge trees at the chapel

The Browns and the Swains.

Waiting for lunch with Rick, Elder & Sister Ellis and Elder Swain.

Elder & Sister Ellis from New Harmony, Utah

Elder & Sister Swain from Mesa, Arizona with Sister Fillmore, from Alpine, Utah.

President and Sister Checketts.

Sister Brown from Brookside, Utah, & Sister Berger.

Elder Fillmore, Alpine, Utah and Elder Pierce from Bountiful.

Just me and my shadow and my reflection walking along the beach

The infamous five dollar bill makes yet another appearance.

Lighthouse Beach and pictures of the surf.

These were the only 2 people on the entire beach on Saturday morning at 9:30 AM, incredible!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

We left for Armidale after returning to the Lighthouse Beach for some pictures displayed above.  It is so beautiful.  We love the ocean.  After, we left for Armidale traveling Oxley Highway which went through fern covered forests.  It was beautiful. It was a long winding road up through the coastal rain forest to what they call the tablelands. That is where our area is located. The trip ended up taking about 4 hours. We stopped a few times to let Sister Berger get out, stand up straight, and calm her motion sickness. We were happy to get back to what is now "home".

We arrived at our flat in Armidale, put away things we brought with us and prepared our talks for Sacrament meeting tomorrow.  Nights here have had a fall in temperature to 40 degrees and we were happy to use the little room heater in our bedroom. This little heater is the only thing that stands between sweet survival and cold feet through the night.

Sunday, May 23, 2016

After speaking in Sacrament meeting where there was a lovely spirit, and enjoying our reconnection with branch members, we headed for Sydney.  Today's music was Hank Williams Junior, George Strait, Bailey and the Boys, the Ventures and Motzart, lots of Motzart.  There is nothing quite like travelling through the Australian landscape with Motzart.

We were in Armidale late for seeing the beautiful red leaves but were able to get this picture of one tree that is holding on to its red leaves in the church parking lot.