"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 8, 2016
Monday, May 4, 2016
Sheila writes in black, Rick in blue.

Today was exhausting, starting at 8:00 and ending at 6:00, then on to a Senior Couples Family Home Evening, with dinner, which was very enjoyable. We played games, had dinner and heard from President Checketts.  We went home exhausted but happy. We played a Mothers Day game that was fun and brought to mind many happy memories of all of our mothers.

 I forgot to mention that when we attended the Leura ward, a young man bore his testimony.  Sister Dinger informed me that he is an attorney with a side business in real estate acquisitions all over the world.  This man and his wife have been unable to have children and so when she is not teaching school she travels with him.  He joined the church when he was 22 and wanted to serve a mission at 25 but as he had a million dollar business, the church said he needed to remove himself from that business so he sold it and went on his mission.  I am so impressed with faith such as that.  Once home from his mission, he was able to regain his business  and is very successful.  His wife said that they had recently returned from the Philippines where their taxi driver said he made $8.00 a day.  He had been saving for a year to purchase a washing machine for his wife which cost $200.00.  This young couple gave him the remainder he needed to purchase the machine. 


Our lives are full and busy.  I was at the office until 7:30 pm. tonight working on area wall maps that the elders have requested which will show them the boundary streets for their areas. Watching how a mission functions has been a wonderful experience.  The church missionary program is a huge machine with many parts and the volunteer force is so very important to keep the machine running smoothly.  

A bright spot today was finding a “deal” in Target.  Normally lollys, or candy as we call it in America, is quite expensive and even though it is an unnecessary purchase and a unhealthy thing to eat, we get pleasure out of chocolate and Allsorts liquorice.  Today, we stalked up when we found $2.00 packages reduced to $.50. This was a big deal for Sister Berger. She loves a sale and was almost giddy as she made the purchase. Now we have 5 pounds of licorice, yum!

Thursday May 5, 2016

Map making!  It is my challenge, somewhat of my feeling of accomplishment, and a constant shadow lurking on my “to do” list.  Today I completed one -  start to finish - with no help.  That means going on LDS maps to find ward boundaries and keeping that computer image on my screen while I search the huge Sydney 300 page street index map for corresponding pages, printing those and pasting the correct pages together and then drawing the boundary.  Most times, the only reason a map is completed is because I bother Elder Berger who has a lovely sense of direction and understands maps.  I especially need his help drawing a boundary.  The elders and sisters love having huge maps on their walls of their areas and bound small maps in their bags for daily reference.  I am sure they cannot understand what the new sister’s problem is with getting the maps to them in a timely fashion.  My first map took me four hours! We can now add "Cartographer" to Sister Berger's resume.

Friday, May 6, 2016

This morning on my walk I had to run back to the flat for my phone so that I could capture a picture of the beautiful sunrise.  I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father and His son for this beautiful earth and the many visuals that indicate how much He wants to bless the lives of His children.

This morning I was moved to tears as a missionary mother emailed me (the financial secretary of the office) asking for a first name or initial of her son’s companion required on international mailing forms so they could send him a package.  I know the companion is the only member in his family and never receives packages.  We met him his first day and were impressed with his sweetness and eagerness to serve the Lord.  The mother said even after her son was no longer this Elder’s companion, she would be sending Christmas and birthday packages to him.  This kind of thing is so touching to me.  I see packages come with postage of $75.00 to $100.00 and see the missionary open it to find something that cost $25.00.  What a sweet action on this mother’s part to take this lonely chick under her wing. 

President Checketts is a very positive man and yesterday told me that these missionaries who leave without parent approval who are often ostracised, are taken in the arms of the church and the church becomes their family and they thrive and create their own family when they get home and marry. 


 Last week we mentioned that we spent some time with one of the senior couples in Sydney.  He joined the church as a young man and is the only member in his family.  She came from what we would call good Mormon "stock”. She waited to marry until he could take her to the temple but they were high school sweethearts.  He is a very successful attorney who took a sabbatical to be here but is the same retirement age as us.  He was able to pay for three sons to go to law school (lucky boys) and has held many different church positions.  They work with the Institute, YSA group and are lots of fun. We are including a few of the pictures of that trip that we missed putting in last week.

Inside the windows is the Relief Society Room - Greenwich chapel

Turning leaves

Temple pansies

The beautiful sunrise on my walk

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Today after skypeing with our children which is always a highlight of our week, we went to a huge shopping mall to look for warmer skirts for me.  We spent five hours and were unsuccessful but I did get a couple of tee-shirts and a necklace. Greater love hath no husband than this, that he accompany his wife to a mall and help her shop for a skirt for FIVE HOURS. She did not find a skirt to buy. I will be happy to do this again sometime, perhaps on Resurrection morning.

Wall to wall people at the mall

 This self check-out line at the grocery store had about 25 people in it

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Today we attended the Greenwich ward where we were happy to meet Jann Green's neice, Janessa Pales, and her husband and sons.  She is a lovely person.  They have until the end of the year in Australia and then back home to the States.  The building is the first LDS meetinghouse built in Sydney we were told and is unique.  The offices and Relief Society room are outside, hooked to the sides like a square. 

The Greenwich chapel has this 9 foot grand piano, not something you see in a typical chapel

No Kidding, a 9 foot Concert Grand Piano!

Sister Berger, Janessa Pales (Jann Green's niece) and her husband

This is a famous landmark in The Blue Mountains called "The Three Sisters"

This landmark must have a special significance to people from the orient.

It was really windy that day, check out the trees. The rest are views from the rim of the canyon.

The obligatory 3 sisters photo

Elder and Sister Dinger, Australian Church History missionaries with whom we traveled to Leura and the Blue Mountains. 

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